Messengers and Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) staff pray for Jim Greenslade (center) and other Arkansas Baptist church planters following the inaugural church planter commissioning service during the ABSC Annual Meeting Nov. 7 at First Baptist Church, Russellville. Photo by Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptists called to ‘Engage’; send out planters
RUSSELLVILLE – Arkansas Baptists from throughout the Natural State gathered Nov. 7-8 for the 164th annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) held at First Baptist Church, Russellville.
Focusing on the theme Encourage to Engage during the two-day meeting, Arkansas Baptist ministers and laypeople worshipped, prayed, conducted business, elected officers, enjoyed fellowship, approved resolutions and heard inspiring messages.
ABSC leaders reported 549 registered messengers from churches across the state. In addition to the registered messengers, many other guests also attended the meeting, increasing the total number of attendees substantially.
Comparatively, total messengers at the 2016 annual meeting in Little Rock numbered 543; at the 2015 meeting in Hot Springs, 615; at the 2014 meeting in Texarkana, 515, and at the 2013 meeting in Rogers, 591.
Greg Sykes, pastor, First Baptist Church, Russellville, was elected president by acclamation, after being nominated by Jeff Paxton, pastor, First Baptist Church, Dover.
Other officers elected were Wyman Richardson, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Little Rock, to serve as first vice president; and George Goynes, pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church, Doddridge, to serve as second vice president. Richardson was nominated by John McCallum, pastor, First Baptist Church, Hot Springs; and Goynes was nominated by Craig Jenkins, pastor, Beech Street Baptist Church, Texarkana. Both Richardson and Goynes were elected by acclamation.
Messengers approved a total of six resolutions including resolutions addressing Israel, the Nashville Statement on human sexuality, racial reconciliation and polarization in America. Only one resolution spurred discussion when Chase Crawford, minister to students, First Baptist Church, Pocahontas, suggested an amendment to the resolution on racial reconciliation.
In presenting his suggestion, Crawford said, “It is important for us to call out evil by name when evil gives us a name to use. The origin of our denomination gives us a unique responsibility of calling out white supremacy by name every time it shows itself.”
His suggested addition, a verbatim statement from a resolution adopted at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Phoenix, was to read, “Whereas, Racism and white supremacy are, sadly, not extinct but present all over the world in various white supremacist movements, sometimes known as ‘white nationalism’ or ‘alt-right.’”
After brief discussion, Crawford’s addition was not approved, and the original resolution passed with no changes. (See page 11 for details on resolutions.)
ABSC Executive Board teams and ministries and Arkansas Baptists shared various reports during the meeting, including testimonies about God’s work throughout Arkansas, the nation and world.
Several times of focused prayer during the meeting were led by Kyle Reno, pastor, The Summit Church, Conway; Dave Hughey, pastor, Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, Little Rock, and Bill Elliff, pastor, The Summit Church, North Little Rock.
Worship times during the meeting were led by Scott Quimby, minister of music, First Baptist Church, Stuttgart; the worship team from Central Baptist Church, Conway, and the worship team from First Baptist Church, Russellville. In addition, messengers and guests were treated to performances by Master’Singers and the Ouachita Sounds from Ouachita Baptist University.
Board report, budget
Rob Davis, ABSC Executive Board president and pastor, First Baptist Church, Harrison, gave the Executive Board report Nov. 7. The Executive Board’s 2018 Cooperative Program budget of $21 million and team goals were approved by messengers.
Ken Shaddox, pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock, presented a motion that the 2017 ABSC Annual dedicated in honor of Jimmie Sheffield, ABSC executive administrator, in honor of his 60th year of ministry and work on behalf of Arkansas Baptists. The motion passed unanimously.
Baptists ‘Above and Beyond’
Greg Addison, associate executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, shared a report titled “Engaging Arkansas Baptists Above and Beyond,” in which he highlighted the role of the Dixie Jackson missions offering in the cooperative work of Arkansas Baptists.
Addison mentioned disaster relief (DR), in regards to recent disasters faced this year, specifically Hurricane Harvey. Addison introduced Ryan Scantling, ABSC college and young leaders team member and Conway campus minister, who shared how he was able to be involved in coordinating with University of Central Arkansas (UCA) administration to send UCA students, many of whom were not believers, to serve with DR in Texas.
“These students, who had a great heart to serve, go down and they, many of them lost as anything, … go down, serve, and learn about Jesus from faithful chaplains serving with Southern Baptist disaster relief,” said Scantling.
Addison shared about the growth of Acts 1:8 One Day mission work across the state, including the annual statewide event as well as association mission days and individual churches who put on events. More than 73 block parties have been hosted across the state over the past year, said Addison, many of funded by the Dixie Jackson State Mission Offering.
Addison also noted the role of the Dixie Jackson offering in funding church
The convention’s Nominating Committee report was approved with no challenges and no discussion. The committee nominates people to serve on boards of ABSC entities and institutions. (For a list of nominees, see Sept. 21 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News.
A church planter commissioning service was held on Tuesday evening, Nov. 7. Numerous church planters and sponsoring church pastors introduced themselves and were later immersed in prayer by annual meeting attendees.
A block party was held on the grounds of First Baptist Church, Russellville, to demonstrate for church leaders how to hold block parties in their own churches.
Exhibits from various ABSC teams, agencies and institutions, as well as SBC affiliates, were set up at First Baptist Church, Russellville.
A complimentary lunch was served by DR volunteers on Tuesday, Nov. 7, and various lunches and dinners were held for specific groups during the two-day meeting.
The Link, Agencies + Institutions Fellowship, sponsored by ABSC agencies and institutions, was held on Monday evening, Nov. 7.
During a brief Executive Board meeting Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 7, Manley Beasley, Jr., pastor of Hot Springs Baptist Church, Hot Springs, was elected president, and Craig Jenkins, pastor of Beech Street, Texarkana, was elected vice president.
The 2018 annual meeting of the ABSC will be held Oct. 23-24 at Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro.
For additional coverage of the annual meeting, visit the ABN Facebook page or arkansasbaptist.org.