April 2018

Army chaplain fights charge of unlawful discrimination

April 19 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Southern Baptist chaplain Jerry Scott Squires is fighting a U.S. Army investigator’s charge of unlawful discrimination for refusing to preside over a marriage retreat including same-sex couples.
But Squires followed federal law and Army and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) chaplaincy protocol when he rescheduled a Feb. 9 Strong Bonds marriage retreat in order to involve a non-SBC chaplain, thereby accommodating the attendance of a lesbian couple, First Liberty Institute said in an April 17 letter to the Army in Squires’ defense.

Chaplain Jerry Scott Squires

“Federal law and Army policy both make clear that chaplains must remain faithful to the tenets of their faith,” First Liberty attorney Michael Berry wrote in the letter. “The failure of a chaplain to do so exposes the chaplain to risk of losing their ecclesiastical endorsement, or worse, violates ... federal law and policy. ... Squires’ actions here are fully protected by federal law and regulation.”
Squires, who follows the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message in protocol established by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) as an SBC-endorsed chaplain, told First Liberty he was shocked when an Army investigator concluded he should face disciplinary action, which is currently pending.
“I hope the Army sees that I was simply following Army regulations and the tenets of my church,” Squires, a decorated major with more than 25 years of military service, said in a First Liberty press release April 17.
NAMB executive director of chaplaincy Doug Carver, a former Army chief of chaplains, defended Squires in a statement to Baptist Press (BP) April 18.
“The relationship between endorsed military chaplains and their ecclesiastical authority is sacrosanct and protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Carver emailed BP. “In a technical sense, military chaplains are ‘on loan’ to the Armed Forces from their respective faith groups who, in turn, expect the military to be faithful stewards of our pastors in uniform.“
Squires has “our full support and prayers,” Carver said, “as he remains faithful to his Lord, his tenets of faith, and his commitment to serve all soldiers under his care.”
The lesbian soldier who filed an equal opportunity complaint against Squires attended the event with her wife on the new date, First Liberty told BP, while some heterosexual couples could not amend their schedules to accommodate the change.
Likely, the Army’s investigating officer was not aware of or simply disregarded federal law protecting Squires, Berry, First Liberty’s deputy general counsel & director of military affairs, told BP.
“I think had he been aware or properly trained how to analyze that,” Berry said, “he may have concluded differently. Everything that Chaplain Squires did was clearly not only within the law and within Army regulations, but actually required and protected by federal law and Army regulations.
“So in other words, Chaplain Squires was actually complying with the law,” Berry said.
In his letter, Berry cited Section 533(b) of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) stipulating the armed forces may not “require a chaplain to perform any rite, ritual, or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain” and protecting chaplains from disciplinary actions in such cases. Berry also cited Department of Defense Instruction 1300.17, which protects Squires by incorporating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Army should “disapprove” the investigator’s findings against Squires, “unsubstantiate” the equal opportunity complaint, and “ensure that any adverse or unfavorable information” relating to the complaint is not included in Squires’ service record, Berry stated in the letter.
Berry said he expects a response from the Army within a week or two.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/19/2018 8:22:47 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

SBC called ‘force multiplier’ for local churches

April 18 2018 by SBTS Communications

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a “force multiplier” for local churches, noted Mark Dever April 13 during a public conversation with R. Albert Mohler Jr.

SBTS photo
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, right, talks with Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC, at the 2018 Together for the Gospel Conference.

“I became an advocate for [my church] becoming more involved in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Dever explained, “not out of a sense of tribal loyalty – not that that’s bad – but because as a gospel Christian who wants to see the gospel taken to the ends of the earth, I think the SBC is a force multiplier.”
The two spoke as part of a gathering for Southern Baptists attending the 2018 Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference April 11-13 in Louisville, Ky. Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, and Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., discussed the state and importance of the SBC.
In their 45-minute back-and-forth, they touched on the nature of denominations, the theological commitments of Southern Baptists, the Cooperative Program and the upcoming SBC annual meeting in Dallas.

Are denominations, like the SBC, divisive?

Dever explained that he often hears younger Christians complain about denominations because they perceive them as divisive, splitting Christians instead of unifying them. But Mohler suggested that the removal of denominations would bring far more disunity.
He noted the absence of denominations only creates artificial unity. Without denominations, what you’re left with is either theological liberalism, because you’re saying doctrine doesn’t matter, or a state church, because an external authority is determining theology and practice over and against individual churches.
“The existence of denominationalism is not a scandal,” Mohler said. “A scandal is the coercion of conscience and the denial of religious liberty or the watering down of the faith so it wouldn’t matter.”
Denominations, Mohler said, necessarily come from a combination of theological conviction and religious liberty.

Southern Baptists and evangelicalism

Dever and Mohler also addressed how central the theological convictions of Southern Baptists, as expressed explicitly in the Baptist Faith and Message, are representative of evangelical theology. But a commitment to evangelical theology does not mean Southern Baptists are, in Mohler’s words, “mere evangelicals.”
Still, conferences like Together for the Gospel and the similar Gospel Coalition conferences predicate on pastors and lay Christians celebrating the doctrine they hold in common. And Dever explained that he hears fellow Baptists worry that those who participate in conferences like these are “minimizing doctrinal differences we would have with other people who are participating.” The worry is the diminishment of Baptist identity.
Mohler said he believes the opposite is actually true.
“To the contrary, we are most specific about these issues,” he said. “Because here’s what is interesting: Even in our friendly banter with one another, we’re not avoiding the theological issues. ... The point is that the people who show up at this conference show up as the most full-bodied in conviction.
“If this were about trying to subjugate or avoid theology, we would not just have sat through an hour on the immutability of God, filled not only with biblical exposition but confessional citation,” Mohler said, referencing a plenary talk from pastor and professor Kevin DeYoung about the doctrine of God.

How the SBC’s Cooperative Program helps local churches

In explaining the benefits of the SBC to local church pastors, Dever described his experience of leading his church to increased giving to the Cooperative Program.
“When I came to our church, it was 130 people, mostly elderly,” he recalled. “Our budget was in the red and we were not doing well. I knew that if we began to see anyone called out to serve the Lord in ministry or in ministry overseas, we would need the help of things like the International Mission Board, things like Southern Seminary.
“To do that, you need to step into the convention,” he noted. “I explained to them that if we start seeing people raised up, we can’t pay for them all. But if we will cooperate with these [more than 47,000] other churches, together they’ll [help] pay for every missionary we raise up. As long as they’re qualified, this family of churches will take care of them better than any other group of churches I’m aware of in evangelicalism.”
Mohler added that the SBC allows churches to extend their ministries beyond the tenure of current leaders.
“Every denomination is some mix of theology and what can, for better or worse, be called tribalism,” he said. “Tribalism can be very bad. It’s like nationalism: It can be exclusivistic and can be idolatrous.
“But let me tell you how it can be very good,” he added. “One of the great strengths of the Southern Baptist Convention is that there is someone who will care about what you care about if you fall or you die. That’s something really, really important to me.”

