500 Arkansas Baptist volunteers respond following tornados; 18,000 meals provided

Editor's Note: This is an abbreviated version of a story that will be published in the May 15 print edition of the Arkansas Baptist News. Subscribe here.

MORE THAN 500 Arkansas Baptist disaster relief volunteers responded to areas of Faulkner, Pulaski and White counties following an EF4 tornado that wiped out hundreds of houses and businesses April 27.

As of press time, the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) reported that volunteers had prepared nearly 18,000 meals for disaster victims, provided 45 showers through the deployment of a mobile shower unit, washed 54 loads of clothing and completed 104 recovery/cleanup jobs. 

Additionally, the ABSC reported that 33 ministry contacts had been made with people, with one person making a decision to follow Jesus Christ.

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SBC presidential candidate Ronnie Floyd: ‘Let’s complete the Great Commission’

Editor’s Note: The Arkansas Baptist News recently interviewed Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. Floyd has been nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which holds its annual meeting June 10-11 in Baltimore. Floyd was asked a variety of questions to give Arkansas Baptists a better understanding of the pastor who is a candidate for perhaps the most visible leadership role in Southern Baptist life. Some of Floyd’s answers were edited due to space constraints. This article is part of a two-part series. Part two will appear in a future edition of the ABN.

Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

SPRINGDALE – Texas-born Ronnie Floyd has called Arkansas home since 1986 when he became pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale. Nearly twenty-eight years later Floyd is a die-hard Razorback fan and pastor of Cross Church (formerly First Baptist) – one of America’s largest evangelical churches, with five campuses in Fayetteville, Rogers, Springdale and most-recently, Neosho, Mo.

In addition to serving in the local church, Floyd has served in numerous leadership capacities in the Southern Baptist Convention on local, state and national levels. He currently is the general editor of LifeWay Christian Resources’ Bible Studies for Life curriculum series and as lead pastor and strategist of Send North America, the church planting initiative of the
North American Mission Board (NAMB).

Perhaps most notably, Floyd chaired the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force, which led to a strategic shift in the way Southern Baptist entities carry out the Great Commission, including a shift in the way money is allocated for kingdom work.

ABN: What do you see as major challenges of the Southern Baptist Convention as a denomination in the 21st century?

Floyd: I believe the greatest challenge we have is for a fresh, mighty move of God across our churches and across the leaders of our churches, as well as across the leaders of our convention. … But I think also we have to find a way … to accelerate the completion of the Great Commission in our generation. I really believe Southern Baptists have more than solved “this is the direction we are going.” We have chosen the path. We are very committed to the authority of Scripture. We are very committed to how we comprise that in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. We are very committed to doing what we can to fulfill the Great Commission. I think the path is set. What we need to do is to try to find a way to accelerate the pace. I do think there is another massive challenge in Southern Baptist life and that is relating to the issue of funding, funding the vision in a greater way. It is not that Southern Baptists are not funding the vision; they are funding the vision, even in a challenging economy the last several years. … But, it is a matter of, “Where does the vision need to go?” “What needs to happen in the next decade relating to the financial resources and its future in Southern Baptist life?” … regarding all those things that we fund – from our mission offerings as well as through the Cooperative Program.

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Ark. DR teams enter ‘weekend of deployment’, 15,000 meals and 3,200 ‘Buckets of Love’ provided

ARKANSAS BAPTIST disaster relief teams have prepared 15,000 meals, provided 30 showers, several loads of clothes and more than 60 recovery/cleanup jobs for the victims of the April 27 tornadoes, Joe Garner, disaster relief director for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, told convention leadership in an email earlier today.

He said that 3,200-plus “Buckets of Love” containing essential items for tornado victims have been delivered to Central Baptist Church in Conway and that 50 volunteers are on site today at the church (Saturday) to assist with delivering the buckets.  

Buckets of Love“We have 50 volunteers going to Point of Grace Baptist Church in Vilonia today to help at their distribution center. We have 125 volunteers going to Center Hill to work in that community,” said Garner.

