Floyd tours US border

Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, joins Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and other key leaders during a tour of federal facilities holding children who crossed the U.S./Mexico border illegally.

SAN ANTONIO (BP) – Southern Baptist leaders recognized something when they toured federal government facilities for children who have fled to the United States without their parents – hope.

Arkansas Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and Russell D. Moore, the SBC’s lead ethicist, joined others in tours July 22 of two centers established to address the crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing America’s southern border.

The centers in McAllen and San Antonio, Texas, are part of the response to a wave that includes more than 57,000 underage children who have been apprehended at the border with Mexico in the last nine months. Most of the children – and sometimes children accompanied by a young parent or parents – have fled Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which are plagued not only by poverty, but by violence among gangs involved in drug trafficking.

“I was struck as we were walking through the facility with two things: a sense of fear and a sense of hope,” said Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “A sense of fear when I asked the kids why they made the trek up to the United States. And a sense of hope: I saw many crosses and Bibles. Many people are desperately hoping for an end to the violence where they come from.”

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Baptists, Methodists drive Antioch mission

Jim Gilliam (left) pastors the Methodist congregation associated with Antioch Community Church located in the small community of Antioch in Beebe, and Scott Johnson pastors the Southern Baptist congregation associated with the church. The churches meet together each Sunday.

Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

BEEBE – The relationship that most Southern Baptists have with other protestant Christian denominations is much like the relationship most Americans have with Canada and Mexico.

While the United States share borders with Canada and Mexico, its citizens often know very little about their neighbors to the north and south.

For more than 100 years, however, Antioch Community Church, Beebe, has blurred denominational borders.

The name “Antioch Community Church” is both deceptive and descriptive because Antioch is really two churches, one Southern Baptist and one United Methodist, which in many ways, function together as one body.

Today the church is home to both a Methodist congregation and a Baptist congregation. The two congregations, each autonomous, share ownership of the church’s facilities, meet together on Sunday mornings and partner together in many aspects of their ministry. 

While each congregation has separate membership and holds to separate denominational convictions, the two bodies have become incredibly close cousins over the years and could not imagine their church lives any other way.

While the church records are sparse due to tornadoes and fires that destroyed its buildings over the years, a church member named Helen Harrison compiled a brief history of Antioch Community Church in 1967.

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Friends form bond through World Changers

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

THE NAME “World Changers” probably brings to mind a bunch of teenagers painting and hammering. After all, World Changers – an initiative of LifeWay Christian Resources – is known for its construction projects. 

But for Hunter Douglas and his friends, men who volunteer together each year through World Changers, the experience is not as much about investing in houses as it is about investing in the lives of the teenage participants.

From left: Ron McMaster, Clifford Casey, Terry David “Turk” Cunningham and James “Jimmy” Red have been volunteering together through World Changers for many years.Douglas, a member of Life Line Baptist Church, Little Rock, said he has volunteered through World Changers with the same group of men for about 20 years. 

Douglas’ cohorts in missions are Terry David “Turk” Cunningham, member of Newark Southern Baptist Church, Newark; Ron McMaster, member of Brush Creek Baptist Church, Springdale; Clifford Casey, also a member of Brush Creek Baptist Church, and James “Jimmy” Red, member of First Baptist Church, Horn Lake, Miss.

Douglas explained that some combination of the five men had worked together at various Baptist missions events throughout the years. But he said it was when the West Memphis World Changers project was started in the 1990s that they really began to pull together as a group. Still, it was a gradual process.

“We did not consciously get together as a team suddenly,” said Douglas. “We found ourselves volunteering for the same jobs and gradually began to consciously go the same road.” 

Now, the friends try to volunteer together at two World Changers projects every year.

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Central Baptist, Jonesboro, opens new Journey campus

JONESBORO – After meeting for more than three years on the campus of Arkansas State University (ASU), Central Baptist Church’s Journey campus has moved into a new facility on the northeast side of Jonesboro – in one of the most rapidly growing areas in the state of Arkansas.  

A launch event for the new campus was held July 20 with two services. Central Baptist is led by Archie Mason, senior pastor, who also serves as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

The Journey campus is one of three sites of Central Baptist: its main campus is located at 3707 Harrisburg Road, the Word campus is located at 416 Calion St. and the Journey campus is located at 1701 Disciple Drive. A fourth campus – called Refuge – is set to open in downtown Jonesboro in 2015.

“Our vision is to be one church in multiple locations,” said Dan Reeves, lead campus teaching pastor of Central’s Journey campus. “Our mission is to reach those the church has not yet reached and lead them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Reeves said the Journey campus has grown from 40 to more than 200 since opening in 2011.

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Homebound woman reaches around world


Doris McCall sews dresses and shorts for teams to take on mission trips and donate to children. Photos by Jessica Vanderpool

Jessica Vanderpool
Arkansas Baptist News

ARKADELPHIA – Doris McCall may be homebound, but her acts of service are reaching around the world.

McCall, who made a living as a seamstress for about 50 years, now makes dresses and shorts for teams to take on mission trips and donate to children.

McCall, who attends Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, when her health allows, has been homebound for several years due to a heart condition. In 2011, doctors gave her two years to live.

Now, three years later, McCall has regained her strength and is back to sewing for missions. She said that when she outlived the two years the doctors gave her, she knew God had restored her strength for a reason.

“And I said, ‘I am not going to be caught sitting at home, wringing my hands. I’m going to stay busy if it’s the Lord’s will,’” said McCall. “And the Lord has blessed me with this, so I hope I can continue to sing His praises and not sit and cry and be on a pity party – so that’s the main reason I do it.”

But even before falling ill, McCall was ministering through sewing – making clothing for mission teams and making items like wall hangings and baby blankets to give away.

She began sewing for missions when First Baptist Church, Arkadelphia, needed seamstresses for a project they had become involved in called Children Hemmed in Prayer. The project provides clothing for children worldwide.

When McCall told her friend, Susie Hargis, about her participation in the project, Hargis requested McCall make garments she could take with her on mission trips. McCall obliged, and since then, Hargis – a member of First Baptist Church, Monticello – has gone on multiple mission trips with First Baptist Church, McGehee, and has taken many of McCall’s garments with her.

Read the rest of the story in the 7-24 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News.