VBS Equipping events set for April

How does Vacation Bible School remain an effective tool for sharing the gospel with communities across the state?
The answer, said Cheri Dempsay, state VBS director, is “training [that] helps motivate, prepare and energize church leaders to go into their communities and reach children and their families with the gospel message.”

This year’s VBS theme is “Galactic Starveyors: Searching the Visible, Discovering the Invisible.” Children will examine theme verses Colossians 1:15-16 and study the invisible God who deeply desires a personal relationship with them.

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CP giving posts three-year increase

Arizona Southern Baptists’ giving through the Cooperative Program increased for the third straight year, and the Arizona Mission Offering goal was surpassed in 2016.

“Arizona Southern Baptists continue to demonstrate generous giving and a heart for missions through the Cooperative Program,” said David Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention executive director. “Our churches have given more each year for three years in a row, surpassing giving levels since 2009. It is a great testimony to working together in the Centennial Vision God has given us.”

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Phoenix set to host SBC meeting

“Pray! For Such a Time as This” is the theme for the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 13-14 at the Phoenix Convention Center, SBC President Steve Gaines has announced. The theme is based on Esther 4:14 and Luke 11:1.

“The Southern Baptist Convention needs to be a people of prayer,” Gaines said. “Only then will God send the power we need to fulfill the Great Commission.”

Gaines has urged Southern Baptists to attend the annual meeting.<p>
“Just like we want people to attend our church meetings, we should want to attend the gathering of the SBC,” Gaines said. “We come together to learn what God is doing through the various SBC entities, but we also gather to pray for our nation and be encouraged.”

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By All Means: WMU celebrates missions

Baptists from across Arizona gathered Feb. 17-18 at CrossPoinTempe Church for the annual meeting of Arizona Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). Pastor Bob Dodridge greeted the attendees with thanksgiving for the important work of WMU in keeping churches focused on missions.

The mission celebration was attended by 80 people representing 15 churches.

“We have no other forum statewide to present the challenge of every person having a personal connection to mission involvement,” said Arizona WMU President Nadine Peterson. “Our desire is to especially challenge women to be radically involved in the gospel of Christ and the work of drawing each church closer to this task.” Peterson was recognized with a bouquet of flowers for five years of service as president by Arizona WMU Executive Director Terrie Sullivan.

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WinterFresh: Students encouraged to listen to God’s voice

“Whenever we open our hearts, it is crazy how we open our ears,” Joe Smith said to the 475 students and leaders at WinterFresh, held Feb. 17-19 at Camp Pinerock in Prescott.

The goal of WinterFresh is to create an environment for transformation in the spiritual lives of teenagers. This ambition is achieved through worship, teaching and fellowship over the course of a three-day retreat.

The theme for this year was “Voices.” WinterFresh emphasized how important it is to listen to God’s voice, which is always truthful and beneficial.

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Gateway Arizona adds locations

The Arizona Campus of Gateway Seminary began 2017 tallying up several encouraging steps of progress.

There are 96 students enrolled for the spring semester. Some classrooms have been enlarged to accommodate increasing enrollment, and some administrative space has been enlarged to better serve students’ needs.

Two more Learning Centers have been opened — Payson and Las Vegas —in addition to the classes that have been previously offered in two locations beyond the Scottsdale campus: North Phoenix and Lake Havasu City.

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Arizonans attend Send Conference

“Redefine” was the charge and challenge at the Send Conference — a joint event of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.

The sold-out conference in Long Beach, Calif., Feb. 3-4 drew nearly 4,000 attendees, including 237 from Arizona. Church planters, college students, pastors, missionaries, moms and dads, sons and daughters, California natives, world travelers, road-trippers and frequent flyers came together to redefine their lives for Christ.

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Three graduate from Leadership School

Three people received diplomas at the graduation ceremony of Escuela Bíblica de Liderazgo (Bible School of Leadership) Jan. 28 at First Southern, Phoenix.

Yolanda Ramirez and Gabriela Rivera, members of Centro Cristiano de Alabanza y Adoración in Phoenix, and Yesenia Anaya, a member of La Hermosa, received the basic leadership diploma.

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Jack B. Johnson, former AZSBC executive director, dies at 82

Jack B. Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer from 1979-1990, died March 5 in Henderson, Nev. He was 82.

David Johnson, the Arizona convention’s current executive director, said, “Arizona Southern Baptists are grateful for the leadership of Jack Johnson during a time of rapid growth in evangelism and church planting in Arizona. Dr. Johnson was also instrumental in extending Baptist work beyond Arizona in the western United States. Many people were reached with the Gospel through his influence.”

Dennis Adams, who recently retired as senior pastor at The Church at Arrowhead, Glendale, called Jack Johnson “the right leader for the right time in the life of the AZSBC.”

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