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STATE MEETINGS: Oklahoma remembers race massacre; Georgia passes resolutions on racism, CRT

Oklahoma remembers race massacre, passes reduced budget

By Baptist Messenger Staff

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (BP) – Oklahoma Baptists gathered Tuesday (Nov. 10) at First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow for their 114th annual meeting. Abbreviated to one day, the meeting featured times of preaching, essential business, as well as a special focus on the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Nearly 500 messengers observed COVID-19 protocols and precautions throughout the meeting.

With the 100th anniversary of the tragic Tulsa Race Massacre coming in 2021, Oklahoma Baptist leaders called to mind the significance of the occasion. Messengers watched a video conversation between Anthony Scott, pastor of historic First Baptist Church of North Tulsa, and Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer for Oklahoma Baptists.

OBU President Heath Thomas announces the 1921 Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to two African American students. Officers of the Oklahoma Baptists African American Fellowship are featured on the platform during Thomas’ announcement. The Fellowship will help identify qualified young men and women for the scholarships.

A new scholarship program at Oklahoma Baptist University, which will be funded in partnership by Oklahoma Baptists, was announced at the meeting. The 1921 Scholarship will award two full scholarships to Black students at OBU.

A new slate of Oklahoma Baptists’ officers were elected. The nominees for president were Todd Fisher, Pastor of Shawnee, Immanuel; Pastor LeRon West of Tulsa, Gilcrease Hills; and Pastor Bill Ascol of Owasso, Bethel. Fisher was elected president, following a runoff vote with West.

Michael Butler, pastor of Chickasha, First, was elected first vice president, without opposition.

Nominees for second vice president were Ryan Smith, worship pastor of Stillwater, Eagle Heights, and Jason Yarbrough, pastor of Glenpool, First. Yarbrough was elected second vice president by Messengers.

Due to the abbreviated program, the Resolutions Committee did not present resolutions at the 2020 meeting. In addition, various matters of business were addressed.

Messengers to the annual meeting heard fiscal reports from 2020. Dilbeck thanked Oklahoma Baptists for their faithful giving amid the challenges of COVID-19 and 2021, and he relayed how the state convention made mid-year budget adjustments.

“Our staff and our board have exercised extraordinary fiscal discipline in this challenging year,” Dilbeck said. “They managed to severely limit our spending and created an adjusted (and reduced) budget to be responsible stewards to what God has given us.”

Messengers also approved the 2021 Cooperative Program spending plan, set at a $23.1 million goal, which represents a smaller budget goal from prior budget year “in light of economic uncertainties.” The 2020 Cooperative Program Objective had been set at $26.1 million, prior to mid-year adjustments.

Of the $23.1 million Cooperative Program goal for Oklahoma Baptists, 43 percent is allocated for national Southern Baptist Convention causes, 42 percent for Oklahoma Baptists and 15 percent for Oklahoma Baptists’ affiliates. The allocations remain unchanged from last year.

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Georgia Baptists decrease budget, speak to race issues

By Scott Barkley/Christian Index

MACON, Ga. (BP) – In many ways the 199th annual meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention reflected many preceding it. Yet, this annual meeting wasn’t the typical three-day event that unofficially begins with a Sunday night inspirational rally and concludes Tuesday evening.

Georgia Baptist Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr., leads attendees in applause for pastors and church staff attending the annual meeting after speaking of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s directive to honor every pastor as a hero. Photo by Scott Barkley

Due to COVID concerns, both the rally and Monday’s Preaching Conference were canceled. Socially distanced messengers watched and voted from four locations. An anticipated five-hour sprint of a gathering finished 30 minutes ahead of schedule, a feat rarely seen among Baptists.

Approximately 586 messengers approved a litany of measures Monday (Nov. 9) at Ingleside Baptist Church as well as the remote location of Turning Point at Mabel White Baptist Church.

Among the measures was a 2021 budget of $37,835,000, a 6 percent decrease from last year. Of that, 40 percent will be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program for national and international missions and ministry, and 60 percent will stay in Georgia – 12.76 percent for Georgia Baptist extension ministries and 47.24 percent for Georgia Baptist Mission Board ministries. The 60/40 split between state and the national CP is unchanged from 2019.

In addition to messengers, 73 guests attended, and up to 180 viewers watched online.

In the executive director’s report, W. Thomas Hammond Jr. celebrated the addition of 26 new churches, the majority of them non-Caucasian.

Kevin Williams, senior pastor of Villa Rica First Baptist Church, ran unopposed for GBC president and was elected by proclamation. Pastor Barry Snapp of Victory Baptist in Rockmart was elected first vice president. A tie for second vice president occurred, with Pastor Alex Cosio of Nuevo Horizonte in Woodstock and Matt Brady, pastor of Eastside in Claxton, sharing the title, while Stephen Williams, pastor of Belmont in Calhoun, was elected fourth vice president.

David Mills, senior pastor of Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens and chairman of the Committee on Resolutions, delivered four resolutions for consideration. All were unanimously approved with no discussion by messengers.

Peter Lumpkins, a messenger from Cleveland and member of North Metro Church in Lawrenceville, submitted a resolution opposing Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, while David Eppling, a messenger and member of Concord Baptist in Clermont, submitted one supporting law enforcement. The Committee on Resolutions wrote one condemning racism. A fourth expressed appreciation for Ingleside Baptist Church and Turning Point at Mabel White for serving as host sites for the annual meeting.

Mills asked for messengers to consider the resolutions on CRT and Intersectionality, law enforcement, and racism “as something as a package.” Three principles went into that thought, he said – awareness, sensitivity and balance.

Read the full story here.

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