DAVIS—On Sept. 12, Oklahoma Baptists’ board of directors met at Falls Creek Conference Center for a regularly-scheduled business meeting. Members of the board spent time in fellowship, prayer and conducting key business.

Leslie Osborn, chief financial officer for Oklahoma Baptists, reports on Cooperative Program giving in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Baptists Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Fisher addressed members of the board during the morning and afternoon sessions. In addition to speaking to various issues and business recommendations before the board, Fisher detailed his ministry stops at churches around the state, saying how the Oklahoma Baptists staff seeks to bless and encourage pastors and churches.

“Our vision of Advancing the Gospel Together continues to guide all we do,” he said. Fisher spoke about points of emphasis for the state convention.

“Our Purpose is to embody ministries with a Gospel-centered and church-focused approach; To serve and support churches with resources for strength, health, and effective Gospel ministries in their communities; and to encourage and equip pastors, church staff, and other ministry leaders to fulfill God’s calling on their lives.”

Fisher explained that the state convention is “by churches, through churches, for churches.” He stated the following commitments from Oklahoma Baptists:

  • “Strengthening mission engagement among churches
  • Helping churches plant new churches
  • Encouraging pastor & family wellness
  • Revitalizing existing churches
  • Prioritizing Next Generation ministries
  • Assisting churches in building a culture of evangelism”

Following the meeting, Fisher said on social media, “We just finished (a great time) at Falls Creek for our Oklahoma Baptists board of directors meeting. I appreciate so much the men and women who serve on the board and our amazing team who works so hard attending to all the details to make the meeting a reality.” He added the hash tags, “#weareoklahomabaptists” and “#bychurchesthroughchurchesforchurches.”

Members of the board commented how they feel blessed to be part of Oklahoma Baptists ministry efforts.

Kevin Baker, pastor of Altus, Martha Road, said, “I love serving with Oklahoma Baptists advancing the Gospel.”

Cooperative Program giving fuels Gospel advance
Leslie Osborn, chief financial officer for Oklahoma Baptists, gave a presentation concerning Cooperative Program giving in Oklahoma.

“As of the 36th week of 2023, Cooperative Program receipts were approximately $159,000 behind budget and approximately $180,000 behind this time last year. As of the end of July total budgeted income exceeded total budgeted expenses by approximately $2,300,000. This large margin is common at the end of camp season but will decrease as the year progresses,” Osborn said.

“The 2024 financial plan is only $1,459 more than the current year budget and it includes an increase of over $200,000 for direct ministry expenses. An additional $79,000 was added to BCM ministry and an additional $131,000 was added to Church Relations & Resources and Falls Creek. This is only possible by making cuts in the support services area.

Osborn noted a significant statistic about the Falls Creek budget as compared to salvations seen during the summer of 2023. “The amount of Cooperative Program dollars used by Falls Creek per salvation was $280. Even our smallest church in Oklahoma can proudly say because they gave through the Cooperative Program lives were changed for eternity at Falls Creek.”

Affiliates, Committees detail ministry impact

Robert Kellogg, CEO of WatersEdge, shares about WaterEdge’s goal of annually distributing $25 million to Kingdom-impacting ministries by the year 2025.

All four Oklahoma Baptists’ affiliate leaders—Robert Kellogg, CEO of WatersEdge (also known as the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma); Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) President Heath Thomas; Baptist Village Communities (BVC) President Bill Pierce; and Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children President James Swain—each delivered ministry reports to the board of directors.

Kellogg gave an encouraging report concerning the WatersEdge goal “to distribute $25 million to Kingdom-impacting ministries annually by the year 2025.” Thomas spoke about OBU making significant strides in its renewal from the April tornado around campus. Pierce shared how BVC is unique in its field of aging services by finding ways to activate residents in ministry volunteering at each BVC location. Swain shared that OBHC is celebrating an important ministry milestone in its 120th anniversary.

Board approves recommendations
Also, reports from each board committee were heard, including recommendations from the executive committee.

The board unanimously approved “the purchase of the Ada cabin at Falls Creek Conference Center from the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma (dba WatersEdge), as directed by the September 15, 2020, Memorandum of Understanding between Oklahoma Baptists and WatersEdge, be approved in the amount of $2,675,000 to be drawn from the unrestricted reserves of Oklahoma Baptists.”

Luke Holmes, chairman of the constitution & bylaws review and revision task force, gives a report of the task force’s work.

A report to the board of directors was given by Luke Holmes, pastor of Tishomingo, First. Holmes served as chairman of a special-appointed task force to review and recommend updates to the state convention bylaws, constitution and governing documents. The task force, which was appointed by Oklahoma Baptists President Chris Wall, including pastors and lay leaders across the state.

“It has been a privilege to lead the special task force of Oklahoma Baptists tasked with reviewing and updating our state convention’s bylaws and constitution. This is an important task, and this group of pastors and lay leaders represents Oklahoma Baptists well, and has done a thorough, thoughtful and excellent job. We invite Oklahoma Baptists to read the proposed updates and prayerfully consider them as we vote on the matter during our Annual Meeting in November,” Holmes said.

Chris Wall, pastor of Owasso, First and president of Oklahoma Baptists, moderates the board meeting.

The Board of Directors approved that “the draft Constitution & Bylaws be adopted as amended and commended for adoption by messengers to the 2023 Oklahoma Baptists Annual Meeting after proper notice in the Baptist Messenger.” Holmes noted that the revisions will be available online at oklahomabaptists.org and announced in the Baptist Messenger in advance of the Annual Meeting on Nov. 13-14 at Del City, First Southern.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is set for Feb. 27, 2024, at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City.