Anthony Jordan delivers final address as BGCO exec

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- Anthony Jordan delivered his final address as executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma during the Nov. 13-14 annual meeting at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

Anthony Jordan delivers his final address as executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma during the BGCO's Nov. 13-14 annual meeting in Oklahoma City. Jordan retires next April after 22 years of leading the convention.
Baptist Messenger photo
Jordan, who will retire next April after 22 years of leading the convention, also announced a new ministry opportunity for Oklahoma Baptists, reporting that the BGCO will be given the 199-acre Tulakogee Camp and Conference Center in eastern Oklahoma.

A total of 682 messengers from BGCO churches joined numerous guests for the convention's 111th annual meeting, held for the second consecutive year at Quail Springs.

Among 10 resolutions adopted during the meeting, messengers condemned white supremacy, the alt-right movement and racism as "antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Jordan, in his address to messengers Monday evening, spoke of the importance of pastors preaching that Jesus has called His people to "a whole Gospel." Speaking on the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, Jordan focused on the three actions in the well-known command Jesus gave to His disciples -- go, baptize and teach.

Oklahoma Baptists, Jordan noted, continue to be among the leaders of Southern Baptists in giving through the Cooperative Program.

Elected as the 2018 officers of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (from left) were: second vice president, Steve Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Checotah; president, Joe Ligon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marlow; and first vice president, Mike Keahbone, pastor of Cherokee Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
Baptist Messenger photo
"There should not be a more missionary-committed people than Oklahoma Baptists," he said. "God has been generous to us. He has blessed us beyond measure. Our hearts ought to be so big for the world that whenever we open our pocketbooks and we commit our percentages from our church, we ought to just keep on moving it forward, so that we can take the Gospel to ends of the earth."

Jordan pointed out that Quail Springs where they were meeting is the "No. 1 giving church to the Cooperative Program in Oklahoma" and has given the most in one year in the history of the SBC, $2.9 million in 2013.

Challenging churches to reflect the people who live "around our churches," Jordan said, "Many of our churches in transitional neighborhoods are dying because they are unwilling to transition.... The fact of the matter is, they ought to die. If you're not willing to reach everybody in your neighborhood, no matter what color they are, no matter what they come from, no matter what their background is, then you don't have a right to call yourself a New Testament church."

A New Testament church, Jordan said, encompasses everybody Jesus encompassed, not holding back in presenting the Gospel and inviting them to be a part of church families. When people come to an Oklahoma Baptist church, no matter what race or cultural background, Jordan said they should look around and conclude, "I'm at home here. This is where I belong."

"Going into the world with the Gospel -- our 'next door world' -- means that we must be willing to go to people that we don't like and who don't do the things we think they ought to do."

Jordan concluded his address with a word of thankfulness for leading Oklahoma Baptists for 22 years.

"Because of you, Oklahoma Baptists, you have given me an opportunity of a lifetime. I can't say it any other way -- Thank you and I love you," he said.

A series of video presentations were shown after Jordan's address of many Baptist leaders congratulating Jordan for his leadership at the BGCO, including Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee; U.S. Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma; and Nick Garland, pastor of First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow and a former BGCO president. And Quail Springs hosted a reception honoring Jordan and his wife Polla after the evening session.

'A beautiful camp'

Also during Monday night's session, Jordan reported that the BGCO will be offered "as a gift" the Tulakogee Camp and Conference Center in Wagoner after it has been managed by an "independent board of godly and good people."

"It is a beautiful camp located on Fort Gibson Lake," Jordan said. "It is a place where many Baptists have gone through the years. And many children have come to Christ as their Lord and Savior."

Jordan said the BGCO will take over "some debt and deferred maintenance" in accepting Tulakogee. A financial goal has been set to raise $4 million to refurbish the camp toward making Tulakogee a "CrossTimbers on the east side of the state," similar to the children's mission adventure camp located near Davis.

"It will become a place where more children will come," Jordan said. "I'm so excited that Oklahoma Baptists will now have an anchor in the eastern side of the state. That's my side of the state, where I came from. We'll have the opportunity to invest and minister to our churches there and many children will come to know Christ because of the investment we will make in Tulakogee. To God be the glory."

Budget, elections & resolutions

Messengers approved the 2018 Cooperative Program Allocation/Financial Plan, which carries a goal of $25.75 million, up from this year's $25.5 million. The convention will continue to allocate 40 percent of its Cooperative Program budget to SBC causes, 45 percent for BGCO missions and ministries; and 15 percent to BGCO affiliates Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Oklahoma Baptist University, Baptist Village Communities and the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma.

