DR teams aid Camden victims

Arkansas Baptist disaster relief volunteers inspect damage to a home in Camden April 5. Southern Baptist volunteers were among the first responders to Camden and surrounding areas following severe storms that swept through the area April 3-4. Teams from several churches and associations removed trees from houses and cleared debris.

CAMDEN – Arkansas Baptist disaster relief volunteers were among the first nongovernment responders in the aftermath of tornadolike winds that swept through the Camden area April 3-4.

According to published reports, more than 55,000 Arkansans – many of whom were in Camden and Ouachita County – were left without power following the rash of storms that hit the southern part of the state. 

The damage from 85 mph “straight-line” winds was so widespread that Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe sent the state’s National Guard to assist local authorities with traffic and security duties until utility crews could restore power. Miraculously, no deaths related to the storm were reported. 

ClaybakerCamden Mayor Chris Claybaker, who is a member of Cullendale First Baptist Church in Camden, said more than 50 houses in the city were affected, along with several dozen in the county.

Camden Fairview High School’s football stadium, gym, offices and classrooms were damaged in the storm, with portions of the building’s roof pulled back.

Arkansas Baptist disaster relief teams were staged at Cullendale First Baptist Church, where a service lighted by generators was held on Sunday, April 6. Teams serving were from Balboa Baptist Church, Hot Springs Village, Harmony Baptist Association and Tri-County Baptist Association.

Randy Garrett, who served as a “white hat” during the deployment, said the focus of 32 Arkansas Baptist volunteers was recovery, such as using chain saws to clear fallen trees and debris from streets, buildings and yards.

“Primarily, we are working at getting limbs and trees off of people’s homes,” said Garrett. “We try to get with the folks that don’t have insurance. We’ve done – counting the tarping jobs – 15 total jobs in two days.”

Garrett added that, as of April 6, the team had about 10 more jobs to complete and planned to return later in the week when the weather broke.

One team continued to work through the rain April 6 at the house of an elderly woman, who greatly appreciated the help of Southern Baptists.

“(She is an) 84-year-old lady who is a widow and very disturbed because of the damage. … She had lived in this home all of her life. She had a lot of trees down, but there was nothing structurally wrong with her home,” said Garrett. “We were able to comfort her, and when we left, she felt better that we had been here.”

Tiffany Dickson (left) and husband, Robb Dickson, work April 6 to clear debris from a house in Camden damaged by recent storms.He added, “People don’t realize that if you have insurance, … if it hits your house they will take care of it. But if it is just down on the property, they won’t do anything.”

Mayor Claybaker told the Arkansas Baptist News that the response from the city, county and state officials “has been great,” but it was Southern Baptist volunteers who stepped in and assisted area residents who really needed it.

“We had everything we needed, the National Guard to the Department of Corrections, here to clear off the right of way. We had our police and our fire out … for some of them for 24 hours. The problem with that is that you can only get them on public right of way. What was really affected were the people.

“We have some across from the church that are well-off financially. … They have a way of taking care of the problem. But … the worst of this was in an area where we didn’t have a lot of financially stable people,” Claybaker said. 

“My quandary was, ‘What do we do to help the people?’ Then Wade Totty (pastor of Cullendale First Baptist Church) called and said, ‘Do you need help?’ He told me about the Southern Baptist association and disaster relief program they had.

“Really what happened is that they came in and (have) pretty much taken care of the big gap that we had between state, local and the county work forces. So the part they played was probably the integral part of getting this thing taken care of. Salvation Army (and) the Red Cross came in providing meals and some of those types of things. But as far as getting the trees off of the houses and out of these front yards and across driveways, that was (Southern Baptists),” said Claybaker.


David Perry marks 35 years at ABCHomes

Stella Prather 

THE YEAR was 1979. 

The Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series. The cost of a first-class postage stamp was 15 cents, and a loaf of bread was 40 cents. McDonald’s sold its first $1 Happy Meal, and the Sony Walkman was introduced to the world for $200. 

1979 also marked the year David Perry joined the staff of the Arkansas Baptist Childcare and Family Services, now known as the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes). Perry, ABCHomes executive director, celebrated his 35th anniversary with the agency April 1. He’s the longest-tenured staff member employed with ABCHomes. 

