Members of the board of directors for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) met for a regularly scheduled board meeting on May 20 to consider key decisions.
The meeting, which took place exactly one year after the massive tornado devastated Moore, was punctuated with times of prayer and reflections on how God has used Oklahoma Baptists—including disaster relief volunteers—to minister to people in need over the last year.
During a work session of the board, Anthony L. Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer, highlighted the many ways Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) has served over the past 12 months, and he gave an extensive report as to how donations received for tornado relief have been spent.
Jordan said approximately $3.9 million in designated gifts were donated toward tornado relief and to date, nearly $3.1 million of the donations has been used for various purposes, including: providing newly refurbished mobile homes for victims of the tornados who lost their mobile-home residence and were uninsured or under-insured; donating $500,000 toward Moore Public Schools building a 1,600-person shelter on the site of Central Elementary and Central Junior High in Moore; and providing financial assistance to 74 responders, including police, fire, county deputies in the greater Oklahoma city metro area who lost their homes or had severe damage, many of whom served directly in the May 2013 tornado response. The BGCO is also installing new in-ground storm shelters at more than 100 strategic locations that were affected by the tornadoes, made possible by the funds.
The BGCO board voted to approve up to $400,000 of equipment upgrades and purchases for DR to be taken out of the general, non-designated disaster relief funds still available.
During the Tuesday plenary session, the board voted to accept the five-acre land donation from Moore, First. “That the BGCO receive the gift of five acres of land from Moore, First… designated for construction of an Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief facility, with the reversionary clause as stated in legal documents.”
Jordan and board members recognized Moore, First pastor Kevin Clarkson and his congregation for donating the land. The BGCO Church Outreach Team, which oversees the DR ministry, also leads in promotions of the Edna McMillan State Missions Offering. The board voted to set the 2015 goal of the missions offering at $1,135,000. The 2014 goal of $1,100,000 was met and exceeded.
The Church Outreach Team also is home to the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) work. The board voted to approve a plan to “accept the contract proposed by The University of Oklahoma (OU) Board of Regents for the sale of the present BCM property located at 435 West Boyd Street and 435 ½ West Boyd Street in Norman, Oklahoma, at the sale price of $1,600,000” and “enter into a ground lease with the Board of Regents of The University of Oklahoma for the property located at 1203 Elm Avenue, Norman, Oklahoma, with details of the lease to be approved by the Executive Committee” as a future ministry home for the BCM at OU.
“This is the property we have prayed God would give us,” said Jordan. “We will now be near thousands of students who need to hear the Gospel and have a great presence on campus.” According to Jordan, funds will be raised to pay for the construction of the building.
Jordan also gave an update about the water supply treatment and water, sewer, and water tower projects at Falls Creek. The original project was completed in time and under budget. Due to the new construction, an additional water tower must now be constructed. The board voted “that to meet water supply requirements at Falls Creek, a new water tower and supply line (will) be built by Wynn Construction at an estimated cost of $1,200,000.”
Among other recommendations, Jordan and the board members also considered and approved a proposal to partner with the Fort Sherman Academy, and missions-security-preparedness training group based out of Idaho.
“With as many mission trips we are part of, such as through Go Students and Partnership Missions, it only makes sense to equip our leaders and trip participants with the very best training available,” said Jordan. “Fort Sherman has worked with a number of other state conventions as well as the International Mission Board.”
The board also adopted a BGCO Church Planting policy statement that stated, “The decision concerning a Church Planter’s spiritual qualification as it relates to divorce will be determined by the Primary Church or Association. The Proposed Planter must also meet the requirements of BGCO Church Planter Assessment and be in agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”
The board also reviewed the motion made during the 2013 Annual Meeting by Wayne Keely, pastor of Claremore, Rehoboth, and after review of what is currently provided to retired ministers on multiple levels. The board approved action to “aggressively inform ministers and BGCO churches of the resources currently available,” including: Mission: Dignity, GuideStone; Joseph Young and Thelma H. Young Irrevocable Trust for Elderly Baptist Ministers, The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma; Wayna J. Young Irrevocable Trust Agreement for Needy Ministers or Their Widows, The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma; Ministerial Crisis Fund, BGCO; and, Death Benefit through Protection Section, Church Retirement Plan.
Throughout the board meeting, members of the board voiced appreciation to Ron L. Fannin, BGCO senior associate executive director, for his years of service with the BGCO. Fannin, who is retiring in August, was recognized on Tuesday evening at Oklahoma City, Southern Hills, Fannin was honored with a special retirement event that board members attended, along with various pastors and friends of the Fannin family.
BGCO Vice President Andy Taylor, who serves as pastor of Ponca City, First, reflected on this era of Oklahoma Baptists.
“This is a great time to be an Oklahoma Baptist,” said Taylor, who chaired the meetings and led through various times of prayer throughout the meeting. “God has had His special Hand on this Convention and our churches. Let’s never forget that it is all because of Jesus that we are here.”
For more information regarding the board-approved recommendations, contact the BGCO Executive Office at 405/942-3800 or [email protected]