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Dr. Ray Higgins

At our October Coordinating Council meeting, we heard leaders share about “why I am a CBF Baptist.” One leader said, “I changed, and CBF welcomed that change.” Another leader said, “I am a girl, and CBF gave me the space to do ministry.” Another leader told us that “Fellowship churches took me in.” Another mentioned that she “connects with CBF’s style of social justice.” As I think about that question, I realize that being CBF is in my DNA. Before CBF existed, my Baptist parents lived CBF Baptist values. My pastors and the churches I grew up in practiced them. My seminary and graduate school environments taught them. And, my ministry colleagues and friends live them. When CBF was born in 1991, I was automatically all in. I’m curious, how do you describe why you are a CBF Baptist? Two upcoming opportunities will help us celebrate our identity and community as CBF Baptists in Arkansas. The first opportunity is the Advent Devotional Guide that Megan Pike has created with the help of 26 leaders in CBFAR life. See information in this newsletter. Join us on this 27 day journey, reading devotionals written by your friends and colleagues as we “lean forward” to Christmas. The second opportunity is our 2016 Annual Gathering on April 22-23 at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock. We will celebrate CBF Arkansas’ 25th birthday at this Gathering as we bring the Baptist Joint Committee to our meeting. Brent Walker, Holly Holman and their team will help us better understand religious liberty in these times. One of my goals for 2016 is to celebrate our CBF and Together for Hope identity and strengthen our community in Arkansas as CBF and CBF Arkansas turn 25 years old. I’m grateful for each one of you and our partner churches, who make this journey so rewarding. Being the presence of Christ together, Ray

Plan to join us for CBF of Arkansas’ Annual Gathering at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock. We look forward to celebrating CBFAR’s 25th birthday in conjunction with our Annual Gathering: FOR ALL: Conversations on religious liberty. The Baptist Joint Committee will be leading us in this important conversation on April 22nd and April 23rd. We invite children and youth to join in this time, as well, for an Advocacy Camp to learn more about religious liberty in their context.

Arkansas Baptist College Update

Dr. Hill’s leadership as ABC President since 2006 has generated $50 million in campus improvement, a $200 million impact to the community, and has significantly increased the safety and quality of life in the neighborhood. ABC campus improvements continue on the lawn of the renovated, historical Old Main building.

ABC is renovating this historic African American Church on 18th Street near Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive to be used for the Fine Arts Program.

ABC renovates another home in the neighborhood on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive to be used as the Derek Olivier Research Institute for the Prevention of Black on Black Violence. Former LRPD Assistant Chief of Police, Eric Higgins, will serve as the Director of the Institute.

Exploring How To Describe CBF by Megan Pike, CBFAR Associate Coordinator I did it again. I was introducing myself to a lady at a Christian Community Development conference in Texas and I made her laugh. Initially I didn’t think what I said to describe myself or the group I work with to be funny, but she sure did and so have others. She had never heard the word progressive serve as an adjective to the word Baptist before. So, she laughed. Heartily. And her interest was piqued to better understand just who are these progressive Baptists. Since joining the staff of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas I have had the joy of expressing who I am, who my church is, and who we are as CBF of Arkansas and CBF Global to the new people I meet. At the August Movement Leadership Team meeting in Decatur, state and regional leaders were led through a session on exploring how to describe CBF. This session was quite helpful and served as a great opportunity to hear how others around the nation express who they are within the Fellowship. Ray and I liked this activity so much so that we decided to include a similar session during our October CBFAR Coordinating Council meeting. Our meeting began with an activity in which Coordinating Council members were asked to complete the sentence I’m a CBF Baptist because... with three different statements or reasons. Then they were asked to only share one statement/reason aloud. This exercise was so inspiring. Here is a sampling of what we heard:

I’m a CBF Baptist because...

...CBF creates a community affirming diversity ...there are opportunities to work together to impact the world ...we are engaged in social justice ...I am a woman and there is a place for me to do ministry ...we are being the presence of Christ in the world ...I changed and CBF welcomed that change

So, why are YOU a CBF Baptist? How were you introduced to the Fellowship? When asked, how do you express who you are as a CBF partner or what the Fellowship means to you? To help you develop a response consider the following exercise: • Let others get to KNOW CBF: develop a simple statement that would describe CBF and hopefully pique your audience’s interest; e.g. CBF is a diverse denomi-network of churches, partners, and individuals. • Help others better UNDERSTAND CBF: develop a simple, follow-up statement that would define CBF and hopefully keep the conversation going; e.g. A number of the CBF churches in town are working towards racial reconciliation in our community.

