It is common among church members to know how important the biblical instruction is regarding “not neglecting to gather together” (Heb. 10:25).

After experiencing an extended period of churches unable to gather physically due to the COVID pandemic, Oklahoma Baptists will be encouraged to gather again during the Advance Conference, Jan. 24-25, at Moore, First.

Previously known as the State Evangelism Conference, the Advance Conference will emphasize the theme “Gather,” featuring three preaching sessions on Monday, Jan. 24. Programming on Tuesday, Jan. 25 includes two morning breakout sessions and a closing preaching session in the afternoon.

“Our hope is that we will challenge the church to gather people together to advance the Gospel,” Alan Quigley wrote in an invitation letter sent to many pastors and church leaders across the state. As associate executive director of church resources group, Quigley wants the Advance Conference to be both a rallying and equipping event for Oklahoma Baptists.

The Advance Conference will introduce the ONE emphasis, which Quigley said will encourage churches to focus on being unified in Christ and making disciples.

“The ONE emphasis will be previewed during the breakouts on Tuesday,” Quigley said. “Churches were surviving through COVID, and now we are trying to help them refocus on our mission and purpose, bringing everybody together on one page. The ONE emphasis is an undated opportunity for pastors to take their church through five weeks of refocusing to accomplish that purpose.”

The preaching sessions during the Advance Conference will feature pastors from around the state as well as Oklahoma Baptists ministry partners. The only speaker not from Oklahoma who will appear at the Advance Conference is Bill Britt, an evangelist with Compel Outreach International.

Pastors speaking at the Advance Conference include Matt Brooks, senior pastor of Broken Arrow, First; Jeremy Freeman, lead pastor of Newcastle, First; Rusty Gunn, senior pastor of Sand Springs, Church That Matters; Brock Hardin, senior pastor of Heavener, First; Rusty McMullen, lead pastor of McAlester, First; and Brian Mills, senior pastor of Yukon, Trinity.

Todd Fisher, executive director-treasurer-elect of Oklahoma Baptists, will be speaking at the Advance Conference, as well as Oklahoma Baptists ministry partners Prophet Bailey, young adult discipleship; Todd Sanders, Falls Creek programming and youth ministry; and Rickey Thomas, community ministry evangelism.

Bailey and Thomas are new to serving as Oklahoma Baptists ministry partners, and Quigley said the Advance Conference will be an introduction of them to Oklahoma Baptist churches.

“Both of these men are very capable in their calling,” Quigley said about Bailey and Thomas. “Prophet has spent his life ministering to young adults. For him to be the young adult discipleship guy is a no-brainer.

“Rickey is doing community ministry evangelism. A lot of churches are doing community ministry, and a lot of churches are doing evangelism, but where community ministry evangelism takes place, we are seeing great fruit. While areas around the state have pockets of this happening, we want to help spread the idea around our state because we saw all through the COVID period this was the area where we saw the most fruit.

The Advance Conference also will feature testimonies from Adam Mask, pastor of Coweta, Community, who will share how he went from being in prison to now preaching in the pulpit, and Laura Perry, a former transgender person whose testimony is helping LGBTQ people to be transformed in Christ.

Most importantly, the Advance Conference will display how the theme “Gather” and the ONE emphasis correspond with each other.

“’Gather’ and the ONE emphasis are the same thing,” Quigley said. “We’re coming back together and encouraging churches to spend five weeks on what it means to be back together. It means more than all of us being in the same room on a Sunday morning. It means we are all back together in our mission and our vision. This gives the church an opportunity to become likeminded.”

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