Southern Baptist pastors and denominational life

Dever and Mohler discussed the importance of participating in the life of the denomination beyond contributing financially, which Mohler called a stewardship responsibility.
“Someone eventually has to decide what kind of person gets sent as a missionary, what kind of theological convictions do we expect of our seminaries, what’s our idea of a healthy church, what kinds of churches should we plant, how do we know when what we’ve planted was a church,” said Mohler, encouraging the Southern Baptists to “show up” in denominational life. “Someone is making those decisions. Guess who they are. They’re the people who are in the room when the decisions are made.”

The significance of the 2018 SBC annual meeting

The two discussed the upcoming annual meeting in Dallas, including the two candidates expected to be nominated for SBC president. Right now, the two presidential nominees are Ken Hemphill, an administrator at North Greenville University and former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C.
Dever and Mohler acknowledged that the two men bring a different vision to the presidency and certainly represent different generations of Southern Baptists. But Mohler pointed out the extent to which Southern Baptists should celebrate these two candidates, regardless of who wins the election.
“The good news is that both of these candidates are men of stellar character,” he said. “Both are men who’ve been tested.
“Both of these men would fully articulate evangelical conviction and defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” he said. “Both of them eagerly believe in evangelism; both of them eagerly believe in missions. Both of them have healthy home lives. That’s very good news. What an incredible blessing to the denomination.”
Dever and Mohler’s full conversation, including breakdowns of the history and structures of the SBC, will be available at t4g.org in the coming weeks.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – The Communications team at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary released this report.)

4/18/2018 8:57:46 AM by SBTS Communications | with 0 comments

TRUSTEES: NOBTS announces multiethnic initiative

April 18 2018 by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) announced a multiethnic initiative designed to diversify the seminary community and a tuition cap plan during its spring trustee meeting on April 12.

NOBTS graphic

Trustees approved a $23.4 million dollar budget, four new master of arts in missiology specializations, new undergraduate training sites and faculty promotions. In addition, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore was named visiting professor of theology and ethics, and Liberty University apologist Gary Habermas was named as visiting professor of apologetics.
NOBTS President Chuck Kelley introduced the multiethnic initiative, which he calls “Different Voices,” during the presidential report. The goal of the initiative is the increase in minority representation in every layer of the seminary community – students, staff and faculty.
Initial plans include workshops for minority students seeking a ministry in Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) academics and a doctoral fellowship for minority students. As the plan was developed, Kelley met with minority students to share ideas and receive feedback. Kelley said the group wholeheartedly endorsed the name of the initiative and continues to offer suggestions to help the initiative succeed.
In support of “Different Voices,” board chairman Frank Cox appointed John Foster to lead the instruction committee for the NOBTS board of trustees.
Foster, retired educator who holds a doctorate, is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. Foster became the first African American to lead the school’s instruction committee.
Kelley also announced a new tuition cap plan for SBC students on the main campus and those who are taking mentoring classes. These students will pay regular tuition rates for the first 12 semester hours of study.
However, an additional three or six hours (for a total of 15-18 semester hours) can be taken free of charge. According Provost Norris Grubbs, the tuition cap will help full-time graduate and undergraduate students save thousands of dollars and complete degrees in a shorter period of time. See nobts-a.lpages.co/tuition-cap for more information.
Trustees approved a revision of the master of arts in missiology degree which created four specializations: mission, church planting, diaspora missions and urban missions.
The church planting specialization will help students connect with the North American Mission Board’s Send church planters for mentoring opportunities while completing their degree. The diaspora and urban missions specializations are responses to the current world situation. As many as 360 unreached people groups have reportedly immigrated to the United States in recent years.
The diaspora specialization prepares ministers to respond to this unprecedented opportunity for gospel witness. At the same time, more than 50 percent of the world’s population is centered around urban areas. The urban missions specialization offers training tailored to those who will minister in the urban centers of the world. For more on the missiology specializations, visit nobts-a.lpages.co/missions-at-nobts.
A new prison extension was approved for Whitworth Women’s Facility in Georgia. Funds have been secured to offer an associate degree for a cohort of 25 women. After the first cohort completes the 70-hour associate degree, a bachelor’s program will be offered if private funding can be secured.
The board approved a plan to launch undergraduate programs at the seminary’s Orlando, Fla., Extension Center, which meets at the Church at the Cross. An undergraduate certificate training site was also approved at Friendship Baptist Association in Ellaville, Ga.
Trustees elected four long-time faculty members as distinguished professors. Mike Edens was elected as distinguished professor of theology and missions; Harold Mosley as distinguished professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Charlie Ray as distinguished professor of New Testament and Greek; and Phillip Pinckard as distinguished professor of missions.
As distinguished professors the men will remain an integral part of the seminary community and continue to be engaged in teaching. Extra duties such as academic committees and administrative tasks will no longer be required, freeing them to focus on instruction and mentoring of students (especially those seeking advanced degrees).
Robert E. Wilson Sr. was elected to serve as associate professor of Christian ministry in the seminary’s Leavell College (ministry-based). Wilson, who previously lead the North American Mission Board’s African American Church Planting Unit, currently leads the seminary certificate training program in Georgia – many of which are equipping church leaders in minority communities.
Wilson earned master’s and doctoral degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has 35 years of pastoral and denominational ministry experience. In addition to his work with NOBTS, Wilson is senior pastor of God’s Acre Baptist Church at Ben Hill in Atlanta and is a member of the Georgia Baptist Convention executive committee.
In other faculty-related actions, the trustees promoted the following faculty members:

  • Jody Dean to associate professor of Christian education,
  • Craig Garrett to associate professor of counseling,
  • David Lema to professor of missions,
  • Jong Gil Lee to associate professor of expository preaching.

The trustees approved tenure for the following faculty members:

  • Bong Soo Choi, professor of New Testament and Greek,
  • Jody Dean,
  • Craig Garrett,
  • Adam Harwood, associate professor of theology,
  • Jong Gil Lee.

Kelley announced the following appoints to key academic posts:

  • Bo Rice as graduate dean,
  • Jeff Riley as associate dean of research doctoral programs,
  • Craig Garrett, dean of students, as associate vice president of student affairs.

