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Okla. Baptists partner with East Asia

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
MOORE, Okla. (BP)--Nearly 900 messengers to the 103rd annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma embraced the meeting's theme of engaging the world with the Gospel by endorsing a new three-year partnership with East Asia as they gathered Nov. 9-10 at First Baptist Church in Moore.

Messengers, officially totaling 895, also approved a $26 million Cooperative Program budget for 2010, up from the current $25.2 million budget. The convention will continue to forward 40 percent of CP receipts to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministry.

Resolutions were unanimously approved as submitted by the resolutions committee on Christian citizenship and responsibility, support of the U.S. military, the sanctity of life, the covenant of traditional marriage, recognition of state legislators, freedom of speech and biblical stewardship.

In a resolution on the Cooperative Program, the word "biblically" was added in the final sentence by an amendment offered by Robert Foster of First Baptist Church in Perkins prior to its unanimous approval. An amendment proposed by Delmer Allen of Center Point Baptist Church in Wilburton was added to a resolution on opposition to gambling, which also was approved unanimously.

Allen's amendment urges churches to participate in protests against gambling on Anti-Gambling Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention. His amendment read, "We agree to support and promote Anti-Gambling Sunday, September 19, 2010. We further urge our churches to participate in a silent stand on that afternoon near the businesses, similar to the silent stand done on Life Chain Sunday."

"It's time we do more than just put this on a piece of paper," Allen said, "and stand up and do something about it."

In a time set aside for miscellaneous business, Allen also offered two other motions. One read: "I move that each yearly Baptist Resource Handbook contain the latest revised BGCO Constitution and Bylaws." That motion passed with only one audible no vote.


The other, a motion concerning the semiannual report on Cooperative Program contributions as printed in the Baptist Messenger newsjournal, took almost half an hour to resolve.

Allen's motion read, "I move that churches not contributing to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma work during the twelve months prior to the Cooperative Program Report printed in the Baptist Messenger, whether semi-annually or annually, be taken from the list of contributing churches."

After lengthy discussion, the motion was soundly defeated.


Sam Porter, a BGCO partnership missions specialist, said the goal of the new East Asia partnership is to send 70-100 teams from Oklahoma to the region each year. Porter said some 40 churches already have signed on as partners in the venture. Ideally, each team would have about six people, he said.

In line with the theme of "Engage," BGCO Executive Director Anthony Jordan said in his annual address that Southern Baptists are not going to have a Great Commission resurgence unless they get out of the pews and go tell someone about Jesus.

Jordan said Baptists run the risk of investing a lot of dollars in the wrong direction.

"This is not a convention made up of denomination structures but of churches," he said. "The greatest day is when we hit the streets and meet people who are lost. We have to get spectator Christians on the street with the Gospel."

Jordan said Baptists needed to get out of the confines of church buildings and grounds and instead get into the streets where lost people are. He said on Sundays there are far more people in the streets, in homes and in parks who are dying without the Gospel of Jesus Christ than will come inside what essentially are fortresses of faith.


"Typically, we have said we need to get these people into church," Jordan said. "I find it refreshing to spend time with rank and file sinners."

Referring to John 4, where Jesus confronts the woman from Samaria, Jordan said people like her are everywhere.

"Jesus said, 'I must go to Samaria,'" Jordan said. "Where must you go?"

There are races and groups in every community who are ostracized, he said, and if someone doesn't go to them, they will never be reached for Jesus.

"There is nobody out of the reach, mercy and love of Jesus Christ," Jordan said. "You know how I feel about abortion, but I am not against women who have had an abortion. I'm opposed to homosexuality because the Bible is, but I'm not opposed to homosexuals."

Jordan said it's easy to engage people in conversation, and he told of meeting a woman on an airplane who was flying home for her father's funeral.

"It was easy to move that conversation into the spiritual realm," he said. "I ended our conversation by praying with her as the plane landed. She reached over and kissed me on the cheek.

"You may not settle the nation's health care bill, but you can settle someone's eternity," he said. "If you want resurgence, get out of the pew, sit down and talk to someone about Jesus."

Emerson Falls, pastor of Glorieta Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was re-elected by acclamation as president of the convention, while Blake Gideon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Inola, was elected first vice president in a three-way contest with Greg Hall, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cleveland, and Rusty Canoy, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lexington. Mike Williamson, pastor of New Covenant Community Church in Lawton, was elected second vice president.


The annual meeting's closing session began with a 45-minute concert of praise by the Oklahoma Baptist Symphony, the Singing Churchmen of Oklahoma and the Singing ChurchWomen of Oklahoma.

Next year's annual meeting will be Nov. 15-16 at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee as the university celebrates its centennial.

Bob Nigh is managing editor of the Baptist Messenger (, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Copyright (c) 2009 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press


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