The White River Baptist Association was formed in 1840. That is four years after Arkansas became a state, five years before the Southern Baptist Convention was formed and eight years before the formation of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Stace Cupples has been the associational missionary of the second oldest association in Arkansas for the last seven years.
Born in Arkadelphia, Cupples left Arkansas at an early age when his family moved out of state. He grew up in the home of a pastor and director of missions.
“I have been a part of associational missions almost all my life because my father was an associational missionary for many years,” Cupples said. “I never expected to come back to associational missions. I had plenty of things that I could have done and never thought this would be it.”
In fact, Cupples said he tried to keep from doing associational missionary work, but God had other plans.
Prior to taking the role at White River Baptist Association, Cupples served as a pastor in Missouri, worked in Christian radio broadcasting for a few years, attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, became a church planter and spent most of his pastoring years in Nevada.
In 2016, God provided Cupples the opportunity to return to Arkansas. Not knowing for certain what that opportunity would entail, he took it.
“We left Nevada not with intention of thinking we’d be in associational missions. God just gave that to us. When He called us out here it was just a joy for us to do that. I would not rather do anything else. I’d rather be here,” Cupples said. “We came out here and fell in love with it. It has been a joy.”
According to Cupples, the goal for this association is to be unified, be a family of churches and to work together as a family of churches.
“It is really neat to see what God is doing with this family of churches here,” Cupples said.
The association comprises 30 Southern Baptist churches in Baxter and Marion Counties. Those 30 Southern Baptist churches average attendance from 10 people to 2,000 depending on the day.
Cupples described the association’s population and geographical location as “unique.”
“We have a very unique place. If you want to visit some place in Arkansas and you want to feel like you are going someplace to visit, this would be the place to go. We’re just a very unique place out here,” Cupples said.
For more information about White River Baptist Association, visit www.whiteriverba.com.