On Nov. 3, David Whitlock will become the 15th president of Oklahoma Baptist University. He is a native Oklahoman who is returning to lead our university into a new period of growth in both numbers and impact.

It is interesting that more than 100 years ago, messengers to the very first meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma discussed the founding of a liberal arts college to serve the Baptists of our state. From the beginning, they desired to train men and women in a variety of disciplines. Their dream was to send people into medicine, law, education, business, government and numerous other vocations with a passion to serve Christ as they served people. That commitment has not changed.

In addition, Oklahoma Baptists desired a school that would train ministry leaders for our churches and denomination. From the outset, we wanted our college to develop men and women who were forever latched to the truth of Scripture and had a passion to follow Jesus with a whole heart. We have long held expectations that our university would produce scholars and servants who believe the inerrant and infallible Bible from cover to cover.

These lofty goals can be accomplished only when the president has the same objectives and commitments. David Whitlock is such a man. He has an unwavering commitment to the integration of faith and learning. His personal journey as an educator and pastor has uniquely prepared him to lead our university to new heights. I have every confidence that, whether in business or church, the young men and women who will emerge from our university during his administration will reveal a deeper faith, excellence in their fields of study and a passion to be on mission for Christ.

I look forward to working beside him. I believe we are entering a new era of cooperation and ministry that connects the strengths of the convention ministries with those of the university for the good of our churches. With the expertise of OBU’s faculty and staff and the considerable giftedness and creativity of the convention staff, Oklahoma Baptists should expect new approaches for strengthening ministry in the local church.

Let me give you two examples. Can you imagine the synergy that could result if OBU and the convention worked hand in hand to develop the Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach to help engage and implement a strategy to reach our world with the Gospel? Partnership missions could move to a new level of impact. Hundreds of young people could be trained and sent through GO Students and summer missions. Unified training and development of our churches for mission projects in America and around the world could transform many churches into missional models.

One of the greatest needs in Oklahoma is for us to provide training to our bivocational pastors and staff. Whitlock understands this because he himself has been a bivocational pastor. Think of the opportunity for the convention staff and our university, working together, to offer our bivocational leaders exceptional training.

Oklahoma Baptists have a unique opportunity to unite the power of a university and the strength of a convention to make a difference in the local church and in ministry to the ends of the earth. Dr. Whitlock and I are committed to begin the process of utilizing the incredible expertise, strength and spiritual passion of Oklahoma Baptist University and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma to chart a new course of dynamic impact in Oklahoma and the world.

Welcome, David Whitlock, Dana and boys, to your new home and your new Oklahoma Baptist family. We are praying for you and looking forward to a long and fruitful ministry.