April 2016

Parliamentarians, tellers named for 2016 SBC

April 26 2016 by Baptist Press staff

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Ronnie Floyd has named parliamentarians and tellers for the SBC 2016 Annual Meeting June 14–15 in St. Louis.
 
Chief parliamentarian Barry McCarty, who began his service under the SBC presidency of Charles Stanley in 1986, will be honored for his longtime service to the SBC.

 
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Baptist Press photo
Barry McCarty, has been the Southern Baptist Convention’s parliamentarian for 30 years. He is also a Southern Baptist and a faculty member at Southwestern Seminary.

Appointed as assistant parliamentarians are:

  • Craig Culbreth, lead catalyst for missions and ministry with the Florida Baptist Convention;

  • Adam Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;

  • John Sullivan, Florida Baptist Convention retired executive director, and

  • Amy Whitfield, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary director of communications.

2016 Tellers Committee

Brandon Park, pastor First Baptist Church in Rayton, Mo., and A.B. Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., will co-chair of the 2016 Tellers Committee.
 
Appointed tellers are:

  • Judson Adams, lead pastor, Lifespring Church, Marysville, Ohio;

  • C.J. Adkins, pastor, Westmoreland Baptist Church, Huntington, Va.;

  • Marshall Ausberry, senior pastor, Antioch Baptist Church, Fairfax Station, Va.;

  • Doug Austin, Bethany Baptist Church, Cape Girardeau, Mo.;

  • Luke Baker, Central Baptist Church, Aurora, Colo.;

  • Gary Bearce, Pioneer Baptist Church, Wasilla, Alaska;

  • Daphiney Caganap, New Seasons Church, Spring Valley, Calif.;

  • Alan Chan, pastor of church ministry coordination, Mandarin Baptist Church of Los Angeles, Alhambra, Calif.;

  • Justin Compton, lead pastor, Redemption Hill Baptist Church, Fishersville, Ky.;

  • Jedidiah Coppenger, lead pastor, Redemption City Church, Franklin, Tenn.;

  • Anthony Dockery, senior pastor, St. Stephens Baptist Church, La Puenta, Calif.;

  • Joseph Gaston, Redemption Baptist Church, Pompano, Fla.;

  • Alex Gonzales, pastor, Hickory Tree Baptist Church, Balch Springs, Texas;

  • Michael Guyer, minister of students and families, Open Door Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C.;

  • Beau Hughes, pastor, The Village Church, Denton, Texas;

  • Royce Hulett, pastor, Oakland Baptist Church Hazlehurst, Ga.;

  • Krissie Inserra, wife of pastor Dean Inserra, City Church, Tallahassee, Fla.;

  • Brian Jump, pastor, First Baptist Church, Clever, Mo.;

  • Jason Kim, Atlanta Korean Baptist Church, Lawrenceville, Ga.;

  • Leslie Manning, a member of First Baptist Church in Meadville, Mo., and the wife of Mike Manning, associational missionary with the Harmony Baptist Association in Pine Bluff, Ark.;

  • Neil Marsh, discipleship pastor, Broadmoor Baptist Church, Madison, Miss.;

  • Steve Patterson, First Baptist Church, Carl Junction, Mo.;

  • John Powell, pastor, First Baptist Church, Hamlin, Texas;

  • Jeremy Roberts, lead pastor, Church of the Highlands, Harrison, Tenn.;

  • Matthew Stewart, senior pastor, South Shore Baptist Church, Crownsville, Md., and

  • Brad Wheeler, senior pastor, University Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ark.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/26/2016 12:25:47 PM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



SBC ST. LOUIS: ‘Awaken America, reach the world’

April 25 2016 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

When Southern Baptists depart St. Louis after their annual meeting in June, says Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president Ronnie Floyd, he will be praying they do so with a “deep burden for our nation, a new commitment to racial unity and an extraordinary commitment to evangelize America.”
 
With the theme of this year’s June 14-15 gathering being “Awaken America: Reach the World – Agree, Unite, Pray,” Floyd continues to point to passionate prayer as a critical tool for a “nationwide and global spiritual awakening.”
 
“I pray that our SBC messengers encounter the living God through moments of worship, preaching, challenge and prayer,” Floyd said.
 
For the second year, Floyd will lead a Tuesday evening session devoted to prayer. “A National Call to Prayer for Spiritual Leadership” will feature a diverse group of Southern Baptist leaders and pastors with special guests Keith and Kristyn Getty. Floyd has also invited African American pastor Jerry Young, who is president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., to participate in the evening session. Young also will be among the speakers at a special session, “A National Conversation on Racial Unity in America,” that will take place that morning.
 
