April 2014

TN tornado stirs pastor to serve neighbors

April 30 2014 by Joe Conway, NAMB/Baptist Press

Pastor Darrell Haney had been praying for a way to reach his neighbors. Haney says he found his answer in a storm.

“God could not have answered our prayer more clearly,” said Haney, pastor of Grace Falls Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Tenn., as he described the powerful tornado that leveled the church building and destroyed his home next door. Haney was sifting through the rubble that was his home the morning following the storm.

The tornado was part of a storm system that claimed at least eight lives in Mississippi April 28, and two lives in Lincoln, Haney’s home county in Tennessee. In all, 10 states have been hit by damaging tornadoes since April 26. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers have been serving in response in every affected state.

“We are collecting what belongings we can,” Haney, himself an SBDR volunteer, said. “The church building was wiped out. Our property is adjacent to the church. It came across and took everything.”


Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Baptist Convention
A powerful tornado leveled Grace Falls Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Tenn., and destroyed the pastor’s home next door. The tornado was part of a storm system that has hit 10 states since April 26. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers have been serving in response in every affected state.

Haney was home with his wife Tammy, son Matt, daughter-in-law Christi and their children Carson, 4, and Elyse, 2, when the storm hit late in the evening. They had just enough warning to seek shelter in an interior bathroom.

“Elyse was asleep in the bedroom,” Haney said. “Matt had just returned from their trailer that was also on our property. The first series of storms had come through, and we thought the worst was over. The news broke on TV that a tornado was on the ground near us. We had just enough time to get Elyse and everyone into the bathroom and then it hit out of nowhere.”

After leveling the Grace Falls sanctuary, the storm toppled oak trees and threw vehicles like toys, Haney said. A tree fell on the house, the roof was ripped off, and then another tree fell across the house.

“There was not a scratch on either of our grandchildren,” Haney, who has pastored Grace Falls for seven years, said. “We are still looking for Matt’s trailer.”

Haney made sure his family was okay, helped secure his property as best he could, then he and associate pastor Ryan Tate headed into the subdivision near the church to offer help. “We were able to pray with several of our neighbors,” Haney said.

North American Mission Board (NAMB) Disaster Relief Executive director Fritz Wilson said he sees God’s hand in SBDR ministry.

“That is the beauty of the SBDR volunteer network,” Wilson said. “In 10 states we have volunteers bringing help, healing and hope to people who are suffering. It is why we do this. We had four major areas hit in Mississippi last night. There are already SBDR assessment teams on the ground in all four locations this morning.”

Wilson reported that three Arkansas SBDR chainsaw teams were serving in Arkansas, with another eight teams awaiting deployment. Other teams remain on standby.

The Home Depot Foundation also contacted SBDR and were able to deliver 175 Rubbermaid storage containers they donated to Arkansas for survivors to recover belongings, Wilson said.

Those wishing to donate to SBDR storm relief can contact the Baptist convention in their state or visit https://donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone donations, call 866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”

NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief ministries.

Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers – including chaplains – and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.)
4/30/2014 12:39:38 PM by Joe Conway, NAMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Students responsive to missionary roles with NAMB

April 30 2014 by Mike Ebert, NAMB/Baptist Press

Austin Coleman doesn’t have to think long when asked about the impact of a summer in New York City as a North American Mission Board (NAMB) student missionary.

“It changed the direction of my life,” the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary student said.

Coleman was among a group of students who served last summer with NAMB’s Generation Send – a 10-week internship to immerse young people in ministry, missions and church planting in an urban context.

“It opened my eyes,” Coleman said. “I have felt a call to church planting for years, but not until I got to New York did I sense an urgency to that.”


Photo provided by Austin Coleman
Austin Coleman (center, with hat) and fellow student missionaries venture to the heart of New York City, taking a break from their outreach during the summer of 2013. Photo provided by Austin Coleman. Used with permission.

This year, NAMB is celebrating the large number of young people who want to serve as student missionaries. The student missionary program has seen explosive growth since NAMB gave the program a top-to-bottom redesign in 2012.

In 2010 NAMB placed about 600 student missionaries on the field. By 2012 – the year NAMB redesigned the role – the number had grown to more than 1,100. In 2013 more than 1,200 students participated. So far this year 2,000 students have been approved to serve.

“The response has been remarkable,” NAMB president Kevin Ezell said. “It is so encouraging to see so many students who want to serve. But the challenge is our funds are finite and we have reached our maximum budget for 2014.”

