April 2019

NAMB announces multisite, multi-format Send Conference

April 18 2019 by NAMB Staff

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) announced April 17 that its next Send Conference will happen through a series of local and regional conferences that will take place in more than 70 locations throughout North America beginning this fall.

NAMB photo
The North American Mission Board will host a series of Send 2020 events in 70 locations across North America beginning in fall 2019 and continuing through 2020.

“It’s about maximizing momentum,” NAMB president Kevin Ezell said. “What began as a plan to hopefully reach 18,000 people with a national event in Atlanta is now a plan to reach in excess of 200,000 by taking the events on the road.”
The local and regional approach will also allow different events to take on different formats. Some will consist of an evening session followed by a morning session and conclude by noon. Others will run for two nights and three days. Still others might be a single day or single evening in duration.
The focus of the conference series is to call every believer to actively share the gospel wherever God has placed them and to openly consider where God might be calling them to serve.
“In addition to allowing us to bring this important message to every corner of North America, this approach also gives us maximum flexibility to shape the event for specific audiences,” Ezell said. “The more we discussed this way of doing it, the more excited we became about the possibilities.”
Many of the events will be hosted by local churches. Plans also include events on or in close proximity to several university campuses.
“We will utilize a variety of speakers and musicians, depending on our location and the needs of the audience we are trying to reach,” Ezell said.
Part one of the tour will commence this fall with Johnny Hunt featured as the main speaker. Those events will kick off with a Sunday evening program focused on evangelism for every member of the church. The next morning, pastors and church leaders will return to attend an equipping session geared toward helping them train and mobilize their congregations for evangelism. NAMB has already secured 18 locations for these events.
“Every Southern Baptist who wants to attend will have access to at least one of these events,” Hunt said. “I’m praying that over this 18-month period we will see God sweep through our Southern Baptist family in a way we haven’t seen in decades. We are doing all we can to ignite a spark that we hope will re-start the fires of evangelism.”
More details, a schedule and registration information will be available soon at send2020.com.
Watch a video about NAMB’s Send Conference:


4/18/2019 10:06:35 AM by NAMB Staff | with 0 comments

Chonda Pierce’s ‘Unashamed’ in theaters May 7 & 9

April 18 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Chonda Pierce is at a new stage in life. Widowhood and online dating give new material to her comedy routine, but her latest film “Unashamed” goes beyond her own testimony.

Chonda Pierce

“This time in my life, I want the testimony of this movie to be about what Jesus did, and not about what I did, not what I’ve been through necessarily,” Pierce told Baptist Press (BP) in advance of the film’s release. “I want it to be about what the cross of Christ has meant to my life. And I think we accomplished that.”
In Unashamed, Pierce interviews both well-known and little known Christians on their commitment to stand for Christ amid cultural backlash. Featured are real estate entrepreneurs and identical twins David and Jason Benham, who lost an HGTV contract because of their stand for biblical marriage; former Arkansas Gov. and U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Newsboys frontman Michael Tait, and Dove Award-winning singer and songwriter Danny Gokey. A variety of professionals including school teachers, comedians and others are also in the mix, Pierce told BP.
Christians aren’t persecuted in the U.S. as in other countries where many face death or imprisonment, Pierce said, but Christians here are sometimes shunned in the public square and elsewhere.
“I want to encourage young people and every person, don’t be afraid to stand up for Jesus, because He’s going to stand up for you and push you forward in ways you never dream or imagine,” Pierce said. “This movie is really there to empower and to bring hope and encouragement to people who walk out there and be salt and light when they have to be.”
Pierce is also on a 40-city comedy tour, “Chonda Pierce: Still Laughing,” through June 8.
Unashamed comes from personal triumphs Pierce shared in her 2017 documentary “Enough.” Showing on more than 1,000 U.S. screens May 7 and 9 only, Unashamed is Pierce’s largest release to date.
“I think it is a continuation. Enough was a concept about learning and knowing that you are enough,” Pierce told BP. “And that’s an ongoing lesson. It doesn’t happen overnight. Your self-esteem doesn’t get picked up off the floor in one fell swoop.

“When you really want to find some healing and hope, the best thing in the world to do is find your identity in the Word of God,” she said. “It empowers you – this document, this loving, beautiful book – that when I am discouraged, when I am unsure of myself, when I am worried about life, when I am feeling alone, all of those things are addressed in God’s Word.
“If that is so,” Pierce said, “then how in the world can I be ashamed of calling myself a Christ follower?”
The movie releases in advance of Mother’s Day, drawing from Pierce’s strong following among women. But many of those interviewed in the film are men, a move that Pierce describes as strategic.
“I think that’s kind of neat that they can speak into the lives of women. If I may be so bold to say, we are not doing well in attracting men into the church,” Pierce said. “The male species is a dying breed in the pew. And I think strategically I wanted to highlight some very strong men who have stood up for the gospel, and hopefully it draws young boys and men” to stand for the gospel.
Director Rick Altizer of Fuseic Entertainment kept the movie balanced with comedy and interviews, Pierce said. Unashamed features an opening comedy routine, interviews, a panel discussion and an exclusive interview with Pierce.
“We’re really at a tough place, and I think our young people need to know that there’s power in the cross of Christ, and there is hope in the cross of Christ,” she said, “and there is a way of living your life with that in mind constantly.”
Pierce has held since 2013 the distinction as Recording Industry Association of America’s top-selling female comedian in history, including Christian and secular artists. Her comedy has produced six Platinum DVDs, three Gold DVDs and five Daytime Emmy nominations.
Tickets to Unashamed are available through FathomEvents.com and ChondaMovie.com. Her comedy tour schedule is available at chonda.org.

4/18/2019 10:01:48 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Notre Dame Cathedral fire spurs ‘rightful mourning’

April 17 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris – lamented in media reports as the marring of a historic French symbol – has deep theological significance some observers may have missed, say evangelical scholars of culture and art.

Screen capture from CBS News
A fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris April 15 destroyed the building’s spire and two-thirds of the roof

“Notre Dame is the handiwork of those who self-identified as Christian, and it testifies to the essential Judeo-Christian heritage of Europe,” said Mark Coppenger, a The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary philosophy professor who supervises doctoral students studying Christianity and the arts.

A fire was detected at the cathedral April 15 shortly before 7 p.m. local time, according to media reports. The blaze destroyed Notre Dame’s 295-foot spire and two-thirds of its roof before being extinguished April 16 by some 500 firefighters. The fire left three holes in the vaulted ceiling.
No one died in the blaze, but three first responders were injured, The New York Times reported. The fire’s cause has not been determined.


