April 2009

Children’s theme reigns in Green Street makeover

April 23 2009 by Bob Burchette, Special to the Recorder

HIGH POINT – Children and parents react with a lot of “wow” in the new children’s facilities at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point.

Contributed photo

A renovated space at Green Street Baptist Church offers colorful, Bible themes to children of all ages.

The church just opened Kid World and UpStreet themed areas for babies through sixth graders with a lot of eye-catching things like places named for Bible characters and others with land, air and sea themes. Renovations are not merely cosmetic but represent a renewed focus to connect with Triad families, according to pastor Darryl Craft.

“We are committed to family ministry at our church,” Craft said.

Strolling along UpStreet, which is for children in grades 1-6, classrooms have a variety of dimensional signage such as Jacob’s Ice Cream, Samson’s Subs, Connect Coffee House, Luke’s Pharmacy, Peter’s Bait and Tackle and Jonah’s Surf Shack. The stroll ends at UpStreet Club House, a large worship theater, with state-of the-art video, sound and lighting technology.

“Both Kid World and UpStreet are a partnership with the parents of the children in these ministries,” said Eric Davis, pastor for discipleship and education.

Church volunteers did much of the painting and other chores. Both Kid World and UpStreet have the latest in computer check-in and check-out security measures.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Bob Burchette wrote this story and is a retired former editor/writer for the Greensboro News & Record.)

4/23/2009 4:23:00 AM by Bob Burchette, Special to the Recorder | with 0 comments

Promise Keepers invites women to gathering

April 23 2009 by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Promise Keepers, the evangelical ministry known for its focus on making men better fathers and husbands, is inviting women for the first time to its main 2009 conference, the ministry announced.

“This year we are calling men to bring the women in their lives,” founder and chairman Bill McCartney announced April 20. “To celebrate our 20th year of ministry, we are called to do three things: honor our wives, daughters, and sisters, be a tangible blessing to the poor and oppressed, and embrace our messianic Jewish brothers as our spiritual fathers in the faith.”

Promise Keepers, which at its height held more than a dozen large conferences a year across the country and gathered hundreds of thousands of men on the National Mall in a 1997 event, has diminished in size and staff in recent years. The lone 2009 event will be held in Boulder, Colo.

McCartney, a former University of Colorado football coach, returned to the helm of the ministry in 2008 after resigning in 2003 to care for his ill wife. After he left Promise Keepers, he started “The Road to Jerusalem” ministry that focuses on Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah.

4/23/2009 4:22:00 AM by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

N.C. communicators win awards

April 22 2009 by BR staff

Ten North Carolina Baptist communicators were recognized with 16 awards in competition “recognizing the best image-makers and storytellers in the Baptist Communicators Association (BCA) during the association’s annual meeting April 17.

The Biblical Recorder received four writing awards; the Baptist State Convention (BSC) received eight awards for design and public relations and Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) earned three writing awards and a photography award.

BR Editor Norman Jameson received second place awards for the editorial “Silence makes us irrelevant,” for his Spoke’n column “Leading the pack” and the feature series “Inside Out” about BSC institutional leaders.

Recorder Managing Editor Steve DeVane earned honorable mention in news writing for his stories on a juvenile justice mediation program.

Baptist Children’s Homes President Michael C. Blackwell won both first place and an honorable mention in editorial writing for his pieces “What’s right with the church?” and “Accepting oneself is key.”

BCH’s Charity and Children Editor Jim Edminson earned honorable mention for his first person column “I think I can, I thought I could!”

BCH writer Blake Ragsdale won honorable mention for his photograph “Reunion.”

BSC staff, which always make a strong showing among peers, won eight awards, including K Brown’s second in photography for “Ukraine’s gypsy church,” and a second on promotional videos with his wife, Dana, for “Built from the garbage.”

Lead graphic designer Kathryn Carson won seconds for a print ad “Revive us again,” and in interactive media for the www.ncbaptist.org web site. She won honorable mention for her brochure for the new Embrace women’s ministry.

Graphic designer Michael Forrest won first in promotional brochure for his piece for N.C. Baptists on world hunger. Leslie Crane won honorable mention in the same category for her Baptist Men’s piece on “The power of one.”

