Ark. Baptists pray, worship and send at annual meeting

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LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Baptists and guests gathered in the state’s capital city for their 166th annual meeting Oct. 22-23, to worship, celebrate ministry successes, carry out business, send missionaries and to take a stand on numerous hot topic issues confronting the Church and nation.

Marking the lowest number of registered messengers in the past 40 years, messengers meeting at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, Little Rock, approved resolutions affirming God’s design on gender, marriage, sexuality and personal identity; opposing pornography, sexual abuse, legalized casinos and recreational marijuana, and reaffirming a commitment to scriptural integrity in political engagement.

Themed Fulfill Your Call, the meeting recorded fewer than 500 registered messengers for the first time in recent history. Officials with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) reported 465 registered messengers, representing 199 churches across the state. In 2016, when the annual meeting was last held in Little Rock at Immanuel Baptist Church, 543 messengers attended. In 2005, the last year the meeting was held at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, 939 messengers attended.

Annual Meeting attendance has declined since 1979, with the exception of 1993 when 1,831 registered messengers gathered at Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock.

Officers elected

Greg Sykes, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Russellville, presided over the meeting, ending a second term as president.

The new convention president elected was Manley Beasley, Jr., senior pastor of Hot Springs Baptist Church, Hot Springs. Ken Shaddox, senior pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock, was elected first vice president, and Jamar Andrews, lead pastor of Word Baptist Church, Jonesboro, was elected second vice president.

Sermons, prayer, worship

Messengers heard sermons from Sykes and Andrews; Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and former senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, and J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, ABSC executive director.

Worship times were led by Robert Ramsey, worship pastor of First Baptist Church, Russellville; the Ouachita Baptist University worship team, and Jon Skelley, worship pastor of Geyer Springs First Baptist Church.

Periods of focused prayer during the meeting were led by Don Moore, state prayer ambassador and former ABSC executive director; Tucker and Sykes.

Ministry, board reports

ABSC Executive Board (EB) teams and ministries shared various reports during the meeting, including testimonies about God’s work throughout Arkansas, the nation and world, along with various ABSC agencies and institutions.

Beasley, president of the ABSC EB, gave the EB report Tuesday morning, Oct. 22. The EB’s recommended 2020 budget of $21 million, with 45.42 percent going to national Southern Baptist causes, was approved. ABSC team goals for 2020 were also approved by messengers.

Nominations and business

The convention’s Nominating Committee report was approved on Tuesday morning, Oct. 22, with no challenges and no discussion. The committee nominates people to serve on boards of ABSC entities and institutions.

Celebration and prayer focus

Tuesday evening, Oct. 22, began with worship and an emphasis on the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions

Offering and the Arkansas prison ministry, followed by a concert of praise by the Master’Singers and the annual ABSC executive director’s message. To conclude the evening, pastors and ministers representing various ministries from across Arkansas participated in a commissioning service.

Related activities

Exhibits from numerous ABSC teams, agencies and institutions, as well as several SBC affiliates, were set up in the gymnasium at the church. A block party was held on the grounds of Geyer Springs First Baptist Church, to demonstrate for church leaders how to conduct block parties in their communities.

A complimentary lunch was served by disaster relief volunteers during the gathering and various lunches and dinners were held for specific groups during the annual meeting.

The Link, Agencies + Institutions Fellowship was conducted on Monday evening, Oct. 21, following the ABSC Pastors’ Conference.

The 2020 annual meeting will be held Oct. 20-21 at First Baptist Church, Rogers.

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