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.”



Cullum leads worship and youth at First Baptist, Lepanto

Matt Cullum began serving July 1 on the staff of First Baptist Church, Lepanto, as worship and youth pastor.


Venable leads First Baptist, Jonesboro

Bruce Venable is serving as pastor of First Baptist Church, Jonesboro.


Grady named dean of students at WBC

GradyWALNUT RIDGE – Williams Baptist College alumna Amber Grady is returning to her alma mater, where she will serve as dean of students. She will assume the job in August.

“As a student, Williams was always very special to me and truly became my extended family. So, after almost a decade away this chance to return as dean of students sparks a reaction of sincere humility. I feel grateful to have such an opportunity and look forward to serving the students and reconnecting with the WBC faculty and staff,” Grady said.

Grady, a native of Newport, graduated from Williams in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in English, and she also holds a master’s in college student personnel services from Arkansas State University (ASU).

She worked for three years in the WBC Office of Admissions, where she served as assistant director. She has also worked in student services at ASU in Jonesboro and ASU in Newport. She comes to Williams from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she is currently associate director for college readiness.

“Amber Grady is an ideal fit to be dean of students at Williams. Ms. Grady's graduate work and broad experience in higher education will allow her to make a significant impact through our student services by bridging the significant heritage of WBC with cutting edge student affairs philosophy and programming,” said Jeremy Dutschke, vice president for enrollment management and student services at Williams.

As dean of students, Grady will oversee a range of student services at Williams, including housing, dining services, student activities, discipline and security. 

“There are many components of this position that excite me, but the one that resonates most is connecting with and serving students. This position provides a platform for my professional passion, which is helping students discover who they are and can be, and my personal mission to spiritually impact the lives of others,” Grady said.

She will replace Susan Watson, who retired this spring after more than two decades at Williams, including 14 years as dean of students.

“I was very fortunate as a WBC student to have quality and personable relationships across campus, and I can only hope to provide the same,” Grady said. “Susan Watson supported and encouraged my decision-making and has remained a source of influence through the years. That’s the impact I wish to deliver to current students.”