Parisians gathered spontaneously to sing hymns, pray and watch the fire burn, according to media reports. At least some works of art and Catholic relics were saved from the burning cathedral, including a crown of thorns some claim was the one placed on Jesus at His crucifixion.
Some 13 million people visit the cathedral annually, according to the Associated Press.
“Though we Baptists don’t share the sacramental theology of the Roman Catholic Church and are not practitioners of Marian devotion (regarding ‘Our Lady’ [the English translation of ‘Notre Dame’]) ... Christians of every stamp, including evangelicals, have gained spiritual blessing from [the cathedral’s] magnificent interior,” Coppenger told Baptist Press in written comments.
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said “a rightful mourning ... should come to evangelicals” following the fire even though Protestants do not embrace the Catholic “sacramentarianism that takes place in Notre Dame Cathedral.”
Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Mohler said, the cathedral is shaped like a cross. Its cross-topped spire pointed upward to honor “the reigning Jesus Christ,” and its Gothic architecture symbolizes the “greatness” and “transcendence of God.”
“Parisians, watching with broken hearts the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral, saw so much last night,” Mohler said April 16 on his podcast The Briefing. “But those who would think through the lens of Christian truth and biblical Christianity do not see less, but actually far more.”
Dan DeWitt, associate professor of applied theology and apologetics at Cedarville University, said “the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a reminder of the significance of symbols. All art is reflective of the worldview of both the artists and their audiences. This great Gothic cathedral has stood for centuries as the most iconic symbol of the city of Paris.”
The cathedral’s history, Mohler said, has mirrored the history of France’s shifting worldview.
During the French Revolution, when human reason was emphasized and the authority of scripture downplayed, a statue of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral was replaced by one of the Goddess Reason. Later, the cathedral was rededicated to a generic Cult of the Supreme Being and became a warehouse for food when locals lost interest in the new religion, according to The Gospel Coalition website.
The cathedral eventually became a Catholic church once again, though it is owned by the French government.
Beyond its Christian – and sometimes explicitly Catholic – symbolism, Coppenger said, Notre Dame “is one of the greatest testimonies to the artistry and diligence of those made in the image of God.”
“The same could be said of the Moorish (Muslim) Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Angkor Wat (Hindu) complex in Cambodia,” Coppenger said. “Even when we very much disagree with the worldview lying behind the construction, we have to admire the human craftsmanship and aesthetic acumen that went into these projects and wish their continued presence.”
Donors have pledged at least $700 million to repair the cathedral, Fox News reported.
DeWitt, an artist who has taught on human creativity, said “it will be interesting to listen to the global conversations surrounding what is done in the aftermath of this cultural loss.”
“It is thought that a pagan temple once occupied the ground where Notre Dame is now located,” DeWitt said in written comments. “Throughout the history of the city, four other churches preceded Notre Dame at this address. Every new development is an expression of cultural values. What comes next – rebuilding, reconstruction or something else – will say a lot about the predominant cultural worldview, whether the art is a monument to man or God.”

4/17/2019 10:11:54 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Hate crime charges added in Louisiana church arsons

April 17 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Hate crime charges have been filed against a white man accused of arson that destroyed three Louisiana black Baptist churches more than a century old.

Screen capture from Facebook
Among community outreach to Baptist congregations whose churches were burned in what authorities are calling a hate crime, Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards spoke at an April 14 service hosted by Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Opelousas.

Holden Matthews, 21, pleaded not guilty April 15 to the charges in St. Landry Parish Criminal Court, according to the St. Landry Parish Clerk of Court’s office. Matthews is charged with three counts of hate crimes, two counts of simple arson of a religious building and one count of aggravated arson of a religious building, and was denied bond.
James Jenkins, who is coordinating Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC) outreach to the pastors whose churches burned, told Baptist Press (BP), “Whatever reason it would occur to a person to burn a church or any other piece of property, I think when this type of thing occurs it causes friction in the communities, and the effects may be long-lasting if we’re not very careful.”
The pastors’ churches are affiliated with the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., (NBC USA) whose president Jerry Young preached at the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis. Mount Pleasant and Greater Union Baptist churches in Opelousas and St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre lost their buildings in the fires. No deaths were reported.
Edward Alexander Jr., president of the Louisiana Missionary Baptist State Convention of the NBC USA, has pledged support to help the churches rebuild.
“Church attendance is an act of faith and in the United States of America no one should worship in fear,” Alexander said in an April 11 press release. “These churches are built on a foundation of hope and faith in Christ Jesus; hatred cannot and will not triumph.”
Southern Baptist pastors in Louisiana are already making plans to help financially, Jenkins said, and the LBC is working to finalize its outreach assessment by the end of April after insurance companies respond. Several agencies also are working to help the churches, Jenkins said.
“I’m just hoping that out of this hate ... there’s a rebirth of love,” Jenkins told BP. “Hence that needs to be the LBC response, to take this opportunity really to love on some people and make sure that the communities ... here in St. Landry Parish and Opelousas understand that our churches are clearly on the side of love, clearly on the side of our Christian brothers and sisters.
“We hold dearly the right for people to congregate, to worship in the manner that they see fit, without any problems, without any bother,” Jenkins said. “We believe that in the end, heaven is going to be made of all nations, all tongues and all creeds. Since that is so, we just best learn to love each other here.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke at a service of unity, prayer and healing April 14 at Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, a National Baptist congregation in Opelousas.
“Hate is not a Louisiana value,” Edwards was quoted by The Baton Rouge Advocate as saying. “We will not be measured by what happened here in this community by the acts of that young man, but we will be measured rather by how we respond, which is what we’re doing today. It’s what we’ll be doing for the next several weeks and several months.”
Matthews, on a Facebook page under the name Noctis Matthews, has spoken ill of Baptists, KTLA5 reported April 15, saying Matthews wrote he wished “most blacks people would look into ancient beliefs of pre Christian Africa.”

4/17/2019 10:08:28 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Baptist communicators meet for networking & learning

April 17 2019 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Kimber Huff once was in Russia engaging in church planting in the nation’s fourth-largest city, Yekaterinburg, with an estimated 1.4 million people.
Today, Huff is in Northborough, Mass., writing and editing articles for the Baptist Convention of New England (BCNE) and its 360 churches.

Photo by Marc Ira Hooks
The Baptist Communicators Association's annual workshop provided much-valued networking for individuals like Kimber Huff, communications coordinator for the Baptist Convention of New England.

