In 2007, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) opened the new tabernacle at Falls Creek. I remember that day like it was yesterday. For some of our young people, the new tabernacle is the only tabernacle they have known. When we tell them about the “old tabernacle,” they think of the amphitheater on the hill. Some of us know what the real “old tabernacle” was really like! Simply stated—HOT!
It has been a remarkable journey for us over these last six years. Since entering the new tabernacle, we have had many “first” and “largest” experiences. I heard silence for the first time in a youth service when James Lankford asked the students to pray. It was the first indoor service for a youth week. And it was the first time we had a worship service in an air-conditioned room! Hallelujah! AMEN!
In these six years, we have had the largest attendance for a summer with just more than 57,000. The largest number of professions of faith, more than 2,200, occurred in 2012. Likewise, we had the largest number of people surrender to missions and ministry during a summer with 723 decisions. We also had the largest men’s retreat attendance a couple of years ago with nearly 4,000 attending.
All of these experiences have happened since moving into the new R. A. Young Tabernacle. We pause to rejoice and thank God for His continued mighty work in the hills of the Arbuckles. Now we are poised to extend the year-round use of Falls Creek through the building of a welcome center, 50-room lodge and a new event center. God has provided more than $10.5 million toward the $12 million cost of these facilities. New water and sewer treatment facilities have been built that will serve us for many years into the future. To God be the Glory!
The BGCO is in the beginning stages of preparing for the 100th birthday of Falls Creek in 2017. Our desire is to have an incredible celebration worthy of our great God and Savior—indeed, a celebration of generosity and sacrifice by the people of God to provide such awesome facilities. The planning process will begin in the near future, and the celebration will be a time to remember.
I can think of nothing more important for that event than to celebrate the elimination of the debt on the tabernacle. For the first time, the debt has slipped below the $3 million mark at $2.99 million. Praise the Lord! It is because of the generosity of God’s wonderful people called Oklahoma Baptists.
But we have not arrived at our destination. Our celebration will not be complete without a debt-free tabernacle. Fundraising specialists always say debt is the hardest money to raise. I agree—but these specialists just don’t know Oklahoma Baptists and our love for Falls Creek and can’t imagine the number of lives transformed by the Gospel on those grounds. So with faith in our gracious God and His good people, I call us to rise up and complete the journey we started many years ago. Together we can remove the debt!
A simple way to take part would be to participate in SAVE-A-SEAT 2017. There are 2,597 seats that have not been sponsored. Thus, at $500 per seat, we can reduce the debt by $1,298,500. For more information on SAVE-A-SEAT 2017, please call 800/690-6933.
I love the SAVE-A-SEAT approach because it personalizes my gift. I am sponsoring a seat where someone will sit and hear the Gospel. From that seat, it’s possible that person will walk the aisle to surrender to the Savior.
Yes, it will take more than the SAVE-A-SEAT plan to eliminate the debt. There still will be $1.7 million left. But I am confident God will speak to others to do more, and on the day we celebrate 100 years of Falls Creek, we will celebrate a debt-free “new tabernacle.” This is the Oklahoma Baptist way.