Board OKs $4.5 million Falls Creek improvements
In their first meeting of the year March 1, members of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Board of Directors dealt with everything from budgets and audits to the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) report and wastewater at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center.
The directors approved a 2012 Cooperative Program objective of $24.9 million, which is $500,000 more than 2010 receipts, and a 2012 Edna McMillan State Missions Offering goal and allocations totaling $1 million.
The board also gave its approval to the proposed Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) required wastewater treatment system at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center to be built at an estimated cost of $4.5 million. It also authorized BGCO Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony L. Jordan to obtain firm construction costs and a recommend a contractor to build new wastewater and water treatment systems that fulfill the requirements of the ODEQ consent order, and that the contractor and costs be presented to the Board for approval in May.
The existing Falls Creek wastewater treatment facility is comprised of a single partially aerated lagoon that was constructed in 1968. A three-lagoon system is now required that will provide capacity to meet the anticipated growth within the Falls Creek camp until the year 2030.
In 2008, the BGCO was notified by the ODEQ that the WTP no longer conformed to construction standards for water treatment plants.
The relocation of the lagoons will allow for additional separation between the recreational areas of the camp and the waste treatment site, and allows the BGCO to maintain regulatory compliance and provide sufficient capacity to stay ahead of expansion.
Board members also affirmed the GCR report that challenges each state convention to strive to achieve the historic goal of 50/50 division of Cooperative Program receipts with the Southern Baptist Convention after consideration of allocations for shared ministries, and that avenues be explored to begin the process in Oklahoma.
“The key sentence here is that we will ‘explore,’” said Jordan. “This is not a commitment on the part of this board, but it gives us the responsibility to explore and come back with an acceptable plan. It will be a process, and may be a long process, depending on such things as the economy, etc.”
In other action, the board:
• approved new members—Chuck Utsler, member of Pocasset, First, to complete the one-year term of Johnny Tims; Steve Goodson, pastor of Claremore, Sequoyah, to complete the three-year term of Scott Greenland; Mark Walters, pastor of Nicoma Park, First, to complete the four-year term of Emerson Falls, and Keith Miller, pastor of Enid, First, to complete the three-year term of Jeff Jackson.
• adopted a long-term leave of absence as an addition to the Personnel Policy Manual of the BGCO.
• approved the BGCO Salary Administration Plan.
• approved Capin Crouse as the audit firm for 2011-13.
In his remarks to the board, Jordan said Oklahoma Baptists are a privileged people.
“The work is strong and in good hands,” he said.
He revealed that his grandpa, who was a bivocational pastor, told him “it’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”
“The last few years have been the most challenging times I remember,” Jordan said. “There were times over the last two years I might have just weakened a little.”
He explained that after the 2010 budget was established, the state declined into deeper recession, facing the challenge of the shrinking dollar.
“We cut the budget by $700,000, which meant cutting staff and ministry,” he reported. “But bad times are not always bad for us. They helped us focus on who we are and what God has called us to do.”
Jordan noted that 2010 ended up being good, with monies coming in at $24.4 million, $200,000 above the reduced expenses.
“In spite of changes on the Southern Baptist Convention level, we have continued to focus on the main thing,” Jordan emphasized. “We have not weakened.”
He said in Oklahoma, there have been more than 50 new church plants every year for 15 years, and 25 strategic locations have been established for new churches.
“There is tremendous Hispanic growth in our state, and we need more African-American and Asian churches,” he observed. He said he recently received an e-mail from Paul Dickson, pastor of Forgan, First, saying his church wants to be involved in church planting. He was the first to respond in a commitment to be involved in one of those strategic locations.
“A few weeks ago, I was in St. George, Utah, a growing city,” he said. “We helped them buy some land, and that land is across the street from a new housing addition and a new airport. It’s a dream ready to be fulfilled.”
Jordan said he recently preached at the Guerrero State Convention in Acapulco, which has the goal of planting 15 new churches by 2015.
“Acapulco is pagan beyond belief, with only 14 Baptist churches in a populated area the size of Oklahoma. I think we can plant those 15 churches by 2012, and we are asking you to come along and help us,” he said. He noted also that there is a building available for purchase across the street from a high school and near a prison with 2,500 inmates, which will allow us to plant a church in the community as well as the prison.
“We are committed in these tough times,” he said. “We will not weaken.”
Also speaking were BGCO affiliate presidents Bill Pierce, Baptist Village Communities; David Whitlock, Oklahoma Baptist University; Tony Kennedy, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, and Robert Kellogg, The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma.
Pierce said not only is Baptist Village Communities serving in its own residences, but also in home health care, now called Entrusted Hearts. There is also an available “Missionary Pile,” which is medical equipment to share with those who need it; and a ministry to link non-Baptist retirement communities to Baptist churches, he said.
Whitlock said again OBU is at the top of the highest ranked universities in several publications, and not only does the school boast the most IMB missionaries serving around the world, but it is also putting missionaries in most every field of endeavor.
“Every 60 seconds, 72 people in the world die without Christ,” he said. “That’s what makes OBU so critical. We want to slow that down by making a difference in the lives of those 72.”
Kennedy said a new OBHC program, “Journey to 2020, is expanding ministries and establishing new programs.
“Last year, our Hope Pregnancy Centers celebrated 25 years of saving the lives of the unborn,” he said. “There were 208 babies born through this ministry and 215 clients made professions of faith.”
Kellogg said the Foundation has had a strong year in almost every category, assisting 281 families with their charitable estate plans, memorializing $19.3 million in future testamentary gifts, the single largest benefactor being the local church.
“The Foundation earned 18.5 percent in our stock portfolio, and distributed $8.1 million to approximately 300 charitable causes in January, a 15.8 percent increase over the previous year’s annual distribution,” he said.