What If . . . Dreaming Bigger for Martha by Pam Durso, Executive Director of Baptist Women in Ministry

Every February now since 2007, Baptist Women in Ministry has invited churches to participate in our Martha Stearns Marshall Month of Preaching. We ask that churches sometime during February invite a woman into their pulpit. The last few years we have had 200 or more churches participate, and it has been a beautiful thing. But this year, this year I am dreaming bigger, hoping for more. No, not bigger numbers or more church participation. This year I am hoping that churches will embrace a new Martha vision. This year I hope that churches will invite young preachers, new-to-the-pulpit preachers into their pulpits. I hope that churches will invite women who rarely have opportunity to preach to be their Martha. Think about it . . . what if 200 churches together said, “We believe in young preachers. We support new preachers. AND we believe in them and want to support them so much that we will invite them into our pulpit. We will invite women who have never, ever preached before. We will invite women who are not often in the pulpit to be our Martha. We will be an affirming church for young preachers!” Imagine what that kind of encouragement would look like, what it would feel like to college women, to seminary women, to seasoned women ministers who are never given opportunities in their own churches to preach. Imagine, just imagine. This year our dream is bigger, our hope is broader. We invite YOUR church to be a Martha church, a church that stands with 200 other churches in their support of new and young preachers. Pastors sometimes say to me, “Oh our church has women preach all the time. We are good with women in the pulpit.” But this year, I challenge you to make Martha Stearns Marshall Month a time for YOUR church to encourage, to support, to give a place of opportunity to a new preacher. YOUR church could change her life!

• Provide others an opportunity to ENGAGE with CBF: develop a simple, follow-up statement that would provide your listeners an opportunity to participate in what CBF is doing; e.g. So, you are interested in working to build race relations in our community? Would you be interested in coming to our Annual People Relations Service next month? The exercise above proved to be very helpful to us at the Movement Leadership Team meeting and to those at our recent CBFAR Coordinating Council meeting. I hope it proves helpful to you, too. We would love to hear about your experiences sharing with others who you are as a CBF Baptist and what is CBF. Email us (! 2 CBFAR News -

There are Arkansas Baptist Women in Ministry that would love to be invited into your church during the month of February. Please contact Megan Pike (501.223.8586 or for more details on how YOUR church can encourage, support, and provide an opportunity for a new preacher.

