From left, Oklahoma Baptist University President Heath Thomas and Walter Wilson, Oklahoma Baptists African American ministry partner, are shown presenting the J.M. Carroll Award to Alan Quigley, Oklahoma Baptists associate executive director for church resources, during the Advance Conference.

It was once known as the State Evangelism Conference but made a name change a few years ago to the Advance Conference. This Oklahoma Baptists event had another significant experience this year.

On March 4-5, the Advance Conference met at Oklahoma City, St. John Missionary. As Todd Fisher, executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists, mentioned, this was the first time Oklahoma Baptists had an event at a predominantly African American church.

“Eight years ago, there were 21 cooperating African American churches in the Oklahoma Baptists state convention,” Fisher said. “Today, there are 104. We wanted to celebrate that by having the Advance Conference this year at a predominantly African American church for the first time in state convention history. St. John Missionary Baptist Pastor Dr. Major L. Jemison, church staff and volunteers did a fantastic job hosting the event!”

Tony Evans

The two-day event was well-received by many Oklahoma Baptists, as people filled the sanctuary at St. John for the Monday evening session, March 4, which extended to an overflow area at the church for additional seating.

Fisher also commended Walter Wilson, Oklahoma Baptists African American ministry partner and pastor of Lawton, Friendship, for his “tireless efforts” in working with African American churches.

Major Jemison

Alan Quigley, Oklahoma Baptist associate executive director for church resources, received much praise as well from Fisher and others, as he organized the Advance Conference. For his efforts with this year’s Advance Conference, as well as his 17 years of working with Oklahoma Baptists, Quigley received Oklahoma Baptist University’s (OBU) J.M. Carroll Award during the Monday evening session.

OBU President Heath Thomas presented Quigley the Carroll Award, which is given annually to recognize denominational service in Oklahoma. The award is named after OBU’s first president.

Collin Coffee

Well-known author and evangelistic speaker Tony Evans addressed the packed church during the Monday evening session. Acknowledging the Advance Conference’s theme of “Sent,” Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, delivered a message on The Great Commission from Matt. 28:16-20.

“Making disciples is not an option,” Evans said. “It is a command, and it is something that you must do if we are going to be in sync with what Jesus wants done.”

Bryan Pain

Jemison also spoke during the Monday evening session, delivering a message from Nehemiah 4. “The church is a sent community,” Jemison said. “We have been sent to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. We’ve been sent to help the least, the last, the lost and the left out.”

The Monday evening session opened with music by St. John Missionary Choir, led by Terry Spigner, and the Ambassadors Concert Choir, led by Sandra Thompson.

Doug Melton

The Advance Conference featured four sessions of speakers, as well as group breakout sessions on Tuesday morning, March 5, which related to all aspects of ministry.

Bryan Pain, pastor of Duncan, First, opened the Monday morning session, preaching from Matt. 13:24-33. “You and I have been sent into the field to make a difference,” Pain said. “We have a job. Don’t lose sight of the mission… Our mission is ‘Therefore go and make disciples…’”

Scott Sullivan

Collin Coffee, pastor of Inola, Calvary, followed Pain with a message from Revelation 2, about the church in Ephesus. “We share the Gospel less than ever before but have more knowledge and access to knowledge than ever before,” Coffee said. “Something is not right, but it’s not with our heads but with our hearts.”

Doug Melton, pastor of Oklahoma City, Southern Hills, concluded the Monday morning session with a sermon on Acts 9, regarding Ananias meeting Saul. “If safety, comfort and convenience are what we are after as our highest priority, then Christ is not for us. But if you want abundance and eternal life, Christ is your only safe option.”

Jeff DeGiacomo

The Monday afternoon session featured Scott Sullivan, discipleship leader for Georgia Baptist Mission Board, who opened the session with a message on discipleship from Acts 2:40-47. “Jesus is not the key to get the gift. Jesus IS the gift,” Sullivan said.

Jeff DeGiacomo, pastor of Shawnee, Immanuel, followed Sullivan with a message from Acts 17, about Paul’s visit to Athens. “There are people sitting in our churches each week that know the Christian lingo,” DeGiacomo said. “They are busy with religious activity, but they have never been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, they are not Christians.”

Tarvoris Uzoigwe

Tavoris Uziogwe, Oklahoma Baptists evangelism and apologetics ministry partner, gave his testimony during the Monday afternoon session, as well as a challenge for observing personal evangelism. “There is only one thing we’re not going to be able to do when we are standing in front of God in glory,” Uzoigwe said. “And that’s to do the work of an evangelist. That’s the primary reason we exist.”

Stephen Rummage, pastor of Oklahoma City, Quail Springs, concluded the Monday afternoon session with a message from Isaiah 62 about being a spiritual watchman. “This world does not recognize the danger it’s in, but we do,” Rummage said. “That’s why God has called you to be a spiritual watchman. He’s placed us where we are to sound the warning, to call people to Jesus.”

Stephen Rummage

The Tuesday afternoon session opened with Shane Pruitt, next generation evangelism director for the North American Mission Board, delivering a message from Acts 5, about the apostles who were on trial with the Sanhedrin. “No matter what platform God has given you, no matter how long you have been following Jesus, no matter what title you have, we never mature past the Gospel,” Pruitt said. “We mature in the Gospel.”

Anthony Jordan, retired executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists, spoke on Matt. 5:14-16, about Christians needing to “let their light shine.” “It doesn’t matter whether you are 9 or 90,” Jordan said, “if you are a born-again believer of Christ you are the light of the world. You’re the only plan that God has to light up this dark dead world. You’re it!”

Shane Pruitt

The Advance Conference concluded with Fred Luter, former Southern Baptist Convention president and pastor of New Orleans, La., Franklin Street, preaching from Acts 1:4-8, about followers of Christ turning the world “upside down.”

“These are ordinary people,” Luter said. “They were empowered by another. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. They were able to do what they could not do of themselves by themselves.”

For more information on the Advance Conference, visit

Anthony Jordan

Fred Luter