April 2016

Sale of Florida’s Baptist Building announced

April 7 2016 by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention

A sacrificial investment made by Florida Baptists decades ago could make a far-reaching global missions impact this year as the State Board of Missions approved a multi-million dollar contract to sell the Baptist Building property in Jacksonville.
Fifty-one percent of the proceeds of the Baptist Building property sale will be directed to the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Cooperative Program for worldwide mission causes, pledged Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, during the State Board’s April 1 meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, Fla.
“Florida Baptists and their churches sacrificially gave their Cooperative Program gifts and private dollars from their churches to construct the Baptist Building many years ago,” Green said. “We owe it to Florida Baptists to use this as missions money.


Image from Google

“How exciting it will be to give over half of the proceeds to the Cooperative Program and impact global missions with such a gift.”
Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, expressed gratitude to Green and Florida Baptists following the announcement.
“God bless Florida Baptists and Dr. Tommy Green!” Page said. “The gifting of 51 percent of the proceeds of the sale of the property there in Jacksonville will touch lives across our nation and across the world and will make a difference in eternity. We praise the Lord for this great news.”
The Baptist Building is located on a full city block just south of downtown in San Marco, one of the city’s most vibrant shopping, entertainment and residential neighborhoods. The area situated along the south bank of the St. Johns River has boasted numerous affluent housing and residential developments in recent years.
The property is a “unique site in the urban core, a rare find,” said Brian Moulder of CBRE Group, Inc., the commercial real estate firm marketing the property, as he addressed the State Board during its meeting.
Moulder said the purchaser of the property, a commercial real estate development firm, plans to construct a mixed-used residential building with retail space on the lower level and on-site parking. The developer has developed other properties in Jacksonville and has good credibility with working with city officials, Moulder assured the Board. The company is now taking rezoning applications with the city, a process expected to take 175 days.
Completion of the sale is anticipated by year’s end. Construction is to start immediately, Moulder said.
Green shared with the board that in the past four months as details of the sale were negotiated, the Convention staff had multiple conference calls with the Board’s Convention Property Committee keeping them apprised of the progress of the sale. The committee affirmed the completion of the sales agreement on March 7. The contract was signed March 17.
The construction of the Baptist Building was undertaken in 1958. When completed in 1960 the 50,000-square-foot building was composed of five floors and a basement. The original cost of the building, $934,017, included the purchase of land, construction, architects fees and furnishings.
Across the next five decades, additional costs were incurred for Florida’s convention to purchase the entire block, build additional buildings and provide capital improvements, totaling expenditures of more than $3 million, said Steve Baumgardner, assistant executive director and director of business services.
The 3.5-acre block located on Hendricks Avenue now hosts several buildings, including the original Baptist Building, a building that houses the offices of the Florida Baptist Financial Services and the Florida Baptist Credit Union, a metal storage building and a building at times used for theological education classes and as a recording studio. The Florida Baptist Witness leases space for their staff on the fifth floor of the Baptist Building.
The building served as the convention’s hub for missions and ministry for Florida Baptists for more than a half century.
But in recent years, the maintenance and upkeep of the aging building began to spark discussion to sell the property. Several attempts to market the building during the past 10 years fell flat as the downturn in the economic climate resulted in a devalued real estate market. As market conditions improved in recent months and the demand for the Baptist Building property increased, consideration to sell the building resurfaced.
When Green was elected in May 2015 as executive director, he promised the sale of the Baptist Building would be a priority. The new exec took immediate steps to downsize the convention staff for better efficiency and effectiveness and reassigned staff to live and serve in regions across the state, making the large facility unnecessary to house the streamlined staff.
Then during its Nov. 9, 2015, meeting in Panama City, at Green’s request, the board reaffirmed its decision to sell the Baptist Building and requested the executive director to develop a plan for relocation, leading to actions taken during their April 1 meeting.
CBRE will assist the convention in finding and leasing new office space for staff in another location in Jacksonville’s Southside, most likely along the I-95 corridor south of Baymeadows Road and north of Old St. Augustine Road, where the Baptist Medical Center South is located.
Board member John Green, pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville (Tommy Green’s son) asked Moulder to share relocation plans.
Moulder said the $300,000 annual budget for the upkeep of the Baptist Building is projected to be about the cost of an annual lease of 7,500 square feet of office space needed to house the current Jacksonville staff. The new office space will provide much more efficient and useable space, he said.
Green told the board that the convention will continue to provide space to the Florida Baptist Witness staff and Florida Baptist Financial Services, if desired. The Florida Baptist Credit Union, which recently has announced a merger with Jacksonville-based First Florida Credit Union will no longer need Convention-provided space.
The action to approve the sale of the building by the board was unanimous.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.)

4/7/2016 11:20:34 AM by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention | with 0 comments

Mississippi adopts religious freedom bill

April 7 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed into law a bill safeguarding the religious liberty of individuals and organizations who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings or gender identity transitions.
Bryant, a Republican, announced April 5 via Twitter that he signed House Bill 1523 – the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.


Gov. Phil Bryant

“I am signing HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or its political subdivisions, which would include counties, cities and institutions of higher learning,” Bryant said in a statement. “This bill merely reinforces the rights which currently exist to the exercise of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
Bryant added, “This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state under federal or state laws. It does not attempt to challenge federal laws, even those which are in conflict with the Mississippi Constitution, as the Legislature recognizes the prominence [sic] of federal law in such limited circumstances.”
Presumably, Bryant was referencing Mississippi’s 2004 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as “only between a man and a woman.”
Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press in written comments he is “proud of Mississippi and Gov. Phil Bryant for being proactive in the defense of religious liberty.”
“This bill doesn’t discriminate against anyone or imperil civil liberties,” said Moore, a Mississippi native. “What it actually does is prohibit the government from taking sides in a culture war and discriminate against those with religious convictions. I’m thankful for Mississippi’s example, and pray that conscience freedom would become an even greater priority for governors and legislatures across the country.”
Among its provisions, the bill:

  • Forbids state government from taking “any discriminatory action” against an individual who declines on religious grounds to provide photography, floral arrangements or other wedding services for a same-sex marriage ceremony.

  • Forbids state government discrimination against any person who establishes, on religious grounds, “sex-specific standards or policies” concerning access to restrooms or locker rooms.

  • Permits any person authorized to license or perform marriages to seek recusal from same-sex weddings on religious grounds. At the same time, the bill requires state representatives “to ensure that the performance or solemnization of any legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal.”