NAMB planned and budgeted for 2,000 student missionaries for 2014, and all of those budgeted spots have been filled. NAMB will begin considering new applications at the beginning of its fiscal year in October.

The redesigned student missionary role makes it more purposeful and geared toward training students for future ministry service. Student missionaries are now directly connected with NAMB’s Send North America strategy, which emphasizes church planting in, or near, large cities.

Student missionaries are part of NAMB’s “Farm System,” which is designed to discover, develop and deploy the next generation of Southern Baptist missionaries and church leaders. To support its goal of helping Southern Baptists start 15,000 new churches over a 10-year period, NAMB is increasing efforts to recruit for the Farm System.

“We need 1,500 new church planters each year, and many of them will have to come through the Farm System,” Ezell said. “We want tomorrow’s missionaries to be the best we’ve ever put on the field. That means we need to recruit the best, and they need to be well-trained and equipped.

“Student missionaries are the beginning point of our process. If we can’t expand these numbers, it will put a lid on the number of church planters who will be available to meet the goal of 15,000 new churches in 10 years,” Ezell said.

NAMB is able to deploy student missionaries because of the sacrificial gifts Southern Baptists give to the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. NAMB can send an additional 1,000 student missionaries for every $2.5 million more given to the Annie Armstrong Offering.

To learn more about NAMB’s student missionary role, visit http://www.namb.net/mobilize-me.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Ebert writes for the North American Mission Board.)
4/30/2014 12:28:47 PM by Mike Ebert, NAMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Korean council to meet June 23-26

April 30 2014 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

The Korean Council of Southern Baptist Churches in America will hold its 35th annual meeting June 23-26 at the Hilton Washington Dulles hotel.

Two weeks earlier, June 10-11, the Southern Baptist Convention will hold its annual meeting at the Baltimore Convention Center.

“Two years ago we met in Baltimore,” said Chongoh Aum, executive director of what is known informally as the Korean Council, the nearly 900-church fellowship group of Southern Baptist Korean churches in North, Central and South America. “We could not do that again so soon.”

The Korean Council meetings routinely draw 800 or more attendees. Korean churches in the area provide an eight-course meal of traditional Korean food three times a day for the four-day event. To ask the same people to prepare that amount of food two years after they last did so would not be proper, Aum said.

This year, the dozen or more Korean churches in the northern Virginia area will provide Korean fare such as bulgogi (thinly sliced or shredded beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar and scallions).

One benefit of meeting after the SBC annual meeting is that Koreans will be able to participate in both gatherings, and perhaps for some, take a week’s vacation in Washington, D.C., to visit the nation’s capital, said Aum, who was elected to his second four-year term as executive director at last year’s annual meeting.

“Korean Baptist pastors are brothers with Southern Baptist pastors,” Aum said. “It is so difficult to support missionaries alone, so Korean pastors make association with all Southern Baptists for education and fellowship, and strengthen each other.”

In its business sessions, Korean Council president Junsuk “Peter” Hwan, pastor of First Korean Baptist Church in Philadelphia, will be voted on for re-election to a second term, while continued discussion is expected on the doctrinal purity or heresy of Intercorp, a Korean missions organization aiming to expand to the United States.

The Korean Council of Southern Baptist Churches in America is organized similarly to the SBC, with domestic and foreign mission boards, an education board, Woman’s Missionary Union and Brotherhood. The entities are expected to report at the June meeting on their activities over the last year.

No special celebration is to be made of the 35th anniversary of the Korean Council, Aum said. The Southern Baptist fellowship group was organized in 1981, 30 years after the first Korean Southern Baptist church in America was started in Washington, D.C. It later cancelled its affiliation with the SBC – today no Korean SBC church remains in D.C. – and Berendo Street Baptist Church in Los Angeles is considered to be the “mother church” for the nearly 900 Korean Southern Baptist churches now located in 40 states across the U.S.

Of greater significance than its history – important as that is, Aum said – is what God is doing today as Korean churches find ways to balance two cultures to minister to those born in Korea and in the United States.

Toward that end, Jey Kim, pastor of First Virginia Korean Baptist Church in Springfield, Va., again this year will lead a high-energy youth rally for teens during the Korean Council’s annual meeting. It also is slated for the Hilton Washington Dulles, 13869 Park Center Road in Herndon, Va.

