April 2019

E.W. McCall, SBC leader of ‘vision,’ dies

April 26 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

E.W. McCall Sr., an African American Southern Baptist leader and champion of Sunday School, died April 19. He was 79.

E.W. McCall

Beginning in 1970, McCall pastored St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church in La Puente, Calif., for 37 years. During that time the congregation grew from 35 members meeting in a house to more than 4,000 members. Under his leadership, the church developed ministries to the community for children and youth, addressed the needs of the homeless population and ministered to senior adults.
In 1993, McCall helped found the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAAF), a group that now represents some 4,000 predominantly black congregations.
McCall was “a man of vision and courage to start a fellowship” of black Southern Baptist churches, NAAF President Marshal Ausberry said. “We stand on his shoulders and [those of] men of his era that were bold to be part of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).”
For the past nine years, McCall served as an African American ministry specialist with the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention.
Within Southern Baptist life, McCall was active in leadership at all levels.
He was elected SBC second vice president in 2002. McCall also served on the SBC Committee on Committees and became the first African American to chair the board of trustees at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary).
On the state level, McCall served as first vice president of the California Southern Baptist Convention and was a longtime trustee at California Baptist University. Within his local Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association, he served as moderator, among other leadership roles.
A former public school teacher, McCall emphasized education and made Sunday School a hallmark of his ministry. St. Stephen’s Sunday School had grown to 1,000 in attendance by 1995, Baptist Press reported at the time. He wrote and taught extensively on Sunday School throughout the SBC.
Emmanuel McCall, a Home Mission Board liaison to black churches from 1968-91 and of no relation to E.W. McCall, remembered E.W. McCall as “totally committed to the SBC,” including the convention’s Sunday School methods and materials.
“He was a great Sunday School man and worked very closely with the Sunday School Board,” Emmanuel McCall said. “His church was always in competition [for] the largest Sunday School [among] African American churches in the SBC.”
Born Elijah W. McCall, he was the son of an Arkansas preacher and moved from the South to California in 1962, angry about racial discrimination, the San Gabriel Valley (Calif.) Tribune reported in 1995. McCall considered joining the civil rights movement but instead went into teaching and then the pastorate.
“When I came to California, I had this seething rage within me, but God turned and tilted it toward the Kingdom,” McCall told the Tribune.
McCall received his bachelor of science degree in elementary education at Grambling State University in Louisiana, later teaching for 20 years. He earned his master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from American Baptist Seminary of the West and did further studies at UCLA, Long Beach State University and Fuller Seminary.
In 2013, the SBTC endowed a scholarship for African American master of divinity students at Gateway in honor of McCall.
SBTC executive director Jim Richards remembered McCall as “a giant among us” who was “faithful to the end.”
A celebration of McCall’s life and legacy will be held April 27 at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill, Texas.

4/26/2019 1:33:46 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Pastor spearheads drug rehab center

April 26 2019 by Mark Maynard, Kentucky Today

The Inez Motel may have once been a place where drugs were exchanged and even used regularly.

Submitted photo
Inez First Baptist Church Pastor Casey Carver stands in front of the old Inez Motel that he hopes to help turn into a drug rehabilitation center.

Owners of the rundown motel sold the property, which is located in the middle of downtown Inez, Ky., a couple of years ago. But nobody else seemed like they wanted anything to do with it. The new owner wasn’t sure if anything good could ever come from it.
Martin County is like many Kentucky counties in trying to deal with a drug issue that appears to be running rampant and destroying families daily.
Casey Carver, who became the new pastor of Inez First Baptist Church in January of last year, met with some citizens that spring to identify the area’s biggest problems. And the No. 1 answer seemed obvious.
“These drugs are all over the county and we’re right in downtown Inez,” he said.
Carver knew he couldn’t fight it from inside the church’s walls, so he stepped outside of them and took the lead on finding a solution.
The family who purchased the motel offered it to him with the hopes that he could do something positive through a community organization. The property came with no strings attached and the idea for a drug rehabilitation center was born.
“I told them to give me a few months to see what we can do,” Carver said.
What they have done is form a forward-thinking committee with the hopes that the rundown motel could become a drug rehabilitation center for men.
Carver, 27, is the president of a seven-person board called God’s Connection, a name that one of the board members, Linda Booth, came up with and seemed just right.
“It just made sense,” Carver said. “When we started looking at putting a board together, we went after go-getters. We are going to push through no matter what people say.”
Of course, there have been critics to what God’s Connection is trying to do, Carver said. But the board has stayed strong for this Christ-centered rehab center.
Carver, a family man with three children, also has the blessings of his church to pursue leading the center’s formation.
“Different people from the community are involved and there are four of us from Inez First Baptist Church,” he said. “We’re in the process of getting the building ready to be transferred over to us.”
The rehabilitation will be faith-based and those entering the 30-day program will have to be sponsored by someone for $300, he said. They will also have to follow some strict guidelines.
“We’re going to pour God into them 24/7,” Carver said. “They will be required to go to church and have a set schedule. They will get up at the same time and have activities, including attending Celebrate Recovery sessions.”
It can take 21 days to set a new habit, Carver noted, and he hopes those entering the program will come out healed spiritually as well.
Another part of the project will be a coffee shop that Carver’s wife, Tebbie, will manage. She worked at a successful coffee shop when the couple was ministering in Manchester before being called to Inez.
The motel has 18 rooms and the initial plan is to have two residents per room. Some renovation is necessary, but the fixes are mostly cosmetic, Carver said.
“I feel like God’s got bigger plans for it,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential for it. This may be a game-changer for Martin County.”
Once they get the men’s rehabilitation program working, he said the board has plans for adding a women’s program in a facility that’s two or three blocks away.
“I’m very thankful for the board I have now,” Carver said. “I don’t care to get it up and going, but I’ll eventually step back and be the pastor to it.”
The board, Carver said, has connections to the health systems in the area, and they are already inquiring about possible grants for the project from local government.
“Our goal is to have a 100 percent success rate,” he said. “Everybody on the board feels like God has put this whole thing together. The local government and the community are behind what we’re trying to do. Martin County has too much good to offer to let drugs take it over.”
They hope to have the center open sometime in the fall.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Maynard is managing editor of Kentucky Today, kentuckytoday.com, a news website of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

