Members of Oklahoma Baptists’ board of directors held their first meeting of 2022 and the first meeting since Todd Fisher stepped into his role as executive director-treasurer for the state convention.
Members met at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (Oklahoma Baptists) facility in Oklahoma City for times of business, prayer and encouragement. The meeting also resulted in the board designating $50,000 toward Ukraine relief efforts.
2021 Cooperative Program coverage benefits Ukraine relief, other key ministries
Board members were enthusiastic to hear a report that Cooperative Program giving among Oklahoma Baptists exceeded the annual goal in 2021.
“With the 2021 CP objective of $23.1 million, Oklahoma Baptists generously gave $24,507,605 last year, for which we thank the Lord,” said Leslie Osborn, chief financial officer for Oklahoma Baptists, which was met by applause during the March 8 meeting.
Members of the board gave direction to how the CP overage of $1,407,605 (or 6%) would be distributed.
Oklahoma Baptists have designated spending allotment of 43% of CP going to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), 15% to Oklahoma Baptists affiliates and 42% to Oklahoma Baptists.
With 42% designated to Oklahoma Baptists — which represents $591,194 of overage — the board members approved strategic plans for those funds:
- Ukraine Relief: $50,000 in funds to assist in Ukraine with emergency food supplies, shelter and clothing for displaced families in Ukraine; $25,000 to be sent through the North American Mission Board’s Send Relief Ukraine efforts and $25,000 to be sent through the Michael Gott Evangelistic Association.
- Mission:Dignity 13th Check: $21,625 going to GuideStone Financial Resources’ Mission:Dignity, Oklahoma Baptists will help provide for approximately 75 Oklahoma Mission:Dignity recipient households. Mission:Dignity is a ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
- Missionary Retreat: $50,000 is set aside to provide a retreat setting for approximately 20 missionaries from Oklahoma serving in the North Africa and Middle East, to gather for a time for rest and encouragement.
- Pastor Development & Wellness: $75,000 will provide opportunities and events to develop and encourage Oklahoma Baptist pastors and their wives.
- Falls Creek 2nd Century Committee: $100,000 will provide seed money for maintenance and upgrades at Falls Creek Conference Center.
The Board also designated $294,569 for reserves.
Key moments include prayer, reports, motions
Chris Wall, Oklahoma convention president, set aside additional time in the meeting for prayer, including prayer for Ukraine, for ministries in Oklahoma and across the SBC.
“The Lord has put it on my heart today to take our prayer needs to Him, to join our hearts in prayer,” said Wall, pastor of Frist Baptist Church Owasso.
Reports from the various Oklahoma Baptists’ board committees were heard, including the Church Resources Committee; the Finance Committee; the Cooperative Program and Communications Committee; the Support Services Committee; and the Executive Committee.
Reports were given by presidents of each of the four Oklahoma Baptists’ ministry affiliates — Oklahoma Baptist University’s Heath Thomas, WatersEdge (formerly known as the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma) Robert Kellogg, Baptist Village Communities’ Bill Pierce; and Greg McNeece of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children.
Board members also approved the 2022 Edna McMillan Oklahoma State Missions Offering goal be established of $1.2 million. Also, a motion was approved that the 2023 Cooperative Program allocation be distributed at the existing levels: 43% SBC/42% Oklahoma Baptists/15% Oklahoma Baptist Affiliates.
Board members also approved the establishment of an Abuse Prevention & Response Task Force that will study best practices in preventing abuse. The group will present a report at the September meeting of the board, and the scope of the work is forward-looking. Eric Costanzo, pastor of Tulsa, South Tulsa will chair the committee.
“This task force is forward-looking, helping establish best practices to prevent abuse from occurring and establishing best practices to deal with it, should it ever occur,” Wall said. Other members include: Jennifer Barnett, Leanne Deason, Ann Jenkins, Doug Melton, Troy Taylor and Lori Twomey.
The Board also approved a motion “the Falls Creek Conference Center gate fee be increased in 2023 to $11 per day ($55 per week for summer camps) for BGCO churches and $18 per day ($90 per week for summer camps) for non-BGCO churches.” This is the first gate fee increase in 10 years, according to Andy Harrison, conference centers director.
The next meeting of the Oklahoma Baptists board is set for May 24 at the Baptist Building.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Brian Hobbs, and was originally published by The Baptist Messenger, newsjournal for Oklahoma Baptists.