“We look forward to fellowship with Koreans from across the United States, Canada, South America and Korea,” Aum said. “We will be refreshed and renewed for what God has for us to do to bring Him glory.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press.)
4/30/2014 12:18:58 PM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Halt to casino credited to Ky. Baptists

April 30 2014 by Roger Alford, Ky. Baptist Convention/Baptist Press

Major secular newspapers have run stories in recent weeks focusing on why a proposal to legalize casino gambling didn't make it out of Kentucky's General Assembly again this year. They appeared to conclude that strong Baptist influence in Frankfort doomed the idea.

USA Today, the Courier-Journal of Louisville and the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Baptists make up more than 1 million of the Kentucky's 4.4 million population, and that almost half the state Senate and more than one-third of the House identify as Baptists.

Baptists have long opposed casinos, saying they prey on human weakness for profit and that they would especially hurt Kentucky's poor who might be lured into losing the little money they have in hopes of a big payoff.

The newspapers reported that Baptists hold an abundance of key leadership positions in both the House and Senate, including Gregory who is chairwoman of the Senate Enrollment Committee. Baptists in leadership positions have had a noticeable impact on what gets through the state legislature.

"It's no surprise that myself and many other legislators cast votes that reflect our religious beliefs," Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, a Baptist from Monticello, said. "These votes are not only a reflection of ourselves, but of the people we represent in our districts. Our values guide us as legislators, and I believe our constituents expect that to be the case. That's why they elected us -- to be their voice in Frankfort."

The newspapers credited Baptist influence with passage of Kentucky's ban on gay marriage in 2004, as well as Gov. Steve Beshear's inability to get legislative approval for a constitutional amendment on gambling that he's been pushing hard for the past six years.

Beshear has pushed casino legislation every year since he became governor in 2007.

Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director Paul Chitwood has played a lead role in opposing casinos.

Chitwood's offensive strategy this year included advertising on Christian radio stations, devoting time to secular talk radio, and communicating directly with the Kentucky Convention's 750,000 members about the gambling issue through a video sent to Baptist churches across the state.
All other religious groups, including Catholics, are eclipsed by Baptists in the General Assembly, according to a directory compiled by the Legislative Research Commission that includes the religious affiliations of state lawmakers.
"The numbers aren't surprising, considering Kentucky is home to more than a million Southern Baptists and a larger number of other Baptist groups," Chitwood said. "That's a powerful voting bloc that has the capability to change the face of politics in the state."
Baptists also hold powerful leadership positions in the state legislature, including Gregory who is chairwoman of the Senate Enrollment Committee.

"Holding so many leadership positions gives Baptists incredible sway inside the Capitol," Chitwood said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roger Alford is communications director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)
4/30/2014 12:07:27 PM by Roger Alford, Ky. Baptist Convention/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Baptists respond to Midwest’s deadly tornadoes

April 29 2014 by North American Mission Board

As residents of the South and Midwest braced for violent storms April 28, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were already responding to weekend tornadoes in Arkansas, Oklahoma and other states.

Tornadoes April 27 killed 15 or more people according to various media reports and cut a 100-mile path of destruction through Arkansas. Much of the damage happened as darkness fell, making it difficult to fully assess damage and fatalities.

The hardest hit area in the suburbs of Little Rock was the focus of continued search and recovery efforts Monday as SBDR volunteers prepared to serve hot meals to rescuers and storm survivors.

“We have dispatched one feeding unit to Vilonia (north of Little Rock) to prepare meals for the search and rescue crew and the first responders,” Joe Garner, state Disaster Relief director for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, said. “This is still an active search and recovery operation, so we will continue to assess the situation and expect to be able to begin sending in teams in the next day or two. We are attempting to get an idea of what we will be facing and put our arms around how we will begin to serve.”

The feeding unit, located at Beryl Baptist Church of Vilonia, is expected to begin serving meals Monday evening, said J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, ABSC executive director.

Screen capture from FoxNews.com
A large tornado leveled much of the town of Mayflower, Ark., a suburb of Little Rock, Sunday. At least 15 people were killed by the outbreak of storms, and more were expected Monday.

“Our disaster relief units are on the ground and others are waiting for notifications from local authorities,” Tucker said. “Arkansas Baptists will be a part of rebuilding lives and reestablishing hope. Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the storms.”

In addition to the feeding unit, several Arkansas chainsaw disaster relief units have been put on alert, but are not being allowed in the affected areas at this time since search and rescue operations are ongoing.

Arkansas convention leaders are partnering with local churches to collect “buckets of love,” consisting of a plastic five-gallon bucket packed with items useful to survivors. For more information about bucket items, go to www.absc.org and click on the “Buckets of Love” button.