Perry“From the very beginning of our ministry in Arkansas, God provided caring, loving and wise people, as well as supporting churches that have walked along beside us all those years,” said Perry of he and his wife, Lucia. “We have seen things that only God could do in the lives of individuals. To Him be the glory.” 

In his first role at ABCHomes, Perry served as a caseworker at the former boys home in Jonesboro. Following a one-year stint, Perry was promoted to the area director in Harrison where he ministered for four years. 

In 1985, Perry was named the ABCHomes Little Rock area director where he remained until 1991. He served as director of programs for the agency from 1991 to 1995. He was named executive director in 1995. 

As executive director, Perry oversees the overall operation of the agency with its six residential programs and seven counseling locations. He is responsible for a $4 million budget and 70 employees. In addition, Perry is responsible for budget development, fundraising and marketing. He reports directly to the ABCHomes executive board of directors, as well as provides annual written and verbal reports to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. 

Perry said he has had the “privilege to work with some of the most dedicated staff members and the greatest board of trustees anywhere.” 

In honor of Perry’s longtime service, the ABCHomes executive board recently presented him with a two-week working and relaxation sabbatical, where Perry will concentrate on the future direction of the ministry and spend time in spiritual renewal. 

Perry said he and Lucia have most enjoyed spending time with ABCHomes children. 

“Truly some of the greatest blessings for me and Lucia have been the deep relationships we’ve developed with many of the children we’ve served through the years,” he said, adding, “It is overwhelming to think that some of those first kids are now approaching 50 years old.” 

Over the years, Perry has represented ABCHomes in hundreds of Arkansas Baptist churches. He was appointed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee to the Arkansas Welfare Agency Review Board in 1997 and was the general chairman for the Southern Baptist Business Officers Conference in 2000. 

He served as president of the Arkansas Association of Homes for Children in 1998, 2003 and 2012. Perry was the president of the Baptist Childcare Executives in 2000. 

A native of Monahans, Texas, Perry is a graduate of Baylor University and the University of Georgia. He and his wife are longtime and active members of First Baptist Church, Sherwood, where he serves as a deacon. The duo are the parents of three adult children and have four grandchildren – Charlotte, Hudson, Emma and Addison. 

Stella Prather is the communications director for ABCHomes. 


Mo. Baptists lose Windermere appeal

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Missouri Court of Appeals has denied a bid by the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) requesting a jury trial to determine the legal ownership of one of its breakaway entities, the Windermere Baptist Conference Center. 

Windermere is among five MBC entities – including The Baptist Home, Word&Way newspaper, the Missouri Baptist Foundation and Missouri Baptist University – that changed their governing documents to allow each to elect its own trustees in 2000 and 2001. The convention filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court against the five on Aug. 13, 2002, in an attempt to regain control of them. 

YeatsJudges for the court’s Southern District in Springfield, Mo., March 25 upheld a 2013 decision from the Circuit Court of Camden County, preventing a planned jury trial in April of last year, the MBC newsjournal, The Pathway, reported. 

The MBC appealed the decision to the Missouri Court of Appeals, which sided with the trial judge on procedural grounds. 

A three-judge panel said procedural errors in the MBC’s appeal made it impossible for the court to properly review a legal file exceeding 4,200 pages. 

Because of that, the judges ruled, statements of fact presented by Windermere are legally unchallenged, and the state convention “has failed to persuade us as to the validity of its position.” 

The MBC has 15 days to seek additional review or transfer of the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. If the convention’s executive board decides it has exhausted all legal remedies, it effectively ends the MBC’s decade-long effort to reclaim the 1,300-acre wooded conference center on the edge of the Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri. 

“We respect the court’s authority but are greatly disappointed by its decision,” John Yeats, MBC executive director, told The Pathway

“The judges’ decision to dispose of the case for procedural reasons leaves unresolved the core factual issues we feel a jury is better suited to decide.” 

Yeats said his greatest disappointment is that Missouri Baptists may never hear the full story. Many details of the case are sealed and could only be disclosed in a public trial.


Arkansas Baptist disaster relief teams to deploy to Camden, surrounding areas  

CAMDEN – Arkansas Baptist disaster relief volunteers from across Arkansas were deployed to assist victims of storms that ripped through the state April 3. According to published reports, more than 55,000 Arkansans were left without power following the rash of storms that hit the southern part of the state.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe authorized the state’s national guard to assist Camden’s local authorities with traffic and security duties as crews work to restore power, KARK-TV reported. 

