Former Razorback, attorney, Baptist leader dies at 84

SuttonLITTLE ROCK – William "Buddy" H. Sutton, former Arkansas Razorback football player, Arkansas Baptist leader and high-profile attorney, died July 2. He was 84.

Sutton joined Immanuel Baptist Church in 1959, where he taught Sunday school for more than 50 years, and served as a deacon. In 1989, he served as chairman of the Arkansas Billy Graham Crusade in Little Rock. Sutton served as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention in 1991-1992 and served on the Baptist Health Board of Trustees since 1973. He has served numerous terms on the Ouachita Baptist University Board of Trustees, where the college’s William H. Sutton School of Social Sciences is dedicated for him.

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Out-of-state church ministers to Guion Baptist


GUION – On an average Sunday, Guion Baptist Church runs 12-15 in attendance. When word reached Calvary Baptist Odessa, Odessa, Mo., that the small church could use a helping hand with some repairs, they took action. A mission trip was planned, and a 12-member team crossed the state line to serve Guion Baptist June 5-9.

“The (mission) team painted the fellowship hall and Sunday school classrooms inside the building. Outside the building, they painted and repaired the front door steps that were dangerously crumbling,” explained Johnny Conyers, pastor of Guion Baptist.

The church was established in 1935, and while it has been remodeled and updated throughout the years, the basic structure is still enclosed in the outer shell.

While the purpose of the event was “to help a small church with some much needed paint and repairs,” the interaction between the two groups left an impact on more than Guion Baptist’s facilities, Conyers said. The visiting team led revival services each night with Larry Neil, pastor of Calvary Baptist, serving as the evangelist.

“Lasting friendships were made as the group worked together, making a sweet fellowship as they labored together for the Lord,” explained Conyers. “Many were revived as a result of the Spirit-led proclaiming of the Word of God.”

Neil agreed that the mission experience was equally as meaningful for his team.

“Each time we go on a trip it helps us in our relationships, helps us to build relationships among the team members,” he said. “Then when we come back, sharing testimonies and sharing pictures … in a service, it helps the whole church and gives encouragement. This weekend we are going to do some mission work in our own community, and that helped in preparing some people for this.”



Lagrone accepts position as field representative with BGEA

Jim Lagrone , member of Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock, recently accepted a position as a field representative for Arkansas with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

Lagrone served with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention in the 1980s and more recently as pastor of First Baptist Church, Little Rock. He currently serves as a church consultant and plans to continue doing so.

As a field representative, he said he will assist churches that want to know more about BGEA’s My Hope initiative, which is a “national initiative to encourage and equip the local church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.” My Hope has been used in about 60 countries.

He said his job is to build a team to help local churches and groups develop a strategy for their areas.

“Reaping requires sowing. We will provide resources and suggestions to encourage and equip the local church to plan, prepare and host an effective evangelistic outreach,” said Lagrone.

He explained how he came to be a field representative with BGEA, saying he was consulting with a church in New Hampshire when he met a representative from BGEA.

“We struck up a conversation, and he said (to) send him a resume and we will see what happens. He sent it to the regional director in Houston. He sent it to Arkansas,” Lagrone said.

Unknown to Lagrone, the former Arkansas field representative had recently resigned, creating an opening on the staff in Arkansas. 

“I took the position offered to me, and I am quite excited to be directly involved with this evangelism,” Lagrone said.

For more information about My Hope, contact Lagrone at 501-626-4548 or




Collegians' 'ForColumbus' aims for long-term impact


The millennial generation doesn’t always have the best reputation, and they know it. When Jon Shah, pastor of H2O Church on Ohio State University’s campus, asked a group of collegians participating in ForColumbus how they thought people perceived them, they answered with terms like “lazy,” “impatient,” “entitled” and “emotional.”

“I don’t actually believe that,” Shah said. “I believe they are made for a grand purpose, and nobody has invited them to it.

“They have no idea what it is, and when the gospel gets ahold of someone’s life and they believe it, they get touched with the purpose they were made for.”

ForColumbus, a new collegiate 10-day extension of Crossover, placed 500-plus collegians around the city June 7-17. Students from across the Southeast, Arizona, Ohio and Quebec, Canada, have engaged in city beautification initiatives, people group mapping, prayer walking, evangelism at Ohio State and creating gardens in abandoned lots in underresourced areas.

Lynn Loyd, missions consultant for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention collegiate and young leaders team, said in an interview prior to the event that several groups of Arkansas students were planning to attend.

“ForColumbus is an opportunity for Arkansas college students to experience church planting in an urban setting and to get a big picture of how we, as Southern Baptists, do ministry, through exposure to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Loyd said.

Students and their leaders were challenged to have at least three gospel conversations with residents while working on their projects each day.

For Rebecca Fountain, a recent Western Kentucky University graduate who will start her graduate program at Murray State University this fall, it was her first mission trip.

“Before ForColumbus, I was not intentional about sharing the gospel,” Fountain said. “I was really nervous, at first, to initiate gospel conversations, but that was something local leaders taught us well – how to be intentional and mindful of ways to share the gospel in everyday conversations. I can say I feel really comfortable doing that now.”




Oxford Baptist's annual Biker Sunday unites bikers


OXFORD – Oxford Baptist Church hosted its 17th annual Biker Sunday June 14. Fifteen motorcycle riders and several cars gathered at Salem City Park before the service to make the ride to church together. Nearly 40 bikers attended the morning worship service and the fellowship lunch that followed.

Warner Allen, a traveling evangelist who has been a part of the church’s biker ministry since its formation, was the guest speaker. His message, “Where art Thou,” was taken from Genesis 3.

“Allen brought a stirring message,” said Michael Conyers, pastor of Oxford Baptist. “He reminded us that regardless of who we are or what walk of life we are from, there is only one way to be saved – Jesus Christ. The weather prevented many from attending, … but there was still a sweet spirit.”

Janet and Ronnie Yancey, a husband and wife duo and members of Oxford Baptist, came up with the idea for their church to have Biker Sunday. With help and support from Allen, Conyers and their church family, the couple has continued to coordinate the event every year since, encouraging their fellow members to “get outside the church doors.”

While most of the bikers who attend are from other areas and churches, Janet Yancey believes that the bond of Christian brotherhood brings unity to the group.

“(They are) some of the greatest people you will ever meet in your life,” she said. “You know (all Christians) are brothers and sisters in Christ, but they are truly brothers and sisters. … In this day in age, (that is) rare.”

Oxford Baptist hopes to expand their biker ministry in the future by initiating a fall mission trip, said Conyers. Because veteran bikers make up the majority of attendees, the church also wants to develop outreach strategies to get younger riders involved.

“We are planning an overnight ride to a mission field, yet to be determined, (to) perform a variety of ministries focused primarily on evangelism,” explained Conyers. “We have a desire to partner with Allen and the biker ministry to reach out to folks often overlooked or neglected.”