SBDR volunteers will transport supplies to victims that include roofing tarp, wood strips and bottled water.

“We will be assisting Joe Garner in the assessment and then provide whatever help is needed,” Fritz Wilson, North American Mission Board disaster relief team executive director, said. “It looks like Oklahoma will likely handle their response in state. Missouri may provide some assistance in Kansas. The state convention disaster relief warehouse in Jefferson City, Mo., is a staging area for DR supplies.”

The storms were the worst to date this spring, impacting communities struck by tornadoes only three years ago.

In related outreach, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, fellow churches and various faith-based groups and companies have partnered to produce a documentary focusing on God’s compassion in the face of natural disasters.

“Where Was God? Stories of Hope After the Storm,” will premiere May 16 at the Moore Warren Theater in Moore, Okla. Showings will be available throughout the country via the documentary’s website at http://wherewasgod.com.

“Our goal with this film is to showcase faith, hope and the ability to overcome after life’s storms – whether they be literal or figurative,” Steven Earp, the film’s executive producer and lead pastor at Elevate Church in Oklahoma City, said.

To support SBDR, make donations through local Baptist state conventions, online at https://donations.namb.net/dr-donations, by phone at 866-407-NAMB (6262) or by mailing checks designated “Disaster Relief” to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543.

NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state Disaster Relief ministries.

Southern Baptists have 82,000 trained volunteers – including chaplains – and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – North American Mission Board staff compiled this story.)
4/29/2014 1:20:10 PM by North American Mission Board | with 0 comments

Chaplain prayer cards bring far-reaching impact

April 29 2014 by Joe Conway, NAMB/Baptist Press

Could something as simple as chaplain prayer cards really make a difference in ministry? Ask Greg Smith.

One day last summer Smith, who pastors Grace on the Ashley Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C., was looking through a set of chaplain prayer cards received from the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Each card highlighted the ministry of a Southern Baptist military chaplain and listed prayer requests for him.

“When I got to the last card I said, ‘Look, I know Tim,’” Smith said. The face on the last card in the set belonged to U.S. Army Chaplain Maj. Tim Wilson. The two men had been friends in college. Seeing Wilson’s card made Smith wonder if he could be a military chaplain as well.

“I immediately thought I was too old and I have no military background, but the idea would not leave me. I talked to my wife and she said, ‘I think that’s a great idea,’” Smith said.

Church staff and leadership encouraged him to pursue the idea, too, along with members of Grace. Smith thought it was a long shot, but he applied. Everything fell into place. On Christmas Eve 2013 he was sworn in as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the naval reserve. Smith and Wilson have corresponded by email since then and hope to reunite soon.

NAMB photo by Ted Wilcox
Chaplain Cpt. Barry “Hoot” Busby (left), serving at Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the 82nd Airborne Division, meets with troops preparing for a training jump. Prayer for men like Busby “increases the effectiveness of chaplains as they serve,” NAMB executive director for chaplaincy Doug Carver said.

Beyond the goal of having Southern Baptists pray for chaplains, last year’s prayer card mailing has had a far-reaching impact on chaplains and churches alike.

“There has been an absolutely positive response from both chaplains who have received support and from Southern Baptists who have expressed gratitude for gaining a greater appreciation for their chaplains and the roles they fulfill, especially their evangelistic ministries,” Doug Carver, NAMB’s executive director for chaplaincy and a retired U.S. Army Major General, said. “The prayer cards certainly met the intent of our goal to create a vehicle for communication between chaplains and churches and to keep chaplains connected with churches.”

A new set of 50 military chaplain prayer cards will arrive at Southern Baptist churches in time for distribution before Memorial Day. Additional cards may be obtained by calling (866) 407-6262, or visiting www.nambstore.com.

“As soon as the prayer card packs went out last year, I began to receive emails and then notes and cards,” chaplain Endel Lee said. “I received more than 150 messages from people who were praying for me, and that is just from the people who took the time to send me something. Pastors told me they handed out the cards at prayer meetings. I heard from people who kept the cards in their homes and in their cars to remember to pray for me.”
Lee, who serves as NAMB’s military chaplaincy church planting catalyst, said he needed the specific prayer because he was on a deployment in Djibouti, a nation that is 94 percent Muslim. “It is not the most dangerous place I have ever served, but it was a hostile environment. It was a tremendous encouragement to me to know people were praying for me.”
After seeing Lee’s prayer card one prayer group contacted him asking how they could support him. Was there something they could send? Bibles was Lee’s answer.
“They sent two boxes of Bibles, not small paperbacks, but nice Bibles. I gave all of them away before I left. As I discipled people, I asked them if they had a Bible of their own. When they told me they did not, I was able to present them with one of the Bibles the [prayer group] sent,” Lee said.

