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Ark. Baptists focus on children, youth

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–Messengers to the 2008 annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention launched a three-year emphasis on reaching children and youth and passed resolutions opposing the lottery, supporting the Arkansas Adoption and Foster Care Act and urging believers to “cast their ballots in accordance with Christian principles.”

Messengers to the harmonious Oct. 28-29 sessions at First Baptist Church in Bentonville, Ark., elected officers without opposition and passed resolutions without discussion.

Addressing the theme, “Reaching Generation Next Now,” convention speakers included Tom Elliff, International Mission Board vice president of spiritual nurture and church growth; Wes George, ABSC president; Alvin Reid, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor of evangelism; Kenneth Startup, Williams Baptist College vice president for academic affairs; Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research director; and Emil Turner, ABSC executive director.

George, pastor of First Baptist Church of Rogers, was elected to a second term as president without opposition, and Clay Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church of Marion, was unopposed for re-election as first vice president. Stephen Bailey, pastor of Earle Baptist Church of Earle, was elected unopposed to a first term as second vice president.

Miscellaneous business was almost non-existent. Al Ray Taylor, music minister at Second Baptist Church in Russellville, made a motion to dedicate the 2008 ABSC annual book of reports to David McLemore, a former pastor of the church who died of cancer Aug. 31. A National Guard chaplain, McLemore served in Desert Storm and in the Iraq war. The motion passed unanimously without discussion.

No other business was introduced from the floor.

Messengers adopted four resolutions without discussion.

One resolution opposed a proposal for a state lottery that is on the November ballot in Arkansas. It expressed “our unyielding opposition to state-owned and state-operated lottery gambling” and pledged to “aggressively work to educate all voters and bring about a decisive voter turnout to defeat Proposed Constitutional Amendment 3.”

A resolution on “children at risk” expressed support for and encouraged passage of the Arkansas Adoption and Foster Care Act, which also is on the November ballot. The act would prohibit cohabitating adults, whether heterosexual or homosexual, from serving as foster or adoptive parents. The resolution encouraged legislators “to craft legislation, rules and regulations that undergird the biblical ideal for the home.” It acknowledged “our failure to serve children” and urged Arkansas Baptists to “provide the foster homes and adoptive parents that are sorely needed by the children at risk in our state.”

A resolution on voting urged believers to “cast their ballots in accordance with Christian principles and our nation’s Christian heritage.”

A resolution on appreciation commended convention leadership and the host church.

Messengers approved a 2009 Cooperative Program budget of $21 million that includes $8.88 million (42.17 percent) for national and international Southern Baptist Convention causes and $12.18 million (57.83 percent) for missions and ministries within Arkansas. The budget includes a 0.2 percent increase for SBC causes, the second such increase in a five-year plan to increase the SBC portion by 1 percent.

The 2009 budget represents a 2.5 percent increase over last year’s budget goal.

There were 664 registered messengers at the 2008 meeting. Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 3-4, 2009, at First Baptist Church in Benton.
Charlie Warren is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News (arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

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