I always enjoy attending annual meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The meeting affords opportunities of great fellowship, great sermons and worship and observing the unique structure and polity of the SBC that highlights the autonomy and authority of the local church in our organization. As I returned from the annual meeting in New Orleans, four things proved to be major takeaways for me that were encouraging:

1. Seventy-nine missionaries were commissioned by the International Mission Board in the annual meeting. They join the 3,521 missionaries plus their more than 2,700 children already serving in 122 countries. Seeing these missionaries, some silhouetted behind a screen because they are going to countries closed to the Gospel, and briefly hearing about their calling is so inspiring. These men and women sacrifice so much to obey their calling to fulfill the Great Commission. The missionary commissioning is a terrific reminder that missions is at the very heart of who we are as Southern Baptists. The historical reason Baptists decided to partner together in giving and serving in the first place was all about funding and doing missions. This remains at the core of our partnership of churches today.

2. Messengers at the annual meeting approved resolutions and motions strongly supporting our commitment to the authority of Scripture and its key, foundational role in our beliefs and practices as a convention. I am grateful messengers affirmed our belief that the Bible and our Baptist Faith and Message confession teaches a complementarian view of offices in the church. At the same time, I believe it critically important that we value the role of women in ministry and fully affirm that God calls and gifts women to serve in a variety of ministry roles within a complementarian framework. The ministry that women carry out in our local churches is invaluable!

3. Messengers overwhelmingly approved the request of the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force to have an additional year to finish their work in providing resources to help equip churches in preventing and reporting abuse and caring for survivors of abuse. We must do our very best to ensure that our churches are safe places for people of every age to attend.

4. Oklahoma Baptists’ churches had tremendous representation in New Orleans. There were more than 400 registered messengers from Oklahoma churches plus a large number of registered guests. The reception at the National World War II Museum for Oklahoma Baptists on Tuesday night of the annual meeting had approximately 500 in attendance and was a fantastic time of fellowship. I so appreciate the unity we enjoy as Oklahoma Baptists and our strong commitment to the message and mission God has given us, as well as our support of one another. What a fantastic family of churches we have—we truly do more for the kingdom together than apart.

As we think about our convention, both nationally and as a state, let’s continue to pray and work toward the unified goal of advancing the Gospel together in Oklahoma and across the globe!