April 2010

Herrod to be 1st VP nominee

April 26 2010 by J. Gerald Harrism, Baptist Press

ATLANTA — Evangelist Bailey Smith, a former Southern Baptist Convention president and former pastor, will nominate evangelist Ron Herrod for first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the June 15-16 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Herrod is the current president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists.

“I feel that Ron Herrod’s years of experience as a successful pastor, as an anointed evangelist and as a man of integrity will serve him well in this capacity,” Smith said.

BP photo

Ron Herrod

After serving as a senior pastor of several Southern Baptist churches for more than 35 years, Herrod launched R.H.E.M.A. (Ron Herrod Evangelism Ministries Association) in 1995 based in Sevierville, Tenn. Herrod’s pastorates had included First Baptist Church in Kenner, La.; First Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Ark.; and Central Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

In addition to preaching hundreds of revivals and crusades across the nation, Herrod has conducted mission projects in more than 30 countries. He has an international tape ministry and has written seven books.

Herrod is a graduate of William Carey College (B.A.), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Th.M.), and Luther Rice Seminary (Th.D.).

His denominational experience includes service as trustee of the International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Louisiana College.

He has served as president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference and vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference.

Herrod and his wife Emily, who have been married 47 years, have three grown children and eight grandchildren. He is a member of Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn.

Information from the 2009 Annual Church Profile for Grace Baptist lists 204 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 2,884. The church gave $174,999, or 3.76 percent, through the Cooperative Program from total undesignated receipts of $4,654,098. According to the ACP, the church also received $20,000 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and $2,128 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

Herrod is the first announced nominee for SBC first vice president this year.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Harris is editor of The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.)  
4/26/2010 10:11:00 AM by J. Gerald Harrism, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Jimmy Jackson joins SBC president ballot

April 23 2010 by Baptist Press

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Jimmy Jackson, president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at June’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Jackson was the SBC’s first vice president for 2006-07 and has been senior pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., for 31 years.

“I’ve been encouraged to be a candidate for the Southern Baptist Convention president,” Jackson told The Alabama Baptist. “As we move forward as a state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention to reach the world for Jesus Christ, I would like to be a part of that.

“As I’ve prayed about the opportunity, I have a peace about it and have consented to be nominated.”

BP photo

Jimmy Jackson

Jackson is the second nominee for SBC president, joining Bryant Wright, senior pastor of the Atlanta-area Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta. Jackson, who has led the Alabama Baptist convention the past two years, also has served as first and second vice president of the SBC.

He holds a divinity degree and Ph.D. in Hebrew and Old Testament from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a native of Greenwood, Miss., and a graduate of Mississippi College.

He has been an assistant parliamentarian at the SBC’s annual meetings for nearly 25 years. He is a trustee at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former member of the SBC Executive Committee.

Information from the 2009 Annual Church Profile (ACP) for Whitesburg Baptist Church lists 163 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 1,556. The church gave $295,748, or 4.64 percent, through the Cooperative Program from total undesignated receipts of $6,364,921.

According to the ACP, the church also received $236,735 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and $138,548 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, described Jackson as “a statesman-like figure in Alabama Baptist life.”

“Jimmy has strong leadership qualities and has remained consistent through the challenges of more than 30 years as pastor of one church,” Lance added.

If elected, Jackson would be only the second SBC president from Alabama in the history of the SBC. Jonathan Haralson was the first Alabamian to fill that role (1889–98).

Under Jackson’s leadership, Whitesburg Baptist Church has grown from less than 3,000 members in 1978 to more than 7,000 today.

Nearly 6,000 baptisms have taken place at the church since he became pastor, The Alabama Baptist reported. But pinning down those numbers just by talking to Jackson is pretty difficult to do, several Whitesburg Baptist members told The Alabama Baptist, saying that he’s never let the numbers become more important than the people they represent.

“One thing about Brother Jimmy is that he’s never cared about the numbers,” said Karen Tidwell, his executive assistant for the past six years and a church member for more than 30 years. It’s always been about the people.

In fact, the names of the people who make up Whitesburg Baptist Church have been on Jackson’s lips every day of all his years there, with The Alabama Baptist recounting that one of his first requests as pastor was for a list of members so that he could pray for each one by name every week.

He has continued that practice for 31 years, the paper reported, and he credits God’s response to those prayers as an underlying source of strength for the church.

Jackson and his wife Bobbi will celebrate their 50th anniversary this June. They have two grown children and six grandchildren.

The vote for SBC president is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, June 15, in the convention sessions at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Reported by Jennifer Davis Rash, managing editor of The Alabama Baptist, and Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.)
4/23/2010 2:52:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Delay GCR til 2011, Mo. board urges

April 23 2010 by Baptist Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director David Tolliver will attempt to make a motion at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June asking messengers to receive the report by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) and delay any action for one year until all entities involved can do a spiritual/financial impact study.

