This was my first Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Annual Meeting that I have ever attended. It was conducted at The Church at Battle Creek in Broken Arrow, OK. That made it very convenient, as it was only a 30 minute drive each way.
The Church at Battle Creek was an interesting venue, to say the least. It was formerly an Outlet Mall of America, back in the early 80's. It then became Gracemont and finally TCABC. Not your typical Baptist Church. As you walk in, you are greeted by a huge waterfall that as you look at it closer, realize that it is the church's baptistery. Kind of cool, really. Then, there is a coffee shop and book store.
The exhibitors have set up in the aisles of the old mall. Some of the old mall is still recognizable from my visit to shop there 25 years ago. Quite frankly, that part was a very nice set up. There was LOTS of room!
The first part of the meeting was the Pastor's Conference. That was really great! There were three notable speakers: Dr. Bobby Kelly, OBU professor, Dr. Robert Smith, Beeson professor, and Dr. Frank Cox, pastor of N. Metro FBC, Lawrenceville, GA. There were three other speakers as well, who did a fine job. The Pastor's Conference was a great encouragement.
Monday evening, was the first business session. The music was provided by TCABC praise band. I'll be the first to admit it wasn't my cup of tea. They were given the freedom by conference organizers to "be themselves". That is what they did. Now, don't get me wrong, they were a great praise band. But, I am a 44 year old guy and I thought the music was too loud. I also didn't know ANY of the songs they sang. They did sing two "hymns", but when we actually sange them, the words were the same, but the tune was unfamiliar. I guess I'm just an old "fuddy duddy". Does a praise band really NEED a fog machine? It looked more like a show than a worship time. That's my observation, only.
The business sessions were all unremarkable, for the most part. There was one point where one person objected to the way a resolution was written, but did not offer an amendment. All other points passed without discussion. The only "tense" time (and it wasn't really tense) came for the election of the new president. They called for a hand vote. It was too close to call. Then they called for a counted hand vote. It was too close, so they called for a written ballot vote. Finally, Emerson Falls, pastor from Glorieta Baptist Church in OKC was elected. All other officers were elected by acclamation.
The reports from the various minitries was indeed encouraging. It is a good time to be an Oklahoma Baptist! The only negative aspect of the entire meeting was the report about baptisms for adults 18-30 is down 26% over the past several years. This was alarming and we all prayed for this situation. All of our agencies are in very good financial shape as we enter this period of economic uncertainty. Jerry Rankin reported, by video, that 609,000 baptisms were reported last year by IMB personnel and partners! PTL!! David Whitlock was presented as OBU's new president. His enthusiasm was contagious!
All in all, it was a very good "first" annual meeting for me. I enjoyed the fellowship. I enjoyed seeing old friends. I enjoyed meeting new friends. And I enjoyed meeting "blog" friends for the first time face to face. As an added bonus, I even got to meet KOTV-6 weatherman Alan Crone who was there to play drums in the FBC Tulsa praise band for Tuesday afternoon's session.
God bless Oklahoma Baptists!