She also designs and updates the BCNE website and blog, creates posts for social media, keeps the convention’s smartphone app updated, manages the monthly e-newsletter, and helps develop promotional materials to educate Baptists across six Northeast states about missions and ministries supported by the Cooperative Program and BCNE missions offering.
The BCNE’s lone communications worker had a few days of much-valued networking at the Baptist Communicators Association’s (BCA) annual workshop in Riverside, Calif., in mid-April.
And Huff won three of the 200-plus awards in the BCA’s multimedia competition – including first place in a brochure category and third place among various website and video categories.
“Being in an area of the country with fewer Southern Baptist resources, it’s been fantastic to participate in the training and, even more importantly, to make personal connections with others who are in Baptist communications,” said Huff, who was attending her second BCA workshop following last year’s gathering in Washington, D.C.
“It’s a real encouragement to learn from their experience, to be challenged in my own thinking, and to be able to bounce ideas off of people who really get what I do.”
Terry Barone, communications team leader for the California Southern Baptist Convention and a former BCA president who joined the organization in 1980, described BCA as “a tremendous blessing in my life.”
“The most important aspect of membership is getting to know other members on a personal, spiritual and professional level,” Barone said. “Professional development through workshops and keynote speakers can’t be diminished, but many times the most productive time is sharing a meal with a group of members and discussing the challenges each face and possible solutions based on their experiences in other Baptist organizations. Some of my closest friendships have been forged as a result of BCA.”
Among the breakout sessions during this year’s workshop were “Reporting when Sensitivity Counts,” “Telling Your Story in Social Media,” “Dealing with Hot-Button Issues,” “Journalism Is Not Dead,” “Making a Compelling Image in Today’s Marketplace,” “So You Want to Write a Book” and “How to Communicate to Your Church So They Keep Coming Back.”
Mary Ann Pearson, in a session titled “Building Collaborative Teams with Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers,” described her research into the generations’ general characteristics and offered advice for embracing their diversity.
Pearson, professor of communication at California Baptist University in Riverside, suggested that organizations experiment with mixed-age teams along with “reverse mentioning,” such as Baby Boomers who tend to prefer in-person meetings learning from Millennials who live in a social media environment, and vice versa.
“When individuals work together, they can double their strength and get much more done as a team,” Pearson said. “They also can reap the value of having worked in unison, thus creating harmony instead of disorder.”
Also during this year’s meeting, Bob Terry and Leland Webb were named as BCA lifetime members.
Terry is the retired editor and president of The Alabama Baptist news journal whose career spanned 50 years with the Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky state Baptist newspapers. Webb is the retired editor of The Commission magazine formerly published by the International Mission Board, which won multiple awards and, at times, competed with National Geographic for various media honors. Webb was The Commission’s editor during 15 of his 30 years with the magazine.
Reflecting the range of the 60-plus participants at BCA’s April 11-13 workshop:
– Several were media entrepreneurs from oneMISSION.tv, Innovative Faith Resources and Dogwood Solutions who work with various state conventions and Baptist associations, as well as SBC entities, in creating video, website, podcast and other resources.
OneMISSION.tv was founded by Doug Keesey and Paul Wynn 13 years ago after they had worked for the North American Mission Board. Innovative Faith Resources, represented at BCA by Brandon Pickett, Ishmael LaBiosa, Bobby Puffenberger and Sarah Ramalho, was founded in 2011 with ties to the SBC of Virginia state convention. Dogwood Media Solutions officially began in January of this year when Harris Media Solutions led by Brian Harris, formerly of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, merged with Dogwood Design led by Thomas Jones.
Keesey, who sports a Santa-like beard with mild-mannered joviality, arrived in California a day early to go to the Hollywood costume shop Adele’s for a “continental robe” addition to the Santa suit he wears as a professional Santa from the first weekend in November until Christmas, handling about 40 events the past four years.
– Shawn Elledge, art director for the North American Mission Board, in leading a session on creativity in annual campaigns, mentioned with fondness the PBS artist Bob Ross, who died in 1995 but is still seen via YouTube and DVD.
What was so special about Bob Ross? “Hard to say,” Elledge reflected, “maybe his perfectly coiffed Afro, his gentle smile or the melodic mild-mannered statements he is known for like ‘every tree needs a friend’ and ‘there are no mistakes, only happy little accidents.’ ... But it’s probably because of what he could do in less than half an hour starting with an empty canvas and ending with a tranquil scene of God’s creation. He ended every episode by looking into the camera, giving a little wave to the viewer, saying, ‘Happy painting and God bless.’”
Elledge and NAMB’s creative team garnered one of the BCA competition’s eight grand prizes for a video titled “First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs: One year after the shooting.”
– Trennis Henderson, who is traveling in an RV with his wife Pam as national correspondents for Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), told friends of venturing to an “RV Entrepreneur Summit” at an Alabama state park in March. Other RVers had a tad of puzzlement, Henderson said, when he spoke of focusing on missions as compared to entrepreneurship. In the BCA competition, Henderson won first place in a category for feature articles under 750 words: “God’s Love from a Diaper Bag” about a ministry to single mothers, unemployed families and others in eastern Kentucky.
“Similar to a BCA gathering – except targeted specifically for RVers – the summit provided workshops, networking and informal fellowship time,” Henderson said. “It has been helpful and encouraging to enjoy both [BCA and RV] settings in recent weeks as we combine our missions calling and an RV lifestyle in our freelance partnership with WMU.”
– Nick Burt, assistant director of communications for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, recounted around a table his work as an intern for the 2015 film “War Room” by the Kendrick Brothers in which he made sure several hundred extras wore the same clothing and sat in the same place over three days of shooting a school jump rope competition.
Elected as BCA officers for 2019-2020 were: president, Jim Veneman, visiting professor - journalism/new media at California Baptist University; president-elect, Doug Rogers, communications coordinator, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions; membership vice president, Brandon Elrod, public relations specialist, North American Mission Board; communications vice president Bobby Puffenburger, creative director, Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia/Innovative Faith Resources; professional development coordinator, Doug Rogers; treasurer, Elizabeth Young, director of communications, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention; program chairpersons (2020), Marc Ira Hooks, director of communication, Collins Baptist Association in metro Dallas, and Marilyn Stewart, assistant director for news and information, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; program chair-elect (2021), Amy Whitfield, director of marketing and communications, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; awards chair (2020), Joshua Minatrea, director of communications, Baptist General Convention of Texas; awards chair-elect (2021), Brooke Zimny, director of communications and marketing, Ouachita Baptist University; and historian, Cam Tracy, web development agent, Union University. BCA’s 2018-2019 president was Mike Ebert, executive director of public relations for NAMB.
BCA’s 2020 annual workshop will be April 8-10 in New Orleans. BCA is online at baptistcommunicators.org. A full list of BCA award winners can be accessed at baptistcommunicators.org/awards/2019.pdf.

