Being the hands and feet of Jesus to a community

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This article was written by Langley Leverett. Leverett is a senior at Ouachita Baptist University. She is a double major in English and Mass Communications; she loves to journal, read and hike in the Ozarks.

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A man with many irons in the fire, Anthony Banks is a husband and a father of three children. He is a pastor, a mentor, and a dependable hand in his community. Focused on Scripture and bringing actuality to its truth, Banks is determined to see the harvest in full bloom.

Formerly a director for Parks and Recreation in West Helena, AR, Banks decided to switch careers and to pursue ministry full time. After completing his Associate Degree in Arts at Liberty University in 2014, Banks received a call to plant a church. He is now a bi-vocational pastor for New Beginnings Fellowship Church in Marion, AR (NBFC) and Second Baptist Church in Turrell, AR (SBC). He leads NBFC as a community missions pastor and is the lead pastor at SBC.

“I’m originally from West Helena. In 2015, I started to receive a call for being a pastor,” Banks said. “So at the beginning of 2016, the Lord put some places in my mind and they just came available. I started praying.”

Banks was an associate pastor at a church in West Helena for over a year in 2015 and 2016. However, there was an opening in Turrell and Banks decided to plant a new church in that community.

“There was a church in Turrell that previously closed down because there weren’t enough finances and membership had dropped,” Banks said. “So the Lord sent me there and we planted a new plant in that building in April of 2016.”

As a new lead pastor, Banks understands the difficulties of starting a new church and realizes that partnership is important. Collaborating with other churches is part of Banks’ intention for a unified church body.

“The first service was on May 1. So in July, I partnered with a church in Rogers. Members from the church in Rogers came down and we had our first backyard Bible camp,” Banks said. “That’s when I started launching other things to help. We also do a back-to-school drive and an angel tree for Christmas. I try to partner up with every church in the community. The purpose of the church is to reach all of God’s children. The Lord gave me a vision to make this work.”

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Along with education and Christmas-time ministries, SBC partners with a food pantry called Hope House in West Memphis to feed people in parts of Crittenden County. This expanse covers the areas of Marion, Turrell, and West Memphis. SBC works with other churches, including NBFC to pool resources to make charitable efforts as broad as possible.

“Hope House will call me and say ‘hey, we have some food this week,’ and I’ll take my van to pick up plenty of food for a city-wide distribution,” Banks said. “In Marion, it’s more of a site distribution, but in Turrell, I’ll take some volunteers from Marion, and they’ll help me. That gives us some collaboration within the two churches.”

Along with being a lead pastor at SBC, Banks serves as a community missions pastor at NBFC as a way to alleviate the stress of multi-tasking within leadership roles. He thought of the idea of this role after reading the book of Acts.

“In the book of Acts, with the first church of Antioch, they were forming the office of the deacons of the church,” Banks said. “It says to look out among you and find seven men full of the Holy Spirit, and that the purpose of those men was to take the pressure off of the pastor so that the pastor could focus on the word.”

In this role, Banks serves as a sort of ‘middleman,’ a go-between for the church to rely upon. His role includes teaching others how to plant churches, ministering to kids, feeding the community, and working with other nonprofits throughout Crittenden County.

“I believe wholeheartedly that the church’s responsibility is to meet the needs of the community that it exists in. As a pastor, I go out and I seek resources to come in and be a source for the community, whether that be food, clothing, or whatever it takes to meet the needs.”

At the heart of Banks’ vision is a church body that is determined to be the hands and feet of Christ. He strives for a type of cooperation that extends beyond the walls of the church, and into the homes and lives of the community.

“I have found that so many churches don’t fellowship with one another. We may be in a different building but we are supposed to be part of the same body,” Banks said. “Part of my vision as a missions pastor is to bring more churches together, and to get away from that former mentality.”

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