April 2018

Harper, Moore & Pomeroy to headline ministry wives’ events

April 23 2018 by Shannon Baker, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

Ministers’ wives attending the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting in Dallas are invited to a trio of women’s events, including a Ministers’ Wives Luncheon, Pastors’ Wives Conference, and a women’s expo.
 
Authors and speakers, Lisa Harper of Nashville and Beth Moore of Houston, and pastor’s wife Sherri Pomeroy of Sutherland Springs, Texas, will headline this year’s events to be held in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on Level 2, Ballrooms A1-4.

BP file photo by Jeremy Scott
Women attending the 2017 Pastors’ Wives Conference in Phoenix take advantage of the Pastors’ Wives Expo. The 2018 expo in Dallas will offer resources to “expose, engage, enlighten and empower ministry wives.”


This year’s theme for the women’s events is “Restored,” based on Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
 

Ministers’ Wives Luncheon

The theme for this year’s luncheon, to be held Tuesday, June 12, beginning at noon, represents “a timely heartfelt desire, as we recall the many disasters of 2017,” said Liz Luter, luncheon president, pointing to the many hurricanes, fires, flooding and violent shootings captured by the daily news.
 
Through studying Psalm 23:3, Luter learned it had to do with restoring a person’s “countenance” and “posture.” Having served in areas affected by tornadoes and flooding, she was continually amazed at how she could see the countenance change on those who were helped.
 
It was extraordinary to “see how their heads were lifted,” said Luter, who is married to former SBC President Fred Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans. The Luters experienced their own need for restoration after Hurricane Katrina devastated their church and hometown in 2005.
 
She acknowledged many pastors’ wives serve as the hands and feet of Jesus “to lift the bowed-down heads.” The luncheon is meant to celebrate those “who were so instrumental in helping the bowed-down heads ... whose acts of love [helped] restore the hearts and dispositions of those who suffered great adversities this year,” she noted.
 
Harper, lisaharper.net, will keynote the annual luncheon. She has been lauded as a gifted communicator, whose writing and speaking overflow with colorful pop culture references that connect the dots between the Bible era and modern life. Her latest book is The Sacrament of Happy and her new Bible study published through LifeWay is Job: An Unlikely Story of Joy. She describes her greatest accomplishment to date as getting to be mama to Missy, whom she adopted from Haiti in April 2014, after a difficult two-year journey.
 
Tickets for the luncheon, which is open to all wives of pastors, church staff members, chaplains, missionaries and denominational workers, are $15/person and can be purchased online at lifeway.com/en/events/ministers-wives-luncheon.
 
Participants also may nominate a minister’s wife for the Willie Turner Dawson Award, which honors women who have served either as the wife of a minister or in ministry herself and have made a distinct denominational contribution beyond her service in the local church. Nominate by email at sbcmwl@franklinabc.com by May 1.
 

Pastors’ Wives Conference

Harper, Moore and Pomeroy will speak at the Pastors’ Wives Conference on Monday, June 11, during the morning session of the Pastors’ Conference from 8:45-11:45 a.m. This conference also will feature interviews and conversations with Beth Moore with her daughter, Amanda Moore Jones, and Pomeroy.
 
Moore founded Living Proof Ministries, lproof.org, in 1994 with the purpose of teaching women how to love and live on God’s Word. She will speak on “The Long Walk of Faith in a Land of Thorns and Thistles,” a message about the challenges and blessings of ministry.
 
She has written numerous books and Bible studies that have been read by women of all ages, races and denominations. Through the years, American missionaries and expatriates have taken the Bible studies overseas, resulting in Beth Moore Bible study groups popping up all over the world. In addition to radio and television appearances, Moore’s Living Proof Live conferences have taken her to all 50 states as well as many different countries, including Ireland, England, Singapore, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, India, Angola, Kenya and South Africa.
 
Pomeroy is wife of Pastor Frank Pomeroy of First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs, the site of one of the worst mass shootings in United States history when a gunman took the lives of 26 worshippers on Nov. 5, 2017. Another 20 church members were injured in the attack. Among those killed was Annabelle, the 14-year-old daughter of Pomeroy. Pomeroy will be interviewed by Donna Gaines, wife of SBC President Steve Gaines.
 
Jones, Moore’s eldest daughter, is married to Curtis Jones, pastor of Bayou City Fellowship in Houston. The church launched in September 2011 and now has two campuses. Moore and Jones will be interviewed by Kathy Ferguson Litton, national consultant for ministry to pastor’s wives for the North American Mission Board.
 
There is no cost for the Monday event and registration is not required. Women who serve in any facet of local church leadership, missions and denominational work are invited to attend.
 

Pastors’ Wives Expo

In the lobby outside the ballroom, a pastors’ wives expo will offer resources to “expose, engage, enlighten and empower ministry wives” through displays for new Bible studies, ministry support and evangelistic tools. There will be between 20-25 exhibitors focusing on ministries for women and to women.
 
Diane Nix, the expo organizer, said, “Our hope is that information gathered will not only be an encouragement for their journey but will inspire them as they go home to family and the women of their churches.” Persons interested in exhibiting should contact Nix at nixheart@me.com.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and editor of the convention’s BaptistLIFE quarterly magazine.)
 

