BENTON, Ark. (BP)–Exactly 777 messengers attended the 156th annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention at First Baptist Church in Benton Nov. 3-4, electing new ABSC officers, adopting a $21.5 million 2010 Cooperative Program budget and passing four resolutions.
Speakers and reports to the messengers focused almost entirely on the convention theme, “Reaching Generation Now,” which affirms a three-year focus on reaching older children and youth with the Gospel, discipling them and involving them in missions and ministries.
“Our convention was totally focused on reaching the next generation for Christ,” said Emil Turner, ABSC executive director.
Clay Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marion, was elected unopposed as ABSC president. Hallmark was elected first vice president at last year’s annual meeting. Wes George, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rogers, was ineligible for re-election as president after serving two one-year terms.
Randy Brantley of Little Rock, an evangelist and church growth consultant, was elected first vice president over Ferrell Duffel, pastor of First Baptist Church in Manila, by a ballot vote of 193-131.
Greg Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Warren, was elected unopposed as second vice president.
The only miscellaneous business to surface from the convention floor was a motion to dedicate the 2009 convention annual to Eddie McCord, a longtime Arkansas Baptist pastor who died Jan. 20. That motion drew no discussion and a unanimous vote.
The $21,496,500 budget for 2010 represents a 2.5 percent increase over the current budget. It includes $9,108,067 (42.37 percent, up from 42.17 percent in 2009) for Southern Baptist Convention causes and $12,388,433 (57.63 percent) for missions and ministries within Arkansas. With the new budget, the SBC portion of the budget will surpass the $9 million mark for the first time. Bob Hall, ABSC executive board president, noted it is the third consecutive year of percent-of-budget increases to SBC causes.
Resolutions included a strong reprimand of the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for “the proliferation of private clubs” in dry counties. The resolution urged the ABC Board to “respect the voters in dry counties who clearly expressed their desire to be free of the sale, manufacture, distribution or serving of alcohol” in their counties. The ABC Board allows restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages as “private clubs.” The resolution calls it “a mockery of the rule of law.”
Another resolution, on the ministry of the ABSC, affirmed the value and accomplishments of the various ABSC ministries and noted Cooperative Program funds given by Arkansas Baptist churches are “managed prudently” and allocated with a vision for reaching the state, nation and world with the Gospel. It further notes the value of associations, state conventions and the SBC in fulfilling the Acts 1:8 mandate.
“This resolution affirms our state convention in its use of Cooperative Program dollars and demonstrates that Arkansas Baptist pastors and church members both know about and approve of the Cooperative Program ministries across our state,” Turner said.
The other resolutions expressed gratitude and promised prayer for members of U.S. armed forces and appreciation to convention leaders and the host church. All resolutions passed unanimously without discussion.
The convention’s nominating committee report was approved with no challenges and no discussion. The committee nominates people to serve on the boards of ABSC entities and institutions.
The 2010 annual meeting will be Oct. 26-27 at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro.
Charlie Warren is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News (www.arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.