April 2018

USCIRF: Persecution grows despite elevated awareness

April 27 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

While egregious acts of religious persecution are more likely to cause global protest 20 years after the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, many countries are increasingly denying such freedoms, a federal watchdog commission reported April 25.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) noted the dichotomy in releasing its 2018 Annual Report on 2017 religious freedom violations in 28 countries.
 
“Sadly, religious freedom conditions deteriorated in many countries in 2017, often due to increasing authoritarianism or under the guise of countering terrorism,” USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark said in releasing the report.
 
“Yet there is also reason for optimism 20 years after the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act,” Mark said. “The importance of this foundational right is appreciated more now than ever, and egregious violations are less likely to go unnoticed.”
 
October will mark the 20th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) which has never been fully implemented, USCIRF said, but was strengthened in 2016 by the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (Frank Wolf Act) to address implementation concerns. USCIRF’s report encouraged the Trump administration to fully implement IRFA and related laws to speed and protect international religious freedom.
 
“In its second year, the Trump Administration should build on stated commitments to elevate religious freedom as a priority in our foreign policy and national security strategy by vigorously implementing IRFA, the Frank Wolf Act, and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act [of 2016] to pressure egregious violators,” Mark said. “USCIRF also urges the administration to prioritize seeking the release of religious prisoners of conscience abroad, and to work closely with international partners in efforts to promote freedom of religion or belief for all.”
 
USCIRF annually recommends countries of particular concern (CPCs), or Tier 1 countries, based on “systemic, ongoing, egregious” violations, as well as a Tier 2 “watch list” of countries that meet one or two of the criteria for CPCs. Since the Frank Wolf Act, Congress also has recommended entities of particular concern, EPCs, for non-state violators such as terrorist groups.
 
Genocide, killings, slavery, rape, imprisonment, forced displacement and forced conversions were among the most severe abuses reported in addition to childhood religious education bans, female marginalization, intimidation, harassment and property destruction.
 
“In addition to endangering individuals and communities, severe violations of religious freedom threaten the stability and security of nations and regions,” USCIRF said. “The freedom to follow one’s conscience in matters of religion or belief is essential to human dignity and human flourishing.”
 
The list of CPCs recommendations in 2018 are the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Syria and Vietnam, in addition to 10 countries the U.S. Congress so designated in December 2017: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
 
USCIRF recommends 12 countries for a U.S. 2018 watch list: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.
 
The Islamic State (also known as IS) in Iraq and Syria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Shabaab in Somalia are listed as EPCs.
 
Acts of persecution noted in the USCIRF report include the unjust imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey; a genocidal campaign waged by IS against Christians, Yazidis and Shi’a Muslims in Iraq and Syria; in Nigeria, the government’s failure to prevent or punish religion-based violence involving Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen; in Pakistan, blasphemy laws and increased extremist activity against minority religious communities including Christians and others; and in Russia, banning Jehovah’s Witnesses and accusing peaceful religious groups of extremism.
 
The full report is accessible at uscirf.gov/reports-briefs/annual-report/2018-annual-report.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

4/27/2018 11:35:51 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Celebrated N.C. Baptist, Bordeaux, dead at 64

April 26 2018 by Biblical Recorder staff

C.J. Bordeaux, Sr, 64, died April 25 at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, N.C. from complications related to an infection. He was director of missions for the Pee Dee Baptist Association in Rockingham.

C.J. Bordeaux


He served as the N.C Pastors’ Conference secretary-treasurer for four years, and later as president. His involvement in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) included service on the Committee on Committees and the Giving Plan Study Committee. Bordeaux completed two terms as BSC’s second vice president, two terms as first vice president and one term as president. He also served eight years on the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, including two years as secretary.
 
Born in Whiteville, N.C., Bordeaux followed the calling of his father, Garland, who pastored small churches for 55 years prior to his death in 2007.
 
Bordeaux preached his first sermon at the age of 12 in a youth revival service at White Lake Baptist Church in Elizabethtown where his dad served as pastor.
 
In an interview after his election as BSC president in 2013, Bordeaux told the Biblical Recorder, “On Friday, December 31, 1976, I announced my call to preach at a watch night service. A day-and-a-half later on Sunday, January 2, I preached at Emmaus Baptist Church in Pittsboro, and I’ve been busy preaching ever sense.”
 
He held degrees from Campbell University and Bethany Theological Seminary.
 
Churches where Bordeaux served include White Lake Baptist Church, Bear Creek Baptist Church, Maysville Baptist Church, Antioch Baptist Church in Lumberton, West Monroe Baptist Church, Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville and Gorman Baptist Church in Durham.

Milton A. Hollifield, Jr, executive director-treasurer of the BSC said, “I will always cherish the working relationship and the friendship I enjoyed in spending time with C.J. Bordeaux. He was a preacher of God's inerrant Word who loved his Savior, his family and his country. He understood and appreciated the value of partnerships between churches, associations, state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention in fulfilling the Great Commission.”


Lester Evans, team leader for BSC associational partnerships, said Bordeaux “demonstrated a deep love” for churches and pastors.
 
“That love for pastors began to motivate and drive him toward service as an associational missionary,” Evans said. “Later, he was so excited about being called to the Pee Dee Association in that role.”
 
After his election as president of the BSC, Bordeaux said, “I’ll go speak in any church of any size if they invite me, but I really want to talk to small church pastors who feel like they don’t have a voice and help them be encouraged to impact the lostness of their community.”
 
The family will receive friends on Saturday, April 28, from 5:30-8:30 pm at Antioch Baptist Church, 5089 Old Whiteville Road, Lumberton.

​The funeral service is Sunday, April 29, at 3:00 pm at Antioch Baptist Church with Rev. Dennis Harrell, Rev. Bill Monroe, Rev. Ronnie McLean, Rev. Mark Meadows and Jackson Bordeaux officiating. Burial will follow at Floyd Memory Gardens.
 

4/26/2018 11:16:26 AM by Biblical Recorder staff | with 0 comments



Q&A: Hemphill responds to Baptist editors’ questions

April 26 2018 by Baptist Press staff

University administrator and former seminary president Ken Hemphill, one of two candidates to be nominated for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president in June, responded to six questions from Baptist Press (BP) and Baptist state editors.

Ken Hemphill


A coalition of Southern Baptists announced the nomination Feb. 1 via a Baptist state paper.
 
Hemphill was president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1994-2003 and national strategist from 2003-11 for the SBC’s Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis, an initiative launched in 2002 calling Southern Baptists to renewed passion for God’s Kingdom. Hemphill now serves as special assistant to the president for denominational relations at North Greenville University. Hemphill has also pastored churches in Kentucky and Virginia and led the Home Mission Board’s (now the North American Mission Board) Southern Baptist Center for Church Growth in the early 1990s.
 
See related report.
 
The new SBC president will succeed Memphis-area pastor Steve Gaines, who was elected to the first of two one-year presidential terms in 2016.
 
A separate question-and-answer session with the other candidate – J.D. Greear – also appears today. BP requested each candidate to respond within 150 words to questions submitted by Baptist state editors and BP.
 
See Ken Hemphill’s answers to questions below.
 
Q: What are some specific ways you would like to help bridge possible theological and generational differences in the SBC that Southern Baptists have expressed concerns about in recent years?
 