4/26/2019 1:31:33 PM by Mark Maynard, Kentucky Today | with 0 comments

Churches eager to evangelize, but distractions abound

April 25 2019 by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Christian Resources

Most Protestant churchgoers say they are eager to talk to others about Jesus and are praying for opportunities to share their faith. But a new study shows most say they have not had any evangelistic conversations in the past six months.
The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from LifeWay Research found excitement and eagerness about the idea of evangelism. Few Protestant churchgoers, however, actually engaged in the practice on a regular basis, according to the survey conducted Jan. 14-29.
More than half (55 percent) of those who attend church at least once a month say they have not shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past six months.
“Sharing the good news that Jesus paid for our sins through His death on the cross and rose again to bring us new life is the mission of the church,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, “but it does not appear to be the priority of churchgoers.”

Seeking evangelistic opportunities

A majority of churchgoers (56 percent) say they pray for opportunities to tell others about Jesus at least once a week, with 23 percent praying for such moments every day.
More than a quarter (27 percent) say they rarely or never pray for those opportunities.
Those with a high school diploma or less are most likely to say they pray for those opportunities every day (31 percent).
Hispanics (36 percent) and African Americans (29 percent) are more likely to offer those prayers every day compared to whites (20 percent) or other ethnicities (17 percent).
Increased church attendance makes it more likely someone has offered evangelistic prayers.

Those who attend a worship service on average once a week (75 percent) are more likely than churchgoers who attend less frequently (69 percent) to pray at least once a month.
Most churchgoers (56 percent) also say they are eager to talk about Jesus with people who are not like them in terms of ethnicity, income or interests. About 1 in 6 disagree (16 percent).
Churchgoers 65 and older are the age group least likely to strongly agree they are eager to share the gospel with those different from themselves (20 percent).
Hispanics (40 percent) and African Americans (32 percent) are more likely to strongly agree than whites (23 percent).
“The task of making disciples of all nations has not been fully embraced in the American church – especially by the majority culture,” McConnell said. “This is in spite of the convenience of having other ethnicities and immigrants from other countries often living in the same neighborhood.”

Missing evangelistic opportunities

Less than half of churchgoers say they have shared with someone in the past six months how to become a Christian (45 percent).
Of those who have spoken to someone about becoming a Christian, most had done so with one or two people (24 percent). About 1 in 10 churchgoers (10 percent) average at least one evangelistic conversation a month.
Those 65 and older are the age demographic most likely to say they had no evangelistic conversations recently (62 percent).
“Recently, there has been much discussion about young adults participating less in evangelism. That’s not the case, however,” McConnell said. “In fact, young adult and middle-aged churchgoers are more likely to have shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past six months than older churchgoing adults.”
Hispanics are the ethnic group least likely to say they have not spoken with anyone about becoming a Christian in the last six months (32 percent).

Those who attend a worship service four times a month or more (53 percent) are less likely to say they have had no evangelistic conversations than those who attend less than four times a month (60 percent).
Most churchgoers (55 percent) say they have, however, invited an unchurched person to a church service or program in the past six months.
While 45 percent say they haven’t made any invitation, 31 percent say they invited one or two individuals.
Again, Hispanics are the most likely to have invited someone. Around 7 in 10 (71 percent) Hispanic churchgoers say they invited at least one person to church.
Increased church attendance is also linked to an increased practice of inviting others to church.
Those who attend at least four times a month (58 percent) are more likely to say they have invited an unchurched person to a church service in the past six months than those who attend less than four times a month (47 percent).
“Jesus never promised the Great Commission would be completed quickly,” McConnell said, “but He set the expectation that the efforts to reach all nations with His gospel should be continuous. Many in church today appear to be distracted from Jesus’ final command.”
Evangelism is one of eight signposts that are measured in the Discipleship Pathway Assessment and addressed in LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. For more information, visit discipleshippathwayassessment.com.