“The prayer cards are a meaningful symbol of the support of Southern Baptists and the prayer coverage they provide for chaplains,” Carver said. “That prayer increases the effectiveness of chaplains as they serve.”

Carver shared that one pastor told him he understood for the first time the critical nature of chaplains’ roles in evangelism and their connection to the local church because of the cards. Chaplains also affirmed their appreciation for intercessory prayer and the support they received to Carver.

“One chaplain took the opportunity to build a personal prayer support network from the responses he received from his prayer card. He connected with Southern Baptists who reached out to him, and he now provides praise and prayer request reports to his network of prayer warriors,” Carver said.

To explore more about chaplaincy through NAMB, visit namb.net/chaplaincy.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.)
4/29/2014 1:10:18 PM by Joe Conway, NAMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

United Church of Christ sues over NC gay marriage ban

April 29 2014 by Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service

The United Church of Christ sued the state of North Carolina on April 28 over its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, saying the 2012 amendment violates the religious freedom of its clergy.
The liberal denomination of some 1 million members is the first in the country to attack a same-sex marriage ban on religious freedom grounds, taking a cue from religious conservatives who used the same argument over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

Photo courtesy of Amendment Once Challenge
The Rev. Joe Hoffman, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, N.C., said the effect of the state constitutional ban on gay marriage is to deny him the opportunity to perform one function of his job.

In 1972, the UCC was the first denomination in the United States to ordain an openly gay pastor, and in 2005 was the first to endorse the fledgling movement to allow civil marriage for same-sex couples.
The suit asks the federal courts in the Western District of North Carolina to strike down the ban, which was passed by state voters. It argues that the ban limits clergy choices and violates the principle of “free exercise of religion” by requiring clergy to minister to one segment of the public.
A dozen non-UCC clergy and same-sex couples joined the suit.
“By preventing our same-sex congregants from forming their own families, the North Carolina ban on same-sex marriage burdens my ability and the ability of my congregation to form a faith community of our choosing consistent with the principles of our faith,” said the Rev. Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, who joined the lawsuit.
As part of the state ban, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a minister to perform a marriage ceremony for a couple that hasn’t obtained a civil marriage license. In addition, the law allows anyone to sue the minister who performs a marriage ceremony without a license.
The Rev. Joe Hoffman, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville, N.C., said the effect of the state constitutional ban on gay marriage is to deny him the opportunity to perform one function of his job.
“It takes away the right I have in my religious tradition to do something important in my faith,” he said – “to marry people.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Yonat Shimron is the managing editor of RNS.)
4/29/2014 1:01:04 PM by Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

Luter, in New England, rallies support for new Baptist college

April 29 2014 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Encouraging pastors in one of America’s most unreached areas and preaching at the region’s new Baptist college were on Fred Luter’s agenda when he visited Vermont this month.

Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, spent two days at Northeastern Baptist College (NEBC) in Bennington and met with local Green Mountain Baptist Association pastors. After touring the college’s main campus and library facilities, Luter gathered with the executive team and learned about NEBC’s vision for preparing students to evangelize the world, especially New England and the rest of the northeast U.S.

NEBC president Mark Ballard said the school was “blessed beyond measure” by Luter’s visit.

“He encouraged our students, faculty, staff and local pastors,” Ballard said. “What a joy to have this wonderful man of God visit the college in our inaugural year of operation. Fred’s leadership as president of the SBC has been great. He is the man for the hour.”

NEBC opened last August and now has more than 40 students in its second semester of operation. The college – which has established a partnership with the Baptist Convention of New England and the Green Mountain Association – represents the culmination of Ballard’s longtime vision of establishing a Southern Baptist-related college in a region of America that did not have one previously. NEBC’s statement of faith is the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

BP photo
Fred Luter

Located in southern Vermont, Bennington is at the geographic center of the Northeast in Southern Baptist North American Mission Board (NAMB) strategy. According to NAMB, 67 million people live in the region, which stretches from southern Maryland to the northern tip of Maine, and an estimated 82 percent do not know Christ. One church exists for every 37,000 people in the Northeast.

Southern Baptist teams from at least nine states outside the Northeast helped prepare NEBC’s facilities for use. The college shares a former Ramada Inn and Conference Center building with an elementary and secondary Christian school. NEBC uses the third and fourth floors of the building while Grace Christian School is housed on the first two floors.