CBF Arkansas Field Personnel Update: Dianne & Shane McNary Shane and Dianne McNary are native Arkansans working among the Romany peoples and serving in Slovakia and the Czech Republic as CBF field personnel since 2004. They have lived in Kosice, Slovakia for 11 years. Their son, Taylor is stationed in the Middle East serving in the U. S Navy. Allie, their daughter, is currently living in Kosice. Over the past 11 years, we have been involved in several different types of ministries – faith sharing through Bible studies and preaching; hunger relief through emergency food aid and providing scholarships to break the cycle of poverty; health Group photo of children from settlement along with mission team from FBC-Athens, presentations; and teaching English in loGA at end of week’s activities cal schools. We have narrowed our focus slightly to three main areas which align with the CBF mission commitments of cultivating beloved community, bearing witness to Jesus Christ and seeking transformational development. We accomplish these commitments by working as catalysts with our local partners and supporting them in their efforts to make a difference in their community. Our primary ministry site is in Vazec, SK. Vazec is located in north-central Slovakia under the High Tatra mountains. The village has a population of approximately 2,500 people. About 250 are Roma living in a settlement on the edge of the village with very limited resources. Unemployment is very high for the entire community. Jekh Drom, a local non-profit, seeks to improve the lives of the entire community by addressing education needs, housing issues and unemployment. In an attempt to break down barriers in community, Jekh Drom works with anyone who is in need regardless of race, ethnicity, gender. There is cooperation between the Catholic and Lutheran churches as well as with Baptists in the area. We have hosted 3 short term mission (STM) teams Afternoon activities with Roma in Vazec this year. Working in association with Jekh Drom, the teams taught English in the local children in Vazec, SK school, provided backyard Bible school type activities with Roma children from the settlement, hosted womens’ activities with unemployed mothers and met with local retiree and church youth groups. We sought to connect with the entire community by cultivating beloved community and seeking transformational development as well as building the reputation of Jekh Drom. In Vazec and Cinobana, we are working to break the cycle of poverty by providing scholarships to individuals who want to continue their education but have limited or no resources. Through your gifts to hunger offerings and our projects, we are able to assist two young Roma men to pursue their education this fall. Peter lives in Cinobana with his family and travels to Lucenec each day by bus. He will begin his final year of social work school and wants to work with children and young people in after school programs. Tomas will move from Vazec to Banska Bystrica to begin his studies to be a health assistant. He will live in a dormitory. Tomas is a kind, caring young man who will make a wonderful healthcare worker. In Lucenec and Banska Bystrica, we have trusted individuals who are available to assist these young men as they study. We are also exploring opportunities to extend our ministry through the use of Community Health Evangelism (CHE). CHE defines illness as broken relationships in one or more of four areas - in relationship with God, yourself, others and the environment. This is also a good definition of poverty. Working in cooperation with local leaders, we hope to share principles that will build healthy communities. We are currently having materials translated into Slovak and planning to sponsor a vision seminar for interested individuals this fall. Dianne has been asked to provide training for Roma health assistants who work through an EU-funded program, Healthy Communities. Adequate housing is another area of interest. We are pursuing the establishment of a non-profit to work in cooperation with Fuller Center for Housing and address housing issues. Shane is seeking individuals to serve on the board and anticipates beginning work in the near future. - CBFAR News 3

Together for Hope, Arkansas Initiates Read IT Program by Mollie Palmer, TFHAR Director Sheila* and her sister are fixtures at Swim Camp every year. They’re both energetic and anxious to get in the pool, and maybe a touch stubborn. It’s not uncommon for Sheila to be buddied up with her group leader because she’s caused a bit of ruckus. And we love every stubborn, energetic bit of her. That’s why my heart filled up in August when I sat in the library of Eliza Miller Elementary School and saw Sheila’s name on a list of students. After a year of dreaming, planning, and meeting with partners, we started Read IT this fall. In partnership with Eliza Miller Elementary School (EMES) and the Great Rivers Educational Cooperative, Read IT pairs fourth graders who are reading below grade level with local volunteers for intervention and tutoring. In its first semester, Read IT is serving 30 students through 19 local volunteers. When the fourth grade teachers at EMES gave us the list of students who qualified to be in Read IT, I found Sheila immediately. My mind went back to Swim Camp and saw her there, saw her confidence in the pool. She’s a great swimmer! I was so excited to have the opportunity to help her to develop that level of confidence in reading, a skill she’ll need in order to graduate high school. Sheila, like all of the other students in Read IT, meets her tutor once a week during school for 30 minutes. They read together and complete an activity based on what they’ve read. We quickly noticed that Sheila was holding the book very close to her face, and found her a pair of purple bejeweled glasses that became her pride and joy. She recently told me that the glasses were really helping, and that she was already reading better than she used to. During a recent check in with the fourth grade teachers, we asked Ms. Livingston, who teaches reading, about Sheila. She couldn’t say enough. She was trouble at the beginning of the year, distracting other students, talking back. Now that she’s in Read IT, her attitude has changed. She’s now Ms. Livingston’s best helper. Sheila is not the only student whose attitude has changed because of the dedication of her tutor. The one-on-one relationships that our tutors have developed with our students are making an impact in their willingness to learn and participate in class, and we can’t wait to see how that will impact these students throughout the year. *name has been changed 4 CBFAR News -

