Military and Snowbirds Influence Partnership Between Florida and Ohio Baptists

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Pictured above: Chad Keck, pastor of First Baptist Church, Kettering, Ohio.

Two states, roughly 800 miles apart, are joining forces to spread the gospel through beneficial relationships founded on prayer and commitment to mission work.

“There are many similarities between the West region of Ohio and the West region of Florida,” said Chad Keck, pastor of First Baptist Church, Kettering, Ohio.

Both states are home to multiple military bases and have airmen transferring from one base to the other regularly. Additionally, Ohio is the third most common state to send “snowbirds” to Florida each winter.

“We have a unique opportunity to serve many of the same people from one state to the next, whether they are transferring with the military or splitting their time between states for the change in seasons,” added Keck who also serves as Ohio Baptists’ West region catalyst.

Plans for 2024 include pairing pastors of similar size churches for prayer connections and encouragement as they face similar obstacles and ministry needs.

The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio is looking for help to advance the kingdom. Keck said that Ohio has entire ZIP codes with no gospel-centered church; many churches in the area are made up of less than 100 members, often no more than 20 per congregation.

Though small in number, the active churches in West Ohio have a heart for lost community residents and seek to advance mission work within the United States. Many of the pastors are bi-vocational, and many churches are single-staffed. Similarly, many smaller churches in the West region of Florida have bi-vocational pastors.

Western Florida has a greater number of churches per capita than their Ohio counterparts, and no matter the size, often work diligently to spread the gospel and are willing to give generously of their time and resources to advance the kingdom of God.

Western Ohio is a mission field ripe for the harvest. “It is a very lost area,” said Keck, “The need for gospel impact is big, but we don’t just want to be on the receiving end. We want to serve and minister to and give alongside the Florida churches.”

In initial discussions, 20% of the Ohio church pastors have committed to participate in the partnership.

Several pastors from the West region of Florida plan to take a preview trip in early 2024 to meet other pastors in Ohio, explore the region and gain a better understanding of area needs.

“We hope to develop a mutually beneficial relationship and learn how to advance God’s kingdom in both states,” said Lewis Miller, Florida Baptist Convention West region catalyst.

An additional point of connection and ministry opportunity will be with Baptist Collegiate Ministry leaders and next gen ministries as each region and state seeks to impact future generations.

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