April 2015

SBU professor’s firing, university’s theology discussed

January 3 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

As a former Southwest Baptist University (SBU) professor appeals his termination for allegedly accusing faculty colleagues of deviating from theological orthodoxy, the university has commissioned an “external peer assessment” to include “evaluations regarding orthodoxy” on the Bolivar, Mo., campus.
 

Photo from SBU
A theology professor's termination by Southwest Baptist University (SBU) has sparked discussion of theological views among faculty in SBU's Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry.

In the month since SBU’s Nov. 28 termination of Clint Bass, assistant professor of theology and philosophy, online discussion has included a petition calling for the university’s administration and trustees to “exonerate” Bass. As of midday Jan. 2, the petition had garnered more than 1,300 signatures and was accompanied by letters supporting Bass from professors at two Southern Baptist Convention seminaries.
 
Within the petition were links to documents claiming to provide evidence of deviations by SBU faculty from the biblical doctrines of scripture, hell and justification by faith among other points of Baptist theology.
 
In defense of SBU, a Dec. 22 blog post by one of Bass’s former SBU faculty colleagues, Zach Manis, claimed Bass was fired for “gross professional misconduct” and defended the theological orthodoxy of faculty in SBU’s Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry. The post appeared as a guest article on the personal blog of Rodney Reeves, dean of Redford College. In a Dec. 21 Facebook post, Reeves said he affirmed the inerrancy of scripture and had been “grieving for days over Clint’s dismissal.”
 
Bass was informed of his immediate termination in a letter from SBU President Eric Turner, which later was released online. The letter noted among “grounds for dismissal” “collecting evidence and ascribing views to [faculty colleagues] without personal interaction” and “use of non-credible information to formulate accusations against fellow faculty members.”
 
On Oct. 30, Bass “made serious allegations” orally to Turner and SBU Provost Lee Skinkle regarding his “colleagues’ personal and theological positions,” Turner wrote. “The allegations made were determined as unfounded” following “a systematic inquiry” by Skinkle. Turner accused Bass of using “notes and accusations as leverage” after being denied a promotion.
 
Bass alleged in a Dec. 21 statement he was granted an appeal hearing by a trustee committee but that his meeting with the committee was not conducted according to university policy.
 
“I was ready to participate in the process promised to me,” Bass wrote, adding the committee questioned him for hours with “a focus” on “my communications with other Missouri Baptists, and whether those communications were immoral.”
 
The day after Bass released his statement, SBU issued a news release announcing it had “commissioned an external peer assessment committee that will lead a University-wide dialogue regarding faith and learning. Included within this assessment will be deeper conversations and evaluations regarding orthodoxy.” The committee will be chaired, SBU stated, by David Dockery, president of Trinity International University.
 
SBU told Baptist Press in a Jan. 2 statement, “As the University has previously stated publicly, a faculty member at SBU was provided a Notice of Dismissal that outlined personal behavior concerning conduct violations of SBU’s Faculty Handbook. Since the employee’s dismissal, public discussions have mischaracterized the theological views and stances of the University.
 
“In an effort to ensure that the University’s theology integrity is intact, we have commissioned the peer assessment committee chaired by Dr. David Dockery. As we have been working on developing a strategic plan for the future of SBU, it is abundantly clear that SBU is and always should remain a Christ-centered community. We believe that the result of this dialogue will be an SBU that is even more firmly grounded in the core values that have defined us since our inception,” the university stated.
 
The online petition, posted at Change.org by Bass supporters, stated Bass “embraces with enthusiasm” the Baptist Faith and Message. Missouri Baptists “should be concerned not only about the theology being taught” in Redford College, but also “the way SBU’s administration has handled their investigation into Dr. Bass’s claims and his subsequent dismissal.”
 
Manis, professor of theology and philosophy at SBU, said the notion Bass was fired for his conservative theology is “flatly false.”
 
Social media defenses of Bass have included some by employees of SBC entities, including Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary theology professor Malcolm Yarnell and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission research director Andrew Walker, an SBU alumnus who also commended the university for launching its peer assessment.
 
SBU is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention.

