Allen Peebles, beloved pastor, dies at 65

Allen Drew Peebles, 65, of Gravel Ridge died May 7.

Peebles served in the U.S. Army for nine years before he became a pastor.

He was pastor of Mandeville Baptist Church in Texarkana for 16 years. He was serving as an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Gravel Ridge at the time of his death.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Phyllis, of Gravel Ridge, a son, a daughter, eight grandchildren, his mother and five sisters.

A memorial service was held May 12 at First Baptist Church in Gravel Ridge, followed by a graveside service at Childers Cemetery in DeWitt.



‘Adopt a DCFS family service worker’ during National Foster Care Month

LITTLE ROCK – May is National Foster Care Month. In observance, Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes) is encouraging Baptist churches and others to adopt a local Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) family service worker (FSW).

“Adopt A DCFS Family Service Worker” is an ABCHomes initiative aimed at ministering to DCFS staff that often have the unenviable task of determining if a child should be removed from his or her home. These homes, at times, are unsafe not only for the child but also for the FSW. In the past year, 1,425 children were removed from their homes after normal working hours due to immediate danger, often in the middle of the night.

ABCHomes is encouraging churches and others to prepare “after-hour care packets” for family service workers. Items could include lip balm, bottled water, hand sanitizer packets, snacks, small flashlights or a soft praise and worship CD for workers to listen to as they return to their homes after placing the child in a safe place.

“Many of these workers are parents,” noted Charles Flynn, ABCHomes program director. “On any given night, workers may have a child in their backseats who has not been bathed, is wearing filthy clothes and is possibly infested with lice. The next morning, workers may put their own child in that same car seat to drive to school. 

“Providing something as simple as sanitizing wipes or spray is helpful so that workers can feel safe allowing their own child to ride in their personal vehicles,” added Flynn.

Mischa Martin, interim director of the DHS Division of Children and Family Services, praised the ABCHomes initiative. “Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries decision to  serve and support our Family Service Workers is incredible,” said Martin. “These employees work long hours and often face difficult or dangerous situations when trying to protect children. Knowing that you all support and appreciate them means  a great deal to all of us.” 

To receive an “after-hour care packet” idea sheet to share with your church or to learn more about the initiative, email or call (800) 838-2272, ext. 5167. For information on ABCHomes, or to schedule an interview, contact Stella Prather, ABCHomes director of communications, 501-376-4791, ext. 5168 or email


Vowell joining WBC psychology faculty

VowellWALNUT RIDGE – Dennis Vowell of Paragould is returning to his alma mater, Williams Baptist College (WBC), as a psychology professor. Vowell will join the faculty at WBC this fall.

“Dr. Vowell brings superb academic credentials to his new position and he brings a wealth of practical, clinical experience.  For nearly a decade he has served as a practicing clinical counselor in northeastern Arkansas,” said Kenneth Startup, academic dean at Williams.

Startup said that Vowell has also served for a number of years as an adjunct faculty member for WBC and for Arkansas State University.

Vowell earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Williams and went on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees from Forest Institute of Professional Psychology.  He and his wife, Debi, live in Paragould, and they have two children.

“I am very excited and honored to join the WBC psychology department.  I am looking forward to being a part of a very high quality Christian college,” Vowell said.

Psychology is one of the most popular majors at Williams, and the college offers bachelor’s degrees in psychology and family psychology.


Billy Burks, Cowboy Church pastor, dies at 62

Billy Wayne Burks, 62, of White Hall, died April 19 at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff.

Burks was pastor of Whispering Pines Cowboy Church in Pine Bluff.

He was preceded in death by a son and six brothers.

Survivors include his wife, Hallie Gerard Burks, two daughters, two sisters, and six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Friday, April 22, at Whispering Pines Cowboy Church.



Gladden, longtime IBC member, dies at 88

Robert Howard "Bob" Gladden, 88, of Little Rock, died April 4. Born in Caddo Gap,he lived there until his family moved to Arkadelphia for his four brothers and one sister to attend college. In 1948, he graduated from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia. There he played on the varsity basketball team along with his brother Tom. He made the Arkansas All-State college basketball team in 1947. In 1975, he was honored by OBU with a Distinguished Alumni Award along with his wife, Alla B. Gladden, who predeceased him in 1997 after 48 years of marriage.

After college Gladden served in the U. S. Army, then worked for Reynolds Metals Company in Bauxite for 30
years. He next worked for the Pulaski County School District as Assistant Superintendent for Finance. In 1986, he became the CFO of Coulson Oil Company in North Little Rock, later becoming its senior executive
advisor. He was still working at the time of his death, in his 30th year of service to the company. He also served on the board of Delta Dental of Arkansas for many years.

When he and his wife moved to Little Rock in 1950, they joined Immanuel Baptist Church, where he was a member for more than 65 years. At Immanuel Gladden served as a trustee and a deacon, as chairman of the budget and finance committees, and as a Sunday school director to many groups of young married adults.

He loved to travel the world with his family, visiting 117 countries and every continent. He cherished each trip as "the trip of a lifetime." While traveling he would joke about his birthplace, "We're a long way from the Gap!" Known to all as an optimist, he loved the motto "The harder I work the luckier I get" and his favorite
Bible verse "Let all things be done decently and in order," (I Corinthians 14:40, KJV).

He is survived by two daughters, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, a brother, and a sister.

A memorial service was held at Immanuel Baptist Church April 7. A private burial took place at Pinecrest Memorial Park in Alexander.