Robert Ramsey leads worship during the opening session of the 165th annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention at Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro. Ramsey is equipping pastor of worship and music at First Baptist Church, Russellville. Photo by Caleb Yarbrough
165th annual meeting kicks off at Central Baptist, Jonesboro
Arkansas Baptist News
JONESBORO – The morning session of the first day of the 2018 Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Annual Meeting Oct. 23 at Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, began with flag presentation and time of worship, followed by a welcome from Archie Mason, senior pastor of Central Baptist and former ABSC president.
Bill Elliff, senior teaching pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, then encouraged pastors and ministers during a time of focused prayer.
He asked those in attendance to separate into groups and pray through 2 Timothy 2.
“We are never on better praying grounds than when we pray God’s Word,” said Elliff.
He asked the prayer groups to pray the words of Paul in 2 Timothy over those around them because it might “be that your prayer and God’s sovereign power to answer that prayer is going to keep them to fulfill their calling,” he said.
J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, ABSC executive director, shared that the ABSC’s network six agencies and institutions, and 500,000 Arkansas Southern Baptists, is a small world, a family of like-minded believers with unique calls, and a common cause of sharing Christ across Arkansas and around the world.
“We have a lot of interests in life but we have one general heart thrust. And that is our calling,” said Tucker.
Greg Sykes, pastor of First Baptist Church, Russellville, and president of the ABSC, welcomed messengers and called the annual meeting to order.
Sykes recognized Dubs Beyers, chairman of the ABSC credentials committee; Kenny Stacy, chairman of the order of business committee; Larry Page, chairman of the resolutions committee, and Matt Pryor, chairman of the tellers committee.
Beyers presented a motion that messengers that have registered, or will register during the annual meeting, be seated to constitute the 165th session of the ABSC. The motion carried.
Stacy presented a motion to adopt the order of business. The motion was voted on and passed unanimously.
Sykes recognized Wyman Richardson, pastor of Central Baptist Church, North Little Rock, and first vice president of the ASBC, who assisted Sykes with the morning’s program.
Following a time of worship led by Robert Ramsey, and the worship team of First Baptist Church, Russellville, Sykes presented the president’s message (read related story here).
Following the president’s message, Marcus Brown, ABSC church health team leader, shared the percentages of lost people in all of the counties across Arkansas.
A video highlighted Arkansas Baptists who used ABSC resources to host, “big days,” including Easter and Christmas services specifically focused on reaching the lost in their local communities. Brown encouraged those in attendance to challenge their local churches to engage their own communities with special outreach efforts around the upcoming holiday season.
Warren Gasaway, ABSC church health assistant team leader, shared about Super Summer Arkansas and how multiple missionaries with connections to the camp used the live stream of the event to minister to the communities they were serving, leading to multiple people being saved.
Ouachita Baptist report
Following a time of worship, Ben Sells, president of Ouachita Baptist University, presented Ouachita’s report.
Sells shared six points of Ouachita’s strategic plan: 1) sustain Christ-centered identity, 2) advance faculty/staff support, 3) ensure transformative learning, 4) grow residential enrollment, 5) diversify educational offerings, and 6) strengthen key partnerships.
Sells also shared some other recent news at Ouachita, including an increase in enrollment each year since 2016, the recent dedication of the Berry-Peeples Bible Building and Horne Center for Biblical Preaching and a partnership with Baptist Health Little Rock to begin offering a new bachelor of science in nursing degree program.
Sells sat down for a conversation with Blake and Joy Ligon, 2008 graduates of Ouachita, who shared the role that Ouachita made in the intellectual and spiritual development, including the development of their calls to ministry. Blake Ligon, who accepted a call to vocational ministry while a student at Ouachita, currently serves as teaching pastor of the Paragould campus of Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro.
Bobby Thomas, president of the Arkansas Baptist Foundation, presented the Foundation’s report.
Thomas presented a snapshot of the work of the Foundation since 2015, the year Thomas was called as president.
Since 2015, the Foundation has distributed more than $114 million, 64 percent of which distributed to Arkansas Baptist agencies, institutions, churches and ministries. The Foundation also has developed a partnership with Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which has provided numerous resources available to Arkansas Baptists including financial tools, podcasts and more.
Thomas highlighted the Foundation’s partnership with Camp Siloam the past three years, including working with the camp on its Feed My Sheep capital campaign, which raised the funds necessary to construct the camp’s new dining hall facility.
The Foundation also partnered with Williams Baptist University and Ouachita Baptist University, as well as the Delta Institute, a theological education resource for pastors and ministers serving in the Arkansas Delta, through scholarship distributions, said Thomas.
This past year, the Delta Institute saw a record enrollment of 80 students and multiple church plants and churches that entered the ABSC through that partnership.
Thomas also mentioned a partnership that Foundation has with Ramsey Solutions, which makes Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University available to all Arkansas Baptist pastors and ministers free of charge.
In conclusion, Thomas shared that the Foundation continues to provide free estate planning services for all Arkansas Baptists.
Sykes welcomed Manley Beasley, Jr., pastor of Hot Springs Baptist Church, Hot Springs, and president of the ABSC Executive Board (EC). Beasley made a recommendation, on behalf of the committee, for the adoption of the 2019 ABSC EC budget. The motion carried. Beasley also recommended and moved for the adoption of the ABSC goals. The motion carried.
Camp Siloam report
Jason Wilkie, executive director of Camp Siloam, shared Camp Siloam’s report.
Wilkie said he was celebrating – with the Arkansas Baptist family – the conclusion of the Feed My Sheep capital campaign as well as the awarding of a grant by the Mabee Foundation, which allowed for the camp’s original dining hall, built in 1923 to be replaced by a new dining hall that can meet the camp’s current needs.
He said that during the stressful periods of the Feed My Sheep campaign, he rested in the truth of Philippians 4.
The strength of Arkansas Baptist cooperation and partnership allowed the campaign to exceed its goal, and preserve the beauty and ministerial effectiveness of Camp Siloam, said Wilkie.
“I believe that camp is the most effective tool we have for reaching American kids,” said Wilkie. “We saw 461 campers make professions of faith last year, we saw 266 make commitments to missions and full-time ministry. That’s almost double the amount of kids that we have had make that commitment in the past.”
“We have an obligation to encourage them in their call to ministry,” he said.
“We have fantastic camps in our state,” said Wilkie. “I just want to encourage you to use the tools we have in our state and support Super Summer, our association camps and Camp Paron.”
Camp Siloam’s report concluded with a video highlighting images of the camp’s ministry including testimonies from campers, camp staff and camp volunteers of the power of the camp to reach children and youth from across Arkansas with the gospel, and stoke the fire of ministerial callings developed through the camp’s ministry.
Blake Ligon, teaching pastor of the Paragould campus of Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, closed the morning session in prayer.
Contact Caleb Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.