FORT SMITH, Ark. – The goal of the Great Commission Baptist Association (GCBA) of the River Valley is to have one healthy Great Commission Baptist church for every 1,000 households in the Arkansas River Valley.
“Whatever it takes for there to be healthy Baptist churches, that is what we’re about,” Associational Missionary Jeff Thompson said. “Whether we need to plant them because there are not enough or we have to revitalize them, whatever it takes.”
The River Valley includes Sebastian, Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Scott and Johnson counties in Arkansas and Sequoyah and LeFlore counties in Oklahoma. It is a mission field shared with Clear Creek and Buckner Associations in Arkansas and LeFlore and East Central in Oklahoma. GCBA has about 60 historically affiliated churches and missions.
The association does whatever it can to assist, encourage and serve churches and church leaders. A few of the ongoing efforts to do that include a weekly pastors’ lunch, church health and missions strategy consulting, and theological education through the River Valley Bible Institute, a ministry made available in partnership with Buckner and Clear Creek associations through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Spurgeon College to provide creditable courses.
“For guys looking for theological education it’s a great deal,” Thompson said.
Additionally, the association has a church transition ministry and assists churches in obtaining demographics of their area and translating it into a practical ministry.
“That’s a big piece of what we do. We help churches have a good, clear objective picture of where they are at and where their community is at,” Thompson said.
Thompson was born into a Baptist preacher’s home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He and his four siblings were raised in a faithful Christian home.
While Thompson responded to the invitation and was baptized at First Baptist Church in Choctaw, Oklahoma, in 1970, it wasn’t until the summer of 1981 that he made his profession of faith during a pre-crusade prayer meeting at the Carter Park Baptist Church in Del City, Oklahoma.
The summer following his sophomore year in college, Thompson answered God’s call to ministry. Upon graduation from Oklahoma Baptist University and before leaving for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he was ordained to the Gospel Ministry on Jan. 8, 1989, at Carter Park.
While in seminary, Jeff served as student minister at Royal Haven Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. It was at Royal Haven he met Susie, his wife. They married in 1990. The couple has two sons and three grandchildren.
Thompson previously served as pastor of three churches and as an international Mission Board missionary. He has served as the associational missionary for the Great Commission Baptist Association of the River Valley in Fort Smith since October 2007.
Thompson currently serves as secretary/treasurer for the Arkansas Fellowship of Associational Leaders.
“It has been an incredible experience,” he said.
For more information about the association, visit gcba-rv.org.