By Irene A Harkleroad

Twenty-five members and guests attended the Arizona Baptist Historical Society (ABHS) annual meeting April 11 at Pantano Baptist Church, Tucson.

Begun in 1989, ABHS supports the Arizona Southern Baptist Historical Commission, provides research and encourages churches to keep their histories as a valuable addition to the Arizona Southern Baptist legacy.

The theme for the event was the 65-year history of the Baptist Student Union (BSU), which was renamed Christian Challenge (CC) in 2006 to reach a new generation of college students.

With only 13 full-time staff and seven part-time positions, Christian Challenge in Arizona serves a total of 14 college and university campuses across the state. The group plans 11 new locations in the next five years. The ministry promotes fellowship, community and encouragement through Bible studies, one-on-one relationships, small groups, large events, free food, free Bibles, etc.

“Christian Challenge touches the lives of hundreds of college students every year in Arizona,” said Julie Evans.

The Christian Challenge Mission is clear: “In partnership with the churches of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, Christian Challenge seeks to lead college students and others in the academic community to faith in Jesus Christ, develop them as disciples, train leaders and connect them to the life and mission of the church.”

Presentations at the meeting included:
–Christian Challenge work in Arizona–by Julie Evans
–The 50-year history of Pantano Baptist Church, Tucson–by Pastor Glen Foster
–The history of the BSU’s work–by Eddy Pearson
–Life Among the Nations, partner ministry of Christian Challenge at ASU–by Jan Clay
–Testimonies from BSU leaders and members Keith Henry, David Butler and Autumn Stump

“Sixty-two years ago I had my first experience with BSU as a student in Tucson,” said Butler. “BSU became my social outlet and an anchor for me. I never felt threatened by atheistic faculty–I had my BSU friends, it was a place of retreat and grounding … I have wondered many times how my life might have been different without BSU.”

The ABHS business session of the meeting included reports; a memorial acknowledgement for ABHS member Glen Crotts, who died in October; election of officers; and acknowledgment of significant church and association anniversaries in 2014 including:
–75 years–Eastside Baptist Church
–50 years–FSBC of Eleven Mile Corner; First Baptist Church, Pinetop; CrossPoinTempe (Southside); Desert View Baptist Church, Winslow; and River Valley Association
–25 years–Fourcorners Baptist Association; Leupp Baptist Church; Many Farms Baptist Church; and Roosevelt Baptist Church

Anniversaries in 2015 include:
–75 years–Casa Blanca Baptist Church
–50 years–Bethel Baptist Church and Pantano Baptist Church
–25 years–Sunnyside Baptist Church and Queen Valley Baptist Church
Elected officers for next year are: President Les Jennings Jr., Vice-President Archie Stephens and Secretary/Treasurer Verlyne Meck.

Marge Kuban, Arizona Baptist Historical Commission archivist and curator, urges all churches to record their historical milestones. To submit copies of church history, contact Kuban at 623-377-8474.