Mike Creswell, who leads the BSC stewardship and special offering efforts, won second place with the BSC creative team for their promotion of the 2008 North Carolina Missions Offering.

4/22/2009 5:14:00 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Small church event aims for big impact

April 22 2009 by BR staff

It began with one small church conference in 2008, but Impact 2009 quickly expanded.

“We’re trying to help small church pastors work within the unique characteristics of the small church, not retrofit large church ideas,” said Les Puryear, pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church in Lewisville and host of the first North Carolina Small Church Conference in 2008.

Puryear is in Tennessee (April 24-25) for Impact 2009; another event is planned May 22-23 at his church.

The original plan had six locations this year, but Puryear believes the faltering economy resulted in some being cancelled. Events in Georgia, Oklahoma and Missouri were cancelled because of low registrations.

“When giving is down in a large church, they probably have the resources to ride it out,” Puryear said. “However, when giving is down in a small church, it has a dramatic effect. I believe that is the reason for low registrations in some of the states.”

A conference was held in Oregon in March. Puryear said registration has been better in Oregon, Tennessee and North Carolina.

“The purpose of the conference is to encourage and equip small church pastors within the context of the small church,” he said. “Most other conferences have large pastors speaking about large church techniques with the assumption that the small church can implement their ideas with some adjustments. In most cases, this is not true. The small church is a very different organism from the large church. The small church is typically more relational and has fewer resources than the large church.”

In the future Puryear hopes to replace face-to-face conferences with webinars, which will be more cost effective for pastors.

The upcoming conference May 22-23 involves Friday night and Saturday. Lunch is included in the registration price. The cost is $25 per person. The event is sponsored by LifeWay,  International Mission Board, North American Mission Board and Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Puryear said church members have offered to host participants to cut down on costs. If anyone would like to stay for free, e-mail lespuryear@gmail.com; please include number.

Visit http://sbcsmallchurch.com/ for more information. Make out check to “It’s All About Jesus Ministries” and mail to: N.C. Small Church Conference, 920 Laurel Creek Lane, Lewisville, NC 27023. Call (336) 945-3706.
4/22/2009 5:12:00 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Miss Calif. stays true to Christian beliefs

April 22 2009 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

LAS VEGAS — It had all the elements of good TV drama, especially in 2009 America: a gay celebrity blogger asking a California beauty queen contestant a question about “gay marriage” during the Miss USA pageant, hosted in anything-goes Las Vegas.
Miss California, though, stood by her Christian beliefs, and some are wondering if it cost her the crown.
Carrie Prejean, 21, told a nationwide TV audience April 19 she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman. She eventually finished runner-up to Miss North Carolina, but she says she has no regrets about her answer.
The fact that Prejean is from California — where the high court legalized “gay marriage” last year only to have voters reverse that ruling by passing Proposition 8 — adds to the controversy surrounding her comments.
“By having to answer that question in front of a national audience, God was testing my character and faith,” she told Fox News. “I’m glad I stayed true to myself.”

Photo by Judy Eddy/WENN.com via Newscom

Carrie Prejean, Miss California, says she believes God was testing her when she fielded a question about "gay marriage" during the Miss USA pageant.