A: In order to bridge any “potential” barriers to fellowship and mutual cooperation, we must restore trust and civility in our conversations about each other. Social media gives everyone instant access to unfettered means of sharing opinions on everything.
 
The internet is an effective tool of communications, but it must be self-monitored by biblical standards such as “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and avoiding unwholesome words and speaking for edification (Ephesians 4:29).
 
Second, we must provide opportunities for listening and discussing theological, racial or generational differences. Local associations and state conventions can play a vital role in bringing together diverse groups of people for fellowship, respectful discussion and prayer. We must avoid labeling faithful Southern Baptists.
 
Third, our structure at every level of our convention must reflect and celebrate our racial and generational diversity while maintaining our core spiritual and theological convictions.
 
Q: Please describe why you believe support for the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is vital to Southern Baptists’ mission and vision.
 
A: This is a key issue that motivated me to become a candidate.
 
First, establishing the budget requires cooperation at every level of SBC life. It is fine-tuned by the Executive Committee and approved by messengers at the annual convention. A church’s non-restricted gift through the Cooperative Program (CP) should be the norm for the sake of budgeting and planning.
 
Second, cooperative giving is a biblical approach to funding missions by churches who work together for kingdom-sized goals. As a funding mechanism for supporting missions, it has absolutely no peer in Christian history.
 
Third, CP giving and our mission offerings allow every church of every size to be an equal partner in the ministries of the state and national convention. Percentage giving is not measured by the size of the gift but the size of the sacrifice. We must celebrate percentage giving rather than actual dollars given by a particular church.
 
Q: What are some lessons Southern Baptist churches in the South can learn – and possibly apply to their ministries – from congregations outside of that region in more pioneer or unreached areas of the country?
 
A: I have been privileged to speak in many new-work areas and have learned far more than I have ever imparted.
 
First, we can learn the importance of working together on those things that facilitate gospel encounters. In this same vein, they teach us how to build relationships and share the story of Jesus with persons with little exposure to the gospel or Southern Baptists. Also, we can learn from them how to do much with so little. Few of these churches have full-time or multiple staff members and many of our smaller state conventions no longer have the equipping resources they once had, therefore they teach us to rely upon the Lord and to work with others. Because they understand the crucial nature of working together, these new-work churches are often very generous in their cooperative giving. They teach us percentage giving has greater value than flat-lined dollar amounts.
 
Q: What would you suggest should be changed across the convention within the next two to three years to ensure growth?
 
A: Let’s be clear! The Lord builds His church (Matthew 16:18). He uses human instruments and expects all of us to engage in the singular mandate of the Great Commission – to make disciples. This requires going (evangelizing), baptizing (congregationalizing) and teaching (disciple-making). History shows that when our convention loses its laser-like focus on the Great Commission, we lose ground.
 
We must regain our kingdom focus. We are called to be a royal priesthood (Exodus 19:4-6), representing the King and advancing His kingdom to all peoples before His triumphal return. Our goal is far larger than growing our church or even our convention. We must regain the high ground of being a people on mission with God. That means that some of our personal preferences must be put aside as we renew our minds – a kingdom mindset through churches, associations, state conventions and SBC missions and ministries. We need to revitalize the role of state convention evangelism director, invest more in campus ministries, utilize gifted evangelists and restore a passion for soul-winning.
 
Q: What are some ways relationships between SBC entities can be improved or strengthened?
 
A: There is a “hermeneutic of suspicion” in our culture today and it impacts the Christian community and our ability to cooperate. We must repent of critical attitudes and rhetoric that damage our ability to work together for the Kingdom. We must learn again to operate based on the principle of love which chooses to believe the best and refuses to judge motives.
 
When you have a valid criticism, express it with kindness with a view to finding helpful solutions. We must restore “trust,” because cooperation is impossible without trust. Trust and mutual care can only happen when we sit down together, discuss issues, pray and work for a solution. We must relearn the art of “pulling for each other.” We need to work to establish situations that produce “win/win” outcomes. As scripture indicates, when one member suffers, we all suffer together and when one succeeds we all succeed. SBC entities must be transparent and responsive to its constituents.
 
Q: In the wake of the #Metoo movement and numerous sex-related scandals that have impacted our nation, including Southern Baptist churches and leaders, what are some ways congregations can better respond to these issues and minister to those affected?
A: We must first teach biblical holiness as a positive alternative to the world’s obsession with sexual permissiveness. We must provide biblical teaching that the body belongs to the Lord and is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
 
We must train church leaders concerning the importance of safety and security. Such measures include adopting strong policies, properly reporting and taking seriously the claims of those indicating abuse. Churches should create accountability groups where a mentor or a mature friend has permission to ask the hard questions about what we are listening to, reading and watching.
 
The sexual abuse of women and children should never be tolerated or left unpunished. When church leaders/members are guilty, action needs to be swift and decisive. If someone experiences moral failure, the church must respond with biblical discipline that has as its ultimate goal the restoration to fellowship of the repentant offender (2 Corinthians 2:7-8).
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Shawn Hendricks, editor of Baptist Press. With reporting by David Roach, chief national correspondent.)
 

4/26/2018 11:09:29 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Q&A: Greear responds to Baptist editors’ questions

April 26 2018 by Baptist Press staff

North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, one of two candidates to be nominated for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president in June, responded to six questions from Baptist Press (BP) and Baptist state editors.

J.D. Greear


Florida pastor Ken Whitten announced Greear’s nomination for SBC president Jan. 29.
 
During the 16 years Greear has pastored The Summit, worship attendance has grown from 610 in 2002 to just under 10,000, according to statistics available through the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Total baptisms increased from 19 in 2002 to 631 in 2017 at the church’s nine campuses. The Summit has planted 248 churches to date, including 208 outside the U.S., with a goal of starting 1,000 churches in 50 years, according to North Carolina’s Biblical Recorder news journal.
 
See related report.
 
The new SBC president will succeed Memphis-area pastor Steve Gaines, who was elected to the first of two one-year presidential terms in 2016.
 
A separate question-and-answer session with the other candidate – Ken Hemphill – also appears today. BP requested each candidate to respond within 150 words to questions submitted by Baptist state editors and BP.
 
See J.D. Greear’s answers below.
 
Q: What are some specific ways you would like to help bridge possible theological and generational differences in the SBC that Southern Baptists have expressed concerns about in recent years?
 
A: The basis of our unity in the SBC has always been the gospel and beyond that, the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM). It’s what the messengers have seen fit, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to establish as the parameters of our cooperation.
 
Every word taught in scripture is important, but we have set the BFM 2000 as the basis of our unity and I believe that should be our guide. Whenever we let secondary or tertiary doctrines, cultural customs, or worship preferences distract or divide us, the devil wins and evangelism loses.
 
Q: Please describe why you believe support for the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is vital to Southern Baptists’ mission and vision.
 
A: Cooperation between churches for the sake of mission is why the convention exists, and that cooperation has enabled Southern Baptists to produce more church planters, more missionaries and more seminary graduates than any other group in America. Cooperative giving through the Cooperative Program (CP), Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon Offerings is a powerful and proven method for supporting Great Commission work.
 