1/3/2019 12:03:53 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Lord protected us,’ Baptist pastor says of gunman

January 3 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

“The Lord protected us,” a Texas pastor proclaimed after police arrested a masked gunman more than 250 miles away who cited the specific church as his destination.
 

Seguin Police Department photo
Tony Albert

“There is an overwhelming recognition that the Lord protected us and provided for us,” Terry Wright of First Baptist Church in Vidor told Baptist Press (BP) Jan. 2.
 
Police in Seguin, Texas, 254 miles southwest of Vidor, contacted the pastor after arresting 33-year-old Tony Dwayne Albert II, whom police said was dressed in tactical style clothing, had a loaded gun and said he was headed to the church to fulfill an unspecified prophecy.
 
“We’re very grateful that the man was caught,” Wright told BP. “We also know that he needs help. He has some problems, evidently, and we ... pray for his well-being, that through this, somehow or another, there be a spiritual impact in his life.
 
“I prayed for him this morning,” Wright said.
 
Albert told the Seguin Police Department he was headed for First Baptist Church of Vidor, police said after charging Albert with possession of marijuana and felony possession of a firearm. The 9mm handgun had been reported stolen from a residence in Vidor, police said, but Albert’s participation in the theft was not certain.
 
Wright described First Baptist in Vidor as a spiritually strong congregation with modern and tactical security measures in place. The incident underscores the need for evangelism, Wright told BP.
 
“They are saddened that someone would want to come here and harm people,” Wright said of First Baptist Vidor. “They also know there’s been other places where this has happened, and this is kind of the signs of the times that we live in. And if anything, it should prompt us to do more in the area of evangelism, in reaching people and ministering to people.”
 
In the town of 11,000, about 350 people attend First Baptist Vidor on any given Sunday, according to 2017 self-reported Annual Church Profile data.
 
According to reports, police arrested Albert after responding to a call from Las Mananitas restaurant in Seguin.
 
“He was looking at me and he was saying something about, ‘Do you know where the nearest church is at?’” ABC affiliate KSAT quoted waitress Brianna Jimenez. “And he said Baptist church.” The restaurant was on lockdown after staff noticed Albert carrying a gun as he exited the business.
 
Albert is being held in the Guadalupe County Jail and may face additional charges. The Vidor Police Department, the FBI, the Texas Rangers, the Guadalupe County District Attorney’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting in the investigation.
 
Albert is a Houston resident and his connection to Vidor was not known, Seguin police spokesperson Tanya Brown told BP today.

1/3/2019 12:03:44 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Miracle cardiologist cherishes ‘power of prayer’

January 3 2019 by Mark Maynard, Kentucky Today

A cardiologist who had a miracle recovery from a grim cancer diagnosis this summer spoke emotionally Dec. 16 from the pulpit at Rose Hill Baptist Church.
 

Photo by Mark Maynard
David Bush, who has recovered from a grim cancer diagnosis this summer, spoke to his home church Dec. 16.

After receiving a standing ovation from a packed house in Ashland, Ky., David Bush thanked a congregation who had lifted him up in prayer during a two-month stretch when doctors gave him little hope.
 
Nobody would have given him much hope to even be in the service nine days before Christmas, let alone delivering a Sunday morning message.
 
It wasn’t unusual to have Bush speaking at Rose Hill, where he is a longtime deacon, board chairman of the Christian school operated by the church and a go-to substitute speaker for Pastor Matt Shamblin.
 
But it was a day of celebrating God’s goodness for the church.
 
All eyes were locked on Bush as he briefly told his new testimony of going from being one of Ashland’s busiest – and best – cardiologists to the intensive care unit at King’s Daughters Medical Center, clinging to every breath.
 
Meanwhile, Shamblin, his pastor, was gathering prayer warriors from wherever he could find them. Believers came from throughout the community but consistently from the church.
 
They had prayer vigils at the church and even at the hospital where Bush practiced – 24-hour vigils of deep prayer for their beloved Christian brother.
 
Bush noticed in June that he had a slight cough with some chest pain, and it was the forebear for an unforgettable two months.
 
“The bad thing about being a doctor is you know too much,” he said.
 
Doctors did chest X-rays and didn’t like what they saw. “If this is cancer,” they told him, “you should be dead.”
 
