The mission of Oklahoma Baptists is, “We encourage one another to advance the Gospel.” One way leaders of the Board of Directors for Oklahoma Baptists have seen this take shape is in the new regional ministry strategy, which was a major focal point at the March 10 board meeting at the Baptist Building in Oklahoma City.

Regional Ministry Group connects with board, vision

In November 2019, Oklahoma Baptists’ regional ministry partners were introduced at the Annual Meeting. During the March board meeting, each of the ministry partners connected with board members, spending time in conversation and prayer together.

The Regional Ministry partners are Brett Selby for the Southwest Region, Mark Dance for the East Central Region, Buddy Hunt for the East Region and Griff Henderson for the Northwest Region; the group is led by James Swain, Oklahoma Baptists’ associate executive director of church relations group.

In addition to the regional partners, the Church Relations Group includes Oklahoma Baptists’ staff members who are now serving with the Church Relations Group as Affinity Group ministry partners. Ever Borunda is the Hispanic ministry partner. Walter Wilson is the African American ministry partner. Emerson Falls is the Native American ministry partner. Amy Petersen is the ministry wives ministry partner.

“Our convention staff exists to serve our churches,” said Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists. “We want every pastor to have a relational connection to our Oklahoma Baptist team.  We know we need strong partnership with our local associations.”

Executive director emphasizes four major ministry goals

Regional reach, global impact: Oklahoma Baptists’ Board sees fruit from regional ministry strategy - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 1

Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists, speaks to the shared mission of Oklahoma Baptists.

Dilbeck addressed board members in a work session and plenary session, underscoring the goal to increase church attendance, baptisms, the sending of more international missionaries and increased Cooperative Program giving.

“Last year focused on developing our mission and aligning our ministry. We are now focused on executing that strategy. The advance of the Gospel is our mission,” Dilbeck said. “We want our neighbors and the nations to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Our passion and our mission is the advance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The local church is the pillar and support of the Gospel Truth. We encourage one another to advance the Gospel.”

Dilbeck’s report included emphases on Oklahoma Baptists being “church-centered, pastor-connected and associational-partnered.” He emphasized the spiritual battles churches are facing and called on board members to be prayerful.

“I have always been intrigued by something that Paul writes at the end of his letter to Corinth. ‘I will stay on here in Ephesus, for a wide door for effective service has opened to me; and there is much opposition.’  As I enter my third year of service as executive director, I am more aware than ever of the opposition we face—spiritual and practical challenges, headwinds; and I am more convinced of our opportunities to advance the Gospel together.  Remember that the New Testament word ‘advance’ means to move forward against blows of opposition,” he said.

2021 Cooperative Program giving allocation set

Dilbeck also addressed the 2020 Cooperative Program (CP) spending plan, which was set at $26.1 million, saying that convention staff is managing expenses to stay within budget.

“Perhaps the most consequential decision that we will make today concerns the 2021 CP Allocation,” he said. During the business session, the board approved the 2021 Cooperative Program allocation to be distributed as follows: 43 percent to Southern Baptist Convention causes, 42 percent to Oklahoma Baptists causes and 15 percent to Oklahoma Baptists’ affiliates, which include the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma, Baptist Village Communities, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and Oklahoma Baptist University

Dilbeck called to mind Paul’s admonition in Rom. 15:5-6, to carry out the mission God gave with “one mind, one accord (heart) and one voice.” He added, “Unity is not easy. Unity is from God. Unity is essential to our mission.

“Cooperative Program giving is an important church-centered measure that helps us gauge both the condition of a church and the connection the church has, feels, with our cooperative work,” he added.

Board committees, affiliates deliver reports

Leading the board meeting was Blake Gideon, pastor of Edmond, First, is in his second one-year term serving as Oklahoma Baptists’ president. Committee reports were given from the following:

Gideon (Executive Committee), Jeanetta Bagwell (Communications and CP), Johnny Derouen (Church Resources), Russell Duck (Finance) and Michael Staton (Support Services). Other officers present for the meeting were Jeremy Freeman, first vice president, and David Hooks, second vice president.

Board affiliate reports were given by new Oklahoma Baptist University President Heath Thomas; Bill Pierce, president of Baptist Village Communities; Greg McNeece, president of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, and Robert Kellogg, Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma president.

Thomas, who addressed the board for the first time as OBU president, emphasized the strong connection between OBU and Oklahoma Baptists.

Coronavirus response report & other business

Regional reach, global impact: Oklahoma Baptists’ Board sees fruit from regional ministry strategy - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 2

Members of the board participate in a time of prayer.

During the board meeting, Oklahoma Baptists Communications Director Brian Hobbs gave a report on the convention’s Coronavirus Response. Resources related to that report are viewable at www.OklahomaBaptists.org/Coronavirus-Response.

Board members approved multiple action items, including:

—The upcoming Edna McMillan State Missions Offering goal was set at $1.2 million

—That Doug Passmore, pastor of Lawton, First East, be elected to complete the one-year unexpired term of Patrick Latham on the Oklahoma Baptists’ Board of Directors.

—That Laura Corbin, member of Tishomingo, First, be elected to complete the one-year unexpired term of Debbie White on The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma Board of Directors.

—That Renee Lingo, member of Yukon, Trinity, be elected to complete the one-year unexpired term of Shirley Pogue on The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma Board of Directors.

—That Baptist Village Communities be authorized to conduct a statewide Five Year Capital Fundraising Campaign entitled ‘Shaping the Future’ that has a recommended goal of $15,000,000 and a challenge goal of $18,000,000.

—Members also approved the Personnel Policy and a salary administration plan.

Board members also approved a recommendation “that July 26-31, 2020, be recognized as a week of prayer for spiritual awakening among Native American peoples.” Board member Bill Barnett, pastor of Seminole, Indian Nations, underscored the significance of revival among Native peoples. After approving the recommendation, board members spent time in prayer toward this spiritual awakening.

The next meeting of Oklahoma Baptists board of directors is set for May 14 at the Baptist Building.