Ohio Baptists recognize 30 new churches

CARLISLE, Ohio (BP)--Messengers to the 55th annual meeting of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio declined to approve a constitutional amendment regarding homosexuality and women pastors.

The proposed amendment, introduced last year, would have specified that churches which act to "affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior" and churches that have female senior pastors will not be considered to be in cooperation with the convention.

The amendment sparked an extended discussion, with some messengers voicing concern about the extent to which the constitution might be used to enact other limitations on churches for membership in the convention. The amendment received a majority of votes but failed to receive the required two-thirds to amend the constitution.

"No one should conclude that the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio has compromised or deviated from the biblical standards concerning homosexuality or female senior pastors," Jack Kwok, the convention's executive director, said after the vote. "The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 addresses the intent of this proposed amendment.

"... The failure to approve the proposed amendment hasn't changed the position of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio on homosexuality or female senior pastors. Both are wrong," Kwok added.

Messengers also recognized 30 new church starts during the Nov. 5-6 meeting at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Carlisle, and church planters from Cleveland, Marysville and Cincinnati gave testimonies about the ways God has moved in Mission Ohio, an effort to reach at least 1 million people for Christ by the end of 2020.

LeAnna Pickerel, a student from Bowling Green State University, told messengers her conversion story and thanked them for maintaining a strong Gospel witness on collegiate campuses in Ohio. Messengers also celebrated the purchase of a new office building for the state convention staff.

Speakers during the meeting addressed the theme "Leading Healthy Congregations." They included Kwok; Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Don Black, pastor of East Toledo Baptist Church; Travis Smalley, pastor of Lakota Hills Baptist Church in West Chester and convention president; and Donnie Fox, president of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Kentucky.

In other business, messengers approved a 2009 budget of $8.3 million, which is a 1.86 percent increase over the current year. The budget includes an anticipated $2,850,802 in Cooperative Program gifts from Ohio churches. The convention will continue to retain 59.75 percent of the budget for in-state ministries while 40.25 percent will go to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries.

In addition to several resolutions of appreciation, Ohio Baptists also affirmed Veterans Day remembrances and encouraged boldness in the face of culture, parental responsibility for training children with a biblical worldview, church membership and the protection of children.

The resolution on church membership encouraged churches "to strive, to the best of their abilities, to make sure that only those who have been saved and subsequently baptized become members of the local church" and "to exercise appropriate Biblical discipline in a spirit of love according to scriptures (Galatians 6:1-5) to those members who are bringing a bad reputation to God's name and the reputation of His church through their unrepentant sin." The resolution also called on churches to maintain accurate membership roles.

Regarding the protection of children, the Ohio convention affirmed the resolution passed at the 2007 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio.

Messengers re-elected Travis Smalley, pastor of Lakota Hills Baptist Church in West Chester, as president, along with Ron Hopkins, pastor of Briggs Road Baptist Church in Columbus, first vice president; Steve Renfrow, pastor of Bluffton Baptist Church in Bluffton, second vice president; Faye Rodgers, a member of Northside Baptist Church in Springfield, recording secretary; Annett Dessecker, and Jack Kwok, historian.

Next year's annual meeting will be Nov. 4-5 at the Mid-Ohio Conference Center in Mansfield.


Based on a report by the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.

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