The motion by Tolliver was sanctioned by the 54-member MBC executive board in an April 13 vote without opposition. The vote also gives Tolliver authority to speak for the board as a messenger from his church, Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City.

The executive board also passed a resolution without opposition urging the GCRTF to postpone action on their report until the SBC’s 2011 annual meeting, while pledging to pray for a Great Commission resurgence in the SBC and for the work of the task force.

The intent of this action is to allow impacted entities sufficient time to study the ramifications of the GCRTF’s recommendations, Tolliver said, noting that the dissolving of cooperative agreements between state conventions and the North American Mission Board is among the GCRTF’s proposals.

Such a move could cost the MBC the loss of 18 employees and an estimated $1.8 million in annual revenue, Tolliver said. Concern was raised by the MBC executive board that SBC governance was not being respected as the GCRTF process has progressed.

Board member Larry Lewis of First Baptist Church in Centralia and president of the former Home Mission Board (now NAMB) from 1987-97, was among those who expressed such a view.

“In Baptist polity, we don’t basically try to operate and run agencies by group action,” Lewis said. “We elect trustees to do that. And so we want to refer this whole issue to the trustees.”

Tolliver said he was pleased the board decided to speak to the GCRTF issue and hopes messengers will hear his motion and approve it. The board’s action came just days after eight state executive directors met with six members of the GCRTF for a private meeting at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., hosted by Union President David S. Dockery.

Tolliver said he was not invited and was unaware of the meeting until he received an e-mail informing him about it after the fact.

The GCRTF report is expected to come before messengers on the first day of the June 14-15 SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Reported by the staff of The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)
4/23/2010 2:48:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 1 comments

‘Food Revolution’ leaves air, but not community

April 23 2010 by Ken Walker, Baptist Press

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The final episode of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” airs tonight, but the Southern Baptist church that sparked the ABC mini-series enjoyed a sneak preview at its midweek service April 21.

Some of the scenes in the finale will look familiar: They were filmed in the parking lot of suburban First Baptist Church of Kenova the afternoon of April 13.

Billed as a “Cooking Boot Camp,” the event had the feel of a community festival. First Baptist roped off the parking lot and set up several tents for healthy cooking demonstrations and pep talks by British chef Jamie Oliver.

First Baptist teaching pastor Steve Willis worked in a tent where Oliver showed parents how to pack healthy lunches. Willis created fruit-based smoothies that included yogurt and nuts.

“I’m glad it’s wrapping up,” Willis said of the attention generated by the six-week reality TV show. “Dozens of churches — not just in America, but throughout the world — are calling and sending me e-mails, saying, ‘What are you guys doing? We’ve got the same problem here.’”

While Oliver has become a local celebrity thanks to the visibility of the national broadcast, his visit originated with First Baptist. The church instituted exercise classes after a fall 2008 report from the Centers for Disease Control listed the Huntington area as the nation’s unhealthiest.

Photo by Ken Walker

British chef Jamie Oliver, right, at his final “Food Revolution” episode in Huntington, W.Va., is joined by teaching pastor Steve Willis of First Baptist Church of Kenova, left, and Ashley Thompson, project manager of the Huntingdon’s Kitchen ministry, a local venue called “Jamie’s Kitchen” during the TV series.

“We knew it was a problem,” Willis said, “because I was in the hospital all the time, seeing people die from obesity-related diseases or having all these surgeries. We had the most obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, gum disease, sleep habits and the worst exercise habits.”

After Willis preached about obesity, 40 people answered an altar call to enlist in its “Biggest Loser” program. Despite its success, Willis later told his wife he didn’t know anything about proper eating.

Last year, the day after he prayed, “Lord, I need somebody to come in and teach nutrition,” Oliver’s production crew called. They had read a story online about the church’s health initiative and wanted to help.

“The fact they called the next day — I knew God was sending the guy here,” Willis said. The Food Revolution series has generated curiosity seekers, including a couple from London who wanted to meet Willis. Visitors from other nations and states also have shown up, making the church a bit of a tourist attraction, the pastor said. Sunday attendance averages about 400.

While the public spotlight will fade after the April 23 finale, the church’s healthy emphasis will continue. In addition to opening its family life center three hours a day for walking, First Baptist hosts aerobics on Monday nights and Zumba classes on Tuesdays.

Collectively, participants in its exercise program have shed a ton of weight, including one woman who has lost 75 pounds and another who dropped 70. Church member Stacie Edwards, whose family was featured prominently in the first two episodes, has lost 20 pounds. Her husband Tim also has lost 20 and son Justin is 35 pounds lighter.

Though initially skeptical of Oliver’s efforts, Stacie Edwards said she is off medications she had been taking and is much happier today. The family recently dug up the fryer it buried during the first episode in order to clear the ground for a vegetable garden.

“Jamie was there and backed us up for so many weeks,” Edwards said. “He was in our lives for three months. It seemed like it woke me up. I think that’s what I needed, to be awakened and humbled.”

