Texas Southern Baptists invited

The SBTC is in its second year of missions partnership with the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. Opportunity exists there in the state’s large cities such Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus to rural ministry across a state that encompasses flatlands and Appalachian foothills.

The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (SCBO) includes 635 congregations among a population of 11 million people.

Leroy Fountain, SBTC urban church planting associate and a liaison on the Ohio partnership, said, “We need churches from Texas to partner with Ohio Baptists to reach a group of people that just need to know that God loves them and that he does have a plan for their life right where he’s planted them, and also to give another generation hope and to make a difference in each respective part of the state.”

“There is every kind of opportunity you can imagine,” added Duane Floro, the Ohio convention’s ministry evangelism strategist. “Metropolitan cities like Cleveland that have multiple cultures and people groups ? to cities such as Cincinnati, which, if you have listened to the news much lately, is a racially divided and also a religious divided city. The opportunities in a city like Cincinnati are as far as you can see and then some. To be able to see God do a healing work in that city and to have churches from Texas come up and help us to see the queen city come back to the King of Kings would be phenomenal.”

Also, the state includes vast farmland and poverty-stricken Appalachian foothills in the southeast region. “English as a second language is making an incredible impact in that part of the state.”

Ohio also has tremendous potential for college ministry, with Ohio State University in Columbus, one of the nation’s largest campus populations, and many smaller colleges as well, Floro said.

In 2004, the SCBO has chosen the Southwestern Baptist Association as its primary focus area. The partnership with the SBTC provides varied opportunities, from helping gather prayer support throughout Texas to financial giving to hands-on missions.

Southwestern Association has a vision for church planting and church revitalization. The area near the association has grown by population while associational churches have declined in number, in church members and in baptisms.

In 1964, the association had 42 Southern Baptist churches; today the number of constituted congregations is 27. Baptisms have declined from 492 per year in the 1960s to around 250 annually today. Meanwhile, the population in Butler County, where most of the churches are, has grown from 199,076 in 1960 to more than 330,000 in 2000.

The association’s mission statement reads, “The Southwestern Baptist Association exists to glorify God by being on mission together in resourcing and equipping our churches to live out Acts 1:8,” a verse that promises the help of the Holy Spirit as believers bear witness to Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the far ends of the world.

The association’s strategy borrows an acrostic, ACTS 1:18: Advancing Healthy Leaders, Church Health, Training & Reaching Future Leaders, Starting New Churches, and 1:8 On Mission Together.

These areas include equipping and encouragement in children’s and youth ministry, facilitating church planters and starting eight new works in 2004, training pastors and church leaders, and equipping the laity for church ministry and missions.

Additionally, established churches are sought to encourage and partner with new churches through the association’s “Adopt-a-Church” program.

For additional information on the SBTC’s partnership with Southwestern Association, visit www.SWBA.info or call John Bailey, associational missionary, at 513-893-3811 or at johnSWBA@fuse.net.

For opportunities statewide, contact Floro at 614-827-1754 or duanefloro@scbo.org.

CHINA TRIP ALSO SCHEDULED

Also, the SBTC and the International Mission Board are sponsoring a “vision” trip to China April 12-22 for pastors and lay leaders interested in taking mission teams there to work with IMB representatives.

The SBTC took a small group of pastors and lay leaders last March to China to gain a vision for the needs there, said Terry Coy, SBTC ethnic church planting strategist and the contact person for the ChinaVision 2004 trip.

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