Cancer was in both lungs, his spine and seven spots on the brain. Even Bush knew the prognosis was poor. But neither he, his family nor his church family gave up hope.
 
“That was a low point with my family and me,” he said of learning cancer had spread to so many places. “It means that there’s little hope and you’re not going to be around long.”
 
But God had other plans even though there were still some moments when it didn’t look good.
 
“Doctors told my family a couple of times (when he was in ICU) that I wasn’t going to make it through the night,” Bush said. “But all over the world, thousands of people that I didn’t even know were praying for me. My life is a testament to the power of prayer and God.”
 
Gradually, Bush began taking a new medicine and began to improve and regain strength. He was discharged from the hospital in late July and was scanned again in September with startling results – the cancer was only in one lung and just slightly. And the tumors on his spine and brain were gone.
 
Bush’s message to the congregation, though, wasn’t so much about his miraculous recovery as it was about how his life is now more eternally pointed – and that everyone’s life should be that way as well. He spoke of the brevity of life, the importance of life, the true wisdom of life and the judgment from life.
 
“When you look at your own mortality, you evaluate life,” he said. “You have much more urgency to tell others about the gospel. You tend to remove the unimportant things in life.”
 
Life is fleeting, a puff of smoke, he said, and the sooner Christians realize that, the better.
 
“We number everything except our days because it doesn’t come normally,” he said. “It’s important to realize we have a limited time on earth to spread the gospel and to edify.”
 
Bush became emotional as his voice cracked several times during the sermon while he pleaded with his listeners to make God a priority. His brush with death made him refocus on what’s important.
 
“I need to do what God wants me to do,” he said. “Don’t fill your life up with temporary things. There should be no difference between our beliefs and our actions.”
 
The biggest reason that Christians don’t share the gospel isn’t because they are afraid or embarrassed, it is because their life does not match their testimony, according to a survey Bush read.
 
“Humbleness before God is one of the most important things in life,” he said. “He will not use prideful people.”
 
Once a Christian becomes serious, life changes. “The Bible says you will find God when you seek Him with your whole heart,” he said.
 
And when that happens, opportunities come and doors swing open, he said.
 
“God blesses obedience,” he noted. “When you walk through the doors, He gives you more.
 
“When you have true wisdom, it always leads you to missions – to tell others about the gospel, to seek the lost. There’s lost people everywhere. What glorifies God glorifies Christ and what glorifies Christ is salvation.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Maynard is managing editor of Kentucky Today, kentuckytoday.com, an online news service of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

1/3/2019 12:03:35 PM by Mark Maynard, Kentucky Today | with 0 comments



Jon Nelson: from atheist to 1st black Missouri Baptist VP

January 3 2019 by Christopher Pearson, The Pathway

The Missouri Baptist Convention’s first African American officer, Jon Nelson, is not only a husband, father and church planter. He’s also a testimony to the grace of God that can take an adversary of faith, such as Nelson once was, and bring him into the service of the one he had hated.

Submitted Photo
Jon Nelson found himself alone as an atheist – with only the God he hated. Now, years later, he is a church planter and Missouri Baptist Convention first vice president.

 
Growing up in his parents’ inner-city church in Kansas City, Nelson admits he often intellectually wrestled with Christians there.
 
“When I attended my parents’ church, I would privately engage in debates to destroy others’ faith by asking venomous and loaded questions,” Nelson remembers of his effort to agitate doubt that anyone had about God, the Christian faith or the Bible. Having become a self-defined – but not publicly identified – atheist, he wanted others to taste and see the same freedom he felt by rejecting belief in any God.
 
For Nelson, this “freedom” began in high school and continued at Kansas State University. He used his God-given talents in analytical thinking and communication to break down not just Christians, but anyone of any faith around him, hoping to give them this so-called “freedom” as well.
 
But it came at a cost. Soon the friends he debated and judged for their belief in any God would leave him, and he found himself alone and at odds with only the God he hated.
 
Yet, even in his march toward freedom, which only left him in chains, God’s relentless grace refused to leave Nelson alone.
 
“There was this one young lady, a believer in Christ, that no matter what I did, she would not run away, but would keep coming back and forgiving me,” Nelson recounted. “I never understood it.” Through a series of sins and gracious forgiveness, he found his way into a church and heard the clear, drawing gospel of the Jesus Christ.
 
Shortly before being baptized, Nelson decided to use the gifts he once utilized to destroy the faith of others to now build their souls in Christ. He would later start down the road of earning a Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary undergraduate degree and becoming a pastor. However, becoming a church planter was not the end of how the Lord would use him.
 
Three years after planting Soma Community Church, a Missouri Baptist church in Jefferson City that serves the community of Lincoln University and the surrounding area, Nelson was elected as first vice president of the Missouri Baptist Convention in October – a far jump from the young atheist who sought to corrupt the hearts and faith of those around him. While many have filled this position, Nelson is believed to be the first African American to do so since the convention’s founding in the 1800s.
 
“It is incumbent upon our convention to be the first in issues of race in America,” Nelson told The Pathway, Missouri Baptists’ news journal, while also praising Southern Baptists for taking historic steps, such as the SBC’s 1995 resolution on racism.
 
“It is an honor to sit in the seat that so many good men have sat before me,” Nelson said of serving as a Missouri convention officer. “This is the organization my wife Heather and I have chosen to give a part of our lives and ministry to, now and in the future.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Christopher Pearson is a correspondent for The Pathway, mbcpathway.com, news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)

1/3/2019 12:03:19 PM by Christopher Pearson, The Pathway | with 0 comments



Rash begins 2019 as Alabama Baptist’s new editor

January 2 2019 by Grace Thornton, The Alabama Baptist

When Jennifer Davis Rash was getting ready to graduate from the University of Alabama (UA) in 1993, Jim Oakley had a plan for her life.
 
“She was an ideal student for me to recommend because I knew she would do well and make me and our program both look good,” said Oakley, then a career counselor and internship placement director for the College of Communication and Information Sciences at UA.

Jennifer Davis Rash began her new role as The Alabama Baptist's editor-in-chief on Jan. 1.

 
He had several publications ready to offer her jobs, including one prominent paper who wanted to hire her “very badly,” Oakley said.
 
But Rash felt God had something different in mind – something totally off Oakley’s map. Rash said she felt like God was calling her to do media work through missions and ministry.
 
“The new direction surprised me as much as everyone else,” she said. “But I absolutely knew it was from God.
 
“I had never considered serving on the mission field prior to my senior year in college, but a few months before graduation I encountered a Southern Baptist missionary home from the field and my focus completely changed,” Rash said. “It was as if she had been appointed to recruit me.”
 
While the paperwork and process for applying to serve with the International Mission Board (IMB) was daunting – especially on top of a rigid class, work and extracurricular activity schedule – Rash said she felt drawn to the opportunity.
 
So after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, she packed up her car and headed to join the IMB’s partner ministry Caribbean Christian Publications based in Hollywood, Fla.
 
During that two years God solidified in her heart the call to leverage her career for the cause of Christ.
 
She also experienced a rich growth in her relationship with the Lord, made lifelong friends – one of whom would later become her husband, Jason – and discovered she had so much more to learn.
 
Oakley said he really couldn’t understand her decision at first, but came to grasp it during her time on the mission field.
 
They stayed in touch during those two years, and by the time her term of service was up, he understood. Oakley also knew exactly where she should land next.
 
It was late 1995 and Bob Terry, the new editor of The Alabama Baptist (TAB), was looking for strong new hires, Oakley said.
 

‘Sense of peace’

 
Rash trusted Oakley’s guidance, interviewed with Terry within a few days of returning from the mission field in December of that year and was shocked to discover how the Baptist state newspaper immediately felt like home.
 
“I went into the interview thinking the position would be sort of a layover opportunity until I finished seminary,” Rash said. “But that same sense of belonging and peace surfaced again, one similar to what I experienced with the missions call.”
 

Immediate connection

 
Terry agreed. “The unusual part of the interview process was how Jennifer and I seemed to click as we talked about the role of Christian communications and the role of media in the church.
 
“Her talent was attested to by the awards listed on her biographical sketch,” he said. “Her work with Caribbean Baptists demonstrated her willingness to work on a variety of different projects at the same time.”
 