She told NBC’s “Today” show, “It’s not about being politically correct. For me, it was being biblically correct.” She added, regarding her missed opportunity to win the crown, “It wasn’t what God wanted for my life that night.”
Prejean is a student at San Diego Christian College in El Cajon just outside San Diego and a volunteer at Shadow Mountain Community Church’s International Ministry Center, where she helps refugees learn English, the Christian Examiner reported. Shadow Mountain is a Southern Baptist church where popular TV and radio minister David Jeremiah is pastor. The Examiner reported Prejean is studying to become an elementary school special education teacher.
She has received a host of criticism and praise. Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, who is homosexual and as one of 12 judges was randomly picked to ask the question, posted a video on his website in which he called her a “dumb (expletive)” with “half a brain.” He also said she “alienated so many people.”
Chris Clark, pastor of East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church in San Diego, applauded Prejean. He helped lead the effort in his area to get Christians behind Prop 8.
“She was extremely courageous, especially considering the venue. You’re looking Perez Hilton in the eye and telling him, no offense, but this is what I believe. That is bold,” Clark told Baptist Press (BP). “That is exactly what we need more of, and she did it in a kind way and a very respectful way. She was great.”
Mitch Fisk, vice president for enrollment and marketing at San Diego Christian College, said he was impressed by Prejean’s character after overhearing a conversation she had with her adviser, whose office is just a few doors down from his. The conservation came last year after she had won the Miss California title.
“Keep in mind that this conversation took place with no one else around. The consistent themes were, ‘I want to do what I can to have an impact’ and ‘I want to do what I can to take advantage of the situation that God has placed me in to have an impact,’“ he told BP.
During the broadcast Hilton asked: “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”
Prejean responded, “I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite(-sex) marriage. And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman — no offense to anybody out there — but that’s how I was raised and ... I think that it should be between a man and a woman.”
The crowd seemed to like her answer, and its applause was louder than the boos.
Keith Lewis, co-executive director of Miss California USA/Teen USA, submitted a statement to Hilton’s web site in which he said he was “personally saddened and hurt” that Prejean “believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman.” Lewis added, “Religious beliefs have no place in politics in the Miss CA family.”
Hilton himself was quoted as saying Prejean “lost because of that question.” Known for his bombastic statements, he said that if Prejean had won, “I would have gone up on stage, snatched that tiara off her head and run out the door.” As one of the 12 TV judges, Hilton’s score figured into deciding who won. The scores on the questions and answers, though, are not released publicly.
Ron Prentice, chairman of ProtectMarriage.com — the official campaign behind Prop 8 — released a statement thanking Prejean for “speaking her mind in support of traditional marriage.”
“She represented the silent majority in America and expressed a point of view that over 7 million California voters also expressed just last November,” Prentice said. “... Thank you, Miss California, for knowing the truth about marriage and standing up for it, even when you knew that your honest answer may hinder your chances for the crown of Miss USA.”
Prejean told radio host Billy Bush that her sister “is a gay rights activist” who has “been to many, many rallies.” But Prejean said her sister was proud of her because she stood up for her beliefs. Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today show asked her if she wished she had given a more politically correct middle-of-the-road answer, which Hilton said she should have done.
“That goes against what I stand for,” she said of such an answer. “And when I’m asked a specific question, I’m going to give a specific answer. I’m not going to stand in the middle.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.)

4/22/2009 5:07:00 AM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

Crossover Louisville ’09 aims for ‘lasting impact’

April 21 2009 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Even storied, 135-year-old Churchill Downs — home of the Kentucky Derby — will be among the ministry venues as Southern Baptists engage in Crossover Louisville ’09.

BP file photo

Bobby Worthington, right, explains the gospel to Nathaniel Harris, 20, before Harris prays to receive Christ during Crossover San Antonio in 2007.

Now in its 21st year, Crossover is an evangelistic thrust to share the gospel of Jesus Christ the week before the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in each year’s host city.

Crossover Louisville ’09 will kick off with Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) on Sunday, June 14, and will culminate the June 19-20 weekend prior to the June 23-24 SBC annual meeting at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Crossover will be jointly sponsored by SBC’s North American Mission Board, the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Long Run Baptist Association in Louisville.

“Our objective is to share Jesus and have a lasting impact on metro Louisville,” said Charles Barnes, longtime Baptist lay leader in Louisville, retired banking executive and chairman of the Crossover Louisville ’09 steering committee.

“We’re not interested in things that will have some glamour for only a week or so and then die,” Barnes said. “We hope it will spark us to a new era of growth among all our churches and as a catalyst to move forward more aggressively.”

Barnes said the Long Run Baptist Association includes some 160 Southern Baptist churches, and about 40 of them will participate in 32 block parties in various Louisville neighborhoods.

Five churches will band together for a single block party in Veterans Park in the Louisville suburb of Jeffersontown.

Hundreds of Southern Baptist volunteers from around the nation are expected to come to Louisville to support Crossover events — the block parties, an international fair featuring nine different ethnic groups, a separate Hispanic fair and door-to-door evangelism by ICE (Intentional Community Evangelism) team volunteers from NAMB and across the country.

