In just three weeks, messengers from Oklahoma Baptist churches will gather from across our state to conduct the business of the convention and enjoy times of inspiration. The many wonderful highlights of this year’s convention should prove to be exciting, encouraging and enriching.
The 2010 annual meeting will convene on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University in celebration of the centennial year of our university. It is interesting that in the very first meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, our forefathers formed a committee to establish a liberal arts university that would train young men and women in a variety of disciplines while at the same time discipling and developing them to live and carry out the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations. In her 100th year, OBU stands as a world-class university that is sending her students throughout the world as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, business people, pastors and missionaries. It will be an honor to recognize and celebrate with President David Whitlock and his faculty, staff and students, the founding of our state Baptist university.
For several months, the Mission Advance Team (MAT) discussed and analyzed the work of the convention. The MAT’s assignment concluded with the development of a major report setting forth five priorities for the work of the BGCO over the next five to 10 years. Rather than focusing on funding, as do many reports from other state conventions across the nation, the MAT centered on the mission and ministry of the BGCO. This report was unanimously affirmed by the convention’s board of directors in September, and it will be presented to the convention for affirmation. This will be a major step in setting a clear course for our cooperative work in the days ahead. An upcoming Messenger article will feature an interview with the MAT chairman, Hance Dilbeck.
In this convention we will elect a new president. Emerson Falls has served us well over these two years. Much has been made of the fact that Falls is the first Native American president of the convention in our 104-year history. The election of a Native American to this post was long overdue. But it has been affirmed many times across these two years that Falls was not elected because he is Indian, but because he is a great leader. He has proven himself time and again to be a respected and wise leader for our convention. It has been a great pleasure to serve beside him. Few decisions we make are more important than the election of a new president.
The convention will be filled with reports and vision for the future. A highlight of our meetings is the opportunity to hear from our affiliates and the convention staff. God is doing a great work in Oklahoma, and we can be proud of our convention staff and the work of OBU, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Baptist Village Communities and the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma.
Great music and preaching always mark our convention meetings. Falls will introduce the theme, “Empowered to Act,” on Monday night. Acts 4:31 calls us, as the people of God, to walk in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Ed Stetzer, one of the foremost missiologists, strategic thinkers and preachers of our day, will close the Monday evening session. Tuesday, I will be honored to address the convention, and we will be privileged to hear our own Doug Melton, pastor of Southern Hills in Oklahoma City.
Several different groups and students from OBU will provide the music. The Oklahoma Baptist Symphony, made up of musicians from across our state, will lead worship Tuesday night, and it will be glorious.
The annual meeting will conclude Tuesday evening with a commissioning service for international missionaries. We are pleased to welcome the International Mission Board to Oklahoma and to have the opportunity to hear testimonies from our missionaries, a challenge from Interim President Clyde Meador, as well as the opportunity to pray for these new missionaries who will be taking the Gospel around the globe. Few experiences surpass the opportunity to participate in a commissioning service. I hope that churches from all over Oklahoma will bring busloads of people to see this incredible event.
All of the above are very important to our cooperative work as Oklahoma Baptists. But perhaps one of the most significant experiences at a convention meeting is the fellowship and camaraderie we enjoy as God’s people when we get together. Spending time talking, praying, drinking coffee and eating meals together solidifies our relationships and commitments to work together to advance the Kingdom. While other conventions have experienced division and controversy, Oklahoma Baptists have remained united. I contend it is because we know one another and love one another. Convention time is a time to renew and strengthen our love and fellowship.
I look forward to seeing you Nov. 15-16 at OBU for the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.