The board also approved a plan to move the Fall 2018 meeting to the first week in October to coincide with the concluding celebration of the seminary’s 100th anniversary. The trustees also re-elected Frank Cox as board chair, Bryant Barnes was re-elected as vice chair, and Jack Bell will serve a second term as board secretary.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gary Myers is director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)

4/18/2018 8:57:21 AM by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS | with 0 comments

Nebraska, Tennessee defund Planned Parenthood

April 18 2018 by Samantha Gobba, WORLD Digital

Nebraska and Tennessee this month joined more than a dozen states that have cut funding for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, a pro-life campaign that has seen mixed results.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts approved a budget that prohibits Title X funding from going to abortion providers, directing $1.9 million toward centers that neither refer nor perform abortions.
Planned Parenthood criticized the move, saying it would “block health care” for at least 8,000 people. But Nebraska Right to Life director Julie Schmit-Albin said the law will prevent “illegal melding of Title X funds to support abortion activities.”
Use of federal funds to perform abortions or to fund entities that perform abortions is prohibited by federal law, but Planned Parenthood claims it uses its $60 million in Title X funding and $390 million in Medicaid reimbursements for other services. In part because of that claim, many states’ efforts to direct Medicaid or Title X funding away from the abortion giant are tied up in court battles.
Undeterred by those challenges, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed two pieces of legislation that defund Planned Parenthood in different ways.
The first bill codifies an administrative policy from 2011 that prioritizes federally qualified health centers over other facilities, including abortion providers.
Brian Harris, director of Tennessee Right to Life, said the state has 187 federally qualified health centers, and only four Planned Parenthood facilities. The health centers “are far more accessible and offer comprehensive services,” he said.
Tennessee’s policy has directed $1.1 million away from Planned Parenthood every year, without directly targeting the abortion giant.
“The policy doesn’t directly name Planned Parenthood and, legally, they can still compete for the funds,” Harris noted. “But they are a bottom tier contender, and during the last seven years, no Title X funds have been directed by the state of Tennessee to Planned Parenthood facilities anywhere in our state.”
The second law could face a tough legal challenge, as it blocks state funds from going to abortion providers. Similar measures in other states have had mixed success. Of the 16 states that have either legislatively or judicially redirected some or all funding from Planned Parenthood to other entities, at least a half-dozen have had federal judges block the laws.
The clash over funding has gone all the way to Washington: At the end of 2016, the Barack Obama administration issued an order prohibiting states from withholding Title X funds from abortion providers, an 11th-hour rule that President Donald Trump overturned a month later.
Americans United for Life Chief Legal Officer Steven Aden said he expects the Supreme Court to examine the funding conflict sometime next year. Kansas has appealed a federal court ruling against its redirection of Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood. Louisiana plans to file its own petition later this month, Aden said.
Federally qualified health centers outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities 20-to-1 nationwide, and they offer a full range of healthcare, not just reproductive-related services, Aden noted. That makes redirecting funds beneficial not only from a moral perspective, “but it’s also good fiscal policy and it’s good healthcare policy,” Aden said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Samantha Gobba writes for WORLD Digital, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission.)

4/18/2018 8:56:58 AM by Samantha Gobba, WORLD Digital | with 0 comments

Racism, sexual sin among T4G speakers’ topics

April 18 2018 by SBTS Communications

Racism and sexual sin were among the facets of holiness addressed during the 2018 Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference during nine plenary sessions attended by more than 12,500 evangelicals.

SBTS photo
David Platt, one of nine plenary speakers at the 2018 Together for the Gospel conference, speaks from Amos 5 in a sermon titled “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters: Racism and Our Need for Repentance.”

“Distinct from the world” was the theme of the April 11-13 sessions in the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Ky. The conference also featured various panel discussions, breakout sessions and other gatherings.
Speakers David Platt and R. Albert Mohler Jr. addressed the key issues of racism and sexual sin, respectively, during their messages.
Platt, outgoing president of the International Mission Board and pastor of McLean Bible Church in northern Virginia, preached from Amos 5 in a sermon titled “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters: Racism and Our Need for Repentance.”
He acknowledged “landmines” associated with such a sensitive topic, particularly in a room of 12,000 people who likely represented thousands of opinions and perspectives.
From the text of Amos 5, in which the prophet Amos indicted the people of Israel for participating in religious ceremonies while ignoring injustice around them, Platt pointed to three “indictments” from Amos to the Israelites: 1) “They were eagerly anticipating future salvation while they were conveniently denying present sin”; 2) “They were indulging in worship while they were ignoring injustice”; and 3) “They were carrying on their religion while they were refusing to repent.”
The point of the passage, as it relates to justice and injustice, Platt said, is this: “God is not honored by mouths that are quick to sing and hands quick to raise in worship when those same mouths are slow to speak and those same hands are slow to act against injustice.”
Beyond “caveats” of other forms of injustice in the United States and around the world, Platt pointed to multiple forms of racism that exist in regard to white-black tensions in the United States, particularly among Christians.
Platt rhetorically asked T4G attendees: “Have we been, or are we now, slow to speak and slow to work against racial injustice around us?”
The answer, he said, is a “resounding yes” – evangelical churches and church leaders in the United States have been “slow to speak and slow to work against racial injustice” and, thus, have “historically widened, and are currently widening, the racial divide in [the] country.”
Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, addressing the topic of sexual sin, exhorted T4G attendees to guard against its corrosive effects – both for the health of their souls and the reputation of the church.
Mohler preached on 1 Corinthians 5:1-6:11, a key text in the New Testament on how the church should discipline members who persist in unrepentant sin. The apostle Paul, Mohler said, called the church in Corinth to practice church discipline on its members while lovingly calling unbelievers outside the church to repentance.
“The purpose of church discipline is not just to make certain that the church does not have a bad reputation because of an unrepentant sinful member,” Mohler said. “It is so that person who has betrayed the gospel by his or her behavior and unrepentant sin and obstinate arrogance – that such a one being handed over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh may nonetheless or even thereby be so desperate to once again cling to Christ.”
The contemporary church faces the same distinct danger of sexual immorality that first-century Corinth did, Mohler said. As a result, the church has no credibility to speak about the cultural implications of human sexuality without wrestling with God’s demands of holiness upon it, he said.
“Sin tolerated in the church,” Mohler said, “is a disaster to the church and the gospel.”
Matt Chandler, in his T4G message, preached from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, stating that preachers cannot use the doctrine of grace as an excuse for not addressing the necessity of moral living.
Chandler, senior pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, and president of the Acts 29 network, said he often meets younger pastors who grew up in legalistic churches where the teaching began and ended at “life principles” and rule-based Christianity. As these believers grew and came to a healthy understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ, they felt scandalized by the deficiencies of their own Christian experiences. The result, Chandler fears, is that a generation of Christians now is so afraid to be labeled “legalists” that they avoid all discussion of Jesus’ moral teaching or how Christians should live.
This propensity, Chandler said, doesn’t fit with Matthew 5. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount will not allow Christians to be legalists because the teaching of Jesus can only be lived by the “inner transformation” brought about in salvation. “We see in the Sermon on Mount a proclamation of Christian living,” Chandler said.
Also featured during T4G’s plenary sessions were Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., who described holiness as the distinctive mark of the church – and of the godly pastor; H.B. Charles, pastor-teacher at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., and president of the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, who said people must “pick a side” between the wisdom of the world and the “folly” of the cross; Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, N.C., who noted that an unchanging God inspires unshakeable confidence; Ligon Duncan, chancellor/CEO of the Reformed Theological Seminary system and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, who described holiness as requiring compassion for others; Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C., who stated that holiness defends the church against its enemy’s accusations; John MacArthur, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., and speaker on the Grace To You radio ministry, who said the pastor should have one main concern: the sanctification of his people; and author, Bible teacher John Piper, who said holiness and a “delight in God” can only come from genuine new birth.
Videos of the main sessions are available at t4g.org/resources.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the communications staff of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

