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Baptist church continues planting despite pandemic challenges

Southern Baptists have continued planting churches in the United States and around the world, despite the challenges posed by covid-19.

Doug Hixson, a former Arkansas pastor, is preparing to open Connection Church in Longmont, Colo., next year.

In Evanston, Wyo., Aaron Leggett has launched Bear River Church. It meets in the For Pete’s Sake coffee shop on Main Street, directly beneath the Thankful Hearts Yoga studio.

Closer to home, Ahmad Muqtasid and his wife, Tagel, have begun a ministry focused on apartment dwellers in Maumelle.

Sunday evening, members of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention gathered at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville for a Mission Connection meet and greet dinner featuring Hixson, Muqtasid, south Florida missionary Tim Wolfe and Brian Smart of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention.

After dining on Greek food from Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, they shifted their focus to missions.

“This really is about souls,” said Bob Fielding, the state convention’s consultant for chaplaincy and national/international missions.

While covid-19 restrictions placed barriers in the way of church planters, they didn’t prove insurmountable, the speakers said.

Southern Baptists, at their annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in June, approved a strategic missions plan known as Vision 2025. It seeks to increase the number of Southern Baptist churches by 5,000 over the next five years; at last count, the denomination had 47,592 churches. The plan also calls for a net increase of 500 full-time, fully funded Southern Baptist missionaries.

Starting a congregation from scratch isn’t easy, Hixson told the crowd.

“This is our second time to plant a church,” he said. “Crazy people do it once. Insane people do it twice.”

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