Minutes of the American Baptist Churches of Ohio
Board of Regional Ministries Retreat
Drury Inn – Dublin, Ohio
Friday & Saturday – February 16-17, 2024
John 13:34-35

Beginning Friday evening following dinner at the Drury Inn the evening focused on LOVE AS IDENTITY IN CHRIST. The attendance of each person on the board is verified with the Attendance Sheet that was initialed and is secured at the region office. However, the following were in attendance according to these minutes: 

Rev. Mark Click, Rev. Dr. Scotty Robertson, Rev. Steve Cope, Rev. Dr. Dan Clemens, Dr. Celeste Didlick-Davis, Mr. Rick Dostal, Rev. Adam Farnsworth, Mrs. Jeni Gerber, Rev. Dr. Jason Hentschel, Rev. Marshall Kimball, Rev. Andrew Shields, Mrs. Susan Stotts, Mrs. Floria Washington, Rev. John Young, Rev. Mark Eaton, Rev. Dr. Kevin Hairston, Rev. Kevin Thomas, Rev. Dr. James Willis, Sr., Rev, Gary Ingle, Mr. David Daniels.

In the temporary absence of President, Rev. Jeremy Spence due to weather, the Welcome & Opening Prayer was given by Mr. Rick Dostal, Past President.

An additional welcome and beginning Devotion from John 13:34-35 was the basis of the framework for this  the theme for 2024. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” He was advising that bad things are going to happen but you need to stand together and love each other. Nothing else matters, you need to love one another. The world is watching how we behave, how we love each other. He then moved to Revelation 2:5 Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from you”. II Chronicles 7-14 “If my people…” is to the “People of God” not to the country. He then referenced John 15:7-8 We need to remain in Christ and keep his words in us. II Corinthians 3:3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on the tablets of stone… the thread of this whole thought and history is a ‘heart issue’ and a desire to go our own way. This is supported by Galatians 5:22-24,”But the fruit of the Spirit is Love….”  Each of these validates the need to be “United in Christ and Rooted in LOVE”. Let Christ’s love trickle down through us and to those we come in contact with. 

Following this, a Welcome & Introduction of New Region Board Members, returning Board & clarification of staff relationships was extended by Rev. Kevin Thomas, NE Ohio Regional Minister. We then moved into a time of introductions and group sharing and activities.

As the evening came to a close, Rev. Mark Click set the stage for tomorrow. He reviewed the overall structure and organization of the Region board. He then reviewed the requirements for leadership from the ABC-Ohio Leadership Covenant & Conflict of Interest Forms. Each person present read and signed their copy for the office file. These were collected and gathered together for filing at the region office. He also shared of the plan to invite new pastors and their wives to the 2024 Gathering and the Region will cover the cost of their registration and hotel. He also encouraged each board member to financially support the region and encourage their home church to support the region financially. 

Then at 9:00 p.m. following prayer by President Jeremy Spence, the Board & Staff were dismissed for a Fellowship Opportunity with complimentary popcorn & soft drinks in the lobby.

Saturday Morning – the focus was LOVE AS MINISTRY IN CHRIST

Following a restful night and breakfast, the group reconvened with prayer and a Devotion on 1 Corinthians 13 given by Rev. Mark Eaton, SE Ohio Regional Minister. He began with a question to the group, “Why did you attend this Board Retreat?” Have to? Need to? Want to? As we look at our ministry opportunities any one or all of these three (3) are usually the reason for our actions. Each of the reasons is driven by being Required, Desired or Inspired. His first selection was Ephesians 4:11-15 on Spiritual Gifts and our need to grow to maturity in Christ. He also referenced 1John 4:7-11 and the Love we need to aspire to and demonstrate to everyone. As he noted 1 Corinthians 13, it notes that each of the Spiritual Gifts noted the previous chapter are only valid if used in Love. What do each of these characteristics look like as we do ministry for Christ among other believers and the world? “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is Love.” 

Due to a commitment at his church, President Rev. Jeremy Spence delegated his responsibilities to Mrs. Amy Fallon, Vice-President. Mrs. Fallon became ill and was not able to attend, subsequently, Mr. Rick Dostal, Past President, opened the Business meeting portion of the retreat with Prayer & Call to Order. He referenced verses in Colossians that also call us to Love.

