Ken Belflower, church planting facilitator with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, will retire Jan. 31.

Belflower, joined the convention staff in 1987 as the first director of the new work church building and support department and became church planting facilitator in 2001.

“Over these years, he’s worked on everything from buildings to Baptist Men to loans to church planting and in many other capacities across our state,” AZSBC Executive Director David Johnson said during a time of recognition at the AZSBC annual meeting in November. “He has also been a friend to me and a blessing to me in many ways, and we’re so thankful for his service.”

In the years before becoming church planting facilitator, Belflower served as director of church extension and state Brotherhood director, as well as the representative of World Mission Conferences and of the Baptist Sunday School Board’s (now LifeWay Christian Resources’) church architecture department for resourcing Arizona churches. From the beginning, his positions were jointly funded by the AZSBC and North American Mission Board (previously Home Mission Board) and became fully funded by NAMB in 2012. He also related to NAMB as Arizona’s state director of missions.

“The most encouraging part of the mission God called me to was to be a part of church planting,” Belflower said. “From 1990 to 2019, I have been blessed to see Arizona Southern Baptist churches take steps of faith and honor our Lord and Savior by starting approximately 396 churches in Arizona.”

Belflower was the founder and director of Arizona Southern Baptist Builders (ASBB).

“I was privileged to see God raise up more than 100 ongoing volunteers, primarily from Arizona Southern Baptist churches, who became a part of the Arizona Southern Baptist Builders,” Belflower said. “During the 1990s, the Arizona Southern Baptist Builders were at the height of activity, as God worked through them to help many new and older churches in Arizona. I estimated that the ASBB saved our churches over $10 million in 1995. From the ASBB origination in 1987 to the year 2000, some 81 church projects had been completed, representing over 336,000 square feet of church meeting space in Arizona.”

At the AZSBC annual meeting, Belflower was recognized on behalf of NAMB President Kevin Ezell by Steve Bass, assistant to the president for convention and associational relations at NAMB and former AZSBC executive director.

“[Ken Belflower] knows his neighbors by name,” Bass said. “He knows their spiritual condition, and he prays for them when they walk in their neighborhood. That’s why I’ll follow him anywhere he leads because of that integrity.”

Reflecting on his upcoming retirement, Belflower expressed words of thanks.

“Thank you, Jesus, for the privilege to serve You here in Arizona through serving your local churches to make disciples through the ministry of planting churches,” he said. “Thank you Susan, my wife, and our four children, now adults, for your support throughout this journey.

And thank you, Arizona Southern Baptists, for giving me the huge privilege to get to serve my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through helping meet the needs of Arizona Southern Baptist churches. It has been an exciting adventure and privilege that I will always cherish.”

In retirement, Belflower will continue to serve Arizona Southern Baptists on an as-needed basis, Johnson said.

In his annual report, Johnson wrote that NAMB has announced that Monty Patton, Phoenix-Tucson Send City missionary since 2013, will serve as the new Send Network Arizona director at the beginning of 2020. In September 2019, the Convention Council accepted a NAMB proposal to expand the Send Phoenix church planting network statewide.

“We are grateful to have Monty serving in this new role, which will replace the former state director of missions position,” he wrote.