  • Forbids state government discrimination against adoption agencies that decline, based on religious convictions, to allow same-sex couples to adopt.

  • Forbids state government discrimination against religious organizations that decline to solemnize same-sex marriages or make employment decisions based on religious beliefs concerning marriage.

The bill specifies that “the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that: (a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
William Perkins, editor of Mississippi’s Baptist Record newsjournal, said, “The Governor is a strong believer and should be applauded for his courage. The pressure on him has been enormous, and the insults are about to get personal. However, this is what the LGBT political machine has wrought. Religious people have constitutional rights, too. In their zeal to deprive us of those rights, the LGBT political machine has made such legislative actions necessary. They have to own up to that reality.”
The bill passed the Mississippi House of Representatives by a 69-44 vote and the Senate by a 32-17 margin.
Roger Severino of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, predicted Mississippi’s law will spur other states to adopt similar religious liberty protections.
“The Mississippi law prevents discrimination in a manner that is balanced and clear,” Severino said in a news release, “which left little room for ideological opponents to make wild hypothetical accusations against the bill as they had done with Indiana’s religious freedom proposal last year.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/7/2016 11:19:29 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Engaging Muslims, refugees with ‘gospel love’ addressed

April 7 2016 by SBTS communications

In order to fulfill the Great Commission, the church must learn how to teach and make disciples of the 1.6 million Muslims around the world, doing away with cultural fear and embracing them with gospel love, said Southern Baptist leaders during the Great Commission Summit at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).
The three-day event, March 29-31, featured leading thinkers in the Southern Baptist Convention in engaging Islam and handling the refugee crisis, along with student-led prayer for Muslims around the world.


SBTS Photo by Emil Handke
Ayman S. Ibrahim (center), Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, encourages students at March 31 GO Talk to offer the "gospel of hope" to Muslims in America. Boyce College professors John Klaassen (left) and David Bosch (right) also shared their outreach experiences with Muslims.

With millions of refugees fleeing their home countries, many of them from Muslim countries like Syria and Sudan, Christians should view the refugee crisis through the lens of God’s posture of mercy and compassion to the foreigner demonstrated in the story of Ruth, said David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, during a March 31 chapel message at Southern Seminary.
“Our God seeks, shelters, serves and showers the refugee with his grace,” Platt said, pointing out Boaz’s response to learning that Ruth, a Moabite woman, was working in his field. Boaz’s actions in the Old Testament book did not just demonstrate godly kindness, but also functioned as a critical moment in redemptive history, building a lineage that would “lead to the quintessential kinsman redeemer, Jesus the Christ.”
Platt said the world has never before faced such a significant refugee crisis, with 60 million refugees leaving war-torn and impoverished countries. The American church needs to look beyond its own country’s political troubles and see the needs of millions of destitute people worldwide, he said.
“I fear that most people in our churches and maybe even in this room are paying very little to no attention to this – or if we are paying attention to it, we are looking at it through political punditry and partisan debates regarding whether or not we should allow relatively few refugees into our land,” Platt said. “It is a sure sign of American self-centeredness that we would take the suffering of millions of people and turn it into an issue that is all about us.
“Whatever response is seen [in our churches] often seems to come from a foundation of fear, not of faith, flowing from a view of the world that is far more American than it is biblical,” Platt noted, “and far more concerned with the preservation of our country than it is with the accomplishment of the Great Commission.”
Instead, believers should recognize the needs of people all over the world, he said, and commit to helping them with the love and compassion of the Christian gospel.
“Our God has not left the outcast and oppressed alone in a world of sin and suffering, he’s come to us and he’s conquered for us,” Platt said. “Brothers and sisters, as followers of Christ, self is no longer our God, therefore safety is no longer our concern. We go and we preach the gospel, knowing that others’ lives are dependent on it.”


SBTS Photo by Emil Handke
IMB President David Platt preaches during the March 29-31 Great Commission Summit at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on the need for Christians to show compassion for refugees.

In a series of short talks on March 31 sponsored by the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam, Southern Seminary and Boyce College professors encouraged students to care for Muslim refugees by adopting families and understanding the complexities of Islamic culture.
“God wants something to happen in your heart so that it will appear outside,” said Ayman S. Ibrahim, Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Seminary and senior fellow for the Jenkins Center. “Think of Muslims as a very diverse community. Muslims are in very deep need of something you have. I call it ‘the gospel of hope.’ ... They have no hope.”
Ibrahim said the “vast majority” of Muslims are nominal and are in serious need of help because they are “victims of a very harsh system of worship.” Describing his experience growing up in Egypt and befriending Muslims in America, Ibrahim said Christians must not think of Islam as “one, simple body” but as diverse expressions of a religion comprising a “way of life.”
Muslim refugees simply come to America because “it is much better than their country” and they can find freedom – “no one will be watching over their shoulder,” Ibrahim said.
Unfortunately, the fear and suspicion many Americans show toward Muslim refugees results in them feeling isolated. Ibrahim said his wife Emily met a Muslim refugee while shopping, and the woman said it was the first time in the four years she lived in the country that an American had greeted her.
Instead of fear, Christians should respond with love, said John Klaassen, associate professor of global studies at Boyce College. Klaassen organizes local missions efforts at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, which includes refugee outreach.
“We forget that refugees aren’t people that necessarily want to be here, they have to be here,” Klaassen said, explaining how Muslim migrants often have legitimate fears of American culture. Southern Baptist churches must not only rid themselves of their own fear, Klaassen said, but identify with the plight of refugees.
“America was based and founded by a people who sought religious freedom – they were refugees,” Klaassen said. “We are a people of refugees.”
Klaassen, who recently wrote Engaging with Muslims, said churches can demonstrate love by partnering with refugee organizations and adopting families when they come to America. He noted how his ministry at Highview welcomes refugee families by providing food and clothing, English as a Second Language classes, job searches, and other assistance to help them adjust to a new culture.
“Most importantly, we teach them the gospel,” Klaassen said, noting that they must first obey state contracts that prohibit them from proselytizing. “We teach them the gospel by the things that we say and the things that we do.”
In addition to Ibrahim and Klaassen, the series of “GO Talks” also featured David Bosch, associate professor of business administration at Boyce College, who shared about his years of experience doing business as missions in the Middle East.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Andrew J.W. Smith, who writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and S. Craig Sanders, who is manager of news and information at Southern Seminary.)

4/7/2016 11:18:41 AM by SBTS communications | with 0 comments

‘The Banquet’ highlights special needs ministry

April 7 2016 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

When Sherry Mann’s daughter was born with a rare genetic condition three years ago, Mann’s eyes were opened to a world she never knew existed.
While seeking to provide the best possible physical, emotional and medical care for her daughter, Mann says she and her husband Brian began to see the need for churches to provide spiritual care for individuals who have special needs.
“We began to see a whole new community,” Mann said. “It’s just allowed me to see this (special needs) community, their need for the gospel and how many churches need to be ready to care for them.”


Carlton McDaniel

Mann was one of approximately 80 people who attended one of two recent daylong conferences for church leaders on ministering to children with special physical mental or social needs and their families.
The events were held on Saturday, March 5 simultaneously at Quest Fellowship Church in Garner and Peninsula Baptist Church in Mooresville.
Titled “The Banquet” based upon Jesus’ parable of the great banquet that’s recorded in Luke 14, the conferences featured keynote presentations along with a series of breakout sessions. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) sponsored the events in both locations.
“We believe special needs ministry is important in the lives of families and in the lives of churches,” said Donnie Wiltshire, the convention’s consultant for special ministries. “Christ’s mandate to us is that we make disciples, and that means to make disciples of everybody.”
Cheryl Markland, BSC consultant for childhood evangelism and discipleship added: “Jesus calls us to minister to all His children. We should not let our fear or lack of understanding be a barrier to fulfilling this mandate.”
Carlton McDaniel, founder and executive director of Able to Serve, delivered the keynote address to attendees at The Banquet in Garner. Based in the Triangle, Able to Serve provides educational, social and community service opportunities for individuals with special needs.
Prior to founding Able to Serve, McDaniel worked with special needs ministries in churches for more than 20 years. During his keynote address, McDaniel used the event’s theme passage of Luke 14 to share why the church should be involved in ministering to those with special needs.
In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus tells the parable of the master of a house who had planned a large banquet for many invited guests.
Yet when the banquet was ready, the guests made excuses for not attending. The master then sent his servants out to invite “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” (v. 21).
“The point was that all are welcome,” McDaniel said. “This is Jesus’ banquet table. It’s not yours, and it’s not mine.”
Ministering to individuals with special needs is about showing the love of God to others, McDaniel said.
“If we believe in the Creator, then we believe in the creation,” McDaniel said. “We’re demeaning the Creator when we ignore or pretend that something is wrong with His creation.”
McDaniel believes everyone has a disability that the Bible calls sin, and all are in need of God’s love and sacrifice that was provided by Jesus on the cross.
“The banquet is knowing that God loves you,” McDaniel said. “There is no better food for my soul than knowing that God loves me…. His banquet is open to all, and His banquet is the same for all.”

4/7/2016 11:17:42 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Wives of pastors live out God’s call

April 7 2016 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

Wives of pastors and other church staff members live under the watchful eye of their congregations.
“God has called us,” said Tabatha Frost, one the speakers at “Refresh: A Day to Equip and Encourage Ministry Wives,” held at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.


BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
An event hosted by Embrace Women’s Ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina offered wives of ministers a place to share successes and failures of ministry. Here, ladies share on one of the discussion topics provided.

Frost and Beth Harris – both pastors’ wives – addressed approximately 40 women at the March 5 event.
“He has chosen us for a purpose,” she said. “He is going to equip us … He alone sustains us.”
Frost, whose husband serves as senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, spoke from 1 Corinthians 1-4, encouraging hearers to follow the godly examples set by Paul, Apollos and the Corinthian believers.
“One of our primary roles in ministry is to minister to the men we are married to,” she stressed, but all women should pray for, respect and encourage their husbands.
Frost discouraged making comparisons to others and urged the women to be aware of expectations.
“I think it’s a big struggle,” she said. “We can look at ourselves and feel like we don’t measure up.”
She shared several slides from the fashionably dressed to the frugal mom blogger or famous Bible teacher.
“Comparisons will rob you of your joy,” Frost said. “We are all works in progress. There’s never an appropriate time for you to judge.”
She encouraged the women to focus on the purpose God has for them and to spend time in God’s Word.
“If you have God’s Word in your heart, then you don’t have to depend on your creativity or your cleverness. His Word is an anchor for your soul.”
Harris, wife of the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, highlighted the church as a non-profit institution that serves as the light to the community. She listed the main job of the church is to be the body and fullness of Jesus, exhibit the glory of God, execute the Great Commission and be a picture of love and unity.
Part of her church’s mission statement talks about living a life that matters. While Harris does not participate in the worship ministry, she stays involved in three (grow, serve and connect) of the four core areas of her church.
“An organized church is not inconsistent with the New Testament,” she said.


BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Cindy Johnson, director of contemporary worship and discipleship at Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, leads worship at the event.

As wives of ministers, Harris said there are always going to be times where the women would have to do things they didn’t want to do.
“You can find opportunity in the obligation … to fulfill what the Lord has called you to do,” Harris said. “You are in a position they view as important.”
In many places in the community, just by walking into a room, a pastor and his wife take on the role of moral authority. “People are aware of that,” Harris said. “In today’s times, that is really powerful … look at the opportunities in it.”
Women need to fight for their families, she said.
“You are in a battlefield today,” Harris said. “You have to show great courage in the face of all your obligations … in the face of danger.”
Harris urged the women to make time, not just for physical intimacy, but for saying “I love you,” romance and one-on-one conversation.
“Don’t fall into the trap of neglecting that part of life,” she said.
She talked about three specific threats to their husband and his ministry that only happen five percent of the time: the wicked, heretic and immoral woman.
All three have the potential for “utter destruction,” Harris said.
She described the wicked as generally being a male. This person listens to lies and spreads them.
While this person is lost and confused, “your weapon is prayer,” she stressed.
The heretic, who is also usually male, will twist the gospel and usually preys on the weak, young believer to draw them to a perverted belief.
The immoral woman is generally unstable, wears flattering attire and neglects her own family. Harris described her as “bold and crafty.”
“The enemy is not the person,” Harris said, but Satan. “He tries to use good people and sweet people to stir up stuff.”
In a panel conversation with both Frost and Harris, Ashley Allen moderated questions and answers. Allen, Baptist State Convention’s Embrace Women’s Ministry consultant, asked about how to know when a pastor’s wife is doing enough, making friends outside of the ministry, having personal quiet times, and other issues.
“You’re doing enough if you’re taking care of your family first,” Harris said. “If you can’t do anything else but that, do that, and that’s enough.”
Frost and Harris both said they’ve tried to include their children in the ministry over the years. “A lot of the kids’ feeling about the church have a lot to do with our attitude about the church,” Frost said.
She encouraged the women to take their concerns over anything to the Lord first because many times those concerns are unrealistic expectations that have not been communicated to her husband.
God sometimes shows her a different perspective she had not considered.
Frost called spending time in God’s Word a “passion of mine,” and urged the women to have a specific time of day set aside for quiet time. That time varies depending on the stage of life you are in, she said.
“Those of you who work you have to be really creative,” Frost said. “If that hunger is there then you can find the time.”
Discipling women remains important as well. Harris mentioned some of the Embrace training that encourages one-on-one discipleship.
Embrace offers training events throughout the year, along with an annual mission trip and breakout sessions at some of the major BSC events. Visit embracenc.org to learn more.

4/7/2016 11:16:59 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

Georgia religious liberty veto lamented, analyzed

April 6 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a religious liberty bill March 28 has provoked a stream of responses from social conservatives.
Despite a Clout Research poll indicating two-thirds of Georgians supported House Bill 757 – the Free Exercise Protection Act – the measure fell just short of a veto-proof majority in each chamber of the Georgia General Assembly.
The bill combined elements of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a First Amendment Defense Act and a Pastor Protection Act.


Gov. Nathan Deal

The consensus among conservative commentators seemed to be the bill lacked protection for wedding service providers like bakers and florists. But Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, told Baptist Press previously that a section stipulating no individual would be forced to participate in a same-sex wedding may have been applicable to for-profit businesses.
In the veto’s aftermath, evangelicals offered a variety of arguments and analyses.
Gerald Harris, editor of Georgia Baptists’ Christian Index newsjournal, said the veto appeared to belie Deal’s claim, “I do not respond well to insults or threats.” Deal squelched the bill, Harris noted, after the NFL, movie production companies, Apple, Intel and others threatened to withdraw business from Georgia if the measure became law.
The NFL suggested enacting the bill could cause Atlanta to be dropped from consideration to host the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl in favor of New Orleans, Tampa or Miami.
“The argument that Atlanta could lose out to cities in Florida and Louisiana because of a religious liberty bill is ludicrous,” Harris wrote in a March 30 editorial, “because those two states already passed similar legislation. Furthermore, Houston, Texas, where a bill very much like HB 757 has also been passed, will host the 2017 Super Bowl.”
Claims that other businesses would have stayed away from Georgia or moved their operations elsewhere were similarly ludicrous, Harris wrote. He noted that auto manufacturer Volvo opened its first U.S. plant in South Carolina even though the Palmetto State has adopted a religious liberty bill.
If Disney were serious about its threat to suspend the filming of movies in Georgia, Harris wrote, it would have moved its theme parks out of Florida because of the religious liberty law there.
Josh Wester and Andrew Walker of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission argued Deal was incorrect in his claim the First Amendment is the only religious liberty protection same-sex marriage opponents need.
“Governor Deal characterized the efforts of religious conservatives to secure guarantees for constitutional freedoms as unnecessary and misguided,” Wester and Walker wrote in an article posted on erlc.com, a characterization “apparently at odds with President Bill Clinton, who signed a similar federal bill into law, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which supported its passage in the 1990s.”
They added, “The threat to religious freedom is real, not imagined. In failing to enact this bill, Governor Deal has worked to further isolate, alienate and stigmatize the millions of citizens with a religious belief about marriage. In passing H.B. 757, legislators in Georgia took a meaningful step toward safeguarding religious freedom, but unfortunately the effort was upended by Governor Deal’s decision to veto.”
BreakPoint Radio co-host John Stonestreet said secularists and liberal activists long have sought to reduce religious liberty, which pertains to an individual’s right to practice his or her faith in every sphere of life, to “freedom of worship,” which he defined as “the freedom to believe what you want in the privacy of your own mind, and maybe inside the doors of your house of worship.”
Deal’s veto demonstrates that even the “neutered, watered-down” notion of freedom of worship is under assault – since the bill focuses on ministers, churches and faith-based organizations rather than business owners, Stonestreet wrote in March 30 BreakPoint commentary.
“The Georgia governor’s words and actions this week prove just how far that redefining of religious freedom has gone,” Stonestreet wrote. “Apparently, not even pastors should be able to hold religious convictions that violate the new orthodoxies our culture has embraced.
“Folks, this is a ‘culture-moment check,’” Stonestreet continued. “We may not like where we are as a society, but it’s where we are as a society. We haven’t often had to choose between God and Caesar in our lives, but we’d better decide now where we stand.”
National Review columnist David French said Deal’s “capitulation” to the demands of companies like Apple and Disney illustrates why Republican voters are rejecting the “Republican establishment” in GOP presidential primaries in favor of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
“These giant multinationals,” French wrote, “which invest billions in nations that systematically suppress human freedom, have the gall to engage in crowd-pleasing moral posturing against the very notion that Christian college students can form their own clubs or that a Christian employee can keep his faith and his job. They defend their own right to a corporate conscience, while attempting to suppress the religious conscience even of faith-based employers. Pitiful.
“And experts wonder why the Republican establishment is now in full retreat, facing the wrath of the grassroots. Again and again, when GOP politicians face a choice between the people who put them in office and pressure from progressive corporations and the progressive media, the politicians back the social-justice warriors” on the left, French wrote.
Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution argued Deal’s veto illustrates one aspect of the difference between moderate and conservative Southern Baptists.
Galloway noted Deal aligns with the former group and is a member of First Baptist Church in Gainesville, Ga., which is listed on the Georgia Cooperative Baptist Fellowship website as a congregation that contributes financially to CBF, a fellowship of churches that object to the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Conservative Resurgence. First Baptist also cooperates with the SBC.
Among traditional moderate beliefs, Galloway wrote, is “a detached attitude toward government and political activity” and advocacy of strict separation between church and state. Southern Baptist conservatives tend to be more active in political engagement, he argued.
Galloway quoted First Baptist pastor Bill Coates as saying, “My perception is that the great majority of our congregants are very supportive of Governor Deal’s veto of this bill – primarily for two reasons. First, we hold to the strong historical [sic] Baptist principle of separation of church and state. The second is personal: We know Nathan Deal the man, the strong Christian who has held numerous positions of leadership and influence in this church and who worships faithfully.”
The SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message, article XVII, states, “Church and state should be separate.” But it goes on to explain, “The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind,” and, “A free church in a free state ... implies ... the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.”
If legislators opt to override Deal’s veto, they may do so either during a special session of the legislature, which requires a three-fifths vote to convene, or during the 2017 legislative session.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/6/2016 2:54:43 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Awaken: Humility leads to confession, repentance

April 6 2016 by Emily Rojas, BSC Communications

John Franklin believes revival has a ripple effect.
When Franklin spoke at the Awaken statewide prayer gathering March 11-12 at First Baptist Church, Charlotte he said when people turn their hearts to God, the effect is contagious.
“If God’s people call on Him,” Franklin said. “God will pour out His spirit, and revival will come.”
  Drawing from 2 Chronicles 7:14, Franklin, Pastor Mark Harris and Richard Owen Roberts explained how different aspects of this verse are key to starting a period of revival.


The verse reads, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Practically, humility is a necessary aspect of revival because it goes hand-in-hand with the confession of sin. Roberts, speaking on humility, said the essence of sin is self. If a person is solely focused on themselves in pride, they will not see their own sin.
“We need people who admit to the world that God is everything, and they’re nothing,” Roberts said. “What do you have left when you’re totally empty besides the opportunity of being filled with the very righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ?”
Franklin said pride is the sin that God usually deals with first when convicting people of sin because it normally drives the most separation between a person and God.
Once Christians have repented of their pride, they can confess their sin to others. The remarkable thing about that, Franklin said, is that confession of sin drives those who hear the confession to confess their own sin and ask God to restore relationships that had been torn apart. Confession causes a chain reaction of confession – and that creates a ripe environment for God to begin revival.
Still, this first step – repentance and confession of sin – does not come on its own. Ultimately, it is God who changes hearts, and sometimes, Christians feel that their prayers for God to change hearts are just not working. Harris, however, spoke about the fact that God does hear the prayers of His children, and He is willing to bring revival.
It’s not that God’s not paying attention to us, Harris said. “It’s not that we have to somehow wrangle with God, that we have to somehow overcome His reluctance to bring revival. No – what we need to overcome is our reluctant hearts.”
Even when our fellowship with Him is broken, God is still willing to align our hearts with His mission, bring revival and change lives. We are the ones who need to believe Him and humble ourselves. And that means that as far as revival goes, there is hope.
To learn more about prayer conferences in North Carolina or other prayer resources, please visit praync.org or contact Chris Schofield at cschofield@ncbaptist.org or (800) 395-5102, ext. 5514.

4/6/2016 2:44:14 PM by Emily Rojas, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Wisconsin deals Trump setback

April 6 2016 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Donald Trump’s apparent ascendancy to the Republican presidential nomination suffered a significant setback April 5 in Wisconsin.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas defeated the controversial billionaire/celebrity by 13 percentage points and won 36 of the Midwest state’s 42 delegates in the race for the GOP nomination. Wisconsin’s primary result increases the possibility of a scenario in which Trump is unable to win the delegates needed to prevent an open convention in July.
Democrats also saw their frontrunner lose in Wisconsin. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont outpolled Hillary Clinton – the former secretary of State, U.S. senator and first lady – also by 13 points. Sanders’ win – his sixth in the seven contests since March 22 – only garnered him 11 more delegates than Clinton, 47-36, in the Democrats’ process in Wisconsin.


Photo from Ted Cruz's facebook page

Trump now has 742 pledged Republican delegates, while Cruz has 505, according to The New York Times. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the other GOP candidate still in the race, has 143. The nominee needs 1,237 delegates. That total is within Trump’s reach before the convention, but Cruz’s rise is making it more difficult for the frontrunner to avoid a battle when Republicans gather July 18-21 in Cleveland.
In the Democratic race, Clinton holds a strong lead because of her overwhelming advantage among superdelegates. She has 1,748 delegates, but 469 of those are superdelegates who potentially could change their votes. Sanders has 1,058 delegates, but only 31 are superdelegates. The Democratic nominee needs 2,383 delegates.
Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore pointed to the uncertainty that remains and reminded evangelical Christians of their role in the political process.
“In the midst of what has been a chaotic and unpredictable election cycle, last night’s results in Wisconsin showed that the race to the nomination is far from over,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“Regardless of what happens from now until the conventions, evangelicals should be leading the way in the public square and at the ballot box, evaluating candidates in terms of their ability to protect religious liberty and human dignity,” he said. “At the same time, despite the turbulence of this race, we should remember the surety of our hope in a kingdom that is sure to come.”
Bruce Ashford, provost and professor of theology and culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Trump’s Wisconsin loss “appears more significant than Clinton’s.”
“Trump retains his lead over Cruz but faces a difficult path toward wrapping up the 1,237 delegates needed for the GOP nomination,” Ashford said.
Thomas Kidd, distinguished professor of history at Baylor University, said the GOP results in Wisconsin “look like a significant downturn for Donald Trump’s candidacy.”
While Trump should do well in future primaries, such as the April 19 contest in New York, “there is now a fairly clear path by which Cruz can supplant Trump as the nominee at the convention,” Kidd said.
Many evangelicals and conservatives have already pledged not to vote in the general election for either Trump or the Democratic nominee, who will be an abortion-rights advocate no matter who wins that party’s nod.
The resistance to Trump – including the use of the hashtag #NeverTrump on Twitter – has produced no-vote promises based on his inconsistent and even harsh policy positions on some issues; his uncivil, insult-laden rhetoric; and a lifestyle marked by adultery. Questions also have been raised about some of his business enterprises.
The controversy over the candidacy of the businessman and former reality TV star focused in the week before the Wisconsin primary on the abortion issue. He suggested in a March 30 interview women who seek illegal abortions in the future should be punished, but he soon backtracked on that position.
In an interview segment released April 1, Trump said the laws on abortion “are set” and added, “And I think we have to leave it that way.” Later that day, the campaign released a statement saying Trump, as president, “will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn.”
The contradictory messages on a pre-eminent issue for many evangelicals did nothing to help his appeal to a group that has been a major force in the Republican electorate for nearly four decades.
Kidd observed, “Committed evangelicals are clearly coalescing around Cruz. Just how much of Cruz’s support is of the anti-Trump variety, and how much of it indicates real enthusiasm for the Texas senator, remains to be seen.”
Ashford said, “For evangelical voters who emphasize religious liberty, traditional marriage and pro-life values, there is very little cause for hope among the Democratic candidates. Among the Republican candidates there is cause for hope, as Cruz and Kasich have a long track record of commitment to those values.”
Of the Democratic race, Ashford said Sanders “still faces a very difficult path to the nomination, as [Clinton] leads in pledged delegates and is presently backed by the vast majority of superdelegates. The Sanders camp is hoping those superdelegates will change their minds based on his recent string of victories.”
The Wisconsin results showed Cruz with 48.2 percent of the votes, Trump with 35.1 percent and Kasich with 14.1 percent. Kasich won no delegates.
On the Democratic side, Sanders received 56.5 percent of the votes and Clinton 43.2 percent.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

4/6/2016 1:42:23 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Celebrating Milton Hollifield’s 10-year anniversary

April 5 2016 by BR staff

On April 11, 2006, Milton A. Hollifield Jr. was elected as the fourteenth executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). In a special session of the convention, held at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, 1,066 messengers voted to approve the new leader with no apparent opposition. According to a report in the April 29, 2006, edition of the Biblical Recorder, Don Warren, chairman of the BSC board of directors, officially nominated Hollifield. Robert Jackson, chairman of the search committee, told messengers Hollifield was the committee’s choice and “an answer to our prayers.”
Born in Marion, N.C., Hollifield grew up in Swannanoa where his father served as a pastor. He is married to Gloria (Sullins) Hollifield of Black Mountain. They have one son, Judson, who lives with his wife, Jamie, in Asheville, N.C., and two grandsons.


Milton Hollifield

Hollifield received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Mars Hill College in 1977 and a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas in 1980.
He pastored West Shady Grove Baptist Church in Blue Ridge, Texas while in seminary. Upon return to N.C., he served as an associate pastor of West Asheville Baptist Church for two years. From 1982-1991 he pastored First Baptist Church of Stanley and then became the executive director of missions for the Gaston Baptist Association. In 1993 the General Board of the Baptist State Convention elected Hollifield as director of the Evangelism Division, a position he held for 13 years under two executive director-treasurers of the convention.
In recognition of his 10-year anniversary with the BSC, the Biblical Recorder presents the following summary of some of the key changes that happened during Hollifield’s service as executive director-treasurer.
Before Hollifield was elected, some Baptist institutions in the state were taking steps to change their relationships with the convention. In 2005 the Committee on Nominations had rejected some nominees suggested by entity presidents who previously had not experienced challenges to names they brought forth. It was reported that the committee denied nominees from churches that were affiliated with the liberal-leaning Alliance of Baptists or were members of churches not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Biblical Recorder

Biblical Recorder editor Tony Cartledge announced in the Feb. 18, 2006, edition that the Recorder would choose a portion of its directors for 2007. The action took advantage of a provision in BSC bylaws that allowed colleges, institutions and agencies to nominate up to 50 percent of its own directors. In return, the respective entity would give up an equal percentage of funding from BSC. However, the Recorder never followed through on its intention, and Cartledge retired in July 2007. The Recorder’s directors continue to be elected by BSC.

Retirement homes

The Baptist Retirement Homes (BRH) announced Jan. 18, 2006, that its trustees had adopted amendments that changed the corporation’s bylaws with regard to the election and removal of trustees. BRH president Bill Stillerman said he was not asking for a severance from the BSC, but wanted the board to choose its own directors.
BRH began electing its own directors, and funds for the ministry were held in escrow for at least one year before all funding was removed from the convention’s budget. BRH never officially filed for legal separation as required by BSC documents. Although the board has not established an official relationship of friendly cooperation with BSC, the organization continues to work directly with local churches in the state.


BSC file photo
Clay Warf, left, president of the North Carolina Baptist Foundation, talks with Milton Hollifield during the annual Baptist Heritage award banquet in 2012.

Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina

Ten days after Hollifield began serving in his new role, the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) held its annual “Missions Extravaganza” at Ridgecrest Conference Center. At the meeting delegates approved bylaw changes that effectively loosened the organization’s ties to BSC, according to a report in the April 29, 2006, edition of the Biblical Recorder.
Changes included removing the word “auxiliary” and a statement from bylaws that said the WMU-NC “shares a common religious purpose with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and shall operate as an auxiliary of the Baptist State Convention and shall cooperate with the program of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina as it relates to the promotion of Christian missions and ministries locally and globally.”
The new language of the bylaws stressed the historical relationship with BSC and the “common heritage as laborers together in Christian work ...” It added that WMU-NC “may also cooperate, as it deems advisable, with other entities that share a common purpose in promoting Christ-centered and Bible-based missions and ministry locally and globally.”
Other bylaw changes separated the organization from the human resources department of BSC and established an autonomous business plan. The organization chose to move its offices out of the Baptist Building in Cary. The changes prompted BSC’s budget committee to remove WMU-NC from the annual budget in 2007 and the State Missions Offering in 2008.


Baptist colleges and universities

Prior to 2006, five Baptist colleges and universities were discussing a new relationship with BSC. Formal discussions continued between the presidents of the educational institutions and BSC officials through 2006 and 2007 until the messengers at the November 2007 convention approved a new relationship. The schools gave up Cooperative Program (CP) funding over a period of four years in exchange for the opportunity to elect their own trustees.
In 2008 three North Carolina Baptist schools elected their first trustees from churches not affiliated with BSC. Wingate University, Gardner-Webb University and Campbell University elected trustees from churches that were either not Baptists or not affiliated with BSC. The three schools, along with Chowan University and Mars Hill University, no longer receive financial support through the CP budget.

New ministries

Out of the vacuum created by changes in the relationships with WMU-NC and BRH, churches called for new ministries to fill the void. At the November 2008 annual meeting messengers approved the creation of Embrace Women’s Ministry and North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM). Both ministries launched the following year. Neither ministry was a duplicate of the organizations they replaced.


BSC file photo
Milton Hollifield, left, prays over 11 Montagnard men who were ordained in 2013. Hollifield and the staff of the Baptist State Convention have emphasized planting churches that will reach all nations.

The new ministry to senior adults was developed under the auspices of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH). BCH President Michael C. Blackwell said the new ministry did not plan to duplicate or compete with Baptist Retirement Homes. Instead, Blackwell said it was designed to assist churches and associations in three areas: education to help senior adults in such issues as identity theft and adult day care; practical ministry such as in-home assistance with meals and handyman work; and personal services such as transportation. Sandy Gregory became the director and continues in that role.
Messengers voted to release $880,000 that was being held in escrow from BRH for use in the new NCBAM ministry.
Embrace launched in 2009 with the focus on evangelism, discipleship and missions. The focus of the new ministry was to engage women with the gospel, help form Bible studies and equip women to minister locally and globally. The ministry to women is part of the organizational structure of BSC staff. Ashley Allen was brought in as the director of Embrace and still provides leadership to the ministry today.
Also at the 2008 annual meeting the N.C. Baptist Foundation (NCBF) announced a new church loan program. Loans are now provided at better rates than churches can get through banks, according to Executive Director Clay Warf. The loans are funded through investments from N.C. Baptist churches and individuals. In seven years the new fund has provided loans to 100 churches in 45 N.C. counties totaling $60 million. NCBF has approval for up to $75 million in additional church loans.
Although the five universities, BRH and WMU-NC have chosen to alter the way they relate to the convention, the Baptist Children’s Homes of N.C., the N.C. Baptist Foundation, N.C. Baptist Men (now called Baptists on Mission), Fruitland Baptist Bible College, the Biblical Recorder and the N.C. Baptist Hospital (also known as Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center) have not changed relationships with BSC under Hollifield’s leadership. Each continues a healthy cooperation with the churches and ministries of the convention.


Financial cooperation

The increasing percentage of BSC funds allotted for global ministries stands out as one of the most notable aspects of Hollifield’s 10-year tenure.
He emphasized in a 2012 Biblical Recorder guest column, “As believers in Jesus Christ we are responsible for fulfilling the Great Commission. ... We cannot accomplish this task on our own.”


BSC file photo
Milton and Gloria Hollifield, on stage, pray with Southern Baptist Convention president Bobby Welch during Milton Hollifield's installation service at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem in April 2006.

The expressed commitment to missions is significant, considering the downward trend of total CP giving by N.C. Baptist churches over the same 10-year span. Total giving decreased by nearly 20 percent while the percentage BSC set aside for missions rose by 7 percent.
In both 2006 and 2007, the BSC forwarded 33 percent of its total CP budget to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to be distributed among SBC mission agencies, seminaries and other entities. From 2008 onward, that number began to rise by one-half percent each year until it reached 37 percent in 2015. The trend took a sharp turn when messengers approved a three percent increase for 2016, bringing the global ministries allocation to 40 percent ($11.8 million).
At the same time the BSC began increasing its global ministries giving, Hollifield also led the convention to simplify giving mechanisms.
Throughout the 1990s, four giving plans were created, allowing churches to choose how their CP gifts were divided among various state and national entities. They provided moderate churches the ability to choose a plan that designated a portion of their gifts directly to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, affiliated colleges and universities, or other missions entities. Other plans allowed conservative churches to opt for a more traditional, BSC-SBC distribution of funds.
Ongoing committee inquiries into the plans’ efficiency revealed that a majority of churches were using one plan. As a result, the convention approved a simplified plan. According to a 2008 Biblical Recorder report, he told the Board of Directors, “Keep this phrase in mind … a simple plan with options.”


Christian education

The agreement with five Baptist colleges and universities to reduce CP funds allocated to the schools in exchange for increased independence in the election of trustees resulted in a reduction from nearly $6 million in 2008 to zero in 2012. Some funds were set aside for student scholarships at the five Baptist colleges.
In 2015 the BSC board of directors voted to transfer administration and oversight of the Baptist college scholarship program from the convention to the NCBF.
Scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students from cooperating N.C. Baptist churches who attend one of the five affiliated educational institutions are now funded through an endowment established by NCBF, rather than CP funds. The funds totaled more than $1.2 million in 2006 and had been gradually decreased to $300,000 in 2015, before making the transfer to NCBF. Some of the recovered educational funds were used to increase resources assigned to Fruitland Baptist Bible College.



BSC file photo
Milton Hollifield meets with Moldova Baptist leaders about ministry ideas and encouragment. He and others from the Baptist State Convention have partnered with believers in Moldova to expand their ministry.

Hollifield Leadership Center

The executive committee accepted a $2.5 million offer on the sale of the Hollifield Leadership Center in July 2013. After years of financial losses, the center ceased weekly operations at the end of 2012, but remained available for weekend retreats in 2013.
BSC purchased the 30-acre facility on Lake Hickory in 2000 to use for retreats and training events. It was made possible by a significant gift from Gwendolyn Hollifield, who is not related to Milton Hollifield.
Proceeds from the sale were applied to the New Beginnings capital campaign at Caraway Camp and Conference Center near Asheboro. A new 299-seat auditorium was named in her honor. Caraway, the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell and Fruitland Baptist Bible College have all added new facilities in the past 10 years as well.


Collegiate ministry

On April 11, 2013, the BSC Executive Committee approved a new five-year strategy to better assist churches in disciple-making. The new structure included a change in the BSC’s collegiate ministry. At the time there were nine full-time campus ministry positions and partnerships with churches on 15 other campuses. The majority of North Carolina’s almost 200 college and university campuses were not being engaged by North Carolina Baptists.
Campuses with full-time staff positions included Appalachian State University, Boone; East Carolina University, Greenville; North Carolina State University, Raleigh; University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill; UNC-Asheville, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Pembroke, and Western Carolina University, Cullowhee. The new structure eliminated many campus ministry positions but provided staff to equip churches to have more of a presences on college campuses. Church ownership became the core of the new strategy which recognized there is not simply “one way” to reach North Carolina’s diverse population of college students. Local church ownership meant every campus in the state could potentially have the witness of a Baptist church.
Under Hollifield’s leadership, the board of directors voted unanimously in 2015 to sell the Battle House, the former Baptist campus ministry property at UNC-Chapel Hill for $1.55 million.
They also approved the sale of properties at East Carolina University and UNC-Asheville. The property at UNC-Pembroke was transferred to the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association.
This year the former Baptist Campus Ministry property at N.C. State University was sold for $860,000, and the former facility at Appalachian State University was sold for $500,000. Proceeds from all of these sales were placed into a special account used exclusively for collegiate partnerships.
Shifting funds away from campus ministers and campus properties was controversial when first announced, but since 2014 BSC collegiate ministry has grown from nine campuses to a gospel presence on at least 30 campuses. More students are hearing the gospel today from Baptist churches than they were before the change.


