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Ariz. Baptists formalize partnership with Mexico to spread Gospel

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (BP)–Arizona Southern Baptists focused on “Sensing the Heart of God” and reaching out in new ways to empower Kingdom growth during their annual meeting Nov. 9-10 at First Southern Baptist Church in Scottsdale.

The 411 messengers saw leaders from the Baptist Convention of Sonora, Mexico, join Arizona Southern Baptist Convention leaders in signing an agreement establishing a formal partnership.

“[There is] only one border that separates us — the border between lostness and those who know Jesus,” said Steve Bass, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention executive director.

During the next three years, Arizona and Sonora churches will partner in activities such as Vacation Bible Schools, leadership training, evangelism events, construction projects, medical missions and other ministries to promote the cause of Christ. In addition, the Arizona convention has already begun providing conference leaders for leadership training.

Bass also announced the development of an Arizona Disaster Relief Team. The team comes from a grassroots movement in four associations, including Desert Pines Association, which received Southern Baptist Disaster Relief support during the massive Rodeo-Chediski fire in 2002.

Rick Wiles, a North American Mission Board missionary and pastor of Grand Canyon Baptist Church, is leading in the establishment of this new ministry.

“We have discovered the way to evangelize people hard to the Gospel is when disaster strikes,” Bass said. The disaster relief team is being started “to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Dan Coker, pastor of Love Baptist Church in Phoenix, defeated Chad Garrison, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Havasu City, by a vote of 177-93 to become president. Charles Tyson, pastor of Immanuel Southern Baptist Church in Yuma, was elected first vice president, and Jim Loui, a member of First Chinese Baptist Church in Phoenix, was elected second vice president, both by acclamation.

Messengers adopted a $3,296,750 Cooperative Program budget and a $3,997,872 state convention operating budget for 2005.

The 2005 Cooperative Program basic budget, a .5 percent increase over the current budget, continues the 2003 state-national distribution formula, with 75 percent being used in Arizona and 25 percent being sent to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee for allocation to national and international ministries. Allocations include: SBC Cooperative Program, 25 percent, $824,524; ASBC salary and benefits, 27.7702 percent, $920,333; ASBC operational expense, 18.1173 percent, $600,426; associational partnerships, 14.0866 percent, $466,844; ministerial scholarships, .9151 percent, $30,327.

Other allocations include: Arizona Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 7.626 percent, $252,732; Arizona Baptist Children’s Services, 4.0445 percent, $134,039; and Baptist Senior Life Ministries, 2.4403 percent, $80,873.

Income sources in the ASBC operating budget include the $1,987,602 from the Cooperative Program, $1,562,124 from the North American Mission Board, $55,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources, $359,000 from conference fees, and $34,150 in other revenue.

Messengers adopted a resolution encouraging churches to “consider increasing their percentage of support to worldwide missions and evangelism by 1 percent,” with half of the increase going to the Cooperative Program and half to the association.

Other resolutions pledged support for military personnel and their families and promised prayer for the nation and its leaders; acknowledged the service of a number of state convention, association and church leaders who died in the past year; and expressed appreciation to the current state convention officers and to First Southern Baptist Church in Scottsdale for hosting the annual meeting.

Between the Tuesday afternoon and evening sessions, convention-goers participated in an Acts 1:8 Ministry Fair under a large tent on the church grounds. The fair featured about 25 booths and a free buffet dinner.

Closing the Tuesday evening session, a pastor, an Arizona Baptist Children’s Services chaplain, a municipal court judge and a military chaplain led in a concert of prayer, calling for personal confession and intercession for families, churches, communities and the world.

The 2005 annual meeting will be Nov. 15-16 at Twenty-Second Street Baptist Church in Tucson.

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  • Elizabeth Young