He added the teams are entering the “weekend state of the deployment,” adding that teams working in Mayflower this past week returned home as additional assessment is underway.

“I have a white cap coming in on Monday (May 5) to continue the assessment of the community and have two teams on standby, ready to come back should we need them,” Garner said. 

He added that two teams would work in the Vilonia area today (Saturday) to continue with the cleanup efforts. “I have two more teams coming Monday to Vilonia and one leaving after today. This will give us three teams in Vilonia on Monday.”

The feeding operation and the shower and laundry unit are still on site in Vilonia, said Garner, who said the disaster relief team is evaluating additional cleanup methods that may include “bringing in small units with ‘skid steers’ to clean off slabs” of destroyed houses. “We are doing this in Vilonia and will begin to do this in the Mayflower and west Pulaski County/Ferndale area next week.”

Garner said Arkansas Baptist disaster relief deployment in the aftermath of the April 27 tornadoes that ravaged the central Arkansas towns has been a challenge, but leaders are resolute to assist the hurting and displaced in the name of Jesus Christ.

“This has been a challenge, as well as a new learning experience for all of us as we are having to rethink deployment and normal DR response,” he said, adding, “We are committed to helping the people where they are with the needs they have. We are here to do ministry and to share the love of Christ. Thank you for your help, prayers and support.”


Southern Baptists to meet, minister in Baltimore

BALTIMORE – Prayer and revival will be the focus of the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting which is to be held June 10-11 at the Baltimore Convention Center located in the city’s famous ‘Inner Harbor.’

SBC President Fred Luter applauded the emphasis of the annual meeting, to be built around the theme Restoration and Revival Through Prayer.

“We have not had a theme that focused on prayer and revival for many years,” said Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. 

“I pray that God will send revival across America and particularly among Southern Baptists.”

Downtown Baltimore at nightPsalm 80:18–19 is Luter’s selection as the biblical text to support the theme: “Then we will not turn away from You; revive us, and we will call on Your name. Restore us, Yahweh, the God of Hosts; look on us with favor, and we will be saved” (HCSB).

Luter will preach during the June 10 evening session, marking his last presidential address.

No other business will be presented or discussed in the evening session, adhering to last year’s annual meeting format, said David Smith, chairman of the SBC Committee on Order of Business and executive director of the Austin Baptist Association in Texas.

“It obviously had such a great response last year that we decided we wanted to do it again,” Smith said of the evening session. 

“We just think it’s going to bring back something that folks go to convention for – to hear the Word, to be inspired and to worship. And we’re looking forward to it.”

Floyd nominated

Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd is expected to be nominated for SBC president at the annual meeting. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, announced Floyd’s nomination Feb. 20.

During the nearly 28 years Floyd has led Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, it has become “one of the most evangelistic, visible and innovative congregations in our convention,” Mohler said. The church encompasses campuses in Springdale, Rogers, Fayetteville and Neosho, Mo.

PressleyClint Pressley, senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., is expected to be nominated for the office of first vice president, and Oklahoma City Pastor Hance Dilbeck is expected to be nominated for second vice president. 

Pressley has served as pastor of Hickory Grove since 2009. The church is one of the largest churches in North Carolina with more than 17,000 members. Hickory Grove has five worship services that meet weekly on two campuses and two Hispanic services, in addition to a Christian school with more than 940 students on the main campus. 

Dilbeck has been senior pastor of the 4,600-member Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City since 2003. Dilbeck has been called the American “Hispanic” pastor by Hispanic church planters. Quail Springs is involved in planting 14 Hispanic churches in North America. Last year, the church set aside $1 million to plant Hispanic churches and contributed more than $3.7 million to the Cooperative Program in support of Southern Baptist missions and ministry in Oklahoma and around the world. 

SBC Pastors’ Conference

The 2014 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference will be held June 8-9 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The theme of the conference is Show Us Your Glory. Bruce Frank, pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, N.C., is serving as president of the conference.