The Consent Agenda was approved, review of the Board of Regional Ministries Meeting Minutes from November 04, 2023 a correction on page two (2) of ABHM Society. Motion to approve by: Rev. Dan Clemens 2nd by: Mrs. Jeni Gerber, Approved.

At this point, Rev. Mark Click read and reviewed the following disaffiliation letters (a copy of each letter was provided to each board member with the emailed agenda and the originals are on file at the region office):
• First Baptist Church, Urbana Withdraws from ABC-USA Affiliation only
• First Baptist Church, Spencerville withdraws from all ABC Affiliations
• Undivided Church (formerly Freedom in the Wind), Milford withdraws from all ABC Affiliation (note Rev. Herald is a graduate of the Leadership Academy and was ordained by the Miami Association)

It was noted that in 2005, Executive Minister, Larry Swain and the region representatives had a meeting and out of that meeting a study group was formed to review the issues around human sexuality. He then referenced the Resolution on Human Sexuality that was adopted by the ABC Ohio Board of Regional Ministries on November 3, 2006. At that time, it was also decided to permit local churches to ‘disaffiliate’ from the National Association without disaffiliation from the local or regional association. Rev. Click suggested that this group vote to receive these letters and then explore the process for their relationship with ABC-USA and its associated ministry relationships. The churches, in order to be in relationship with ABC-Ohio they must be in relationship with a local association that has an ABC-Ohio relationship. This may also result in an impact with MMBB as well and those churches will need to explore that for themselves. The relationship language between ABC-Ohio and ABC-USA will need to be reviewed as it relates to the local church’s relationship desires. Rev. Click will be exploring this language and understanding in preparation for the Board meeting in May, 2024. 
As relates to these church’s requests this has an impact on the region even though the region has a Resolution. 

Motion to receive these three (3) letters as presented by Rev. Dr. Scotty Robertson, 2nd by Mrs. Sue Stotts. Discussion included the apparent attitude of the churches that the LGBTQ+ community are mentally ill and not ‘worthy’ of redemption, or God’s Love considering our theme for this year. Mr. Dostal indicated that if a letter was sent it would need to be a loving letter to these congregations for acceptance. Motion to approve – Carried.

Rev. Click noted that one of the letters referenced AWAB – and that is not part of the ABC-USA.

Following a Break & Room Check Out we reconvened then moved into the Region Task Force Updates
• Leadership Pool Form (nominations) Revisions are still in process but not finalized for review yet.
• Constitution & Bylaws Review & Personnel Policy Manual Review are still in process as well. The goal is to have this completed by September.
• Nominating Committee (Leadership Pool Forms) Rev. Click will be working with the committee from March through September to develop the ballot for the Fall 2024 Gathering. The board is compiled of representatives from each of the four (4) quadrants of the state. The SW region is heavily represented related to the number of churches in that area. We continue to seek diversity in background, gender, profession, skill level. Rev. Click would like the forms completed, scanned and emailed to him.
• Region In-State Mission & Missionaries Endorsement – Rev. Click shared of the background of this discussion from last year at the board level. His further research has shown that if ABC-Ohio endorses someone and there is an issue that develops we would be potentially liable for that situation if we do not have the appropriate resources for appropriate background checks, oversight and supervision. His recommendation is to step back from this for the time being. Consensus agreed. 
• NEW Fund Development Team the majority of our 234 churches are not financially supportive of the Region. Rev. Spence, Rev. Young, Rev. Click and Mrs. Lloyd will be developing a plan for this.
• We have a need to establish a 200th Anniversary Planning Committee by May for 2026. This would include a historical booklet and a goal of “200 Giving Partners” for that event as well. 
• A motion was made by Rev. Marshall Kimball and 2nd by Rev. Andrew Shields to formally recognize this New Fund Development Team and the 200th Anniversary Committee.

