The church donates a building to the ministry

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A small Little Rock congregation with a large but aging campus donated its building to Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries.

Members of Markham Street Baptist Church will continue to pray in the sanctuary, as they have for decades, but most of the facility will be used to facilitate foster care, adoptions, counseling and family reunification.

The organization’s administrative offices will also be set up there.

“This is going to open incredible doors for us to, in a very tangible way, impact people’s lives,” said Chris Larmoyeux, the association’s director of mission advancement.

“We will have a resource center for foster families. We will have visiting rooms for birth families to visit their children. We will have a counseling center to meet the needs of the community. The foster care area will organize a birthday party hall where people can have birthday parties for their children,” he said.

Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes is an agency of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

It began in 1894 as an orphanage in Drew County. Today, it offers programs statewide.

In 2021, its foster care programs placed 266 children, helping 109 of them to be reunited with their families or to be adopted. Its Living Well Counseling program also provided 9,368 counseling sessions.

James McClintock, the church’s pastor, said donating the building to Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes was the best option.

Over the past 15 years or so, “we’ve seen a drop in membership and got to the point where we no longer needed the building and really couldn’t afford to maintain the maintenance. [up],” he said.

The new partnership will ensure that the building will continue to be used “to do the work of the kingdom of God”, he said.

“As far as our church is concerned, nothing will change at all. We will still meet in the worship center. We will have our office space and we will continue; we will simply share the building with the children’s home,” he said.

Organized in 1951, Markham Street Baptist Church grew rapidly as the city expanded westward. In 1986, the congregation opened a new 30,000 square foot educational facility valued at nearly $1.2 million.

At the time, average Sunday school attendance was 344, according to an annual report released by the state convention. That had dropped to 50 in 2019; then the pandemic hit.

“Markham Street Baptist Church has long struggled to attend church. And covid, in particular, has made it difficult for their congregation,” said Derek Brown, executive director of Baptist Children’s Homes in the United States. ‘Arkansas. “Despite their limitations, they have done a good job preserving the building. … The building is not in poor condition but just has a lot of deferred maintenance.”

The transfer of ownership took place on February 1, the agency said.

“It’s an exciting thing, I think, for Arkansas families across the state,” he said.

“Renovations have already begun and we are recruiting volunteers, both qualified and unqualified, to be able to help with this,” Brown said.

When completed, there will be 55,000 square feet available for the ministry, he said.

“We’re going to go in and put a new roof on the building, and brand new soffits, fascias and vinyl. We’ll have to cut and caulk all around the windows and clean everything up and then do some interior upgrades. Lots of [Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning] it will have to be replaced. Then we can make it functional and ready to go,” Brown said.

The goal is to open counseling and family resource centers on June 1, followed by administrative offices on September 1.

“It’s an aggressive schedule. But if we can get the volunteers in place, I think we can achieve it,” he added.

Brown said he wanted Arkansans to know “the faithfulness and generosity” of the Markham Street Baptist Church and their desire “to put the kingdom first.”


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