The two negotiated and Terry offered her the job. Her start date was Jan. 1, 1996.
 
“It was one of the best decisions I ever made because Jennifer has been a wonderful colleague and friend all of our time together,” Terry said.
 
Now more than 23 years from that interview Rash has stepped into the role of TAB’s president and editor-in-chief on the heels of Terry’s retirement Dec. 31, 2018. Rash began her new role Jan. 1.
 
In those years in between she’s served in roles from an entry-level news writer to the paper’s executive editor, earned a master of theological studies from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham and served her church and community in a variety of ways.
 
“I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Terry for taking a chance on an eager, young journalist with so much to learn and investing in my growth and development,” Rash said.
 

‘High energy’

 
Arthur Williams, chairman of TAB’s board of directors, said he’s excited about TAB’s future.
 
“She is very talented, hardworking, high energy, experienced and brings a wealth of knowledge to the paper,” he said. “I believe the future is bright for The Alabama Baptist under her direction and leadership.”
 
Amelia Pearson, board chairman at the time Rash was tapped as editor-elect, said she believes “Jennifer’s appointment is a good example of preparation intersecting with opportunity.”
 
“We are blessed that she has the experience in the business and that that experience has been with TAB,” Pearson noted. “I know she has the support of Dr. Terry and the staff, which made her a very logical choice for the board of directors. Her dedication and vision should take the newspaper far.”
 

‘Well prepared’

 
Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said he’s known Rash for more than 20 years and long felt she would be used by the Lord in a significant way.
 
“Approximately a decade ago I became convinced that Jennifer would serve well as an editor of a state paper. I was hopeful that her place of service would be The Alabama Baptist,” he said.
 
“That time has come and Jennifer is well prepared to assume the role of leadership at The Alabama Baptist. She epitomizes Christian professionalism in her attitude and in her work. I am proud to have Jennifer in this most important role in Alabama Baptist life. She will represent us very well.”
 
Rash brings “a unique combination of gifts” to the role, Terry said.
 
“She is winsome and outgoing, an inspiring leader and an award-winning journalist,” he noted. “Her years of service at TAB demonstrate her tireless energy and give her thorough grounding in the workings of this ministry, of Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists.
 
“In addition to all of that she is creative and will lead the way to continue the heritage of leadership and service The Alabama Baptist has provided for the past 175 years. I wish her nothing but the best in the days ahead.”

1/2/2019 2:05:05 PM by Grace Thornton, The Alabama Baptist | with 0 comments



Retired SWBTS professor William Tolar dies

December 31 2018 by Baptist Standard Staff

William B. Tolar of Fort Worth, Texas, a longtime professor of biblical backgrounds and archaeology, died Dec. 29. He was 90 years old.
 
Tolar was born July 5, 1928, in Jonesboro, La., to Peter Dane and Lora Stewart Tolar. At age 13, he began reading the Bible after a teacher told him it was the best-selling book in history, but 99 percent of the people in the world never had read it in its entirety. The experience changed his life.

 
He made a profession of faith in Christ on Easter Sunday in 1942, and one year later, he accepted God’s calling to vocational Christian ministry.
 
After ranking highly in an academic competition and being named Louisiana’s top high school running back, Louisiana State University offered Tolar a full scholarship, but he wanted to prepare for the ministry at a Baptist school. He earned undergraduate and master’s degrees at Baylor University. He continued his education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), where he earned masters and doctoral degrees.
 
Tolar taught 10 years in the religion department at Baylor University and 38 years at SWBTS, where he also served as dean of the School of Theology, vice president for academic affairs, provost and acting president. He also taught as an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University and as a distinguished fellow at the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute. He lectured in 53 countries on five continents, led more than 80 trips to the Holy Land, and was interim pastor of more than 50 churches.
 
Tolar was a member of Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth. He is survived by his wife Floye Kimball Tolar of Fort Worth; son William and daughter-in-law Laura Tolar of Hurst; daughter Lora Mae and son-in-law Brian O’Riordan of Chicago; and two grandchildren.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article first appeared at BaptistStandard.com. Used by permission.)