Floyd described St. Louis as “one of America’s significant cities.”
 
“With the racial unrest in St. Louis due to what happened in Ferguson in August of 2014, Southern Baptists will have a strong opportunity to represent Christ through Crossover ministry in the city,” Floyd said of the annual evangelism outreach event that takes place each year in the annual meeting’s host city. They also have an opportunity to “speak to the racial challenges that face not only St. Louis, but our entire nation.”
 
He noted, “I believe we will leave St. Louis with a powerful, strong, clear and encouraging testimony of the need for loving one another, regardless of the color of one’s skin.”
 

Election

As Floyd wraps up his second and final term as SBC president in June, messengers will elect a new leader. At least three candidates are expected to be nominated for SBC president: North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines and Louisiana pastor David Crosby.
 
Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins announced in March 2 that Greear will be nominated for president.
 
Scroggins noted, for 14 years Greear has pastored The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. During that time, worship attendance has grown from 350 to just under 10,000, Scroggins said. Total baptisms increased from 19 in 2002 to 928 in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available through the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Greear served two years with the International Mission Board before being called to The Summit.
 
Former SBC President Johnny Hunt announced a week later that Gaines will be nominated for SBC president.
 
During the 11 years Gaines has pastored the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., the congregation has averaged 481 baptisms per year, according to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Previously, he pastored churches in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. See full story.
 
Former SBC President Fred Luter announced later that Crosby will also be nominated as SBC president.
 
Crosby has pastored First Baptist Church in New Orleans for the past 20 years. The congregation has averaged 658 in worship and 24 baptisms annually over the past five years, according to ACP. Crosby has served a variety of leadership roles at the association, state convention and SBC levels.
 

Crossover St. Louis

During this year’s Crossover evangelism outreach leading up to the annual meeting in St. Louis, an estimated 3,500 Southern Baptist volunteers are expected to converge on the metropolitan area June 11.
 
Along the I-70 corridor through Missouri’s largest city are neighborhoods unreached with the gospel, Jim Breeden, St. Louis Metro Baptist Association’s (SLMBA) executive director, said. “We have 12 unreached areas of St. Louis that don’t have a Southern Baptist church within a three-to-five-mile radius,” he said. “Visitors driving on the I-70 corridor will pass some of the darkest and most dangerous areas of our city.”
 
During Crossover, volunteer teams will visit five of those unreached areas to share the gospel. SLMBA hopes to recruit church planters long-term via the evangelism outreach, Breeden said.
 
Four more area associations among the St. Louis metro area’s 2.73 million residents are also planning Crossover events: Jefferson, Franklin and Two Rivers associations in Missouri, plus Metro East in Illinois.
 
Churches taking teams to St. Louis can download a distance partner form at crossoverstlouis.com, or contact Tom Firasek, SLMBA’s ministry and partnership coordinator, at (214) 225-1948 or tfirasek@stlbaptist.org.
 

Proposals

Messengers gathering in St. Louis will consider a variety of recommendations during the annual meeting. See related story that includes those approved by the SBC Executive Committee during its meeting Feb. 22-23. Among them:

  • a recommendation amending SBC Bylaw 26 regarding questions to SBC entity leaders from the floor during the annual meeting. The recommendation is intended to provide consistency in the time allotted for messengers to ask questions. The EC will present the recommendation to messengers during the SBC’s meeting.

  • a one-time transfer of funds from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to the International Mission Board to assist IMB personnel leaving the board during its “organizational reset.”

  • a new name for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. If messengers give approval to the name change, the new name will be Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. To take effect, the bylaw amendment, which was approved during last year’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, must be approved again by messengers in St. Louis.

SBC app

Available April 22, messengers to the annual meeting once again can stay updated by using the “SBC Annual Meetings” mobile application. The app includes a listing of speakers for the SBC Pastors’ Conference and SBC annual meeting, as well as the daily program schedule, daily events, exhibitor listing, convention center maps, 2016 Book of Reports and more. Download the app on your mobile device by accessing the App Store, Google Play, or by visiting m.coreapps.com/sbc_am2016.
 
Messengers can also follow on Twitter @SBCMeeting, @BaptistPress, @SBCLife, @sbccp and @SBCPastorsconf for the latest annual meeting updates.
 

Other highlights

  • With the theme “Live This!” the June 12-13 Pastors’ Conference will welcome pastors and their wives for a two-day event of preaching, worship and prayer at the convention center.

 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference president John Meador said pastors need to heed Scripture’s call to “do the work of an evangelist.” The Pastors’ Conference is free and requires no registration. Among this year’s scheduled speakers: International Mission Board president David Platt, LifeWay Research executive director Ed Stetzer and pastors Greg Laurie, Jack Graham, James MacDonald, Byron McWilliams, Noah Oldham and Jimmy Scroggins. To learn more about this year’s schedule, sponsors and theme, visit sbcpc.net. This year’s preferred Twitter hashtag will be #LIVETHIS.

  • The SBC annual meeting will feature a joint “Sending Celebration” as the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board celebrate overseas missionaries and North American church planters, along with their sending churches, as they answer God’s call to plant churches and make disciples in the U.S. and around the world. The Sending Celebration, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, June 15, at America’s Center in St. Louis, will display how God has a place for every church – and every Christian – to be on mission with Him, for His glory.

  • The North American Mission Board will officially launch Send Relief during the Send Luncheon held at noon on June 13 at The Dome at America’s Center. Luncheon attendees will hear stories of how churches throughout North America are meeting needs as they engage their communities with the Gospel. NAMB will provide ways to help equip churches to more effectively do the same thing in their community.

The free luncheon is available to everyone, but tickets are required. To obtain a free ticket for the event, visit www.namb.net/sendluncheon. SBC attendees can also learn how their churches can become more involved in church planting.

  • Anita Renfroe, a popular Christian comedian and communicator, will be the keynote speaker of two of three events for ministers’ wives attending the annual meeting. The trio of women’s events, based on the theme, “Be Encouraged,” will include a Pastors’ Wives Conference, a Ministers’ Wives Luncheon and a Women’s Expo. The Pastors’ Wives Conference, held during the morning session of the Pastors’ Conference on Monday, June 13, from 9-11:30 a.m., will feature teaching sessions as well as table discussions.

Renfroe will lead during the annual luncheon, which will take place on June 14, from noon to 1:30 p.m., also in the Marriott St. Louis Grand-Majestic Ballroom.

  • GuideStone Financial Resources will once again offer its Wellness Center during the Pastors’ Conference and the Southern Baptist Convention, June 13–15. Messengers can visit the exhibit hall during operating hours to take advantage of the Wellness Center’s free services, valued at up to $150.

GuideStone employees also will be available to answer participants’ retirement, investment and insurance questions. Three different seminars will be offered, focusing on retirement benefits, health care reform and younger participants getting started with retirement saving. A representative of the Social Security Administration will also be available to answer questions about Social Security benefits, both for ministers and non-ministers.
 

Registration/new guidelines

Register online at sbcannualmeeting.net under the Messengers/Guests tab. NOTE: To help ensure the orderly flow of attendees and enhance security of the convention hall, this year each messenger, exhibitor and guest will need to be registered and properly badged for entrance into the general sessions June 14-15.
 
After completing online registration, each individual 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.
 

Resolutions

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 sbcannualmeeting.net under the Messengers/Guests tab. Resolutions may be submitted online but must be followed up by a letter of credentials from the submitter’s church.
 

Children & students

Registration is open for preschool child care, Giant Cow Children’s Ministries, Children in Action Missions Camp and Youth on Mission in conjunction with annual meeting.
 
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief child care volunteers will care for preschoolers; Giant Cow Children’s Ministries will lead the 5- to 12-year-olds, and Woman’s Missionary Union will guide Youth on Mission curricula and activities.
 
All activities for children and youth will be housed at America’s 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 mission projects.
 
Pre-registration is required and is available online at sbcannualmeeting.net under the “children/youth” tab, with a deadline of May 6 or whenever the space limitation of 120 children is reached. Registrations will not be taken on site.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shawn Hendricks, managing editor/director of operations of Baptist Press, compiled this story with help from previous Baptist Press reports and submitted material.)

4/25/2016 11:19:17 AM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Should Christians abandon American culture?

April 25 2016 by Harper McKay, SEBTS

Fifty Christian leaders from across the country gathered April 19 for the Intersect Conference on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) to learn and discuss how faith impacts culture, vocation and economics. Event organizers invited a range of church planters, pastors, parachurch organization leaders and students to hear from SEBTS faculty and engage in a question and answer panel discussion.
 
To begin the conference, SEBTS Provost Bruce Ashford addressed the broad topic “Theology and Culture,” reflecting on his initial awareness of culture as a missionary. “It was a major awakening for me to figure out the relationship between God’s saving work on one hand and culture on the other hand,” he said.

 
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Bruce Ashford

Defining the notoriously vague term, Ashford said culture is what results when “God’s imagers interact with His good creation.”
 
He explained that while many things in society are not God-honoring, human culture remains “structurally” good because it is God-given. Admitting the controversial nature of the topic, Ashford said ministers of the gospel need to practice Christianity that redeems culture.
 
“We engage culture and make culture better because Christ’s lordship is as wide as creation,” he said.
 
Ashford posed questions to help identify what God intends for every sphere of culture, what has gone astray in those areas and how Christians might reshape certain aspects in ways that honor Christ.
 
In an interactive presentation on vocation, Benjamin Quinn and Walter Strickland discussed material from their recent book, Every Waking Hour. Quinn serves as associate dean for institutional advancement and assistant professor of theology and history of ideas at SEBTS. Strickland is the SEBTS special adviser to the president for diversity and an instructor of theology.
 
In the talk, they debunked the common notion that vocational ministry is the only career endeavor that truly matters in God’s kingdom, honoring 90-year-old SEBTS facilities management staffer Eugene Smith. For more than three decades Smith has emptied trash bins, rolled up water hoses and assisted people on and off the handicap elevator.

 
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Benjamin Quinn and Walter Strickland

“He understands who he is as someone who has something to give to God’s world,” Quinn said. “This is who I want to be when I grow up.”
 
Beginning with a definition of work – “what creatures do with creation” – they said vocation is how people make themselves useful to others. “Work is the hand that animates the glove of our vocation,” Quinn and Strickland explained.
 
Pastors and leaders should teach all Christians the significance of their vocations, even in the nuts and bolts of every job, they said.
 
“How powerful a testimony would it be if we commissioned accountants before tax season every year?” Quinn asked. “What about commissioning teachers before academic years every year?”
 
Brent Aucoin, professor of history and associate dean of The College for Academic Affairs at SEBTS, gave an overview of the history of Christianity and economics. He examined the spectrum of economic systems from capitalism to socialism, outlining how Christians from past to present have understood wealth and poverty.
 
In a session on “Economics, Stewardship and the Common Good,” SEBTS professor of Christian ethics and associate dean for graduate program administration, David Jones, explained the importance of wealth or poverty is how people use it.
 
“God doesn’t care about whether you’re rich or poor,” Jones said. “But he does care what you do with it.”
 
Wrapping up the conference, Keith Whitfield, SEBTS vice president for academic administration and assistant professor of theology, led a panel discussion with the conference speakers where participants could ask follow up questions from earlier discussions.
 
The Intersect Project is a partnership between the Kern Family Foundation and SEBTS that seeks to educate people to engage the intersection of faith, culture, work and economics so that they can equip others and be empowered to glorify God.
 
Intersect also offers opportunities to learn from SEBTS faculty and other reputable speakers through free online classes, daily blogs, videos, books and special events.
 
Visit intersectproject.org.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Harper McKay is a news and information specialist at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Seth Brown, BR Content Editor, contributed to this story.)

4/25/2016 11:11:54 AM by Harper McKay, SEBTS | with 0 comments



Doctor, pastor sues Georgia after sermons cost him new job

April 25 2016 by Samantha Gobba, WORLD News Service

A public health expert and Seventh-Day Adventist preacher who lost a job offer from the State of Georgia over sermons posted to YouTube is suing for discrimination.
 
A week after offering Eric Walsh a job in 2014 as district health director for Northwest Georgia, state officials combed through his online sermons, which allegedly ranged from topics such as the sin of homosexuality to the corrupting influence of pop culture. They met together the following morning, and revoked his job offer the next day.
 
Walsh holds a medical degree and a doctorate in public health, served on President Barack Obama’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and until early 2014 was director of the Public Health Department in Pasadena, Calif. In 2013, he opened California’s first city-run dental clinic for patients with HIV/AIDS.
 
He didn’t lose the Georgia job for any dearth of work-related performance or for a lack of credentials, his attorney, Jeremy Dys with First Liberty Institute, told me. In fact, at the time of his hire, fellow officials “were highly impressed by Dr. Walsh.”
 
Emails obtained by First Liberty Institute show one official “begging and lobbying the commissioner for the Department of Public Health for more money in the budget to pay this guy because, ‘We’re not going to find a better candidate like this any time soon,’” Dys said.
 
But on May 14, 2014, human resources director Lee Rudd emailed state employees about the sermons.
 
“OK … I have an assignment for several of us,” he wrote. “We have to listen to his sermons on YouTube tonight. If we take a couple of hours each, then we should cover our bases.”
 
Two days later, Walsh was looking for another job.
 
“I don’t know what they read in those sermons, and it doesn’t matter. They were sermons, and it could have just been that they didn’t like him preaching, period. That’s illegal,” Dys told me.
 
Walsh had applied to work in Georgia after stepping down from his position in Pasadena due to controversy surrounding his sermons.
 
Pasadena City College invited Walsh to speak at its 2014 commencement, after dis-inviting openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Angry students began combing through Walsh’s sermons and posting the content on social media.
 
“They just took little snippets, and of course by taking them out of context and framing a new context, they were able to frame me as a very terrible person,” Walsh said in a later sermon. “I was called in the papers a bigot, I was called a homophobe. I was called all kinds of names that simply weren’t true. And what was shocking, as we’ll talk about, is that many of the simple, fundamental Christian things that Christians of all denominations believe became fodder to burn and to fire against me.”
 
The media storm that followed caught Walsh completely off guard, and he declined the college’s invitation. The college then re-invited Black to speak.
 
Meanwhile, Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck placed Walsh on paid administrative leave “to complete an inquiry into statements made by him in his private capacity and to assess the impact those statements might have on his ability to effectively lead the city’s Public Health Department.”
 
Walsh resigned from his position on May 14, the day Rudd directed Georgia employees to scour his sermons. Two days later, he lost the job he was supposed to start in June, 2014.
 
After that, Walsh spent a year working as a medical missionary in Guam, Dys told me, and now works as a medical doctor in California. But his first passion is public health, and in its lawsuit, First Liberty Institute has asked for his re-instatement.
 
The implications for his job loss are huge, Dys said.
 
“If Dr. Walsh’s case is going to stand, that means that the sermon notes anybody takes on a Sunday, or perhaps the Sunday School lesson you created for the 6-year-olds in your place of worship, now those are going to be fair game for your annual review,” Dys said. “If the government can fire Dr. Walsh for the content of his sermons, regardless of what that content is, they can come after any of us for any of our beliefs on anything.”
 

Related Story:

Georgia fires physician for lay sermons, lawsuit says

4/25/2016 11:02:23 AM by Samantha Gobba, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



Harriet Tubman: Behind the face of the new $20 bill

April 25 2016 by Onize Ohikere, WORLD News Service

Former slave and faith-driven abolitionist Harriet Tubman will be the face of the new $20 bill, becoming the first woman to appear on U.S. paper currency since the 19th century, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced yesterday. The back of the new bill will feature the White House and an image of President Andrew Jackson, whom Tubman is displacing from the front of the bill.
 
Lew said the Treasury Department will unveil the new bill in 2020 to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
 
“Harriet Tubman was a woman of faith who wasn’t afraid to act on her beliefs to fight for justice,” said Kristina Arriaga, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, in a written statement. “Her incredible moral and physical courage is an example to all Americans, as is her willingness to act on her Christian faith.”
 
Tubman was born a slave in Maryland in the 19th century. In 1848, she escaped to Philadelphia but was not content with only her freedom. Considered the Moses of her time, she made 19 trips to the South through the Underground Railroad network and escorted more than 300 slaves to freedom over 10 years. Her willful personality propelled her through the perilous journey: She often had to draw her pistol on nervous slaves who wanted to turn back. But Tubman’s faith in God served as her strength, and she never lost a slave during the countless trips she made.
 
“I always told God,” Tubman said, “I’m going to hold steady on to you, and you’ve got to see me through.”
 
During the Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union as a nurse, cook and spy. She earned the distinction of being the first woman to lead a military expedition, directing the army on a raid to free 700 slaves in 1863. After the war, she continued to serve the elderly and poor and remained a prominent advocate for education and the right for freed slaves and women to vote.
 
“I’m doing my happy dance today,” Jurnee Smollett, an actress in the TV series Underground, posted on Twitter. “Harriet Tubman will be on the $20 bill! If our ancestors could see us now!”
 
In addition to the $20 bill, the back of the $10 bill will feature images of women like Sojourner Truth and Lucretia Mott, who contributed to suffrage movement, while the front will retain the portrait of Alexander Hamilton. The back of the new $5 bill will feature Martin Luther King, Marian Anderson, and Eleanor Roosevelt, while the front will retain the portrait of President Abraham Lincoln.
 
Lew initially planned to put a woman on the $10 bill, but Hamilton supporters protested. The Founding Father is enjoying a renaissance in popular opinion thanks to the wildly popular Broadway musical Hamilton.
 
“We are delighted that the parties involved in the decision are united in their commitment to the goal of honoring women in this most visible fashion,” said Barbara Ortiz Howard, founder of Women On 20s, a nonprofit that advocates from women’s faces on currency. “It’s high time to get the party started.”

