What happened at the 184th Annual Gathering?  Here are reports that were updated hourly during the 2009 event:

October 17, 2009 - Saturday Morning Report

After an enjoyable continental breakfast, we gathered a final time as "The Remnant" as Rev. Larry Swain described the group.  Rev. David Putman led our final seminar.  He started by saying, "we have to get 'Jesus right' before we can advance the church."  He then put this in practical terms by looking at ideas to change the way people think about church.  The goal is to break down the walls and redefining the church not as an organization, but as an organism - truly recognizing that we are the body of Christ.  It was a fascinating close to a wonderful week.  God truly blessed us in many ways!  We now look forward to the 185th Annual Gathering which will be held October 7 to 9, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Columbus North (same as this year).  Plan now to be a part!


October 16, 2009 - Friday Night Report

Our Friday evening worship service was filled with joy on this Joyful Journey.  Rev. Dr. Larry Swain welcomed everyone and then the Mountview Baptist Church, Columbus Worship Team led us in several praise choruses.  Rev Bob Cassady then led us in giving back through a special evening offering.  Mark Townsend then blessed us with two wonderful songs of praise, love and joy.  Following Mark, members of First Baptist of Greater Toledo presented a drama called "The Codebreakers."  Rev. Putman returned to the stage to bring an inspiring and worshipful message call to commitment.

October 16, 2009 - Friday Dinner Report

The annual Mission Banquet was held in the Pavilion.  After a wonderful dinner, we had the opportunity to hear reports about this summer's Mission Encounters.  We then heard the announcement that the Mission Encounters will be back next summer on Saturday, July 24, 2010 and Saturday, July 31, 2010.  Following the Mission Encounter reports, we heard about the work of Rev. Dr. Adalia Gutierrez Lee who is an ABC-USA missionary serving in Tijuana, Mexico.  She serves in a shelter that takes in battered women and children.  She gave an eye-opening account of the conditions for women in Mexico and the cycle of violence that surrounds them.  The banquet closed with a rousing chorus of "We All Are One in Mission."

October 16, 2009 - Friday Afternoon "Town Hall" Meeting

We received a report from this summer's ABC-USA Biennial meeting from the General Board.  This was a chance for our delegates to hear about the activities of the General Board and future plans.  Time was also offered for delegates to ask questions of the General Board.

October 16, 2009 - Friday Afternoon Report

Rev. Dr. Larry Swain presented the Executive Minister's report.  He spoke on many different subjects. Rev. Swain began by covering the ABC-Ohio Leadership Academy and what it is doing to impact our future.  He then spoke about ABC-Ohio Student Youth Ministries with a goal to reach a NEW generation that will follow and impact the world for Christ.  ABY (American Baptist Youth) were involved in the first year of partnering with Dare 2 Share ministries who partnered with 5000 youth and leaders from across the state.  ABY will join again with Dare 2 Share for the February 5 and 6, 2010.  This will include all ABY youth joining together by staying at the Drury Hotel and experiencing fellowship times with American Baptist youth from across the state.  Those who stay on Saturday night may join together in a special youth-oriented worship service at Hillcrest Baptist Church on Sunday.  Rev. Swain continued by covering the launch of new Impact Ministries.  These are startup grants to fund new outreach and evangelism ministries.  Next. Rev. Swain talked about Rise Up & Build congregations.  He highlighted the work of two of these churches and the success they have enjoyed since joining in the Rise Up & Build program.  A new event was brought into existence through Mission Encounters in two different locations this summer.  Rev. Swain then turned to big plans for 2010 including Clery Conferences, Mission Encounters and more.  He closed by focusing on envisioning our future.  This included celebrating our Baptist identity and heritage, enlarging our Vision/Mission, maintaining excellence in all we do and finally - welcoming change!

October 16, 2009 - Friday Luncheon Report

The ABC-Ohio Ministers and Mates and luncheon featured guest speaker Rev. Dr. Keith Troy of New Salem Baptist Church in Columbus.  He presented an inspiring message to help ministers find their focus as they lead their congregations across the state.  He said that the most important point he could make is to "understand who God has called you to serve."  Through his own examples from church life and family life, he brought a fresh look at ministry and what it means to raise a family in ministry.

October 16, 2009 - Friday Morning Report

In the words of Rev. Dr. Larry Swain:  "The Lord has given us another wonderful day to stay indoors."  The expected high temperature outside on this gray and dreary day is only 44 degrees!  However, warm hearts greeting each other have clearly changed the temperature inside.  Rev. David Putman returned to the stage for our morning Seminar.  The focus this morning was on his second book, "Breaking the Discipleship Code."  He asked the question, "How do people become followers of Jesus?" followed by the question "what does a missional follower of Christ look like?"  He says the core of his belief can be summed up in the following phrase:  "Someone who lives like Jesus, loves like Jesus and leaves what Jesus left behind."

October 15, 2009 - Thursday Evening Report

The worship services at our Annual Gatherings are always a blessing and this year is no different.  The Worship Team from Mountview Baptist Church, Columbus began the evening with a stirring selection of praise music.  While the Worship Team played and the audience joined in, artist Nick Merrick (also from Mountview) began painting on a blank canvas.  We watched as the painting slowly took shape as the service continued with more great praise music from the Mountview Worship Team.

Rev. Dr. Larry Swain took the stage next to inform everyone about the Emergency Fund which is given at the discretion of the Executive Minister.  This fund assists pastors and their families facing emergency needs.  While the offering was taken to support the Emergency Fund, Betsy Bellavia (First Baptist Church of Greater Toledo) provided special music in stirring renditions of "Shout to the Lord" and "Legacy."