DilbeckConference speakers will include Floyd; Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church, Lake Forest, Calif.; Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church, Simi Valley, Calif.; Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., and David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, Ala., as well as others.

More information about the Pastors’ Conference is available at 

Crossover 2014

As in previous years, Southern Baptists will coordinate a variety of events in the city beginning June 7 through Crossover Baltimore.

Bob Mackey, executive director of the Baltimore Baptist Association, said his team is working hard to prepare for the event.

“We visited a lot of different events taking place as a part of Crossover Houston,” Mackey said. “It was exciting to see what God can do for a city through service and partnership. I left with a great sense of hope and expectation for what God will do when Crossover comes to our city this year.”

The day of evangelism takes place the Saturday before the SBC and invites visiting Southern Baptists to serve alongside Baltimore churches by hosting block parties, evangelism outreaches, health clinics, sports camps and various other outreach events. Mackey and his team already have participants scheduled to serve from more than 12 states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Maryland and Delaware, as well as commitments from many sister associations.

For more information about Crossover Baltimore, visit

New messenger rules

The SBC Executive Committee is scheduled to consider a proposal June 9 to update the SBC constitution regarding qualifications for churches to send messengers to the annual meeting.

Under the new proposal to be considered, each cooperating church that contributed to convention causes during the preceding fiscal year would automatically qualify for two messengers. 

Additional messengers would be recognized from a cooperating church by one of two options, whichever allows the greater number of messengers: (1) One additional messenger for each full percent of the church’s undesignated receipts through any combination of gifts through the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for convention causes or to any SBC entity; and (2) one additional messenger for each $6,000 the church contributes in the preceding year through the same combination of the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for convention causes or to any SBC entity.

Resolutions Committee

Members of the SBC Committee on Resolutions for the annual meeting were named by Luter March 28.

Luter announced the appointment of the committee in keeping with the provision in SBC Bylaw 20 that its members be named 75 days prior to the start of the annual meeting.

David Dykes, pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, was named committee chairman.

The other members named to the committee were: Jay F. Shell, member of West Baptist Church, Batesville; Whitney Alexander, member of First Baptist Church, Gadsden, Ala.; Matthew Arbo, member of Redeemer Fellowship, Kansas City, Mo.; Greg Belser, pastor, Morrison Heights Baptist Church, Clinton, Miss.; Roger Freeman, pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Nashville; Matthew Hall, member of Clifton Baptist Church, Louisville; Chris Osborne, senior pastor, Central Baptist Church, College Station, Texas; Ramon Osorio, member of First Redeemer Church, Cumming, Ga., and Kevin Smith, assistant professor of Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

The committee’s composition, according to Bylaw 20, must include at least two members who served the previous year, with Dykes and Arbo meeting this requirement. Bylaw 20 also stipulates the committee include at least three SBC Executive Committee members. This year they are Dykes, Shell and Osborne.

The procedure for submitting resolutions is as follows according to Bylaw 20:

– Proposed resolutions may be submitted as early as April 15 but no later than 15 days prior to the SBC Annual Meeting, giving the Resolutions Committee a two-week period in which to consider submissions. The committee also may propose resolutions for consideration during its deliberations. Resolutions may not be submitted during the annual meeting.

– Proposed resolutions must be accompanied by a letter from a church qualified to send a messenger to the SBC Annual Meeting certifying that the individual submitting the resolution is a member in good standing.

– Proposed resolutions preferably should be submitted by email or mailed to the Committee on Resolutions in care of the SBC Executive Committee, 901 Commerce St., Nashville, TN 37203. The drafts must be typewritten, titled, dated and include complete contact information for the person and his or her church.

– No person will be allowed to submit more than three resolutions per year.

– If a properly submitted resolution is not forwarded by the Committee on Resolutions to the SBC Annual Meeting, a two-thirds vote of messengers would be required to bring the proposed resolution to the convention floor.