During his visit, Luter preached in NEBC chapel on “The Ultimate Battle” from John 10:9-11. Acknowledging life’s many battles, he said “the greatest battle is between good and evil, between the Lord and Lucifer, between the Savior and Satan, between the divine and the devil ... and the battle is for your soul.”

In that battle, Christians have “the Shepherd’s provision” of a real relationship with Jesus, Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said April 22. “The serpent’s plan” is to steal, kill and destroy but believers can walk in victory because of “the Shepherd’s promise” to give abundant life through the death and resurrection of Jesus, Luter said.

Following chapel, Luter attended a lunch with several pastors from the Green Mountain Baptist Association. Pastor Jerry Frye of Faith Christian Church in Pownal, Vt., said he was “truly blessed by a brother who has literally been through the storm,” referencing Luter’s experience when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. “The source of his powerful preaching is no secret: He is in fellowship with God.”

Tim Groos, a student at NEBC, said, “I have never experienced preaching like that. I felt ... with each word he spoke like a child on Christmas morning waiting for the next present to open.”

Pastor Phil Steadman of Capstone Baptist Church in North Bennington, Vt., said Luter “personally embodies hope for the future of our convention. From street preacher to a pastor of thousands, he came with a message about Jesus and delivered it passionately, persuasively and powerfully. As a pastor and father I am personally grateful for his leadership as our president. What a privilege to have him come to our front-line region and encourage us.”

Luter said his visit to the new college left him committed to place Ballard, the faculty and the students on his daily prayer list.

“After visiting and preaching at this college and hearing about the number of lost people in the Vermont area, and after seeing the hunger for God’s Word, I want to challenge every Southern Baptist that is serious about missions to consider visiting, praying for and supporting this school,” Luter said. “In this area of New England, the Scripture comes true, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.’“

NEBC offers two bachelor’s degrees – one in biblical studies with four tracks, including a church planting/entrepreneurial leadership emphasis, and one in music ministry with three concentrations. The school plans to introduce bachelor’s degrees in education, business and biblical counseling in the future.

To learn more about NEBC, visits its website at www.nebcvt.org.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by David Roach, Baptist Press’ chief national correspondent.)
4/29/2014 12:40:10 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

SBC Baltimore: Luter ready for revival through prayer

April 28 2014 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

With a desire to keep the focus on the power of revival and prayer, Southern Baptist Convention president Fred Luter expressed excitement about this year’s SBC annual meeting June 10-11 in Baltimore. Messengers also will elect a new president as Luter wraps up his second term.

Pointing to the annual meeting theme “Restoration and Revival through Prayer,” Luter noted the return of a Tuesday evening revival service – similar in style to last year’s – that has drawn positive feedback from participants.

“I wanted to again stay with the theme revival, but let’s undergird it with prayer,” Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, told Baptist Press. “Last year in Houston ... it was phenomenally successful. It was standing room only.... All we had was music and preaching.

“That was something that we thought went so well that we wanted to do that again. [On that Tuesday evening,] we just come for worship and the word. That’s it. No business will be conducted.”

Luter selected the theme verse Psalm 80:18-19: “Then we will not turn away from You; revive us, and we will call on Your name. Restore us, Yahweh, the God of Hosts; look on us with favor, and we will be saved” (HCSB).

As the first-ever African American to lead the SBC when he was elected in 2012, Luter will give his last message to the convention as SBC president June 10. Luter also will address Southern Baptist associational leaders June 6 at a banquet at the Inner Harbor Holiday Inn. Tickets are still available by going to http://www.sbcal.org/.


Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd will be nominated for SBC president by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. Floyd’s nomination for president is the only one that has been announced so far for this year’s meeting.

Floyd has led Cross Church in northwest Arkansas – with campuses in Springdale, Rogers and Fayetteville – for 27 years.

Floyd led the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force for the SBC in 2009-10. The task force report called for international missions to receive 51 percent of all Cooperative Program gifts. Last year, Cross Church contributed more than $700,000 to the Cooperative Program, Mohler noted in his a letter announcing Floyd’s nomination.

Floyd is a former chairman of the SBC Executive Committee and was a member of the SBC’s Program and Structure Task Force during the mid-1990s. In recent months, Floyd helped spearhead two pastor/leader prayer gatherings – one in Atlanta and the other in Ft. Worth. Each drew participants from about 30 states. In addition to serving as general editor for LifeWay’s updated “Bible Studies for Life,” Floyd has authored 10 books. His latest book, which was released in 2011, is Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission.