Barbara Hicks, one of the cooks who prepare meals for Wednesday night dinners at the church, said the Food Revolution has made her more aware of the need to choose healthier products.

The menu for the April 21 fellowship dinner includes hot chicken salad, lettuce topped with herbed tomatoes, oven-roasted asparagus and French bread.

Hicks said the crew now fixes more salads and uses fewer mayonnaise-based dressings, roasts vegetables and has cut out the use of most canola oil and butter. A widow who lives alone, Hicks said in the past she was tempted to grab a sandwich at home but instead makes a salad or fresh entrée.

“I’ve just become more aware it is better to eat healthy food than to have all that fat in the arteries,” Hicks said.

Longtime First Baptist member Richard Lykins said he has purchased a treadmill, is taking more hikes with his family and is choosing water over soda.

A supervisor at an area chemical plant, Lykins said he has had to make an effort to eat healthier at work because when men cook there the food is often fattening. Crediting a recent five-pound weight loss to awareness spread by the church’s emphasis and Jamie Oliver’s show, Lykins said the changes have been “great.”

“I think it’s sparked everyone to be accountable for their health and to take care of themselves and their family,” Lykins said. “I think it’s going to help not only now, but generations from now.”

Church member Jane Galloway, who helps supervise those who walk at the family life center on Monday mornings, hopes the changes will filter down to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“You have to start small and do it all your life,” said Galloway, whose mother and some relatives died at a young age because of heart disease. “We have a lot of unhealthy children. I have a grandchild who lives on chicken nuggets, so I’m hoping this will affect her. We’ve got to start young and bring ’em up right.”

At the other end of the age scale, Willis can already see a change. Despite one of the area’s harshest winters in years, he didn’t officiate at any funerals in recent months where a death was related to obesity.

In the past, “It seemed like every other week I was doing a funeral of somebody who was dying before their time,” the pastor said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Walker is a writer in Huntington, W.Va., who wrote the recent Biblical Recorder series on church security.)
4/23/2010 2:37:00 AM by Ken Walker, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Spiritual spark buoyed TV series

April 23 2010 by Ken Walker, Baptist Press

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — While the TV persona of British chef Jamie Oliver has added nationwide attention to the topic of nutrition, there was a spiritual spark to his “Food Revolution” in Huntington, W.Va.

In addition to a local Baptist pastor saying God sent Oliver to this Ohio River city, Yvonne Jones has no doubt the Lord arranged the visit.

Jones, executive director of the Huntington-based Ebenezer Medical Outreach, saw Oliver discussing healthy cooking on the “Today” show two years ago. She said she prayed, “Lord, it sure would be great if he came to Huntington.”

“Then Pastor Steve (Willis) was saying he was talking with his congregation about the need to eat healthy and (Oliver’s) production company called him,” Jones said. “Why his church (the Huntington-area First Baptist Church of Kenova) of all the churches in this area? Because God planned it that way.”

Although the six-week mini-series concludes tonight, the revolution it started will continue at the local storefront kitchen venue that Oliver used during filming last fall. Renamed Huntington’s Kitchen, Ebenezer assumed its operations Feb. 3. The Christian-based ministry offers a series of 10 healthy cooking classes during the week and two Saturdays a month. Attendance ranges from four to 12 people, with classes already booked into June.

Photo by Ken Walker

Steve Willis, teaching pastor of the Huntington-area First Baptist Church of Kenova, W.Va., pours smoothies of fruit, yogurt and nuts as part of the filming of the final episode of British chef Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution.”

Although First Baptist had offered some cooking classes in the past, the church now sends interested individuals to Huntington’s Kitchen.

Combined with its exercise classes and the attention generated by Oliver’s show, Willis hopes the parallels between physical and spiritual health will become stronger in the public’s consciousness.

“People are beginning to see that how we treat our body is directly related to how we treat God and our neighbors,” said Willis, teaching pastor at the Southern Baptist church. “Scripture says to honor God with your body. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and it’s almost as if we’ve forgotten that in our society. For us to live for God with all that we have, we have to take care of our body.”

There is a practical application for churches, Willis added. In the past he had seen numerous parents who were so overweight and out of shape they didn’t have the energy to spend the time needed with their children, such as helping them with homework.

In addition, he said their reliance on fatty convenience foods ran up their food and medical bills. That means money that could have gone toward ministry through a local church was spent on medical care, Willis said.

First Baptist member Stacie Edwards can vouch for the truth of that statement. Edwards, whose family was featured in Oliver’s first two episodes, said in the past she felt lethargic because of a diet of pizza, chicken nuggets and other calorie-laden food.

Not only is she 20 pounds lighter and off the medications she once used, Edwards said her family is drawing closer together.

“It’s been tremendous,” Edwards said. “I’m doing what God wants us to do with our body. He doesn’t want us to fill up on junk food and stuff like that. “One great thing is my husband is getting so close to Christ right now,” Edwards added. “I think maybe this whole thing has put him closer. He sees what the church is doing and what Jamie is doing and he sees what I do.”

