Thursday
Jul242014

Ark. to vote on alcohol, min. wage

Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas voters will not vote on legalizing marijuana in November after advocates failed to gather the necessary signatures to place measures regarding both medical and recreational uses of the plant on this year’s ballot.

Signatures are currently being counted to determine whether or not two other measures will be put to a vote, one regarding statewide alcohol sales and one concerning raising the Arkansas minimum wage.

Stephen Copley, president of Give Arkansas A Raise Now and representative of An Act to Increase The Arkansas Minimum Wage, said the 62,507 signatures necessary for the measure to be placed on the November ballot have been gathered and have been submitted to the office of Secretary of State Mark Martin for review and validation.

Copley’s measure would raise Arkansas’ minimum wage for the first time since 2006 from $6.25 to $7.50 per hour by 2015, to $8 per hour in 2016 and $8.50 per hour in 2017, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

While the national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, companies who do not engage in interstate commerce and do not generate more than $500,000 per year in revenue, can choose to use the lower state minimum wage, according to the Arkansas Department of Labor.

The Democrat-Gazette reported representatives for The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment petition submitted 84,969 signatures for verification July 7, the final day signatures were accepted. The petition requires 78,133 signatures to be placed on the ballot. 

Larry Page, executive director of the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, said while Arkansas Baptists can now be sure they will not have to contend with issues regarding marijuana during this election cycle, he expects the issue of statewide alcohol sales to be included on the ballot.

“We will be holding strategy meetings with some of our leaders throughout the state to develop a game plan to counter the incredible push that will come to wet our entire state,” said Page.

He said reasons for fighting the measure are not simply faith-based,  but also practical.

“There are many legitimate and commonsense reasons to leave the law as it is. … If the statewide alcohol initiative is passed, local control will be taken away. The end result is that a few populous counties – counties that are already ‘wet’ – will decide the fate of rural and less populated counties that are ‘dry’ and want to remain dry,” said Page.

Of the 75 counties in Arkansas, 37 are considered dry counties, according to the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Some areas within Arkansas’ wet counties are also considered dry.

Secretary Martin’s office is now working to validate the signatures submitted for both The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment and An Act to Increase The Arkansas Minimum Wage. 

A 30-day period is provided to representatives of the petitions to gather any additional signatures needed to fill the requirement following validation. The deadline to certify petitions for the November ballot is Aug. 21.

Contact Caleb Yarbrough at caleb@arkansasbaptist.org.

Thursday
Jul242014

WC serves in Arkansas

SHARING JESUS and leaving an impact on local communities were  the aims of three World Changers projects held in Arkansas this summer – with more than 600 students from around the United States working in West Memphis and Fort Smith June 23-28 and in Little Rock July 7-12.

Students worked at a number of sites in each community and served in a variety of ways, including by painting houses, landscaping, putting siding on houses and constructing wheelchair ramps.

World Changers volunteers work on a Little Rock house July 8. Photo by Jessica VanderpoolIn its 23rd summer of operation, World Changers – an initiative of LifeWay Christian Resources – provides a way for volunteers to physically and spiritually minister to communities across the nation.

J.R. DeBusk, pastor of First Baptist Church, Heber Springs, was  project coordinator for the Little Rock project.

“Our objective is to use the various ministries that we are involved in – particularly in conjunction with the City of Little Rock in painting and repairing homes – in order to be able to minister, share Jesus, but just leave a very positive impact on the communities where we are serving,” DeBusk said. 

Claire Beauchamp, a 12-year-old participant from Texas who served at the Little Rock project, said it was her second time to take part in World Changers.

“It was just fun to see the reactions of the people who couldn’t do the house on their own. I also liked meeting new people and making friends,” she said. “I’ve learned that you really can make a difference just by speaking about the Bible or helping fix a house.”

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

Thursday
Jul242014

Youth Evangelism Conference Aug. 8-9

HUNDREDS OF YOUTH will gather Aug. 8-9 for a time of worship and learning during the 2014 Youth Evangelism Conference, which will feature speakers, Christian bands, a comedy team and a training session for student ministry leaders.

The conference, sponsored by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) evangelism and church health team, will be held at Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock.

“The Youth Evangelism Conference exists to inspire, encourage and equip students and student ministries to be evangelistic,” said Warren Gasaway, ABSC evangelism and church health team member. “The conference has this distinct purpose so it becomes a great lead-in to the school year when students hit their mission field. We’re hoping this back-to-school event will be a great momentum builder.”

Featured are Brian Burgess, an international speaker and founder of Tootin’ in Town biker ministry, and Michael Wood, student ministry pastor at First Baptist Church of West Monroe, La. Wood was formerly on the student ministry staff of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. The Digital Age will lead worship and Capital Kings will perform in concert. 321 Improv, a comedy ministry, will also perform.

In addition, a student ministry training session emphasizing teen evangelism strategies will be hosted by Wood from 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9.

Booth displays with examples of mission opportunities will be set up for youth and leaders to explore.

To register, visit www.yecarkansas.com. For more information, call 501-376-4791, ext. 5132, or email lwilson@absc.org.

Thursday
Jul242014

Russ Harrington retires from Baptist Health after 40 years

HarringtonLITTLE ROCK – Russ Harrington retired as Baptist Health’s president and CEO July 1 after serving with the organization for four decades. 

To honor Harrington’s service, Baptist Health’s board of directors have renamed the hospital’s Little Rock campus the Russell D. Harrington Jr. Campus. 

“It has been an honor to be a part of this healing ministry and be able to serve the health care needs of our state for 40 years,” Harrington said in a post on Baptist Health’s blog. “I am proud of the success we have been able to achieve as an organization and consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with so many skilled physicians, dedicated caregivers and committed staff.”

Troy Wells, formerly senior vice president of administrative services for Baptist Health, was named president and CEO by the organization’s board of trustees following Harrington’s retirement. Harrington has transitioned to the position of president emeritus and senior advisor.

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

Friday
Jul112014

‘Two D.O.G.’ aims to reach men with gospel

Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

HARRISON – Retirement is often considered a finish line. After decades of hard work, many people look forward to rest, relaxation and time to do things they didn’t have time to do during their years of employment, whether secular or sacred.

For Royce Sweatman, associational missionary for North Arkansas Baptist Association in Harrison, his coming retirement has afforded the opportunity to pursue new and interesting ministry ideas he was too busy to act on when he was working.

When Sweatman retires July 31, he and his prayer partner of 18 years, Cocky Barrett, will embark on a new journey in the form of their recently formed men’s ministry called “Two D.O.G. Inc.”

Two D.O.G. Inc., which stands for “two dumb old guys,” was started as a way for Sweatman and Barrett, both members of Trinity Baptist Church, Harrison, to use their love of the outdoors, hunting and fishing to reach boys and men with the gospel. The men have created a website, www.2doginc.com, where they post videos chronicling their outdoor adventures and share their faith.

“The first one (video) on there is called ‘Deer Grace,’” said Sweatman. “That’s one about me letting a big eight-pointer walk. I give it grace. … I talk about how God gave me grace. Sometimes in life you see that big buck, but he is not the one you want to hang on the wall. I said, ‘You need to let him walk. That’s called grace. Let me tell you about how God gave me grace.’”

Read the rest of the story in the 7-10 issue of the Arkansas Baptist News.

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