4/23/2018 9:26:30 AM by Shannon Baker, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware | with 0 comments



Crossover again to showcase Harvest America outreach

April 20 2018 by Tobin Perry, NAMB

A year after nearly 3,000 people came to faith in Christ during Crossover efforts in Phoenix, Southern Baptists once again are partnering with Harvest America for an evangelistic crusade the Sunday before the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) convenes in Dallas this June.
 
The crusade, featuring California pastor Greg Laurie, will start at 6 p.m. June 10 at AT&T Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys. A pre-event concert with musicians Chris Tomlin, Switchfoot, Crowder and Phil Wickham will start at 5:30 p.m. Like last year, Harvest America will simulcast the event at locations throughout the country.

BP file photo by Adam Covington
For the second year, Harvest America crusade will be a key part of Crossover evangelism for the SBC annual meeting in Dallas.


For three decades Southern Baptists from across the country have gathered the weekend before the SBC annual meeting to engage the host city with the gospel of Jesus Christ. A number of churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, meanwhile, are planning door-to-door canvassing, block parties and compassion ministries, several in tandem with students from SBC seminaries, while a Crossover evangelistic initiative by Hispanic Baptists also is planned.
 
“One of the most incredible things we do as Southern Baptists is embrace the city where the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting will be held,” said Jack Graham, a former SBC president and the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. “Crossover provides a great opportunity for Baptists to be the hands and feet of Christ in the days leading up to the SBC meeting.”
 
Graham, whose church has partnered with Harvest America for past events, said North Texas is a growing mission field.
 
“This is amazing synergy for Southern Baptists to go door-to-door inviting people to Harvest America, especially in a burgeoning region that continues to see more and more new residents. Prestonwood is all in as we seek to make Harvest America the greatest event ever held at AT&T Stadium – where lives could be changed forever for the glory of God.”
 
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) will partner with Harvest America, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, local Baptist associations and hundreds of local churches to engage North Texas through the crusade and other Crossover activities.
 
Along with the crusade, evangelism training will take place at several different “launch campuses” in the area. These campuses will provide outreach opportunities on Saturday, June 9. To see a list of these campuses, visit namb.net/crossover.
 
Joel Southerland, NAMB’s executive director of evangelism, noted that the Harvest America crusade “brings together hundreds of area churches, and we could see thousands of people come to faith in Christ. As Southern Baptists, it’s a great opportunity to be a part of what we believe will be a great move of God in the region.”
 
Local churches already have started mobilizing to be a part of the effort. A prayer event at Mountain Creek Church’s Prayer Mountain will take place May 14 at 6:30 p.m. Several pre-event rallies also are scheduled the second week of May.
 
John Collins, executive director of Harvest Ministries, believes the crusade – and the lead-up evangelism training and activities – will provide Southern Baptist churches a great opportunity to prepare not only to engage North Texas with the gospel but their own local communities as well.
 
Local churches, as well as churches that send people to the event from across the country, have a variety of opportunities to participate in the event, including as decision follow-up workers, ushers and prayer room volunteers, Collins said.
 
“There’s nothing that energizes a church more than having people in that church be a part of leading others to Christ,” he said. “Whether it’s just handing out an invitation to someone on the street or being a follow-up counselor and praying the sinner’s prayer with someone who has just responded to receive Christ, it gives people an opportunity to put feet to their faith. What we hear from churches who send people is that those people generally come back more passionate and more fired up about reaching the lost.”
 
Such evangelistic events, Collins said, often can change the focus of Christians and churches to help them become more passionate about getting the gospel out.
 
“Proclamation evangelism, unfortunately, is seen by some to be a relic of the past, but we believe, as the scriptures say, that it’s through ‘the foolishness of the message preached that God has chosen to save those who would believe,’” Collins said. “Our hope is that even when the event is over, the passion for evangelism remains and grows.”
 
The National Hispanic Fellowship, also in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting, will aid seven Hispanic churches in Dallas in an evangelistic crusade in their communities, June 4-10, working in tandem with Hispanic volunteers from across the country and the International Commission ministry.
 
The campaign will culminate with a Night of Victory on Sunday, June 10, “expecting hundreds of new converts and believers reconciled with God,” said Augusto Valverde, president of Hispanic fellowship and lead pastor of Iglesia Bautista Un Nuevo Amanecer in Miami.
 
For information about the Hispanic outreach, contact Eloy Rodríguez, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church Español in Tampa, Fla., at 407-927-1359.
 
For more about Crossover and the Harvest Crusade, including how to volunteer, how to participate in pre-events and how to simulcast the event from a church, visit namb.net/crossover.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston contributed to this article.)
 

4/20/2018 10:04:13 AM by Tobin Perry, NAMB | with 0 comments



Southwest’s heroic pilot known for sharing her faith

April 20 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

When members of First Baptist Church (FBC) in Boerne, Texas, heard recordings of radio transmissions from a Southwest Airlines pilot who made a harrowing emergency landing this week in Philadelphia, they recognized the voice as one of their own.