4/18/2018 8:20:31 AM by SBTS Communications | with 0 comments

Half the man he used to be: Pastor drops 240 pounds

April 18 2018 by Roger Alford, Kentucky Today

There’s a good reason for the spring in Jeremy Atwood’s step.
The Glasgow, Ky., pastor has lost 240 pounds over the past two years on a quest to restore his physical and spiritual health.

Photo by Roger Alford, Kentucky Today
Kentucky pastor Jeremy Atwood holds up a pair of paints that he wore when he weighed 491 pounds.

For Atwood, food had become a vice that was sapping his energy and hindering his ministry. Years of unchecked eating had brought him to the brink of 500 pounds.
“I was a fast food junkie,” he said. “I mean, I was truly addicted.”
Atwood, 37, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, isn’t alone in his struggle with food. Studies have shown that one of every three Kentuckians is considered obese. And pastors are especially prone.
That’s why Atwood, along with an army of others who are fighting through weight issues, have begun sounding the warning about one of the chief occupational hazards of their jobs – overeating.
Facing schedules heavy on weekday luncheons, Sunday afternoon dinners and endless potluck meals, it’s easy for pastors to add inches to the waistband. Studies show that more than 75 percent of American preachers are overweight, many to the point of obesity.
Seymour Wattenbarger, director of missions for the Knox Association of Baptists in southeastern Kentucky, said pastors often joke about their food consumption, but, he says, it’s no laughing matter. Wattenbarger knows. He dropped 75 pounds three years ago in a push to restore his health after suffering a stroke.
“Our pastors are digging their graves with their teeth,” he said.
It would be the words of a 5-year-old boy in the Great Smokey Mountains to shake Atwood to his senses, putting him on a path to wholeness. With all the eye-catching sites in the most-visited tourist area in the nation, the child was astonished by Atwood’s girth. With a look of amazement, the child called for his mother to look too.
“I can still see the little boy in my mind,” Atwood said. “He wasn’t being mean, and he wasn’t being malicious. We all know small children can be brutally honest. They don’t have a filter, and they don’t have a volume control. It really stung that this little boy considered me a freak.”
After returning home, Atwood and his wife Cara had gone out to eat with Curtis Woods, associate executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, at Rough River State Resort Park, where they took full advantage of the restaurant’s buffet line. Both men felt guilty about their gluttony that day and challenged each other to do better.
That brought Atwood to a date he remembers well: Dec. 28, 2015. That’s the day he went to the doctor to seek help. That’s also the day he stepped on a scale for the first time in about two years because he preferred not knowing how much he weighted.
“God had really been convicting me, bringing me to the point of complete brokenness,” he said. “I felt awful. I looked awful. I knew I had to do something about it. So, I made an appointment with a doctor to discuss bariatric surgery.”
From the waiting room, Atwood heard the nurse call his name. He walked back to the examination area. The first stop was the scale. She asked him to step on. The dial read 491 pounds.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I knew I was out of control, but I didn’t know it was that bad. Had that nurse not been standing there, I probably would have burst into tears.”
Atwood, a lineman on his high school football team, had always struggled with his weight. He tipped the scale at 250 pounds when he graduated college. He slowly gained year by year after that. Yo-yo dieting didn’t help. He said it wasn’t uncommon for him to lose 30 pounds and gain back 40. One year, he put on 70 pounds.
“I had lost my prophetic voice,” Atwood said. “How are you going to speak to someone about their sin when you weigh 491 pounds? I knew I had to do whatever it took to lose that weight, to be obedient to Christ.”
After having a gastric sleeve procedure in April of 2016, Atwood nowadays runs and lifts weights to help keep the weight off. He has competed in his first 5K race and is looking forward to a half-marathon. He also plans to skydive.
“For too long, I just existed,” he said. “I want to live life to the fullest.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roger Alford is editor of Kentucky Today, kentuckytoday.com, a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

4/18/2018 8:02:28 AM by Roger Alford, Kentucky Today | with 0 comments

SBC EC elects diverse presidential search team

April 17 2018 by David Roach & Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The six-member committee charged with nominating the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) is marked by racial and gender diversity as well as a mixture of clergy and laypeople.

Photo by Rebecca Manry
The EC presidential search committee comprises (clockwise from left) Stephen Rummage, Adron Robinson, Rolland Slade, Steve Swofford, Joe Knott and Carol Yarber.

The presidential search committee was elected during a special called EC meeting in Nashville April 17. The meeting – prompted by the March 27 departure of former EC President Frank S. Page because of a moral failure – also included reports from EC chairman Stephen Rummage and interim president D. August Boto.
In executive session, the EC voted to grant limited post-employment benefits to Page, which include money for marital counseling, five years of Medicare supplemental coverage and some EC-provided computer equipment he had used in his home.

Presidential search committee

The six elected presidential search committee members, which include two African Americans and a woman, 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.;

– Steve Swofford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rockwall, Texas; and

– Carol Yarber, a retired medical administrator from Athens, Texas.

A total of 18 EC members were nominated from the floor to serve on the search committee. Following nominations, each EC member present was permitted, in accordance with EC bylaws, to vote for as many as six nominees.

The EC’s bylaws permit a seven-member search committee, which would include six elected members plus service by the EC chairman in an ex officio capacity. However, some EC members expressed a desire for Rummage to continue serving on the committee after his term as EC chairman expires in June. Rummage’s election to the search committee will allow him to continue serving on that body until its work is completed.
If the search committee is still working in June when a new EC chairman is elected, that person will become an ex officio member.
The search committee held its first meeting immediately following the conclusion of this afternoon’s plenary session.

