The year 2012 was eventful for Oklahoma Baptists. From historic elections to responding in the wake of natural disasters, Southern Baptists found themselves grabbing headlines throughout the year. Here are the top 10 stories from 2012, according to a poll of Baptist Messenger staff, in descending order:
The descriptor “Great Commission Baptists” was approved by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention by a vote of 53 percent to 46 percent after nearly a half-hour debate at the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans. The legal name “Southern Baptist Convention” will remain.
I.D. Ministries used a T-shirt campaign to free 20 girls from human trafficking in Ghana, West Africa. Approximately $2,000 was raised by selling shirts across the state, as well as in Florida, North Carolina and California.
After an astounding 44 years of service with the BGCO, including more than 25 years with the Baptist Messenger, Associate Editor Dana Williamson retired at the end of 2012. Williamson’s career spanned the tenures of five Messenger editors and four BGCO executives.
Churches of Capital and Union associations looked for ways to serve the community and share the Gospel during the Oklahoma City Thunder’s NBA playoffs appearance. Placing T-shirts on seats at Thunder home games and distributing printed materials in Bricktown were part of the “I Believe” campaign.
While last summer saw some record high temperatures across Oklahoma, the most important records were being broken near Davis. Falls Creek experienced a total of 6,595 decisions made for the Lord during the summer weeks in 2012. Of those, a record-breaking 2,469 were professions of faith, and 1,277 were a call to special service. “Those aren’t just numbers, that’s Kingdom impact,” said Andy Harrison, Falls Creek program director and BGCO student ministry specialist.
A total of 156 disaster relief volunteers were dispatched to New Jersey to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. More than 84,000 meals were prepared during November, and mud-out teams were slated to help through the end of the year.
Disaster relief volunteers helped Colorado victims of 10 wildfires that destroyed 256 homes in more than 118 square miles. Assistance also was offered to casualties of Oklahoma wildfires, and the “Oklahoma Wildfire Relief” fund was established to meet the needs of affected families.
On May 15, 1912, the first Baptist paper in Oklahoma rolled off the presses. In 2012, the Baptist Messenger celebrated the century milestone with 10 issues reflecting 10 decades of the paper that founding editor C.P. Stealey designed to “promote the causes, stand for the truth and provide a spiritual blessing to the churches and people.” In conjunction with the anniversary, a new look and new features were introduced in May, and events were held throughout the state.
Hobby Lobby, Inc. became the leading donor in BGCO history when the company, owned by the Green family, donated $2 million to purchase a youth camp adjacent to Falls Creek grounds. The campsite is the new home for CrossTimbers Children’s Missions Camp.
Native New Orleanian Fred Luter was elected by acclamation as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Electing the pastor of New Orleans’ Franklin Avenue Church came at a time when Southern Baptists are seeking to turn around a numerical decline and to elect leadership more representative of the ethnic diversity that exists in the convention’s 40,000 churches. “He is qualified in every way to hold this office,”said David Crosby, pastor of New Orleans, First, who nominated Luter. “He fully supports world missions through the Cooperative Program. He is a man of integrity with a loving family and an unblemished, untarnished reputation in this community, where he has lived all his life.”