Screen capture from CBS News
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 dropped 20,000 feet in about six minutes before making an emergency landing in Philadelphia April 17.


Tammie Jo Shults – the pilot who guided Flight 1380 to the ground April 17 after a midflight engine failure shot debris through a window, killing one passenger – is a recognizable figure at the Texas Hill Country church, which averages 900 in worship. She has led the children’s worship program at First Baptist and taught Sunday School for children, middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults, said Staci Thompson, a longtime friend and administrative assistant in the church office.
“When we heard the voice” in media replays of cockpit recordings, “it was just like talking on the phone. That’s what she sounds like,” Thompson told Baptist Press (BP).
 
The church was “impressed” but not “shocked,” Thompson said, at reports Shults, 56, landed the plane safely after a 20,000-foot drop in six minutes, then walked down the aisle hugging passengers. The plane was bound from New York to Dallas, and seven of the 144 passengers aboard were injured in addition to the one fatality.
 
Social media reports by surviving passengers hailed Shults as having “nerves of steel” and being “a true American hero.” One passenger told The Dallas Morning News, “I specifically said to her, ‘Do I get a hug too?’ She said, ‘Of course, I wouldn’t let you by without a hug.’”
 
Shults’ “biggest goal” amid the emergency landing and subsequent media coverage, Thompson said, “is that she can share her faith and it resonate and awaken people’s eyes to how great a God we have.”
 
Mike Mantooth, executive pastor of ministries and missions at First Baptist, told BP via email, “I’m always amazed at the caliber of people at FBC Boerne. Tammie Jo is an example of one of them. Through her commitment to excellence in aviation, she has gained a national platform to give witness to her faith in Christ. We are proud of her as her church family. She is being hailed as a national hero, and we are celebrating what God has done through her and at the same time praying for her as she grieves the loss of a passenger.”
 
Shults and Flight 1380 first officer Darren Ellisor are not granting media interviews but released a statement saying they were “simply doing our jobs.”
 
“Our hearts are heavy,” they stated April 18 according to USA Today. “On behalf of the entire crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss. We joined our company today in focused work and interviews with investigators. We are not conducting media interviews.”

Screen capture from CBS News
Southwest Airlines pilot Tammie Jo Shults, known for her Christian faith, demonstrated “nerves of steel” according to passengers as she executed an emergency landing April 17.


Thompson said Shults long has evidenced a heart for evangelism and ministries of compassion. She has provided housing for hurricane victims and widows, helps care for her disabled younger sister and her husband’s elderly mother, and shares her faith in Christ with co-captains on Southwest flights.
 
“I hear stories about hard times that different co-captains have been going through,” Thompson said, “and how she just gets to pray over them and give them Scripture and give them love.”
 
Multiple media reports have cited a blog post in which Shults stated being a pilot gave her “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”
 
In a feature article on Shults, The Dallas Morning News seemed almost bewildered by her Christian testimony.
 
“It seems that nearly everyone in Boerne has a Tammie Jo story,” the newspaper stated, “and taken together, they paint a picture of a woman almost too impossibly caring, too impossibly devoted to her community.”
 
This week’s emergency landing is not the first time Shults has made news. Three decades ago, she became one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. military, piloting F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets in the Navy, The New York Times reported.
 
Yet even amid success in a male-dominated profession, Thompson said, Shults has remained committed to living out biblical gender roles in the home and church and to teaching fellow female pilots how to model biblical femininity.
 
“She even created a business that does girl pilot stuff to empower other women to be able to be feminine and be who they are in the workplace,” Thompson said.
 
First Baptist, which cooperates with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, affirms a confession of faith that largely parallels the Baptist Faith and Message, including Article XVIII on the family.
 
As media reports proliferate about Shults’ heroism, Thompson said, “she wants people to know that God was there with her” on Flight 1380, “that He helped her in getting control of that plane and landing that plane.
 
“It was because of Him, not her,” Thompson said. “She was just a teammate and a co-captain. He was the captain.”
 
Shults and her husband Dean, also a Southwest pilot, have two children, ages 18 and 20.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

 

4/20/2018 9:57:00 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



TRUSTEES: African American businessman voted SBTS officer

April 20 2018 by Aaron Cline Hanbury & Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) trustees elected their first African American officer in the school’s 159-year history by a unanimous vote during their April 16 meeting.

Photo by Emil Handke, SBTS
R. Albert Mohler Jr. addresses The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees, who honored him for 25 years of service during their April 16 meeting.


The election of Alan “Keith” Daniels, a businessman from Texas and member of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, as board secretary is “another necessary step in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention demonstrating at every level of denominational leadership the diversity to which we are called,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of SBTS.
 
“It’s also a celebration of the fact that the Lord is gifting Southern Baptists with leaders, church members, pastors and congregations that are helping this denomination every day look more like America and more like the world around us,” Mohler said in an interview following the meeting.
 
Daniels is the franchise owner of multiple Christian Brothers Automotive locations in the Dallas area.
 
