Online Learning ...
With E-Quip: Just On Time training for leaders.
Watching God at work through Arizona Southern Baptists.
ASBC messengers affirm centennial vision
By Elizabeth Young
Arizona Southern Baptists adopted new mission and vision statements that will guide their work for the next 15 years at their annual meeting Nov. 15 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Tucson.
Arizona Southern Baptist Convention President Chad Garrison, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Lake Havasu City, described the single afternoon session as "more like a revival" than "a giant business meeting."
During the session, messengers elected three officers by acclamation and adopted a 2014 Cooperative Program budget of $3,180,000. Prior to the worship and business session, Arizona Southern Baptists participated in a mission fair with 25 booths presenting the ministries of the convention and other opportunities to be on mission.
The 288 messengers and 56 guests representing the convention's 445 churches stood to affirm unanimously the mission and vision statements presented by David W. Johnson, who became the state convention executive director in June.
The adoption of the mission statement -- "Working together to make disciples of all peoples in Arizona and around the world" -- comes at a critical time for Arizona Southern Baptists. Statistical studies conducted earlier in the year show "we have more resources, more churches and more people to reach and are less effective than any time in our history," Johnson said. "Something has to change if we hope to reach our state for Christ."
With a meeting theme of "Arizona: Our Mission Field, Be a Part of It," Johnson called for Arizona Southern Baptists to take responsibility for their state.
"Instead of making excuses about why we cannot act or grumbling about a lack of funding, it is time for Arizona Southern Baptists to step up to do what is necessary to reach our state for Christ," he said.
The vision statement paints a picture of Arizona Southern Baptists in 2028, when the convention will celebrate its 100th anniversary. It calls for:
--1,000 churches with an average attendance of 150 with 100 in Bible Study, baptizing at least 12 persons per year, and giving an average of 10 percent or more to missions through the Cooperative Program;
--over half of the churches being Hispanic or non-Anglo;
--at least 52 churches per year being started by the growing number of healthy and revitalized churches;
--the convention giving 50 percent of its Cooperative Program receipts to missions outside Arizona through the Southern Baptist Convention;
--Arizona Southern Baptists working together to support a seminary campus, ministries to children, youth, college students, families and senior adults, in addition to counseling and disaster relief to help fulfill their shared mission; and
--churches sending out 5,000 people on short-term or long-term missions and 500 people entering full-time ministry each year.
The centennial vision includes core values of biblical authority, Great Commission, local church, diversity in unity, innovation, relationship and prayer.
"With the Bible as our authority, we believe the Great Commission is our mandate and the local church is God's instrument," Johnson said. "We must reach out to all peoples in our state if our churches are to reflect the population, so diversity in unity is crucial. To do that, we will need to be innovative and place a high value on relationship with each other. We recognize that nothing of eternal value can ever be done without divine empowerment, so prayer is of utmost importance."
Johnson described the vision as "our marching orders for the next 15 years" and "our mandate for what we do." The vision belongs to the churches, not just the Convention Council or staff, he said.
"There is no convention without the churches," he said. "Our churches must come together to work on this vision to accomplish what God has for us. If we agree that this is the vision God is leading us to embrace, then I will do everything I can to lead us to accomplish it."
Johnson introduced guest speaker Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, whose church donated a van to Johnson's church years ago when both men were fellow pastors in Texas.
"When I think about working together, I don't just think about what we give," Johnson said. "I think about churches helping churches. I think about this family relationship. ... I want to tell you Arizona Southern Baptists, it is time for us to work together."
Stating that "that which we do best we do together," Page challenged churches to "do more than you've ever done before working together." He encouraged churches to accept the challenge to increase their Cooperative Program giving by one percent.
"When we ask you to give more," he said, "we want you to be a part of something that is greater than you are. We want you to be a part of sending missionaries to places ... where you will never even visit. ... We're looking at starting 15,000 churches across this continent in the next 10 years. You, together with other Southern Baptist churches, can plant churches in places you'll only see on a map. I ask you to be part of a movement of God."
Chad Garrison challenged leaders to be champions for missions and the Cooperative Program in their churches.
"As a pastor starting off in a little church in Lake Havasu City 21 years ago, I know how tempting it is to say we can't afford to do it," he said. However, through the years, his church has increased its missions budget from 12 percent to 20 percent and the church has grown dramatically.
"There's a direct correlation from our generosity to the blessings of God flowing through our ministry," he said. "If we actually believe that we can't afford to give more away to the work of God, to His kingdom's purpose, we don't understand how God's grace flows in His work."
Messengers adopted a $3,180,000 Cooperative Program budget and a $4,500,612 state convention operating budget for 2014. The Cooperative Program budget remains unchanged since 2011.
The budget calls for 26.05 percent of Cooperative Program gifts to be forwarded to SBC causes, also unchanged since 2011.
The Cooperative Program budget will be distributed as follows: SBC Cooperative Program, $828,390; Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, $1,913,911; Arizona Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, $236,550; Arizona Baptist Children's Services, $125,456; and Baptist Senior Life Ministries, $75,693.
Income sources in the ASBC operating budget beyond Cooperative Program giving by Arizona churches include $988,367 from the North American Mission Board, $118,800 in church gifts designated for specifically for Arizona ministries, $54,996 from LifeWay Christian Resources, $20,000 in trust income designated for the Cooperative Program, and $59,560 in other revenue.
Chad Garrison was elected to a second term as president by acclamation.
Also elected by acclamation were Sean Haynes, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Tucson, as first vice president and Debra Wolfrey, education director for Valley Rim Southern Baptist Association and a member of Pinnacle Church, Scottsdale, as second vice president.
During worship, two pastors talked about how God is blessing their churches.
When he preached on baptism and presented the plan of salvation on a recent Sunday, said Ben Barfield, pastor of Common Ground Church, Sahuarita, the church planned to baptize seven people but ended up baptizing 31 when others responded to the invitation. On another Sunday, more than 700 marked New Testaments were distributed during the two morning worship services. Church members were asked to write the name of the person with whom they would share the New Testament.
"God is moving in Sahuarita, Arizona," Barfield said.
Josue Castro, pastor of Tierra Fertil, Yuma, told how two-and-a-half years ago, the church, now 11 years old, decided it was time to be on their own, and they remodeled a rented commercial suite for worship. Now the space, with a capacity of 200, is too small for the two Sunday morning worship services.
Castro requested prayer as the church decides whether to add a third service or rent a bigger building requiring a large financial commitment.
Although the church dreams of owning their own building, Castro said, they are "neither dismayed nor discouraged."
"We know who is by our side, and He has been with us always," Castro said. "We will not cease in sharing the gospel with our city and those who need it."
Englewood Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn., was recognized for their ongoing partnership with Arizona Southern Baptists. The church "has poured many dollars and people into our state, coming here to do ministry and to encourage work and now are partnering directly with [a church planter] here in Tucson in the start of a new church," Johnson said.
Representing Englewood were Stephanie and David Taylor, associate pastor of education and outreach, and church members David and Tracey Holmes. Holmes serves as Caribbean partnership coordinator with Arizona Southern Baptists.