12/31/2018 4:12:05 PM by Baptist Standard Staff | with 0 comments



Year-in-Review: Top social media posts from 2018

December 31 2018 by Biblical Recorder Staff

12/31/2018 1:25:24 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 0 comments



Indonesia tsunami draws BGR ‘outpouring’

December 28 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A tsunami that killed at least 430 people in Indonesia the weekend before Christmas is being met with an “outpouring” of God’s love, Baptist Global Response (BGR) executive director Jeff Palmer says.

Screen capture from The Guardian
A Dec. 22 tsunami in Indonesia's Sunda Strait left at least 430 people dead and tens of thousands displaced.  

 
The 10-foot tsunami in Indonesia’s Sunda Strait – between the islands of Java and Sumatra – was triggered Dec. 22 by an eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano and an ensuing landslide. In addition to the deaths, nearly 150 people remain missing and more than 1,400 were injured, according to media reports. Tens of thousands have been displaced.
 
The tsunami took many Indonesians by surprise – including attendees of a beachfront concert in Tanjung Lesung – because the nation’s tsunami-detection system allegedly has been out of order since 2012, according to media reports.
 
BGR, a Baptist relief and development organization, has made an initial allocation of $5,000 for relief efforts in Indonesia. The funds will be administered by local churches and believers trained in disaster relief, Palmer told Baptist Press. At least some of those funds are being used on food and water for survivors.
 
“Because we’re able to respond with local church partners, there is an outpouring, an out-showing of the love of God for those in need,” Palmer said. “Anybody that knows the Indonesian believers knows they have a heart to reach their own people. They will help them in need, but they will also do everything that they can to make Christ known.”
 
The need for additional BGR response to the tsunami is being assessed, Palmer said, noting “the Indonesian government has a great emergency response unit.”
 
Regardless of whether BGR responds additionally to this disaster, Palmer said, future response in Indonesia is likely because Anak Krakatau is “active” and “spewing.”
 
“My suspicion is that it’s going to be a lot worse,” Palmer said. “Eventually, we’re going to have a (major) eruption.”
 
The Indonesian government raised the volcano’s alert level today (Dec. 27) to its second highest rank. Thousands are being evacuated from the area and flights rerouted, according to media reports.
 
The Krakatoa volcanic formation, comprising multiple islands including Anak Krakatau, is among the world’s most active and dangerous volcanoes.
 
Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation. Its 260 million people are 87 percent Muslim, 7 percent Protestant and 3 percent Roman Catholic, according to data from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
 
Earlier this year, an earthquake and tsunami killed at least 2,000 people on Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island, a disaster that also drew BGR response.
 
BGR is not an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, but it does promote and endorse the SBC’s Cooperative Program. BGR’s partnership with Southern Baptists in meeting global human needs is fundamentally undergirded by those who give through their local churches to the Cooperative Program and to the Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief fund.

12/28/2018 12:58:18 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SBC missions, ministries projected to see CP boost

December 27 2018 by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, TEXAN

For the second year in a row, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists approved the largest increase among all state Baptist conventions in the portion of Cooperative Program (CP) receipts sent beyond the state next year. The new split of 65 percent for in-state missions and ministry and 35 percent for the work of Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entities will deliver an anticipated $192,500 beyond the two states for international and domestic missions, six Southern Baptist seminaries, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and the Executive Committee of the SBC.
 

CIBSPR photo
Messengers vote at the 2018 annual meeting of the Convention of Southern Baptist Churches in Puerto Rico.

Joining Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists with increases in the percentage given to SBC causes are the state Baptist conventions in Arizona and Dakotas (both up 2 percent) and Pennsylvania-South Jersey (up 1.5 percent). Another 14 states raised the SBC portion 1 percent or less.
 
As one of the states boosting the portion sent to the SBC, Barry Whitworth, executive director of the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania-South Jersey, said, “This marks the largest CP giving year in the 48 years of our convention.” With approval of a move from a 27.5/72.5 to 29/71 percent split, Whitworth encouraged churches to do more, adding, “... God-willing, I’d love for us to hit the 30 percent mark before our 50th year celebration” in 2019.
 