4/17/2019 10:01:49 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Mission:Dignity: Alabama couple ‘can’t thank you enough’

April 17 2019 by John Ambra, Mission:Dignity

Rick and Betty Hall, who live in a modest mobile home in central Alabama, have a multitude of stories about the small churches they served throughout the eastern part of the state over the course of three decades.

When former pastor Rick Hall retired, he and his wife Betty had no savings to fall back on but heard about Mission:Dignity. It has made a huge difference in their lives.

In the Halls’ last church, five people attended on the first Sunday. No one had lived in the parsonage for 36 years, and there were only 34 people within a mile of the church. Attendance grew to nearly 40 during the eight years the Halls were there. The members learned how to give to missions, and it became the top per-capita giving church in their local association to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
The couple both worked a variety of jobs to pay their bills. Rick shared, “Most country churches expect a pastor to do everything – visitation, hospital calls, turning the lights on. But most of them can’t pay much, if anything.”
When they retired, Rick and Betty had no savings to fall back on but heard about Mission:Dignity. It has made a huge difference in their lives. MissionDignity provides financial assistance to Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows in need of additional resources to cover housing, food and medical expenses.
“This month, there was $3.27 in the bank when the Mission:Dignity check came in,” Rick said. “Our Social Security pays the bills, but the Mission:Dignity gift pays for our groceries. We can’t tell you how many times we have thanked the Lord for your help. Many months, we would not have bought food without your assistance.”
Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 23. It’s a day to remember and honor retired ministers, workers and their widows living on low retirement incomes. It’s also a time to give generously to help the nearly 1,700 individuals and couples assisted by the ministry.
More than $7 million is distributed annually, with most of the funding coming from the direct gifts of individuals, Sunday school classes and churches. One hundred percent of gifts provide monthly grants with nothing used for operating expenses. An endowment established many years ago covers the administrative costs of the ministry.
GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins noted, “One of the great blessings of our ministry is knowing that so many of the good and godly pastors and their wives we serve are able to have a measure of security and, yes, dignity in their declining years thanks to the individuals, churches and Sunday school classes who give to Mission:Dignity.”
“We are thankful that we can be Christ’s hand extended to these Southern Baptist pastors and their widows who sacrificed to serve His churches throughout their ministries,” he said.
For churches, Sunday school classes and others interested in supporting Mission:Dignity, GuideStone provides free bulletin inserts, promotional posters and a DVD with several brief testimonies of people assisted by Mission:Dignity. The materials are undated and can be used anytime.
The free resources can be ordered at MDSunday.org or by texting MDORDER to 41444 from a mobile device. Individuals wishing to donate, or wishing to refer potential recipients, to Mission:Dignity can do so through MissionDignity.org.
The ministry – now beginning its second century of service to Southern Baptist pastors – has been a blessing, Rick said.
“We just want to thank you so very much,” he said. “We know that God cares for us, and the assistance from those who give to Mission:Dignity is one way He has helped us. It’s amazing and we can’t thank you enough.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – John Ambra is director of Mission:Dignity at GuideStone. June 23 is Mission:Dignity Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.)

4/17/2019 9:58:18 AM by John Ambra, Mission:Dignity | with 0 comments

Sorianos to retire in Honduras

April 16 2019 by K. Allan Blume, Biblical Recorder

Guillermo Soriano and his wife, Maritza, were born in Honduras. After more than 30 years of ministry in the United States, the couple plans to take the gospel back to their homeland.
Soriano, Hispanic Ministries Senior Consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), is retiring May 3 after 12 years of ministry in the state and more than 30 years in the United States. His roles led him to broad ministry involvement including multicultural evangelism, cross-cultural disciple-making, spiritual renewal and church planting.

Contributed photo
Guillermo, right, and Maritza Soriano, who are retiring to their home country – Honduras – receive recognition for their service March 16 from a joint celebration of two regional Hispanic fellowships. The service was held in Zebulon with more than 335 members of 15 congregations.

Before joining the BSC, he served on the staff of the Florida Baptist Convention (FBC), as a pastor in Orlando and as an adjunct professor of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the Baptist College of Florida.
The Sorianos grew up in north Honduras in what they called “non-evangelical homes.” The Catholic religion that dominates the region is the only religion they knew.
“One day my parents asked if I would like to go to the United States to study,” he told the Biblical Recorder. “I said yes. I did not know the Lord, but He brought me to Louisiana to go to high school at Acadia Baptist Academy when I was 14 years old.”
The boarding school was sponsored by the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
“Sports was a very special item in my life,” said Soriano. His interest in sports since childhood opened the door for his salvation experience. “I came to know the Lord as a freshman at Louisiana Tech University. My high school basketball coach was a strong believer and quite an example for me. He continues to be one of my prayer partners today.”
Temple Baptist Church in Ruston, La., became his spiritual home. Pastor Robert McGee and other church members nurtured him and financially supported part of his theological education at seminary years later.
The Baptist Student Union (BSU) and church ministries became a spiritual boot camp for Soriano.
He graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in industrial engineering in 1977 and returned to Honduras, working in the industry for 10 years.
“The Lord led me to go back to my home country,” Soriano said. “I had zero evangelical friends there. I served bi-vocational in industry and in ministry for 10 years – five as a single man and five as a married man.”
He was a church planter, pastor and evangelist, and he also organized an association of Baptist churches in Puerto Cortés, Honduras.
While a student at Louisiana Tech, Soriano was part of a BSU team that went to an international missions conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Through that conference, the Lord really impressed on my heart the commitment to be on mission with Him for the rest of my life,” said Soriano. “That’s been what motivated me. The Lord also showed me I need to eventually go to seminary to be trained to serve Him more effectively.”
After 10 years in Honduras, the couple decided to pursue seminary in Texas. Several families from their home church in Ruston supported the move. He completed his master and doctor of ministry degrees at SWBTS, focusing on evangelism and missions. Soriano also pastored a bilingual church in Fort Worth that reflected the growing multi-ethnic diversity of the community.
The FBC invited Soriano to serve with multi-ethnic language ministries across the state.
“The great blessing is that we were able to travel together as a family,” he said. “God blessed us with two sons. One was born in Honduras and the other in Fort Worth. They’ve always joined us doing ministry, traveling about the state in Florida, serving Hispanics, Haitians, Koreans, Russians, Vietnamese and others. It helped them appreciate other cultures as they later completed their education and entered professional careers.”
In 2007 Don McCutcheon, who led BSC’s evangelism ministry, asked Soriano to join the BSC to organize the multi-cultural evangelism department.
“That meant working with all language groups in the state,” he said. “Milton [Hollifield] affirmed that we would be able to travel North Carolina as a family. Our desire has been to serve the Lord together.”
The convention later reorganized departments and Soriano became the convention’s senior consultant for Hispanic ministries.
“Looking at the context and population of North Carolina, our encouragement to pastors has been to be patient with Hispanic ministries,” he said. “With the decline and even death of Anglo churches, these traditional churches should partner with ethnic groups to share church facilities for Kingdom outreach to new audiences.
“This is the beauty of partnerships between Anglo and Hispanic churches. Our communities are not declining, but transitioning toward other ethnicities. Churches need to find ways to reach their changing communities,” he said.
“We have over a million Hispanics in our state. We’re not talking about people who are crossing the border. We’re talking about people who are here. They are business owners and educated professionals.”
Soriano said he has no reason to leave the convention.
The couple believes they are at the highest point of effectiveness in ministry. With dual citizenships in U.S. and Honduras, each year when they return to Honduras at Christmas, they considered staying in their homeland.
“We’ve been praying for about seven years, asking the Lord what to do at the point of retirement,” he said. “The Lord has been preparing us and has confirmed to us that He wants us to transition to missionaries in our own country. It’s not going to be easy. Most Latin American countries are highly Catholic, so we are going to experience some rejection – even from our own families.”
Maritza added, “I’ve been praying for many years. I’ve always wanted to go back to Honduras. Every Christmas vacation I say, ‘Guillermo, is this our last year in the U.S.?’ Every year, we pray and seek the Lord’s will. Each year we agree, ‘one more year.’ Last year I said, ‘Honey, no more one more year.’”
They plan to spend 10 to 11 months each year in Honduras.
Additional time will be given to their sons’ families – including grandchildren – in Florida.
The immediate plan is to be self-supporting, part of that through their GuideStone retirement plan. They purchased land in Cortés where they have built a house that will be the center of their ministry operations. It is available for mission teams that come on site.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the BSC commended the Sorianos. “I will always remember with great appreciation the different conferences Guillermo and Maritza have led at Fort Caswell each year for Hispanic church groups. Gloria and I feel that we are losing two friends because we have always enjoyed working with them in numerous state convention, Baptist association and North American Mission Board events during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings.
“I was so impressed to learn that they have built a house in Honduras that includes adequate space to host mission teams that will come from the U.S. to Honduras and help advance God’s Kingdom in their home land.
“They both realize there may be risks involved in living there, but following Christ wherever He leads is of supreme importance to this couple.” 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – After May 3, the Sorianos can be reached at Gsoriano777@gmail.com, 919-612-4693 or on Facebook at Guillermo Maritza Soriano.)

4/16/2019 4:58:46 PM by K. Allan Blume, Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments

Heritage: 11 entities honor 14 with awards

April 16 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

Sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and North Carolina Baptist Foundation, the 19th annual North Carolina Baptist Heritage Awards were presented April 9 at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center in Greensboro. By entity, here is a list of this year’s recipients.

Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Inc. – Marguerite Lee and John F. Lee

Marguerite Lee, 91-year old family matriarch and member of First Baptist Church in Wilson, and her son John F. Lee, Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) trustee and former chairman of the BCH board, make BCH and its ministries a priority. 

It started for the Lee family in 1953 when Marguerite Lee and her late husband James L. “Jim” Lee moved to Elm City and he began Lee Motor Company. At first in Elm City Baptist Church, she worked with young children and collected pennies in baby food jars to be delivered to Kennedy Home in Kinston. Later, when she worked with older children in her church, she and others took more tangible things for the children to see and enjoy. 
Lee has passed the mantle of personal involvement to her son John, president of the Lee Motor Group; he is making sure that his mother’s legacy of “sharing hope ... changing lives” will continue.
John Lee was an active leader in two BCH capital campaigns. How blessed he is that he and his mother can  still  have those lovely Saturday morning breakfasts that have become the highlight of their week. In addition to their meal of eggs, biscuits, coffee and grits, John always brings his mother up to date on how things are going in the Lee Motor Group.  

Baptists on Mission/NCBM – Terry A. Hall

Terry Hall is known for his servant’s heart and an intense passion for missions. He has been a volunteer for Baptists on Mission/NCBM since 1999. He held the position of state disaster relief coordinator 2013-2015. Currently, Hall serves as NCBM vice president East and disaster relief advisory council feeding team leader. 

He served as onsite/feeding kitchen coordinator in major hurricanes such as Erin in Florida, Katrina in Mississippi, Sandy in New Jersey, Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, Maria in Puerto Rico, and Florence in North Carolina as well as the Johnsonville, S.C., floods. 
A member of First Baptist Church in New Bern, Hall serves as a deacon, missions committee chair, and Sunday School administrative assistant. Married to Brenda Hall, the couple have two daughters and one grandchild.  
Professionally, Hall is an audiology doctor/provider since 1980 and is currently employed by CarolinaEast ENT in New Bern. 

Baptist State Convention of North Carolina – Richard and Doris Roberson

Look around Truett Camp and Conference Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, and you’ll see a lifetime of Richard and Doris Roberson’s devotion reflected all around the camp.
For more than 20 years, the Robersons managed Truett Camp as a husband and wife team, with Richard serving as the camp’s director from 1985 to 2006, and Doris helping in a variety of capacities behind the scenes.

As director, Richard played a key role in improving and expanding the camp’s facilities, which included a number of construction projects. Meanwhile, Doris wore many hats, such as bookkeeping, fundraising and more. The Robersons also pitched in with cooking and cleaning.
Managing the camp was a family affair. The Robersons’ sons – Tim and Kevin – helped out when they were younger. Later, each son served a tenure as camp director following their father’s retirement.
The Robersons created an environment that saw many campers come to faith in Christ. Today, a number of former campers serve as pastors, music ministers, church staff members and international missionaries.
“That’s what camp was all about,” Richard said. “Trying to win people to Christ.”
While serving as camp director, Richard also pastored churches in western North Carolina and north Georgia. He still pastors Liberty Baptist Church in Murphy, N.C.
The conference center at Truett is named in the Robersons’ honor.
“I think we left the camp in pretty good shape,” Richard said. “That means campers will have a nice place to come for years to come.”

Biblical Recorder – Gerald G. Hodges

No volunteer has invested more passion, personal time and interest in the Biblical Recorder’s ministry in recent decades than Gerald Hodges. Eight years ago, he was chairman of the Recorder’s board of directors through a time of transition between editors. For five months, he worked tirelessly with the staff, spending many hours in the office, on the phone and on the road to serve the needs of North Carolina Baptists’ news journal. At the same time, he led the search committee that called the current editor. Last year he concluded another four-year term on the board and was asked to chair the search committee for the next editor who will lead the Recorder beginning June 1.

All the while, Hodges has faithfully pastored the Westwood Baptist Church in Roxboro. Since 1990, he has led this congregation to be on mission for Christ in their community and around the world, becoming one of the top churches in the nation in gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. He has served on the board of directors and committees of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and serves on many levels in the Beulah Baptist Association. He has traveled to 12 countries around the world and several states to proclaim the gospel message, leading Westwood’s members to experience hands-on missions.
He and his wife of 39 years, Susan, are from Boone, N.C. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. They enjoy spending time with their two sons and seven grandchildren.

Campbell University – Michael G. Cogdill

Michael G. Cogdill has lived and served in North Carolina for 52 years – his biggest impact and most lasting contributions during his 36 years in higher education as the founding dean and professor of Christian ministry at Campbell University’s Divinity School.

Cogdill will retire in May, leaving the legacy of a school built on a strong mission-driven foundation to prepare ministers to serve the spiritual needs of underserved communities in North Carolina and beyond. As dean, he consolidated Campbell’s deep relationships in surrounding communities to raise more than 300 endowed scholarships for the support of a well-educated ministry. These funds have helped graduates serve without the impediment of overwhelming student debt.
The Divinity School’s enrollment grew rapidly from a charter class of 88 students in 1997 to more than 240 students by the end of his tenure as dean in 2010. Today, the Divinity School has 750 graduates serving around the world. Many are pastors in rural, small-town and urban communities, while others serve as chaplains in hospitals, correctional facilities and on military installations. They’ve all been profoundly influenced by Cogdill’s conviction that excellence in ministry is based on the qualities of vital faith, solid intellectual preparation and an ethic of personal integrity. Throughout his career, Cogdill has been an active leader in communities across North Carolina as the interim pastor for 23 churches. For the last five years, he has assisted churches in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina as a ministry transition coach, training and counseling churches in the process of calling new ministers.
He is married to Gail Brownd Cogdill, and they’re the parents of two children and four grandchildren.

Chowan University – Edith “Edie” Vick Farris

Edith “Edie” Vick Farris grew up on a farm in Kelford, N.C., and was raised in the local Baptist church. She attended Chowan College’s (now university) one-year business program before continuing her education through George Washington University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in administration some 20 years later. Together, Edie and her late husband, Lt. Colonel Philip Farris, have three children and eight grandchildren.

From pianist to choir member to Sunday School teacher and beyond, Farris has always been an active part of her church community. She remembers her time at Sandy Run Baptist Church with particular fondness. Edie feels that her faith is the most important part of her life and endeavors to share that love with others.
Farris is also an enthusiastic champion of Chowan – its mission, endowing multiple scholarships and supporting various renovations and landscaping projects – serving as a member of both the Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors. Most notably, she is the mind responsible for the Farris Prayer Room, a quiet space for students to explore their faith and further their relationship with God. With a divine calling to create and fund the project, Farris hopes it will become a place that quiets the noise of contemporary life so that the voice of the Spirit can be heard.
Professionally, she has worked for the U.S. Army; the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; the Office of Wage and Price Stability; and even the CIA.

Gardner-Webb University – Ronald R. Beane

After attending Gardner-Webb Junior College (now university) and graduating from Appalachian State in 1959, Ron Beane began his teaching career. He taught at three local schools and coached their basketball teams where he led them to the state playoffs eight times. Beane went on to become the first principal at West Caldwell High and then the associate superintendent for personnel of the Caldwell County Schools. He retired from the school system in 1994 after 35 years of service.

In his retirement, he continued to serve as a Caldwell County commissioner and chairman of the Foothills Regional Airport Authority. He was appointed by Gov. Mike Easley as a member of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Board. He has also served as a member of the Caldwell County Schools Education Foundation Board, and he and his wife sponsor an annual scholarship for a senior at West Caldwell High School.
Beane has been inducted into the Caldwell County Sports Hall of Fame, the Gardner-Webb University’s Gallery of Distinguished Alumni, and the Caldwell County Schools Hall of Honor. In 2012, Governor Perdue awarded him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Serving on the board of trustees of both Caldwell Community College and Gardner-Webb University, Beane is a member of Mountain Grove Baptist Church.
He and his wife, Christine, have two children and four grandchildren.

Mars Hill University – Brenda G. Nash

Mars Hill University is proud to recognize Brenda G. Nash, a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and community volunteer. Nash does everything with passion and dedication, which is grounded in her faith in Jesus Christ. Her leadership and philanthropic efforts touch many lives here in western North Carolina and beyond, and one of her most cherished roles has been mentoring women in bible study for over four decades.

Living in Asheville, Nash currently attends Arden First Baptist Church. She is a member of the Mars Hill College class of 1966. Brenda and her husband, Tom ‘66, are longtime supporters of Mars Hill University, and provided the initial funding for the very first graduate program at MHU (masters of education). The Nash family has also provided generous gifts for projects such as the renovation of Huffman Residence Hall, Renfro Library, and the Nash Education Hall, as well as support for the Athletics Department. Brenda served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2010 to 2017, including one term as chair, and she was named Philanthropist of the Year in 2014.
Nash served as the chair of the Steering Committee for the “Building Our University” campaign, which concluded in 2018 and exceeded $53 million in gifts (almost twice the initial goal). Because of her work over the years, Nash has received an honorary bachelor’s degree in human services and an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

North Carolina Baptist Foundation – Dewitt “DC” and Shirley Thompson

DC and Shirley Dewitt exemplify the joyous and generous givers that we like to lift up as models in generosity. DC was raised on a cotton and tobacco farm in Johnston County, and one of his earliest memories is tithing a portion of the annual tobacco crop. His family, which included four boys and four girls, was involved in White Oak Baptist Church. Shirley and her sisters were also raised on a tobacco farm in Wendell. She has many fond memories of her family’s involvement in Hephzibah Baptist Church.

After entering the Navy at the age of 18, DC arrived at Camp Pendleton for basic training just as the Korean War started. He spent most of his four years in Hawaii supporting the war efforts. After the Navy, he went to North Carolina State University on the GI Bill and graduated with a degree in parks and recreation, leading to a 32-year career which took him from Richmond, to Raleigh, to Durham, and then to Greensboro where they have lived since 1966.
Shirley worked outside the home except during the birth and early years of their two sons Cal and Ken. Once they settled in Greensboro, she began a 26-year career with IBM.
The Thompsons have been married for 64 years, have five grandchildren and have been faithful members of First Baptist Church in Greensboro for 52 of those years. They have given of their time volunteering in many capacities: WMU, Missions Committee, teaching Sunday School, serving as Deacon, Baptist Men, Campers on Mission, NCBCH and BSC annual meetings. Their 30-year involvement with Campers on Mission has taken them to most U.S. states, with DC serving a term as president. They have been involved in the Camper’s On Mission N.C. State Fair ministry for the past 25 years, ministering to and sharing the gospel with fair workers.