Richard Lykins, another First Baptist member, also sees a spiritual benefit to the healthy emphasis stirred up by Oliver’s program.

“God tells us to take care of our bodies — that our bodies are a temple,” Lykins said. “We haven’t been doing that. That’s part of fulfilling God’s plan, to take care of ourselves and our families by taking care of our bodies.”

That is a message Willis thinks isn’t emphasized enough in the body of Christ. Despite hundreds of interviews with secular media, the pastor said he had not received much feedback from Christian leaders during the run of Oliver’s show.

Leaders play a key role in the conditions that need to change in churches, Willis said. Church potluck dinners all too often feature items like fried chicken, rolls and mashed potatoes and gravy, which may be OK as an occasional treat but can’t be the staple of one’s diet, Willis said.

“I’m not going to lie to you; we still see some of that here and I still like fried chicken,” Willis said. “But you just have to make wiser choices. You can’t have pizza tonight, fried chicken tomorrow night and McDonald’s (food) the next night.”

However, he sees pastors as the key to turning this situation around.

“Pastors need to realize that people aren’t serving God and aren’t able to love God until pastors get in the pulpit and say, ‘We’ve got to love each other enough to keep each other accountable and improve the way we eat,’” Willis said.

Or, as Oliver put it in his closing remarks for the final episode: “It takes all of you — parents, lunch ladies, principals, teachers and cooks — to make this happen. If any of you don’t get involved, it stops working.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Walker is a freelance writer in Huntington, W.Va.)
4/23/2010 2:30:00 AM by Ken Walker, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Ridgecrest goes green

April 22 2010 by Polly House, Baptist Press

For people who have been to LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center, it’s no stretch to think “green” with the center’s abundance of beautiful trees, shrubs and grass.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

One of the ways Ridgecrest is going green is by encouraging guests and staff members to recycle.

What may come as a surprise is Ridgecrest’s commitment to being a good steward of its finances by reducing energy consumption and finding eco-friendly alternatives to traditional ways of doing things.

  • Among the environmentally friendly initiatives and practices that have been put in place are: All of the guest rooms use fluorescent lighting.
  • More than 80 percent of the conference and public spaces use fluorescent lighting.
  • Occupied space, outside ambient conditions and temperature determine the operational parameters.
  • The facility participates in a fluorescent bulb recycling program, keeping mercury out of local landfills.
  • Conference and public spaces are monitored throughout the day with an energy management system to optimize HVAC efficiency.
  • Fireplaces are equipped with timer controls.
  • Recycling bins are available throughout the campus to encourage recycling by guests.
  • A linen exchange program is in place to cut down on unnecessary washing of linens, saving hundreds of gallons of water each day.
  • Ongoing steps include recycling of wood pallets and paper. Metals and other recyclables are salvaged from demolition projects.
  • Vehicle fuel usage has been cut in half by downsizing to non-highway vehicles where possible and adding the use of electric vehicles.
  • A master plan for sidewalks and covered walkways is being followed to make the entire conference center pedestrian friendly, thus encouraging guests to walk instead of using their vehicles to move about campus.
“These steps make sense for us, environmentally and economically,” said Byron Hill, director of LifeWay’s conference centers.

“I am proud of our staff and engineers who are helping us find new ways to protect our beautiful campus. I’m also grateful to our guests who appreciate what we are doing and join us in recycling when they’re on our grounds. When conservation is done well, everyone wins.”  
4/22/2010 3:08:00 PM by Polly House, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Experts give advice on greening church facilities

April 22 2010 by Robert Marus & Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press

WASHINGTON — It’s not easy building green. But churches that take the call to wise environmental stewardship seriously have a wide variety of options — from simply changing light bulbs to elaborate new construction projects certified as environmentally friendly.

The key, experts in the field of congregations and green design insist, is figuring out what’s appropriate for the church’s ministry context — and then taking advantage of the many resources available to guide the greening process.

Discerning how green to go
For churches considering how to become greener, “Discernment sometimes ends up being a challenge, because so much can be done or should be done,” said Cassandra Carmichael, director of eco-justice programs for the National Council of Churches. “Even if they are just looking at the bottom line and want to do energy-efficiency stuff from a fiscal standpoint, they often have challenges coming up with the capital at the beginning — especially if they’re in a disadvantaged area.”

Most churches face those two challenges when making a decision to become greener — the vast variety of options and then the resources to accomplish their goals, Carmichael said.

“One is that they get so overwhelmed with all they need to do or want to do, they don’t know where to start. We try to help them get past that,” she said. “You get bombarded with all the options that you have to make your church building greener and build a more energy-efficient building.”

Carmichael’s program offers a guide for congregations specifically entering into green-building projects, as well as a separate guide for practical ways that churches can become more environmentally friendly short of a new building project.

Starting simply
The simplest ways to green a church’s facility can make congregations not only better environmental stewards, but also better stewards of their own finances.

