FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (BP)–Arizona Southern Baptists raised their giving to worldwide missions and took another step toward providing a classroom building for the Arizona Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
“A New Day” was the theme of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention’s 79th annual session, attended by 288 messengers and 44 registered visitors at Little America Hotel in Flagstaff Nov. 13-14.
Elected to second one-year terms by acclamation were Jim Loui, president, a member of First Chinese Baptist Church, Phoenix, and Ernestina Herrera, second vice president, a member of La Casa de mi Padre, Douglas. Ryan Goebel, student ministry pastor at Mountain Ridge Baptist Church, Glendale, was elected as first vice president by acclamation.
Messengers adopted a $3,485,701 Cooperative Program budget and a $5,308,720 state convention operating budget for 2007. Next year’s Cooperative Program budget is a 2.2 percent increase over the present budget, and the operating budget is a 3.3 percent increase.
The budget calls for 25.5 percent of Cooperative Program gifts to be forwarded to SBC causes, up from 25 percent in 2007. While the ASBC allows churches to designate the percentages used in distributing their Cooperative Program gifts, 96.6 percent of Cooperative Program gifts are sent undesignated and will be distributed using the new formula.
Messengers to last year’s ASBC annual meeting adopted a Cooperative Program Growth Plan that moves the state convention toward giving an increasing percentage of receipts to SBC mission causes. Slated to begin with the 2009 budget, the plan was activated a year early because of increased Cooperative Program giving by Arizona churches.
The total $3,485,701 Cooperative Program budget will be distributed as follows: SBC Cooperative Program, $858,560; Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, $2,138,159; Arizona Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, $264,262; Arizona Baptist Children’s Services, $140,156; and Baptist Senior Life Ministries, $84,562.
Income sources in the ASBC operating budget include the $3,485,701 from Cooperative Program giving by Arizona churches, $1,653,888 from the North American Mission Board, $54,996 from LifeWay Christian Resources and $114,135 in other revenue.
Messengers adopted a report continuing the work of the construction study team. Joe Chan, committee chairman and pastor of Tucson Chinese Baptist Church, said the team had studied the zoning of the present ASBC site, determined the space needs for Golden Gate and the ASBC and ruled out the possibility of relocating rather than building on the present site. The next step is to apply for a school use permit with the city of Scottsdale, a process expected to take months.
The recommendation adopted by the messengers, and previously endorsed by the ASBC Convention Council, authorizes the team to begin a capital campaign to raise funds for its work and to obtain pledges for the construction project. The council, with a required 75 percent positive vote, will be authorized to make decisions on behalf of the convention before the 2008 annual meeting.
Under the terms of the adopted recommendation, the main use of the building will be for seminary students, and Cooperative Program funds will not be used for the project. The ASBC will not incur any mortgage debt and the project’s cost is capped at $1.5 million. Pledges will be subject to the ASBC’s final approval of the project.
Jeff Iorg, Golden Gate president, announced that the seminary anonymously donated $100,000 last July for the work of the study committee. The funds, accrued from the Arizona campus, will be used for work related to the school use application.
The seminary has suspended fundraising in Arizona for the past 12 months and will be a full partner in fundraising for the new building, Iorg said.
During their reports, both state missionary Steve Bass and David Johnson, director of Golden Gate’s Arizona campus, paid tribute to Dan C. Stringer, who died Oct. 2. Stringer, Bass’ predecessor, was ASBC executive director-treasurer at a critical time in the convention’s history and was instrumental in beginning the Arizona campus.
Messengers unanimously adopted five resolutions as a slate, which:
— committed to “actively participate in various ways outside the walls of our church buildings and improve our communities, state and nation, and [to] pray others will be drawn to the Light that is within us.”
— committed to faithfully pray for missionaries in Arizona, North America and around the world.
— expressed appreciation to Si Davis in the Grand Canyon Baptist Association and Arnie Sorrells in the Yavapai Baptist Association, who retired as directors of evangelism/missions in 2007.
— acknowledged the service of a number of state convention, association and church leaders who died in the past year.
— expressed appreciation to those who helped prepare for the annual meeting and committed to pray for the churches in northern Arizona.
The 2008 annual meeting will be Nov. 11-12 at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix.
Elizabeth Young is editor of Portraits, newsjournal of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention.