April 2017

Study: Americans fond of Bible, but how many read it?

April 28 2017 by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends

Americans appear to have a positive view of the Bible. And many say scripture is filled with moral lessons for today.

However, more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible, a study released April 25 by LifeWay Research shows. Less than a quarter of those who have ever read a Bible have a systematic plan for reading scripture each day. And a third of Americans never pick it up on their own, according to the survey that the research firm conducted this past fall.
It should be no surprise many church leaders worry about biblical illiteracy, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
“Most Americans don’t know first-hand the overall story of the Bible – because they rarely pick it up,” McConnell said. “Even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily. The only time most Americans hear from the Bible is when someone else is reading it.”

Many unfamiliar with biblical text

Almost nine out of 10 households (87 percent) own a Bible, according to the American Bible Society, and the average household has three.
But Bible reading remains spotty.

LifeWay Research surveyed 1,000 Americans about their views of the Bible and found significant splits in how familiar they are with scripture. One in five Americans, LifeWay Research found, has read through the Bible at least once.
That includes 11 percent who’ve read the entire Bible once, and 9 percent who’ve read it through multiple times. Another 12 percent say they have read nearly all of the Bible, while 15 percent have read at least half.
About half of Americans (53 percent) have read relatively little of the Bible. One in 10 has read none of it, while 13 percent have read a few sentences. Thirty percent say they have read several passages or stories.
Americans also differ in how they approach reading the Bible. Twenty-two percent read a little bit each day, in a systematic approach. A third (35 percent) never pick it up at all, while 30 percent look up things in the Bible when they need to. Nineteen percent re-read their favorite parts, while 17 percent flip open the Bible and read a passage at random. A quarter (27 percent) read sections suggested by others, while 16 percent say they look things up to help others.
Those with evangelical beliefs are more likely (49 percent) to read a little bit each day than those without evangelical beliefs (16 percent). Protestants (36 percent) are more likely to read every day than Catholics (17 percent).
The more often Americans attend church, the more likely they are to read the Bible daily. Thirty-nine percent of those who attend worship services at least once a month read a bit every day, while only 13 percent of those who attend services less than once month pick up a Bible daily.
Men are more likely to skip Bible reading than women. Thirty-nine percent of men say they do not read the Bible on their own, compared to 31 percent of women. Folks in the Northeast (48 percent) are more likely to never pick up a Bible than those from other regions.

Bible seen as good for morals

Overall, Americans have a positive view of the Bible. Thirty-seven percent say it is helpful today, while a similar number call it life-changing (35 percent) or true (36 percent). Half (52 percent) say the Bible is a good source for morals. Few say the Bible is outdated (14 percent), harmful (7 percent) or bigoted (8 percent).
Americans are split over the nature of the Bible as a book. Four in 10 say it’s a book worth reading over and over, while 13 percent say it’s worth reading once. Twenty-two percent prefer referencing the Bible on an as-needed basis. Five percent say the Bible is a book not worth reading at all, while 19 percent are not sure.
A number of reasons keep Americans from reading the Bible, according to LifeWay Research. About a quarter (27 percent) say they don’t prioritize it, while 15 percent don’t have time. Thirteen percent say they’ve read it enough. Fewer say they don’t read books (9 percent), don’t see how the Bible relates to them (9 percent), or don’t have a copy (6 percent). Ten percent disagree with what the Bible says.
Overall, Americans seem to like the Bible but don’t have much urgency about reading it, McConnell said.

Pastors do their part

One place Americans are still likely to hear the Bible read is in church. And many Protestant pastors try to encourage their flocks to give the Bible a try.
A LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors found most give out free Bibles to those who need them (86 percent), include reminders about reading the Bible in their sermons (86 percent) and include Bible readings in worship services (76 percent).
Two-thirds (64 percent) give out printed Bible-reading plans while 40 percent provide digital-reading plans. Half (52 percent) send out social media reminders, while 46 percent send out reminders by email and newsletters.
Still, it appears people may need more than a plan when it comes to reading the Bible, McConnell said.
McConnell said Americans treat reading the Bible a little bit like exercise. They know it’s important and helpful but they don’t do it. The key for churches, he said, is finding ways for people to experience how reading the Bible can change their lives.
“Scripture describes itself as ‘living and effective,’ according to the book of Hebrews,” McConnell said.
“Those who have a habit of reading through the Bible a little each day say they have experienced this helpful, life-changing quality. Those who approach the book differently tend to say the Bible is positive but much less personal.”


LifeWay Research conducted the study of Americans Sept. 27-Oct. 1, 2016. The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population.
Initially, participants are chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel. For those who agree to participate, but do not already have Internet access, GfK, a market research company, provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection.
Sample stratification and weights were used for gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, metro/non-metro, education and income to reflect the most recent US Census data. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
The phone survey of Protestant pastors was conducted Aug. 22-Sept. 16, 2016. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Quotas were used for church size. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.2 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
For more information visit LifeWayResearch.com or read the complete survey PDFs for Americans’ views and pastors’ views. LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana, Bob.Smietana@LifeWay.com, is senior writer for Facts & Trends.)

4/28/2017 3:09:07 PM by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments

‘SBC This Week’ podcast reaches 100th episode

April 28 2017 by Mike Schueler, The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma

If it’s happening in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), there’s a good chance Jonathan Howe and Amy Whitfield are talking about it.

Contributed photo
Amy Whitfield and Jonathan Howe, center, interview Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary, on the podcast “SBC This Week,” which reaches its 100th-episode milestone April 28.

Howe and Whitfield host the podcast SBC This Week which celebrates its 100th episode April 28. The show, for roughly 30 minutes each Friday, features a roundup of “news and views” from across the SBC.
“Our goal is to help people understand that the SBC exists for the other 363 days of the year,” Howe said. “We get all worked up about what happens for two days in June [during the SBC’s annual meeting], but a lot more goes on elsewhere that influences the direction of the denomination.”
SBC This Week was born out of Howe and Whitfield’s passion for all things Southern Baptist, coupled with a desire to see their generation more deeply engaged with the convention. At 36 and 40 years of age respectively, Howe and Whitfield straddle the edges of Generation X and the Millennials. Howe is director of strategic initiatives at Lifeway Christian Resources; Whitfield is director of communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina and, during the SBC annual meeting, an assistant parliamentarian.
“There is such a rich history in the SBC, whether it be the personalities, the decisions, the entities or the achievements,” Howe said. “We’re just trying to make sure we don’t let our generation forget where we came from, so we can learn from past mistakes and build on successes.”
Though SBC This Week launched in 2015, the conversations that created the show’s blueprint began years earlier, when Howe and Whitfield worked together at Lifeway.
“We’ve been having these conversations for years, the only difference is that we turned on a microphone,” Whitfield said. “It is amazing to me that people are still listening. When we started it was one of those moments where you think, ‘This could be incredibly boring.’”
But listeners didn’t think so. In fact, the podcast’s audience has quadrupled over the past two years. Another surprise is who is listening. Howe said denominational employees comprise one of SBC This Week’s largest audience segments.
“They see it as a quick way to get a pulse of what’s going on around the denomination,” he explained. “We also hear from a lot of pastors that are the same way.”
Baptist Press is the podcast’s primary go-to place for content.
“We have a big appreciation for the folks at Baptist Press; it’s the place you are going to find the most stories that are going to hit our entire listener base,” Whitfield said. She and Howe also scour entity websites, newsletters, magazines and other sources for SBC happenings and potential interviewees.
There’s rarely any shortage of news. In addition to national SBC entities, Howe and Whitfield cover the state Baptist conventions but purposely shy away from what Howe calls “blog wars,” not wanting to get bogged down in an online argument.
“Unfortunately, Southern Baptists have a bad rap for infighting,” Howe said. “The last thing we want to be is the caricature that many people see us for. Instead, we want to be seen as people who care, who are missional, people that want the world come to Christ.”
Both Howe and Whitfield acknowledge that SBC This Week is unapologetically upbeat, and their chemistry as hosts plays to this. Howe describes the dynamic as a Laurel and Hardy-type duo: the straight-man and the funny guy.
“The straight man’s job is to set up the funny guy with jokes,” Howe explained. “I see myself as the straight guy. ... My job is to set it up for Amy to discuss the stories. Ninety percent of the time it’s me talking about the headline and Amy explaining it. She’s the smart one. I move us from bit to bit.”
“I do know when Jonathan is provoking me, trying to get something out of me,” Whitfield said with a laugh. “Sometimes when he asks questions I know he is trying to stump me.”
While a news cycle’s unpredictability means the lineup for each podcast is unique, there are a few show staples. Each week Howe invites Whitfield to “blow our minds” with a segment called “This Week in SBC History.”
“That’s one of the things that we get the most feedback about,” Whitfield said. “I thought it would be fun to do and we just ran with it. I don’t even remember when Jonathan started saying ‘blow our minds’ but it just caught on.”
Whitfield admits that digging through entity archives to ferret out interesting bits of convention history feeds her inner SBC geek. Events range from sober topics, like missionary Adoniram Judson’s death at sea, to the unusual, like the first state executive with his own airplane for business travel (it was donated).
SBC This Week always wraps with another staple, “Resource of the Week,” which Howe jokes is selected by whatever new material lands on his desk at Lifeway. Whether a book, video, website or other resource, Howe said the resource is sometimes strategic, sometimes random and sometimes personal. “We try to show a little love to each entity,” he added.
Howe and Whitfield won’t share everything they’re planning for the podcast’s 100th episode but are excited about a special interview with Danny Akin, president of Southeastern seminary.
“We blinked and we’re 100 episodes in, and now here we are prepping to cover our third annual meeting [in Phoenix],” Howe said. “It’s been fun to have the access and the interest, and the interest hasn’t abated. ... I am more excited about the SBC now than I was 100 episodes ago.”
The SBC This Week podcast is available at sbcthisweek.com and on iTunes and Google Play.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Schueler directs marketing and communications for The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma.)

4/28/2017 3:05:03 PM by Mike Schueler, The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma | with 0 comments

Porn deemed public health crisis, harmful in 5 states

April 28 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

At least five states have officially declared pornography a public health crisis or harmful to the public, and at least one other is considering a similar measure, according to bill updates filed on state legislature websites.
A resolution passed by the Tennessee Legislature declaring pornography a public health hazard was awaiting Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature April 21. Days earlier, Tennessee became the fourth state to adopt such a resolution, joining Utah, South Dakota and Arkansas.
The Virginia General Assembly stopped short of declaring pornography a public health hazard or crisis, but in February passed a resolution that pornography leads to “individual and societal harms.” The Georgia legislature adjourned its 2017 session with two resolutions, both in committees, that would declare pornography a public health crisis.
The resolutions emphasize research showing the harmful effects of pornography and call for education, prevention and policy changes at the community and societal levels. As resolutions, none of the measures add to criminal offenses regarding pornography nor stipulate any punishment for its use.
Jay Dennis, founder of the One Million Men anti-pornography ministry, told Baptist Press the measures are a valuable victory in communicating porn’s harm.
“The fact that states are beginning to recognize pornography as a public health hazard, underscores what the Bible has been clear upon – sexual sin is destructive not only spiritually, but also emotionally and physically,” said Dennis, who recently announced he’s planning to retire in May as pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla. “Identifying pornography as a public health hazard presents factual information to those outside of Christianity that this is not just a spiritual battle, it is a health issue facing every person.”
Dennis encourages pastors to educate their churches on the dangers of porn, which he believes feeds sexual sin including human trafficking.
“This presents an opportunity for the church to begin broaching the subject of pornography, the number-one moral issue every church is facing,” Dennis said in January after the Tennessee measure was introduced. “It’s time to speak up and be the moral authority and allow the states to verify that fact. We must pray that every state will have the courage to enact legislation to show pornography’s destructive harm.”
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), which drafted the bill that Utah passed in 2016 as the first among states, hailed the bill’s “domino effect” and noted “an international debate” on the issue.
“Even the Canadian Parliament passed a motion to study the public health impacts of pornography,” NCOSE Senior Vice President and Executive Director Dawn Hawkins said after Tennessee’s passage. “The Israeli Knesset is considering formal statements, and New Zealand activists are petitioning their government to address the harms of pornography.”
When Republican Sen. Mae Beavers introduced Tennessee’s measure in January, she said what was previously considered hardcore pornography has now become mainstream. With technology, the average age of exposure to pornography is 11 to 12. She cited Washington State studies showing that as recently as 2004, 24.7 percent of convicted murderers in that state said pornography served as a trigger for their crimes.
Pornography is potentially biologically addictive, Tennessee’s resolution states. The resolution adds that pornography is detrimental to families, discourages young men from marriage and leads to marital dissatisfaction and infidelity. Pornography treats women as “objects and commodities for the viewer’s use,” “normalizes violence and abuse of women and children,” “increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution and ... child pornography,” and may cause emotional, mental and medical illnesses, the Tennessee measure reads.
South Dakota passed a concurrent resolution declaring porn a public health hazard Jan. 31, followed by the Arkansas House of Representatives on March 28. The Arkansas measure does not require Senate approval.
The Southern Baptist Convention has passed nearly 25 resolutions that address pornography either directly or indirectly, beginning as early as 1959 and recurring as recently as 2015. The latest resolution “On Pornography and Sexual Purity” recognizes pornography’s harm to men, women and children, and recommends several measures to end its proliferation.
Much of pornography is protected by the First Amendment, according to the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, but pornography that falls into the categories of obscenity and child pornography is against the law.
Half of teenagers and nearly three-quarters of young adults come across pornography at least monthly, and both groups on average consider viewing pornographic images less immoral than failing to recycle, a 2016 study by Josh McDowell Ministry and the Barna Group found.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/28/2017 3:01:50 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

USCIRF cites Russia, 3 terrorist groups for violations

April 28 2017 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) made some ground-breaking recommendations in its latest annual report, but the bipartisan watchdog made clear one reality is not new – the ability to exercise one’s faith continues to deteriorate.
In its 2017 report issued April 26, USCIRF set a precedent by calling for Russia to be classified as one of the world’s worst violators of religious liberty. The commission also urged the designation of three Muslim terrorist groups – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Shabaab in Somalia – as “entities of particular concern” (EPCs), a new category for non-state organizations that use violence against people of faith.
Meanwhile, USCIRF reported the status of religious liberty globally “is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations. The blatant assaults have become so frightening – attempted genocide, the slaughter of innocents and wholesale destruction of places of worship – that less egregious abuses go unnoticed or at least unappreciated.”
Southern Baptist public policy leaders and the commission’s chairman urged the United States to work to protect and promote religious freedom.
The report “is yet another reminder how imperiled religious liberty is throughout the world,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), in a written statement for Baptist Press (BP). “Conscience freedom is the most fundamental human right of all, but for millions of people across the globe, including many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, such freedom is consistently and violently attacked.”
Moore said he prays the United States “will continue to take the lead in global advocacy for religious liberty, and that most importantly, we as Christians would work and pray for conscience freedom for everyone and everywhere.”
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a Southern Baptist, said the commission’s report “shows the need to ensure that religious freedom is incorporated into the foreign policy of the United States.”
“Nations that oppress this basic human right are bound to violate other human rights, and in some regions, the evil of religious-based genocide rises up within its borders,” Lankford said in a written release. “As a nation, we cannot ensure that the fundamental right of religious freedom is protected for all people if we do not actively address the egregious violations being committed by nations, including our own allies, with whom the United States interacts.”
In his statement, Lankford again urged President Trump to nominate an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom – an appeal the senator had made as recently as April 13 in a letter to the president. The post has remained vacant since Trump took office.
Thomas Reese, USCIRF’s chairman, said the commission calls in its report “for Congress and the administration to stress consistently the importance of religious freedom abroad, for everyone, everywhere, in public statements and public and private gatherings.”
USCIRF – in its findings that led to recommending for the first time Russia be added to the State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) – described the country as the only state in its report “to have not only continually intensified its repression of religious freedom since USCIRF commenced monitoring it, but also to have expanded its repressive policies to the territory of a neighboring state [Crimea], by means of military invasion and occupation.”
Last year, Russia, on the mainland, “effectively criminalized all private religious speech not sanctioned by the state,” according to the commission.
The first-time recommendation came less than a week after Russia’s Supreme Court banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country.
The ERLC’s Moore said he was glad to see USCIRF “recognize the threat the Russian government poses to the religious liberty of the Russian people. Many, including evangelical Russian citizens and missionaries, have warned of Russia’s Cold War against soul freedom for some time. We should pray and work for the day when Russia is free for everyone, including those who dissent from whatever is the state-approved religion.”
When the ruling against the Jehovah’s Witnesses was issued, USCIRF’s Reese said the decision “sadly reconfirms the disregard of the government for religious freedom in present-day Russia. Individual and community expressions of faith, and even private religious beliefs, are not safe from state-sponsored repression and coercion in Russia today.”
USCIRF recommended CPC redesignation for the 10 countries on the State Department list last year: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. CPC designation by the State Department is reserved for the world’s most severe violators of religious liberty.
In addition to Russia, the commission urged five other countries for CPC designation: Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria and Vietnam. USCIRF, however, removed Egypt and Iraq from this year’s list of CPC recommendations because of improvement in the countries.
Also, USCIRF placed 10 countries on Tier 2, once known as its “watch list.” Tier 2 countries, which are on the threshold of recommendation for CPC or Tier 1 designation, are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.
The classification of three terrorist organizations – ISIS, the Taliban and al-Shabaab – as EPCs came after the December enactment of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act that requires the designation of non-state actors that severely violate religious liberty. “Entities that control territory and have significant political control within countries can be even more oppressive than governments in their attacks on religious freedom,” the commission said.
In its report, USCIRF called not only for the State Department to designate all its CPC recommendations, but it also included recommendations for:

  • The president to name an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom as soon as possible and the Senate to confirm the nominee.
  • Congressional delegations to examine during trips overseas religious liberty conditions for people of all faiths or none.
  • The administration to prioritize the release of those imprisoned for their religious faith or actions.
  • The administration to protect refugees and asylum seekers by continuing the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

The president has various means for inducing countries on the CPC list to change, including sanctions such as export and travel restrictions. He also has the authority to waive such penalties because of the “important national interest of the United States.”
USCIRF – which is made up of nine commissioners selected by the president and congressional leaders – tracks the status of religious liberty worldwide and issues reports to Congress, the president and the State Department.
The commission’s 2017 report, which is more than 220 pages in length, covered the 14 months from Jan. 1, 2016, through February of this year. The report is available at uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2017.USCIRFAnnualReport.pdf.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/28/2017 2:55:51 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Fred Powell, behind-the-scenes stalwart, dies at 86

April 28 2017 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Fred Powell, a behind-the-scenes leader during the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Conservative Resurgence, died April 24 in Johnson County, Kan., where he was in hospice care. He was 86.

Fred Powell

Powell became the top aide to Charles Stanley shortly after the Atlanta pastor was elected as SBC president in 1984, serving under Stanley as he presided over the two most-attended SBC annual meetings in history – 1995 in Dallas with 45,519 messengers and 1996 in Atlanta with 40,987 messengers, both pivotal battles between theological conservatives and moderates.
Powell also was a three-time chairman of the SBC Committee on Order of Business, which leads in planning and scheduling prior to and during each year’s annual meeting. He led the committee for the 1992 convention in Indianapolis, 1993 in Houston and 1994 in Orlando, Fla.
“Fred knew how to get things done,” said Gary Ledbetter, editor in chief of the Southern Baptist TEXAN who served on the Committee on Order of Business during Powell’s three years as chairman.
Powell’s “godly wisdom and experience were great resources to many who knew him,” Ledbetter said in comments emailed to Baptist Press (BP). “He was on a first-name basis with hundreds of leaders in the SBC, and this gave him many opportunities to serve and support convention business.”
Don Hinkle, editor of The Pathway newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention, said Powell was “a stalwart in the SBC Conservative Resurgence, the movement by theological conservatives to wrest control of the SBC from Darwinist, pro-choice, theological liberals.”
Powell was present in “many strategic meetings with SBC conservative leadership as the dramatic battle over the Bible unfolded in the late 1970s to early 2000s,” Hinkle wrote in a Facebook post.
Powell was pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church in Excelsior Springs, Mo., when he became involved in efforts to remove a Baptist college professor who was quoted in the Kansas City Star as saying he did not believe in a personal devil, The Pathway recounted in a 2004 article about Powell.
“In 1977, I brought a doctrinal integrity resolution against William Jewell College to the Missouri Baptist Convention that was meeting in Kansas City,” Powell recounted to The Pathway. “We lost by 12 votes.”
Powell and Larry Lewis [a St. Louis pastor who later became president of the SBC’s then-Home Mission Board] “brought it before the 1978 meeting in St. Louis. That was the year that we passed a resolution stating that the Bible is without error scientifically, theologically, philosophically and historically.”
Powell said he was subsequently contacted by Paige Patterson, one of the leaders of the fledgling conservative movement, who asked if he would help lead the effort in Missouri to reclaim the SBC. Patterson at the time was president of Criswell College in Dallas and now is president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
Patterson, in comments emailed to Baptist Press, said Powell was “one of the earliest and most faithful leaders” in the conservative movement. “Gentle, perceptive, honest and unselfish, Fred was a man’s man who gave hours not only to his pastorate but also to searching for Bible-believing men and women to serve on various boards.”
Powell was “an eternal optimist about the providence of God,” Patterson said. “He was always the source of encouragement. I, for one, will miss him greatly, but I do rejoice with Fred Powell about his new surroundings.”
Powell, a New Jersey native, born as Frederick Earl Powell III, was led to the Lord at age 11 by a deacon – several Sundays before Pearl Harbor – at Clinton Hill Baptist Church in Newark.
After moving to Wisconsin and Minnesota with a hardware store company, he became a franchisee in 1967 with several Coast-to-Coast Hardware Stores in Missouri – while also becoming a bivocational pastor.
Powell served 10 years as pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church, which was founded in 1849 by Robert James, the father of Jesse and Frank James, before joining Charles Stanley as senior associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Atlanta in 1984.
He later became executive assistant to the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., from 1995-2001.
During his ministry, Powell also served as senior associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Moore, Okla., and president of Communicator Ministries, Inc., and editor of its journal, The Communicator. He authored A Biblical Deacon Ministry for Your Church and led conferences in deacon ministries.
In addition to the SBC Committee on Order of Business, Powell also was a member of the Committee on Nominations in 1983 and secretary/treasurer of the Pastors’ Conference in 1984. Internationally, he served as director of development for Emanuel Baptist Seminary in Oradea, Romania, from 1991-1998.
Powell, speaking to The Pathway in 2004, said the SBC would have “gone more and more the way of other mainline denominations” without a return to biblical authority. “It was an insidious sliding away from the inerrancy of the Word of God.”
The SBC’s seminaries were a key part of the battle, Powell said.
“We had problems with them. If we didn’t get the seminaries, we would still be turning out bad products,” he stated. “Some people say this was just a political preacher fight. But it wasn’t. It was a fight for the life of our denomination. Biblical truth is not up for grabs; it is not up for debate.”
Bible-believing Baptists, Powell said, need to be diligent against any leftward drift in the convention. “It’s almost like a magnetic pull that we have to resist,” he said. “This young generation coming along doesn’t know the price that was paid or care.
“There are no blatant signs now that there will be a liberal resurgence,” Powell commented, “but apathy allows for that. Apathy is what comes when we let down. We get so busy with church buildings, budgets and baptism that we let down the guard.”
Morris H. Chapman, SBC president from 1990-1992 when Powell first led the Committee on Order of Business, described him as “a happy warrior. His optimism was contagious. The source of his joy was Jesus.
“He was a relatively unheralded leader within the Conservative Resurgence but was greatly valued by those who knew him well. ... He was a friend to many who will be missed yet never forgotten by a host of Southern Baptists,” said Chapman, who, after his SBC presidency, served as SBC Executive Committee president from 1992 until his 2010 retirement.
Powell was preceded in death by his first wife, Donna, in 1998. He is survived by his second wife, Shirley, and seven children – sons David, Jeff, Daniel and Todd and daughters Linda Battagler, Judy Mallory and Beth Rogers; two stepdaughters, Traci Anderson and Brenda Armfield; 27 grandchildren; and “numerous great-grandchildren,” according to his funeral home obituary.
The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Clay/Platte Baptist Association in Kearney, Mo.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

4/28/2017 2:35:04 PM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Prestonwood to resume CP giving ‘without designation’

April 27 2017 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Prestonwood Baptist Church has announced it will resume giving through the Cooperative Program after two months of evaluating its support of Southern Baptist missions and ministries.

Jack Graham

“After a time of prayerful evaluation, Prestonwood is renewing our commitment to Southern Baptist missions by giving to the Cooperative Program without designation,” Prestonwood executive pastor Mike Buster told Baptist Press (BP) in a statement.
“For more than 40 years, Prestonwood has been a steadfast supporter of the Cooperative Program and its mission to advance the gospel through this vital giving program. We are grateful for the Southern Baptist Convention and our longtime ministry partnership and look forward to fulfilling the Great Commission together in the days ahead,” Buster said.
SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page expressed gratefulness at the Plano, Texas, congregation’s announcement.
“I am so delighted to hear of this news,” Page told BP in written comments. “In an earlier conversation with Dr. Graham, he promised that Prestonwood would be back in to CP sooner than later, and he is a man of his word.”
Prestonwood had announced in mid-February it would escrow CP funds over “various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.” During the escrow period, the congregation said it would evaluate how to proceed with future financial support of SBC and state convention ministries.
In a December 2016 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Prestonwood pastor Jack Graham, a former SBC president, alleged “disrespectfulness” by Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Russell Moore toward evangelical supporters of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In March, Moore and the ERLC executive committee released an extended statement “seeking unity in the Southern Baptist Convention.” Shortly after the ERLC’s statement was released, Graham tweeted, “This is a gracious and unifying statement from [Moore].”
Moore told BP in written comments April 26, “Prestonwood Baptist Church is a faithful, vibrant, missions-minded congregation. I’m grateful to God to partner with them as we seek to reach our world for Jesus Christ.”
Responses to Prestonwood’s decision to escrow included a unanimous vote in February by the SBC Executive Committee’s (EC) CP Committee to create an ad hoc committee to “study and recommend redemptive solutions to the current reality in Southern Baptist life of churches’ either escrowing or discontinuing Cooperative Program funds, with the report being brought back to the September 2017 Executive Committee meeting.”
In response to an EC member’s request, the body’s officers also said they would “monitor the activities of our various Southern Baptist entities since our last convention ... in relation to how those activities might adversely affect” CP and “our churches and other stewardship structures of Southern Baptists.”
The EC had received reports of other churches taking actions similar to Prestowood’s, BP reported previously.
EC chairman Stephen Rummage told the SBC This Week podcast in March a decision by Prestonwood to resume CP giving could indicate resolution of “most of the concerns that have been raised by the [Executive] Committee.” Prestonwood appears representative of other concerned congregations, said Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/27/2017 10:09:27 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

SWBTS apologizes for Twitter photo

April 27 2017 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has “deeply” apologized for a photograph posted by faculty members on social media featuring some of the seminary’s preaching professors dressed as hip hop artists.

Among responses to the photo on social media were allegations it evidenced racial prejudice. Ensuing dialogue on Twitter included an invitation by Southwestern for Grammy-winning Christian hip hop artist Lecrae to lead a dialogue for the seminary community.
Southwestern President Paige Patterson called the photo “a moment of bad judgment” and promised to “redouble our efforts to put an end to any form of racism on this campus.”

A young preaching professor “does rap as a hobby,” Patterson said in a statement released to Baptist Press (BP) April 26. “He preached a sermon recently in chapel in which he included a section of rap,” he noted. “I thought that it was great, and the students seemed responsive to it. He has since accepted a pastorate; and, as part of his departure, his fellow professors wanted to awaken memories and in so doing to tease him. That is par for the course around here. The president encourages our people to laugh at each other rather than to risk taking ourselves too seriously.
“But, as all members of the preaching faculty have acknowledged, this was a mistake, and one for which we deeply apologize,” Patterson said. “Sometimes, Anglo Americans do not recognize the degree that racism has crept into our lives. Such incidents are tragic but helpful to me in refocusing on the attempt to flush from my own system any remaining nuances of the racist past of our own country. Just as important, my own sensitivity to the corporate and individual hurts of a people group abused by generations of oppressors needs to be constantly challenged.”
The departing faculty member referenced by Patterson is Vern Charette, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, Okla.
The photo in question – which has been deleted from Twitter – appeared to depict five Anglo Southwestern School of Preaching professors dressed in bandannas, sideways baseball caps, gold chains and other stereotypical hip hop attire. Barry McCarty, who also is the Southern Baptist Convention’s chief parliamentarian, appeared to be holding a handgun. Above them was written “Notorious S.o.P.” [School of Preaching], an apparent parody of the name of late rapper The Notorious B.I.G.
The other four faculty members in the photo are David Allen, dean of the School of Preaching; Kyle Walker, vice president for student services; Deron Biles, professor of pastoral ministries and preaching; and Matthew McKellar, associate professor of preaching.
A screen capture published by Faithfully Magazine indicates Charette tweeted in response April 25 that his colleagues were “all true OG’s” – an acronym for “original gangsters.” The tweet no longer appears on Charette’s Twitter feed.


Image captured from Twitter
Pictured (from left) are Deron Biles, professor of pastoral ministries and preaching; David Allen, dean of the School of Preaching; Matthew McKellar, associate professor of preaching; Kyle Walker, vice president for student services; and Barry McCarty, the Southern Baptist Convention's chief parliamentarian and professor of preaching and rhetoric.

Southwestern tweeted April 25, “An offensive tweet was posted to one of our faculty members’ personal Twitter handles. We have asked that the tweet be removed.”
As of April 26, the photo did not appear on any of the professors’ Twitter accounts.
Embedded in Southwestern’s tweet was an April 25 tweet by Allen stating, “I apologize for a recent image I posted which was offensive. Context is immaterial. [Southwestern’s] stance on race is clear as is mine.”
As of midday April 26, 38 people had replied to Allen’s tweet, including Lecrae, who asked the Southwestern community, “How do you all plan to grow from this?” In reply, Southwestern invited Lecrae through its official Twitter account to lead a dialogue for the seminary.
Lecrae declined and suggested the seminary contact other African American Christian leaders about the opportunity.
Southwestern tweeted in response to Lecrae, “Thank you, we will be reaching out.”
Another Twitter response to Allen came from Terry Turner, an African American and former president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, who stated, “My prayers are with you that God gives you clarity on this subject to glorify His Name. Preach to lift Jesus up!”
Allen told BP in an email, “There is no excuse or defense for the indefensible. Context or intent are immaterial when offense has been given. I apologize for a recent image I posted which was offensive. There are few issues in culture today more vital than racial reconciliation.”
McCarty, professor of preaching and rhetoric, tweeted April 25, “I deleted a photo that our faculty did for a departing prof., [Vern_Charette], who is famous for his raps. Dr. Allen speaks for all of us” in his apology.
Patterson noted, “In an effort to be humorous, we made a mistake and communicated something that was completely foreign to anything that any of us felt in our hearts. To say that we are sorry will not be sufficient for many. We understand. To each of those and to everyone, we extend an invitation to visit this campus unannounced and at a time of your choosing and witness the love of Christ extended to all indiscriminately and to the best of our ability to every individual who sets foot on the campus.”
Patterson’s statement included a recounting of his personal efforts to combat racism and stated, “If I intend to love God and follow His paths, the slightest tinge of racism must be eliminated.”
See full statement below by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson.

Statement from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson

Genesis 3:20 declares that “Eve is the mother of all living.” There are only two options. If I intend to love God and follow His paths, the slightest tinge of racism must be eliminated. Or if I wish to present myself as unconcerned about the ways of the Master, then I may indulge in racism or any other sin, but the consequences of such behavior are certain and tragic. In fact, this verse clearly declares that while we may have a variety of social origins, there is only one race – the human race. This fact is not abridged by skin pigmentation, body shape or size, unique abilities, or anything else. As a part of this one race, we are all sinners in need of redemption, and Christ died for every one of us.
My early years were spent in a part of Texas with a history of racism. However, the home in which I was reared was an intensely missionary home and free of racist perspectives. So I remember well returning from school in the fifth grade and asking my Mom why black kids had to go to other schools and why some of the kids at our school had unkind attitudes toward those who were different from them. My mother minced no words in explaining that such attitudes were a result of the sin of the race. She admonished above all that I would devote my life to eradicating every vestige of racism.
Since that time, I have come to understand why racism is an affront to God. The Heavenly Father is a God of variety. His artistic genius produced such a variety of birds, fish, animals – and people – that every time you meet a man of any ethnicity you meet a fascinating and unique member of the race, who in various ways demonstrates the artistry of God. To act in a racist fashion is to ridicule the God of creation for His artistry and judgment. A person who claims to follow the Bible cannot harbor racist convictions without proving himself selective in his approach to scripture, and therefore, forfeiting his status as a faithful follower of the Bible.
The purpose of this article is not to elevate myself as any noteworthy example. Nevertheless, I will note that my first controversy in the SBC was not about the Bible per se but about the fact that I led a black man to Christ one day, thus incurring the wrath of godless men in that state and county. At Bethany Baptist Church in New Orleans, I was the object of constant threat because we ministered to children of all races in the Irish Channel district of the city. The course my mother established and my dad enthusiastically supported is one I continue to press here at Southwestern. From that I will not be deterred, whatever the cost.
A gracious young Native American preacher on our staff does rap as a hobby. He preached a sermon recently in chapel in which he included a section of rap. I thought that it was great, and the students seemed responsive to it. He has since accepted a pastorate; and, as part of his departure, his fellow professors wanted to awaken memories and in so doing to tease him. That is par for the course around here. The president encourages our people to laugh at each other rather than to risk taking ourselves too seriously. But, as all members of the preaching faculty have acknowledged, this was a mistake, and one for which we deeply apologize. Sometimes, Anglo Americans do not recognize the degree that racism has crept into our lives. Such incidents are tragic but helpful to me in refocusing on the attempt to flush from my own system any remaining nuances of the racist past of our own country. Just as important, my own sensitivity to the corporate and individual hurts of a people group abused by generations of oppressors needs to be constantly challenged.
Southwestern cannot make a moment of bad judgment disappear. But we can and will redouble our efforts to put an end to any form of racism on this campus and to return to a focus that is our priority – namely, getting the gospel to every man and woman on the earth. God has been kind to us and blessed this effort. In an effort to be humorous, we made a mistake and communicated something that was completely foreign to anything that any of us felt in our hearts. To say that we are sorry will not be sufficient for many. We understand. To each of those and to everyone, we extend an invitation to visit this campus unannounced and at a time of your choosing and witness the love of Christ extended to all indiscriminately and to the best of our ability to every individual who sets foot on the campus. Thank you for praying for us and especially praying that our Lord through His Spirit will perfect our hearts in every way to reflect the heart of the Master.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/27/2017 10:08:57 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

SEBTS reports gains in minority enrollment

April 27 2017 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) hosted the biannual meetings of the board of trustees and Southeastern Society April 16-18 at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.

Contributed photo
Trustees of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary conduct business during their April 16-18 meeting at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.

President Danny Akin, reviewing key accomplishments at the seminary, noted to the trustees and Southeastern Society donor supporters that enrollment has increased to 3,580 students. Minority enrollment has grown from 10 percent to 16 percent in the past five years, Akin said, with the Hispanic student population having tripled and African American population doubled.
Southeastern also has more than 200 students now serving overseas, Akin reported.
During their business sessions, trustees:
– approved an overall budget increase of 3.15 percent, from $26.5 million to $27.3 million for 2017-2018.
– elected two faculty members: Chip Hardy as assistant professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages and John Burkett as assistant professor of rhetoric and composition.
– promoted Greg Welty to professor of philosophy and Ken Coley to senior professor of Christian education.
– approved the creation of the Katy Hardy Memorial Scholarship Fund honoring the life of Chip Hardy’s wife who recently passed away from cancer.
– approved several curriculum revisions and course creations for both SEBTS and The College at Southeastern.
– heard a report on a proposed capital campaign with an anticipated launch in the 2018 fiscal year.
Trustees re-elected their officers for the coming year: chairman Marty Jacumin, vice chairman Jeremy Freeman, treasurer Charles Cranford and secretary Becky Gardner.
Also during the week, the seminary announced it will restructure three of its leadership positions beginning June 1 in order to strengthen its spiritual formation and emphasis on prayer.
Chuck Lawless will be named vice president for spiritual formation and ministry centers as well as dean of doctoral studies. Lawless previously oversaw both master’s- and doctoral-level academic programs. With this new role he will implement a focus of prayer and spiritual formation for equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. Lawless, who has taught at SEBTS since 2013, also serves as professor of evangelism and missions.
Keith Whitfield will assume the role of dean of graduate studies for masters-level programs, along with continuing in his current position as vice president for academic administration. Whitfield, who has taught at seminary since 2012, also serves as assistant professor of theology.
John Ewart will now oversee the seminary’s three ministry centers – the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies, the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture and the Southeastern Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching. Ewart, has taught at SEBTS since 2007, also serves as associate professor of missions and pastoral leadership and associate vice president of global theological initiatives.
Akin described both Lawless and Whitfield as “capable and proven leaders, and I have complete confidence in them as they lead our graduate and advanced degree programs,” Akin said. “Likewise, I am thrilled that John Ewart will be leading our ministry centers in overall vision and implementation.”
It is “vitally important for our future health that we emphasize spiritual formation and prayer in a greater way,” Akin said. “I delight in the fact that we are known as a Great Commission seminary. By God’s grace may we also become known as a praying seminary.”

Southeastern Society

Southeastern Society (SES) members heard from Jim Shaddix, professor of preaching at the seminary, who spoke on 1 Peter 1:3-5. During difficult times, followers of Jesus hold on to the hope found in the gospel of Christ, Shaddix said, noting, “Hope in the Bible is a certainty. It’s a done deal.”
Faculty and staff of SEBTS led discussion forums for the society, including Tony Merida, associate professor of preaching at the seminary and pastor of preaching and vision at Imago Dei in Raleigh, and Matt Foshee, SEBTS admissions campus host. Merida spoke on the value of the Great Commission and Foshee explained his future long-term ministry in Ogden, Utah, beginning this August.
“[Finding] the location has all been Matt and his team,” Merida said, “but we’re behind it and we’re excited about it.”
Greg Mathias, assistant professor of global studies, and Clint Barefoot, a 2+ student who served in South Asia, also led a discussion forum regarding church planting among the unreached.
“The message [of the gospel] will be the same, but the look will be different,” Mathias said.
Speaking in chapel, J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, encouraged trustees and SES members, students and faculty to have a healthy fear of God’s power and goodness in the midst of life’s storms as he preached through Mark 4. “True worship,” Greear said, “is mixed with intimacy.”
Southeastern Society members give at least $1,000 to SEBTS each year and partner with the seminary to help train students in living out the Great Commission wherever they go. For more information about SES, go to sebts.edu/ses.
The next trustee and SES meetings will be Oct. 15-17.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lauren Pratt is Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s news and information specialist.)

4/27/2017 10:05:05 AM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments

2017 SBC annual meeting program released

April 27 2017 by BP staff

The program for the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting has been released. The meeting will convene at the Phoenix Convention Center Tuesday, June 13, at 8:15 a.m. and conclude Wednesday, June 14, at 4:55 p.m.
A full schedule follows.


8:15 – Opening worship – Mark Blair, Convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
8:25 – Welcome and call to order – Steve Gaines, SBC president; senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
Announcement of Committee on Committees, Credentials Committee, Tellers and Resolutions Committee
8:30 – Scripture and prayer – Grant Gaines, senior pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn.
8:35 – Registration report and Constitution of Convention – Jim Wells, SBC registration secretary, Crossway Baptist Church, Springfield, Mo.
8:38 – Committee on Order of Business report (First) – Rod D. Martin, chairman; founder and CEO, The Martin Organization, Destin, Fla.
8:43 – Appreciation of Phoenix volunteers – Steve Gaines
8:45 – Welcome to Phoenix – Noe Garcia, pastor, North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz.
8:50 – Honoring America and recognition of veterans
The Pledge of Allegiance
The National Anthem: “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Worship – Mark Blair
9:10 – GuideStone Financial Resources report – O. S. Hawkins, president and CEO, GuideStone Financial Resources, Dallas, Texas
9:22 – Introduction of new motions (First) – Steve Gaines
9:37 – Crossover report – Joel Southerland, executive director of evangelism, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.; Eddy Pearson, evangelism/discipleship facilitator, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, Scottsdale, Ariz.
9:42 – Executive Committee report (Part 1) – Frank S. Page, president and CEO, SBC Executive Committee, Nashville, Tenn.
10:12 – Introduction of past presidents – Steve Gaines
10:17 – Introduction of the president and family – O. S. Hawkins
10:22 – Prayer for the president – Donna Gaines, author, speaker, and wife of SBC President, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
10:27 – Worship – Mark Blair
10:35 – President’s address – Steve Gaines
11:45 – Closing prayer – David Jett, pastor, Crossgates Baptist Church, Brandon, Miss.


1:15 – Opening Worship – Mark Blair, convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
1:25 – Scripture and prayer – Russ Quinn, pastor, Enon Baptist Church, Morris, Ala.
1:30 – Message from God’s Word – Johnny Hunt, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.
1:45 – Election of Officers (First)
1:50 – Committee on Committees Report – Randy C. Davis, chairman; president and executive director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, Brentwood, Tenn.
2:00 – Committee on Nominations report – Jim Richards, chairman; executive director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Grapevine, Texas
2:10 – Election of officers (Second)
2:15 – Executive Committee report (Part 2) – Frank S. Page, president and CEO, SBC Executive Committee, Nashville, Tenn.
3:15 – Election of officers (Third)
3:20 – Committee on Order of Business report (Second) – Rod D. Martin, chairman; founder and CEO, The Martin Organization, Destin, Fla.
3:30 – Election of officers (Fourth)
3:35 – Introduction of new motions (Last Opportunity)
3:50 – Election of officers (Fifth)
3:55 – Committee on Resolutions report – Barrett Duke, chairman; executive director, Montana Southern Baptist Convention, Billings, Mont.
4:25 – North American Mission Board presentation – Kevin Ezell, president, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.
5:00 – Closing prayer – Chuck Herring, pastor, First Baptist Church, Collierville, Tenn.


6:30 – Committee on Order of Business report (Third) – Rod D. Martin, chairman; founder and CEO, The Martin Organization, Destin, Fla.
Election of 2018 convention preacher, alternate preacher and music director
6:45 – Worship – Mark Blair, convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
7:00 – Celebration service – Greg Laurie, pastor, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, Calif.
8:30 – International Mission Board presentation – David Platt, president, International Mission Board, Richmond, Va.
9:15 – Closing prayer – Bill Street, minister of evangelism and discipleship, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.


8:15 – Opening worship – Mark Blair, convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
8:25 – Scripture and prayer – Gentry Hill, pastor, First Baptist Church, Poteau, Okla.
8:30 – Committee on Order of Business report (Fourth) – Rod D. Martin, chairman; founder and CEO, The Martin Organization, Destin, Fla.
8:45 – Previously scheduled business – Steve Gaines, SBC president; senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
9:00 – Woman’s Missionary Union report – Sandra Wisdom-Martin, executive director/treasurer, Woman’s Missionary Union, Birmingham, Ala.
9:12 – North American Mission Board report – Kevin Ezell, president, North American Mission Board, Alpharetta, Ga.
9:24 – International Mission Board report – David Platt, president, International Mission Board, Richmond, Va.
9:36 – Worship – Mark Blair
9:45 – Convention sermon – Roger Spradlin, pastor, Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif.
10:25 – Prayer of response – Ronnie Parrott, pastor, Christ Community Church, Huntersville, N.C.
10:30 – Joint Seminary presentation and reports – Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; Jason K. Allen, president, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.; Jeff Iorg, president, Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ontario, Calif.; Charles S. Kelley Jr., president, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, La.; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
11:45 – Closing prayer – Jordan Easley, pastor, Englewood Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn.


2:30 – Opening worship – Mark Blair, convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
2:40 – Scripture and prayer – Ryan Wingo, worship pastor, Apex Baptist Church, Apex, N.C.
2:45 – Previously scheduled business – Steve Gaines, SBC president; senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.
2:55 – Message from God’s Word – H. B. Charles Jr., pastor, Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.
3:10 – Presentation of Officers – Frank S. Page, president and CEO, SBC Executive Committee, Nashville, Tenn.
3:20 – LifeWay Christian Resources report – Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO, LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, Tenn.
3:32 – LifeWay Christian Resources presentation – Thom S. Rainer
3:47 – President’s panel on stewardship
4:25 – The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Report – Russell D. Moore, president, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Nashville, Tenn.
4:37 – The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Presentation – Russell D. Moore
4:52 – Closing words and Phoenix hand-off to Dallas – Steve Gaines
4:55 – Closing prayer – Charles Fowler, pastor, Germantown Baptist Church, Germantown, Tenn.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.)

4/27/2017 10:03:58 AM by BP staff | with 0 comments

Revamping constitution tops Korean fellowship agenda

April 27 2017 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

Discussion on major changes to the constitution and bylaws of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America will be among top agenda items during the fellowship’s annual meeting, Executive Director Chongoh Aum said.
The Korean Council’s annual meeting is set for June 12-14 at the Arizona Grand Resort Hotel in Phoenix. The gathering will be in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting, which meets June 13-14 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
“We [Koreans] are going to attend the SBC [annual meeting] Tuesday afternoon,” Aum said. “We must attend. It’s a symbol we are one denomination.”
At least 800 Koreans are expected to participate in their fellowship’s three-day annual gathering.
The last time the SBC annual meeting was in Phoenix, in 2011, the Korean Council met for its annual meeting in Carrollton, Texas, because of logistical concerns related to providing meals for attendees. Of the more than 800 Korean churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Arizona has just 11 of them. In Washington state, where the 2016 fellowship gathering took place, there are 50 Korean Southern Baptist churches.
But as the result of a vote at the Korean Council’s 2015 annual meeting, starting this year the fellowship’s annual meeting is to take place in the same city at the same time as the SBC annual meeting, regardless of the number of local Korean churches, in order to foster relationships with non-Korean Southern Baptists.
“We can do it,” said Arizona pastor Johnathan Jung in responding to a question from the podium last year. “We can do it,” the pastor of the Glory of the Lord Baptist Church in Chandler, Ariz., repeated, nodding his head.
The Korean Council’s annual meeting – which includes separate children’s and teen’s gatherings each day – is to start with dinner at 5 p.m. Monday, June 12, followed at 7 p.m. with a worship service. The evangelistic theme for the gathering is “Awake the brothers, Send to all the nations!” The scripture is Matthew 28:19-20.
Business sessions are set for Tuesday morning, Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon. In addition to discussion on the constitution and bylaw changes, a panel discussion with English-speaking and Korean-speaking leaders is planned. Attendees will also hear reports on home and foreign missions activities as well as education and finance. New officers also will be elected.
The elections will include a new executive director. Aum is retiring after completing two four-year terms.
“I finish my job as executive director so I am going to the next step,” Aum said. “I am waiting for God’s guidance. Maybe I am going abroad as a missionary.” One possibility is Guatemala, the executive director said. He plans to visit there in July.
During his two terms, the number of Korean Southern Baptist churches has increased, as has the number of Koreans called to the mission field, Aum said. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment is the unity he sees today in the Korean Council. Ten years ago the council appeared to be in danger of splitting into two as a result of diverging Korean-speaking and English-speaking churches.
The problem has grown from the 1990s in Korean churches, Ray Park, pastor of Journey of Faith Church in Irving, Texas, explained to Baptist Press during the Korean Council’s annual meeting last year in Tacoma, Wash. Both English-language and Korean-language churches need help from each other but, because of language, cultural and generational issues, these congregations haven’t been able to work well together, Park said.
The 2016 Korean Council’s annual meeting featured a panel discussion on the differences and similarities between Korean-language and English-language churches. A similar panel is to be convened this year, Aum said, to continue building unity.
While informative, the panel discussion is not expected to generate as much discussion as will the changes to the Korean Council’s constitution and bylaws, which were developed by the fellowship’s Executive Committee, Aum said.
In the past, the executive director was hired for one four-year term, and could be re-elected to no more than a second four-year term. The revised official documents will allow the executive director to be re-elected every four years until he retires.
In addition, in the past, “the executive director is servant and support to the Executive Committee,” Aum said. With the revised constitution and bylaws, the executive director will become the chairman of the Executive Committee.
“Now the new executive director will have more authority and power,” Aum explained. “This is much better way to more effectively support Korean churches, pastors and missionaries.”   
Guest speakers for the 2017 annual meeting of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America are to include Hee Mook Ahm, pastor of Gongjoo Baptist Church in Gongjoo, South Korea, and Hee Tae Kim, pastor of Kyungjoo Baptist Church in Kyungjoo, South Korea. Aum will bring his executive director’s report, and president James Bahn, pastor of Indianapolis Korean Baptist Church, will bring the president’s message.
“We will be together for fellowship and to hear reports,” Aum said. “We will be refreshed and renewed for what God has for us to do to bring Him glory.”
Other events related to the SBC annual meeting of particular interest to Koreans are the Korean-American English-Speaking Pastor’s Conference, set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, in Room North 230 of the Phoenix Convention Center; and the Asian American Fellowship dinner and meeting, set for 7 p.m. Sunday, June 11, in Room North 132B/C of the Phoenix Convention Center.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

4/27/2017 10:02:40 AM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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