“Some of the best low-cost, high-return improvements are compact fluorescent bulbs, LED exit signs, occupancy-sensor controls for lighting, programmable thermostats for heating/air conditioning, yearly or ‘pre-season’ maintenance or ‘tune-up’ of HVAC systems,” said Jerry Lawson, national manager of the federal Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Network, in an e-mail interview.

“If the church is replacing a piece of equipment anyway, it is incrementally very inexpensive — sometimes no cost increase — to buy Energy Star-labeled products and equipment over non-Energy Star.”

The Energy Star program is an Environmental Protection Agency initiative creating energy-efficiency standards that generally are 20 to 30 percent higher than federal law requires for a variety of consumer products — including household and industrial appliances. Lawson’s network provides resources to congregations and small businesses to improve their energy efficiency. Among them is a guide that shows congregations how to make existing facilities more energy efficient.

The efficiency savings can be put to good use, Lawson said. “Many green efforts — especially energy efficiency — can save (a) significant amount of money that church members have pledged for the mission, only to have it go to pay for utilities,” he said. “Energy savings can be repurposed for the ministry of the congregation, and most congregations can cost effectively reduce energy bills (via increasing efficiency) by 25 to 30 percent.”

And, Lawson added, churches can educate their members to be more effective stewards of energy in their personal lives — which could, itself, have an effect on the church’s bottom line.

“A step further is that the church can help educate members that they can also cut energy costs by about 30 percent in their homes and their businesses, which could help people in their personal finances and enhance their ability to tithe,” he said.

He also noted some steps to increase efficiency could save on costs in ways beyond the simple utility bills.

“Certain green actions, such as replacing inefficient lighting with efficient, can actually save on personnel and maintenance costs due to the much longer life of efficient lighting, and HVAC tune-ups can help the equipment last years longer.”

Beyond increasing energy efficiency
Beyond simple retrofits, greening your church’s facility or building a green-friendly new building or campus becomes more complicated — and requires careful consideration of a church’s ministry context, resources and commitment to go to extraordinary lengths to embrace its call to environmental stewardship.

“As building becomes more driven by sustainable design, it may change the way we define beauty. A beautiful building may be one that looks like it is sensitive to its environment,” said Bill Merriman of Merriman Holt Architects in Houston.

Merriman’s firm recently worked on its first LEED-certified church building project — St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston. 

IMAGE/Courtesy of Merriman Holt Architects

The 2,500-seat worship center and classroom addition for Crosspoint Community Church in Katy, Texas, near Houston, that currently is under construction utilizes sustainable design features.

LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council. The certification program provides an internationally recognized set of standards for green buildings.

“The church had a great interest in doing a LEED-certified building. It reflected the will of the congregation,” he said, noting the decision was based more on ethical principles than cost savings.

“There was a natural sense that it’s the right thing to do — to be a good steward of the environment God made.”

Green-building levels of commitment
Keelan Kaiser is chair of the architecture department at Judson University, an American Baptist school in the Chicago suburb of Elgin, Ill. Judson is the only evangelical Christian school in the United States to offer a fully accredited professional program in architecture. And the program focuses on green design — so much so that it, along with the school’s art and design programs, recently moved into a LEED gold-certified building. 

“At Judson, the whole reason we’re interested in environmental stewardship is because buildings consume about 50 percent of the energy in America,” he said. There are, Kaiser said, four basic steps to creating “a truly green building, and the first is to reduce the loads, or requirements, for energy-consuming equipment.”

That can involve reducing the amount of sun a building built in a climate with hot summers gets to reduce the energy load required to cool the building. Or it could mean maximizing the use of natural light in a facility in order to save on electricity costs.

“The second step is designing very high-efficiency mechanical systems” — such as higher-efficiency heating, cooling and lighting systems — including installing thrifty plumbing systems and water fixtures.

“The third step is providing renewable energy on-site,” Kaiser said.

That can include solar panels, hydroelectric generators and even windmills. For example, a church in a place like the flat, windy Midwest could place wind turbines atop the tall roof of a sanctuary to take advantage of greater average wind velocities at such heights.

The fourth step in greening a facility, he said, “is to purchase green power off-site — to purchase a portion of your electrical consumption from what’s called green-power sources.” Many utility systems offer — usually at what Kaiser described as “a slight upcharge” — an option to purchase power that comes from sources greener than coal-burning plants or other high-carbon sources.

Building green wisely
Houston architect Merriman cautioned against “over-promising practical results” in terms of cost savings on utility bills when retrofitting or building a whole new green facility.

While energy-efficient heating and air mechanical systems do produce monthly savings in utilities, the initial outlay for a high-performing mechanical system can be costly.

Early on, he recommended, the architect a church enlists when embarking on a green building or renovation program — together with others on the building team — should develop a feasibility study to help the congregation make informed decisions.

The team would look at how the building is used and how often particular sections of the facility are utilized each week.

