Newly elected Arkansas Baptist State Convention officers are (from left): Jeff Paxton, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dover, first vice president; Stacy Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church, Batesville, second vice president; and Greg Sykes, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Russellville, president. Photo by Caleb Yarbrough
Messengers hear reports, elect convention officers and approve resolutions in final session
Arkansas Baptist News
JONESBORO – The morning session of the second and final day of the 2018 Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Annual Meeting began with time of worship led by Jeff Stotts, lead worship pastor of Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro. During the session, messenger and guests heard reports, elected convention officers and approved various resolutions.
College and young leaders team report
David James, ABSC college and young leaders team leader, and Chris Kohlman, assistant team leader, shared the college and young leaders team’s report.
Kohlman shared how the team is working to build and support the callings of college students and young adults across Arkansas.
In the U.S., 85 percent of graduating high school students who are committed Christians (around 400,000 students) will attend secular colleges and universities. During or following their undergraduate education, around 52 percent of these “committed Christian” students leave the Church, said Kohlman.
“Nobody goes into school from our churches thinking they are going to be that stat,” he said. “That’s about 177,000 students per year in our country that fall into that stat.”
Ways that the college and young leaders team is working to reach the nearly 170,000 college students across Arkansas include: on campus ministries like the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, local “collegiate-engaged” church churches and through Baptist campuses (Ouachita Baptist University and Williams Baptist University)
Kohlman said that during the last school year the team saw 9,458 unique witnessing experiences, and 211 students were saved on campuses, 1,064 students were saved through the ministry events and 502 students were saved through the ministries of collegiate engaged churches. In addition 1,433 Arkansas Baptist college and university students took part in mission projects in 24 states and 44 nations.
Two-hundred and sixty-nine students deployed with disaster relief. Fifty-three churches partnered with the college and young leaders team on 117 outreach events geared towards international students, said Kohlman. The team also hosted events helping Arkansas Baptist students establish mentorship relationships in their various career paths, including an event at the University of Arkansas Little Rock’s Bowman Law School that brought together Southern Baptist lawyers and future lawyers.
The college and young leaders team also hosts the Lead/Defend conference each year which equips college students and young leaders in both leadership and apologetics, said Kohlman.
James closed the report in prayer.
“We glory, not in ourselves but in You (Christ) as we help us reach the next generation,” prayed James. “May we help students grow in Christ, connect to the church and mobilized to the ends of the earth.”
Greg Sykes, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Russellville, and convention president, welcomed the ABSC parliamentarians to the platform and opened a time of miscellaneous business.
During miscellaneous business, Greg Addison, associate executive director of the ABSC, presented a certificate honoring the 25th anniversary of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Little Rock extension center to Tim Deahl, dean of Southwestern’s center for extension education.
Following miscellaneous business, J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, presented a gift to David Perry, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes), thanking him for his 40 years of service with ABCHomes. Perry will retire in early 2019.
Perry presented ABCHomes report for the last time as executive director. He reminisced on moving to Jonesboro for his first position with the children’s home. The first night that he and his wife, Lucia, spent in their small apartment there was stormy, with tornado sirens ringing out.
Perry said that from that stormy first night living in Arkansas to today, more than four decades, Arkansas Baptists have loved his family and have been incredible brothers and sisters in Christ, and great friends.
After highlighting ABCHomes’ work “setting the table” for many individuals and families across the state, Perry welcomed Derek Brown, his successor as executive director of ABCHomes.
Perry left the platform to a standing ovation as messengers showed their appreciation for his decades of passionate ministry to the state.
Brown read a list of 30 children who died last year as the result of abuse, neglect or because of the result of drug-related causes.
“Families need us. Children need us. This ministry saves lives,” said Brown. “When we strengthen and restore families God’s way the impact reaches thousands of generations, lives are saved and lives are brought into eternity.
“Help us set the table. Help us keep kids safe. Help us save lives. Help us restore families,” said Brown. “Help us restore God’s plan for Arkansas families. Join us in that mission.”
Deal preaches annual sermon
Following a time of worship, Ronnie Deal, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Greenwood, shared the convention sermon. Deal preached from John 1:1-28 (NLT).
Deal said that while he grew us thinking that only pastors and those with spectacular personal testimonies are called, that he has learned that “all of us are called to serve.”
“When I think about the call of God, I can’t help but think about John the Baptist,” said Deal.
Deal said that John the Baptist knew who he was. He was: 1) called by God, 2) focused on his mission, 3) confident in who, and who’s, he was, 4) a man that people saw Jesus in.
Deal said that the heart of John the Baptist’s calling is found in John 3:30 (NLT), “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
This passage should define all ministry callings, said Deal.
“One of the hardest things that I have had to battle as a pastor is loving the affirmation of men,” said Deal.
Deal said that a Christian’s identity and calling are both summed up in Christ becoming greater, and them becoming lesser, in their life.
Sykes re-elect ABSC president
Following the convention sermon, Wyman Richardson, pastor of Central Baptist Church, North Little Rock, and first vice president of the ABSC, called for the election of ABSC president.
Sykes was re-elected president by acclamation after being nominated by Manley Beasley, pastor of Hot Springs Baptist Church, Hot Springs. Tucker cast the ballot for the entire assembly and Sykes was elected unanimously.
Arkansas Baptist News report
Following the election of ABSC officers, Tim Yarbrough, editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News (ABN), presented the publication’s report.
Yarbrough said that the ABN’s role includes sharing the story of the state’s churches and ministries, as well as being a “watchdog and the eyes and ears of Arkansas Baptists.”
“Its important to remember this, when this annual meeting is all set and done, future generations will not access our history from a Facebook post or tweet, but through the print or digital archives of the ABN,” said Yarbrough.
SBC Executive Committee report
Augie Boto, interim CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC), presented a report.
Commenting on the five SBC agencies currently seeking leaders, Boto asked Arkansas Baptists to pray that God would fill the vacancies with the individuals that he would have in the positions.
Sykes then led messengers in a prayer of commitment to pray for the vacant positions.
Paxton elected first vice president
Sykes then opened the floor for nominations for the office of ABSC first vice-president. Danny Green, associational missionary of Arkansas River Valley Association nominated Jeff Paxton, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dover, as convention first vice president. Tucker cast the ballot for the entire assembly and Paxton was elected unanimously.
Sykes then welcomed Larry Page, chairman of the ABSC’s Resolutions Committee, who, along with the other members of the committee, moved for the adoption of the resolutions (read related story).
Bill Chambers, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, Newport, moved that “greedy gambling hustlers” be removed from resolution two due to the language being inflammatory rhetoric.
John McCallum, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Hot Springs, proposed an amendment to the resolution that replaced the previous wording with “the gambling industry.” The amendment was approved and the new language was incorporated into the resolution.
Sykes provided a motion that all resolutions be approved. The motion carried.
Reed elected second vice president
Sykes opened the floor for nominations for the office of second vice-president of the ABSC.
The ABSC president welcomed Tucker honored exiting ABSC officers and presenting them with plaques recognizing their service to the convention. He then led messengers in a time of prayer for newly elected ABSC officers.
Sykes then led messengers in a time of prayer for revival and spiritual awakening. Sykes asked those in attendance to move throughout the sanctuary and pray through Acts 1:8, for their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth.
Contact Caleb Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.