Two other nominees for SBC offices have been announced:
  • Clint Pressley, senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., will be nominated by Ted Traylor, senior pastor of Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, for the office of first vice president. Pressley serves as vice president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference and is a former vice chairman of the trustees for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
  • Hance Dilbeck, senior pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, will be nominated for the office of second vice president by former SBC president Johnny Hunt. Dilbeck has led the 4,600-member church since 2003 and has been a pastor for more than 20 years.

Crossover Baltimore

The Baltimore Baptist Association, the North American Mission Board (NAMB), local churches, associations and other volunteers are working closely as they gear up for this year’s Crossover Baltimore.

The outreach – with its block parties and door-to-door evangelism efforts – joins Baptists together in evangelism in the host city of the annual meeting.

“Our churches are excited about the unique opportunity to share Christ with our city that Crossover will bring,” Bob Mackey, executive director of the Baltimore Baptist Association, said in a March 10 article released by Baptist Press.

“Baltimore is not like a lot of other places in the country,” Mackey said. “We’re not in a predominantly Christian region of the country; we don’t have a church on every corner or throngs of people actively seeking out Christianity. Our hope is that, through the partnership of others in the SBC, Crossover will represent Christ to the people of Baltimore and our region and lay a greater foundation for our local churches.”

Baltimore is one of NAMB’s key 32 cities in the Send North America strategy to plant more churches in the largest and least-reached cities in North America. Some of the Crossover Baltimore projects will directly benefit local church plants in the city.

For more information on Crossover Baltimore, visit www.namb.net/crossover and http://embracebaltimore.com/crossover/. Or, contact Cindy Irizarry, director of mobilization and logistics at cindycrossoverbaltimore2014@gmail.com or (443) 219-2543.

Qualifications for churches

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee will consider a proposal June 9 to update the SBC constitution regarding qualifications for churches to send messengers to the annual meeting.

During its Feb. 17-18 meeting in Nashville, the Executive Committee decided to place the item on its June 9 agenda prior to the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore to allow Southern Baptists time to discuss the proposed change and provide feedback. The committee’s deliberations, then, will determine whether the proposed revision will be presented to messengers during the annual meeting.

SBC smartphone app

Messengers to the annual meeting once again can stay up to date with an SBC annual meeting smartphone app, which will include more than a dozen features, including maps, alerts, the Book of Reports and the Daily Bulletin. More information will be available about the app in the weeks ahead.

Other highlights

With the theme “Show Us Your Glory,” the June 8-9 Pastors’ Conference will welcome pastors and their wives for a two-day event of preaching, worship and prayer. The sessions will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference president Bruce Frank has said he chose speakers who “have a heart to pour into pastors.”

The Pastors’ Conference is free and requires no registration. To learn more about this year’s schedule, sponsors and theme, visit sbcpc.net.

Child care for children ages birth through 12 years will be offered during all Pastors’ Conference sessions. Children ages 4-12 may register for a conference provided by Children’s Conferences International. Register at www.childrensconferences.com. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief child care volunteers will offer child care for newborns through age 5 during the Pastors’ Conference.

During its fourth annual Send North America luncheon, the North American Mission Board will once again highlight its partnership with Southern Baptists to push back lostness throughout North America. The event will be held at noon Monday, June 9, in the Ballroom on Level 400 of the Baltimore Convention Center. There is limited seating for this free Baltimore-themed lunch. Attendees must register and have a ticket to attend. Tickets are available at snaluncheon.com.

With the theme “Go Forward,” the Woman’s Mission Union (WMU) Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting will take place June 8–9 in Baltimore. WMU will wrap up a yearlong celebration of its 125th anniversary. “What better place ... than the home of Annie Armstrong!” Debby Akerman, president of national WMU, said in reference to Baltimore and Armstrong, who was instrumental in the missions organization’s founding in 1888 and was its first corresponding secretary. This year’s Woman’s Missionary Union celebration will feature a joint commissioning service (June 8) of about 100 new field personnel representing the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board.

With the theme, “No Fear. No Excuses. He is Able” from 2 Timothy 1:12, the Ministers’ Wives’ Luncheon will be held June 10 in the Key Ballroom at the Hilton Baltimore. The event will feature Priscilla Shirer, author of several books, including “One in a Million,” “The Resolution for Women” and most recently “God is Able.” Advance tickets are $15 at LifeWay.com/sbcwives; $20 at the door.