4/25/2016 10:58:44 AM by Onize Ohikere, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



N.C. Baptists among communication award winners

April 25 2016 by BR staff

Baptist communicators gathered for their annual meeting April 13-16 in Oklahoma for training, fellowship and ministry opportunities.
 
Members of the Baptist Communicators Association (BCA) met at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Davis, Okla. On April 15, BCA members held its annual Wilmer C. Fields Awards banquet, which recognizes the top Baptists in various forms of communication.
 
From North Carolina, winners included the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, N.C. Baptist Aging Ministry, Biblical Recorder and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).
 
In the News Writing division, Seth Brown, content editor for the Biblical Recorder, won first place in the single article of more than 1,000 words. He wrote “Mission team hatches plan to care for Kenyan orphans,” which reports on a group’s efforts to take aquaponics to villages in East Africa. The article ran in the Nov. 7, 2015, issue.
 
Brown, along with BR Editor K. Allan Blume and production editor Dianna L. Cagle, placed second in the news writing division’s entry for a series or package. They wrote stories related to Hurricane Katrina’s 10-year anniversary in the Aug. 15 issue.
 
In the feature writing division, Jim Edminson of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina and N.C. Baptist Aging Ministry, placed first and third in the first-person column entry. He received first place for his “Fresh Jelly Cake” entry and tied for third for “Washing Dishes.” These columns were published in Charity & Children in the October and January/February issues respectively.
 
In the Design category, Edminson won a first place award for his Fancy Finds logo in the print collateral category. Bailey Shoemaker of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) placed third in the special display for her “Interactive Go Map” in the print collateral area. She also won second and third place in the booklet category. She won second for her “Seminary Viewbook” and third for her “College Viewbook.” In the annual report category, Shoemaker received a third place award for “A Year of Going.”
 
In the Publications section for state Baptist newspaper, the Biblical Recorder place third. The paper also placed third in the newspaper front page design category.
 
Ryan Thomas of SEBTS placed third in the magazine cover category for his “The Great Commission Magazine of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary – Fall 2015.”

In the billboard/banner category, Edminson placed third for his “Fill Up! Family Gathering-4” entry.
 
In Interactive Communications, SEBTS’ Maria Estes, Ryan Thomas and Sam Morris placed third for a social media single post entry for their “9Marks at Southeastern Instagram Triptych.”
 
Members also attended training sessions on communication strategies and techniques as well as toured the Oklahoma City bombing site and Hobby Lobby headquarters.

4/25/2016 10:52:18 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments



Georgia fires physician for lay sermons, lawsuit says

April 22 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

First Liberty Institute has filed a lawsuit for a bivocational lay minister and physician, alleging the state of Georgia fired him because of sermons he delivered in the pulpit before his employment as a district health director.
 
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) fired Eric Walsh a week after hiring him as a district health director for northwest Atlanta because of the content of sermons he delivered as an ordained lay minister, alleges the suit filed April 20 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
 
The termination violates Walsh’s rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and freedom of association guaranteed under the First Amendment, the suit asserts. It also stated the termination violated his right to equal protection guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment and his freedom from religious discrimination guaranteed under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 
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Photo from First Liberty Institute
Erich Walsh

“Religious liberty means we should be able to find sanctuary in our own sanctuary,” senior counsel Jeremy Dys said on First Liberty’s website. “If the government is allowed to fire someone over what he said in his sermons, then they can come after any of us for our beliefs on anything. We must ensure every American has the right to talk about their faith at church without getting fired or being barred from public service.”
 
A noted physician who has directed the Pasadena, Calif., public health department and served on President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, Walsh is an ordained Seventh Day Adventist lay minister.
 
“I am a devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and, as a part of my sincerely-held religious beliefs, I believe in expressing my faith,” Walsh said in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission preceding the lawsuit. “My faith is important to me; I regularly speak about my faith at churches and religious conferences.”
 
His sermons focused on topics including following God, health, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science, creationism, compassion for the poor and other topics. The Georgia Department of Public Health has said it fired Walsh for other unspecified reasons.
 
The DPH fired Walsh in May 2014, one day after he provided copies of his sermons to the state, said Walsh’s attorneys, who provided a copy of an email indicating the DPH asked several employees to review and critique Walsh’s sermons. Walsh has been unable to find employment in public health since then, Liberty Institute said. The law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert joins Liberty Institute in the civil action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
 
In a similar case in Georgia, the Atlanta Fire Department terminated Kelvin Cochran in January 2015 as fire chief because of a self-published book he wrote for his church’s Bible study group. In Who Told You That You Were Naked? Cochran included a brief reference to the biblical teaching that sex is reserved for a man and a woman in marriage.
 