“Communication is all-important so there are no disappointments,” he said.

A life-cycle analysis of any mechanical heating and cooling system also provides vitally important information, he added.

If the “payback” on a high-performance system is 15 years, a church might need to reconsider. But if the system paid for itself in terms of utility savings over five or six years, that might be worth consideration.

The unique setting of each church and the composition of its membership also must be considered. For instance, he noted, bicycle racks might be a positive, environmentally friendly addition to some facilities — but completely impractical elsewhere.

Efficient use of space Judson’s Kaiser said churches might make their first step in embarking on a green building plan a re-visioning of how they use their facilities — of how they operate as a congregation.

“Green buildings are the result of green operations,” he said. “You can’t operate a building efficiently if you’re not operating your programs efficiently.”

For example, traditional churches are, simply, inefficient buildings to begin with.

“One of the problems with buildings, of course, is that you want them occupied as much as possible in order to justify its existence, so from a green-building standpoint, a church is a difficult building type,” Kaiser said. “It’s not that you can’t do it, but it’s a building that’s only occupied a small percentage of the day and week.”

The NCC’s Carmichael said some churches have taken their commitment to environmentalism so seriously that they have decided to maximize their facilities’ efficiency by sharing with other congregations — and other alterations to the way they use their space.

“It’s more energy efficient to share a building than having two separate buildings,” she said. She noted one church in Wisconsin that not only shared its building, but also used its space for things like opening gardens to raise produce for the homeless and neighbors to mowing their lawn “with a lawnmower that’s run off of used vegetable oil.”

“They’ve taken the approach of not just the building itself and let’s look at the facility, but they’ve taken it a step further and tried to incorporate those practices into the life of the church.”

Above all, the choices a church makes when it comes to greening its facility come down to its view of its ministry priorities, Energy Star’s Lawson said. “I believe the most powerful consideration (in greening a church) is the scriptural guidance on stewardship. We are called to be stewards of creation — to prevent pollution and conserve natural resources for future generations,” he said.

“Greening/stewardship efforts can be important and educational ways for the youth group and all members to contribute to the life of the church and community.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Marus is managing editor and Washington bureau chief for Associated Baptist Press. Camp is managing editor of the Texas Baptist Standard.)  

Building Green: What can I do?
Churches can green their facilities in a number of ways. But what can individual Christians do to make their lives more environmentally friendly?
Here are a few resources:
Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission
Evangelical Environmental Network 
The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University
Green Christian Network 
Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Initiative             
4/22/2010 12:00:00 PM by Robert Marus & Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Current insurance can take sting from disaster

April 22 2010 by Ken Walker, Special to the Recorder

The Memorial Baptist Church in Greenville moved into its rebuilt sanctuary more than two years ago, but the lessons of a $3.5 million arson that also damaged its educational building remain fresh.

Maintaining adequate insurance is a blessing that assures the church if another tragedy were to strike, they wouldn’t have a problem replacing the facilities, said pastor Randy McKinney.

Others aren’t as fortunate.

“That’s what we discovered in talking to churches with similar experiences—their insurance was not up to what it needed to be,” McKinney said. “That’s the unfortunate side for some folks who have experienced what we have.”

Jack Holland, pastor of Barberville Baptist Church in Waynesville, also knows the value of adequate coverage.

An 18-year-old man burned down a pair of two-story educational buildings there in August 2008; authorities originally suspected a faulty ice machine.

Thanks to an insurance payment of just over $1 million, when the church dedicates the replacement — a one-story structure containing nearly 14,000 square feet — in the near future, it will be debt free. That is only one of many reasons churches should carry sufficient insurance, Holland said. “Many churches under-insure and then when they have a problem they can’t cover it,” said the pastor, who has 40 years of experience in ministry.

“Then they go into debt for $500,000. “When it burns, you don’t have a second chance.”

Holland, who has also been a pastor in Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee, recalls how stunned he was when the blaze claimed all his books, notes and degrees.

He warns other small churches (Barberville averages 90 in attendance) that a similar setback could happen to them. Holland encourages churches to avoid using their buildings for storage to the point they become a fire hazard.

stock.xchng photo

At a previous church he had to warn a family to remove personal items or they would get dumped during remodeling.

“It’s not intentional,” Holland said. “Stuff creeps up on ’em and takes over. I encourage small churches to look for that. That’s their heritage that’s been handed down to them. Try to see as many things as they can.”

These two North Carolina Baptist congregations are among the 1,800 churches and funeral properties nationwide hit by fire annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association. That amounts to some $98 million in damage.

Arsons aren’t the only source of church fires, said Peggy Cook, support services operator for Southern Mutual Church Insurance of Columbia, S.C.

She said other leading causes are lightning strikes and errant candles from Christmas programs and Advent services. Whatever the reason, fires create expensive and horribly inconvenient disasters.

“A fire loss is going to be so much more of an impact than another claim,” Cook said. “A fire claim or lightning strike is going to damage the church to where they can’t meet there.”

