LITTLE ROCK – Three new Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) team members were recognized, and potential missions partnerships were discussed during the Aug. 13 ABSC Executive Board meeting.
Recently hired ABSC staff members recognized during the meeting included Sam Roberts, missions team assistant team leader; Tyler Hoffpauir, Arkansas State University (ASU) Baptist Collegiate Ministry campus minister; and Laramie LeQuieu, leadership specialist for the church health team.
Roberts is a former president of the ABSC and most recently served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Stuttgart. Hoffpauir, a graduate of ASU, most recently served as Baptist Student Union director at Southwest Mississippi Community College in Summit, Miss. LeQuieu most recently served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Rector.
Ken Shaddox, senior pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church, North Little Rock, and chairman of the ABSC Program Committee, presented a recommendation for the 2020 ABSC team goals. The goals were based around “3 Essential Intents”: 1) “strengthening our churches,” 2) “impacting the next generation with the gospel and reaching students before losing another generation,” and 3) “reaching the unengaged, unreached, and underserved with the gospel … (with a focus on) peoples who do not have access to the gospel.”
Cathy Brandt, member of First Baptist Church, Harrison, and chairman of the ABSC Finance Committee, presented a recommendation to approve the 2020 ABSC budget. The recommended unified Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2020 was once again $21 million – equal to the 2019 budget.
“It is a wonderful budget, continuing toward reducing the amount of money that we keep out of the Cooperative Program and sharing more with the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Brandt.
ABSC Executive Director J.D. “Sonny” Tucker spoke on behalf of the budget recommendation.
“I tend to give too much information but … what bothers me is when somebody walks away and thinks, ‘They’re hiding things,’ or ‘They don’t want us to know,’ and I just didn’t say anything,” said Tucker. “I want you to feel like this is your budget, and I want you to understand that we operate with both hands on top of the table.”
Team goals and budget for 2020 were both approved unanimously.
Tucker noted a procedural change making all of the ABSC’s teams eligible to receive Dixie Jackson State Missions Offering funds. In the past only the ABSC’s missions team had access to these funds.
“I changed it because all of our teams do missions in some form or fashion,” said Tucker. “If it’s really in the gut and it’s red meat, then they ought to get some Dixie Jackson money.”
In response to a question, Greg Addison, associate executive director of the ABSC, said that the executive and administrative team is currently funding safety training programs and is carrying out safety training in cooperation with other ABSC teams.
Tucker shared about the agencies and institutions of the ABSC and the financial support and accountability that they receive from the convention.
“The convention is either their (agencies and institutions’) sole member or functions as their sole member. Our state convention picks their trustees. They are accountable back to the convention. Do you understand that they have to get their budget approved, the CP portion, by the convention? Do you understand that if they change anything in their by-laws, it has to be brought before the group? If they change ‘a’ to ‘an,’ it has to be voted on. That’s real tight connection. That’s real tight accountability. They don’t have to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message … (but) agencies and institutions have to function within the framework of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message,”
said Tucker. “It’s a real tight accountability, and you give them a very small portion of their budget for that accountability.
“We owe them (agencies and institutions) love and support and encouragement. Their burdens are our burdens. Because they are accountable to us, it’s not just about, ‘We are going to hold you accountable,’ we are accountable to love them and support them and to be connected to them. Their needs are our needs. Their hurts are our hurts. Their focus is our focus. Their celebrations are our celebrations. And Arkansas Baptists have got to buy into this system and affirm this in a big way.”
Representatives from Arkansas Baptist agencies and institutions shared about their current initiatives they are excited about and how Arkansas Baptists can best support them.
Executive Board members broke into small groups and discussed potential missions opportunities locally by annually targeting, as a convention, the top five most challenging places in Arkansas to serve, nationally between the ABSC and other state conventions including Kansas-Nebraska and Hawaii, and internationally in Europe in partnership with the International Mission Board.
“Do we do something as a state? That’s what we are really looking at,” said Tucker. “So far we’ve really kind of let churches do their individual thing, and the missions team tries to support that.”
Numerous comments were given on the various missions opportunities presented. Board members were generally excited about the opportunity for new statewide missions partnerships. The need for a significant follow-up process following missions projects, identifying strategies for improving missions engagement within churches, making missions opportunities affordable and making sure that missions efforts are effective – in part by working and collaborating with existing field missionaries – were some of the topics addressed during discussion.
Eighteen Executive Board members completed their service and were recognized during the meeting.
Contact Caleb Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.