BP file photo

Richard Leach, center, servant/ministry evangelism team leader at the North American Mission Board, shows a tract with the gospel in 2007.

Metro Louisville’s 1 million population includes some 50,000 Hispanics, with several hundred living right around Churchill Downs, working as jockeys, trainers, groomers and in other capacities, said Joshua Del Risco, NAMB’s coordinator for multiethnic evangelism in Alpharetta, Ga.

With help from Yurian Santiesteban, Southern Baptist chaplain at Churchill Downs, Crossover volunteers will visit the racetrack, witness to the Hispanic horsemen and invite them to nightly revival services at 10 area Hispanic churches, including a new church plant located almost across the street from Churchill Downs, Iglesias Baptista Victoria (Victory Baptist Church).

“When we leave Louisville, these 10 young Hispanic churches will be expected to continue their growth and keep implementing the things we learned during Crossover,” Del Risco said.

Victor Benavides, coordinator of urban evangelism for NAMB, said planners are praying for at least 2,000 salvation decisions and six-to-eight new church plants.

For additional information about Crossover Louisville ’09, to register as a volunteer or to participate in ICE, go to www.crossoverlouisville.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)

4/21/2009 5:59:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

North Carolinians lead resolutions committee

April 21 2009 by Baptist Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin will chair the Resolutions Committee named by Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Johnny Hunt and two North Carolina pastors will join him on the committee.

Akin will be joined by Michael Cloer, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, and  Al Gilbert, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, along with seven other committee members.

The procedure for submitting resolutions is as follows according to Bylaw 20:
  • Proposed resolutions may be submitted as early as April 15 but no later than 15 days prior to the SBC annual meeting, giving the Resolutions Committee a two-week period in which to consider submissions. Resolutions may no longer be submitted during the annual meeting.
  • Proposed resolutions must be accompanied by a letter from a church qualified to send a messenger to the SBC annual meeting certifying that the individual submitting the resolution is a member in good standing.
  • Proposed resolutions preferably should be submitted by e-mail or mailed to the Resolutions Committee in care of the SBC Executive Committee. The drafts must be typewritten, titled, dated and include complete contact information for the person and his or her church.
  • No person will be allowed to submit more than three resolutions per year.
  • If a properly submitted resolution is not forwarded by the Resolutions Committee to the SBC annual meeting, a two-thirds vote of messengers would be required to bring the proposed resolution to the convention floor.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — All resolutions adopted by the SBC can be searched and read on the web at http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/AMResSearch.asp.)

4/21/2009 5:57:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Mars Hill students in Costa Rica during break

April 21 2009 by Mars Hill College Media Relations

“We were there to change the wall, but the wall changed us,” student Kasey Boston said during a chapel service at Mars Hill College recently.

Boston and other Mars Hill College students were telling about their week of service in Puriscal, Costa Rica, where simply painting a wall around the city cemetery opened doors and inspired pride in the community.

Students were able to see community pride mounting through the week, as people nearby started painting homes and other buildings.

“It was funny,” Boston said. “Every day there were more people painting. We felt like we were starting a painting trend.”

Mars Hill photo

Mars Hill College students spent their break painting a wall around a cemetery in Costa Rica.

The Mars Hill students originally planned to visit a local English class one evening.  

“But we all just loved it, and the people were wonderful,” Boston said.  So they ended up going to the class each evening of their time in Puriscal.

The English students were very knowledgeable about English, Boston said, but they had had very little opportunity to converse with English speakers.  

The Mars Hill students’ nightly conversations “helped them see how we really talk,” Boston said.   

For Mars Hill student Kaitlyn Allen, the trip to Costa Rica was the continuation of her ongoing dream to be involved in missionary service work.

That dream began when she made three trips to Gulfport, Miss. to help with the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina.  

“Those trips changed my life for the better. Each time I’ve gone on a service trip, it changes me, and gives me a new perspective. It opens my eyes to new ways of life,” she said.

A new perspective is something all the Mars Hill students brought back from Costa Rica.  

