Council adds staff position, approves church affiliations

By Elizabeth Young | Mar 7, 2023

The Convention Council of the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists approved a new position of associate executive director and affirmed the Executive Team’s choice of Monty Patton, Send Network Arizona director, to fill the position at its meeting Feb. 28 at CalvaryPHX. The Council also voted to welcome three churches who desired to affiliate with Arizona Southern Baptists.

Patton came to Arizona in 1996 to plant Mountain Ridge Baptist Church in Glendale. About 10 years ago, he started working part-time with the North American Mission Board as the Send City missionary. Around five years later, he resigned from Mountain Ridge to work with NAMB full-time in Arizona.

When Church Health Facilitator Keith Durham resigned and took a position in Texas last year, it  provided an opportunity to evaluate the staff team structure, said David Johnson, AZMN executive director.

Durham spent time training leaders and churches in the area of church revitalization, so work in that area continues, Johnson said. In addition, the Church Life Team, with whom Durham served, “still has a very strong and competent leader” in Eddy Pearson, evangelism and discipleship facilitator.

The real need, Johnson said, is in areas he has not been able to give adequate attention to as executive director.

As associate executive director, Patton’s responsibilities will include assisting with new churches that affiliate with the Arizona Mission Network; facilitating church mergers; overseeing transitional pastor, interim pastor and supply preaching efforts; coordinating orientation for pastors new to Arizona; serving as liaison for associational relations; and leading church planting strategy in partnership with Send Network Arizona. He will begin his new role on April 1.

New church affiliations

Prior to the Council meeting, the Executive Team met with the pastors of three non-Southern Baptist churches that requested to affiliate with the Arizona Mission Network. The Council approved the Executive Team’s recommendations for the affiliation of Broadway Missionary Baptist Church, Phoenix (Roland Pierce, pastor); Orbit Church, Goodyear/Buckeye (Matt Rose, pastor); and United Africans Baptist Church, Phoenix (Isaac Ndikumagenge, pastor).

Other business

In other business, the Council members:

–approved the recommendation of the AZMN Nominating Committee that Jeremiah Hayes, pastor of South Peoria Baptist Church in Peoria (Estrella Baptist Association), and Jason Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Show Low (Desert Pines Baptist Association), fill terms expiring in 2024 on the Convention Council;

–affirmed AZMN President Fernando Amaro’s appointment of Deidra Hodges, a member of Salt River Community Church in Tempe and Convention Council member, to the Executive Team; and

–approving the recommendation of the Executive Team that Colby & Powell, PLC be engaged to perform the 2022 audit.

Reports

During his report, Johnson invited John Dina, IMB missionary from Arizona serving in Sub-Saharan Africa, to speak. Johnson said he believed it was the first time for the Convention Council to hear directly from an IMB missionary.

“I am here to mobilize the sheep,” Dina said, “and the way you mobilize the sheep is you mobilize the shepherds. Southern Africa is open for business!” Opportunities to serve overseas are before your churches, he said, and those opportunities will change the lives of those who go.

Dina thanked the Council members for the confidence they show in the IMB with their churches’ support through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and with their prayer support. He also specifically thanked pastors.

“If it were not for you, there are no missionaries going out,” he said. “[Your church is] the nursery, and the vision you take into that is very important.”

Johnson told about a new missionary house in Glendale that a coalition of churches is helping support and manage as a home for IMB missionaries who are stateside. The house is being rented from a couple recently appointed as IMB missionaries. The AZMN has taken the lead in administering the expenses for the house, Johnson said, and additional partners are still welcome.

Johnson reported that he and Amaro are working on appointing a Sexual Abuse Response Implementation Team. The team will address how churches can implement the recommended practices introduced at last year’s annual meeting, how a response hotline can be developed specifically for Arizona and how to provide better training for churches.

Three new part-time staff members were introduced by Johnson at the meeting. Chad Garrison, lead pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lake Havasu City, is serving as pastor coach/consultant. Lorri Paetz, who previously served on the NPHX Church staff, is serving as the missions coordinator. Victoria White, who also serves with Christian Challenge, is the social media coordinator.

In the financial report, Johnson said Arizona Southern Baptist churches gave $3,839,347 through the Cooperative Program in 2022, an increase of $24,388 over the previous year.

“We are in historic territory here,” he said. “That’s more than we’ve ever had given to Cooperative Program at any time in the entire history — almost 100 years — in the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. … Our convention of churches has never given more to missions through the Cooperative Program than we are right now.”

However, there is “a little bit of concern” related to Cooperative Program giving in 2023, Johnson said. In January, gifts were down $85,000 from January 2022.

It’s too early in the year to know if it “was just an anomaly,” he said, “but we’re keeping an eye on that. Certainly, by the end of the first quarter — by the end of March — we should know where we stand in terms of Cooperative Program giving for this year.” Income was still over expense by about $37,000 in January, he added.

The Council also heard reports from the church planting, missions, church life and Hispanic ministries teams. Representatives from the Arizona Campus of Gateway Seminary, Arizona Baptist Children’s Services & Family Ministries, and Christian Challenge also presented reports.

Elizabeth Young is director of communications for the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists.

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