The National African American Fellowship will celebrate its 20th anniversary June 7-9 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The fellowship is working to establish a partnership with the North American Mission Board to plant churches. It would focus on utilizing models that are culturally relevant and raising money to fund church plants.

Two weeks following the SBC’s annual meeting, the Korean Council of Southern Baptist Churches in America will hold its 35th annual meeting June 23-26 at the Hilton Washington Dulles hotel. The meeting is expected to draw 800 or more attendees.

GuideStone Financial Resources will again offer a wellness center during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Messengers can visit the exhibit hall in Baltimore to take advantage of the wellness center’s services, valued at $150. GuideStone will offer retirement and insurance meetings during the SBC annual meeting and Pastors’ Conference June 9-11.


Register online at www.sbcannualmeeting.net under the Messengers tab. After completing online registration, each messenger will receive an eight-digit registration code to present at the annual meeting’s Express registration lane. There, the registration code can be entered into a computer and a nametag will be printed. The traditional registration method also will be available.


Messengers planning to propose resolutions must submit them no later than 15 days prior to the annual meeting. Detailed guidelines on submitting resolutions are available at www.sbcannualmeeting.net under the Messengers tab. Resolutions may be submitted online but must be followed up by a letter of credentials from the submitter’s church.

Children & students

Preschool child care and activities for children who have completed grades 1-6 will be housed at the Baltimore Convention Center, the annual meeting site. Youth who have completed grades 7-12 will begin their days at the convention center with worship before going into the community for hands-on missions work.

Pre-registration is required online at www.sbcannualmeeting.net under the “Children/Youth” tab. All participants should register as soon as possible because of limited space. Due to space limitations and worker-to-children ratio objectives, onsite registration will not be accepted.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shawn Hendricks, managing editor of Baptist Press, wrote and compiled this story.)
4/28/2014 10:40:38 AM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Pastors’ Conference to ‘pour into pastors’

April 28 2014 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Through hearing a diverse array of speakers – both in terms of race and age – Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference president Bruce Frank hopes pastors will attain a clearer vision of God’s glory. Hence the theme of this year’s gathering: “Show Us Your Glory.”

“You don’t want to miss any of it,” Frank, pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C., said. “By going and getting coffee or skipping a speaker, you very well could miss exactly what God wants to say to you right then.”

The June 8-9 Pastors’ Conference will feature preaching, worship and prayer to undergird the ministry of pastors and their wives. The sessions at the Baltimore Convention Center will be held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 10-11 annual meeting there.

“What I did as I thought about the speakers and the theme was to have guys that have a heart to pour into pastors,” Frank said.

Speakers for Sunday evening (June 8) at the Pastors’ Conference will include Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; H.B. Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; and David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.

Monday morning (June 9) will feature messages from Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas; Clayton King, evangelist and founder of Crossroads Worldwide in Shelby, N.C.; and Eric Mason, pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia.

Monday afternoon speakers will include J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C.; and Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas.

Monday evening speakers will include Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.; James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Ill.; and Francis Chan, founder of Eternity Bible College in Simi Valley, Calif.

Worship will be led by Christian recording artist Matt Redman, Harvest Bible Chapel’s Vertical Church Band and Biltmore Baptist Church’s Biltmore Worship.

The Pastors’ Conference offering will go to Mission:Dignity, a program administered by GuideStone Financial Resources that provides financial assistance to retired pastors, Christian workers and their widows who are struggling to make ends meet. In addition to an offering, attendees are asked to bring blankets to be donated to the homeless in Baltimore through a local ministry.

This year’s leadership team, which includes Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., as vice president and Alex Himaya, pastor of theCHURCH.at in Tulsa, Okla., as treasurer, hopes the conference will refresh pastors and their families.

“The design of this conference is simply for men and women who oftentimes are just giving, giving, giving – pouring out. Ministry can be kind of lonely. Ministry can be exhausting,” Frank said. “The design is that there would be a worship experience that would refresh and renew the men and women who are going to be there.”

The Pastors’ Conference is free and requires no registration. To learn more about this year’s schedule, sponsors and theme, visit sbcpc.net.

Childcare for children ages birth through 12 years will be offered during all Pastors’ Conference sessions. Children ages 4-12 may register for a conference provided by Children’s Conferences International. Register at www.childrensconferences.com.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief childcare volunteers will offer childcare for newborns through age 5 during the Pastors’ Conference.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is Baptist Press’ chief national correspondent.)
4/28/2014 10:26:06 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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