Arizona Baptists focus on CP, Centennial Vision

The Arizona Disaster Relief team serves lunch to Annual Meeting attendees.

During their 88th annual meeting, Arizona Southern Baptists celebrated what God is doing in their state, heard how the Cooperative Program undergirds that work and adopted a 2017 budget sending more to Southern Baptist Convention causes.

“For God So Loved … Arizona” was the theme of the meeting held at Palm Vista Baptist Church in Surprise, Nov. 18. It was attended by 266 messengers and 25 registered guests from 119 of Arizona Southern Baptists’ 468 churches.

Messengers adopted a $4,756,059.77 operating budget for 2017, a $1,200 or .025 percent increase over 2016. The operating budget includes a $3,230,000 Cooperative Program budget — the same as last year.

The Cooperative Program budget allocates $985,150 or 30.5 percent — an increase of 1.5 percentage points — to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions and ministries.

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Riders take on 2-day bike trek for CP

Why would six men ride their bicycles 165 miles in two days? A love of the Cooperative Program.

“We want to raise awareness of what the Cooperative Program is doing all around Arizona and all around the world, planting churches and sending missionaries,” said David Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention executive director and ride organizer.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the riders set out from First Southern Baptist Church, Tucson, the location of the 2017 Arizona Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, for Palm Vista Baptist Church, Surprise, site of the 2016 annual meeting.

They represented entities benefiting from the Cooperative Program — the AZSBC, Gateway Seminary and Arizona Baptist Children’s Services & Family Ministries — and Arizona churches that give through the Cooperative Program.

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Crossover Arizona to feature Harvest America

As Phoenix-area Southern Baptists prepare for next summer’s SBC annual meeting, they are praying that a new addition to Crossover activities could lead to long-lasting spiritual fruit.

At the invitation of the North American Mission Board, Southern California evangelist and pastor Greg Laurie has scheduled his national Harvest America outreach at the University of Phoenix Stadium for June 11, which will coincide with Southern Baptists’ Crossover efforts.

The Crossover crusade, which will be simulcast nationally, will include a gospel message by Laurie and music from top-name Christian artists.

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Elliff: Seek God for revival, awakening

America is in a state of national spiritual emergency, and the only hope we have is to seek God for a great spiritual revival of the churches and an awakening in the land, said Bill Elliff at the 2016 Leadership Conference.

Elliff, senior teaching pastor of Summit Church, Little Rock, Ark., and co-author of One Cry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening, spoke at the morning conference preceding the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at Palm Vista Baptist Church, Surprise, Nov. 18.

“We asked Bill Elliff to come speak at the Leadership Conference this year because our state is 80 percent unchurched and 80 percent of our churches are plateaued or declining,” said David Johnson, AZSBC executive director. “The only hope for changing either of those things is if God sends revival and spiritual awakening to our state.”

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Bill Hunke, Baptist leader in the West, dies in Sun Lakes

E.W. “Bill” Hunke Jr., whose handprints are all over the history of Arizona Southern Baptists, as well as Southern Baptists in the West, died Oct. 31 in Sun Lakes. He was 92.

Hunke first came to Arizona in 1954 as a Baptist General Convention of Arizona (now Arizona Southern Baptist Convention) general missionary serving Yuma, Gila Valley, San Carlos and Mt. Graham associations. With church planting among his responsibilities, a number of churches in those associations can trace their birth back to his influence.

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Clyde Besson, pastor, author, counselor, dies in Scottsdale

Clyde Besson, pastor, author, counselor and seminar leader, died Dec. 9 in Scottsdale. He was 81.

Besson founded and directed Christian Growth Ministries, a nonprofit organization providing family counseling, personal growth seminars and video series for single adults, couples and single parents. He was the author of Picking up the Pieces: Successful Single Living and Growing Together: Growth Coaching for Couples.

Besson served as a pastor of churches in Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Arizona for more than 50 years, including serving as minister to families at North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, for 6 years.

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