Following these updates, a Financial Reports & Budget Update by Mrs. Amanda Lloyd, Senior Accountant and Rev. John Young, Treasurer. A hardcopy of the report was distributed to each person present for reference in addition to the financial reports that were emailed to the Board by Mrs. Hoskinson previously. She reviewed that we use an Accrual Based Accounting method vs the Cash method so that income and expenses for the year are assigned in the year they occur. The 2023 Budget Audit will begin in May 2024. She reviewed the 2023 points of interest (income and expenses). She reviewed the 2023 External Sources of Income both positive and negative compared to the budgeted amounts. It was noted that there is a small amount of money allocated for the (currently) inactive ABMen group. That could be available if a group of AB Men decided to activate for a project. 

Mrs. Lloyd clarified some of the major fund categories as ‘In – Out Exchanges’. 

She noted the Endowment and BFI management incomes as well. The Fund Expense ‘Other’ was 228% this past year related to various building needs, and other needed expenses that were approved. The “Building on Common Ground Grant” is designed for outreach either with one church or other churches and programs as well. This working with other churches would include access to the “Next Generation Grant” funds. 
She noted the expense for the Annual Gathering was $16.603.10 beyond the income. Rev. Click shared of the advantages we have experienced with the Palmer Grant funds received and will continue to receive through 2024. The DRAWDOWN for 2023 was budgeted at 8.1% this past year it was 6.25% toward the goal of 4.5% drawdown from our investments. In 2022 we lost about 22% of our investment income but that is rebounding. 

The 2023 ABMS Pass-through was a total of $629,625.99 this is money that just passes through ABC-Ohio. 

She shared of the various “In-State” ministries that are supported. A question regarding the difference of the Buckeye Ministry & Missions Offering and the In-state offerings.

Mrs. Lloyd then clarified what the BFI, Inc. is and what it is responsible for including the Kent Fund. The Jamestown Church (City of Zion) is still behind in their balloon payment in 2023. The remainder is due in May 2024. If that is not made then they will default on their agreement and if that occurs, the property will come back to BFI and then sold for commercial purposes.

Regarding payments, Shiloh is back on track, Jamestown (City of Zion) is current with their monthly payments, New Creation is paying on time, Grove City is waiting on their Eminent Domain Payment. 
TDA Investments was purchased by Charles Schwab Investments who now manage our account with a 2023 ending value is: $4,172,127.52. 

The budget for 2024 was reviewed and clarifications offered:
• Church giving was reduced, the Event review was reduced, the Endowment fund Distribution was increased, and the Pass-Through was also reduced for an overall reduction of $10,365.00  
• The overall Expenses for Ministry was increased by $9,355.00 related to salaries, staff development, audit website, and marketing expenses. 
• Leadership Development due to various adjustments and grant income was reduced by $10,000.00
Rev. Dr. Scotty Robertson affirmed that the budget does support the overall ministry and support of the Region for the churches and pastors. 
Mr. Dostal noted that the investment stability of what was originally has been maintained throughout the past several years due to the adjustments and difficult decisions that were made. (and not without great angst at the time!)

A motion to affirm these revised budgets was made by Rev. Dr. Scotty Robertson, 2nd by Rev. Gary Ingle as the health care expenses still is being adjusted, motioned passed.

At this time, 12:03 p.m., with no further business the business meeting was adjourned. Mr. Dostal then closed the meeting with prayer and for lunch.

Lunch was shared and following lunch, Rev. John Young opened the afternoon session with prayer.

Rev. Dr. Kevin Hairston provided an update on the Ohio Leadership Academy Implementation of the New Model and adjustments being planned including the locations and offerings. He commended Rev. Dr. Seth Fallon, Dean of the Academy as well as Pastor of FBC Jackson and his leadership of the academy. Rev. Dr. Scotty Robertson described his presentation on Cruciform Discipleship as part of the curriculum. Rev. Dr. Hairston will be teaching on the Cultural aspects of ministry. It was noted that several of the current board members are graduates of the Leadership Academy.

Rev. Kevin Thomas shared an update on the State Advisory Committee on Ordination Report. He shared of the membership and terms of the current committee. They have one open position on the committee to fill the nine (9) members. He noted the Reviews and recommendations that have been completed and the ones that are in process. There are two (2) candidates in process currently.

Rev. Thomas also commended Mrs. Amanda Lloyd as the editor of the newly created ABC-Ohio Region Newsletter that recently debuted.

