Members of Oklahoma Baptists’ state convention board of directors gathered on Sept. 15 at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City, to meet, pray, hear ministry and financial reports, as well as finalize plans for the upcoming annual meeting in November.
2020 Annual Meeting set for Nov. 10 in Broken Arrow
In a unanimous decision, board members approved a plan to change the 114th annual meeting from a two-day meeting to an abbreviated, one-day meeting.
The 2020 Annual Meeting of Oklahoma Baptists, which was previously scheduled for Nov. 9-10, will take place only on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Broken Arrow, First (100 W. Albany Street).
With the decision to alter the meeting, Oklahoma Baptists’ convention becomes one of dozens of Southern Baptist state conventions to change annual meeting plans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; multiple state conventions have cancelled or postponed their annual meetings.
The newly-approved schedule will feature times of preaching and essential business, including officer elections. The annual pastors’ conference and various fellowship events and meals previously scheduled have been cancelled.
“While we are disappointed that COVID-related factors have inhibited our plans to meet as we typically do, we believe the 2020 meeting, though shortened, will be uplifting and unifying for our pastors and churches,” said Oklahoma Baptists President Blake Gideon, who serves as senior pastor of Edmond, First.
Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer for Oklahoma Baptists, added, “The theme for our convention meeting is ‘Unhindered,’ based on the last verse in the Book of Acts. While the 2020 year has presented unparalleled challenges for our churches, we know the Gospel of Jesus Christ will advance unhindered, as we embrace brokenness as opportunity for the Gospel.”
Gospel advance in ‘challenging year’
Addressing board members, Dilbeck said, “This has been a most unusual year. Our pastors and churches have remained faithful to God’s calling. You (as board members) have served well, and I want to thank you on behalf of all Oklahoma Baptists.”
Dilbeck and board leaders discussed the 2020 finances of Oklahoma Baptists, and also the 2021 Cooperative Program allocation, which was set at $23.1 million.
“Thanks to leaders on our board and staff—and thanks to the continued faithful and generous giving of Oklahoma Baptists—we were able to maintain financial stability in 2020. We streamlined our convention budget,” Dilbeck added.
Affiliate and ministry updates
Presidents from the four affiliate organizations addressed board members, including Oklahoma Baptist University President Heath Thomas, Baptist Foundation President Robert Kellogg, Baptist Village Communities (BVC) President Bill Pierce and Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children President Greg McNeece.
Pierce shared how BVC has faced unprecedented challenges with COVID-19. He shared stories of how key staff stepped up and demonstrated “faith amid fearful times,” as virus outbreaks affected multiple villages. “The Lord was faithful through it all,” Pierce said.
Reports were presented from various Oklahoma Baptists staff, including Associate Executive Directors Alan Quigley and James Swain, as well as Todd Sanders, Don Williams, Cris Lowery and Bob Mayfield.
Williams, director of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, shared updates about relief efforts in Lake Charles, La., in the wake of Hurricane Laura. With hundreds of people served through chainsaw debris clean up, thousands of meals and chaplaincy efforts, DR volunteers are serving people amid this crisis.
“One husband and wife who were served asked, ‘Why are you here helping?’ That was an open door to share the Gospel, and they both professed Christ,” Williams said.
Lowery, who serves as state director of Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM), shared how the Lord has brought salvation to many students, including more than 20 students at the University of Oklahoma BCM through recent outreach efforts.
Several board members joined the meeting via virtual conference call, while others attended in person. The next meeting of the board is scheduled for March 9, 2021.
Gideon led board members to pray for ministry happening across Oklahoma, as all joined in.