Disaster relief training events to be held beginning in Feb.

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) will offer disaster relief (DR) training beginning in February. Ten training events will be held at various locations across Arkansas.

The ABSC DR ministry is an outreach to people and communities who are affected by disasters. There are more than 2,900 DR volunteers in Arkansas.  

Through the training events, participants will have the opportunity to be trained to work in communications as well as with feeding, shower/laundry and chainsaw/recovery units. Every three years, volunteers must renew their certification by attending one of these training events.

The events also provide an opportunity for new volunteers to learn about the DR ministry.

“This event is a good time to introduce someone to everything DR offers,” said Randy Garrett, ABSC missions team member. “This is a practical way for Arkansas Baptists to help others in times of need.”

For more information and event locations, visit This event is made possible by gifts from Arkansas Baptists to the Cooperative Program and the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering.


ABSC announces staff changes

LITTLE ROCK – A number of staff changes were announced at the Dec. 9 meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Executive Board.

WickerTim Wicker was announced as the new team leader of the ABSC church planting team. Wicker replaces Robby Tingle, who is moving to the executive and administrative team to serve as associational missionary liaison. Wicker previously served as a member of the church planting team. J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, ABSC executive director, told board members that Tingle continues to work part-time as he recovers from a serious auto accident earlier this year.

Darrel Ray was introduced as the new evangelism specialist for the evangelism and church health team. Ray previously served as Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) campus minister at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville for 27 years.

Randy Garrett is the new part-time ABSC disaster relief director, who previously served as a disaster relief contractor. He fills the position left vacant since Bill Cantrell retired in November 2013.

Additionally, a number of BCM staff position changes were announced as well.

Jared Farley, Henderson State University’s interim BCM campus minister since August, is now the full-time campus minister at Henderson State, replacing Neal Nelson. Nelson served as Henderson State’s BCM campus minister for 16 years before recently being called as associate pastor at Northstar Church in Blacksburg, Va.

Ryan Scantling is the new Conway BCM campus minister, replacing Chris Larmoyeux, who recently became pastor of First Baptist Church, Maumelle.

Brad Branham is the new BCM campus minister for Arkansas Tech University, replacing Ray.


PraizFest 2015 offers large-scale choral experience to youth

BENTON – PraizFest 2015, a youth choir event sponsored by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) evangelism and church health team, is set for Jan. 30-31 at First Baptist Church, Benton.

Open to students in grades seven through 12, the event combines singing, worship and performances from several student choirs across the state.

Dan Baker, minister of music at First Baptist Church, Amarillo, Texas, will serve as clinician. Bill Newton, student minister at First Baptist Church, Hot Springs, will serve as event pastor.

“Your students will probably never get the opportunity to sing in a choir of 400, offering incredible praise and worship to God, but they will get that opportunity at PraizFest!” said Larry Grayson, ABSC evangelism and church health team member.

He said churches don’t have to have a youth choir in order for students to participate.

“You may have a student choir of 40, or you may not have a student choir,” he said. “Give those 40 the chance to sing with 400, or give the opportunity to that one student who loves to sing and doesn’t get to do that on a regular basis.”

Grayson said students must bring their own music. Four of the music selections can be ordered through LifeWay Christian Resources, and two can be ordered through the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

For information or to register, visit Registration deadline is Jan. 19. Preregistration is required.


Workshops set to start in Jan.

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) will offer Compensation Planning Workshops starting in January. This workshop will be led by William Jaques Jr. from the ABSC and is for church ministerial staff and anyone dealing with church finances.

Topics will include proper salary structure for ministers, the importance of reimbursing for professional expenses and providing benefits and understanding what a minister’s housing allowance is and how to designate one.

The workshop will teach participants how to create a compensation structure that is compliant with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations for ministers. This structure recognizes the unique tax status of ministers and helps churches minimize their ministers’ tax liability in a way that does not violate the IRS code.

“Too many churches fail to understand the importance of compensating their ministry staff properly. This workshop helps churches understand how to compensate ministry staff in a way that will help prevent them from paying unnecessary taxes,” said Jaques, evangelism and church health team member for the ABSC.

The workshops will be held at various locations around Arkansas during the months of January and February.

Preregistration is required. To register and to view times and locations, visit This workshop is made possible by gifts from Arkansas Baptists to the Cooperative Program.


Interim ministry conference set for Feb. 17-18 at Camp Paron

PARON – The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) is offering an Interim Ministry for Today’s Church conference Feb. 17-18 at Camp Paron. The event is designed to enhance and improve the skill of men involved in interim ministry or those desiring to get involved in interim ministry.  

The time between permanent pastors is a critical time for a church. The conference will prepare participants to develop a covenant with a congregation that clearly describes the responsibilities of the interim pastor and the congregation. Additionally, participants will learn how to study a congregation and determine where the church might need assistance. This is done to prepare the church for the coming of a new pastor.

“This conference will teach participants how to do interim ministry. It will give them tools to help churches stay focused on their mission as they prepare for their new pastor,” said Jimmie Sheffield, executive administrator for the ABSC and leader of the conference.

Sheffield said he feels that the conference offers a great opportunity for someone interested in helping churches that are between pastors.

“You could be a retired pastor or someone who wants to be a pastor but is not ready for full-time ministry,” he said. “This conference is perfect if you want to do interim ministry.”

The conference is a stand-alone workshop; but it is also a requirement for those interested in becoming an intentional interim pastor. The deadline for registration is Jan. 17.  

For more information and to register for the event, visit