Ohio multiplies as churches works together
By Karen L. Willoughby/Baptist Press
CLEVELAND, Ohio (BP) – At least 70 of the 700 Southern Baptist churches in Ohio already have declared their desire to become a multiplying church.
It’s an initiative new this year that coincides with Ohio’s new Send Ohio partnership with the North American Mission Board, and with the theme for the Nov. 14-15 annual meeting of The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio: “Rediscovering Gospel Multiplication.”
“The vision to see a multiplying church in every part of Ohio for everyone in Ohio is gaining momentum,” Executive Director Jeremy Westbrook told messengers in his report. “Our team has been working strategically through our local associations to introduce the multiplication pipeline tool to many of our churches. I am thrilled to share that in less than a year, more than 10 percent of our SCBO churches have signed up to implement a multiplication pipeline in their church.”
More than 300 people from Ohio churches and their guests attended SCBO’s 69th annual meeting at Cuyahoga Valley Church, where Chad Allen has been pastor since 2012.
“We saw a 40 percent increase of new churches this year over last year under the addition of our new Send Ohio initiative,” Westbrook told Baptist Press. Thirty-two new churches include 25 new plants, one replant, three new campuses and three churches that chose this year to affiliate with SCBO.
“Under the new Send Ohio vision, we are now poised to multiply churches anywhere in Ohio for everyone in Ohio,” Westbrook continued. “We are thrilled with our new partnership with NAMB in order to communicate, collaborate and celebrate the advancement of God’s kingdom in the Buckeye state.”
The Multiplication Pipeline, available through Cooperative Program giving, “equips the local church to discover, develop, and deploy leaders for church planting, international missions, and the church,” Steve Hopkins told messengers in his report. Hopkins is a senior staff member who relates with associations. Five associations have hosted introductory events, at least 70 churches have indicated their interest in being a multiplying church, and several have launched the training platform.
Senior Staff member Jack Helton reported that the state convention partnered with 30 churches to conduct VBS events or sports evangelism events, and an additional 40 churches received finance and resource assistance to conduct block parties, student outreaches, student mission trips, community connection events, fall festival outreaches, Easter outreaches, and multiple evangelism conferences.
Disaster Relief Director John Heading reported Ohio teams deployed a record 19 weeks so far in 2022, saw 42 people make professions of faith, and obtained a Quick Response Feeding trailer with the help of a grant from NAMB.
Business at Ohio’s annual meeting included notice of a “housekeeping” amendment to the state convention’s constitution and bylaws, which will be voted on next year; announcement of the sale of the Seneca Lake property for $2.1 million, announcement of a new informal reciprocal partnership with the Florida Baptist Convention; and a lengthy resolution on sexual abuse that consisted of seven “whereas” and seven “resolved” statements.
The resolution on sexual abuse was drafted by the SCBO Sexual Abuse Task Force, which also created new sexual abuse policies for the state convention as well as a detailed policy guide for SCBO churches.
“The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio along with the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention family are grieved about the reports of abuse,” Westbrook said. “Therefore, we have taken extreme measures this year to provide a resource for all the churches in Ohio to help in the training, awareness, reporting and the prevention of sexual abuse in our churches.”
A $4.8 million budget for 2023, down 4.7 percent from 2022, was passed, all of which is anticipated from Ohio churches. Of the total, half – $2.4 million – will be passed on for Southern Baptist causes outside Ohio. The 50/50 Cooperative Program giving split has been in place since 2016, when Westbrook served as SCBO President.
New for 2023: budget line items for several ethnicities: African American, Asian, Hispanic, Korean and Nepali.
“My prayer is for our state convention on earth to look like it already is in heaven,” Westbrook said. “To that end, we wanted our budget to reflect our heart and desire to network, resource, and multiply all ethnic groups.
“Ohio Baptists do not just talk about how much they believe in missions, but put their money where their mouth is and give to missions,” Westbrook said about the Cooperative Program. “We believe it is just as important to reach the world for Christ as it is to reach Ohio for Christ.”
New officers: Ray Umphrey, pastor of Briggs Road Baptist Church in Columbus was re-elected president to a second, one-year term. Elected to a first, one-year term: First Vice President Tony Harris, pastor of Highland Ave Baptist Church in Cincinnati; Second Vice President Adam Pursel, pastor of Lifepoint Church in Mount Vernon; Recording Secretary Mary Leigh Snowden, member at Clough Pike Baptist Church in Cincinnati; and Assistant Recording Secretary Charity Betts, member at First Baptist Church of New Lebanon.
“The pastors’ conference set the stage for the annual convention,” Westbrook said. “You felt the Lord’s presence among us. There was excitement in the air for Southern Baptists in Ohio to be together.