Without exception, each student said he or she was deeply affected by the concept of “pura vida,” which permeates the Costa Rican culture.

The words “pura vida,” means “pure life.”  

In context, the phrase refers to a simplicity of living, a slow pace of life, and a focus on other human beings, on beauty, on family.

According to the Mars Hill students, the residents of Puriscal had very little regard for time as Americans measure it, but their regard for their families, and for the strangers in their midst was enormous.

“They are just more relaxed and peaceful.” Boston said. “I’m sure they have their problems, but as a rule, everyone was friendly, and no one was stressed out, and they place much less importance on material things.”

4/21/2009 5:55:00 AM by Mars Hill College Media Relations | with 0 comments

Dying church finds way to reach community

April 21 2009 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

Grace Baptist Church — once one of the fastest growing congregations in Charlotte — sold its buildings and disbanded earlier this year.

Finding a way to spread joy from a “sad situation,” the church sold its facility below market value to a growing black congregation and gifted missions in many venues.

Leland Stephens was pastor at Grace during its heyday. He led the congregation from 1959 to 1979 and returned in the late 1990s for three years as interim pastor in an effort to help the church get back on its feet.

Stephens said that in the 1960s and early 1970s houses were popping up all around the church, which was founded in 1946.

Young families buying the houses joined the congregation.

The church grew from 70 to about 1,200, according to Stephens, who called the growth “absolutely amazing.”

That started to change in the late 1970s when a black family moved into the neighborhood. “For sale” signs started popping up.

Stephens said he pleaded with people in the community to welcome their new neighbors, but it didn’t do any good.  As white families sold, black families bought.

Church membership dropped.

“It kept going down and down and down,” Stephens said.

Membership leveled off for a while when Stephens returned as interim, but later started to decline again.

“Panic set in, and despair,” he said.

Jim Rhyne, who joined the church in 1978, was chairman of deacons at Grace when the congregation was trying to decide what to do.

He also chaired a transition committee formed about a year ago as attendance dropped into the 40s on Sundays.

“We were just staying afloat,” he said. “We were not making headway.”

A Hispanic congregation and later a Presbyterian church rented Grace’s old sanctuary. The income helped Grace meet its expenses, but didn’t stop the decline.

The average age of the congregation was about 75 or a little higher, he said.

“We were just not reaching the community,” he said.

There was some discussion of selling the buildings and moving, but eventually the church voted unanimously to disband, Rhyne said.

“It was hard,” he said. “It really was.”

Daphene Cantrell, a retired district court judge and a member of Grace since 1964, said “there wasn’t anything happy” about what happened.

“You’d have to go through it,” she said. “It’s a traumatic experience.”

Cantrell, the church historian, wrote a church history given to those who attended the final service on Jan. 25. She said she stayed up till 2 a.m. many nights leading up to the sale trying to finish the history.

“I wanted to have a lot of specifics in it because I knew it would be the last history of Grace Baptist Church,” she said. “I wanted to give credit to so many of the people who were diligent in their positions.”

Stephens said the church had a great history.

“It’s sad, but it’s not all sad,” Stephens said. “The church did a lot of good.”

Grace sent out more than 20 people into the ministry, Stephens said.

Numerous people were saved, weddings were held, and friendships were formed at the church, he said.

“It was a good church,” he said. “It was a place you could come and raise your kids.”

Grace was always a missions-minded church, Rhyne said.

“We planted seeds we may never see, but God will,” he said.

Cantrell said she heard of a church that was sold on the open market and was eventually bought by an Islamic group. Initially she didn’t want to take part in any discussion about selling the property.

Eventually, she came to accept the situation by describing the transaction as transferring the property to another Christian group.

“The salvation for us is it is in the hands of a Christian congregation that loves it,” she said. “That’s my solace.”

One of the conditions of the sale was that the buyer use it only as a Christian place of worship, Rhyne said. Morris Reddon is pastor of Greater Bethel AME Church, which bought Grace’s facilities.

He said his congregation understood that the members of Grace wanted someone to worship Jesus Christ in the building.

“We could make that promise without any difficulty,” he said.

Grace gift
Some of the members of Grace attended Greater Bethel’s first Sunday on the property Feb. 1. They stood when the church recognized visitors.

