Oklahoma Baptists plan annual gathering, missionary send-off
The executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma will unveil new ministry strategy and other directives at the organization's annual meeting set for Nov. 11-12 in Oklahoma City.
With the theme "Advance," the gathering of Oklahoma Baptists will be at Quail Springs Baptist Church.
The 2018 annual meeting featured the installation of the Rev. Hance Dilbeck Jr. as the Oklahoma convention's executive director-treasurer. Dilbeck, former longtime pastor of Quail Springs Baptist, succeeded the Rev. Anthony Jordan, who retired. Dilbeck officially began his leadership post in January 2018, which allowed for a transition period for him and Jordan, before he assumed all administrative leadership of the convention in March 2018.
The preacher said he's had about two years to consider a way forward for the convention, and the annual meeting will be a time for him to discuss his plans with Oklahoma Baptists. He said he will talk about a new focus for the cooperative work that state Southern Baptist churches join in together through the Cooperative Program funding mechanism.
"We endeavor to advance the Gospel, emphasizing that the nature of our work is relational rather than institutional," Dilbeck said.
He said three new strategic priorities include encouraging pastors, making disciples and embracing brokenness as opportunities to advance the Gospel. Dilbeck said the Oklahoma convention also has retooled its staff to include regional leaders, a way to put the new relational emphasis into play.
Dilbeck also will address Baptists in his executive director-treasurer's address set for 8 p.m. Nov. 11, while the Rev. Blake Gideon, the Oklahoma convention's president, will share his president's address at 11:15 a.m. Nov 12. The Rev. Rusty McMullen, lead pastor of First Baptist Church of McAlester, will give the annual sermon Nov. 12.
'Sending Celebration' is planned
One aspect of the annual gathering that Dilbeck is particularly excited about will occur after the meeting is over. Dilbeck said the Rev. Paul Chitwood, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board (IMB), has agreed to have a Sending Celebration in conjunction after the annual meeting ends. The Sending Celebration, a commissioning ceremony for Baptist missionaries from throughout the U.S., will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at Quail Springs Baptist.
Dilbeck said he and the Oklahoma Baptist convention were honored when Chitwood chose Oklahoma as a Sending Celebration location. Chitwood, who took the helm of the IMB in 2018, will deliver the sermon at the much-anticipated celebration. About 30 missionaries, including several with Oklahoma connections, are expected to be commissioned that evening.
Dilbeck said the Southern Baptists churches work together through Southern Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program funding to send missionaries out to spread the Gospel all around the world.
"The main reason we cooperate with each other is to send these people out," Dilbeck said. "The beauty of hosting that on Tuesday night is it brings our primary task on focus for people."
Chitwood previously served as executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention since 2011. For 18 years before that, the Tennessee native served as pastor of several Kentucky churches. Chitwood also served as an IMB trustee from 2008-2010 and has taken part in overseas missions in places like Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.
Variety of speakers
Meanwhile, the annual meeting will be preceded by the convention's annual Pastor's Conference on Nov. 11 at Quail Springs Baptist.Several guest preachers — three from across the state and three from out-of-state — will share messages. These include the Rev. Stephen Rummage, pastor of Quail Springs Baptist; former convention executive director-treasurer Jordan; the Rev. Dhati Lewis, lead teaching pastor at Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and executive director of North American Mission Board Community Restoration; the Rev. Jason Paredes, lead pastor of Fielder Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas; the Rev. Craig Towery, pastor of First Baptist Church of Sentinel; and the Rev. K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Southern Baptists have long been the state's largest faith group, with more than 1,725 churches across Oklahoma.
Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
2019 Annual Meeting
When: 6:10 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Nov. 11; 9 a.m. to noon and 1:10 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12.
International Mission Board Sending Celebration will be at 6:30 P.M. Nov. 12.
Where: Quail Springs Baptist Church, 14613 N May.