In the case of The Memorial Baptist, it took about seven months after the January 2007 blaze before members could worship in the fellowship hall — and, a year before its water-damaged sanctuary was completely remodeled.

The fire led to the arrest and conviction of a man in his late 20s, who was sentenced to more than 10 years for a series of arsons. The crime prompted the church to enhance security throughout the building.

They added motion detectors, fire sensors, monitors, additional lighting and burglar alarms, McKinney said. These measures highlight a crucial fact when it comes to churches. Despite serious damage from fires, the most costly insurance claims are related to theft, according to Bron Caddell, Sr., manager for GuideStone Property and Casualty, a Southern Baptist agency.

The leading increase in property claims among the churches Southern Mutual insures in a four-state area stems from vandalism to air conditioners.

“They’re stealing the copper so they can sell it,” Cook said. “That’s been a trend we have seen within the last three years. I don’t know the exact cost but I know it’s on the rise.”

Not only do churches face concerns about burglary and vandalism, the possibility of storms is another concern, particularly during the upcoming hurricane season. Hurricanes are one reason premiums are higher along the state’s coastal regions.

No matter what the threat, though, churches are wise to make sure their coverage is up to date, according to McKinney.

The Memorial Baptist pastor attributed ongoing reviews by a longtime member of the property and grounds committee with guaranteeing that insurance paid the lion’s share of its repair costs.

Noting that they also saw the need for additional security equipment, McKinney added, “At the same time, you can go to the other extreme and do too much and it costs you a lot. It’s finding a balance that’s important.”

Memorial’s pastor also advised against trying to cut coverage in a short-term effort to save money on premiums. In addition, congregations need to declare a fair estimated replacement cost of their building and property.

In the event of a major loss, insurers will only pay the face value of the policy, Caddell said. A little-understood feature of many policies is the “coinsurance clause,” said the GuideStone manager. Many insurers add such a clause when they feel a church is undervalued, he said.

Then, if a claim is filed, it will be subject to a penalty that reduces the payout.

“For example, if a claim is valued at $20,000, the insurer may say that due to the coinsurance clause, they will only pay $15,000 because the church declared its building and property replacement value at less than the likely actual fair amount,” Caddell said.

4/22/2010 11:56:00 AM by Ken Walker, Special to the Recorder | with 0 comments

For churches, how much risk is too much?

April 22 2010 by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service

For Travis Hutchinson, the life of a pastor in a small-town Georgia church is about preaching the gospel, ministering to the needy and, increasingly, figuring out how to handle an ever-growing list of risks.

Some new risks are real and demand vigilance, says Hutchinson, pastor of Highlands Presbyterian Church in LaFayette, Ga. For example, conducting a criminal background check on everyone who works with children has become a necessity.

Other risks are more remote, he says. Still, vendors stoke anxiety about everything from shooting sprees to federal audits.    

“I get lots and lots of stuff that just seems like fear mongering, and apparently that’s taken hold in some places,” says Hutchinson. “One of the things we have to do as a congregation is ask ourselves: How much of our time is (risk management) eating up? And how much time are we spending doing what God wants us to do?”

In the wake of the Catholic Church’s clergy sexual abuse crises and several church shooting incidents in recent years, risk has become a hot topic for churches.

RNS photo courtesy of The Village church

Pastor Barry Diamond, bottom, and Ryan Lezinski of The Village church in Las Vegas work on bathroom improvements at Casa Hogar Sion Orphanage during a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico. The Village takes risks, such as bringing members to Tijuana despite drug-related violence there, but also carries insurance.

The National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA) last year convened 30 first-time regional workshops to raise risk awareness among the 85 percent of churches it says are vulnerable because they don’t have a professional administrator.

“Risk management is a huge issue in the church right now,” says NACBA Deputy Chief Executive Officer Phillip Martin. “It carries everything from child protection issues ... to the issue of security as it relates to guns, protection of pastors, staff and congregants.”

This year, GuideOne Insurance is responding to rising demand from churches by rolling out new types of coverage, such as insurance against income loss caused by a church intruder. In March, church leaders descended on Richardson, Texas and Grove City, Ohio for conferences on church security.

For some church leaders, raising risk awareness and taking steps to prevent disasters is a matter of faithfulness. Tom Danklefsen, executive pastor of Grove City United Methodist Church in Grove City, Ohio, coaches pastors of small and mid-sized churches on a range of risk issues, from protecting a church’s tax-exempt status to thwarting the efforts of pickpockets during worship services.

“We’re managing God’s resources, and we want to do that well,” Danklefsen says. “We have to do due diligence. (Using safeguards) frees us to do better ministry. We don’t have to worry, ‘Well, gosh, is this guy a criminal?’ We know the background” because the church does background checks on employees and volunteers who work with children or the elderly.

