Arkansas Baptist churches reported a 15% increase in baptisms last year with the overall total reaching 6,233, up from 5,411 the previous year.
Annual reports submitted to the Convention by the state’s congregations show baptisms have risen by 33% from the 4,664 reported in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was gripping the state.
“When we think about the fact that baptisms are trending positively that is good. Hopefully that trend will continue,” Arkansas Baptist State Convention Director of Convention Administration Marcus Brown said.
The reported baptisms show God at work in the state despite the decreased number of reporting congregations. That number decreased by 6% during the same period, dropping from 1,140 in 2020 to 1,066 in 2022.
Additionally, there were 155 churches in 2022 that reported more than 10 baptisms, an increase from the 111 churches in 2021.
On a national level, a Baptist Press article reported in 2022 Southern Baptist congregations baptized 180,177 people, a 16.47% increase over 2021.
States with the most baptisms in Southern Baptist congregations in 2022 were Florida (22,015), Texas (20,540), Tennessee (15,975), Georgia (15,021) and North Carolina (11,325).
Already the fruit of God’s work can be seen in 2023 throughout Arkansas.
For instance, on May 21 First Baptist Church in White Hall saw five come to salvation through baptism, bringing the church’s total baptisms for the year to 14.
Photo submitted by White Hall Baptist Church
“God is doing incredible things,” Pastor Paul Williams said. “It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the fact that we are seeing the fruit of what God is able to do through prayer and focusing on the Gospel of Jesus.”
Briefly mentioning the recent 16-day spontaneous spiritual revival on Asbury University’s campus in Kentucky, Williams said there is evidence all throughout history of revivals.
“Revival is just our awareness of the working of God in our lives to bring repentance and salvation. It doesn’t have to be in a service. It doesn’t have to be in a weekend rally. It can be in our everyday lives that we experience revival if we’re just open to the fact of what God is doing to bring salvation to His people through the Gospel,” Williams said. “So, I say, we may be experiencing revival and not really know that it’s a revival we are in because we are so used to this is what a revival has to be. God changing lives, in my opinion, that is a revival.”
On April 29, the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Missions Team held its first medical-dental clinic of the year at Iglesia Bautista Roca Fuerte (Strong Rock Baptist Church) in Little Rock. The clinic saw 28 professions of faith.
During the April 2 Serve Local event, a missions movement where churches plan and participate in service-based mission projects to make Kingdom impact on their local community, more than 75 professions of faith were reported.
At New Life Baptist Church in Alexander, they have seen 67 baptisms so far for 2023. Since COVID, they have had a total of 169.
Photo submitted by New Life Baptist Church
“We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” Pastor John Venable said. “I don’t know what happened during COVID. Obviously, a lot of people saw a lot of different things go in a lot of different directions, but we saw revival. Not like an explosive or all at once kind of thing, but a steady, gradual movement of God. It’s been really neat just to watch God work. It’s been all Him.”