As a former International Mission Board missionary and a two-time seminary graduate, I have been the beneficiary of the CP in multiple ways. In recent years our church has increasingly gotten involved in giving, and we only plan for that to continue. We want to call a new generation of Southern Baptist churches, similarly, to rise up and engage in cooperative mission and giving.
 
Institutions like the CP and the entities they support enable our mission efforts to have staying power, and they should be important to all Southern Baptists.
 
Q: What are some lessons Southern Baptist churches in the South can learn – and possibly apply to their ministries – from congregations outside of that region in more pioneer or unreached areas of the country?
 
A: Baptisms are down in the SBC, especially in the Southeast, where the population is growing the fastest! The answer isn’t to be found in circling the wagons. It’s to remember that God founded every church with sending in mind.
 
Many churches in the SBC have devolved from mission outposts to maintenance facilities, and as such they have lost the presence and power of Jesus. Jesus said, “If any serves me, where I am, there he will be also” (paraphrase of John 12:26). Jesus is seeking and saving the lost. Churches in frontier regions naturally live there; all churches should return to that.
 
This is also where the distinction between smaller and larger churches becomes insignificant. Smaller churches often reach people in frontier areas more effectively than big ones. Most of the churches in the New Testament, for instance, were smaller, but the impact they made for the Great Commission was nothing short of miraculous.
 
Q: What would you suggest should be changed across the convention within the next two to three years to ensure growth?
 
A: We need (1) to focus again on the priority of the gospel as the basis of our unity and evangelism as our mission; (2) to make way for ethnic leaders to lead us in reaching a changing demographic; (3) to make it easy for churches to get involved in church planting, here and abroad; (4) to mobilize a generation of college students to live on mission, and (5) to increase involvement in the CP. We can increase CP involvement in three ways. First, call for churches to give more to the CP. (Obvious, but bears repeating.) Second, celebrate state conventions getting money to the field. (Southern Baptists have many desires in their giving, but I believe this is dearest to their hearts.) Third, encourage all forms of Great Commission giving. We do not, of course, want to foster a societal approach, but we need to allow churches freedom in engaging.
 
Q: What are some ways relationships between SBC entities can be improved or strengthened?
 
A: All backbiting and cynicism has to stop. We are one people with a gospel too great and a mission too urgent to focus on petty differences or territorialism between ourselves. Each entity should look at itself as the servant of the others, and most of all of as servant of the mission. Practically, this means we give each other the benefit of the doubt, assume the best in one another and extend grace just as Christ did with us.
 
Trustee boards should allow appointed leaders the freedom to lead, but those leaders should lead transparently and in submission to the oversight of those boards. Our trustee boards are there to offer counsel, to manage crises, and at times, to put on the brakes or re-direct the focus. In other words, boards should hold the entity heads accountable, but let them lead the charge in mission.
 
Q: In the wake of the #Metoo movement and numerous sex-related scandals that have impacted our nation, including Southern Baptist churches and leaders, what are some ways congregations can better respond to these issues and minister to those affected?
 
A: First, we must understand that some actions are not only immoral, but also illegal. In such cases, rebuking the immorality is not enough; we need to involve law enforcement. Our government structures, Paul says, are appointed by God to keep the peace and we should submit to them.
 
Second, we need to become as skilled in applying the gospel to suffering as we are to sin. We must learn to listen, to seek counsel and to fight to protect the vulnerable in our flocks.
 
Third, we should mention the experience of abuse in our teaching. When we don’t mention experiences like sexual abuse, we indirectly communicate, “the gospel doesn’t apply here.”
 
Fourth, we must insist on the highest standards of transparency and accountability. Things that grow in a secret garden always grow mutant! Pastors must be wise in not putting themselves in tempting or compromising situations.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Shawn Hendricks, editor of Baptist Press. With reporting by David Roach, chief national correspondent.)
 

4/26/2018 11:02:02 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



IMB Facebook Live event confronts missions barriers

April 26 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Church size, budget limitations and fear should not prevent local congregations from engaging in global missions, said panelists at a Facebook Live event April 25 hosted by the International Mission Board (IMB).

Screen capture from Facebook
An International Mission Board (IMB) Facebook Live event April 25 on barriers to missions engagement featured, left to right, Richmond, Va.-area pastors Cliff Jordan, Derek Futrell and Pete Hypes and IMB President David Platt.


Pastors “are not just called to tend sheep,” said Cliff Jordan, pastor of Movement Church in Richmond, Va. “We’re called to send them” to the nations. “It’s just part of the job.”
 
The event featured IMB President David Platt interviewing Richmond-area pastors from churches of various sizes about “major barriers to engaging a church in missions.”
 
Jordan said a top barrier to missions involvement for some churches is relegating “missions to activity only” and not regarding it first as part of every Christian’s identity. “Our mission identity has to be the core,” he said. Missions activity should “flow out of that.”
 
Movement, which averages about 240 people in worship, recently sent multiple couples to serve as missionaries in Central Asia through IMB, Platt said.
 
Derek Futrell, pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Moseley, Va., cited as another top barrier to missions “prayerlessness and a lack of awareness” about lostness in the world.
 
Parkway “didn’t really see God begin to do work in us until we began to pray specifically and intentionally: ‘God, You use us in the part of the world You want us,’” Futrell said. “Through that prayer, God began to bring us significant partnerships – not just with missionaries but with peoples and having a heart for specific people groups.”
 
Parkway, with an average worship attendance of about 500, has done mission work in the Philippines, Peru, South Asia and Romania.
 
Pete Hypes, pastor of Mission Community Church in Chester, Va., said the congregation’s modest worship attendance of 50-60 “could have held me back” from missions involvement. However, the church serves regularly among a people group in South Africa.
 
“I don’t think about the size of our church,” Hypes said. “I think about God, and I think about what God is able to do with us.”
 
Platt echoed the encouragement for small churches to play an active role in international missions.
 
“May you not underestimate what God will do in and through your church,” Platt said, noting Hypes not only leads members of Mission Community to do overseas evangelism but also mobilizes other churches in Virginia for missions.
 
Fear is another barrier to missions, panelists said. Pastors may fear the congregation won’t follow their lead if they jump into world evangelization. Some people may fear for their safety on mission trips, and others may fear people of different cultural and ethnic groups.
 
“Shepherding people on missions,” Platt said, “just uncovers all kinds of discipleship issues in the heart that wouldn’t be uncovered if we weren’t shepherding people on global mission.”
 
Taking a step of faith and going on a mission trip, Futrell said, can help believers overcome their fears.
 
Platt said “barriers in pastors’ own hearts to leading on missions” are “oftentimes overcome by being overseas. If you’re not overseas, if you’re not in some of these contexts among unreached people or amidst massive, urgent physical and spiritual need in the world, it’s going to show in your preaching and pastoral ministry.”
 
When a church’s budget seems to leave little room for missions, Futrell said, the members should prioritize their spending, pray and increase missions expenditures gradually.
 
Hypes said “the costs are so minimal” compared to “the blessing” that results from reaching unreached men and women globally.
 
Meanwhile, Platt hosted a “Secret Church” gathering in Hendersonville, Tenn., April 20. Secret Church is an annual event put on by Platt’s personal ministry, Radical. The event mimics the format in which persecuted believers in other parts of the world gather to pray and receive Bible teaching.
 
This year’s event ran from 5:30 p.m. to midnight and focused on “cults and counterfeit gospels,” according to Radical’s website. Some 1,800 attended the live event at Long Hollow Baptist Church, Radical told Baptist Press, with more than 53,000 others joining via simulcast.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

4/26/2018 10:56:50 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Nominees announced for SBC boards

April 26 2018 by Baptist Press staff

Nominees to serve on the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee, the four denominational boards – International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources and GuideStone Financial Resources – the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the six seminaries and the Committee on Order of Business have been selected by the 2018 SBC Committee on Nominations.
 
Nominees will serve if elected by the messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, June 12-13 in Dallas.
 

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (86 members): 24 nominations considered: 10 new members; 14 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 replacing members ineligible for re-election include Phyllis S. Ingram, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala., replacing D. Wayne Myrick, Hoover, Ala.; Neal Hughes, director of missions and member of Heritage Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala., replacing R. Ron Madison, Huntsville, Ala.; John A. Lucas, pastor, First Baptist Church, Pikeville, Ky., replacing Robert D. (Dan) Summerlin, Paducah, Ky.; Daniel L. (Dan) Lanier, pastor, Northcrest Baptist Church, Meridian, Miss., replacing David E. Hamilton, Pontotoc, Miss.; James D. (Jim) Green, layperson and member of Sagemont Baptist Church, Houston, Texas, replacing Becky S. Illingworth, Royse City, Texas.
 
Also nominated for terms to expire in 2022 are David Becker, pastor, First Baptist Church, Delta Junction, Alaska, replacing Charles S. Worthy Sr., Willow, Alaska, who declined to serve a second term; Christopher N. (Chris) Dickerson, dean of online studies and professor at Carolina College of Biblical Studies and member of Arran Lake Baptist Church, Fayetteville, N.C., replacing Terry H. Montgomery, Charlotte, N.C., who declined to serve a second term.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2021 is Chuck T. Williams, pastor, First Baptist Church, Covington, Tenn., replacing James E. (Jim) Collier, Germantown, Tenn., who resigned.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2020 is Alton Fannin, pastor, First Baptist Church, Ardmore, Okla., replacing Shane B. Hall, Del City, Okla., who is deceased.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2019 is Phillip J. Robertson, pastor, Philadelphia Baptist Church, Pineville, La., replacing Aaron Burgner, Shreveport, La., who resigned.
 
Nominated for second terms are Stephen L. Goss, Bentonville, Ark.; Paul E. (Gene) McPherson, Benton, Ark.; Rolland E. Slade, El Cajon, Calif.; Stephen N. Rummage, Brandon, Fla.; Cheryl S. Samples, Woodstock, Ga.; Michael R. (Mike) Stone, Blackshear, Ga.; Todd Stiles, Ankeny, Iowa; Mike Holloway, West Monroe, La.; D. Paul Jones, Billings, Mont.; Robert W. (Bob) Neely, Spartanburg, S.C.; Ron F. Hale, Jackson, Tenn.; Stephen Swofford, Rockwall, Texas; James W. Gregory, Mountain Home, Idaho; Timothy Hight, Christiansburg, Va.
 

GUIDESTONE FINANCIAL RESOURCES (44 trustees): 9 nominations considered: 6 new trustees; 3 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election include Deana F. Hames, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., replacing James N. (Jim) Law, Woodstock, Ga.; Timothy R. (Tim) Huddleston, vice president, Missouri Baptist Foundation and member of First Baptist Church, Clever, Mo., replacing Peter G. (Pete) Livingston, Jefferson City, Mo.; Damian Cirincione, pastor, Shadow Hills Church, Las Vegas, Nev., replacing Michael L. Rochelle, Las Vegas, Nev.; James R. (Jim) Scrivner, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Ada, Okla., replacing Thomas G. (Tom) Evans, Cherokee, Okla.; Gary L. Stooksbury, layperson and member of Millbrook Baptist Church, Aiken, S.C., replacing M. O’Neal Miller Jr., Conway, S.C.; Christopher L. Kelly, layperson and member of Third Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tenn., replacing David B. McMillan, Kingsport, Tenn.
 
Nominated for second terms are David S. Puckett, Birmingham, Ala.; David M. Rainwater, Little Rock, Ark.; Renee A. Trewick, Yonkers, N.Y.
 

INTERNATIONAL MISSION BOARD (77 trustees): 22 nominations considered: 8 new trustees; 14 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election include Joyce A. Chambers, layperson and member of Grace Baptist Church, Monroe, Ga., replacing June M. Coleman, Decatur, Ga.; Chris B. Wall, pastor, First Baptist Church, Owasso, Okla., replacing Andrew D. Finch, Choctaw, Okla.; John B. McCullough, pastor, Berea Baptist Church, Big Spring, Texas, replacing John B. Ross, Longview, Texas.
 
Also nominated for a term to expire in 2022 is Alan M. Brumback, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Sanford, Fla., new member from Fla.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2021 is Douglas O. (Doug) Melton, pastor, Southern Hills Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Okla., replacing Hance Dilbeck, Oklahoma City, Okla., who resigned.
 
Nominated for terms to expire in 2020 are Gary R. (Rick) Hedger, multiplying churches catalyst, Missouri Baptist Convention and member of Freshwater Church, Jefferson City, replacing Spencer F. Plumlee, Osage Beach, Mo., who resigned; Trudy H. Crittendon, layperson and member of Townville Baptist Church, Townville, S.C., replacing Tracy Mackall McAbee, Enoree, S.C., who resigned; Carolina V. Pfeiffer, layperson and member of Southview Baptist Church, Rosharon, Texas, replacing Jaye Martin, Houston, Texas.
 
Nominated for second terms are Cecil M. Sanders Jr., Headland, Ala.; William H. (Bill) Ricketts, Bogart, Ga.; William H. (Opie) Hurst, Tupelo, Miss.; DeeEdrah White, Reno, Nev.; Samuel S. (Sam) Taylor, Boston, Mass.; Barbara Carlson, Ruidosa, N.M.; Michael Cloer, Rocky Mount, N.C.; Lawrence (Larry) Lambes, Carlisle, Ohio; Joseph B. (Jody) Ratcliff, West Columbia, S.C.; Phillip D. Mitchell, Greenfield, Tenn.; James C. (Cliff) Mayton, Spring, Texas; Thom Polvogt, Katy, Texas; Robert M. (Mike) Simmons, Cedar Hill, Texas; Robert Welch Jr., Brownsboro, Texas.
 

NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD (52 trustees): 15 nominations considered: 8 new trustees; 7 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election include Brian E. Nall, director of missions, Pensacola Bay Baptist Association and member of Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla., replacing Stephen E. (Spike) Hogan, Jacksonville, Fla.; Gevan L. Spinney, pastor, First Baptist Church, Haughton, La., replacing Lane R. Moore, Shreveport, La.; Tommy Mitchell, pastor, Agricola Baptist Church, Lucedale, Miss., replacing Rebecca L. Williams, Madison, Miss.; Bill H. Wright, pastor, First Baptist Church, Purvis, Miss., replacing Keith D. Warden, Picayune, Miss.
 
Also nominated for terms to expire in 2022 are William E. (Willy) Rice, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Clearwater, Fla., new member from Florida; Bill L. Coffey, pastor, Pinecrest Baptist Church, Silsbee, Texas, replacing Manuel A. Martinez, Irving, Texas, who declined to serve a second term.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2021 is Joe T. Youngblood, church health group director, South Carolina Baptist Convention and member of Millbrook Baptist Church, Aiken, S.C., replacing B.J. Bateman, Taylors, S.C., who resigned.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2020 is Jonathan W. Jarboe, pastor, Pathway Church, Redlands, Calif., replacing Martin A. (Marty) Hoffman, Oakland, Calif., who resigned.
 
Nominated for second terms are Charles M. (Danny) Wood, Birmingham, Ala.; David Saylor, Manchester, Ct.; Cynthia E. (Cindy) Bush, Raleigh, N.C.; Robert J. (Bob) Lowe, Yelm, Wash.; Denny J. Gorena, Fort Worth, Texas; Zoila Lopez, Forney, Texas; Jarrett L. Stephens, Plano, Texas.
 

LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN RESOURCES (52 trustees): 16 nominations considered: 7 new trustees; 9 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2022 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election include Benjamin D. Posey, pastor, First Baptist Church, Kinston, Ala., replacing N. Bruce Moseley, Mobile, Ala.; M. Dean Register, pastor, Crosspoint Community Church, Hattiesburg, Miss., replacing Gary A. Richardson, Oxford, Miss.; Chad Keck, pastor, First Baptist Church Kettering, Dayton, Ohio, replacing Greg F. Jackson, Camden, Ohio; Cynthia M. Cook, layperson and member of South Main Street Baptist Church, Greenwood, S.C., replacing George E. Goudelock, Hartsville, S.C.; Jacob M. Fitzgerald, pastor, Denman Avenue Baptist Church, Lufkin, Texas, replacing Kennith D. Carter, Lubbock, Texas.
 
Also nominated for a term to expire in 2022 is Curtis D. Clark, pastor, Thomasville Road Baptist Church, Tallahassee, Fla., new member from Florida.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2021 is Randall P. (Randy) Smith, layperson and member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga., replacing Wayne C. Morgan, Covington, Ga., who resigned.
 
Nominated for second terms are James H. (Jimmy) Scroggins, West Palm Beach, Fla.; J.D. Perry, Baton Rouge, La.; Linda K. Dean, Farmington, N.M.; Christopher (Todd) Fannin, Pryor, Okla.; Madeline Harris, Philadelphia, Pa.; Burt D. Landers, Shelbyville, Tenn.; Brad H. McLean, New Braunfels, Texas; Brice D. Mandaville, Sequin, Texas; Roger A. Yancey, Conroe, Texas.
 

ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION (34 trustees): 8 nominations considered: 4 new trustees; 4 renominations.

Nominees with term to expire in 2022 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election include D. Scott Foshie, pastor, Steeleville Baptist Church, Steeleville, Ill., replacing Curtis R. Starner, Streator, Ill.; Christine Hoover, layperson and member of Charlottesville Community Church, Charlottesville, Va., replacing Bernard J. Snowden, Fairfax Station, Va.
 
Also nominated for terms to expire in 2022 are Richard P. (Rich) Bott II, layperson and member of Lenexa Baptist Church, Lenexa, Kan., replacing Dan R. Anderson, Augusta, Kan., who declined to serve a second term; Kevin L. Smith, executive director, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and member of Weems Creek Baptist Church, Annapolis, Md., replacing Kenneth Barbic, Washington, D.C., who resigned.
 
Nominated for second terms are Lynn O. Traylor, Glasgow, Ky.; Billy M. (Mike) Aultman, Sumrall, Miss.; Robert Dean, Bascom, N.Y.; David E. Prince, Lexington, Ky.
 

SOUTHERN SEMINARY (42 trustees): 2 nominations considered: 1 new trustee; 1 renomination.

Nominee with a term to expire in 2023 replacing trustee ineligible for re-election is Bradley M. Rushing, pastor, Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, Dothan, Ala., replacing John C. Thweatt, Pell City, Ala.
 
Nominated for a second term is Phillip A. (Phil) Bray, Macon, Mo.
 

SOUTHWESTERN SEMINARY (40 trustees): 8 nominations considered: 1 new trustee; 7 renominations.

Nominated for a term to expire in 2023 is Don W. Reeves, pastor, Grant Avenue Baptist Church, Corvallis, Ore., replacing Ronny L. Cooksey, McMinnville, Ore. who resigned.
 
Nominated for second terms are Mark S. Mucklow, Glendale, Ariz.; Calvin R. Wittman, Wheat Ridge, Colo.; Herb M. Reavis Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.; David F. Maron, Jackson, Miss.; Michael W. (Mike) Mings, Valliant, Okla.; Thomas H. Pulley, Dallas, Texas; Jamie R. Green, Houston, Texas.
 

NEW ORLEANS SEMINARY (40 trustees): 11 nominations considered: 7 new trustees; 4 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2023 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election are Braden W. Mims, layperson and member of Thomasville Baptist Church, Thomasville, Ala., replacing Donald E. (Don) Setser, Mobile, Ala.; Samuel J. (Sam) Crouch, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Elko, Nev., replacing Rob Boyd, Henderson, Nev.; Steven W. Schenewerk, pastor, Community Baptist Church, Winston, Ore., replacing Steven A. Meek, Spokane Valley, Wash.; Eddie Wren, pastor, First Baptist Church, Rayville, La., replacing David E. Cranford, Ponchatoula, La.; Stephen N. Horn, pastor, First Baptist Church, Lafayette, La., replacing Marsha H. Dyess, Baton Rouge, La.; Waylon Bailey, pastor, First Baptist Church, Covington, La., replacing Thomas F. (Tom) Harrison, Shreveport, La.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2022 is Joshua A. Carter, pastor, Clough Pike Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, replacing George B. Bannister Sr., Niles, Ohio, who resigned.
 
Nominated for second terms are Tony Lambert, Denver, Colo.; John C. Greenbank, Evansville, Ind.; Jackie A. Myers, Sicily Island, La.; Gary W. Fordham, Petal, Miss.
 

SOUTHEASTERN SEMINARY (30 trustees): 5 nominations considered: 1 new trustee; 4 renominations.

Nominee with a term to expire in 2023 replacing trustee ineligible for re-election is Zack W. Little, pastor, South Side Baptist Church, Abbeville, S.C., replacing Daniel G. Godfrey, Chesnee, S.C.
 
Nominated for second terms are Israel Kim, Irvine, Calif.; Joe Forrester, Hoschton, Ga.; Albert E. (Earle) Finley, Raleigh, N.C.; Melinda W. Delahoyde, Raleigh, N.C.
 

MIDWESTERN SEMINARY (35 trustees): 8 nominations considered: 5 new trustees; 3 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2023 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election are Courtney E. (Gene) Dempsey, retired pastor and member of Hope Fellowship Church, Maple Valley, Wash., replacing Dan T. McDonald, Woodstock, Ga.; Michael J. (Mike) Jefferies, layperson and member of Blue Valley Baptist Church, Overland Park, Kan., replacing Sanford W. Peterson, Overland Park, Kan.; Larry L. Lewis, director of missions, Mid Missouri Baptist Association and member of Calvary Baptist Church, Columbia, Mo., replacing Kenneth J. (Ken) Parker, Kearney, Mo.
 
Also nominated for a term to expire in 2023 is Edward J. Mattox, pastor, Forest Park Baptist Church, Farmington Hills, Mich., replacing Wayne H. Parker, Garden City, Mich., who resigned.
 
Nominated with a term to expire in 2019 is William J. (Billy) Van Devender, layperson and member of First Baptist Church, Jackson, Miss., replacing Kima J. Jude, Beavercreek, Ohio, who resigned.
 
Nominated for second terms are C. Rex Smith, Paducah, Ky.; M. Lee Roberson, Hobbs, N.M.; Frankie J. Melton Jr., Heath Springs, S.C.
 

GATEWAY SEMINARY (39 trustees): 12 nominations considered: 10 new trustees; 2 renominations.

Nominees with terms to expire in 2023 replacing trustees ineligible for re-election include Wallace E. (Wally) DeShon, layperson and member of Hiway Baptist Church, Mesa, Ariz., replacing Joseph C. Chan, Tucson, Ariz.; James R. (Jim) Futral, executive director, Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and member of Broadmoor Baptist Church, Madison, Miss., replacing Michael C. Routon, Petal, Miss.; David G. Hill, pastor, Northside Baptist Church, Springfield, Ohio, replacing Dennis Humphreys, Wilmington, Ohio; Marsha Gray, layperson and member of The Gathering Place, Vancouver, Wash., replacing William C. (Bill) Moffitt, Richland, Wash.; Myron W. Person, retired pastor and member of North Addison Baptist Church, Spokane, Wash., replacing Rickey P. Scott, Eugene, Ore.
 
Also nominated for terms to expire in 2023 are Bob Bender, pastor, First Baptist Church Black Forest, Colorado Springs, Colo., replacing Janet Y. Springer, Thornton, Colo., who resigned; Lance A. Rogers, teaching assistant and member of Birchman Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas, replacing Timothy J. (Tim) Rose, Church at the Cross, Grapevine, Texas, who resigned.
 
Nominated for terms to expire in 2020 are Kevin T. Scott, pastor, Church at the Well, Boston, Mass., replacing Tony Peffer, Castleton, Vt., who resigned; Carol Xiaomiao Geng, layperson and member of Chinese Fellowship Bible Church, Niskayuna, N.Y., replacing Paul Shepherd, Whitehall, N.Y., who resigned.
 
Nominated for a term to expire in 2019 is Barbara E. Smith, layperson and member of Immanuel Baptist Church, Highland, Calif., replacing Cathy Bates, Beaumont, Calif., who resigned.
 
Nominated for second terms are R. Rex (Peck) Lindsay, Topeka, Kans.; Gayle A. Fee, Las Vegas, Nev.
 

COMMITTEE ON ORDER OF BUSINESS (7 members): 1 nomination considered: 1 new member.

Nominee with a term to expire in 2021, replacing member ineligible for re-election is Adam W. Greenway, dean and professor, Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and member of First Baptist Church, Mount Washington, Ky., replacing Grant C. Ethridge, Hampton, Va.
 

4/26/2018 10:49:49 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



GOP exodus raises questions about life, liberty

April 25 2018 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The record number of Republicans leaving Congress not only raises questions about control of the House of Representatives after November’s elections but the fate of such issues as the sanctity of human life and religious freedom.
 
When Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, 48, announced April 11 he would retire at the end of this term, his decision brought to 38 the number of GOP members who have said they will not run for re-election, according to the Pew Research Center. The Senate’s April 19 confirmation of Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma increases that total to 39. More Republicans could still announce their retirements. In addition, the seats of two other GOP members who resigned this term will be filled by special election before November, Pew reported.

Photo from aoc.gov
The record number of Republicans leaving Congress not only raises questions about control of the House of Representatives after November’s elections but the fate of such issues as the sanctity of human life and religious freedom.


The total of voluntary House Republican departures surpasses all others recorded by Vital Statistics of Congress since 1930, according to Pew.
 
Meanwhile, 17 Democrats have announced they will not run for re-election, Pew reported.
 
As a result, Republicans find themselves defending more than twice as many open seats as Democrats in a House where the GOP holds a 236-193 advantage, with six vacancies.
 
In the Senate, Republicans hold a 51-47 edge over Democrats, but two independents caucus with the minority party. The Democrats are faced with defending 26 of the 35 seats contested this year, but four GOP members have resigned or announced their retirements while only one Democrat has left office.
 
In addition, the Democratic Party also holds an advantage in congressional polling. The Real Clear Politics average of seven generic polls between April 6 and 17 favored Democrats by 5.5 points.
 
The parties’ platform planks – and their legislative results to a lesser extent – have long reflected a sharp divide on abortion and other sanctity of life issues. Democratic control of the House or both chambers would appear to be devastating for congressional efforts to protect unborn children and the conscience rights of health-care professionals who oppose abortion.
 
On religious freedom, Republicans have led the way in seeking to protect the United States’ first liberty and extend that freedom to other countries. Democrats, meanwhile, have increasingly favored sexual liberty over religious liberty in the showdown over same-sex marriage and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
 
Some Southern Baptist advocates for the sanctity of human life and religious freedom observed it is not just the Democrats who need to improve their legislative action on these issues.
 
“We are grateful for the leadership Speaker Ryan provided, especially as seen in his conviction for the vulnerable and the invisible,” said Travis Wussow, vice president for public policy of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “But as we learned through the lack of pro-life and religious liberty victories in the recent omnibus spending bill, governing takes more than just one voice.
 
“The vulnerable lost out because politicians of both parties played politics with issues of human dignity,” Wussow told Baptist Press (BP) in an email interview.
 
Among the legislative proposals the ERLC urged Congress to include in the spending bill adopted in late March were freedom of conscience protections for health-care workers and the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the country’s leading abortion provider. Those measures, as well as immigration reform, did not survive, however.
 
Hunter Baker – an associate professor of political science at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and 2016 candidate for the GOP nomination in Tennessee’s Eighth District – said both parties fall short on promoting religious freedom. He ran for Congress with the purpose of helping citizens think about protecting religious liberty.
 
“Democrats seem to have largely concluded religious liberty is code for discrimination and prejudice,” Baker said in an email interview with BP. “The Republican Party isn’t sure where it stands. Christians in the party are up against the Chamber of Commerce influence in this regard. They’d rather we give up the culture war stuff entirely.”
 
Followers of Christ should hold both office holders and candidates accountable, Wussow said.
 
“As Christians, we should engage our current representatives directly on the issues we care about, such as religious liberty and human dignity, at all times,” he said. “We should be unafraid to evaluate and challenge any candidates to see where they stand on these important issues.
 
“The Bible shows us who to care for, and that’s everyone God cares for, including those who are too often invisible in the world around us.”
 
Baker told BP, “We should try to elect office holders who recognize religious liberty as a human right and a major constitutional value.”
 
He said, however, most of the action regarding religious freedom takes place currently in the executive branch.
 
“Regulatory actions pose the greatest danger in the federal government,” he said. “I think Trump’s election provided a respite in that regard (if only because he doesn’t necessarily share the secularist agenda), but it seems to me that most Christian ministries outside the strict confines of church buildings face some degree of risk almost all the time.”
 
On the life issue, a Republican loss of congressional control might not be a catastrophe, apart from Senate confirmation of judicial nominees, Baker said.
 
“Most of the action on the life issue is at the state level, so if Congress were to change hands much of the agenda would be unaffected,” he told BP. “However, the Supreme Court still matters for the end game. It is important to elect and retain senators who will confirm judges who recognize that the right to life should be respected in law.”
 
Politically, religious conservatives have had an important impact on the life issue, Baker said.
 
“I think the greatest success of evangelicals and Catholics in politics has had to do with creating, growing and sustaining a strong pro-life movement,” he said. “We haven’t gotten what we wanted through the court, but the progress in terms of state laws and various reforms has been worthwhile.”
 
While the GOP has been known as the pro-life party over the last four decades, pro-life Democrats in the House have shrunk by about 90 percent in the last 30 years.
 
Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) has been seeking to defend the sanctity of human life in the party and to elect pro-life candidates since its founding in 1999. DLFA has criticized the party’s opposition to some of its own incumbents, urging it to adopt a “big tent” approach.
 
“Democrats have an opportunity to take back the House in November,” DLFA Executive Director Kristen Day said in a March 21 news release, “but the key to winning is a Big Tent approach of inclusion and support for candidates who represent the views of their districts.”
 
While sanctity of life and religious freedom are his top priorities, Baker cited two other issues he considers important for voters.
 
“We need to elect people who will try to find a constructive path forward on immigration for our brothers and sisters in the human family under the fatherhood of God,” he said. “And we need to see some Christian statesmen emerge, by which I mean leaders who will encourage all of us to engage in civic virtue and mutual respect.”
 
Jonathan Leeman – author of a new book on faith and politics, as well as an elder of a Southern Baptist church – had some suggestions for Southern Baptists as they consider this year’s elections. He told BP in written comments:

  • “First, remember you’re commanded to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. In a democracy, that means you vote. This is a stewardship of authority God has given you, and you should not abdicate.
  • “Second, vote for the candidate with the best record for treating people as made in God’s image, whether unborn or born, minority or majority, old or young.
  • “Third, remember that our hope does not depend on the outcome of these elections, even as we seek to love our neighbors and do justice by participating in them. Our hope is in Christ, and His victory is certain. We win! And the fact that our ultimate hopes lie elsewhere means we can afford to interact with those who vote differently with grace and charity. The outcomes might be favorable or unfavorable. Either way, our job as ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom is fixed.”

 
Leeman’s new book is How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age. He is editorial director of the 9Marks ministry and an elder at Cheverly Baptist Church in Cheverly, Md.
 
Wussow told BP the ERLC “will continue to press our government to care for the well-being of all people made in the image of God, especially those who are invisible, voiceless and vulnerable.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

4/25/2018 9:40:10 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Toronto pastor’s hope: God will use evil for good

April 25 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

“Just steps away” from where a driver began a carnage that killed 10 and injured 15 on a pedestrian-friendly Toronto street, Willowdale Baptist Church pastor Bruce Jones is corralling a hurting community for prayer and hope.

Screen capture from CBS News
Toronto First responders treat survivors after a man drove his van a mile along Toronto’s Yonge Street, killing 10 and injuring 15.


“As Joseph said at the end of Genesis [in the Bible], what you meant for evil, the Lord meant for good for the saving of many lives,” Jones told Baptist Press (BP) ahead of a silent prayer vigil on April 24 where the crime began. “I believe the same thing is occurring in this case, that what the evil one meant for harm, that God will turn into great good for His Kingdom. He’s going to wake up people and call them back to a relationship with Himself.”
 
Jones can stand at his church in Toronto’s North York district and see Olive Square, the site of a makeshift memorial where police say 25-year-old Alek Minassian started to weave on and off the sidewalk for a mile along Yonge Street, intentionally striking pedestrians.
 
“It’s something that shakes you,” Jones told BP, “but at the same time one of the things I keep saying is God is sovereign, He’s in control, and there’s nothing that causes Him to wring His hands and say, ‘Oh my goodness what am I going to do now?’”
 
Willowdale Baptist Church, affiliated with the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, worked with other churches to plan the prayer vigil at the memorial of handwritten sentiments on Bristol board and tacked to a 4-foot-high brick wall marking small Oliver Square park.
 
Handwritten messages in the many languages of culturally diverse Toronto express prayers and comforting thoughts, Jones said, amid a community he described as subdued, sad, shocked and amazed.
 
“They might say our thoughts and prayers are with you, but they don’t even really know how to pray,” Jones said. “So that’s one of the things that we are really wanting to offer in these days is a safe place for people to come, and [provide] people who are willing to pray with them [and] encourage them.”
 
The church led a prayerwalk through the Willowdale community April 24 and will keep its doors open in the near future for individuals and first responders to pray and use bathrooms.
 
“It’s been very busy the last 18 hours or so, and we’re thankful for the opportunity when things like this happen to help turn people’s hearts toward the God who loves them,” Jones said. “Even using passages like Psalm 42:11, which says, ‘Why are you downcast oh my soul, why so disturbed within me. Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.’
 
“We just want to be that light and that encouragement,” Jones said, “that the Holy Spirit will then use to draw people’s hearts toward Himself.”
 
Willowdale Baptist Church draws about 150 worshipers on Sundays, Jones said, and has about 230 members from about 25 different language groups. Jones encouraged Baptists to pray for Toronto and to perhaps consider the city for mission trips after first responders complete their tasks.
 
“I think our most important work will be done in the weeks and months to come, once the news crews have left,” said Jones, who pastored a church in a small rural Ontario community of 5,000 people for 18 years before coming to Willowdale two years ago. “There’s a lot of people in this area who have no understanding of Christian things. It’s going to be in the weeks and months to come when I think the greatest challenges, the greatest work will be done to turn people’s hearts toward God.”
 
The crime police say Minassian committed is the worst mass murder in Canada since Marc Lepine killed 14 women at a Montreal engineering school in 1989, Bloomberg News reported.
 
Police arrested Minassian shortly after the crime without accommodating his plea for police to shoot him in the head, according to news reports, and even as he pointed an object at a lone officer. No motive had been reported for Minassian’s actions, and Canadian police had not termed the crime a terrorist attack.
 
Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board (NAMB) lists Toronto as one of its Send cities for church planting and evangelism, with only one Canadian National Baptist Convention church for every 113,284 people. Among languages spoken, in addition to the official tongues of English and French, are Chinese dialects, Filipino and Arabic, NAMB said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

4/25/2018 9:32:51 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



GQ’s slam of the Bible ‘sadly laughable’

April 25 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

GQ’s inclusion of the Bible in a list of 21 overrated classic books has drawn expressions of pity for the popular men’s magazine.
 
“Our response as believers should not be defensiveness or outrage,” said Union University Bible professor George Guthrie, “but pity for those who have never glimpsed even the smallest ray of beauty, the song of hope found in the Bible’s wonderfully cohesive story.”
 
Last week, GQ’s editors published a list of “21 books you don’t have to read and 21 you should read instead,” compiled by “a group of un-boring writers.” At no. 12 on the list, novelist Jesse Ball recommended scrapping the Bible in favor of Agota Kristof’s novel The Notebook.
 
“The Holy Bible,” Ball wrote, “is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”
 
The Notebook is preferable, Ball wrote, especially if readers like the “nasty bits” in scripture.
 
For spiritual edification, GQ’s contributors recommended the 1927 novel Death Comes for the Archbishop, which, when read, is “like having a spiritual experience,” wrote novelist Claire Messud.
 
Also nixed by GQ from the list of must-read books were J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, two titles by Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and by David McCullough’s John Adams.
 
GQ’s editors wrote in an introductory note to the list, “Not all the Great Books have aged well. Some are racist and some are sexist, but most are just really, really boring.”
 
Guthrie, author of several New Testament commentaries, recommended believers “take the GQ comments in context and with a very large grain of salt.”
 
“This is the same list that deems ‘The Lord of the Rings’ as ’barely readable’ and David McCullough’s historical pieces as the ‘driest, boringest tomes you’ll ever sludge through,’” Guthrie told Baptist Press (BP) in written comments. “To say that the Bible is ‘repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned’ is understandable coming from a secular person who has never read the Bible with an intent to hear, never studied even a small part, in all its complexity, to understand what is going on in its pages.
 
“To collapse the majesty of the Psalms, or the counter-cultural, creative, sacrificial ministry of Jesus, or the bizarre but breathtaking vision of Revelation into a tag of ‘foolish’ or ‘ill-intentioned’ is sadly laughable,” Guthrie said.
 
A representative from the Museum of the Bible in Washington countered GQ’s assessment of scripture by noting numerous “stories of different cultures under different challenges that drew on the Bible for courage to bring forth a better society.”
 
“Let us note Bartolomé de las Casas,” Museum of the Bible director of content Seth Pollinger, told BP, “a Dominican theologian in the sixteenth century that set out biblical and natural-law arguments about the inherent dignity and rights of the Native peoples of the New World to justify their resistance – against European conquest.
 
“Healthcare was significantly influenced by Florence Nightingale. Her commitment to nursing was profoundly affected by the Bible, a book she studied throughout her life. Isaac Newton is considered the greatest scientist of his age, perhaps of all time. He is renowned for his theories of motion and gravitation, which he believed were fully consistent with biblical teachings,” Pollinger said in written comments.
 
“We could also point to the Bible inspiring Gutenberg who printed the Bible as his first major book, Desmond Tutu in his opposition to Apartheid in South Africa, Martin Luther King in mobilizing the civil rights movement in the U.S., Elie Wiesel arguing for hope after the atrocities of the Holocaust and St. Josephine Bakhita rescuing children in East Africa from sex trafficking,” Pollinger said.
 
Some seminary professors took to Twitter in response to GQ.
 
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) President Daniel Akin said the list of overrated classics “says more about GQ than the Word of God.”
 
Andreas Kostenberger, senior research professor of New Testament and biblical studies at SEBTS tweeted of GQ’s editors and contributors, “God, open their eyes!”
 
Relevant magazine echoed many of the criticisms voiced by others but added that GQ’s “hot take does have one line that totally hits the nail on the head: ‘The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it.’”
 
Relevant quoted LifeWay Research’s 2017 finding that “Americans have a positive view of the Bible,” but “more than half of Americans have read little or none” of it.
 
Still, according to a Facebook post by evangelist Franklin Graham, “The Bible is the best-selling and most widely distributed book in the world. Recent estimates put the number that have been distributed since 1815 at more than 5 billion copies – and over 100 million are printed every year.”
 
“There’s nothing more powerful, and there’s nothing more needed by mankind than the Word of God,” Graham said. “Maybe the GQ editors need to read it, again. The subject of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is Jesus Christ. And one day soon, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

4/25/2018 9:30:37 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Fox News host urges communicators to live out faith

April 25 2018 by Timothy Cockes, SBC of Virginia

Fox News host Shannon Bream spoke to fellow Christian communicators about the importance of living a daily testimony of faith.
 
Bream spoke during the Baptist Communicators Association (BCA) workshop on April 20 in Washington, D.C. Although things may get difficult, she shared, it is important for Christians to hold to principles they believe in.

Photo by Marc Ira Hooks
Fox News host Shannon Bream spoke during the Baptist Communicators Association’s annual workshop on April 20 in Washington, D.C. “Work as hard as you can and prove yourself through sheer determination, but don’t get burned out and don’t violate your principles,” she told Baptist communicators.


“It’s just a daily walk with being a witness and living out your faith in whatever you’re doing, and there will be certain moments where we could compromise, but we have to take a stand in those moments,” Bream said during April 18-21 event.
 
The BCA workshop is an annual gathering of Southern Baptist media and communication workers that helps them connect, fellowship with one another, and hear from distinguished speakers.
 
Some of this year’s guests at the workshop included Kevin Smith, executive director for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware; Brian Autry, executive director for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia; James A. Smith, vice president of communications for National Religious Broadcasters (NRB); and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
 
During her presentation, Bream told the unlikely story of how she ended up working in media.
 
“I never imagined being a business major at Liberty [University] and getting a law degree that I would end up working in media,” Bream said.
 
Bream began her career in law handling mostly sexual assault cases. While she enjoyed her work in law, Bream noted, she always felt like there was something more for her to be doing.
 
A consistent passion for news and current events drove Bream to want to work in the newsroom. But Bream struggled to find an internship at a local station. Bream nevertheless was not deterred.
 
“I tell students this all the time when they visit with me that it’s all about persistence,” she said, “and I was just going to keep going until I found one person to say yes to me.”
 
Eventually Bream was able to find a dean of a university in Florida to approve an independent study for her to work at the local ABC station while still working for a law firm.
 
Bream said that she was known as the “grandma intern” at the station because she was 29 while everyone else was in their early 20s.
 
Despite the uniqueness of her path into media work, Bream believed she had finally found what she was called to do.
 
“The minute I was in the newsroom I was in heaven and I thought this is what I want to be doing and this is what I was passionate about,” Bream said.
 
Once her internship at the station was over, Bream decided to step down from her position at the law firm despite not having been officially offered a position with the station at that point. Bream eventually did start working for the station in a small role.
 
For Bream, this entailed a lot of shadowing station reporters and a lot of learning on the job, which Bream said led to some embarrassing moments. A sudden change in management forced Bream to look for work elsewhere, and it seemed as if her career in media was in jeopardy. But it was during these challenging times that Bream said she learned some important lessons.
 
“There is always learning in the pain and in the embarrassment,” Bream said, “and it really taught me that in this business, you have to remain humble and you can’t let it be your life. ... When it becomes the idol in your life that’s when you have a problem. Everything is very subjective and temporary in this business and you can’t find your worth in it.”
 
Weekend work with a news crew to develop some resume tapes eventually led Bream to a job offer at a station in Charlotte, N.C. There, she worked for three years before joining an NBC affiliate in Washington. She later accepted a position to work for Fox to cover the Supreme Court, after they learned she had practiced law and worked in the nation’s capital.
 
Bream can now be seen on Fox News @ Night, which airs weeknights from 11 p.m. to midnight. She closed her presentation to Baptist communicators with some parting advice.
 
“Work as hard as you can and prove yourself through sheer determination, but don’t get burned out and don’t violate your principles,” Bream said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy Cockes is a freelance writer for SBC of Virginia convention and student at Liberty University.)
 

4/25/2018 9:25:13 AM by Timothy Cockes, SBC of Virginia | with 0 comments



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