Bearing Witness To Christ Through Immigration Legal Services CBF field personnel Sue and Greg Smith couldn’t believe their ears. Dr. Jesús Romero, director of the ISAAC Project in San Antonio, Texas, was reviewing the basic points of a breakout session he had just led at CBF’s 2014 General Assembly in Greensboro, North Carolina. The opportunity to offer immigration services has the potential to take the Smiths’ ministry to a whole new level. Yes, Dr. Romero explained, as incredible as it may seem, LUCHA Ministries can apply to the U.S. Department of Justice to become a recognized organization providing immigration legal services to legally qualified immigrants in their area! And best of all, he added, neither Sue or Greg would have to become an immigration attorney to make it happen! Co-founded in 2004 by the Smiths and colleagues Victor and Heather Gomez, LUCHA Ministries organized to address the social and spiritual needs of the immigrant Latino community in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia. Fredericksburg is located 50 miles south of Washington, D.C. along the I-95 corridor. “Throughout the 90s and into the new century, the area’s first-generation Latino community swelled to approximately 8% of the total population,” notes Sue, LUCHA’s executive director. “The need to serve the Latino community grew unbelievably, and there was no one really addressing how to do it.” Today, Latinos comprise nearly 12% of the area’s population, LUCHA is well known for its expertise in serving Latino immigrants. The founders envisioned LUCHA Ministries as a means of bridging the non-Latino/Latino divide, connecting first-generation Spanish-speakers with area services, forging trusting relationships, and delivering services no other agency offered. Volunteers were recruited and programs created based on the needs Latinos expressed. After talking with Dr. Romero, the Smiths came away convinced God was leading LUCHA Ministries to consider taking this new ministry step. LUCHA’s board of directors voted to apply in 2015 to become a recognized organization offering low-cost immigration legal services to underserved and qualified immigrant clients. What will this mean for LUCHA Ministries? For Sue, it has meant a crash course in the government’s three decade-long Recognition and Accreditation program. For Greg, it has meant spending 2015 receiving training in immigration law sufficient to apply to become LUCHA’s accredited representative. For LUCHA Ministries, it means a major reorganization of how it operates and relates to the immigrant community. Sue and Greg ask you to pray with them that LUCHA Ministries become recognized to offer lowcost immigration legal services. Approval may not come until the spring of 2016. If approved, they invite you to partner with them in liberating this dream in the lives of their immigrant friends, neighbors, sisters and brothers as a witness to the love and grace of Jesus our Lord. Please send TFHAR gifts to the CBF of Arkansas office. We are grateful for your support and thank you for your year-end gifts to TFHAR!

To continue reading more about the work of the Smiths & LUCHA ministries on the CBFAR blog, please visit

Join CBFAR in March 2016 to serve with Greg & Sue Smith, CBF Field Personnel with LUCHA Ministries, in Fredericksburg VA. We will travel to VA on Friday, the 4th and stay in Fredericksburg to learn more about their work with Latinos. Then we will travel to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, the 8th, to participate in the CBF Advocacy in Action conference through the 10th. We plan to travel back to Arkansas on Friday, the 11th. For more details, please contact Megan Pike ( or 501.223.8586). - CBFAR News 5

Cooperative Baptist FELLOWSHIP of Arkansas 1504 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive LR, AR 72202 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED Keep in touch with CBF of ARKANSAS through our website: Please send your email additions to if you would like to be included in our email communications. STAFF Dr. Ray Higgins, Coordinator Megan Pike, Associate Coordinator Dot Hinson, Bookkeeper Roy Peterson, Volunteer Disaster Response Field Coordinator TFHAR STAFF Mollie Palmer, Director Stacy Henderson, Assistant Director Dot Hinson, Bookkeeper

Special Gifts

To CBF ARKANSAS In memory of Myrta Ann Garrett by Dr. Boo and Mary Heflin In memory of Troy Green by Paul Green, Bubba, Sissy and Tracy In honor of The Hon. Rev. Wendell and Dr. Pat Griffen and New Millennium Church by Dr. Raouf & Rachel Halaby In memory of Ewing R. Guthrie by Lota W. Guthrie To CBFAR, TFHAR & OGM In memory of Rezy Mobarak by Judy Mobarak

CBFAR Finance Report July 2015-June 2016 Annual Budget $199,272 Income $53,390.72 Expenses $67,769.65 Deficit $14,378.93




Profile for CBF of Arkansas

CBF of Arkansas Dec 2015 newsletter  

Our December 2015 newsletter includes updates from Arkansas Baptist College, an announcement of our spring 2016 Annual Gathering theme and d...

CBF of Arkansas Dec 2015 newsletter  

Our December 2015 newsletter includes updates from Arkansas Baptist College, an announcement of our spring 2016 Annual Gathering theme and d...