‘Very difficult weeks’

In his report to the EC, Rummage thanked committee members “for praying for me, for our Executive Committee and certainly for the family of Dr. Page in these last several weeks. These have been very difficult weeks for all of us, and yet we have seen the Lord show Himself strong on our behalf and known His presence with us throughout this time.”
Boto said the EC staff will be “aiming for normalcy” during his interim presidency, including preparations for June’s SBC annual meeting in Dallas and “performing our duties each week until then and thereafter in the manner that our churches and our entities have grown to expect and depend on.”
Boto added he is “declining in advance if anyone were to suggest that the search committee consider me” as the permanent EC president.
A key aspect of Boto’s interim leadership, he said, will be the assistance of EC presidential ambassador Jimmy Draper, who will represent the EC through preaching assignments and with SBC entity presidents.
At Boto’s invitation, Draper made his first remarks before the EC since his April 9 appointment, reminding the group of the heaviness of its tasks and encouraging members to act in unity.
“Many of your meetings are very routine and predictable; this is not one of them,” said Draper, former president of LifeWay Christian Resources. “... You’re starting the process today to elect the seventh president of the Executive Committee, who will be the most visible face for Southern Baptists across the country. I want to just remind you, this is not a popularity contest when you elect this committee.”
The search committee should exemplify leadership, wisdom and diversity, Draper said. He pointed to the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17 as a model for the EC in electing a search committee.
“I’m not talking about uniformity,” Draper said. “Differences of opinion are not a threat to unity. Lack of trust and suspicions [are] a threat. So we need to pay attention to what Jesus prayed for ... as you carefully select those that will be on this committee.”
The full EC should stand behind any decisions made by the body, Draper said, despite any differences of opinion that might arise during internal deliberations.
“It’s not about us. It’s about a sovereign Creator God who brought about the redemption of mankind through the death of His Son on the cross,” Draper said, “and He has assigned to us the gospel of reconciliation.”

Page’s post-employment benefits

Page’s post-employment benefits included “an amount of money to pay for or substantially subsidize the cost of qualified, experienced, and well-regarded spiritual and marital counseling,” with “a like amount of money to provide counseling for any other persons that may have been immediately involved in the circumstances surrounding Dr. Page’s departure,” according to the recommendation approved in executive session.
The five years of Medicare supplemental coverage for the Pages will be funded by the EC “at a cost not to exceed $3,900 per year per person,” the recommendation stated. The computer equipment given to Page “has a combined value of approximately $750.”
Page also will receive an unpaid portion of his salary for the last three days of March.
Fighting back tears as the meeting closed, Rummage told the EC to a standing ovation for his leadership, “I know for all of you this has been a difficult day. It’s been a difficult day for me. I am sorry we’ve had to deal with what we’ve had to deal with today.”

Presidential selection process

The process for electing a new EC president is specified in EC Bylaw 6.5.2.
“When prepared to do so, the [search] committee shall offer” during an EC meeting held in executive session “a nominee for the office of president,” the bylaw states. “No other nominations may be offered. Following the committee’s report, the [EC] shall have the opportunity to hear and question the nominee and to discuss the nomination prior to voting by ballot whether to elect the nominee.”
If the nominee “receives a majority of the votes of the [EC members] present,” the bylaw states, “the nominee shall be elected. If the nominee is not elected, a new presidential search committee shall be selected” and “the nomination process shall be repeated.”
The Executive Committee president is the EC’s chief executive officer, reporting directly to the EC and serving as an ex officio member of the full body, its officers committee and all other regular committees, workgroups and special committees, according to the EC Bylaws.
According to the SBC Constitution, the EC president also serves as treasurer of the SBC. Under SBC Bylaw 18, he is responsible for fulfilling 14 duties given to the EC, as well as the mission statement and ministry assignments listed in the SBC Organization Manual. In addition, he is chair of the Southern Baptist Foundation’s board.

4/17/2018 6:05:42 PM by David Roach & Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

TFNG apologetics conference tackles tough issues

April 17 2018 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Alex McFarland’s annual Truth for a New Generation (TFNG) apologetics conference recently drew hundreds to the facilities of Life Community Church in Greensboro. The event called on Christians to address changing cultural issues.
The conference opened March 23 with Abraham Hamilton III, general counsel and chief policy analyst for the American Family Association (AFA). He also hosts a daily radio program, “The Hamilton Corner” on the AFA network.

Hamilton began with the question, “How many of you have heard that Christianity is a white man’s religion?”
As an African-American, Hamilton said he is sometimes criticized for being a Christian. Wrongly believing the Christian faith is a white man’s religion, some say he is not true to his heritage and should turn away from his faith in Christ.
Beginning with the New Testament, he set out to disprove that idea.
He said Acts 2:41-47 describes the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God was poured out on 120 believers.
“Those who comprised the church in that day were people from modern day Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Lybia, Tunisia, Algeria – and it included Arabs and Romans,” Hamilton said.