Also elected as new trustee officers: chairman Matt Schmucker, executive director of the Together for the Gospel biennial conference and member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.; first vice chairman Clint Pressley, senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., who previously served as the board’s secretary; and second vice chairman John Montgomery, dean of spiritual life at California Baptist University in Riverside.
 
In addition to the election of new board officers, trustees elected and promoted faculty members; adopted an updated strategic plan and a $51.5 million budget for 2018-2019; and honored Mohler for the recent 25-year anniversary of his election as SBTS’s president.
 
Trustees elected Jeremy L. Pierre as the Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling. Pierre also is the seminary’s dean of students and chair of the biblical counseling and family ministry department. He has served on seminary faculty since 2011 and previously taught English at the seminary’s undergraduate Boyce College.
 
The board elected to the faculty, effective Aug. 1, John David Trentham as associate professor of leadership and discipleship; Melissa Tucker, associate professor of elementary education; and Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation. The board also approved faculty sabbaticals for the 2018-2019 academic year.
 
At the midpoint of SBTS’s 10-year reaccreditation process, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires an evaluation and update of the school’s strategic plan. Mohler presented that update to trustees, informing them about the process, which will continue until 2024.
 
The updated strategic plan represents the board’s spring 2018 review of key institutional priorities and establishment of objectives for the next five academic years, according to the document. The updated plan includes details about initiatives to help the seminary meet the goals outlined in the strategic plan.
 
The board recognized outgoing chairman John Thweatt, who has served on the board since 2008 and as the board’s chair since 2016. Thweatt is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pell City, Ala., and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. The board adopted a resolution in Thweatt’s honor.
 
Mohler, speaking to Thweatt, said, “Mr. Chairman, for your service as a trustee for two full terms, and for your service as an officer for numerous years, your service for two years as chairman of the board, we are incredibly grateful. It has been a privilege to work with you, and I know this board expresses appreciation for your service as chairman.”
 
Commenting on Schmucker as the new trustee chairman, Mohler said the Together for the Gospel movement “would have been impossible if not for the administrative brilliance and heartfelt commitment that Matt Schmucker brings, and having him serve as chairman of this board will be very fulfilling.”
 
In other business:

  • Trustees approved an operating budget of $51,520,824 for the 2018-2019 academic year. After presenting the proposed budget, Mohler paused the meeting to express gratitude to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • Daniels, as a member of the trustees’ resolutions committee, informally recognized that this spring represents the 25th anniversary of Mohler’s election as SBTS’s president. Mohler was elected on March 26, 1993. Members of the board gave Mohler a standing ovation. He commented in response: “These 25 years have been a thrill – the greatest privilege of my life, but I want you to know that I could not have possibly done this without my wife, Mary. You have to realize, when Mary gets to tell the story her way, trustee meetings in the early years were when friends finally came.”
  • Trustees heard reports from their subcommittees about financial and student body matters reflecting God’s work in the health of the seminary.
  • The board adopted a resolution of appreciation to Stanley Craig for his “service and commitment” during five years as a trustee. He resigned his position on the board prior to the April 16 meeting in order to relocate closer to his grandchildren in Orlando, Fla.

 
The next trustee meeting will be Oct. 8-9 in Louisville.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Cline Hanbury is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Andrew J.W. Smith is the seminary’s newswriter and editor of Towers magazine.)
 

4/20/2018 9:51:08 AM by Aaron Cline Hanbury & Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS | with 0 comments



TRUSTEES: Gateway to sell former Southern California site

April 20 2018 by Kathie Chute, Gateway Seminary

Trustees of Gateway Seminary approved selling a former regional campus site in Brea, Calif., and heard reports on the “new normal” for the seminary’s new Southern California campus during their April 16-17 meeting in Ontario.
 
Trustees also approved a budget of $11.9 million for the coming year.

Photo by Caleb Stallings
Gateway President Jeff Iorg, right, congratulates Timothy Wiarda on his retirement, as trustees approved Wiarda’s status as senior professor of New Testament studies in recognition of his contributions to Gateway.


President Jeff Iorg noted the transition to a new location and a new name for the Southern Baptist seminary occurred two years ago and he had noticed it is no longer a frequent topic of discussion in meetings.
 
“I’m proud we’re not talking about relocation much anymore,” Iorg said. “It’s a compliment to our vice presidents that the faculty and staff have moved on to strategizing for the next era. I thought it would take one year [after the relocation] to transition to our ‘new normal,’ but it actually took two years. Now we have finally come to that point.”
 
Trustees approved a plan to sell the site of the former regional campus in Brea, with the proceeds being added to the seminary’s endowment. The two-acre property, located approximately 25 miles from the main campus in Ontario, had been the seminary’s location in Southern California since 1986.
 
Academic operations in Brea will end by July 31, with classes transitioned to the campus in Ontario. The move is the final step in the seminary’s transition that began in 2014.
 
“For more than 30 years this property has been a center of theological training for students throughout Southern California and our commitment to the area remains strong as evidenced by our new campus in Ontario,” Iorg said. “The proceeds of this sale will improve our ability to fulfill our mission of shaping leaders who expand God’s Kingdom around the world.”
 
Iorg reported two gifts in recent months that have added more than $1 million to the seminary’s endowment.
 
“These gifts are largely the result of donors to Gateway encouraging others to support us,” he said. “We are grateful for friends who stand with us and testify to others about their support.”
 
In two personnel matters, the trustees, after considering multiple issues and factors, voted unanimously to end employment of Carl Mosser as professor of theology. They also recognized Tim Wiarda, senior professor of New Testament studies who will retire later this year, for his contributions to the seminary.
 
Trustees elected new officers for 2018-2019, with Larry Felkins of Alabama as chairman, Keith Goeking of Missouri as vice chairman and Gayle Fee of Nevada as secretary.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kathie Chute is director of communications for Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
 

4/20/2018 9:47:12 AM by Kathie Chute, Gateway Seminary | with 0 comments



‘Fragments of Truth’ film shows Bible’s reliability

April 20 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Detailed examination of the earliest New Testament manuscripts in the upcoming “Fragments of Truth” documentary proves the reliability and viability of the Gospels, evangelical scholar and lead film commentator Craig Evans told Baptist Press (BP).
 
“The documentary concludes rightly with a lot of support that the manuscripts are very old, and they are well done, they’re reliable, they do preserve the original wording of the Greek New Testament,” said Evans, professor of Christian origins at Houston Baptist University.

Fathom Events photo
The April 24 documentary film ‘Fragments of Truth’ examines the earliest available New Testament manuscripts.


“So when you read the New Testament today, you read the Gospels, you know that what you’re reading is in fact what Matthew wrote, or Mark, or Luke or John,” Evans told BP. “And it’s not something that’s been heavily edited or revised at a later time.”
 
Showing April 24 in 750 theaters for one night only, Fragments of Truth shows viewers the earliest New Testament manuscripts and offers insight from 20 top scholars encompassing several specialties, including conservationists and curators from museums, libraries and faculties from around the world.
 
The Fathom Events and Faithlife Films project ends with an interview featuring Evans and documentary director Reuben Evans (who are not related).
 
“The challenges to the reliability of the Gospels have never been greater,” the director said in a Fathom Events press release. “But when we heard about the latest research Dr. Craig Evans published, we knew this was a story that we had to tell.”
 
The documentary examines physical evidence without being theological, Evans said, but can support theologians in their examination of biblical inerrancy and inspiration, as well as Christians in their faith.
 
“You can show by accumulating all of the evidence that we have every reason to believe the text of the Bible today is the text originally written in the first century,” Evans said. “Of course, that lays a very firm foundation for the theologian who wants to talk about inspiration and inerrancy and infallibility. Our findings support the theologian in doing that.
 
“The results of the investigation should be encouraging to any Christian who takes scripture seriously and sees it as authoritative and inspired.”
 
Also lending expertise to the documentary is Dan Wallace, founder of The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and author of the widely used “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics.”
 
John Rhys-Davies, who played excavator Sallah in the Indiana Jones films, narrates Fragments of Truth, relaying explanations and definitions of technical jargon along the way to make the film relatable to laypersons and experts alike.
 
“Anybody who can read a newspaper, any high school graduate, can see this movie and understand it, and come away enriched in knowledge and come away very reassured that the biblical manuscripts are accurate and reliable,” Evans said. “A lot of the sensational stuff that we’ve been hearing about for years, about the text being changed or manipulated or something like that, I hope [viewers] go away and realize that’s just a lot of baloney. There is nothing behind that. It’s fiction. It doesn’t represent the evidence at all.”
 
One fact not often noted about the earliest available manuscripts, Evans said, is that they were copied by pagan professional scribes, not amateur Christians interested in changing the original text to support personal theologies.
 
“They weren’t Christians so they don’t particularly have any theological bias,” Evans said of the scribes. “They’re professional scribes who are paid to copy the text accurately, word for word, letter by letter, line by line.”
 
Ticket information for the film, showing at 7 p.m. local time in all venues, is available at fathomevents.com/events/fragments-of-truth. A DVD release is unconfirmed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

4/20/2018 9:43:11 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SBTC staffer Mike Gonzales to be 1st VP nominee

April 19 2018 by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Southern Baptist TEXAN

Mike Gonzales, director of Hispanic ministries for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), will be nominated for first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Texas pastor Juan Sanchez announced April 18.
 
Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin and SBTC president, said Gonzales “has been a faithful brother and faithful missionary; he has a daughter on the mission field. I think that speaks volumes, not just of the character of someone but of a basic parenting commitment.”

Mike Gonzales


Gonzales served as a missionary to Spain for 15 years with the International Mission Board (IMB) and later became an IMB trustee from 2005-2013, with committee assignments relating to the regions of East Asia, Europe, South America, American peoples and European peoples. Gonzales has led mission and crusade trips to Australia, Mexico and Cuba.
 
His pastoral experience includes Primera Iglesia Bautista of Pleasant Grove in Dallas and Primera Iglesia Bautista in Cameron, Texas. He served as a minister of music and youth for La Loma Baptist Mission in Fort Worth, Texas, Mision Bautista el Calvario in Dallas and Primera Iglesia Bautista in Wichita Falls, Texas.
 
