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Arkansas Baptists approve 2000 Baptist Faith & Message

CABOT, Ark. (BP)–Messengers to the annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, Oct. 29-30 at First Baptist Church of Cabot, Ark., voted overwhelmingly for the second consecutive year to make the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message statement the doctrinal guideline for Arkansas Baptists.

It was the final step in revising the convention’s articles of incorporation to include the 2000 doctrinal statement. Such constitutional revisions require a two-thirds majority at two consecutive conventions. Last year 69.5 percent approved the amendment.

Of this year’s 1,168 correctly marked ballots, 885 (75.77 percent) favored the action and 283 were opposed.

The action was taken without discussion despite the fact that ABSC President Jim Lagrone, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Bryant, offered the 1,300-plus messengers an opportunity to discuss the matter.

“I long for the day in Arkansas Baptist State Convention life when we no longer come wanting to be a winner or a loser,” Lagrone said. “For the 283 folks that voted against that [the action], you are my friends. You were my friends before you voted and you are still my friends after you voted. I visited with much of the leadership in opposition to this during the past year and they told me that all they wanted was a seat at the Baptist table in Arkansas. I have not ever pushed them away from that table. They are a part of us. … We came to this place praying that we would be one and I’m praying that when we leave this place, we will be one.”

Messengers reelected all three convention officers to a second term, including Lagrone; Royce Sweatman, associational missionary for the North Arkansas Baptist Association, first vice president; and Wallace Edgar, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church of Texarkana, second vice president. Each was reelected without opposition.

In other business, messengers adopted a $19.5 million 2003 Cooperative Program budget, of which 41.77 percent will continue to be forwarded to Southern Baptist Convention international and national missions and ministries.

The ABSC missions partnership with Sao Paulo, Brazil, was extended for three years, beginning Jan. 1 and ending Dec. 31, 2005.

The convention also passed resolutions opposing gambling, encouraging programs and services to children at risk and calling for unity.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 4-5 at University Baptist Church in Fayetteville.

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