On Nov. 10-11, the Oklahoma Baptist family will gather for our annual reunion and business meeting at Oklahoma City, Quail Springs. This gathering is a tremendous time of fellowship and inspiration with business sessions in between. We will hear many inspirational reports about the work of our Oklahoma Baptist family as we serve together to extend the Kingdom of God from our front door to the ends of the Earth.
Fellowship is no insignificant part of the annual convention. Leaders from all over the state have opportunity to spend time together in both formal and informal ways. I am told again and again how sweet the fellowship is in our convention; others who have moved away from Oklahoma often share how different we are in that respect. Oklahoma Baptists like to get together and share testimonies of victories, challenges, and even heartache and defeat. Having others who will listen, empathize, and encourage is a good thing. It is not unusual to hear laughter or to see friends in a corner praying together. Truthfully, that is why the convention theme is TOGETHER.
The Pastor’s Conference is always a source of great inspiration, and most often sets the tone for the convention as a whole. The men who will bring the Word are men who have demonstrated an ability to preach the Truth powerfully. During the convention, you will have opportunity to hear from our President, Nick Garland, who is one of the great preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
You will be introduced to the preaching of Jason Allen, who is the new President of Midwestern Seminary. One of our own gifted preachers, Jeremy Freeman, will bring the convention sermon. Add inspiring music and, I assure you, your cup will overflow by the conclusion of the convention. Also taking place on Monday is the Missions Celebration, an event coordinated by the BGCO Women’s Ministry. This will feature mission speakers, including the national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) President, Debby Akerman. A new state WMU President will also be elected.
Business is not a necessary evil, but a necessary blessing. As a Convention, we are congregational in our polity, which simply means messengers have a part in the decision-making process. Of utmost importance every year is the presentation of the financial plan. We are simplifying our approach this year. The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) will absorb the cost of shared ministry items. The budget will be divided three ways: 40 percent SBC; 15 percent Oklahoma affiliates (OBU, OBHC, BVC, and BFO); 45 percent BGCO missions and ministry.
Another important decision is the election of officers. Garland will complete his term as Convention president. A new president will be elected who will also serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors. New vice presidents will be chosen, as well as other important officers.
Some state Conventions do not present resolutions, but Oklahoma does. Why? I am called upon to speak on behalf of Oklahoma Baptists on many occasions in regard to a plethora of issues. It is so helpful to be able to refer to action taken by the Convention in regard to these issues. Having the resolutions to refer to adds strength to my comments because I am not trying to speak for Oklahoma Baptists, I am able to just reflect what Oklahoma Baptists have already said.
This year, we are hoping to see many of our ethnic pastors in attendance and serving as messengers. Oklahoma Baptists are a multi-ethnic group and the richer for it. We have people who serve on boards and participate in leadership who come from a spectrum of Baptist life. Our deep desire is that pastors, staff, and laypersons will take time to participate in our reunion and help make decisions that will guide us into the future that is before us.