Before joining the SBTC staff in 2004, Gonzales had served as an ethnic consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) evangelism department; area director of retirement services and church marketing at GuideStone Financial Resources; and director of missions for Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association in Weslaco, Texas. He also is a Spanish-language columnist for Baptist Press (BP).
 
“I have a real concern for equipping pastors in North America,” Sanchez said. “That is what Mike is doing through the SBTC. The Hispanic pastor in North America, in Texas, has a very hard life. My relationship with Mike has grown as we try to encourage these Hispanic pastors on the front line as they pastor their churches, care for their families and face [a wide variety of ministry challenges]. That’s why I think the work Mike is doing is important work.”
 
Gonzales served on the board of the Baptist Spanish Publishing House Foundation from 2000-2004 and 2015-2018, having just completed a year as president. He was tapped to serve on the national Hispanic Task Force for the North American Mission Board from 2004-2005 and the SBC Executive Committee’s Hispanic Advisory Council from 2011-2014. He was a trustee of Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, from 2002-2004.
 
First Baptist Church in Colleyville, Texas, where Gonzales is a member, reported 86 baptisms and an average worship attendance of 1,293 in 2016, the last year for which data is available in the SBC’s Annual Church Profile (ACP) database.
 
First Baptist gives approximately 10 percent of its undesignated receipts to missions annually, the church told BP. For the church’s 2016-2017 fiscal year, it reported 2.2 percent in Great Commission Giving, including 1.7 percent through the Cooperative Program (CP) out of $4.3 million in undesignated receipts. That CP total included gifts through both the SBTC and the BGCT.
 
ACP data and reports from both Texas state conventions indicated similar giving totals.
 
Great Commission Giving is a category of giving established by SBC action in 2011 that encompasses giving through CP, Southern Baptists’ unified program of funding state- and SBC-level ministries, as well as direct gifts to SBC entities, associational giving and giving to state convention ministries.
 
Gonzales holds two degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: a master of divinity and a master of arts in missiology. He earned a bachelor of arts from Howard Payne University, which also has awarded him an honorary doctor of divinity degree.
 
Gonzales and his wife Dalia have one daughter and two granddaughters. Their daughter serves with her husband in Spain where they are IMB missionaries.
 
Gonzales is the second announced nominee for first vice president. California pastor A.B. Vines’ nomination was announced in March. Announced presidential nominees are J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Ken Hemphill.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tammi Ledbetter writes for the Southern Baptist TEXAN. With reporting by TEXAN editor Gary Ledbetter and David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.)
 

4/19/2018 8:51:44 AM by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments



EC search committee elects officers, requests prayer

April 19 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

The presidential search committee elected April 17 to nominate the next chief executive of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (EC) used its first meeting to select officers and begin laying groundwork in prayer to receive recommendations.

Photo by Rebecca Manry
The SBC Executive Committee’s presidential search committee, pictured here in its first meeting April 17, has requested prayer from all Southern Baptists.


“In a few weeks we will be releasing an email address through which we will be receiving recommendations,” said search committee chairman Steve Swofford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rockwall, Texas. “In the meantime, we will be gathering information and putting together a profile of what we feel like we are looking for.”
 
Carol Yarber, a retired medical administrator from Athens, Texas, was elected secretary at the search committee’s April 17 meeting, which convened immediately following a special called EC meeting in Nashville. The search committee “may elect a vice chairman at a later meeting,” Swofford said in a statement released to Baptist Press.
 
The six-member committee, elected from a field of 18 nominees, will be joined in an ex officio capacity by the next EC chairman when he or she is elected in June, as stipulated by EC bylaws. The new EC chair will be a voting member of the search committee.
 
Current EC chairman Stephen Rummage was elected to the search committee and therefore is not serving in an ex officio capacity. He will continue serving on the search committee when his term as EC chairman ends.
 
“I’m excited about the committee that was elected, and I commend the Executive Committee for their choices,” Swofford said. “As has already been reported, the committee is marked by racial and gender diversity as well as a mixture of clergy and laypeople. I also think it is worth noting that they are from all over our convention – from Florida to California, and from Texas to Illinois. Add to that the varied ages and background experiences and you have a well-rounded committee.
 
“We have all agreed to approach this responsibility with no agenda, simply and diligently trying to find the best person for the hour to fill this critical position for these challenging times,” Swofford said. “We covet the prayers of all Southern Baptists. On behalf of the entire committee, I want to thank the many of you who have already committed to pray for us in this process.”
 
Other members of the search committee are:

  • Joe Knott, an attorney from Raleigh, N.C.
  • Adron Robinson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills, Ill.
  • Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla.
  • Rolland Slade, pastor of Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon, Calif.

 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

4/19/2018 8:48:07 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Personal touch drives churchgoer giving, study shows

April 19 2018 by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends

When it comes to charity, a personal touch works 10 times better than Facebook – at least for churchgoers, according to a study released April 17.
 
A new report from LifeWay Research found more than half of Protestant churchgoers say a personal connection inspired them to give money to a charity for the first time. The evangelical research firm conducted the survey this past Aug. 22-30.


Social media such as Facebook inspired only 4 percent of similar donations.
 
