Christian Challenge hosts annual Surge Retreat

Ninety-four college students from 10 college campuses and four churches united Feb. 9-11 in Prescott to learn about God’s plan for marriage, sexuality and “perfect purity” at Surge, Christian Challenge’s annual discipleship retreat.

Students learned about the sexual revolution sweeping over the nation, the biblical meaning of sex and marriage — and most importantly — Christ’s power to heal. Sins of the past are no rival to God’s compassion and forgiveness.

Dustin Daniels, founding pastor of Seven Places, a Christ-centered purity ministry specializing in healthy sexuality, was the key speaker. Daniels is the host of the daily discipleship podcast, God, Sex & You!, that is heard in more than 80 countries, and he is the author of The Sex Spiral: Forgiven and Free from Pornography. Daniels provided his phone number for students to text questions, comments, concerns and any thoughts or feelings about each session.

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Arizona churches suiting up for VBS 2018

Arizona Southern Baptist churches are gearing up and getting ready for Vacation Bible School 2018 — Game On! This year, LifeWay’s curriculum teaches children that God has given them His ultimate playbook — the Bible –and that He wants them to join His team, train hard, celebrate salvation, and encourage one another along the way.

The solo statewide training was conducted at North Phoenix Baptist Church, April 7. Keith Henry, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention church life facilitator, encouraged the 230 registered attendees and 40 event staffers with memories of his childhood vacation Bible schools in his keynote address.

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Engage 24 encourages pastors to prioritize evangelism

Pastors and church leaders from about 10 Arizona Southern Baptist churches along with three directors of missions and Eddy Pearson, AZSBC evangelism facilitator, attended Engage 24 in Las Vegas, Feb. 26-27.

Engage 24, hosted by the North American Mission Board at Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas, focused on encouraging pastors and church leaders to create and foster a culture of evangelism in their churches. Practical tools for accomplishing this evangelistic culture were offered, but, primarily, the messages were inspirational.

“It’s on you. You’ve got to call the play in order for your church to get involved in evangelism. That’s the message we heard in a nutshell,” said Pearson. He added that the event was primarily motivational, not training.

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More than 350 attend Tucson Worship Conference

The fifth annual Tucson Worship Conference grew in size this year by almost 50 percent, ministering to more than 350 attendees from 35 churches, including 10 Arizona Southern Baptist churches.

“In the past, 22nd Street Baptist Church in Tucson, has hosted the conference,” said Aaron Petre, one of the conference founders and coordinators, and the worship and youth pastor at 22nd Street. “But we had maximized the space last year with around 250 participants. We would not have been able to offer the programming we had this year if we had not changed venues.”

Pantano Christian Church in Tucson hosted the Friday evening and Saturday morning conference, but funds provided by Arizona Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program helped make the event possible.

“The team for Tucson Worship Conference is really indebted to Arizona Southern Baptists for making this conference a reality,” said conference coordinator and keynote speaker Austin Ryan, a church planter in Las Vegas.

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AZSBC office sale, relocation approved

Leaders of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention have approved plans to sell the current convention office and Gateway Seminary Arizona Campus in Scottsdale and purchase an office complex — Cornerstone Plaza — in northwest Phoenix.

While not seeking to move, the AZSBC received two offers in January to purchase the present 2.37-acre property, AZSBC Executive Director David Johnson told the Convention Council in an email Feb. 7.

The offer that was eventually accepted was $2.55 million from a real estate developer who would like to build urban style single family homes.

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Disaster Relief gains new volunteers

Ninety-four people received training at the Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief training, held March 2-3 at Gateway Fellowship in Gilbert. Training was provided in driving, chainsaw, feeding, shower/laundry unit and debris removal.

Included in 94 who received training were 30 new trainees.

“We’re especially excited that 19 of the 94 trainees were 60 and under, and 10 of them were under 50 years of age,” said Patty Kirchner, Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief feeding unit manager. “Most of these younger trainees were ones being trained for the first time. We are excited to have some younger volunteers.”

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Revitalization: Dealing with toxic people

In recent months, Arizona Southern Baptist Church Revitalization Specialist Keith Durham has been conversing with pastors throughout the state about a daunting but unavoidable topic: how to deal with toxic people.

Durham has been taking his first topic of discussion on what he has coined a “revitalization roadshow,” meeting pastors and directors of missions in the regions of the state where they serve. He says he wants all of his topics of discussion to be ones that are most relevant to the pastors in the field.

“A 2015 LifeWay study on church conflict indicated that eight of ten pastors acknowledge that they will need to confront conflict in their current church eventually,” said Durham, whose position with the state focuses on helping to revitalize existing churches. “It’s a significant topic.”

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Arizona Baptist Historical Society holds final meeting

The Arizona Baptist Historical Society held its final annual meeting April 7, at Laveen Baptist Church in Laveen, as the congregation simultaneously celebrated the church’s 75th anniversary.

David Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, was awarded the society’s Willis J. Ray Distinguished Service Award this year. This award has been given selectively throughout the years to individuals in the state who have contributed significantly to Arizona Baptist life. Verlyne Meck, who has served as the organization’s secretary throughout its history, was awarded the society’s Meritorious Service award.

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Arizona WMU celebrates missions ‘by all means’

Since 1928, when Arizona Woman’s Missionary Union was born, women across the state of Arizona have continued to “celebrate” their call to missions!

Once again, to honor the call, Southern Baptist women met to “Celebrate Missions — By All Means.” CrossPoinTempe Church hosted the Arizona Woman’s Missionary Union annual conference Feb. 16-17 with the purpose to equip and inform concerning mission activity and opportunities.

“Arizona’s WMU goal for the churches across our state is to have a key person in each church with whom we can share information and to have churches involved in some kind of missions education even if they do not have an organized WMU,” explained Terrie Sullivan, Arizona WMU executive director.

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Jerry Jones, retired AZSBC staff member, dies

Jerry Jones, retired Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) missionary and Arizona Southern Baptist Convention Director of Language Missions, died March 24 in Tennessee. He was 82.

In January 1972, Jerry and Nava, who died last August, were appointed by the Home Mission Board to work with Spanish-speaking people. He and his family spent that year in Guadalajara, Mexico, studying Spanish.

The Joneses served among Spanish-speaking people in New Mexico and along the Mexico border, 1973-84. In 1985, Jerry joined the AZSBC staff to support existing language churches and begin new churches with language groups including Hispanic, North American Indian, Eastern Indian, Arab, Deaf, Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Laotian, Romanian, Japanese, Chinese and Filipino. During his more than 29 years in language missions, Jerry preached revivals in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Panama, as well as helping train pastors in Mexico and Panama.

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Faith in Action News Briefs

Black Mountain Baptist Church, Cave Creek, exceeded its goal at its annual 2017 Operation Christmas Child Shoebox packing party by filling 3,164 boxes in four-and-a-half hours.

Church members and guests from kindergarten to 80+ stuffed shoeboxes with hygiene and school supplies, toys and clothing items for distribution by Samaritan’s Purse to children affected by war, natural disasters and displacement in more than 100 countries. The purpose of these gifts is to let the children know that someone cares for them and point them to Jesus.

Led by Mary Jane Spear, OCC East Phoenix Team church relations coordinator and OCC project coordinator at Black Mountain Baptist Church, a group of dedicated workers collect, create and assemble gifts year round.

As one of the drop-off locations for the East Phoenix Team, the church delivered to the Phoenix Collection Center almost 7,500 of the 14,143 boxes collected by the team. The church was recently awarded a plaque from Samaritan’s Purse commemorating 10 years of participation in the Shoebox Ministry.

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