Wingate University – Elona Laisure Edwards

By the time she was 16, in 1955, Elona Laisure had lived in or visited 48 states and 13 countries. She had spent three years in China and two more in Germany. Then her stepfather, a serviceman like her late father, wanted to return to his roots to retire. “They plunked me down in Marshville,” Elona said. Trying to find her way in a tiny, rural community in North Carolina, Edwards found a home at Union Grove Baptist Church – “a sweet church full of humble people.” She married Carroll Edwards. Together, in 1969, they founded Edwards Woods Products, Inc. where the involvement of their three children makes it a family business.

Influenced by the poverty she saw firsthand in Nanjing, China, as a little girl, Edwards has tried her best over the years to support mission work. She spent years serving and giving as a member of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). She toured Union County through WMU teaching book-study groups. “I had soaked up a lot of information about the way other people live outside of the country,” she said. “It was easy for me to teach the books.” For decades, she has taught Sunday School from the youngest children up to seniors. Edwards is the church’s primary accompanist playing piano and organ. She has served on five pastor search committees at Union Grove.
For the past 12 years, Edwards has served three terms as a member of the Board of Trustees at Wingate University just a few miles down the road from her Marshville home. She is now a lifetime honorary Board member. “I want Wingate to continue to grow and flourish helping more young people get an exceptional education alongside Christian faith and values,” she said.

Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina – Jan High

When she retired in 2011, Jan High was the longest-serving staff member of Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) in its first 125 years. During her 28-year tenure, which began in 1983, she served as Girls in Action consultant, WMU consultant, and missions education consultant.

Prior to coming to joining the staff of WMU-NC, High served on the staffs of Kentucky WMU and Maryland WMU, working with Acteens, Girls in Action and Mission Friends. She also served as camp director for both. High is from Texas, but currently resides in Fuquay-Varina. Some of her most significant contributions to the work of WMU-NC were during the time she served as missions education consultant, 1995-2011.
She organized and trained a network of leaders from across the state to assist with state, associational and local church training. A resource team of 122 women was organized to conduct training sessions, teach mission books and support the work of WMU-NC. Recognizing that the WMU-NC staff could not respond to all the requests for assistance, she enlisted and trained five women as WMU Leadership Network Specialists who worked closely with a WMU-NC staff member.
Never one to ask others to do something she was unwilling to do, she led age-level organizations in her local church and provided leadership in her local association. She also served with the Baptist State Convention in mission partnerships, including the ones in New York and Brazil. High, who started out as a Sunbeam, has, even in her retirement, continued to influence missions and WMU-NC.

4/16/2019 4:33:02 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 0 comments

Mohler announces new administrative leadership

April 16 2019 by SBTS Communications

R. Albert Mohler Jr. named three young scholars to key academic leadership positions during his address in the plenary session of the spring meeting of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, April 15. Mohler announced Matthew J. Hall as provost and senior vice president of academic administration; Paul Akin as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry; and Dustin Bruce as the dean of Boyce College.
Hall’s appointment is effective immediately. Akin and Bruce each begin June 1.
“This is a great and historic moment for Southern Seminary and Boyce College,” said Mohler, who is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College. “We have the great opportunity to celebrate a generational transition in the leadership of the seminary that points to the future. One of my determinations is to make certain that this institution has the very best leadership at every moment in order to assure faithfulness, excellence, and continuity in the great work that we have been assigned. I have tremendous confidence in this new team.”

Matthew J. Hall, Paul Akin and Dustin Bruce

The role of provost continues the work Hall has been doing for the better part of the last decade. Since 2016, Hall, 39, has served as dean of Boyce College. During his tenure, the college reached multiple enrollment records, including topping 1,000 students in total headcount for the first time ever. He has been a part of the senior leadership team, made up of senior vice presidents, since 2017, when he began leading academic strategy for Southern Seminary. He also previously served as vice president of academic services and as chief of staff in the Office of the President.
Hall is a two-time alumnus of Southern Seminary (M.Div. and Th.M.) and earned master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees in American history from the University of Kentucky.
“It has been one of my great joys to work with Matt Hall over the course of the last several years,” Mohler said. “He is one of the most outstanding young leaders in the evangelical world, and he is both a scholar and a skilled administrator. He is a man of great character and deep conviction, and he is already fully equipped to take on full responsibility as provost of this institution. He will bring remarkable strength and ability to this task.”
Hall will also serve as an assistant professor of church history. He is an elder at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and a research fellow for the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is also co-editor of the 2015 book Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Legacy of Carl F.H. Henry.
“I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Mohler for the privilege to serve at Southern Seminary and Boyce College, including in this new capacity as provost,” Hall said in comments ahead of the public announcement. “I am, in every sense, a proud son of Southern Seminary and filled with gratitude for the extraordinary students, faculty, and staff that make this institution so special. We bear a sacred trust from the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to teach and shape a generation of pastors, missionaries, and ministers for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ among the nations. I am delighted and humbled at this opportunity.”

As the dean of the Graham School, Akin, 35, is poised to take the next step in a career already defined by missions and missions mobilization. Most recently, Akin served as team leader for new missionary sending at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has lived and worked among Muslims in Africa and the Middle East, trained missionaries in the local church and seminary contexts, and served alongside missionary teams in more than 40 countries.
“I’m very excited about the appointment of Paul Akin as the dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry,” Mohler said. “Paul is already a skilled missiologist and he combines the experience of being a missionary on the field with strategic leadership at the International Mission Board over the last several years.
“I have known Paul Akin for most of his lifetime and have seen God shape and mold him to be ready to take this kind of responsibility. He is a great young leader among Southern Baptists and I’m excited about what he will bring to the Graham school as its new dean. I’m particularly pleased with the emphasis upon missions that he represents and to which he has committed his life,” Mohler added.
Akin earned both M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where his father, Danny Akin, is president.
“To be entrusted to carry on the legacy of Dr. Graham and his passion for global mission is a special privilege and responsibility,” Akin said. “I believe the Graham School has the potential to be a leading voice for the cause of the Great Commission in the 21st century. I am eager to serve in this capacity and excited for the opportunity.”
A native of Dallas, Akin is married to Kari, with whom he has four children. He says he hopes a Great Commission fervor is obvious among the students of the Billy Graham school during his time as dean. He will serve the school additionally as an assistant professor of Christian missions.
Said Hall, “I look forward to working with Dr. Paul Akin and have the highest of hopes for what his leadership will mean for the Billy Graham School, and for Southern Seminary at large. He is a man with a proven passion for and commitment to the Great Commission, a keen thinker and scholar, and a committed Southern Baptist.”
Bruce, 32, returns to Boyce College with distinct experience combining teaching and administrative leadership. Starting in 2018, Bruce was associate vice president for spiritual formation and assistant professor of Christian studies at the University of Mobile.

“I believe that Dustin Bruce is God’s man to lead Boyce College in its next era of growth and expansion and service to the cause of Christ,” Mohler said. “He will bring tremendous leadership into building the faculty and the student body at Boyce College. He is already a skilled teacher and administrator. He is a known quantity at Southern Seminary, and I know that Boyce students and their parents will find great confidence in him, and the faculty will find him a skilled and committed leader. He brings a clear vision for the future of Boyce College, and I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do in the years ahead.”
Bruce earned both Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary and an M.Div. degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 2014-2018, Bruce served as an adjunct instructor at Boyce College and held several administrative roles at Southern Seminary, from Global Campus to the provost’s office. Bruce is currently co-editing a volume on the Holy Spirit in a critical edition of John Owen’s writings. He is also a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.
Bruce was born and raised in Monroeville, Ala. He is married to Whitney, and they have two daughters. A committed Southern Baptist, Bruce has served on staff at churches in Texas and Kentucky.
“I couldn’t be more excited to return home to Boyce College and Southern Seminary,” Bruce said. “Boyce College has proved itself to be one of the most faithful institutions offering a truly Christian undergraduate education. I’m honored to join such a committed faculty and staff in the work of equipping thousands of students to fulfill their calling in ministry and the marketplace. There is a community and culture around Boyce College that is different from most places, and in a world in which the ‘average’ college student feels lonely and isolated, Boyce works to create the robust biblical community students thrive in.”
In addition to serving as dean, Bruce will be an assistant professor of Christian theology and church history.
Hall, who is the most recent dean of Boyce, emphasized Bruce’s “unique gifting” to assume the leadership of seminary’s undergraduate school.
“I know firsthand what an exceptional place Boyce College is within the world of Christian higher education,” Hall said. “Our students are some of the most remarkable young men and women imaginable and are taught by an exceptional faculty who are models of faithfulness in their lives and scholarship. Dr. Bruce is uniquely gifted to lead the college into the future. He is a gifted leader, a proven churchman, and a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mohler noted his excitement that Hall, Akin, and Bruce each come to the seminary not only with professional qualifications, but also with families who will contribute to the vitality of the campus culture.
“One of the gifts of God to Southern Seminary in this set of announcements is the fact that each of these men comes with a wife totally committed to the gospel and to service in the Lord’s name, and they come with wonderful, thriving families that show the glory of God and the joy of living out their lives together,” Mohler said. “To be honest, I’m really glad, not only for the appointment of these three key academic leaders, but for the fact that they and their precious families are going to be a central part of the Southern Seminary family.”
This announcement comes on the first day of the week’s meetings of the Southern Seminary Board of Trustees, which convenes twice a year. More news from the week’s spring plenary session will follow in the coming days.

4/16/2019 3:48:19 PM by SBTS Communications | with 0 comments

SWBTS removes controversial stained-glass windows

April 16 2019 by Carrie Brown McWhorter, The Alabama Baptist

The stained-glass windows in the MacGorman Chapel of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) have been removed.
The windows featured Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders who figured prominently in the denomination’s “Conservative Resurgence” movement, including former SWBTS president Paige Patterson; Paul Pressler, considered one of the architects of the resurgence; and several past presidents of the SBC.

Photo by Don Young Glass Studio
The stained-glass windows featured Southern Baptist leaders who figured prominently in the denomination’s “Conservative Resurgence” movement, including former Southwestern Seminary president Paige Patterson, along with his wife, Dorothy, and dog; Paul Pressler, considered one of the architects of the resurgence; and several past presidents of the SBC.

In an April 11 email to The Alabama Baptist, SWBTS spokesperson Colby Adams confirmed what had been circulating on social media for several days: “The stained glass windows have been removed from MacGorman Chapel and we are working with donors to finalize plans for relocating the windows.”
No reason for the removal of the windows was provided.
A letter dated April 3 sent to “ministry partners” and signed by Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the SWBTS board of trustees, stated in part: “After much prayerful consideration and discussion, we have concluded that it is in the best interest of the institution to remove and relocate the stained-glass windows installed in our J.W. MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center. Expenses to remove the windows are minimal and will be covered by the seminary. … The seminary will safely store the windows until we have a chance to discuss with you the next steps.”
The first of several stained-glass windows were installed in the chapel in 2013, according to an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Star-Telegram reported then that the windows were the dream of Patterson’s wife, Dorothy.
“My dream was to portray the 20-year history of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist church,” Dorothy Patterson was quoted as saying.
An Oct. 19, 2015, SWBTS press release stated a similar purpose of the windows: “In order to pass along the story of the SBC’s Conservative Resurgence, Southwestern has dedicated stained-glass windows in MacGorman Chapel to those who played a major role in turning the convention back to a high view of scripture.”
In addition to the Pattersons and Pressler, those depicted in the chapel windows include O.S. Hawkins, director of Christian-based financial services company GuideStone; Harold and Dottie Riley, whose contributions helped build MacGorman Chapel; Jimmy Draper, former SBC president and president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources; several past presidents of the SBC, including Charles Stanley, W.A. Criswell, Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines and Edwin Young; and many others. Retired Alabama Baptist pastor Jimmy Jackson and Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, Calif., also were among those featured in stained glass. The original goal was at least 69 windows over a 12-year period, said Don Young, the artist/owner of Don Young Glass Studio, who designed and installed the windows, according to the Star-Telegram.
The seminary fired Paige Patterson May 30, 2018, following weeks of news reports about the “handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Patterson’s presidency at another institution and resulting issues connected with statements to the board of trustees that are inconsistent with SWBTS’s biblically informed core values,” according to a statement by the executive committee of SWBTS trustees.
The windows became a topic of controversy on social media during that time and in the weeks that followed Patterson’s firing, with many calling for their removal.
Thomas Wright, executive director of missions for the Mobile Baptist Association and president of the SWBTS Alabama Alumni Association, noted that observers can only speculate about the reasons for the decision to remove the windows.
“Southwestern has not commented specifically why the McGorman chapel memorial windows are being removed,” Wright said. “It is appropriate for history to document the impact that individuals made during the crucial conservative resurgence transition. Perhaps some of the window subjects illustrate why institutions tend to memorialize those whom history has confirmed finished well. Some would contend we are best served remaining focused on biblical heroes of faith and practice.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story was originally published at TheAlabamaBaptist.org. Used by permission.)

4/16/2019 3:44:28 PM by Carrie Brown McWhorter, The Alabama Baptist | with 0 comments

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