Five state Baptist conventions reduced the percentage given to SBC missions and ministry, including Alaska (-13.54 percent), Northwest (-7.2 percent), Indiana (-5.11 percent), Wyoming (-0.46 percent) and Illinois (-0.07 percent). Nine of the 41 state conventions (and fellowships) continue the practice of prioritizing “shared ministries” said to benefit both the state convention and SBC entities. Those budgeted items are taken off the top before computing the percentage of remaining receipts divvied up between the state and SBC causes, and vary from 0.94 percent in Maryland/Delaware to 20.28 percent in Wyoming.
 
Six state conventions continue to lead the pack, forwarding to the SBC half or more of the undesignated Cooperative Program receipts received from churches without a “shared ministry” calculation. Those are the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (55/45), Florida (51/49), and Alabama, Iowa, Nevada and Ohio all at a 50/50 split.
 
With 18 states increasing their CP percentage to the SBC, 17 making no change and only five decreasing that portion, the amount projected to be sent to the SBC is $193,500,000 according to William Townes, vice president for convention finance at the SBC Executive Committee.
 
Southern Baptists in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also forward a percentage of their Cooperative Program receipts to the SBC for the SBC allocation budget.
 
The actual dollar amount of a state convention’s allocation fluctuates annually depending on how well cooperating churches in the state are able to fund their respective budgets.
 
Each state convention elected officers to leadership for 2019. Those serving as president are:
 
ALABAMA – Tim Cox, who has served as pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Chelsea;
 
ALASKA – Tracy Simmons, pastor of Christ Community Church in Anchorage;
 
ARIZONA – Ashley Evans, pastor of Twenty-Second Street Baptist Church in Tucson;
 
ARKANSAS – Jeff Paxton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dover;
 
CALIFORNIA – Shawn Beaty, pastor of Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis;
 
COLORADO – Calvin Wittman, pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in Wheat Ridge;
 
DAKOTAS – Sean Donnelly of Black Hills Baptist Church in Whitewood, S.D.;
 
FLORIDA – Erik Cummings, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Carol City;
 
GEORGIA – Robby Foster, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta;
 
HAWAII/PACIFIC – Steve Irvin, pastor of Pali View Baptist Church in Keneohe;
 
ILLINOIS – Adron Robinson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills;
 
INDIANA – Bobby Pell, pastor of NorthWoods Church in Evansville;
 
IOWA – Jim Parker, pastor of Sojourn Church in Council Bluffs;
 
KANSAS/NEBRASKA – Derrick Lynch, pastor of Blue Valley Baptist Church in Overland Park, Kan.;
 
KENTUCKY – Tim Searcy, pastor of Allen Baptist Church near Prestonsburg;
 
LOUISIANA – Eddie Wren, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rayville;
 
MARYLAND/DELAWARE – Harold Phillips, senior pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Md.;
 
MICHIGAN – Scott Blanchard, pastor of Lakepointe Church in Macomb, Mich.;
 
MINNESOTA/WISCONSIN – Chris Heng, pastor of Twin Cities Hmong Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minn.;
 
MISSISSIPPI – Mark Vincent, senior pastor of Clarke-Venable Baptist Church in Decatur;
 
MISSOURI – Jeremy Muniz, pastor of First Baptist in De Soto;
 
MONTANA – Chad Scarborough, pastor of First Baptist Church in Shelby;
 
NEVADA – Damian Cirincione, executive pastor of Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas;
 
NEW ENGLAND – Tim Owen, lead pastor of Mission City Church in Rutland and Castleton, Vt.;
 
NEW MEXICO – Jared Bridge, pastor of Anchor Church in Albuquerque;
 
NEW YORK – Bruce Aubrey, pastor of Northside Church in Liverpool, N.Y.;
 
NORTH CAROLINA – Steve Scoggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville;
 
NORTHWEST – Dustin Hall, pastor of Kennewick Baptist Church in Kennewick, Wash.;
 
OHIO – Ryan Strother, lead pastor of Central Baptist Church in Marion;
 
OKLAHOMA – Blake Gideon, pastor of First Baptist Church, Edmond;
 
PENNSYLVANIA/SOUTH JERSEY – George Tynes, pastor of Truth Baptist Church in Philadelphia;
 
PUERTO RICO – David Colón, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Logos in Santa Isabel;
 
SOUTH CAROLINA – Bryant Sims, pastor of First Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Greenwood;
 
