Ohio Baptists Celebrate Unity While Continuing to Pray for Revival

Ohio Baptists Celebrate Unity While Continuing to Pray for Revival

Pictured Clockwise: Chosen Road, Mark Dever & Ray Umphrey, Harshael York, Newly Elected Officers of the SCBO, Jeremy Westbrook

By Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press national correspondent

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – During its recent annual meeting, the 704 churches in the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio celebrated 70 years of growth in the convention, new initiatives underway at the present time and near future, and prevailing unity among Ohio Baptists.

Baptisms in the last year are up 32 percent, to 2,300 across the state, reported Executive Director-Treasurer Jeremy Westbrook.

“There was a great spirit of unity and celebration of God’s activity in our work this year,” Westbrook said. “Our Cooperative Program giving is ahead, we reported 23 new churches this year, 15 new plants, five replants and three new affiliates.

Our Send Ohio strategy is working really well

“Our Send Ohio strategy is working really well,” Westbrook added. “We’ve seen 49 plants or replants in the last two years.”

With the hiring of Mark Jones, pastor of Freedom Hill Community Church, Stow, as part-time consultant, a new revitalization strategy is underway in Ohio. “Churches in 10 of our 15 associations have already engaged,” Westbrook said.

The 237 messengers from 112 of Ohio’s churches voted unanimously to “reject in its entirety” an abortion amendment to Ohio’s state constitution. However, Ohioans voted into law the amendment  which allows the termination of pregnancies up to “fetal viability” as determined by a physician.

Messengers elected new officers: President Adam Pursel, pastor of LifePoint Church in Mount Vernon. First Vice-President: David Welsch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Heath. Second Vice-President:  Karlie Hale, pastor of One Love Community Church in Cleveland. Recording secretary: Mary Leigh Snowden, member of Clough Pike Baptist Church in Cincinnati. Assistant recording secretary: Charity Betts, member of First Baptist Church in New Lebanon.

In other business, messengers approved a $5,394,000 budget for 2024, same as in 2023, with $4,800,000 in Cooperative Program giving from churches, half of which – $2,400,000 – is to be forwarded for global SBC causes.

Retired pastors and their wives who receive a check each month from Guidestone’s Mission:Dignity will receive a thirteenth check each year from now on with money provided in SCBO’s budget.

Also new in the budget, scholarships to Cedarville University for the children of Ohio pastors. Cedarville, affiliated with SCBO since 2003, has a student body of about 5,500 students and 150 degree programs including nursing, business, theology, and pharmacy.

Also new this year, SCBO included ethnic work in Ohio in its budget. African American, Hispanic, Arabic, and deaf groups gathered at various times throughout the year. 

Now in its second year of a partnership with the Florida Baptist Convention, Ohio’s six regions have been paired for mutual support with six Florida regions. 

Prayer and fasting became an expanded thrust across Ohio this year, with Bill Elliff leading in day-long prayer events, first with state staff and then with associational leaders, followed by five gatherings in four regions of the state. 

Interspersed with convention business and reports from state staff and SBC entities was worship led by “Chosen Road” from West Virginia, and messages from three Ohio leaders: Westbrook, outgoing President Ray Umphrey, and Greg Cooper, pastor of FBC Groveport, who delivered the annual sermon.

Ohio Baptists are praying and preparing for revival

“For 70 years, Ohio Baptists have made a commitment to take the gospel across the street and around the world,” Westbrook said. “After leaving the seventieth annual celebration, Ohio Baptists are praying and preparing for revival in the Buckeye state that would lead to an awakening across the United States and around the world.”

Article used with permission from Baptist Press - original story can be viewed here