An Atlanta district court amended a lawsuit in December 2015 that the Alliance Defending Freedom filed on Cochran’s behalf, but allowed the primary claims of “retaliation, discrimination based on his viewpoint, and the violation of his constitutionally protected freedom of religion, association, and due process (firing without following proper procedure)” to proceed, the ADF said.
 
Cochran, a deacon at the 19,000-member Elizabeth Baptist Church affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention, has since entered the preaching ministry.
 
The Georgia Legislature passed a religious liberty bill March 16, the Free Exercise Protection Act, but Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it less than two weeks later. The bill had combined elements of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a First Amendment Defense Act and a Pastor Protection Act.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/22/2016 10:28:19 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Tennessee Bible bill veto sustained

April 22 2016 by Lonnie Wilkey and David Roach, Baptist Press

An attempt to override Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of a bill that would have made the Bible the official state book of Tennessee failed April 20.
 
After nearly two hours of discussion, members of the Tennessee House of Representatives voted 50-43 against overriding the veto, The Tennessean reported. An override would have required only a simple majority in both chambers of the state legislature, a margin it achieved comfortably upon initial passage.
 
Because the House did not vote to override, the Senate did not take up the issue. The veto was Haslam’s fourth since taking office in 2011, according to The Tennessean.

 
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Rep. Jerry Sexton, the bill’s House sponsor and a former Tennessee Baptist pastor, told Baptist Press he believes some lawmakers who supported the measure initially opposed an override because of “pressure that was put on from the governor’s office.” Sexton added he is not aware of any other factors that influenced legislators to change their votes.
 
Following the vote, Sexton, a first-term Republican, told local reporters he knew overriding the veto would be “a strong uphill climb.”
 
“There is so much oppression today of Christian beliefs and values,” Sexton said according to The Tennessean. Although being a Christian “is not the popular thing to do,” he said, “I stand today to say that I’m a Christian and I’m proud that I am and I’m proud that I live in a country that I have the freedom to do that.”
 
During floor debate, Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver speculated that overriding Haslam’s veto could help spark a national revival.
 
“What if we are the state that fans the flame and causes other states to pay attention and read our actions,” Weaver, a Republican, said according to The Tennessean. “What if Tennessee was the state that started the revival that this nation so desperately needs.”
 
Haslam told NPR he opposed making the Bible Tennessee’s state book for three reasons.
 
“One, I had some issues around the constitutionality,” Haslam said April 21. “But even more than that, personally I think it trivializes the Bible. We have an official state insect and state salamander and 500 other things. That’s not what the Bible is.
 
“And then third, the bill was passed kind of under the premise that, ‘Well, we’re not honoring it as Holy Scripture. We’re honoring it for its historical and economic significance.’ Well, either the Bible is the inspired Word of God or it’s not. But don’t ... pretend you’re honoring it for one thing when you’re really honoring it for another.”
 
Randy C. Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, had previously noted his disappointment following Haslam’s veto.
 
“Holy Scripture needs no human affirmation,” Davis said. “The authority of God’s Word has not been diminished because a state hasn’t declared it ‘official.’ Personal affirmation of the Bible and regularly reading the Bible is far more important than state-sanctioned recognition of the Bible.”
 
In 2015, a similar bill passed the Tennessee House but was killed in the Senate through a procedural vote.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector of the Tennessee Baptist Convention; David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/22/2016 10:13:34 AM by Lonnie Wilkey and David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Midwestern launches ‘Preaching & Preachers’ podcast

April 22 2016 by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) has announced the addition of a “Preaching & Preachers” in which MBTS President Jason K. Allen will interview guests on topics and issues from the sphere of preaching and beyond.
 
The first in the series, posted at JasonKAllen.com on April 18, is an interaction between Allen, Timothy George and Christian George titled, “Great Preachers in Church History.”
 
Also among the new podcast’s guests will be leaders in the field of preaching and pastoral ministry such as R. Albert Mohler Jr. on “Convictional Preaching”; Tim Challies on “The Preacher and Personal Productivity”; Paige Patterson on “Why Inerrancy Matters”; and D.A. Carson on “Avoiding Exegetical Fallacies.”
 
Allen said he intends for the podcast to reach a wide constituency with insightful, edifying content within the vital calling of church pastors, teachers and ministry leaders.
 
“My hope for Preaching and Preachers is to serve the church by discussing a wide range of topics that are directly related to the discipline of preaching and to those who proclaim God’s Word,” Allen said. “We’ll also, at times, reach beyond the subject of the podcast and interrelate on topics more distantly connected. Ultimately, we pray that God will be honored through these conversations.”
 
