Published February 10, 2011
PHOENIX – Massive cacti. Mountain peaks stretching toward the turquoise-colored sky. Cowboys and, yes, Native Americans.
But also the nation’s largest university – Arizona State – with 81,000 students, high-tech companies tied to the global computer trade, and a population that exploded by 45 percent to be the second fastest growing in the nation prior to the current recession.
That’s the setting Georgia Baptists will encounter as the Southern Baptist Convention returns to Arizona’s capital city for the first time since 1993 for this year’s Crossover and annual convention meeting. This year’s dates, including Crossover, are June 11-15.
The North American Mission Board has been working to coordinate a variety of outreach events that will take Christ to residents who are distressed by the economic downturn, immigration issues which tear at families, and spiritual seeking that never provides lasting answers.
This year Crossover will be unique in that it will stretch 120 miles along the Phoenix-Tucson Corridor, also known as the I-10 Corridor, encompassing 5.2 million residents. Ministry opportunities are varied and include Chinese and Hispanic festivals to horse roping events to water-themed block parties.
Crossover is Saturday, June 11, but many events will occur weeks in advance. This special issue of The Christian Index – four pages packed with insightful information – is provided to give you an overview so you and your church can be involved in this life-changing event. Visit www.christianindex.org for additional photos as a supplement to the print edition.
• Metropolitan Phoenix, which is home to the state capital, is known as The Valley of the Sun.
• The population of greater Phoenix is 1.6 million, which includes 23 cities. It is the nation’s fifth largest city.
• Until the recession Phoenix was the nation’s second fastest growing city, expanding at 45 percent – three times the national average – from 1990 to 2000. Las Vegas was the fastest growing.
• Three Baptist associations – Estrella, Central, and Valley Rim – serve the area with 161 churches and missions.
• The city of Casa Grande, or “Great House,” is named after an excavated pueblo built by the ancient Hohokam people. Dating from 1450 B.C., it is one of the largest prehistoric structures in North America and was used for nearly 1,000 years.
• The population of this growing city, located halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, is 45,000 – more than double the 19,000 residents in 1990.
• Gila Valley Baptist Association has 26 churches.
• The oldest church in the association is First Pima Baptist Church in Sacaton, on the Gila River Indian Community (formerly known as “reservation”). It is 85 years old and has 40 members.
• Trinity Southern Baptist Church is the largest congregation with about 600 members. It is a strong Cooperative Program giving church, contributing 12.25 percent as well as four percent to the association.
• Casa Grande has become a bedroom community to Greater Phoenix, an hour away to the north.
• Tucson is the sunniest city in the nation with more than 350 days of annual sunshine.
• The city’s population is 544,000 but more than 1 million live in the metropolitan area.
• Nearly 65 percent of the population claims to participate in some kind of congregation – including Catholics, Mormons, and cults such as Wiccans – but only six percent claims to be evangelical Christian.
• There are a total of 69 churches and church plants in Catalina Baptist Association, which includes Tucson.
• About 70 percent of households in the metropolitan area have no children.
• Nearly 44 percent of households have no family relationships, meaning members are not related by marriage, birth, or adoption.
• More than 20,000 households are linguistically isolated, meaning that no family members speak English.
Slogan: The Grand Canyon State
Area: Sixth largest state
Largest Cities: Phoenix with 1.6 million, Tucson with 544,000, and Flagstaff with 60,283
State Reptile: Arizona Ridgenosed Rattlesnake
Bird: Cactus Wren
Fossil: Petrified Wood
Neckwear: Bolo Tie
Fish: Apache Trout
Motto: God Enriches
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