A new vision

The new vision announced by Hollifield in 2013 was labeled, “Impacting Lostness Through Disciple-Making.” The new strategy led to realignment of the staff. Prior to this time BSC staff was organized into five ministry groups with a total of 22 teams. Now, there are four ministry groups with 19 teams.
Brian Davis, associate executive director-treasurer, said a key component of this change involved combining the former congregational services and evangelization groups.
“The combining of these two groups has been driven by a key shift in philosophy; a shift that is the foundation of the strategy:  disciple-making,” Davis said. He said the new “ministry is driven by the philosophy that disciple-making is the combined effort of evangelism and discipleship that results in disciples making disciples.”
Great Commission Partnerships (GCP) and Church Revitalization are among some of the new teams. The GCP office was established to engage unreached and unengaged people groups around the world.
The office works with local, national and international partners.
The church revitalization team was established by the Executive Committee in November 2014 as an outgrowth of impacting lostness through disciple-making.
Through it all, personnel has played an integral part in Hollifield’s tenure. Davis and John Butler, executive leader of business services, were brought in early and have been at the convention during all the staff changes. When Hollifield began, there were 97 full-time convention employees. Currently, there are 89 full-time employees.
This number only includes convention staff and not the number currently working at Baptists on Mission, Fruitland, any of the camps or conference centers or WMU-NC.
In 2008, the Board of Directors adopted “7 Pillars for Mission and Ministry,” reflecting the BSC’s core values.
After a Vision Fulfillment process that included 16 listening sessions across the state, the core values were revised in 2011. Visit ncbaptist.org/7pillars to learn more about the “7 Pillars.”
The changes emphasized a focus on disciple-making and included ministry with internationals, unreached and unengaged people groups as well as younger church leaders.
Hollifield’s unchanging vision from the beginning still remains, “By God’s grace, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina will become the strongest force in the history of this convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”


Related Story:

Grateful for Milton and Gloria Hollifield

4/5/2016 10:04:59 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Read global news with pro-life mindset, advocates say

April 5 2016 by Liz Tablazon, BR staff writer

Planned Parenthood made headlines last summer when undercover videos revealed company executives discussing the sale of aborted fetal parts. The exposé triggered a federal investigation of the women’s health provider and prompted a backlash lawsuit by Planned Parenthood against the pro-life group that organized the sting operation. More than four decades since Roe v. Wade legalized the practice nationwide, media coverage once again fixated the country’s attention on the abortion debate.
Despite longstanding controversy in the U.S., less attention is given to the global scale of abortion practices. Some evangelical pro-life advocates want to see that change.
In 2008 there were 1.4 million abortions performed in North America. Compare that number to 4.4 million in Latin America and 27.3 million in Asia the same year.
Organizations such as the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and The Heritage Foundation work to inform people about worldwide abortion practices so that individuals and churches can advocate for the unborn more effectively across geopolitical borders.


BR photo by Seth Brown

Surveying the landscape

Pregnant mothers overseas often face complicated and uncertain circumstances in ways that may not be well understood by some American evangelicals.
Many developing countries enforce high restrictions on abortion, but there is no indication of lower rates in such areas. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America, where the procedure is illegal under most circumstances. By contrast, the rate is down to 12 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Western Europe, where abortion laws are less strict.
The Guttmacher Institute reported unintended pregnancies as the root cause of abortion. Approximately 225 million women in developing regions live without adequate access to modern contraceptives and family planning resources.
Pro-abortion groups, such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Center for Reproductive Rights, advocate legal abortion as a human right in developing regions. They argue for the elimination of unsafe illegal abortions, one of the three leading causes of maternal mortality.
For decades the Roman Catholic Church has opposed abortion on an international scale, but the evangelical impact has been less visible, said Travis Wussow, ERLC director of international justice and religious liberty.
“When these developing countries are coming to the U.N. and you have these pro-choice advocates trying to link aid – trying to link legitimacy – to a country’s position on abortion,” said Wussow, “we have to recognize that many of these countries are under a lot of pressure.”
Evangelical engagement in the international abortion debate would allow “these countries’ representatives [to] realize that there is a diversity of opinion in the West on this issue,” he said.

Understanding the issues

Jennifer Marshall, vice president of the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation, pointed out a serious international threat to human dignity from a developed nation.
China’s two-child policy, formerly one-child, suggests that government has the ability to use coerced abortions and forced sterilization to set controls on family life in a way that is concerning for the freedom of the family, she said.
Marshall also noted a broader issue.
“We need to be concerned about the dignity of human life across the life spectrum … concerned about trafficking and the abuse of human beings,” she said. “[W]e should be seeking government according to the rule of law, that protects all people with equal dignity and particularly women and their unborn children.”
Haiti, for example, has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to a 2011 report by the Human Rights Watch. In 2010 a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, damaging 60 percent of health facilities in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, the center of Haiti’s health system. Ten percent of health professionals were killed in the disaster or emigrated after the earthquake.
Women and girls face obstacles to maternal care, including lack of services, delayed access to services or fear of sexual violence.
They also “continue to be second-class citizens with unequal representation before the law and state,” according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Thinking globally & personally

In addition to specific, international policy changes, Marshall said individual Christians should strive to be aware of international news items, reading them with a pro-life mindset and identifying personal connections to places or situations.
“Others may share that interest. Often in churches, that connective interest leads to something more concrete that the church can do,” she said. “Be open minded about that and how God can bring attention to something.”
Wussow recommended churches begin to think about pro-life advocacy in countries they already engage. Local churches should reach out to their partners in certain countries and ask about issues related to abortion and pro-life movements that exist there.
“The fight is really going to be country by country,” he said. “To some extent, that’s what the church is already doing with missions.”
(EDITORS’ NOTE – Liz Tablazon is circulation and social media manager for the Biblical Recorder. Seth Brown, BR content editor, contributed to this story.)

Related Stories:

Sanctity of human life in China
China: 336 million abortions in barely 4 decades
Still coercive – China’s two-child policy

4/5/2016 9:57:54 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR staff writer | with 0 comments

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