LITTLE ROCK (BP) — Focusing on the theme “Engage,” messengers gathered for the 163rd annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) held Oct. 25-26 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock.
During the two-day meeting, Arkansas Baptists worshipped and prayed together, conducted business, approved eight resolutions and agreed to increase the percentage of Cooperative Programs dollars they send to Southern Baptist Convention national and international causes.
ABSC leaders reported 545 registered messengers from various churches across the state. The actual number of attendees was much higher, but the ABSC does not record guest attendance. Messengers attending the 2015 annual meeting in Hot Springs numbered 615.
Comparatively, messengers at the 2014 meeting in Texarkana numbered 515, while the 2013 meeting in Rogers attracted 591 messengers.
Messengers approved a $21 million unified Cooperative Program (CP) budget proposal, which is $1 million shy of the $22 million budget approved in previous years. The $21 million proposed budget “accurately reflects the current Cooperative Program income of the ABSC,” J.D. (Sonny) Tucker, ABSC executive director, told the ABSC Executive Board in its August meeting. In past years the convention had proposed budgets that fell short of projections.
In approving the budget, Arkansas Baptists agreed to fund a new budget formula that increases the percentage of CP dollars Arkansas Baptists send to SBC causes from 43.77 percent to 45.82 percent by 2022 — joining other state conventions in either achieving or moving closer to a 50/50 split in the portion of its CP receipts given to SBC missions and ministries versus what it keeps in the state.
Sam Roberts, pastor of First Baptist Church, Stuttgart, was re-elected president of the convention after serving the unexpired term of Gary Hollingsworth, who was elected executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention shortly following his election as president.
Other officers elected were John McCallum, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hot Springs, first vice president, and Craig Collier, pastor of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, Jacksonville, second vice president.
Messengers approved a total of eight resolutions, including resolutions addressing human trafficking, gender dysphoria, medical marijuana, religious liberty and racial reconciliation. Read full text of resolutions here.)
ABSC Executive Board teams and ministries and Arkansas Baptists shared various reports during the meeting, including testimonies about church planting, impact stories from work funded through the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering and other work around the state such as one-day mission trips.
There were several times of focused prayer throughout the meeting led by Don Moore, retired ABSC executive director; Bill Elliff of the Summit Church, North Little Rock; and Manley Beasley Jr. of Hot Springs Baptist Church.
Worship times during the meeting were led by Scott Quimby of First Baptist Church, Stuttgart; the worship team from First Baptist Church, Sherwood; and Larry Grayson of the ABSC Executive Board staff. In addition, messengers and guests enjoyed performances by Master’Singers and the Williams Singers from Williams Baptist College.
Roberts moderated a panel discussion Oct. 25 during the afternoon session that included Steven Bell, pastor of Otter Creek Community Church in Little Rock; Brad Lewter, pastor of Grand Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Smith; McCallum; Jason Miller, associate pastor at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, Little Rock; Chanson Newborn, pastor of Fellowship Community Church, Forrest City; and Jason Tallent, pastor of First Baptist Church, Cabot.
The panel discussed strategies that they have used in order to lead their churches to engage their community with the Gospel.
— 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.
— A block party was held on the grounds of Immanuel Baptist Church to demonstrate for church leaders how to hold block parties in their own churches.
— During a brief Executive Board meeting Oct. 25, Rob Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church, Harrison, was elected president of the board and Dale Walker, pastor of Concord Baptist Church, Van Buren, was elected vice president.
The 2017 annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention will be held Nov. 7-8 at First Baptist Church, Russellville.