Three-quarters of churchgoers support at least one charity besides their church. According to the survey, nearly half do volunteer work, while a similar number have made changes to the charities they support.
 
Churchgoers like to give – and to get involved, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.
 
“The question is, where will churchgoers give this year? The answer lies in having a personal connection,” McConnell said. “It turns out charity really does start close to home.”
 

Charitable giving

The nationally representative study asked adults who attend a Protestant church at least once a month to look at their charitable giving from 2016.
 
Sixty percent of those churchgoers gave to the same number of charities in 2016 as they did the previous year. Fifteen percent gave to more charities. Eight percent gave to fewer, while 15 percent were not sure.
 
Among those who donated to charities, 49 percent made changes in which charities they supported in 2016. This included about a third (31 percent) who gave to a charity they’d never supported before.
 
“The reality is that funding for charities is anything but stable,” McConnell said. “When a donor adds a charity, it can take away from ministries they have supported in the past.”
 
When asked what factor most prompted them to give, 21 percent say they knew someone who worked there. Nineteen percent had met someone from the charity, while 18 percent say friends of theirs supported the charity.
 
Fifteen percent had been to a fundraiser, while 15 percent had received a letter from the charity. Eleven percent had volunteered for the charity.
 
Phone calls (5 percent), television ads (5 percent), social network sites such as Facebook (4 percent), online ads (3 percent) and email appeals (2 percent) were less influential.
 

Most donors support a few charities

LifeWay Research also asked churchgoers how many charities they gave to last year, aside from their local congregation. Those charities could be religious or non-religious. The donations could not be property or volunteer time.
 
Seventy-three percent of churchgoers gave to at least one charity beyond their church.
 
This includes 15 percent who gave to one additional charity and 58 percent who gave to multiple charities. About a third (34 percent) gave to two or three additional charities. Nineteen percent gave to between four and seven charities. About 6 percent gave to eight or more additional charities.
 
About a quarter (27 percent) gave to no additional charities.
 
Churchgoers from Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal backgrounds are most likely to give only to their church (38 percent). Nondenominational Christians (30 percent) and Baptists (29 percent) were more likely to give only to their church than Lutherans (14 percent).
 
Lutherans (29 percent) are more likely to give to five or more charities than Baptist (13 percent), nondenominational (12 percent) or Assemblies of God/Pentecostal churchgoers (10 percent).
 
About half (48 percent) of churchgoers say they volunteer at a charity – including their church. Forty-four percent don’t volunteer. Eight percent aren’t sure.
 
Those who go to church at least once a week (51 percent) are more likely to say they volunteer than those who attend once or twice a month (30 percent). More than half of Methodist (63 percent), Lutheran (55 percent) and nondenominational churchgoers (53 percent) volunteer. Baptists (38 percent) are less likely.
 
“Donors come and go frequently,” McConnell said. “It helps to know why they give in the first place – typically a personal connection to the ministry or charity.”
 
For more information on this study, visit LifeWayResearch.com.
 

Methodology

LifeWay Research conducted the study Aug. 22-30, 2017. 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 provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection.
 
For this survey, a nationally representative sample of U.S. Protestant and nondenominational adults (18 and older) who attend religious services once a month or more often was selected from the KnowledgePanel.
 
Sample stratification and base weights were used for gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, metro/non-metro, home ownership, education and income to reflect the most recent U.S. Census data. Study-specific weights included for gender by age, race/ethnicity, region and education to reflect GSS 2016 data. The completed sample is 1,010 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
 
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 is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine.)
 

4/19/2018 8:42:42 AM by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments



Video games studied in new theological framework

April 19 2018 by Brian Koonce, The Pathway

Matt Millsap admits he made up the word “theoludology” for his doctoral dissertation in systematic theology.
 
Google theoludology (pronounced theo-lude-ology) and literally every result includes Millsap’s name. Broken up into its roots, his dissertation topic becomes clearer, even if doesn’t become easier to pronounce. “Theo-” and “-ology” are clear enough. “Ludo” is the Latin root for “game” or “play.”

Illustration by Brian Koonce


Mashed together, Millsap created a new discipline: thinking about video games from a theological point of view.
 
Millsap is assistant director of library services at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and teaches courses such as Christianity and the Arts at the seminary’s Spurgeon College.
 
And he’s a bit of a video game nerd.
 
Literally every surface of his office is piled high with systematic theology textbooks and academic journals, but his home entertainment center is piled high with a PlayStation 4, Xbox One and a Nintendo Switch.
 
While some may dismiss gaming as a time-wasting holdover from boyhood or a trivial escape from the rigors of academia, Millsap would ask them to press pause.
 
Theologians regularly interact with media and the arts, he notes. Film and television are common topic for theological dialogue, and religious thinkers have been pondering painting, literature, sculpture and music for thousands of years.
 
Why isn’t the same true, he asks, for an art form that’s emerged in the past 40 years?
 

Beyond Pac-Man & Super Mario

One reason Millsap feels the time has come to consider video games with God in mind is that they have seriously evolved as technology has improved.
 
