Ouachita dedicates new Elrod Center

ARKADELPHIA - Declaring that "this dedication has been long anticipated by me," Ben M. Elrod expressed appreciation to family, friends and colleagues who gathered for the June 11 dedication of the new home of Ouachita Baptist University’s Ben M. Elrod Center for Family and Community.

"This beautiful building is like a dream come true," Elrod said. "It will be a worthy house for the home of the center."

Elrod, who served from 1988 to 1998 as Ouachita’s 13th president, created and endowed the center in 1997 to coordinate and facilitate public service, volunteerism, servant leadership and community engagement by Ouachita students, faculty and staff. Trustees named the Elrod Center in his honor following his retirement.

The new two-story office complex is located on the corner of 6th and Cherry streets on the Ouachita campus. It features the Heflin Community Room named in honor of the Heflin family, including special appreciation to Sharon Heflin who chaired the fundraising committee for the new facility. Other named rooms include the Whipple Conference Room named in honor of Ross and May Whipple who have supported the work of the Elrod Center since its inception both personally and through the Ross Foundation and the Palmer Conference Room named in honor of Gordon and Melbaree Palmer, personal friends of Dr. and Mrs. Elrod who wished to honor their service to Ouachita.

Elrod speaks at the dedication service.

The new center also includes several staff offices as well as a reception area and kitchen facilities. The facility is being funded by gifts from the Heflin Family Foundation, J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, Keith Smith Company, Morris Foundation, Olds Foundation, Ray White Lumber Company and the Ross Foundation as well as generous gifts by Dr. and Mrs. Elrod and several other individual donors.

Affirming that "today is indeed a special day to be at Ouachita," he added, "We have the privilege of celebrating and honoring two Ouachita legends as we dedicate the Ben M. Elrod Center for Family and Community. Dr. and Mrs. Elrod are truly difference makers."

Citing the Elrod Center’s mission to involve students and faculty in "dedicated service to humankind through the educational experience," Heflin said, "In 2014 alone, the signature Elrod Center programs like ElderServe, America Reads, America Counts, Tiger Serve Day and others had over 2,100 volunteers who have almost 20,000 volunteer hours. By the Elrod Center’s encouragement and example to the rest of the Ouachita community, right at 3,800 volunteers gave over 55,500 hours of volunteer time to the Arkadelphia community" during the past year.

"Dr. and Mrs. Elrod shine a beacon for all of us to follow. Their example has been lighting the way for others on Ouachita’s campus for decades," Heflin emphasized. "Dr. and Mrs. Elrod have exemplified service above self."

Ian Cosh, vice president for community and international engagement, has served as director of the Elrod Center since its inception. Noting that the work of the Elrod Center "is a story that’s tied to the transformed lives of students impacted over the past 18 years," he said a primary goal of the center is to equip Ouachita graduates "to be generous men and women in all the ways that generosity can be measured," including time commitment, compassion, creativity and sharing material resources.

"Thank you for being here today for the opening of this beautiful building that will facilitate the flow of compassionate students, faculty and staff who wish to honor God with their hearts and their minds and to love others as Christ has taught us to do," Cosh concluded. "I hope we are going to wear this building out through the energy and creativity that our students always bring to their endeavors and in particular their commitment to serve."

Ouachita President Rex Horne said the dedication service provided a reminder of a family, a man and a mission as well as a great resource and a great impact. Citing the influence of Elrod and his family, Horne described Elrod as "a man who showed great courage, great wisdom and continues to do so on behalf of Ouachita."

The Elrod Center’s mission of service "is a huge part of what Ouachita is and should always be," Horne said, adding that the center is a vital resource that equips and encourages students to be involved in activities that impact people’s lives.

He expressed appreciation "for the Lord using people like Ben and Betty Lou Elrod who give of their time and treasure to Ouachita Baptist University to make us the university that we are and the university that we aspire to be."

"I want to thank all of you for sharing this dedication with us today," Elrod responded. "It’s always a pleasure for us to come back to Ouachita where so much of our lives have been invested."

Since his retirement as president in 1998, Elrod said, "I am still under God’s mandate to ministry. The center was the answer to my continued ministry, helping young people to realize there’s life outside themselves and that being a servant, serving other people is to be like Christ." He said that goal is being accomplished as the Elrod Center helps "teach young people how to serve and not be served."