Camps registration opens

Registration is open for preschool childcare, Children’s Conferences International, Children in Action Missions Camp and Youth on Mission in conjunction with the annual meeting.

Southern Baptist disaster relief childcare volunteers will care for preschoolers, while Children’s Conferences International and Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) will guide the Children in Action Missions Camp and Youth on Mission curricula and activities.

Preschool childcare and activities for children who have completed grades one through six will be housed at the Baltimore Convention Center. Youth who have completed grades seven through 12 will begin their days at the convention center with worship before going into the community for hands-on missions work. 

Preregistration is required and will be accepted online at under the “Children/Youth” tab. All participants should register as soon as possible because space is limited.

Due to space limitations and worker-to-children ratio objectives, on-site registration will not be accepted. For more information about each of the camps or to register, visit and click on the “Children/Youth” tab.

Preschool childcare for newborns through 5-year-olds will be available during the SBC Pastors’ Conference and annual meeting. Parents should pay all related fees when registering to insure their child’s participation. The SBC will verify registrations with an emailed confirmation packet, including a parents’ handbook.

Children’s Conferences International will offer the adventure “Christ Who Strengthens Me” for children ages 4-12 during the Pastors’ Conference.

Children in Action Missions Camp, for children who have completed grades one through six by May/June, will be offered June 10-11. The camp theme Gotta Tell It! is designed to challenge children to tell God’s story to people who need to hear it.

“Children attending the Children in Action Missions Camp will learn that they can know God and have a relationship with Him,” said Cindy Bradley, Michigan WMU executive director and camp coordinator. 

“In addition to Bible studies, children will visit with missionaries representing both the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board,” Bradley said. “Children will also participate in worship sessions, games and recreation, crafts and mission projects. These Bible study and missions experiences will show children that they are a part of God’s story and have a place in His story.”

Youth on Mission, for students who’ve completed grades seven through 12 by May/June, will be provided June 10-11. 

“Youth on Mission will learn that they can know God and have a relationship with Him. They will be encouraged to be bold in telling His story and by serving others. The youth will serve through hands-on missions projects in Baltimore,” said Kristy Carr, National WMU ministry consultant and Youth on Mission coordinator. “Each morning mission studies will be presented by both International Mission Board and North American Mission Board missionaries.”  

For additional information about the SBC Annual Meeting in Baltimore, visit

Information for this article was compiled from various Baptist Press reports.


Ark. disaster relief volunteers prepare 4,300 meals for tornado victims

Matt Ramsey
Arkansas Baptist State Convention 

LITTLE ROCK – Since arriving in Vilonia two days ago volunteers with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention’s (ABSC) mobile mass feeding unit have prepared more than 4,300 hot meals for victims displaced by the killer tornado that devastated the community April 27.

The Red Cross is providing and distributing food while ABSC disaster relief volunteers are preparing the meals.

“The Arkansas Baptist State Convention disaster relief crews are diligently working in affected areas,” said Joe Garner, ABSC disaster relief director. “Our mass feeding unit is stationed in Vilonia and volunteers are preparing about 2,800 meals per day at the request of the Red Cross. We are continuing to partner with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. We will remain in the affected areas until the last person is helped.”

In addition to the feeding unit, eight teams of ABSC disaster relief recovery (chainsaw) volunteers are helping cut down trees and helping with clean up efforts in Vilonia, Mayflower and Little Rock. To date, the chainsaw volunteers have completed 30 jobs. An ABSC disaster relief mobile shower unit is also on site at the Beryl Baptist.

A total of 135 volunteers are currently part of ABSC disaster relief efforts in Vilonia, Mayflower and Little Rock. Online donations can be made to the ABSC disaster relief fund by going to and clicking on the “Donate Now” button. These donations go directly to the recovery efforts and victims affected by the storms.

ABSC leaders are partnering with Arkansans to collect “Buckets of Love,” consisting of a plastic five-gallon bucket packed with selected items. For more information on Buckets of Love go to and click the “Buckets of Love” button.

Matt Ramsey is the communications director for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

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