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Names in the News


John Avant, vice president of evangelization at the North American Mission Board, has accepted the pastorate of First Baptist Church of West Monroe, La. Avant came to the NAMB post in January 2005 from the pastorate of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville. He accepted the Louisiana pastorate in early May.

Avant pastored four churches in Texas before being called to New Hope in 1996. What has become known as the Brownwood Revival started at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in 1995 while Avant served as pastor.

Avant and his wife, Donna, have three adult children: Christi Ann Avant Watson, Amy Beth Avant, and Trey (John P. Avant III).

Tommy Starkes, a well-known Southern Baptist chaplain for the Southern Nevada Casino Chaplaincy, died of an apparent heart attack while walking near his Las Vegas home May 19. He was 67.

Starkes came to Las Vegas in December 1984 and for more than 20 years served as chaplain at several hotels, including the Flamingo, Bally’s, the Tropicana, the MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay. An ordained Southern Baptist minister, Starkes became pastor of the Church on the Strip in 1985 and served as chaplain for the UNLV football and baseball teams. Previously, he served as the first director of the Home Missions Board’s (now the North American Mission Board) Interfaith Witness department, and also served as a professor at New Orleans Seminary for five years.

Starkes is survived by his wife, Donna, three children – Tamara, Monte and Jesse – a brother and four grandchildren.