But some say churches can become so concerned with minimizing risk they forget how take risks appropriate to Christian discipleship. Theologian Scott Bader-Saye worries, for instance, that churches preoccupied with institutional safety may become unwelcoming toward poor people because embracing them could pose hazards to their bottom lines. Another concern: churches anxious to protect endowment assets may not notice when opportunities for generosity come along.

“We’re seeing faithfulness being reduced to good business management,” says Bader-Saye, a professor of moral theology at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. “There are things more important than being safe. Those things involve loving God, loving neighbor, pursuing the good... If we teach our children that our fundamental objective is safety and security, then we don’t prepare them to take the kind of risks they need to take to be disciples and to have joyful and fulfilling lives.”

In the ministry trenches, pastors are sometimes working out principles to help them distinguish between risks to mitigate and risks worth taking. Hutchinson asks: Does taking a particular risk help the church advance the gospel or not?

Foregoing background checks on longtime Sunday School teachers wouldn’t serve a lofty purpose and might in fact lead to shameful tragedies, Hutchinson says. Hence Highlands Presbyterian opts not to take that risk. But the congregation does offer worship space and humanitarian aid to immigrants, whether they’re legal citizens or not.

Highland elders have taken heat for such displays of hospitality; one elder had a brick thrown through a window at his home. But they keep taking such risks, Hutchinson says, because they believe sometimes people must suffer for their gospel witness.

“The question being lost in today’s risk management is: what are we willing to lose for the sake of the gospel?” Hutchinson said.

In Las Vegas, a nondenominational church known as The Village makes a point of taking risks to show God’s love for people in need. For example, rampant drug-related violence in Tijuana, Mexico didn’t deter 25 church members from traveling there in November for a weekend effort to renovate an orphanage.

“The basic model (of church in America) has been: we’ve got this safe place for you...we’ll look after your teenagers, we’ll provide all these programs, (and) you can be kind of insulated from the world around you,” says The Village Pastor Barry Diamond. “I think that’s the very opposite of what Jesus wants.”

Still, risk-taking among Villagers isn’t foolhardy, Diamond says, because the church manages its risks to ensure institutional longevity. It has an insurance policy, which Diamond calls a “necessary evil,” to cover the organization in the event that someone gets hurt on a Village mission trip, which has happened.

Looking forward, Bader-Saye hopes churches will invest as much effort in discerning which risks are worth taking as they now put into being safe. At present, he observes, that isn’t happening often enough.

“Churches haven’t asked the more basic question about what kind of risks should we be taking, and what kind of risks should we be resisting?” Bader-Saye says. “It’s not in the end a question of taking risks and or not taking risks, but recognizing that there are proper risks to take.”

Related stories
How do you keep people safe in church?
Editorial: Pay attention to church security
Background checks help avoid being sitting ducks
Safety: responsibility to take seriously
Network tracks crime in churches
Protection from liabilities
Current insurance can take sting from disaster
Crime prevention tips to detect, deter crime
For churches, how much risk is too much?   
4/22/2010 11:51:00 AM by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

Crime prevention tips to detect, deter crime

April 22 2010 by Raleigh Police Department

A break-in at a Raleigh church in January forced the church to take stronger measures to secure its facility. As a result of that story about Korean First Baptist Church in Raleigh, Raleigh Police shared these tips for churches:  
  • Install adequate exterior lighting.
  • Encourage removal of visual obstructions.
  • Control landscape to eliminate hiding spots.
  • Conduct a walk-through at the conclusion of all events to ensure windows and doors are locked; restrooms and closets do not have persons hiding in them awaiting everyone to leave the church premises.
  • Fence off problem areas and keep doors locked when services or events are not being held in building or grounds.
  • Use quality commercial dead bolt locks on exterior doors using mechanical or electrical locks.
  • Limit the number of keys issued and duplicates to members. Limit access to facility, designate that only church staff may unlock/lock facility.
  • Secure valuable equipment such as sound system, musical equipment behind dead bolted, solid core doors. Limit access to these areas to the appropriate people.
  • Create an inventory of property and engrave the church name and identification number on each item.  This makes it easier to identify and recover if stolen.
  • Reduce number of entrances/exits and control access from fire/emergency exits.
  • Have members at or in area as often as possible to reduce number of trespassers.
  • Make it known in the area that the building is being watched 24/7.
  • Always deposit offering into local bank the same day it is collected. Do not hold in church office to be deposited on a future day.
  • Avoid printing offering totals in church bulletins/newsletters for anyone and everyone to read. 
If an incident has occurred:
  • Don’t let a one-time incident occur without addressing the issue.
  • Train individuals in crime reporting.

Related stories
How do you keep people safe in church?
Editorial: Pay attention to church security
Background checks help avoid being sitting ducks
Safety: responsibility to take seriously
Network tracks crime in churches
Protection from liabilities
Current insurance can take sting from disaster
Crime prevention tips to detect, deter crime
For churches, how much risk is too much?   
4/22/2010 11:48:00 AM by Raleigh Police Department | with 0 comments

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