DR partnership helps Navajo Nation

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief leaders in Arizona and New Mexico recently set up an informal partnership to provide needed supplies to the most vulnerable and most needy among the sprawling Navajo Nation’s 173,000 native residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DR leaders divided in half – east and west – the 27,413 square-mile Navajo Nation, which, while mostly in Arizona, also splays out across parts of New Mexico and Utah.
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AZSBC staff ministers amid COVID-19

For the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention staff, despite a number of canceled events, ministry has continued in the midst of the stay-at-home order due to COVID-19.

“While the AZSBC offices have remained open, most of the staff members have been working from home since the middle of March and have been relying on electronic means of meeting and working,” AZSBC Executive Director David Johnson said. Biweekly staff meetings have continued by using Zoom.
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The Church at Estrella creatively ministers during COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued a stay-at-home order, members of The Church at Estrella prayed and asked God how to “do church.” They could no longer meet in Westar Elementary School, where the 2-year-old church had been meeting for regular church services.

Like many churches, they were looking for ways to serve their community and didn’t miss a beat in incorporating the network of contacts that had already been established, and harnessing, organizing and missionizing the wide array of creativity within that network through a strong online presence. After all, the church is not a building – it is the people.
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Churches find new ways to continue

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona Southern Baptist churches found creative ways to continue worship and discipleship activities while starting or ramping up benevolence ministries and outreach.

Here are a few examples. Much more will be shared in the July-August issue of Portraits.
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Churches creatively celebrate Easter

A stay-at-home order because of COVID-19 didn’t stop Arizona Southern Baptist churches from celebrating Easter and sharing the Easter story, sometimes in creative ways.

In their online sermons on Palm Sunday, pastors in the Valley Life network of churches in greater Phoenix encouraged members to “preach” their own sermons for Easter. In their community groups during the week, members were taught how to share their “Before, How, Now” stories by explaining: Before I met Jesus, my life was like _______, (How) Then I repented of my sins and put my faith in Jesus, Now my life is like _______.
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Zona Camp canceled, new resource offered

In the ever-changing times of COVID-19, Arizona Southern Baptists’ Zona Administrative Team announced earlier this spring that Zona Camp, set for late June at Biola University in California, was being canceled but they would offer an alternative resource for churches.

Zona Camp is a collaborative effort of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, pastors, youth ministers from around the state and college students who are recruited through Christian Challenge AZ. 

The decision to cancel was not made lightly, and the team recognized Zona is an important week for hundreds of teens across Arizona.
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Disaster Relief stays active in 2020

In spite of a stay-at-home order for part of the year, Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has stayed active in 2020.

About 80 new and former Disaster Relief volunteers were trained at Gateway Fellowship Church in Gilbert Feb. 28-29.

Classes included Involving Southern Baptists in Disaster Relief,  Mud Out/Ash Out, Chainsaw, Feeding Unit, Shower Unit, Driver Training, Blue Hat (leader) Training, AED (automated external defibrillator) Training for Blue Hats and a Chaplaincy Refresher course. Arizona Southern Baptist Disaster Relief honored Ernie Domgaard for his service with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Pastors and wives enjoy Date Night

Healthy leaders make for healthy churches. The Arizona Southern Baptist Convention is committed to the health of pastors and their families. Date Night developed out of that commitment to give pastoral care to pastors.

The Pastors and Wives Retreat, sponsored by the AZSBC, is held every three years. During the interim between retreats, the convention offers to work in partnership with local associations to hold Date Night events. From May 2019 to present three Date Night events have been held with Valley Rim and Yuma in 2019 and with Thrive Network in early March. Each event drew about 25 couples.
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Arizona WMU celebrates missions

“Unshakeable Pursuit” was the theme of the 2020 Arizona WMU Missions Celebration held Feb. 21-22 at CrosspoinTempe Church.

“As we look at Unshakeable Pursuit, we know as we chase after God, He chases after us, and it is worth it,” said keynote speaker Kristy Carr, senior hub manager with Woman’s Missionary Union, SBC.
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Church planters gather in Scottsdale

Nearly 600 individuals representing church planters, team members, multiplying and sending churches from several western states gathered at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spain Scottsdale Feb. 24-25. They gathered for a time of training and encouragement sponsored by the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

“The content is the forum, but the main thing is getting guys shoulder to shoulder,” said Brian Bowman, lead pastor of Valley Life Church — Tramonto in Phoenix. “The relational interaction is the primary takeaway. It lets church planters know they are not alone in this.”
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Project: Pray for every church

As part of Arizona Southern Baptists’ year of prayer in 2020, a Pray for Every Church Project was launched Jan. 2. The goal is to pray for every Arizona Southern Baptist church and its pastor before the AZSBC annual meeting in November.

“I hope people all around the state will join in the Pray for Every Church Project,” AZSBC Executive Director David Johnson said. “Individuals can participate daily just by using their phone or computer, and churches can publish the list of churches to pray for in their bulletins or newsletters.”

The names of churches and pastors are posted through Arizona Southern Baptists’ social media channels — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. One church is featured on Sunday, two each day Monday-Friday, with Saturday as a review or catch-up day. The entire dated list is available at pray2020az.org, where a prayer guide — Praying the 4 P’s (prayer for pastors, God’s people, God’s providence, the perishing) — is also available. Read More →

Surge inspires confidence in gospel

College students from all over the state came together for Surge, Christian Challenge AZ’s annual discipleship conference, at Emmanuel Pines Camp in Prescott, Feb. 7-9.

Adam Groza, vice president for enrollment and student services at Gateway Seminary, spoke to the students about this year’s theme: Gospel Confidence.

“We need to be confident in who Christ is, what Christ has done — and that confidence needs to affect the way we live,” he said.
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Staff changes in Valley Rim and Grand Canyon Associations

Two Arizona Southern Baptist associations experienced staff changes recently.

David Cox became the associational missionary in Grand Canyon Association in October 2019. He assists churches in the association with discovering resources to fulfill their mission and fosters mutual support through development and nurture of relationships between associational leaders and churches. Grand Canyon Association has 11 churches and three missions, two on Native American reservations and All Nations in Flagstaff.

In addition, Cox continues to serve as a bivocational pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Ash Fork.
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