Four of those are African countries, he noted. “At the birthday of the church, there were Africans there from the beginning.”
Hamilton said, “The point of this conversation is not to Africanize Christianity, but to enable you and I to stand against the forces that could potentially hinder the advancement of the gospel in our day.”
Acts 8 tells the story of an Ethiopian eunuch that Phillip baptized. Hamilton said this African eunuch’s story shows “a continual outflowing of the Lord getting the gospel to all people in the first century. This Ethiopian ... became one of the principal founders of the Christian church in Ethiopia, according to Eusebius and other church historians.”
In Acts 11, believers were scattered because of the persecution of Stephen. The scripture lists men of Cypress and Cyrene. “Cyrene is a Roman province in Libya – that’s Africa,” Hamilton explained. “So the Bible is telling you, ... some of the first people to ever proclaim the gospel to people other than Jews included Africans.”
At Antioch the disciples of Christ were first called Christians, according to Acts 13:1. “It was the largest and earliest gentile church with apostolic oversight. ... It included African evangelists.
“Some of the leadership of the church at Antioch are identified including Barnabas and Simeon, who is called Niger. That refers to his skin color. He’s black.”
The early church historian Tertullian was one of the first to pen Christian literature in Latin, the language of the Roman empire. Tertullian was an African theologian, and a dedicated apologist who “defended Christianity against pagans and heretics. ... He was the first to use the word ‘trinity’ to describe the godhead,” said Hamilton.
Another early church patriarch, Athanasius, was mocked by his enemies as “the black dwarf.” This bishop of Alexandria, defended the divinity of Jesus against the prevailing Orthodox church of his day.
Augustine was born in the North African country of Algeria, “He singlehandedly, through his writings, shaped the entirety of Western Christian tradition through the Middle Ages. His book, City of God literally shaped Western political philosophy,” Hamilton stated.
Popular Christian author and apologist Josh McDowell’s message addressed the need to understand current social changes.
“Culturally, we have gone through a total epistemological shift,” he said. The word epistemological means “the source and nature of truth.”
It deals with what truth is and where it comes from. “We’ve had a total shift in what truth is and even where it comes from.”
Two very different cultures are at play in relationships – the adult culture and the youth culture. “Even in Christian homes there are two cultures,” he said. “The problem is, the parents don’t know it, but the kids do.”
McDowell believes the differences grow out of two different understandings of truth. To the adult culture, truth is objective, external and discovered.
“But the youth culture would say, ‘That’s ridiculous.
All moral truth is created. It is personal opinion,” he added. “This generation has no reference point for truth.”
He said, for the first time in history, we may be living in an age when feelings trump science, history, facts and truth.
“The same-sex debate has nothing to do with science, facts or biology. It has to do with how you feel,” he explained. This is the shift away from objective truth.
Dictionaries add new words every year. In 2016 Oxford Dictionaries declared “post-truth” as its international word of the year, reflecting what it called a “highly-charged” political year. McDowell said Oxford’s definition reads, “Relating to or denoting circumstances which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion, that appeals to emotions or personal belief.”
“We are now living in a totally post-truth culture,” he said, which eventually shapes all conversations, even the fake news culture in media.
Conference organizer Alex McFarland challenged believers to think critically so they can evaluate the issues and learn to think for themselves. He said Christians must pray for government leaders according to 1 Timothy 2:1-3 to “endeavor for a culture most conducive for the spread of the gospel.”
“The backbone of this country, only hope for this country are those two blessed entities initiated by God Himself – the family and the church,” he added.
Believers cannot hand off to others the personal responsibility to live faithfully for Christ. McFarland said, “It is now necessary that each of us live at the height of our times.”
God is calling today’s followers of Christ to “Stand up for what is true, prioritize your life, jettison some cargo, reorder your priorities so that Christ is number one.” Often in debates with atheists, McFarland said the influence of individual Christians is challenged and even mocked. The question is raised, “Does the voice of one Christian matter in the face of media giants and the powerful influence of Hollywood and television?”
“Absolutely,” he affirmed. Biblical truth will remain standing in the end. Truth will never fail, he said.
Another conference speaker was former actress and pop culture expert, Tina Marie Griffin. Her message reviewed how pop culture and media is glamorizing harmful behaviors without showing the consequences and how these messages are eroding the foundational development of today’s youth. She discussed current TV shows, movies, video games, magazines and music, focusing on how wise media choices impacts relationships and self-worth.
J. Warner Wallace, a cold-case homicide detective and best-selling author, spoke to conference attendees from his experience as detective. He was a conscientious and vocal atheist until the age of 35, when he took a serious look at the evidence for the Christian worldview and determined that Christianity was demonstrably true.
Wallace earned a master’s degree in theological studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (since renamed Gateway Seminary).
His Cold-Case Christianity website, blog and podcast are platforms for evidence supporting Christianity.

Lauren Green, chief religion correspondent for the Fox News Channel, recalled the political and religious turmoil in Jesus’ day, and the way religious leaders used political leaders to do their dirty work – like crucifying Jesus. Pilate was a powerful man politically, but confused when faced with the meaning of truth.
“Truth complicates things because we like to live in gray areas,” Green said. Jesus was saying, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” To follow Jesus is to follow the one who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
“The truth can be known,” she continued. “In fact you can have a relationship with the truth. That’s what Christianity is.”
Other popular speakers included former Muslim Kamal Saleem, apologist Juan Valdes and Fox News contributor Todd Starnes.

4/17/2018 9:24:50 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Heritage Awards: N.C. Baptist entities recognize key leaders

April 17 2018 by From provided materials

Sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and North Carolina Baptist Foundation, the 18th annual North Carolina Baptist Heritage Awards were presented April 10 at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center in Greensboro. By entity, here is a list of this year’s recipients.

Baptist State Convention of North Carolina  – Fred B. Lunsford

Although Lunsford considers himself a mountain preacher, his influence extends far beyond the mountains he calls home.

Born and raised on a farm in Marble, N.C., he trusted Christ at an early age and surrendered to the ministry after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. After pastoring churches in western North Carolina and north Georgia, Fred became director of missions for the Truett Baptist Association, a position he held for 26 years.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) recognized Lunsford as Director of Missions of the Year for the eastern United States in 1987. That same year, he was recognized with a lifetime service award from the SBC’s seminary extension ministry.
He is known for conducting numerous Sunday School revivals across North Carolina.
Following his “retirement” from the Truett Association at age 65, Lunsford returned to local church ministry and pastored until a few years ago. Today, at 93, he still teaches a Sunday night Bible study at Vengeance Creek Baptist Church, the same church he attended as a youth. “They won’t let me give it up,” he said.
A lifelong supporter of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Lunsford was instrumental in establishing the Broyhill and Truett homes in western North Carolina. The Baptist Children’s Homes honored Fred with a distinguished service award in 2014. He has written five books and is working on a sixth.
Lunsford and his late wife, Gladys, are the parents of two sons: Dan, who is retiring as president of Mars Hill University, and Tony, a director of medical imaging in Georgia.

Biblical Recorder – C. Mark Corts (1938-2006)

Corts was a rare servant of God whose impact can be measured in the local church, Baptist associations, state conventions, the Southern Baptist Convention and the world. He served as senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem for more than 39 years, leading the church of 125 members to reach a membership of 6,000 believers who devoted 25 percent of its budget to mission causes.
Corts served as president of the North Carolina Baptist Pastors’ Conference (1976); president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (1977-79); a member of the Committee on Committees of the Southern Baptist Convention (1980) and as chairman of that committee in 1995; chairman of the Resolutions Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (1990); a member of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, now International Mission Board (1980-90), and chairman of that board (1988-1990); and on the Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute (now College) Board of Trustees.
Before his death in 2006, Corts mentored hundreds of young pastors through the Tarheel Leadership Network, a year-long training program he developed to equip the next generation of leaders. He preached weekly on ShareLife, the TV ministry of Calvary in the Piedmont Triad area. He participated in overseas ministry in more than 50 countries.
The Biblical Recorder posthumously honored Corts because of his vision for the news journal’s potential to advance Great Commission ministry through committed church members.

Campbell University – Mike and Quae Cummings

For nearly 40 years, the couple has been  synonymous with Burnt Swamp Baptist Association, one of the oldest Native American institutions in the state. The couple retired Feb. 28, with a combined 70 years of service for the Pembroke-based association.
Born the eighth of 12 children on a 20-acre farm in Robeson County, Mike Cummings, a Lumbee Indian, learned the meaning of discrimination at an early age. Until 1964, he was denied admittance to white schools but worked hard to get an education and ultimately became a leader not only of his people but of all North Carolina Baptists. Cummings graduated from Campbell College (now university) in 1974 and obtained a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1977.
A pastor for 19 years, Cummings became director of missions for the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association in 1988. He became vice president of the Baptist State Convention of N.C. in 1997 and president of the convention in 1999. He was named Lumbee Indian of the Year in 1985, was the recipient of the Campbell Presidential Medallion in 1999 and received his honorary doctor of divinity degree in 2000.
Quae Cummings grew up in the Coharie Indian community of Clinton, N.C. She attended the East Carolina Indian School until it closed in 1964, then graduated from Clinton High School in 1972. She graduated from UNC-Pembroke in 2007 with a degree in sociology.
She became the office secretary for Burnt Swamp association in 1979. She has been responsible for the administration office, coordinating its schedule and activities and leading the communication work for the association with its churches. She has also been called upon to speak for women’s ministries, earning superior regard across the Baptist State Convention.
Married since 1972, the Cummings have three children and three grandchildren.

