ABSC Agencies and Institutions share reports from ministry at 2021 Annual Meeting

CABOT, Ark. – On October 26 and 27 agencies and institutions with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) presented reports to approximately 500 registered messengers at First Baptist Cabot on what their ministries had accomplished in the last year, and what their vision and goals are moving forward. Below is a recap of each presentation – if you’d like to watch the full annual meeting click here.  

Bruce Venable, Team Leader for College + Young Leaders Team 

Venable gave a brief history and summary of why the team was created and what their goal was and is to this day, which is reaching college students and young adults for the Kingdom. Several Baptist Collegiate Ministry ministers presented summaries and testimonies of things happening on their college campuses and how Arkansas Baptists are helping to impact students.  

To watch the full report, click here.  

Stan Norman, President of Williams Baptist University (WBU)  

Norman presented a video on Williams Works, a program that provides work opportunities for students so they can graduate debt free, sharing a few students’ stories on how it’s impacted them and their education. He stated that 626 students returned in the fall with a student increase of 20%. “Over the last three years, by God’s great blessing, we’ve seen enrollment increase by 31%.” It’s the most students they’ve seen in modern history.  

To watch the full report, click here.  

Bobby Thomas, President/CEO of Arkansas Baptist Foundation (ABF) 

Thomas shared instances of how the ABF is helping churches and entities around the state. Thomas mentioned that they’ve partnered with WBU and Williams Works to provide ministry accounting services through WatersEdge so students can gain a workforce skill and graduate debt free. Thomas also touched on their new 13th Check Program through Mission:Dignity which provides financial assistance to retirement-aged southern Baptist pastors, denominational workers and their surviving spouses.  

To watch the full report, click here.  

Bob Harper, Team Leader for the Missions Team 

The presentation opened with one of this year’s Dixie Jackson Missions Offering videos featuring Randy Garrett, Disaster Relief Director, and the Arkansas Baptist Disaster Relief teams. Garrett then gave a report on the most recent disaster to which they have been deployed, Hurricane Ida. Forty-six decisions of faith were made while there for 39 days. Sam Roberts, Assistant Team Leader for the Missions Team, reported on this year’s One Day: Serve Local event. “Over the past 2 years, we’ve seen 3,500 AR Baptists mobilize from 260 churches – they have witnessed to 3,400 and have recorded 231 salvations through local churches meeting needs and sharing Jesus.” He ended by sharing a video from Jay Ham at Church in the Dirt in Russellville and how One Day: Serve Local impacted a family that later joined their church. Clint Richie, Community Ministries Mobilization Specialist, shared highlights from this year’s October 2 One Day in Russellville/River Valley. About 1,100 people from 80 churches participated and that resulted in 112 professions of faith from 70 mission sites.  

To watch the full report, click here.  

Craig Jenkins, Director of Convention Advancement & News, Dixie Jackson 2021 Report 

Jenkins gave the report on this year’s Dixie Jackson Missions Offering. He went over the spiritual needs of creating a spiritual wildfire in the state of Arkansas and how it only takes a spark, which was this year’s theme. 2020 was a hard year for everyone as ministry needs changed and were even halted for some time. Despite those challenges, Arkansas Baptists stepped up, and the Holy Spirit moved throughout the state. Dixie Jackson influences a lot of what the teams at the ABSC can do.  Sandy Taylor, Ministry/Outreach Pastor at First Baptist Church in Dover gave a first-hand report on how One Day served their church’s community and how it was all made possible through the Dixie Jackson Missions Offering.  

To watch the full report, click here.  

Ben Sells, President of Ouachita Baptist University (OBU)  

“We really are better together,” Sells said, as he went over the numbers for OBU. Both Baptist universities had high enrollments. OBU has the highest enrollment in 55-years. In a state where general college enrollment is decreasing both OBU and WBU are increasing in enrollment. He also announced that OBU had its largest freshman class in history this year with 486 total. Sells also interviewed the new Dean of Pruet School of Christian Studies, Dr. Jeremy Greer.    

To watch the full report, click here.  

Derek Brown, Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist Children Home & Family Ministries 

Brown started by sharing from his heart on adoption and why they do what they do. He went on to talk about the creation of Living Well Counseling in Dec. 2019, right before COVID. “We went from a year with about 2,000 counseling sessions [in a year] that we were proud of to 1,000 counseling sessions a month in 2020. We have 30 locations and counting…Let us be your counseling resource,” Brown said.  

He also talked about how Connected Foster Care was created and encouraged families and churches to step up and provide care for these children. He introduced Connected Adoptions for private adoptions that are Christ-centered and provide what’s needed for the child. 

To watch the full report, click here (start at 1:00:46).  

Vince Blubaugh, Team Leader for the Church Planting Team 

Blubaugh, new to the ABSC, but not to church planting, introduced himself as a new face to the messengers and introduced his team. He then went on to cast the vision and goals for the Church Planting Team going forward. He introduced what he called the “Healthy Leadership Multiplying Strategy” and how each section would work to help create church plants and keep them healthy so they could complete their Gospel-driven mission. He also touched on the international populations that have yet to be reached through specific church plants in their areas, “God has brought the mission field to Arkansas. You can do Acts 1:8 and never have a passport.”  

To watch the full report, click here.  

Jason Wilkie, Executive Director and Director of Advancement at Camp Siloam 

Wilkie shared stories and testimonies about how Camp Siloam and other Southern Baptist ministries have impacted and ministered to students far beyond the camp itself and into various leadership roles while maintaining God’s call on their lives and serving Him in those roles. He also had the newest member on their team, Scott Maxwell, Director of Programs, introduce himself and give his own testimony of his experiences at camp.  

To watch the full report, click here.  

Will McKay, Team Leader for the Evangelism + Church Health Team 

McKay’s first in-person annual meeting started by introducing himself and sharing his journey to the convention from Monticello. He described 2020 like his son’s first experience on a rollercoaster and shared the emotions he went through and how they were probably all too familiar with what we all went through during COVID. It started as excitement and then faded but has begun to blossom again as renewed energy to see how God can work in our lives and ministries as well as engage people more urgent than ever for the Gospel. “We are compelled to help you,” McKay said. “Our team is here to help in whatever season you might find yourself.”  

To watch the full report, click here.  

Larry Page, Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council 

Page, as a representative and spokesperson for faith and ethics at the state government level, gave a legislation report. Page said he would be happy to give information regarding laws on things that change all the time – like providing armed security in churches, etc. He asked Larry Walker, attorney and CPA in Russellville and member of FBC Russellville, to talk about the proposed casino to be built in Pope County, the Russellville area specifically. Walker asked for prayer and support for the petition that Fair Play Arkansas has created to try and stop the casino in Pope County. He stated that the citizens voted against the measure in the county itself by a 69-31 vote, but because the majority of the state voted to approve the measure, the county was overruled in votes.   

To watch the full report, click here.  

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