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OBU to Co-Sponsor Institute on Church Excellence Conference Oct. 26-27

August 9, 2018

St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City is partnering with Oklahoma Baptist University to host the 2018 Institute on Church Excellence (ICE) Conference Friday, Oct. 26, through Saturday, Oct. 27. The conference theme is “Building better bridges: Moving Ministry from Maintenance to Excellence.”

Designed to help small churches grow in the areas of leadership development, administration, millennial issues and technology, the event will feature engaging workshops, keynote speakers and practical discussion on various relevant topics. Additionally, the conference will provide practical tools and skill development opportunities for participants while sharing with and learning from others who are doing similar things successfully.

Today’s churches are facing fierce challenges including financial crises, social/cultural shifts and demographic changes. With limited resources, small churches need assistance. The ICE Conference addresses these needs.

Dr. Major Jemison, who is the conference founder and senior pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, explains the critical need for this type of conference.

“The Institute on Church Excellence provides small churches and remote located churches with the necessary tools to be successful in a changing world,” Jemison said. “Areas to be covered include administration, finances, worship, youth programs and other pertinent topics. Workshop leaders are considered experts in their field and have a love for God and humanity.”

The conference will feature Dr. Joel C. Gregory, George W. Truett endowed chair in preaching and evangelism at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, as the keynote speaker. Other workshop leaders include Dr. Major Jemison, senior pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church; Dr. Heath Thomas, dean of the Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry at OBU; Dr. Daryl Green, assistant professor of business and Dickinson Chair of Business at OBU; Dr. Ray Owens, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Tulsa; Dr. Lawrence Kirk, director of education at St. John Missionary Baptist Church; Dr. Sandra Thompson, professor of music and undergraduate coordinator at the University of Central Oklahoma; and Terry Buxton Sr., senior pastor of Agape Bible Fellowship in Tulsa.

Gregory serves as the George W. Truett endowed chair in preaching and evangelism at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University. Last year alone, he spoke or taught more than 170 times in churches and conferences across the world. As well as holding several pastorates, Gregory also served for two terms as the president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. For years, he was the preacher on the International Baptist Hour radio program heard on more than 500 stations across the nation, and in 1988, Gregory delivered the annual sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio. He also delivered the concluding message at the Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa. He is the author of five books, editor of three anthologies and the subject of a nationally performed play, “God’s Man in Texas.” Gregory and his wife, Joanne Michele, have four adult children.

Jemison serves as the senior pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and provides spiritual leadership and pastoral care for a congregation of about 2,500 members. He also functions as the church’s chief executive and chief operating officer, with administrative and fiscal responsibility for seven full-time staff, 13 part-time staff, numerous committed volunteers, an annual budget in excess of $3.5 million and property holdings valued at around $9 million. In 2006, Dr. Jemison completed a four-year term as president and chief executive officer of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., where he provided leadership related to the convention’s involvement in and advocacy and support of a number of civic issues and concerns, especially those directly related to the plight of African Americans and other nations.

Thomas was installed as dean of the Hobbs College for Theology and Ministry in December 2015. He also serves as associate vice president for church relations and professor of Old Testament at OBU. He holds degrees from OBU, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Gloucestershire (UK). Prior to serving at OBU, he was the director of Ph.D. Studies and associate professor of Old Testament at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He has pastored or served on staff at churches in Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina and in the United Kingdom. Passionate about opening the scriptures for today, he preaches and teaches regularly and serves as interim pastor when he is able.

Green is the Dickinson Chair of Business at Oklahoma Baptist University. In 2016, he retired from the Department of Energy, where he worked in the energy management program for more than 27 years. His primary research areas are leadership, management, culture and decision-making. Green regularly contributes to the scholarly research within his discipline with more than 15 articles published in well-known academic journals. Additionally, he is a member of editorial boards in several academic journals, including Strategic Leadership Review and Management and Economics Research Journal.

Owens became the senior pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in 2006. Since then, the church has more than tripled its membership base, weekly attendance and annual operating budget. As a result, he is now overseeing the construction of a new facility to accommodate the growing congregation. In addition to his pastoral duties, Owens has taught courses at Oklahoma State University and Texas Christian University. He currently serves as the affiliate assistant professor of ethics and black church studies at Phillips Theological Seminary.

Kirk graduated from OBU in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in religion. He then earned a Master of Divinity in theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2002. Kirk earned his Doctor of Ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2017. He and his wife, Beverly, are noted seminar leaders and marriage counselors across the nation.

Thompson has been a member of the UCO faculty since 1989, where she serves as a professor of music and undergraduate coordinator. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with numerous directors, musicians and conductors on projects receiving national acclaim. Thompson is currently the artistic director of the Ambassadors’ Concert Choir, an internationally recognized community choir of more than 80 voices from the greater Oklahoma City area, and actively serves as an adjudicator and clinician for various contests and workshops.

Buxton serves as founder and senior pastor of Agape Bible Fellowship. He formerly served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church North Tulsa, associate pastor of children’s ministry at Concord Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas and as children’s church minister at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. He is a graduate of Langston University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. He earned his master’s degree in practical theology from Oral Roberts University and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in church ministries and leadership at Oral Roberts University.

The Institute on Church Excellence Conference will be held at the St. John Missionary Baptist Church Conference Center at 5700 N. Kelley Ave. in Oklahoma City. The cost of the event is $75 per participant and areas to be covered during the event include administration, finance, worship, youth programs and other pertinent topics. To register for the event, visit