The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (SCBO) welcomes the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention to the Buckeye State. This is the first time for the SBC to convene the annual meeting in Ohio: June 16–17, 2015, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Vibrant Network of Churches
Ohio Southern Baptists are celebrating sixty-one years of ministry as a state convention this year. Southern Baptist families came to Ohio in the late 1920s. They began starting Southern Baptist churches in the late 1930s, and they formed the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio January 8, 1954, at the West Side Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ohio. During these sixty-one years, Ohio Southern Baptists have grown from thirty-eight congregations to more than seven hundred.
More than one hundred of these seven hundred plus congregations, just over 15 percent of our SCBO churches, are located in the Greater Columbus area, with more than half of these started since 2004.
Columbus, along with the surrounding Metropolitan Statistical Area of two million precious souls, is a tremendous mission field. It is the capital of Ohio, the seventh most populous state in the United States, and it is the fifteenth largest city in the United States. Within the metro Columbus area, one Southern Baptist church exists for every 16,686 residents. These residents include those native-born to Columbus and Ohio plus Europeans, Africans, Asians, Australians, Middle Easterners, and US citizens from every state and territory.
Messengers and guests attending the SBC annual meeting can arrive early and participate in Crossover Columbus to reach central Ohioans with the Gospel June 13. The Crossover Columbus website, www.crossovercolumbus.org, provides additional details on the volunteer process to assist in ministry projects.
Many sights and activities are available for your enjoyment prior to Crossover Columbus and after the annual meeting. “Ohio Too Much Fun for Just One Day” (www.discoverohio.com) provides detailed information for thousands of intriguing and interesting events and places to visit and experience in the Columbus area and throughout the state of Ohio.
Parents Magazine named the Center of Science and Industry (www.cosi.org) the number one science center in the US.
The Columbus Clippers (www.clippersbaseball.com) play minor league baseball near the convention center. The SCBO website (www.scbo.org) has additional information for Southern Baptist nights at the ballpark on June 12 and 13.
Jack Hannah and the Columbus Zoo (www.columbuszoo.org) are widely known and acclaimed.
Of course Ohio is very proud of The Ohio State University (www.osu.edu) and the 2015 College Football National Champions.
Greater Ohio Attractions
Multiple and diverse attractions offer enjoyment and educational opportunities beyond the Columbus metropolitan area.
Near Dayton, to the west of Columbus, is the National Museum of the United States Air Force (www.nationalmuseum.af.mil), which is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum. It contains seventeen acres of indoor exhibit space, more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles, and thousands of artifacts.
South of Dayton in the Cincinnati area is King’s Island Amusement Park (www.visitkingsisland.com) with roller coasters that compete with Cedar Point (www.cedarpoint.com) on the Lake Erie border of northern Ohio. East of Cedar Point is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (www.rockhall.com) in Cleveland and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (www.profootballhof.com) in Canton.
South and southwest of Canton is Amish Country, home of the largest population of Amish in the United States. Berlin, Ohio is the heart of Amish Country (www.amishcountryinsider.com and www.heartofamishcountry.com).
East of Berlin, in Dover, Ohio, is the Warther Museum (www.warthers.com), home of the carvings of Ernest “Mooney” Warther. This is one of the most fascinating places in Ohio.
Mission Ohio Invitation
While Ohio is a fascinating place to visit and enjoy, it is a much more fascinating mission field. It is the seventh largest state by population, with more than half asserting they have no affiliation with any faith group. The darkness of lostness in Ohio beckons the passion of Southern Baptists who take the Great Commission seriously.
Mission Ohio is the cooperative effort of Southern Baptists to reach at least one million of the 11.5 million residents of Ohio in 2,020 congregations by the end of 2020. Southern Baptists across the nation, please help us press toward that mark. Please volunteer to help with Crossover Columbus.
I believe God is calling many Southern Baptists to move to Ohio and help penetrate the darkness here. Mission Ohio awaits you. Let’s press toward that mark . . . together!
Jack Kwok is executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio and is a member of Genoa Baptist Church in Westerville, Ohio.