Chowan University – Ernest Leroy and Austine Odom Evans

Married for 50 years, the Evans of Ahoskie, N.C., have faithfully served a number of state Baptist institutions, including Chowan.
A native of Martinsburg, W.Va., Austine spent 31 years in education, first at Peace College in admissions, then as a high school counselor in Hertford County, and ultimately as a senior administrator and vice president at Chowan, where she now serves on the Board of Trustees. She serves with the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and Meals on Wheels and is a past member of the Committee on Nominations of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Austine attended Wake Forest University for her undergraduate and master’s degrees.
Born in Norfolk, Va., Ernest began his career as a lawyer, working first as a research assistant in the N.C. Supreme Court, then as assistant attorney general, and finally as a partner at Cherry, Cherry, Flythe, and Evans in Ahoskie. He then turned to agriculture, first as vice president of E.R. Evans and Sons, Inc. and then as president of ELE, Inc., in Ahoskie. He has been a trustee of the North Carolina Baptist Hospital for 25 years, serving as chairman for six of those years. Ernest attended Wake Forest University for both undergraduate and law school.
They currently work alongside each other as president and vice president of ELE, Inc. The couple have been active members of First Baptist Church Ahoskie since first moving to the town in 1972, both serving as deacon and Sunday School teacher. Together they sponsor the Evans Poteat Scholarship for N.C. Baptist students at Wake Forest University and the Evans Family Scholarship at Chowan University.

Gardner-Webb University – C. Lorance and Betty Ledford Henderson

The couple’s distinguished tenure of service to the community, the church and Gardner-Webb University embodies the university’s motto – pro Deo et humanitate – for God and humanity. Few have contributed more to the field of deaf education than the Hendersons. Teaching and directing programs across the country, C. Lorance ultimately served as the superintendent and director for the N.C. Schools for the Deaf. She also served there as teacher and principal of the early childhood program.  
Betty has been active in the Morganton Women’s Club, Burke County Association for the Education of Young Children and Daughters of the American Revolution. He has served on the Piedmont Council for Boy Scouts of America, NC Clean Water Fund, Board of Directors for the NC Partnership for Children and founded the Friends of Lake James State Park. In 2008, he was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
He received an honorary doctorate from Gardner-Webb in 1979 and has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1980. He was instrumental in the creation of the Noel Center for Disability Resources, which provides access to higher education for qualified students with disabilities.
In addition, Betty, a member of Gardner-Webb Junior College’s class of ’53, and C. Lorance have established the Dr. Rance and Betty Henderson Endowed Scholarship Fund and the Henderson/Ledford Endowed Scholarship Fund.
They are members of First Baptist Church of Morganton, where they have both served faithfully as deacons, Sunday School teachers and members of various committees.
They have two children, David and Julie, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Mars Hill University – David Costner

Costner never underestimates the Sunday School lessons one experiences as a child. Cultivated and reinforced by his parents, the late Robert and Ruth Yates Costner, both Mars Hill College alumni. In 1966, Costner entered Mars Hill College, just like his sisters before him. He met the love of his life, Rebecca Sluder, on the first day of class. They have been best friends for 52 years and daughters – Jennifer, Laura and Julie – and nine grandchildren.
Upon graduating from Mars Hill, he taught and coached in Buncombe County while also serving in the U.S. Army Reserves. By 1975, a new career was launched in the transportation industry, which saw him ascend to positions ranging from sales manager to vice-president of national accounts. Throughout their many moves, the family always sought out loving churches, with David often serving as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, Royal Ambassador leader and youth coach. Upon retirement in 2013, David and Becky returned to the mountains and originally settled back in the church where they were married, with David again stepping forward as chair of the properties committee, chair of the capital funds campaign, and a deacon. And since 2014, he has been a passionate member of the Mars Hill University Board of Trustees.  

North Carolina Baptist Foundation – Ray and Girtrue Talley

The Talleys love for and commitment to Christ and His church, their involvement in ministry in Jesus’ name and their devotion to each other, define Ray and Girtrue Talley. Both have served on the Baptist Foundation Board of Directors, Girtrue three terms totaling 12 years and Ray for four years. As board members they made significant contributions to the foundation’s mission.
Girtrue, a native of Haywood County, had a long and distinguished career in banking from which she retired after 32 years. While she was excelling in her banking career, she and her late husband Cecil Young owned and operated The Community Superette in their hometown of Etowah. Still she had time to be active in her church, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, serving as WMU director, among many other responsibilities. On the Foundation Board she served in practically every capacity, including vice president. The computer lab at Fruitland Baptist Bible College was donated by Girtrue and Ray in memory of her late husband Cecil.
Ray has distinguished himself as a pastor in Georgia and North and South Carolina churches. He has served on the Board of Directors of both the N.C. and S.C. conventions. He is a Clemson Tiger and a graduate of New Orleans Seminary. For 14 years Ray was the pianist for the Kingsmen Quartet, and for years he and Girtrue have shared their musical talents in ministry. Ray has participated in 23 mission trips to Romania and is always in great demand as an interim pastor.
After both lost spouses the Lord brought this power team together on New Year’s Eve, 1997.

Baptists on Mission – Lynn Tharrington

Tharrington has served on the staff for North Carolina Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission for the past 47 years (since 1971). She has served as the administrative assistant for the last 46 years.
When she was 12 years old she went to missions week at Ridgecrest and after hearing all the missionaries she decided that she wanted to be a missionary. Since she was 18 years old, and began working for Baptists on Missions, she has ministered to thousands of people along with our board, staff, mission volunteers, her family, her church and others. God has used Tharrington and her call to missions, to impact thousands of people.  
She married Bobby Tharrington on Aug. 29, 1972. He died in August 2017. She has two children and five grandchildren. Tharrington is a member of Red Bud Baptist Church where she teaches Sunday School, plays the piano and is a servant leader for that church.

