Council responses to sexual abuse issue

By Elizabeth Young

In response to national concerns related to sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches, Arizona Southern Baptists’ Convention Council adopted two recommendations at its meeting Feb. 26 in Phoenix.

The first recommended that the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention “review its policies regarding background checks, including but not limited to all members of the Convention Council, volunteers, and staff.”

The second recommended “that the AZSBC provide resources to its churches related to prevention of sexual abuse and caring well for victims and their families.”


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Christian Challenge AZ holds leadership retreat

By Noah Jaeger
Photos by Lainee Pegelow

Adam Groza leads students at the Propel Retreat.

Christian Challenge AZ held its third annual leadership retreat, Propel, April 12-14. Sixty-eight students gathered from all over Arizona to obtain leadership training in Pinetop.

Christian Challenge exists to engage college students with the gospel, develop disciples of Jesus Christ and mobilize servant leaders for the church. Propel represents the value of mobilizing servant leaders, and the retreat serves students by equipping them to reach their campuses with the gospel.

“Our training is really focused on helping students share their faith on campus via gospel appointments and leading their missional communities on campus,” said Brad Schneeflock, Christian Challenge state collegiate strategist.

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Second Arizona LIFT Tour grows 50%

More than 300 Arizona students and youth leaders assembled at CalvaryPHX Church, Feb. 15-16, for the state’s second LIFT Tour event. This year’s attendance accounted for an almost 50% increase over the initial tour in 2018.

A production of Student Leadership University in partnership with LifeWay Students, the LIFT Tour is a two-day event that provides middle school and high school students the opportunity to exalt Christ, engage with Scripture through messages and small group discussions and be equipped with the necessary tools to passionately pursue Christ.

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Coaches learn questioning and listening skills

Twenty-five Arizona Southern Baptist senior pastors, church staff members and lay people gained new coaching skills through a two-day training facilitated by Arizona leaders March 28-29 at the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention office in Phoenix.

The training, which taught questioning and listening skills, was provided by Arizona Southern Baptist leaders who have been certified through Leader Breakthru. A faith-based organization, Leader Breakthru provides coaching and resources for risk-taking kingdom leaders.

“The training really taught a posture of listening more than talking,” said Keith Henry, AZSBC church life team facilitator. “Whereas mentors teach and speak into people’s lives, this training taught coaching, which helps people formulate their own ideas and plans.”

Henry explained that we all have people who come to us for advice. But often those people are already hearing from God, he said, and just need help sorting through the process of following His leadership.

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Arizona Disaster Relief prepares to serve

Just in time to be mobilized to the Midwest to help with flood recovery this spring, well over 100 people recently received training in various Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief operations.

“We trained 30 people in the preliminary course, Involving Southern Baptists in Disaster Relief (ISBDR), at First Southern Baptist in Tucson on Feb. 17,” said Patty Kirchner, associate state director. “Additionally, we offered introductions to flood recovery and feeding unit.”

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272 attend state VBS conference

Vacation Bible School leaders from all over the state gathered at Royal Palms Baptist Church in Phoenix, April 6, for the State VBS Conference.

“Arizona people provided all the training in 11 different areas of VBS,” said Kelcey Fry, who is in his first year as state VBS director. “It’s always excellent training, and we have something for every person who participates.”

Trained Arizona lay leaders and church staffers equipped the participants for this year’s curriculum from LifeWay, In the Wild. A take-off on Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth, the curriculum helps students explore Jesus’ life and get to know Him through a photo adventure.
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River Valley welcomes new director

Bruce Cannon, former president of Yellowstone Christian College in Billings, Mont., is the new network director for River Valley Mission Network. The unanimous vote to call him took place Feb. 9, during the network’s annual celebration of churches.

In his new position, Cannon said he has a heart for pastors.
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Wilkerson retires, marks 64 years of Arizona ministry

Coy Wilkerson retired as pastor of First Country Baptist Church, Surprise, April 30, marking 19 years as pastor of the church and 64 years of ministry among Arizona Southern Baptists.

Wilkerson had served Arizona churches since May 1955 as pastor, interim pastor and church planter. He served on the Arizona Southern Baptist State Mission Board staff for 17 years.

Wilkerson was personally involved in starting 32 churches throughout his ministry, not including those he helped start as a consultant for Arizona Southern Baptists. During 1990-1999, the State Mission Board staff started 139 churches.

Here’s Wilkerson’s advice to young pastors: “Love Jesus supremely, love people enthusiastically and work real hard.”

“I discovered last spring that some churches were still scrambling to recruit their full slate of VBS workers just weeks before their scheduled Vacation Bible Schools,” said Kelcey Fry, state VBS team leader and family pastor at HiWay Baptist Church, Mesa. “This directors’ conference was our attempt to help directors effectively recruit volunteers far enough in advance to get them trained.”

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Arizona WMU celebrates 90 years of ministry

Arizona WMU has been actively involved in encouraging, training, and involving missionaries for 90 years as part of SBC Woman’s Missionary Union, the largest Protestant organization for women in the world.

Arizona Woman’s Missionary Union leaders gathered at CrossPoinTempe Church, Feb. 15-16, for inspiration, education and celebration.

Friday evening’s events included dinner and fellowship, worship, a missions fair, reviews of past and present missions efforts, as well as a robust focus on the future.
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