Joe Ligon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marlow, was unanimously reelected to a second term at BGCO president. Mike Keahbone, pastor of Cherokee Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was reelected as first vice president in a 162-116 ballot with Scott Watkins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Kingfisher. Steve Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Checotah, was unopposed for second vice president.

Messengers unanimously approved the resolution condemning white supremacy, the alt-right movement and racism as "antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

The resolution acknowledged that "we still must make progress in rooting out any remaining forms of racism, both personal and systemic, from our midst, and we disassociate from erroneous teachings such as the so-called 'curse of Ham.'"

In a resolution on "Speaking Up for People with Disabilities," messengers voted to "decry and reject the alarming trend that suggests babies diagnosed with genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, should be aborted. We are troubled that there is a rising belief in America and abroad that views some people, such as those with genetic abnormalities or disabilities, as unfit to live. We ... stand with and speak up for people -- born and unborn -- who may have disabilities."

On the massacre of 26 people at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Nov. 5, messengers stated, "An attack on the Body of Christ, as happened to our dear brothers and sisters in Texas, is an attack on all of us."

Other resolutions applauded Jordan's tenure as BGCO executive director-treasurer; the 100th anniversary of the Falls Creek assembly as "one of the largest Christian youth encampments in the world" and "a spiritual landmark for thousands"; 500-plus churches that have participated in the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children's One Such Child foster care initiative since 2015; and the BGCO's pregnancy resource center and disaster relief ministries.

Convention speakers

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, addressed the convention's final session Tuesday afternoon. He opened with a word of encouragement that more IMB missionaries are being sent to the mission field, reversing a trend in the past few years, and he gave a word of thanks to Oklahoma Baptists for their giving, which makes it possible to send IMB missionaries.

Platt encouraged pastors who may be struggling at their churches, saying, "Maybe you're not seeing fruit, but do not underestimate the lives of those sitting under your preaching. Stay faithful, brother."

Drawing from Exodus 32:1-10, Platt addressed five "golden calves" evident among churches today -- leaders without conviction; celebrating salvation without dedication; manufacturing worship without humiliation; creating a god without retribution; and indulging in earthly pleasures while ignoring eternal direction. Platt concluded with a time of prayer and response.

Ligon, in his presidential address, voiced words of encouragement to pastors from 2 Timothy 4, telling them to fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith.

"If we fight about everything we win nothing," Ligon said. "Have the wisdom to know the good fight."

Ligon commended pastors of smaller churches with whom he said he identifies. "God knows where you are. The reason He knows where you are is He put you where you are," he said, acknowledging that he is a pastor out in "the hinterlands."

In the annual sermon, Rick Frie, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jenks, spoke on Barnabas in the book of Acts. Barnabas was one who personally got involved in accepting people even if they were "different," Frie said.

"Barnabas was a pacesetter of [forgiveness]," Frie also pointed out. "He understood there was more than just showing up. Building and making disciples doesn't happen overnight. You and I have to come to the point that we believe what Jesus said and literally what Barnabas lived out is worth the investment."

Reports of fruitful ministry

Messengers heard reports from various BGCO officials during the convention's three sessions.

Scott Phillips, BGCO operations team leader, gave updates on facility projects for state Baptist Collegiate Ministries. The BCM at the University of Oklahoma (OU) plans to have its building completed for the next fall semester and has already raised the money needed to build. The Oklahoma State University (OSU) BCM building is making progress on a property that was provided through a "generous gift," Phillips said. Both the new OU and OSU BCM buildings, he said, will be in locations adjacent to campus housing and "distinctive for the work of Oklahoma Baptists."

James Swain, BGCO equipping team leader, reported on Falls Creek and CrossTimbers summer camps, underscoring the significance of the Falls Creek Centennial summer, which saw 2,580 professions of faith, the most in Falls Creek history, as well as the Centennial Weekend over Labor Day 2017 in which thousands participated. Swain also spoke of GoStudents mission opportunities and a new training related to the ReConnect Sunday School initiative called the Beta Collective focusing on helping midsize churches.

Alan Quigley, BGCO mobilization team leader, shared about Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in south Texas and in Puerto Rico. He also reported that DR chaplains are serving in Sutherland Springs in spiritual recovery efforts after the tragic church shooting.

During the report of the Oklahoma Baptist Home for Children, a video tribute to Jordan was shown about his instrumental role in establishing a Crisis Pregnancy Center outreach in 1986, which has become a flourishing network of Oklahoma Baptist pregnancy resource centers that have saved more than 10,000 babies since being founded.

Next year's annual meeting will be Nov. 12-13 at First Baptist Church in Edmond.

Chris Doyle is managing editor of the Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Download Story