Prayer, faith hallmarks of Okla. Baptist meeting

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (BP) -- Prayer and a legacy of faith were major themes as the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma held its 110th annual meeting Nov. 14-15 at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

Southern Baptist Convention president Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., emphasized the importance of prayer in the believer's life. "A day without prayer is a wasted day," he said.

"Why was Daniel filled with the Holy Spirit when nobody else was? Why did Daniel have access to information that nobody else had? I'll tell you why. For 60 years, three times a day, he talked with God, over a thousand times a year," Gaines said. "That's why God 'downloaded' into Daniel all that He did." Concluding his sermon, Gaines invited attendees to the front of the sanctuary and led in a special time of prayer.

Messengers adopted a 2017 BGCO financial plan of $25.5 million, a $1 million increase over 2016. The new plan allocates $10.2 million, or 40 percent, of the budget to SBC Cooperative Program causes and approximately $3.8 million of 15 percent to BGCO affiliates, retaining $11.5 million or 45 percent for the state.

Newly elected officers are President Joe Ligon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marlow; First Vice President Mike Keahbone, pastor of Cherokee Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, and Second Vice President Kevin Baker, pastor of Martha Road Baptist Church in Altus.

Anthony L. Jordan, in his address as BGCO executive director and treasurer, encouraged attendees to leave a "legacy of faith," echoing the meeting's theme. "There is no greater gift you can give someone than to share what the Lord has done in your life," Jordan said, noting the legacy left by his family, particularly his mother and his grandfather.

Peteris Sprogis, bishop of the Union of Latvian Baptist Churches with which the BGCO began a mission partnership in 2015, told messengers he heard the Gospel as a young boy under Soviet Union control in Latvia when his mother took him to church. He showed messengers the first Bible he ever received, given by his grandfather but in essence a gift from God. He encouraged Oklahoma Southern Baptists to plant churches in Latvia.

"I heard a saying that said the best time to plant trees was 20 years ago. The saying goes that the second best time is today," Sprogis said. "I invite you to Latvia to help us plant 'trees,' which [we] can plant today. It's not a quick fix, but if we plant the right trees … it will bring fruit."

In his president's address, host pastor and outgoing BGCO President Hance Dilbeck spoke on "Battling Together for the Gospel," from Philippians 1:27-30.

"We are called to be a 'Gospel-first people,'" Dilbeck said. "So this text challenges me to always be asking the question with every opportunity I have, every relationship that I have, every decision that I'm making … 'will this advance the Gospel of Christ?'"

First Southern Baptist Church of Del City pastor Shane Hall spoke on prayer, particularly The Lord's Prayer. Hall, diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2014, recalled that messengers to the 2014 BGCO annual meeting laid hands on him and prayed for his healing. Hall's cancer is now in remission, he said, even though the disease had metastasized throughout his body and doctors had given him little chance of survival.

Ministry reports included updates from CrossTimbers Missions Adventure Camp, Baptist Collegiate Ministries at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma, Baptist Village Communities, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC), Oklahoma Baptist University, chaplaincy outreaches, and Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017. More information on the Falls Creek centennial is at www.fallscreek.org/100.

In other business, messengers adopted the BGCO Board of Directors Report, and the BGCO Nominating Committee Report of appointments to BGCO boards, BGCO-affiliate boards and various committees.

Messengers approved resolutions recognizing the "sanctity, dignity and full value" of human life, applauding Tony Kennedy upon his retirement as president of OBHC, expressing grief over racial disunity and encouraging racial reconciliation, affirming religious liberty "as a primary and cherished freedom," recognizing the Church as "God's chosen instrument for evangelism," and encouraging prayer for the United States.

Attendees included 645 registered messengers and hundreds of guests. The Oklahoma Baptist Children's Chorus and the Singing Church Women of Oklahoma provided music.

The 111th BGCO Annual Meeting is set for Nov. 12-13, 2017 Quail Springs Baptist Church.

Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor, with reporting by Chris Doyle, associate editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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