Fayetteville council votes 6-2 to approve controversial gender identity and sexual orientation ordinance

Lisa Falknor
Arkansas Baptist News

JordanFAYETTEVILLE – By a vote of 6-2, Fayetteville became the first Arkansas city to approve a controversial ordinance protecting gender identity and sexual orientation Tuesday, Aug. 19.

As a part of the decision, the council will create a new position to enforce the rules of the ordinance. The position, called the civil rights administrator, will investigate discriminatory claims, serve as mediator between parties and recommend prosecution, if necessary.

Fayetteville Fireman Chief Kyle Curry said 350 people – the maximum number allowed in the building – crowded city hall for the council meeting. Additionally, dozens more people formed lines circling the block around the building. Proponents of the ordinance wore red, while those opposed wore purple.

An ordinance protecting the rights of homosexuals, transgender persons and other minorities is long overdue, some said during an extended period of debate; while others countered that the legislation forces churches and religious organizations to change their beliefs about homosexuality and violate individual conscience.

Following 10 hours of debate, Ordinance 119 passed 6-2 at 3:20 a.m. Wednesday morning.


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Trip to Nebraska ‘opens eyes’ to those in need

Bob Hall, pastor of First Baptist Church, Beebe, speaks during a special service following a mission trip to Terrytown, Neb.

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

BEEBE – It’s safe to say the lives of 45 members of two Arkansas churches have been changed forever following a mission trip to a small and largely forgotten part of Nebraska.

Terrytown, Neb., is located on the western border of the state known for its expansive corn and wheat fields. It is a village located on the bank of the North Platte River between the cities of Scottsbluff and Gering. While Scottsbluff and Gering have grown together to form the seventh largest urban area in Nebraska, the small village of Terrytown is a place where many residents live in desperation and despair.

First Baptist Church of Beebe and First Baptist Church of Pangburn brought hope to many of the village’s residents – and saw 54 make professions of faith in Jesus Christ. Many of the converts were adults.

Forty-five members of the churches served in the area over a span of a little more than a week in July. A team of 15 from First Baptist, Pangburn, arrived two days earlier in Nebraska to canvass the area and distribute more than 800 Bibles, said Alan Cook, pastor of First Baptist,

Pangburn’s mission team was followed by 30 team members from the Beebe church, July 18-25, who held block parties, a vacation Bible school (VBS) and other activities. 

“It was nothing short of an Acts experience,” said Bob Hall, pastor of First Baptist, Beebe, adding that one lady who told the group that she was a pagan invited Jesus into her heart after hearing the gospel message three times. 

“It was unbelievable what happened that week,” said Hall.

Read the rest of the story in the 8-21 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News. Click here.


1,500 worship, learn at YEC

LITTLE ROCK – Energy was high as more than 1,500 students and youth leaders converged on Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock, Aug. 8-9 for the 2014 Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC).

YEC is an annual youth conference in which Arkansas Baptist churches from across the state come together to worship, hear speakers, fellowship and learn how to share their faith. Youth leaders received training from Michael Wood, lead pastor of First Baptist Church, West Monroe, La., and one of the event’s speakers, on how to equip students to share the gospel in their local communities and beyond.

Students from churches across Arkansas worship during YEC Aug. 8-9 at Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock. Photo by Caleb Yarbrough“Students go back to school in a week. YEC had a goal of students launching their school year with a more missional mindset where they are taking the gospel to their campuses and to their families,” said Warren Gasaway, ABSC evangelism and church health team member. 

“YEC allowed us to train them to share their faith in everyday conversations. Since the gospel is shared, not sold, students were taught how to share their faith through their relationships. After this weekend, we know that they are inspired and equipped for that,” he said.

The Digital Age led worship during YEC. Entertainment was
provided by 321 Improv and the band Capital Kings. Speakers for the event included Brian Burgess, an evangelist based in North Carolina, and Wood. Evangelism training for students, youth ministers and youth leaders was led by ABSC team members, Burgess and Wood.

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Floyd addresses ABSC Executive Board Aug. 12

Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, speaks to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Executive Board Aug. 12.

Tim Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

LITTLE ROCK – “We cannot afford to play solo during this time.”

That was the word Aug. 12 from Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Executive Board, staff and guests.

“God is going to fulfill His commission with or without us,” said Floyd. “I want to be with Him.”

Floyd said the reach of the SBC is far and wide, such as in the 42 state conventions and the ABSC.

“We have one common goal,” he said, “to reach the world for Jesus Christ.”

Floyd said since all Southern Baptists are in agreement with that goal, now is the time for “everyone to find their part in that.”

He said the convention needs to strive to “strategically plant gospel churches.”

“We need to be together, and we need to engage the culture,” said Floyd, emphasizing that means inside the borders of Arkansas, the nation and throughout the world, “such as in Iraq.”

Floyd said he recently returned from a trip to Columbus, Ohio, the site of the 2015 SBC Annual Meeting. He encouraged churches to commit to attend the annual meeting and “check on your $9 million investment.” Floyd was referring to the $9.4 million Arkansas Baptists send to the SBC to support causes such as the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, seminary education, Christian ethics and religious liberty ministries and other facilitating ministries.

“We need to have a mighty time in the Lord there,” said Floyd, adding that he recently recorded a 5-minute video encouraging everyone to attend. He is asking every state convention to show the video at their upcoming annual meetings.

Floyd also encouraged everyone to read his weekly blog at, in which he said he is asking thousands of Southern Baptists to pray for the next great awakening and to work toward increasing baptisms.

He said the SBC experienced its worst year in baptisms in 62 years, which was when “Harry Truman was in the White House.” He added that all Southern Baptists – including him and his church – must do better because there are a lot more people who live in the United States today than did 62 years ago.

On the front lines are 4,600 student ministers in the SBC, said Floyd, adding that it is imperative that Southern Baptists reach young people through their ministries and other ministries.

“We have all got to do better,” he said. “God has us ready for a mighty movement!”

Contact Tim Yarbrough at


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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