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Church’s recovery from arson celebrated at Ariz. convention

TUCSON, Ariz. (BP)–For the first time since 1988, the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting was held outside the Phoenix area — at First Southern Baptist Church, Tucson.
The church experienced an arson-caused fire in February 1996 that left standing only the exterior walls of the sanctuary and fellowship hall. The rebuilt, remodeled facility is visible testimony that God can bring good from bad, speakers said.
A resolution of appreciation for the church noted, “First Southern … has reminded us this past year that the church is not inside four walls, nor can a catastrophe such as a fire dampen their missions spirit. … (T)he spirit of this church for missions can never be contained by a structure built by human hands.”
Demonstrating their support for missions beyond the state’s borders, messengers adopted a basic budget that increases from 19 to 20 percent the amount of Cooperative Program funds sent to Southern Baptist Convention ministries in North America and internationally.
The 1998 Arizona Cooperative Program goal is $3,121,817, with a basic budget of $2,838,016, a 1.79 percent increase over 1997, and an advance budget of $283,801. The first $120,000 received under the advance budget is allocated for “Portraits,” Arizona Southern Baptists’ new publication that replaced the “Baptist Beacon.” Eighteen percent of the amount received after the $120,000 is reached is allocated for SBC causes.
The 1998 Arizona Southern Baptist Convention composite budget of $135 million is comprised of the following: ASBC executive board, $1,489,468; Arizona Baptist Children’s Services, $5,872,555; Arizona church growth board, $906,633; Arizona state mission board, $1,964,498; Baptist Foundation of Arizona, $103,927,077; and Grand Canyon University, $21,022,500.
David Johnson, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Phoenix, was re-elected convention president. Bill Agee, executive director of Central Association of Southern Baptists, was elected first vice president, the lone nominee. Bret Burnett, pastor of West Yuma Southern Baptist Church, was elected second vice president in a two-nominee ballot.
Messengers adopted a resolution that noted the rapid population growth in the state and expressed “our heart’s desire:”
“1. That every person in Arizona experiences the opportunity to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and
“2. That every person has the privilege of having a God honoring, biblically based, local church family within driving distance of their residence.”
Another resolution expressed appreciation to Ross Hanna for modeling missions in Arizona. Hanna recently retired from the Southern Baptist Home Mission after serving in Arizona 32 years. He continues to serve as director of Caring/Sharing Ministries in Tucson.
Other resolutions expressed appreciation to Tucson’s Catalina Association for preparing for the convention and commended the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention agencies, boards of directors and presidents for their service.
The annual meeting drew an estimated 450 messengers representing the convention’s 396 churches and missions, encompassing 120,000 Baptists in Arizona.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 10-11 at First Southern Baptist Church, Phoenix.

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  • Elizabeth Young