Arizona messengers approve plan to reorganize state convention
PHOENIX (BP)--Arizona Southern Baptist Convention messengers approved moving forward with a plan to reorganize the state convention and elected laymen as president and first vice president at their annual meeting Nov. 14-15 in Phoenix.
Presentation and consideration of a recommendation by a 14-member Vision Task Force -- which was appointed earlier this year to propose an overall convention vision and an organizational structure to assist in fulfilling the vision -- consumed the largest share of the convention program.
Messengers voted 324-137 to proceed with further development of the Vision Task Force's proposal. A special-called session of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention will be held June 1, 2001, for messengers to consider details and documents that would put the new organization in place July 1, 2001, if approved.
In order to get as much funding as possible to the field, the proposal calls for streamlining the state convention structure and staff, with plans including the dissolution of the Arizona Church Growth Board and Arizona State Mission Board and a change in relationship with Arizona Baptist Children's Services.
However, the proposal does not call for a return to a traditional state convention structure.
Working through staff "resource facilitators" in church planting, church ministry and church evangelism; the executive director; and a convention council (which replaces the Executive Board), the state convention will negotiate cooperative agreements with the 14 associations. The state convention will provide resources and assistance to help support the strategy of each association, which will be determined by the strategies of the local churches.
Cooperative agreements will also be negotiated with Arizona Baptist Children's Services, the Arizona Regional Campus of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Baptist Senior Life Ministries, the California Baptist Foundation (which has an estate planning office in Arizona), and the Arizona Historical Commission.
As part of the reorganization, Arizona Baptist Children's Services will no longer be an agency "owned and operated by" the state convention but will become a "cooperative agreement entity." According to the Vision Task Force, Children's Services does not fit within the new narrow, focused mission of the state convention.
C.J. Stewart, a layman and member of First Southern Baptist Church, Avondale, was elected president by a vote of 201-196. He defeated Bret Burnett, a Vision Task Force member and pastor of West Yuma Southern Baptist Church, Yuma.
Jim Roof, a Vision Task Force member and member of First Southern Baptist Church, Phoenix, was elected first vice president by acclamation. Debra Wolfrey, volunteer coordinator for the Strategic Focus Cities effort in Phoenix, was elected second vice president by acclamation.
Messengers adopted a $3,181,130 Cooperative Program budget and distribution formula for 2001 that remain essentially unchanged from 2000, with 20 percent designated for Southern Baptist Convention causes. One change involved funds originally designated for Grand Canyon University. Those funds were reallocated earlier this year when the university severed its formal ties with the state convention.
Funds previously allocated for Grand Canyon University will be divided as follows: Executive Board for anticipated legal fees, $100,000; cooperative agreement with California Baptist Foundation for estate planning, $60,000; Baptist Senior Life Ministries, $80,000; and ministerial scholarships, $40,000.
A new budget corresponding to the Vision Task Force proposal will be presented at the special-called convention session June 1. At that time, the state convention's committee on boards will also present nominations for the new Convention Council. Terms of service for people currently serving on convention boards have been extended until then.
Messengers adopted resolutions that expressed appreciation for Bill May, who recently retired as president of the Arizona Church Growth Board; for outgoing state convention president Paul Kinnison; for the Vision Task Force; for the work of the Jerusalem Fund, which has provided support for those left destitute by the Baptist Foundation of Arizona bankruptcy; for the partnership with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; and for North Phoenix Baptist Church, the host church.
Other resolutions pledged continued commitment to partnering to plant new churches and to unity "so that those outside our fellowship may see Christ in us."
Next year's meeting will be Nov. 13-14 at First Southern Baptist Church, Tucson.