Ruby Swanigan, 73, dies

Ruby Louise Hawthorn Swanigan, 73, died June 9 in Pine Bluff. She held many different jobs over the course of her life, including working in prison and deaf ministry through the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

She was preceded in death by three brothers and two sisters.

She is survived by her husband of 45 years, Richard Swanigan; three daughters; a son; seven grandchildren; six brothers, and three sisters.

Funeral services will be held June 12 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff.


Gerald Bounds resigns after 53-year ministry

Gerald A. Bounds has resigned as pastor of Palestine Baptist Church, Quitman, after 53 years in the pastoral ministry.


Howells honored for 19 years of prison ministry in Calico Rock

MOUNTAIN HOME – Maurice Hitt, associational missionary of White River Baptist Association, and members of the association’s GO Team, met on May 19 in Mountain Home to honor C.M. Howell and his wife, Jo Ann, for 19 years of service as missionaries to inmates at North Central Unit in Calico Rock. Joining them were Bob Fielding, Arkansas Baptist State Convention missions team member, and his predecessor, Marion Reynolds.

Howell, who pastored in MisC.M. Howell (front center) and his wife, Jo Ann (front right) were recently honored for their years of prison ministry. Also pictured are Associational Missionary Maurice Hitt (front left), Pastor Jack Gilliland (back left), Pastor Stephen Martin (back center) and Pastor Gary Wise.souri and Kansas for 35 years, was attending a 1991 meeting at Glorieta, New Mexico, when he was approached by a California leader about teaching MasterLife in six prisons there. TheHowells were commissioned by the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) and became Mission Service Corps missionaries. After six years, they moved to Mountain Home and heard about the prison at Calico Rock. They immediately began ministry there.

Asked what one thing he can point to that changes inmates’ hearts so that they do not return to prison, Howell said, “Most of the men have never had any kind of Christian influence in their lives at all. Many came from gangs or broken homes and have no idea what love is. Those that enrolled in the PAL (Principles and Applications for Life) program not only heard about God’s love in the Scriptures, they saw the love of men and women who came to teach them. Love draws them to the Lord and changes their lives.”


Black River holds Acts 1:8 mission day

ChurchesWill Vassar, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hoxie, leads an evangelism team. of Black River Baptist Association came together May 16 to impact local communities with the gospel. It was the second of four scheduled Acts 1:8 mission days in Black River.

Nine churches from the association came together, along with Cord Baptist Church from Independence Baptist Association, which partnered with them. Black River churches who partnered together were Alicia Baptist Church, Alicia, which was the host church; First Baptist Church, Walnut Ridge; First Baptist Church, Hoxie; First Baptist Church, Newport; First Baptist Church, Imboden; First Southern Baptist Church, Black Rock; Immanuel Baptist Church, Newport; New Song Baptist Church, Williford, and White Oak Baptist Church, Walnut Ridge. They represented more than a third of the churches in the association.

Despite the rain, more than 80 people gathered at Alicia Baptist Church to take part in various ministry activities.

The weather impacted a block party that was planned in Alicia. Although several volunteers tried to lead the block party, the weather deterred community participation.

Marvin Reynolds, retired associational missionary for Black River Baptist Association, led the prayer team as several folks stayed at the church to pray all day for the various activities. Jake Guenrich, pastor of First Baptist in Walnut Ridge, led the evangelism teams that went door to door in various communities such as Alicia, Black Rock, Swifton and others. The teams returned and reported that they had several opportunities to share the gospel and at least one person prayed to received Christ that day.

Pastor Tony Clem, of First Southern Baptist Church in Black Rock, reported a renewed excitement in his
church on the following Sunday morning with several visitors that came to worship as a result of the outreach teams.

“The weather has been a challenge for each of the Acts 1:8 days, with snow for the first one at the end of March and a lot of rain for the most recent one, but the event continues to grow and involve more people,” said Mike McCoy, associational missionary for Black River Baptist Association. “The excitement that this
ministry is creating with the churches of Black River Baptist Association is being felt on many levels.”

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