“We are naturally a storytelling people; that’s how God made us to communicate,” Millsap said. “You think back to arcade games of the late 1970s and the graphics were very crude. There wasn’t a whole lot technologically we could do to convey a story.”
 
So there basically wasn’t one. Games were simple and straightforward. Players dropped Tetris blocks into place, urged a hapless Frogger across a busy road, or frantically pressed UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT to cheat an early shoot ’em up. Forty years later, gone are the primitive pixels of Pong or Pac-Man and the simple sprites of Super Mario or Space Invaders.
 
“Now, in 2018, game designers have millions of dollars and all sorts of technology at their disposal,” Millsap said. “They can tell a story much in the same way that a film can. Not all games do this, but people want to play stories.”
 
Indeed, it’s now common for the most popular and awarded games to feature 10-, 20- or even 50-hour storylines complete with motion-capture acting and top-tier voice talent. Many high-profile games are essentially interactive movies, and a compelling single-player story can overcome technological weaknesses or the occasional gameplay flaw.
 

Theological framework

And just like the opening level of an unfamiliar game, Millsap has come up with a tutorial for tackling these story-focused games and figuring out and critiquing what they might communicate about God.
 
“Games are their own thing,” he said. “You have to respect the medium in terms of what it does and how it communicates, then bring theology into the conversation and meld them together.”

Matt Millsap


So he came up with a game studies – or ludological – method, drawing from the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, a traditional Methodist way of approaching Christian theology that begins with scripture, then folds in tradition, reason and experience.
 
Being a good Baptist, Millsap keeps scripture primary – an “extraludic norm,” he calls it. With that in mind, Millsap cautions that Christians should be discerning about which games they play to ensure that no content will cause them to sin, just as they should do with movies or literature, and they should limit games to their appropriate audiences.
 
“Anything we discover as we dialogue with a video game has to be held up against the standard of scripture,” Millsap said. “If it doesn’t, then we have to reject whatever they might be saying about God as false.”
 
With the overarching umbrella of scriptural primacy in view, game studies had its own versions of tradition, reason and experience. Gaming’s traditions, or doctrines, become a sort of gaming literacy. Once a player “gets” how a certain genre of game works and is structured, they know what to expect and how to approach the next one. One doctrine informs the next.
 
“It’s much like how you can’t talk about Christology [the doctrine of Jesus] without having that bleed into your soteriology [the doctrine of salvation],” Millsap said.
 

Video gaming’s milieu

Next, reason equates to game mechanics and structure: the press of a button or the nudge of a joystick will trigger this. Just as there is order and structure to the universe as God created it and He has given mankind reason to ponder it, video games follow the rules of their own creator.
 
For experience, its ludological twin is what Millsap calls player identification and agency. “We have to be careful not to elevate an individual experience to a level it should not be in theology,” he said, “but the way it interacts with a video game is different. You’re transporting yourself into the role of that character.
 
“When your character performs an action, it’s different than an actor on a movie screen performing that action. You are the one controlling it. If that character believes something, do you believe it too? Are you acting in your own beliefs or that character’s?”
 
Millsap’s go-to illustration of this type of theological thinking is the game “Journey.” A title originally released for the PlayStation 3 in 2012, it is also available for the PlayStation 4. Players take control of a mysterious, unnamed, hooded character to go on a journey. You wake up, see a light on top of a mountain, and start your story. That’s it. The Game of the Year according to the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, it racked up plenty of praise: various gaming publications called it “a hallmark of excellence,” “a glorious, thoughtful, moving masterpiece” and “mysterious and beautiful.” Not bad for a game with no dialogue, no instructions and no text. Players inherently know the game’s designers have something planned out to experience.
 
“They wanted to make something you could interpret, and that’s where I apply that [theoludology] framework,” Millsap said. “What might this say about a Christian’s journey through life in terms of what God has called us to? It all leads up to the final culmination which is this great eschatological [having to do with the end times] scene where you think that – ”
 
Millsap won’t give away the ending for those concerned with spoilers, but the scene “makes a lot more sense from a Christian interpretation than any other religion.”
 
So what’s the point? Millsap is not saying that mashing buttons is a path to a deeper understanding of God or defeating the next game’s challenge is a discipleship tool. The idea is just that it’s worth considering the stories and scenarios that gamers encounter from a theological perspective.
 
“I play video games anyway as a form of recreation,” Millsap said. “It’s something I enjoy in my spare time much in the same way I enjoy reading a book or listening to music, which are gifts from God that He made us able to enjoy as recreation. It’s like watching someone play football or playing it yourself; we play and watch sports and games for the sheer joy of playing, even without that explicit theological component to the narrative.
 
“But because so many video games now go in a narrative direction and tell a story, it makes sense that we would want to consider them from that perspective. I need to ask myself important questions, and think about whether I believe what it’s saying is true. If a video game is intending to tell a serious narrative and I don’t approach it seriously, thoughtfully and from a Christian perspective, then I’m not doing it justice.”
 
Game over.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Koonce is assistant editor of The Pathway, mbcpathway.com, news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)
 

4/19/2018 8:26:56 AM by Brian Koonce, The Pathway | with 0 comments



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