Oklahoma Baptists are marked by unity. That unity is hard won and requires constant vigilance. Through the years of conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention, Oklahoma Baptists have stayed the course and remained unified. But do not mistake unity with uniformity. We are a diverse people. We vary in color, style of worship and ministry focus. Within the confines of orthodoxy, our theological positions have variance.
To give the impression that our unity is based on absolute agreement on all issues would be altogether false. A wide variety of issues have arisen across the years about which we have debated and struggled. Through it all, we have determined to walk together with love and respect for one another.
Our conventions may have moments of discussion, but it is done with respect for all who come to the table. While there is not always agreement with every line of a budget, we have committed to support a unified budget that allows us to do Kingdom business that penetrates multiple levels of our society across this state.
The bottom line is that we have chosen to cooperate. It is my opinion that the larger the vision, the greater the need to cooperate. The very genesis of state conventions among Baptists came about because our forefathers knew greater impact in a state could be accomplished when the churches took seriously a cooperative effort. Christian education, children’s homes, senior adult homes, evangelism, church planting, university student ministry, developing church health—all caused earlier generations to choose to cooperate.
I find myself overwhelmed with thanksgiving to God for Oklahoma Baptists. Through tough financial times, our people and churches have held the rope for cooperative missions and ministries. While average per church percentage giving through the Cooperative Program across the SBC has dropped, Oklahoma churches have increased our percentage each of the last three years. Just as churches have discovered the value of a unified budget, so have Oklahoma Baptists.
There will be challenges to our unity in the days ahead. Storm clouds in the SBC will not cross the state of Sooners and Cowboys without sounding thunder and lightning in our direction. I am confident, however, that Oklahoma Baptists will pray, discuss and decide our part in the work of the Kingdom from our front door to the ends of the Earth. And when the debates have ended and the votes are complete, we will emerge, still united and unified, to carry the Gospel thoughout our state and to the world—together!
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.