Board members of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) received an exciting announcement during their Feb. 25 meeting at the Baptist Building. Anthony L. Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer, shared news of a matching gift that would help eliminate the debt for building the new facilities at Falls Creek Conference Center in Davis.
Gene and Jo Downing, longtime supporters of Oklahoma Baptist ministries, have committed to give $2.3 million as a matching gift, Jordan announced, toward the cost of construction of three new buildings at Falls Creek, including the Mathena Event Center, Thompson Lodge and Jordan Welcome Center, and tabernacle debt retirement.
“Every dollar given… they will match it, up to $2.3 million,” Jordan said. “This matching gift will be the catalyst for seeing the projects finished and the debt retired on the tabernacle.”
Downing has worked in various positions in the oil industry, and in 1980 established Downing Wellhead Equipment. Through ups and downs of the oil industry and the economy, the Downings remained focused on the three most important things in their lives—God, family and their local church.
“Gene and Jo Downing have been a vital part of what we have done at Falls Creek throughout the years,” said Jordan. “Gene served on the original building committee, and he now chairs the present Falls Creek building committee. This couple have been involved together in Downing Wellhead. That business has grown tremendously across the years. God has blessed them, and the reason God has blessed them is because they are people who are committed to the work of the Kingdom.”
Jordan mentioned that Integris Health Systems recently gave the Downings the organization’s “Philanthropist of the Year Award.”
“I have known this couple for a long time, and I have been blessed by them, watching how God has used them. Gene has been a great leader in the Falls Creek effort. He is such a wise person and gives us such help as we think through where we are going and how we can take care of business.”
Downing gave a testimony to the board of his early experiences at Falls Creek.
“My wife and I were born in Kansas,” he said, “and we never had a ‘Falls Creek,’ never experienced that. We were just amazed at what was going on.”
Downing shared how Falls Creek inspired him, how he envisioned the current tabernacle would be a great attraction to young people. He also acknowledged how the facility was “so phenomenal, and it was a shame it could only be used in the summer time. What an area of fellowship that would take place if you were able to do it year round.”
He expressed his excitement of having an event center and other facilities that would be beneficial for older adults, as well as a welcome center.
“Through all of that dreaming and all of that praying, it’s great to see it come to fruition,” said Downing.
Jordan awarded the Downings a plaque and a wall hanging featuring Gene’s favorite Bible verse, James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
“We don’t ever want to forget that we don’t build buildings to build buildings,” Jordan said. “The reason we do all that we are doing is because every time we build a facility, that gives us the ability to expand our ministry. We have the opportunity to share the Gospel with people that they might come to know the Living Savior you and I worship and serve. The fact is, we build these buildings so that we can train and develop people to walk with Jesus every day.”