A look back at 2022: Arkansas Baptists serve local, across nations

From the retirement of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention executive director to a Chinese mission becoming an autonomous church after 23 years, Arkansas Baptists had a lot of news to share in 2022.

Here are a few highlights from throughout year.  

Tucker concludes 25 years at Arkansas Baptist State Convention  

After 25 years serving Arkansas Baptists through his work with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, Dr. J.D. “Sonny” Tucker announced his plans to retire, effective Dec. 31. 

Tucker has spent the last decade leading the organization as executive director.   

Dr. J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, left, stands with his wife, Nicki, behind a cake during a retirement reception. Tucker has served Arkansas Baptists through his work with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) for 25 years. He has spent the last decade doing this as ABSC executive director.

In retirement, Tucker looks forward to continuing to serve God by doing what he loves: passionately leading in “evangelism, church growth, church health, missions connection and investing in the next generation of leaders.”   

In November, the Executive Board of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention approved a recommendation from the ABSC Operating Committee on to name Dr. Rex Horne interim executive director.  

Arkansas Baptist Children & Family Ministries holds grand opening of new central office  

Furthering its mission to make families strong, the Arkansas Baptist Children & Family Ministries on Dec. 12 had the grand opening for its new headquarters in Little Rock.  

Located at the Markham Street Baptist Church campus, 9701 W. Markham St., the centralized location provides a statewide ministry hub for each of the ministries that encompass the organization and allows room to expand into new areas of ministries, providing Arkansas families with more resources for counseling, advocacy, foster care and adoption.      

“We’re not celebrating a building; we are celebrating a vision. Together, we’re united because of a shared vision. We have a vision of a better Arkansas. We have a vision of an Arkansas with healthy families,” Dr. Derek Brown, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist Children & Family Ministries, said during the ribbon cutting.  

ABSC, NAMB partner together to plant churches in Arkansas 

A new partnership between the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) will provide additional resources to start churches in high need areas throughout Arkansas. Approved at the August meeting of the ABSC Executive Board, the new Send Arkansas collaboration has begun.    

This new partnership means that now NAMB and the ABSC will collaborate in assessing, training, caring for and supporting ABSC church planters. The ABSC Church Planting Team will continue to care for church planters and provide retreat opportunities for planters and their spouses. 

Mission of Hope opens after 14 years of praying, waiting  

Mission of Hope food pantry and thrift store had a ribbon cutting in November.

 An outreach and ministry of Immanuel Baptist Church (IBC) in Carlisle, Mission of Hope provides food, clothes and other items to assist those in need in Carlisle and surrounding areas.  The official opening of the ministry center on Nov. 6 marked the culmination of a nearly 14-year journey of prayer, planning and preparation.  

Pastor Bill Ricks said that it has been a blessing through the process to see God provide and bring the church together with the purpose of meeting needs and sharing the Gospel. He sees the new ministry center to connect people to Jesus.   

“It’s a direct link to people that aren’t in our church family,” Ricks said. “It’s a place for people within our church family, and others, to serve. It’s a great tool for connecting with people, especially people that have been hurt in church or disenfranchised or just uncomfortable for some reason, whatever that is. So, it’s a great opportunity for service. It’s a doorway to bring people into the Kingdom and into the body.”   

‘Father to the fatherless’: Ukranian orphans receive love, security, safety 

Raised an Arkansas Baptist, Wendy Farrell is ministering to Ukrainian orphans through her non-profit, 1U Project.  

Step by step. That is how the Lord is teaching Wendy to walk out her faith. Motherhood can be a battle in and of itself, but Wendy isn’t just navigating the challenges of life that come with being married and having five daughters. As a caregiver and advocate for 31 Ukrainian children, she is leading her non-profit during actual warfare.   

According to the 1U Project website, one person expressing their faith in Christ through loving and serving another can make a life changing impact.  

“We believe that every single life is valuable, and that every single person can make a difference. It is the purpose of 1U Project to channel the God given strengths, talents, and prayers of individuals into serving those in need. It is our desire to provide practical, monetary, and spiritual resources to existing ministries and individuals that serve impoverished orphans and families in Ukraine.”

Verse by verse: Bible Drill equips generations 

 “The Lord can’t bring anything back to you that you haven’t learned in the first place,” Charlotte Gray said.   

This simple truth proves the importance of a ministry that Gray believes is becoming more relevant with every day that passes. This ministry is Bible Drill.   

Charlotte Gray is shown above with her daughter, granddaughter and great grandson.

Bible Drill challenges students to memorize all the books of the Bible as well as key scriptures. This challenge changed both the lives of the kids she led in Bible Drill and her own. She watched a young man who complained about being at Bible Drill every week become a deacon in her church as an adult. She persevered as her own loved ones passed away. Her steadfast spirit inspired her family and beyond.   

Gray’s Bible Drill ministry even reached out across denominations and ages, with parents of children who went to different churches joining in on Sunday nights to learn Bible verse after Bible verse.  

Chinese mission becomes autonomous church after 23 years 

After more than two decades, the members of the former Chinese Language Mission of Immanuel Baptist in Little Rock realized their dream and vision of becoming an autonomous church.  

In July, the church moved from their home of 23 years to a new location to officially began their journey as the Immanuel Little Rock Chinese Baptist Church.   

WBU breaks ground on meat processing facility, dedicates store  

Williams Baptist University (WBU) officially broke ground on April 8 on a 4,200 square foot United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified meat processing facility. 

The facility will help address the shortage of meat processors in the state of Arkansas and help train and educate new workers within the field. The facility will also provide jobs to students in WBU’s Williams Works initiative, which gives them the opportunity to work there through college to receive a debt-free degree.  

Additionally, WBU held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony on April 8 for its new Williams Corner store that features produce and bedding flowers, grown by the students at WBU’s Eagle Farms, and other gifts.   

Churches serve local  

 Hundreds of Arkansas Baptists on April 9 to served their communities during the annual One Day: Serve Local initiative.  More than 99 professions of faith were reported.  

A wide range of ministries were performed, including block parties, community and school improvement projects, door-to-door evangelism, and prayer walking. Being the weekend before Easter also opened the door for multiple egg hunts, along with most ministries involving an invitation to Easter services.  
The ministry projects met personal and community needs, and churches were encouraged to focus on having Gospel conversations. Through the faithful giving of Arkansas Baptists to the Cooperative Program and the Dixie Jackson State Missions Offering, the ABSC Missions Team was able to provide one of three evangelism resources to registered churches: King’s Witness Bracelets, Three Circles phone stickers, or Evangecubes.

Arkansas Baptist Disaster Relief delivers help, healing and hope to Ukrainian refugees  

Arkansas Baptist State Convention Disaster Relief partnered with the IMB and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief international crisis response efforts (SEND Relief) in Romania.

 Arkansas Baptist Disaster Relief (ABDR) volunteers stand ready to offer “help, healing and hope” to those impacted by disasters. Through the years, these faithful servants have ministered to disaster survivors not only throughout Arkansas, but in such faraway places as Texas, Louisiana, Florida and even New York. Whenever and wherever, there are needs, that is where you will find the “yellow shirts” from Arkansas.    

Events in Ukraine provided a unique opportunity for Arkansas Baptist Disaster Relief to expand its ministry all the way to Bucharest, Romania.  The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created the largest movement of people in Europe since World War II as more than 3.5 million Ukrainians have sought safety in bordering nations. This unprecedented event has led Arkansas Baptist Disaster Relief to partner with the IMB, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief international crisis response efforts (SEND Relief), and local Romanian Baptist pastors to minister to refugees in the country of Romania. 

This article is a compilation of previous articles shared throughout the year.

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