Our keynote speaker was Rev. David Putman from the Mountain Lake Church Ministry Team in Atlanta, Georgia.  His focus for this session was on the larger concept of "Breaking the Missional Code" (his first book).  He spoke about "walls that we need to tear down" to do missional work and focusing on doing things "the Jesus way."  "My mission for the rest of my life is rediscovering the simplicity and centrality of Jesus," he said in closing.

The Worship Service concluded with the Worship Team from Mountview Baptist singing "Let the Walls Fall Down" as each person took a brick from a stack at each side of the stage as a physical representation of tearing down the walls.

October 15, 2009 - Thursday Dinner Report

It was a wonderful lasagna dinner in the Pavilion that kicked off the "Celebrating Healthy Churches" banquet.  Rev. Mark Click showed two videos featuring the fantastic stories of Calvary Baptist Church in Youngstown and Linden Avenue Baptist Church in Dayton.  Calvary sponsors a summer-long lunch program for children that includes devotional times, games and of course - food!  Linden is an urban church and has experienced growth by building from small groups.  The church sponsors a 12 step Biblical program, an AA small group, Wednesday night meals and more.  Hearing the stories of both Calvary and Linden was truly inspirational.

October 15, 2009 - Thursday Afternoon Report

Rev. Patty Bilyeu, Marietta welcomed everyone to the Plenary Session.  Rev. Bilyeu is the 2009 American Baptist Churches of Ohio President.  As she prayed, she reminded us that though it is dreary outside, the Son shines inside!  Patty's presidential address focused on the reality of "change."  She reminded us that change is a part of the future, whether we like it or not!  However, God says "fear not" repeatedly throughout Scripture.  Patty told us about a new "Transformation Task Force" that will work on looking at the future of ABC-Ohio and what we will look like.  She is asking for a group of able and willing volunteers to join her in this task force.  Her goal is to present the results of this task force in the form of a report at the 2010 Annual Gathering.  "God is ready to transform this region into something amazing," she said as she closed.

Rev. Matt Thomas, the Vice Chair of the Administrative Ministries Team presented a report concerning the team's work.  They have been developing a strategy for continued growth in the state of Ohio no matter what the economic situation might be.  This year, their work included an overhaul of the accounting and management software and procedures. The goal is to have the new software and procedures in place by January 1, 2010.

Rev. Reginald Martin, Chair of the Local Church Ministries Team reported on work they have done throughout the year including grants given to churches throughout the state to begin or expand local ministry programs. He also discussed the EB Hicks Urban Ministry Award and the Healthy Missional Church Award and qualifications for those awards.  He concluded by presenting a report on the Leadership Academy.

Rev. Marvin Haught, Chair of the United Ministries Team presented a report on their work this past year.  United Ministries covers a huge number of ministries throughout the state.  The group has completed restructuring effort this past year.

Rev. Bob Hendrix then presented the Nominating Committee Report.  Bob presented the nominees for 2010.

The Plenary Session concluded with Rev. Dr. Larry Swain, Executive Minister thanking Rev. Bilyeu for her service as President of ABC-Ohio this past year. Patty received the Past President's pin.  Rev. David Bilyeu shared a couple of stories about his wife and also thanking her for her service.  Patty received a standing ovation in recognition of her work this year.

October 15, 2009 - Thursday Luncheon Report

A light drizzle coats the driveway outside - but there is a warm feeling coursing through the Crowne Plaza as the luncheons have begun.

At the American Baptist Women's Ministries of Ohio Luncheon, the women welcomed guest speaker Ellen Brown works with the ABC-USA Missionary Kids Care program.  In a vibrant and inspirational message, Ellen spoke of living in the moment and allowing God to give you your purpose and work in you in the place you are now - rather than waiting for the "perfect moment."  Ellen also talked about five missionary kids and how their lives are impacting the world.

The American Baptist Men's Ministry Luncheon opened with Pastor Richard Runion of Torch Baptist Church.  Richard led a soul-stirring time of devotion to the Lord.  The men welcomed Robert Jordon who serves as a deacon at Grand Prairie Baptist church.  He is President/CEO of Marion Goodwill Industries.  He gave a presentation on "Goodwill Ministry."  This ministry helps people with disabilities attain self-sufficiency through employment and training so that they can reach their maximum potential.  The emphasis of Goodwill is focused on a person's ability, not their disability.

At the Ohio Baptist Education Society Luncheon, the group welcomed guest speaker Rev. Steven J. Roper who is an Ernst Scholarship recipient.  He spoke of his road to ministry which began as loan officer at a bank.  His boss came in and asked if he had ever considered another line of work - of course, Steve thought this might be a step toward a promotion.  To his surprise, his boss recommended that he go into the ministry.  Thus began the first steps of a journey in ministry that continues to this day.  The Ohio Baptist Education Society supports many students across the state who are beginning that journey themselves.  Please take a moment to check out the Ohio Baptist Education Society web page that provides more information about this unique and needed educational support effort in the state of Ohio.

October 15, 2009 - Thursday Morning Report

The day dawned cold and blustery as registration began at 8 AM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Columbus.  The temperatures outside didn't break out of the 40s as everyone began to gather for the 184th Annual Gathering.  This is a day for hot chocolate!  However, hearts warmed inside as relationships were rekindled and faces of those we haven't seen in a year mingled throughout the Gathering site.  It was wonderful to see Rev. Jane Gibbons' bright countenance as she greeted all of us who have prayed for her recovery in the past year.  She is looking wonderful and feeling great.  She is enjoying the Annual Gathering this year as a participant rather than one of the organizers - a new experience for her and one that she is enjoying tremendously!  We love you, Jane and it is so great to have you with us.  We have missed you!

October 14, 2009 - Outflow Event at Karl Road Baptist Church

A new offering for this year's Annual Gathering was a special mission Outflow Event held at Karl Road Baptist Church.  Details on this will be provided in a separate article in the coming days.