“It was bittersweet for them and you could see it,” Reddon said. “We promised to take care of it for them.”

Rhyne said Grace sold the property, which was valued at about $2.2 million, to Greater Bethel for $750,000. Buildings on the property total more than 25,000 square feet and sit on about five acres, he said.

Reddon said Greater Bethel had looked at other properties around Charlotte.

“To be honest, nothing compared to this,” he said. “If you’re looking to grow like we are, this is the perfect place to be.”

After paying off the debt, members of Grace voted to give $100,000 each to the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings.

They also gave $10,000 each to the Cooperative Program and to the Metrolina Baptist Association; and $22,500 each to the Presbyterian and Hispanic congregations that had rented the old sanctuary, to a church that Stephens was serving as interim pastor and to N.C. Baptist Men.

Money left from a $20,000 continency fund to pay late invoices and other things will go to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

In addition, the members of Grace visiting Greater Bethel on its first Sunday presented the AME congregation with a check for $100,000 to help with repairs.

“They didn’t have to do that,” Reddon said. “Grace showed us grace.”

Reddon said the members of Greater Bethel, which had been meeting in a funeral home for a year, weren’t thinking about repairs when they moved in.

“This looked like a palace to us,” he said. “It’s a miracle.”

Members of Greater Bethel canvassed the area before the church moved, Reddon said. Membership is growing with some visitors coming from the community, he said.

Rhyne said he is glad the church is reaching the community.

“You can drive by that church and see cars in the parking lot, see activity and see the building used for the glory of God,” Rhyne said.

Stephens said he is happy to see the buildings full of people again.

“From my perspective, I take great pride in seeing the buildings filled with happy worshippers,” he said. “It’s a sad story, but it’s a good story. The church lives on.”

4/21/2009 5:54:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 2 comments

Allan Blume first to lead BSC three terms

April 20 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Since high school, Allan Blume has displayed a penchant for detail and organization that still serves him well as the first three-term president of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) Board of Directors.

Blume, pastor for 15 years of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, was elected to his third one-year term in January, by the 101-member board which meets three times a year and acts as the Convention between annual sessions. That position also makes him chairman of the Board’s Executive Committee, which meets almost monthly.

His abilities were recognized by age 17 when he won a summer scholarship from Eastern Airlines which was looking for students to train for its reservations computer system.

By age 18 he was an assistant supervisor in Wachovia Bank’s computer department, while attending Wingate College. While a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary he worked for a mortgage bank in Fort Worth.

Showing such proficiency garnered Blume high salary offers at every step, but he said, “I always knew it wasn’t God’s call.”

He was certain God’s call on his life was to preach because he asked God for three confirmations — and got them. First, a school teacher asked if he had ever considered the ministry; then a woman rose from her chair at a nursing home where Blume was singing with a group and said, “Young man, God is calling you to preach and you’d better listen.”

When he discussed those incidents and feelings about call, his pastor told him, “I’ve known that for a long time. I was just waiting for you to catch up.”

Blume graduated with a religion major from Carson-Newman University in Tennessee and in 1975 with a master of divinity from Southwestern Seminary.

Blume remains committed to being a part of the calling out process in which, “God uses the whole body of Christ in the process of training, cultivating and encouraging people to ministry.”

After seminary Blume was a minister of evangelism in Tulsa, Okla., before being called to Statesville Avenue Baptist in Charlotte, where he served 12 and a half years.

Then he went as executive pastor to help Carson-Newman buddy Joe Brown who was seeing exponential growth at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte. Brown needed an administrator who could preach too.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Allan Blume

Churches were just beginning to utilize computers and Hickory Grove had a half dozen. Six years later the church had more than 60 computers connected through a fiber optic backbone across the campus, the efficiency of which saved $30,000 one year in utilities alone by programming the heating and air conditioning efficiently.

Blume was there while the church crossed both the 3,000 and 8,000 member mark and was fast approaching 9,000.

“It was crazy,” he said. “It was like trying to jump on a train moving at 90 miles an hour and trying to say I’m in charge. Nobody’s in charge, you just jump on the train and keep moving.”