Rev. Mark Click then provided the board with a 2024 Program Ministry Preview: 
• Great Lakes Leadership Retreat at Cedar Lake Ministries, Indiana (brochure included in the packet) This is a partnership with ABC Regions of Indiana/Kentucky, Michigan, Great Rivers, and Ohio the cost is $35 or $50 the $75.00 are sold out. This cost is discounted significantly through the Palmer Grant. The current registration is about 88 at this point. The overall cost is $700.00/person. The speakers, Fresh Expressions will be included in the Fall Gathering as well.
• Ohio Leadership Academy Summer Workshops (3) – Worship, Teaching for All Ages & Conflict Resolution – Date and Location Looking at a central Ohio location in the Fall

• Annual Gathering on October 15-16, 2024
   New Pastor Orientation at the Annual Gathering, covering registration and lodging to pastors and spouses who are new in 2023-24.
   Planning on revising the Annual Gathering Bible Studies w/ Local Church Ministry Workshops [Leadership Succession Planning, etc.] Workshop suggestions are welcome.
   These events will include Fresh Expressions as the Keynote with follow up sessions
• Clergy Spouse Recognition Event in 2024 or 2025? There is a desire to affirm and bless spouses with an event of some type. This is still in the planning stage.

Rev. Mark Click also shared of the planned Executive Staff Development with Dr. Ed Rogers, RENEW Strategies [Church Health Assessments, Mission & Vision Development, and Implementation] on July 23-24 at the Region Office. During the time of Rev. Dr. Swain there was training done but with the complete transition to the current staff model there is a need for a ‘revitalization and update’ of our team within these areas.

He shared that he is investigating the possibilities of expanding our partnerships with ASCENT Movement & Truett Theological Seminary (Waco, TX). He will be attending an introductory meeting in March with other Executive Ministers to become familiar with other resources to support the churches and ABC-Ohio ministries. There are also limited pastoral resources from the traditional theological universities as well. This has resulted in churches going on their own and finding pastors who are not familiar with ABC philosophy, history and polity.

The group then took a 14 minute break in preparation for the late afternoon session.
This late afternoon session moved into the focus of LOVE AS RESTORATION IN CHRIST with Worship & Communion.

Rev. Dr. Kevin Hairston, SW Ohio Regional Minister shared a Devotion from John 21:1-6 focusing on the post crucifixion time with the disciples going back to their former lives and the unsuccessful fishing and then Jesus telling them to drop their net on the right side of the boat and filling the net. In our spiritual lives there are highs and lows to experience in our church roles and life in general. The disciples experienced this first hand even being in the presence of Jesus the Christ. So where do we go from here? In this situation, Peter went fishing, and the others went with him. Discouragement can be shared and others can be influenced. They were struggling with their relationship with God and so they dropped back to the familiar. This is similar to the Covid & Post Covid experience and the changes that were forced upon us. However, when they went out, they felt defeated with no catch. We cannot expect success when we fail God’s plan. “When the morning came, with Jesus standing on the beach…” they didn’t recognize him but, in the doubts, the darkness and discouragement ‘in the morning’ it will change. ‘Cast your net on the right side’ It’s not so much where the fish lie but can we trust the guidance of the Lord for success? We have to be able to encourage others to ‘cast their net on the other side’. We call out when we are in need of help. Will we continue to ‘cast our net’ on the left side or listen to God’s direction? 

Following a time of reflection, on the theme and the need to put our faith in Jesus for direction, and a season of prayer for various families noted, Dr. James Willis, NW Ohio Regional Minister then led the group in the Celebration of Communion. 

Following that time of reflection, the Benediction & Dismissal was given by Mr. Rick Dostal, Past-President

Minutes submitted by David Daniels, Secretary

ABC Ohio Board of Regional Ministries Officers:
President – Rev. Jeremy Spence 
Vice-President – Mrs. Amy Fallon
Past-President – Mr. Rick Dostal
Treasurer – Rev. John Young
Secretary – Mr. David Daniels
Executive Minister – Rev. Mark Click

ABC Ohio MISSION: “Equip the People of God to Impact the World for Christ!”