Allen acknowledged deriving the show’s title from a preaching legend’s book.
 
“I borrowed the podcast’s title from the immortal Martyn Lloyd Jones, who wrote the book, Preaching and Preachers, because it has shaped several generations of preachers,” Allen noted. “Through the insight and wisdom obtained from the great pastoral and ministry minds of today, we pray that future generations of pastors will be encouraged to fulfill their ministry calling as well.”
 
Allen, who became the fifth president of MBTS in October 2012, formerly pastored churches in Alabama and Kentucky, served on the administrative staff at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and taught courses in personal spiritual disciplines, pastoral ministry and preaching.

4/22/2016 10:07:48 AM by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS | with 0 comments



Grace and truth needed, say Moore, Scroggins

April 22 2016 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Christian ministry in America’s sexual culture calls for both grace and truth, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore and pastor Jimmy Scroggins said in a conference for Virginia church leaders.
 
Pastors and other leaders “must be separated from sin, but we can never be separated from sinners,” Moore told an audience April 19 at the Empowered Conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV). “But it is easier in ministry to do the reverse.”
 
Christians must be willing to endure criticism for spending time with transgender and other sexually broken people “in order to speak with truth and with grace, with conviction and with kindness” to them, said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
 
In this way, pastors and others must speak “with the confidence that you are on mission with Christ so you are not afraid of the lost people who are offended by what it is you are saying and you are not afraid of the religious critics who are upset that you are having those conversations with those lost people,” he said.

 
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Screen capture from YouTube
Russell Moore addresses Virginia church leaders at the Empowered Conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV).

Scroggins, lead pastor of the Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., told the leaders they have “to be saturated with the grace of God” as they teach on sexuality, gender and marriage.
 
“Teaching on this stuff in this culture with a really hard edge, slicing people to ribbons with the gospel machete, that’s not going to help,” he said.
 
Moore and Scroggins were the keynote speakers for the annual conference, which was held this year at Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg. They addressed the theme – “The Gospel, Morality and Marriage” – in separate messages and a question-and-answer session.
 
Basing his message on the John 4 account of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, Moore said a faithful church “has to be the kind of church that earns the respect of the people around us by speaking and telling the truth. Our neighbors can read texts. They understand what our scriptures teach.”
 
What non-Christians want to know is, Moore told the conference attendees, “Do you really believe this, and do you believe this enough that you are willing to lose my esteem because you hold to these things?”
 
“If you and I are going to equip people to be able to minister in a world that has much confusion when it comes to issues of relationships and sexuality and marriage, we must be willing to undergo the controversy of being assumed to be bigots, being assumed to be hateful, being assumed to be people who don’t get it when we speak of a vision of sexuality,” he said.
 
During the question-and-answer session, Scroggins was asked how to apply grace and truth to ministry to convicted sex offenders or child molesters.
 
They should be called to repent of their sins and believe the gospel, then pursue God’s design, Scroggins said. They will have a “high level of accountability” in the church, however, including separation from the nursery and children’s ministry, he told attendees. The church should separate the offenders from temptation and children from potential dangers, Scroggins said.
 
Moore said a church should have “an absolute, zero-tolerance policy” and “never, never, never cover up anything that even approaches the abuse of a child or a vulnerable person.”
 
Civil authorities, as well as church authorities, should be involved in every possible situation of abuse, Moore said. “And you cannot substitute one for the other.”
 
“One of the worst and most egregious things” regarding the cause of the body of Christ has occurred when people “have had their entire lives destroyed by predators within churches and within ministries, and those things have been covered over because people didn’t want to deal with them,” he said. “That is not just wrong; that is an abomination before God, and we have to be the people who make sure it doesn’t happen.”
 
During his remarks based on 2 Cor. 5:17-21, Scroggins told the audience “one of the best ways that we can be ambassadors” of reconciliation between God and human beings “is what we do with our gender, our sexuality and our families.”
 
“One of the best ways to be an ambassador is just to have a healthy marriage,” he said.
 
Scroggins offered various ideas for church leaders to consider when training others and speaking about sexuality, gender and family structure, including:

  • Remember it is an ongoing conversation, not just a sermon.

  • Continually connect sexuality to God’s design in marriage.

  • Make it clear but not crude.

  • Encourage, don’t condemn.

  • Focus on stewarding the gift of sexuality rather than a once-for-all triumphalism over lust.

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd addressed conference attendees by video, encouraging pastors to preach the Bible, rely on its authority and address moral issues truthfully and lovingly.

4/22/2016 9:58:20 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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