TENNESSEE – David Green of First Baptist Church in Greeneville;
 
TEXAS (BGCT) – Michael Evans, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield;
 
TEXAS (SBTC) – Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin;
 
UTAH-IDAHO – Mike McGukin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls;
 
VIRGINIA (BGAV) – Richard Martin, a deacon at Huguenot Road Baptist Church in Richmond;
 
VIRGINIA (SBCV) – Eric Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church in Norfolk;
 
WEST VIRGINIA – Paul Harris, pastor of Abundant Hope Baptist Church in Barboursville, W.Va.; and
 
WYOMING – John Constantine, pastor of Story Community Church in Story.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tammi Reed Ledbetter is associate editor for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

12/27/2018 11:24:10 AM by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, TEXAN | with 0 comments



Repeal of tax on churches appears to fail in Congress

December 27 2018 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Dec. 20 to reverse a year-old law that calls for churches to file tax returns for the first time in American history, but it appears unlikely the effort will go any further in this Congress.
 

BP file photo by Art Toalston
An unprecedented tax faces churches and religious organizations beginning Jan. 1 for such matters as parking by staff members.

The House voted 220-183 in a nearly party-line vote for a bill that included repeal of a 2017 tax cut’s provision – Section 512(a)(7) – that required houses of worship and nonprofit organizations to pay a 21 percent tax on such employee benefits as parking and transportation. Only Republicans voted in favor of the proposal, and all but three of those opposing the legislation were Democrats.
 
The House’s action, however, apparently will fall short of ultimate nullification of the controversial provision. The Senate does not appear to have the votes to approve the House-passed measure, Southern Baptist policy specialists said.
 
“We are disappointed that despite strong leadership from Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Congressman Mark Walker (R-N.C.), and strong bipartisan support for fully repealing the nonprofit parking tax, Congress was unable to do so this year,” Travis Wussow told Baptist Press. “We will continue to work on this issue in the 116th Congress and continue to call on members of both parties to set politics aside and get this done.”
 
Wussow is general counsel and vice president for public policy of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
 
The provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that became law last December not only leveled a tax on churches and nonprofits but burdened them with accounting and compliance costs not previously required, its foes said. If the section is not repealed, the cost to the charitable sector would be a congressionally estimated $1.7 billion over 10 years, according to a November letter from a diverse coalition of opponents led by the ERLC.
 
The ERLC – joined by 32 other organizations – sent a letter Nov. 13 to leaders of two congressional committees and some other members asking them to repeal the church tax provision before the end of the year. The measure “will hopelessly entangle the (Internal Revenue Service) with houses of worship, simply because these houses of worship allow their clergy to park in their parking lots,” the ERLC and its allies said in the letter.
 
In the letter, the coalition said the First Amendment is the basis for not requiring houses of worship to file tax returns. It “allows houses of worship to operate independently from the government and shields houses of worship from government interference and intrusive public inspection into their internal, constitutionally protected” activities, according to the letter.
 
Walker, a Southern Baptist, applauded the House’s approval in the new Retirement, Savings, and Other Tax Relief Act of language from a bill he introduced.
 
“Never in our nation’s history have we placed a tax on places of worship, always respecting the sanctity of our religious liberty,” Walker said in written comments. “In this season of giving, our charities and churches should be encouraged to know that the House is dedicated to stopping new taxes and compliance fees that threaten to impede the life-altering work they perform in each of our communities.”
 
In addition to ERLC President Russell Moore, the coalition letter’s signers included: Leith Anderson, president, National Association of Evangelicals; Daniel DiNardo, archbishop, Galveston-Houston, and president, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Erik Stanley, senior counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom; David Nammo, chief executive officer (CEO), Christian Legal Society; Jerry Johnson, president, National Religious Broadcasters; Dan Busby, president, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability; Shirley Hoogstra, president, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Donna Markham, president, Catholic Charities USA; Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Anwar Khan, president, Islamic Relief USA; Gerald Causse, presiding bishop, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Jerry Silverman, CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America; and Michael Smith, president, Home School Legal Defense Association.
 
See Biblical Recorder’s related stories here and here.

12/27/2018 11:23:58 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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