“We also had a Send Ohio lunch,” the executive director continued. “It was packed wall-to-wall as we heard testimonies from planters, replanters, bivocational planters and ethnic planters.”
In addition to reports from SBC entities and from Ohio leaders, messengers heard prayer and fasting is to be a special emphasis in Ohio in 2023. Not assigned to any one state convention staff member, all are to share in giving focused attention to individuals, pastors, churches – all Southern Baptists in Ohio – connecting at a deep and profound level with God.
“We are not going to be able to market or manipulate a movement of God among our state,” Westbrook said about the new focus. “Our only hope is to pray and seek the manifest presence and power of God upon our lives as Christ followers, churches, and ultimately our convention.”
The 70th annual meeting for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio is set for Nov. 6-7, 2023, at Genoa Baptist Church in Westerville, Ohio.
Oklahoma Baptists ‘anchored in God’s power’
By Brian Hobbs/Baptist Messenger
MUSTANG, Okla. (BP) – Oklahoma Baptists gathered for their 116th Annual Meeting on Nov. 14-15 at First Baptist Church. The 2022 Annual Meeting theme was “Anchored,” as 700 registered Oklahoma Baptist messengers from 318 churches, as well as other attendees and guests, took part in the faith-filled convention meeting.
Disaster Relief celebrates 50 years
A highlight of the 2022 Annual Meeting was the recognition of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief’s (DR) 50th anniversary. Founded in 1973, the ministry will arrive at 50 years in 2023 – five decades of sharing hope, help and the love of Jesus amid disaster.
More than 300 Oklahoma Baptist DR volunteers assembled for a special recognition banquet, led by interim state DR director Sam Porter. A video highlighting DR ministry was shown, and remarks were given from Oklahoma Baptist leaders including Todd Fisher, Alan Quigley, Joe Ligon and others.
At the recognition banquet, Jason Yarbrough was introduced as the next state DR director. Yarbrough now serves as pastor of First Baptist Glenpool. He will step into his role starting in January.
Fisher urges Oklahoma Baptists to be ‘Anchored’ in Scripture
Todd Fisher, Oklahoma Baptists’ executive director-treasurer, preached from Hebrews 6:13-20 on the theme “Anchored.”
Abuse Prevention & Response Task Force offers report, resources
On Tuesday, Pastor Eric Costanzo of South Tulsa Baptist Church presented a report from the Oklahoma Baptists’ Abuse Prevention and Response Task Force. Costanzo also introduced new resources for churches during the Annual Meeting, which are now online at oklahomabaptists.org.
“These resources will show pastors and churches how to develop policies to better protect your most vulnerable members,” said Costanzo, who noted that Southern Baptists should do more to prevent abuse and care for abuse survivors.
The new resource offers extensive information on topics including “How to screen and train employees and volunteers;” “Improving the safety and security of your ministries;” “What do you do when someone discloses abuse to your church leadership;” and “How can church leaders shepherd victims through the devastation of abuse.”
Key reports & other business
The Tuesday morning session included reports from OBU President Heath Thomas and Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children Interim President Michael Williams. The afternoon session featured ministry reports from Robert Kellogg of WatersEdge and Bill Pierce of Baptist Village Communities. Each affiliate ministry offered key highlights, videos and updates about the Gospel impact they are having in Oklahoma and beyond.
On Tuesday, Fisher highlighted the impact of the Cooperative Program (CP). He showed a full color pie chart that broke down where all CP funding goes. He also debuted a new video, “The Journey of a CP Dollar” that tells the story of how each dollar given through the CP makes an impact (charts and videos are downloadable at oklahomabaptists.org).
The CP 2023 Budget Objective is set at $24.5 million, with 43 percent allocated to the Southern Baptist Convention, 42 percent to Oklahoma Baptists and 15 percent to Oklahoma Baptist affiliates.
On Tuesday, messengers elected the following officers: Pastor Chris Wall of First Baptist Church in Owasso to a second one-year term as President; Pastor Jon Johnston of Exchange Avenue Baptist in Oklahoma City as first vice president; and Pastor Mark Hall of First Baptist Comanche as second vice president.
Six resolutions were approved by messengers. Topics included: “On the 75th Anniversary of Indian Falls Creek;” “On the 50th Anniversary of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief;” “On Religious Liberty, Forced Conversion, and the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report;” and “On the Overturn of Roe v. Wade and Supporting Pregnancy Resource Centers.”
A resolution also was approved Against Recreational Marijuana. It reads, in part, “We are alarmed at the rapid advance and acceptance of marijuana in our state… We pray that Oklahoma will maintain legal barriers between these substances and the communities they devastate, and that the church will work with Christ-centered ministries to reach people who are impacted by addiction.”
Videos of sermons and other annual meeting coverage will be posted in coming weeks at oklahomabaptists.org. The 2023 Annual Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13-14 at Del City, First Southern.