Historical Commission Ministries


The office of the historical secretary works closely with the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Commission of the BGCO, and the officers of the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Society. The convention elects nine historical commissioners each year to help aid in the historical secretary’s work.

Our missional goal is to aid our churches and Oklahoma Baptist entities in realizing the historical significance of their work in evangelism and missions. and to encourage them to continue their faithful service. Our emphasis at major anniversaries is to bring to mind their
accomplishments and the need to never abandon the work that was so faithfully established by their forefathers.

Hope and faith in the future is reflected in their past ministries for the Lord. Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust so as to have forgotten your work and the labor of love you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” It is important we do not forget the many ways our churches have reached people for Jesus Christ through the Cooperative Program giving and other generous gifts.


The office of the historical secretary was created at the time of the organization of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma in 1906. It was immediately recognized that a properly formed convention would need someone to be responsible for historical records. Bro. L. W. Marks was elected in 1906 and served from 12 years. The current historical secretary, Eli Sheldon is the seventh man elected and has served since 2007. Dr. J. M. Gaskin served the longest (45 years from 1953 to 1998).

As the tasks of the historical secretary were expanding, it became evident a commission was needed to aid in the work. In 1952 the convention created the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Commission, by electing nine people to serve annually. Each year three rotate off and three new ones are elected.


Some who look at our historical system, get confused regarding the difference between the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Commission, which was authorized by the BGCO, and the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Society, which is an independent society and not directly affiliated to the BGCO. The society functions similar to an auxiliary group. In 1955 various commissioners, lead by commissioner Anson Justice, realized a society would be an additional aid to the historical secretary and the commission. The purpose of this newer organization was to aid, primarily financially, in gathering, classifying, and preserving all Oklahoma Baptists records.

The organization was formed the afternoon of November 14, 1956 at Beverly’s Hideaway, 52nd and Santa Fe, in Oklahoma City. Many question how the two organizations currently relate. The following information should help.

One aspect of the work of the historical secretary and his assistant is to produce writings that relate to historical events in Oklahoma Baptist Life. In 2013 the historical secretary completed The History of Hispanic Baptists in Oklahoma. In 2014 he completed The History of Asian Baptists in Oklahoma. His work also includes the publishing twice annually of The Oklahoma Baptist Chronicle.

The secretary and the commission continually collect and archive materials from Oklahoma Baptist sources. In 2013 the historical secretary and his assistant visited the home of Dr. J. M. Gaskin, who was the historical secretary for over 45 years, and retrieved much historical material. In 2014 the collection of Augie Henry, former Baptist Foundation executive, was secured. In 2015 the library of Marvin Hall, also formerly with the Baptist Foundation is scheduled to be received. In addition, other historical artifacts are continually being donated to the L M. and Helen Gaskin Baptist Library and Archives, located at the Oklahoma Baptist University Library.

Another major task has been the erection and maintenance of twenty-four historical markers around the state of Oklahoma. These beautiful markers have a/so been recognized by the State of Oklahoma as major historical contribution.

Historical Commission Purpose
This entity was commissioned by the BGCO in 1952 to collect, catalogue, and preserve significant materials of information regarding Oklahoma Baptists. (Source: Communication Team Report, 4-28-08)
Historical Society Purpose
The society was established to aid in the protection, preservation, and acquisition of materials, and was instituted by the establishment of the “Gaskin Forever Fund” through the Oklahoma Baptist Foundation. A portion of interest (usually about 5%) is annually applied from the Gaskin Forever Fund to the Historical Commission’s budget.
Historical Commission Structure
The commission is made up of nine persons elected by the BGCO to carry out the business of the Historical Commission. The commission works closely with the historical secretary in all matters.
Historical Society Structure
The society is an organization of people interested in Baptist history. It is not an entity of the BGCO and its membership is open to individuals, churches, and other institutes. The society is an auxiliary and subordinate to the historical commission of the BGCO. (Handbook, p. 54).
Commission Funding
The commission is funded as a budgeted item of the BGCO through the Cooperative Program (CP) with minimal contributions from the society memberships, book sales, and interest from the Gaskin Forever Fund.
Society Funding
The society is not a funded organization and has no budget or continuing finances. Monies from memberships in the society are sent to the BGCO and credited to the budget of the historical commission to help offset CP funding. In some cases the society may vote to fund a project which is voted on by the historical commission. For example, in 2015 funds were raised to purchase a digitizer for the Gaskin Archives at OBU. This will allow the preservation of all books and other written materials in the archives.
The Commission Function

The commission meets twice annually to conduct business related to Oklahoma Baptist historical matters. In addition, the commissioners are assigned various committee functions (tasks) as needed each year. The meetings are chaired by an elected chair-person.

The Society Function
The society meets for an annual fall meeting and conducts any business, promotions, or other matters of interest. While the society cannot conduct the business of the commission, it does hear various reports from the commission of historical interest. The meeting is led by an elected president.

Resources available by e-mail:

  1. Nomination form and criteria for Oklahoma Baptist Hall of Fame.
  2. Nomination for and criteria Distinguished Service Award.
  1. The Oklahoma Baptist Chronicle
  2. Index of Chronicles (1958-2013)
  3. The Historical Secretary (1906)
  4. The Historical Commission (1952)
  5. The Historical Society (1956)
  6. The Handbook – For Gaskin Archives
  7. The J. M. and Helen Gaskin Baptist Historical Library and Archives.

Major Church Anniversaries our usually honored in 25 year increments

  1. Churches celebrating 25 years.
  2. Churches celebrating 50 years.
  3. Churches celebrating 75 years.
  4. Churches celebrating 100 years.
  5. Churches celebration 125 years.

Contact Us:

Bob Nigh

Historical Secretary

Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
3800 N. May
Oklahoma City, OK. 73122.
Phone: (405) 990-0123

5 + 8 =


BGCO Annual Meeting Archives

The Story of Oklahoma Baptists

Oklahoma Baptist Hall of Fame Inductees

Gaskin Archives

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