By Stephanie Heading
Ohio Southern Baptists from across the state gathered November 14-15 for the 69th State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (SCBO) Annual Celebration where they conducted SCBO business in addition to fellowshipping, worshiping, and celebrating the past while casting vision for the future.
Cuyahoga Valley Church in Broadview Heights, Ohio, hosted the two-day Annual Celebration. The event featured the Pastor’s Conference on Monday, November 14 and the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, November 15.
Dr. Ray Umphrey, SCBO President and Pastor of Briggs Road Baptist Church in Columbus, presided over the Annual Meeting. The day was filled with reports of God’s activity in Ohio, business decisions, and time to worship the Lord. Messengers approved an annual Cooperative Program budget of $4,800,000 for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
Messengers tackled the challenging issue of sexual abuse in the church as they approved a resolution supporting the work of the SCBO Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF). The SATF presented the Sexual Abuse Policy Guide which is a resource for SCBO churches and ministries. The Policy Guide is the result of a year’s work for the SATF. “This is just the first step in the journey,” said Greg Jackson, chair of the SATF.
“This is just the first step in the journey.”
Jackson told Messengers, “I’m glad to be part of a state convention that is ready to confront it. We have a clear message – SCBO and Ohio churches will not be a place to hide for sexual abusers. We are making SCBO and our churches safe places to be.”
Dr Jeremy Westbrook, SCBO executive director-treasurer, said, “Ohio Baptists are deeply grieved along with our SBC family regarding the sexual abuse report released by Guidepost in May. After a year of prayer, research, and hard work, I am thrilled to share this resource that will assist our churches in the training, awareness, reporting, and prevention of sexual abuse. I am deeply grateful for our Sexual Abuse Task Force and their sacrificial labor this past year that I believe will have eternal dividends.”
The Sexual Abuse Policy Guide is now available for download at www.scbo.org/satf.
In his Annual Address to messengers, Dr. Westbrook shared four new SCBO values and shared highlights of his first full year as Executive Director-Treasurer. Please see Dr. Westbrook’s column on page 1 for more information about these new SCBO values.
SCBO highlights in 2021-2022 included the success of the Regional Catalyst initiative, the record-setting Super Summer, the redesign of The Ohio Baptist Messenger and its higher click and read rate, as well as the $1 million gift to the Cooperative Program from the proceeds of the Seneca Lake sale.
“I’m grateful and thankful for this new day.”
Another highlight is the increase in partnerships with ethnic groups, such as Ohio African American Fellowship and Send Network Espanol. For the first-time ethnic fellowships are included in the SCBO Cooperative Program budget which includes Hispanic, African American, Deaf, Nepali, and Asian fellowships. “I’m grateful and thankful for this new day,” said Westbrook.
As SCBO focuses on Send Ohio church planting, re-planting, and revitalization, Westbrook announced that 32 new churches have been added in 2022, a 40 percent increase since last year and the highest since 2015. The Send Ohio Luncheon was packed and ended with prayer over Ohio church planters. Visit www.scbo.org/our-team to learn more about the Send Ohio team.
Messengers also elected officers. New officers include Dr. Ray Umphrey, elected to a second term as president; Tony Harris, first vice president; Adam Purcell, second vice president; Mary Leigh Snowden, recording secretary; and Charity Betts, assistant recording secretary. Faye Rogers, who served as recording secretary for 25 years, has decided to retire this year.
“The 69th Annual Celebration of The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio set the stage for a movement of multiplication in 2023 and beyond. What a joy it was to be with our faith family to celebrate the past and cast vision for the future.” - Dr. Jeremy Westbrook
Genoa Baptist Church in Westerville will host the 2023 Annual Celebration, November 6-7.
At the packed Send Ohio Luncheon, attendees pray over Ohio church planters.
Newly Elected SCBO Officers for 2023
Jeremy Wesstbrook celebrates the Ray Roberts State Missions Offering.
Gary Frost delivers the annual sermon for 2022.