Wake Forest Baptist Hospital – Kathryn H. Hamrick

Kathryn H. Hamrick, of Boiling Springs, N.C., is a native of Asheville and daughter of a Baptist minister and a high school history teacher. She graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in Spanish. She married Cline Hamrick in 1970 and for the next 16 years she and her husband and their four sons operated a dairy farm in Boiling Springs. Hamrick began work at MetLife in the Shelby office, retiring as branch manager in 2013 after 25 years. For 30 years, she wrote a weekly humor column for the Shelby Star and in 2015, she published a book, The Farmer’s Wife, which contains favorite humor columns from decades of farm life. Kathryn has served N.C. Baptists as president of the General Board and vice president of the Baptist State Convention. She also served on the Coordinating Council of N.C.’s Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Hamrick has taught a ladies’ Sunday School class for more than 20 years and has served as a deacon of Boiling Springs Baptist Church. She is an active member of the Friendship Force and Boiling Springs Rotary and serves on the boards of the Cleveland County Community Foundation and the Noel Program for Students with Disabilities at Gardner-Webb University. She has served multiple terms as a trustee of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and served on the Hospital’s Faith and Health Ministries Committee and Foundation Board, and she served on Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Community Benefit Advisory Board. Throughout her service to Baptist Hospital and the Medical Center, she has been an advocate for maintaining a productive relationship with N.C. Baptists and the Baptist State Convention. The Hamricks have 10 grandchildren.

Wingate University – Don and Elaine Scarborough

Don was born and raised in Wadesboro, and Elaine was born and raised in Raleigh. They married in January 1978. They have two married children and two grandchildren. They attend Wadesboro First Baptist Church.
They serve as Girls in Action Leader, Sunday School Director, Sunday School Teacher, Nursery Committee Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, etc. Don is a faithful Alumni of Wingate University. He has worked for the economic development of the most challenged communities.
Elaine has served Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina: trustee since 2002; executive committee, chair of programs and services, strategic planning committee.
Don’s grandmother Minnie Harrington Pope and her sister Hyla Harrington were early residents of Mills Home (now part of Baptist Children’s Homes) due to death of their father and mother’s inability to care for them.
Elaine is retired as Anson County Partnership for Children executive director and now provides care for her grandchildren.
Don continues as owner of Plank Road Realty and active service to the university and community.

Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina – Sandra Dunlap James

James and her husband, Leo, live in Whittier and are involved in First Baptist Sylva where she leads Women on Mission and serves as Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) director. A past president of WMU-NC, her heart for leading women of all ages to know God’s will for their lives and to develop a missions worldview was foremost in this role. James is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention.
Sandra has affected many lives through her missions travels including Durban, South Africa and Myanmar, and by leading her Girls in Action to make pillowcase dresses for impoverished children in Africa.
Sandra and Leo spend several months each year serving as volunteers at the Hawaiian Baptist Conference Center. She has “mothered” hundreds of internationals as they have come to the U.S. to work in restaurants owned by Sandra and Leo, providing a livelihood as well as an opportunity for ministry. They have two married sons and six grandchildren.

4/17/2018 9:24:23 AM by From provided materials | with 0 comments

N.C. Baptist investment impacting prisons for Christ

April 17 2018 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) investment into a program designed to equip and train inmates to serve as ministers in the North Carolina prison system is bearing fruit after its inaugural year.
Jamie Dew, dean of the College at Southeastern, shared an update on Southeastern’s N.C. Prison Field Ministry Program with members of the BSC Executive Committee during a regularly scheduled meeting on Thurs., April 12 at the convention offices in Cary.
The Prison Field Ministry Program provides inmates serving long-term or life sentences the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry. Upon completion of the program, inmates may be deployed to various correctional facilities across the state, where they will serve as ministers to other inmates.
The program was born out of a partnership between Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Game Plan for Life ministries and the N.C. Department of Public Safety. In May 2017, the BSC Executive Committee voted to provide $69,500 in funding to the program over five years, beginning with an initial contribution of $36,000 made last year.
Dew said the state convention’s contribution allowed the program to purchase textbooks and other resources for the students. Dew also reported that 28 students have completed the first year of study, and they finished with a collective 3.8 grade point average (GPA).
“You have really helped us do this,” Dew told the committee and convention leaders. “Your contribution filled a gap in a very big way this year. We used the funds that you contributed to buy textbooks and some other things that were vitally important. So I just want to say thank you. Your support means the world to us and made this possible.”
Dew also shared a written testimony from one of the students in the program. It read in part, “My being in seminary taught me all these valuable things … in how to approach men in need and disciple them with the word of God and be an encouragement in a world that can be dark at times.”
BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. said the convention’s investment in the program allows N.C. Baptists to be a part of providing a consistent gospel witness inside the state’s prison system for years to come.
“This fits right under our strategy of creating a disciple-making culture,” Hollifield said. “It’s helping us do what the strategy sets forth in impacting lostness through disciple-making.”

New committee appointments

In other business, John Mark Harrison, pastor of Apex Baptist Church and vice president of the BSC Board of Directors, announced appointees to the convention’s Articles and Bylaws Special Committee, Budget Special Committee and Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee on behalf of board president Marc Francis.
Francis, who serves as pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment. As board president, Francis is authorized to appoint individuals to serve on these committees each year. He announced some appointees during the Executive Committee’s previous meeting in early March.
New appointees to the Articles and Bylaws Special Committee are: Don Goforth of Great Marsh Baptist Church in St. Pauls; and Kelton Hinton of Princeton Baptist Church.
The new appointee to the Budget Special Committee is Barbara Bowen of Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh.
New at-large appointees to the Christian Life and Public Affairs Special Committee are: Lee Davis of Crosslink Community Church in Mebane; Ben Francis of Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia; and Josh Hayes of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Marion.

Q1 financial update

Beverly Volz, director of accounting services, also shared a financial update with the committee.
Volz reported that through the first quarter of 2018, Cooperative Program giving receipts lagged about 18.8 percent behind the year-to-date budget projections and about 12.7 percent behind year-over-year giving comparisons with 2017.
Giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the North Carolina Missions Offering were also down in year-over-year comparisons through the first quarter of 2018 by about 13.1 percent, 14.4 percent and 18.8 percent, respectively.
Volz and other convention leaders cautioned against reading too much into the report at this time, adding that they expect giving to even out as the year goes on.
Convention bylaws stipulate that year-end funds received from churches are counted toward the previous year’s giving totals for five business days following the last Sunday of the year. Since Dec. 31 fell on a Sunday in 2017, all funds received by the convention through the close of business on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 were counted toward 2017.
“We did know this was going to happen,” Volz said. “We call it the ‘December effect.’ Basically our first week of 2018 was committed to 2017. We lost that week, so we are trying to gain ground. We are gaining some momentum.”
John Butler, executive leader for business services, added, “I do think we’ll start to make that (difference) up as we get into the next month or so. The good thing is that since we anticipated this timing shortfall, we planned for it and are still operating in the black so far this year.”

4/17/2018 9:23:58 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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