Hance Dilbeck, who has served as Oklahoma Baptists executive director-treasurer since 2018, on Thursday was unanimously elected GuideStone President-elect during a called meeting of the GuideStone Trustee Board.
Dilbeck accepted the call and gave thanks to the Lord, his family and trustees for the opportunity to serve at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), also expressing gratitude to Oklahoma Baptists.
In a note sent to Oklahoma Baptist pastors, Dilbeck said, “Brothers, you know how deeply I love Oklahoma Baptists. The process of discerning God’s call to embrace the GuideStone stewardship has been clear and compelling, but not easy. (My wife) Julie and I are very excited about our new work. A serious responsibility and a significant platform will be entrusted to me by Southern Baptists.
“However, rest assured, we feel this step away from the work of our state convention as a real loss. Please pray for us, as we are certainly praying for you and each of the churches where you serve. Oklahoma Baptists have a rich heritage of unity, vitality, and godly wisdom in the face of new seasons, and I have full confidence that you will continue to walk in that path in this season of change.”
Dilbeck indicated that on May 25, at the meeting of Oklahoma Baptists’ Board of Directors, he will officially resign as executive director-treasurer effective June 25. At that meeting, Oklahoma Baptists’ Board will vote to establish a search committee. According to the state convention’s constitution, Oklahoma Baptists’ senior associate executive director—a role held by Joe Ligon—will serve as the interim executive director for the state convention.
Oklahoma Baptists’ President Todd Fisher, who is senior pastor of Shawnee, Immanuel, said, “The news today is bittersweet for Oklahoma Baptists. We are excited for this new opportunity for Hance and know he will do an excellent job leading GuideStone. We are proud that one of our fellow Oklahomans will be at the helm of a national entity in the SBC. At the same time, Hance’s departure leaves a big void for us. His leadership these last three years has been stellar and visionary in keeping our state convention focused and well situated to advance the Gospel together in unity. He will be sorely missed, but we are confident of great days ahead for GuideStone and Oklahoma Baptists.”
Dilbeck will serve alongside current GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins beginning this summer. Trustees and GuideStone anticipate a period of transition between Hawkins and Dilbeck starting this summer and culminating in Hawkins becoming President Emeritus and Dilbeck becoming President and Chief Executive Officer in the first quarter of 2022.
Steve Dighton, retired Kansas pastor who also previously pastored in Oklahoma, served as chair of the presidential search committee and said the committee bathed the process in prayer to seek out the Lord’s candidate in this process.
“We established a process where we were determined to only consider prospects recommended to us from our Southern Baptist family,” said Dighton. “We solicited feedback for three months, and even added one more month to give time for more recommendations to come in. A total of 15 people were recommended to the committee.”
Hawkins expressed his confidence to trustees in their selection. “Hance Dilbeck is one of the most respected men in Southern Baptist life,” Hawkins said. “He has pastored all sizes of Southern Baptist churches, has a heart for serving pastors from small, medium and large churches; he understands the dynamics and complexity of GuideStone’s ministry, and he is a quick learner. And he is among the humblest men I’ve ever known, so he’ll be one who has a learner’s heart as he embarks on this new calling from the Lord. Susie and I are holding Hance and Julie in our hearts and prayers, and we invite Southern Baptists to join us in lifting them up.”
Prior to being called as the ninth executive director-treasurer in Oklahoma Baptist’ history, Dilbeck served as pastor at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs for 15 years. He had served in Oklahoma churches as pastor for more than 30 years. Dilbeck has been an active participant in SBC denominational life, having served as chairman of the board of trustees at Oklahoma Baptist University, Southwestern Seminary, and the International Mission Board through the years. He is a prior second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I am asking our Father for grace to be faithful with this stewardship and effective with the platform; serving those who serve the Lord,” Dilbeck added. “We are grateful for the opportunity to serve as the pastor of great churches in Oklahoma for 30 years. The Lord used these people to give me a shepherd’s heart. Serving as executive director put me in a position to learn from godly leaders in churches and ministries of all sizes. I have developed a burden for encouraging pastors and ministry leaders to give careful attention to their own wellness and the wellness of their families.”
GuideStone Trustees heard Dilbeck’s testimony of coming to trust Christ as his Lord and Savior, and his calling to ministry. Dilbeck gave thanks to Southern Baptists for the opportunities they have provided him and looks forward to continuing serving in this new role.
Born in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, Dilbeck earned his undergraduate in religion from Oklahoma Baptist University. He holds two degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary—a Master of Divinity obtained in 1992 and a Doctor of Ministry earned in 2002. The Dilbecks have three grown and married sons and eight grandchildren.
He will begin work as GuideStone president-elect on July 1.