Today Hickory Grove is considered North Carolina Baptists’ largest church, with 16,000 members. Joe Brown is still senior pastor.

The stress of accommodating that growth, renting shopping centers for classroom space, buying shuttle buses, construction, security, computers and other myriad tasks made Blume, then age 45, at least open to talking to Mount Vernon when it asked him to consider becoming its pastor.

Mount Vernon is a strong rural church, 143 years old, with an uncommon member mix from farmers to professionals; multi-million dollar homes to trailer parks. About half the membership is native to Boone. Typical Sunday morning attendance in two services is 700-750.

The church has a Hispanic ministry, coordinated by a woman who had worked at the Baptist Seminary in Mexico City. Half the annual baptisms at Mount Vernon are Hispanics and Blume conducts them in Spanish.
Four years as officer
While Blume is the first known three-term BSC board chair, he also was vice chair in his first year on the board. So, he is likely the first person to be an officer all four years of his board service.

He is willing to invest the time required in such service because, “I believe strongly in the big picture of kingdom work.”

“Cooperation is very important to me,” Blume said. “We need each other.”

Consequently, Blume is involved in his local association, too, as well as BSC and national meetings to cast his vote for investing Cooperative Program money in kingdom work “because we are doing together what we cannot do individually.”

“We really need cooperation,” he said. “If we don’t have that we’re not going to make an impact on the world for the kingdom.”

Blume believes each staff person and missionary of the Baptist State Convention, local association or any Southern Baptist agency is a staff member of every church. Each church helps pay their salaries, so pray for them and use them, he says.

He believes the denominational structure is a tool. “The International Mission Board does not exist to do missions,” Blume said. “It exists to give us the channel through which we can do missions.”

As BSC board chair, Blume said, “I want to have an influence in helping guide these ministries in the passions I feel are important.”
Tough years
During his terms, the BSC has gone through significant transition. He said the colleges’ transition to a new relationship in which they elect their own trustees and give up Cooperative Program funds “was not that difficult.”

After an initial false start with a failed vote at the 2006 annual meeting, “everyone was willing to talk a little more” and the resulting change is “a win-win for everyone.”

The ongoing disagreement with the Baptist Retirement Homes (BRH) “has been a real puzzle,” he said, “because of their unwillingness to talk openly.”

BRH initiated a process in August 2005 by which it would elect its own trustees in exchange for giving up Cooperative Program funds. It is a status similar to what the colleges were discussing, but after initial approval from the Executive Committee, pending review by lawyers, it was determined BRH needed to step back and initiate a “severing of relationship” process before establishing the new relationship it desired. Its trustees declined to do so and a relationship study is ongoing, with a recommendation likely at the November annual meeting.

“It’s still a puzzle as to why they did what they did,” Blume said.

Even more difficult was the agonizing months of meetings trying to resolve the relationship dispute between BSC and its auxiliary Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), said Blume. He said he still hears from people “on every side of the aisle” who say the August 2007 WMU vote to move out of the Baptist staff building in Cary and the resultant loss of funding was “the most unnecessary thing they’ve ever seen.”

Blume, whose mother is active in WMU at a Charlotte church, said he was “never anti-WMU.” He sees the rift as threatening WMU’s ability to sustain funding into the future and believes “there is definitely a move away from involvement with the WMU” among North Carolina Baptist churches “because of the tension they’ve created.”

“Most women today are looking for a positive spiritual experience,” he said. “They don’t want to get into some battle.”
Joys of leadership
Blume said he’s always appreciated North Carolina Baptists’ ministry together, but during his board service he’s been “regularly encouraged, amazed and blessed” by hearing first hand reports of helping ministries.

Blume has served nationally on the Southern Baptist Convention Tellers Committee and Credentials Committee. He also served three years on the Committee on Order of Business, which plans the annual meeting, including an unprecedented two years as chair. He chaired the committee during Bobby Welch’s second term and Frank Page’s first term as SBC president.

He and his wife, Pam, married in 1972. She is from Newport News, Va., and has served on the International Mission Board. They have one son, Jeremy, who lives in Atlanta.

4/20/2009 7:46:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 1 comments

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