No tornados have been confirmed and no injuries or deaths related to the storm have been reported at this time. 

Camden Fairview High School’s football stadium, gym, offices, and classrooms were all damaged in the storm. Much of the building’s roof was pulled back, according to news reports.

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) is reporting that Cullendale First Baptist Church in Camden was damaged, but the extent of the damage is not known at this time and thought to be minor.

Arkansas Baptist disaster relief teams from Balboa Baptist Church, Hot Springs Village, and Harmony Baptist Association are in the process of deploying to Camden and surrounding areas, the ABSC reports. 

The focus of the teams will be recovery, such as using chainsaws to clear fallen trees and debris from streets, buildings and yards. 

More updates will be posted at as they are available.


‘Call to prayer’ issued by ABSC

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

A TWO-DAY intensive prayer event titled “A Call to Pray for Revival & Awakening: A Gathering for Pastors and All Ministers” is scheduled for April 21-22 at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, Little Rock. The prayer gathering is set for 6 to 10 p.m. Monday, April 21, and from 8:30 a.m. to noon the following day. 

The prayer event is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) and is hosted by the ABSC Task Force for Prayer, Revival and Spiritual Awakening, which is part of the church revitalization process.

Ronnie Floyd, task force member and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, will facilitate the event, with Julio Arriola, global worship pastor at Cross Church, and his worship team leading worship. 

The goal of the event is to have a time for serious prayer for revival in the Church and awakening in the nation.

“I’m convinced that probably the most pressing need we have is for focused and intense prayer,” said J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, ABSC executive director. “And there seems to be a prayer movement that is awakening in the Southern Baptist Convention and in Arkansas, and we just want to do all we can to enhance that.”

The April prayer event is specifically targeted toward ministers – such as pastors, retired pastors, church staff members, ministry students, associational missionaries, itinerate ministers and the staff of ABSC agencies and institutions. 

Floyd played an integral role in similar events that were recently held on a national level in Dallas and Atlanta. Tucker said a couple of ABSC team leaders attended one of the events and returned saying it was one of the most powerful events they had experienced. 

Tucker expects the Arkansas event in April – inspired by the Dallas and Atlanta meetings – to serve as a kickoff to similar events throughout the state.

“We do want this to set a pattern, a precedent for the state,” said Tucker. “We do want to model this intense prayer meeting. We envision this going to associations, clusters of churches and to the church level.”

Tucker emphasized that the April meeting is a focused time for serious prayer. 

“This is not a seminar about prayer – this is a guided 8-hour prayer meeting where we do a lot of intense praying,” he said.

During the event, a number of speakers from around the state will speak on certain aspects of prayer for about 10 minutes each, Tucker said. Prayer will follow and the process will be repeated – with worship taking place during the event as well. 

“Also we’re asking this not be a come-and-go (event). This is ‘come and stay,’” Tucker said. “And we’ve asked people not to plan on lingering in the halls to fellowship. This is for hard-core praying folks. There’ll be other events that will be more conducive to fellowship. This is ‘come and stay and come and pray.’”

Tucker shared about his heart for seeing revival in the Natural State.

“We’ve got some of the most unbelievably wonderful folks in the state, and I see pockets of revival happening,” he said. 

“We’ve got some churches that are just in stages of incredible revival, but I would like to see us as a whole state learn to pay the price in prayer, seeking God, and experience His power moving like never before.”

Other members of the ABSC  Task Force for Prayer, Revival and Spiritual Awakening Task Force include: Manley Beasley Jr., pastor of Hot Springs Baptist Church, Hot Springs; Diane Blackwood, Arkansas Woman’s Missionary Union president and senior adult minister at Family Fellowship Baptist Church, Jonesboro; Bill Elliff, pastor of The Summit Church, North Little Rock; Don Moore, retired ABSC executive director; Ron Owens, Arkansas Baptist evangelist; Ken Shaddox, pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock; Lowell Snow, Arkansas Baptist evangelist; Larry W. White, pastor of First Baptist Church, Cherokee Village, and Dennis Wilkins, retired Arkansas Baptist pastor.

To register for the prayer gathering, visit, call 501-376-4791, ext. 5103, or email

Contact Jessica Vanderpool at