The online survey of 2,500 Protestant churchgoers was conducted Jan. 14-29, 2019. Respondents were screened to include those who identified as Protestant/non-denominational and attend religious services at least once a month. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity, income and denominational affiliation. The completed sample is 2,500 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 2.0 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.

4/25/2019 11:08:13 AM by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments

Supreme Court to rule on LGBT rights

April 25 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider in its next term whether non-discrimination protections in federal workplace law cover people who identify as gay or transgender.
The high court announced April 22 it would review appeals in three different cases on an issue that touches on the continuing conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty. The controversial matter has divided federal appeals courts and the two most recent presidential administrations.
The cases provide the justices with the opportunity to resolve whether the classification of “sex” in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
Two appeals courts – the Second Circuit in New York City and the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio – ruled in 2018 that gay and transgender individuals, respectively, are protected under the category of “sex” in federal employment law. The 11th Circuit in Atlanta, however, decided last year “sex” does not refer to “sexual orientation.”
Though “sex” was long interpreted to refer only to whether a person is biologically male or female, the Justice Department under President Obama determined it also encompassed “gender identity.” President Trump’s Justice Department has returned to the previous interpretation.
With the cases, the high court has an opportunity to clarify a contentious sphere of law that sometimes involves the conscience rights of business owners, especially Christians, in conflict with the claims of their employees.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said he is encouraged the Supreme Court accepted the cases and prays “for a clear ruling that upholds human dignity in the law.”
“These cases present an opportunity for needed resolution over the definition of sex in federal law,” Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. “The law at stake is of vital importance because it ensures legal protection for women. But we cannot understand equality on the basis of sex if we have ever-changing confusion on the meaning of sex and identity.”
John Bursch, vice president of appellate advocacy for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said April 22, “Neither government agencies nor the courts have authority to rewrite federal law by replacing ‘sex’ with ‘gender identity’ – a change with widespread consequences for everyone. Businesses have the right to rely on what the law is – not what government agencies want it to be – when they create and enforce employment policies.”
LGBT rights advocates expressed hope the high court would define Title VII in an expansive way.
“There is no reason for the Supreme Court to carve [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)] people out of a law that by its own terms protects us from discrimination,” said Greg Nevins, senior counsel for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
In its orders, the Supreme Court combined two cases involving employees in New York and Georgia who said they were fired because they are gay. Those appeals will be argued together. Meanwhile, the justices will hear separately a case involving a male employee at a Michigan funeral home who was fired after he told the owner he identified as a female and planned to begin wearing women’s clothing.
Donald Zarda, who has since died, was a skydiving instructor in New York who filed suit after he was dismissed by Altitude Express Inc. The executors of his estate continued the suit, and the Second Circuit reversed a federal judge’s ruling against Zarda’s claim under Title VII.
The 11th Circuit upheld a federal court’s dismissal of a suit by Gerald Lynn Bostock, a child welfare services worker, against Clayton County in Georgia. A three-judge panel agreed with the lower court that Title VII does not pertain to “sexual orientation.”
In Michigan, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought legal action against the R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes after owner Thomas Rost dismissed Anthony Stephens, who told Rost in 2013 he was transitioning to a woman, intended to dress accordingly and was changing his name to Aimee. Stephens had worked for Harris Funeral Homes for six years.
Rost is a Christian who seeks to exercise his faith in his business dealings and in his service to the public, according to ADF, which represents Harris Funeral Homes in the case. Rost believed he would violate his faith if he allowed employees to dress as members of the opposite sex during work hours and also had a dress policy for employees that is intended to be sensitive to people who are grieving the loss of a loved one, ADF reported.
“I took some time to think about it, and what Stephens proposed was not in the best interest of the families that we serve,” Rost said in a video interview with ADF. “I feel like a pawn that the government is using to rewrite the law.”
In taking Harris Funeral Homes to court, the EEOC violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), ADF said in a brief asking a federal court to grant summary judgment to its client. Enacted in 1993, RFRA requires the government to have a compelling interest and use the narrowest means possible in burdening a person’s religious exercise.
“The funeral home wants to serve families mourning the loss of a loved one, but the EEOC has elevated its political goals above the interests of the grieving people that the funeral home serves,” Bursch said in a written statement.
LGBT advocates are urging Congress to act on the legislative front to provide legal protections. On March 13, Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives introduced the Equality Act, a proposal that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the classifications protected in federal civil rights law.
Supporters of the bill say it is needed to protect LGBT rights in such areas as employment, housing and public accommodations – which includes establishments that provide goods, services or programs. Opponents say they oppose unjust discrimination but contend the measure would denigrate Christian morality and coerce behavior in violation of religious beliefs.
Both versions of the Equality Act go so far as to eliminate the use of RFRA as a possible protection for religious adherents in cases covered by the measure.
Nearly half of the 50 states already have protections against LGBT discrimination. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws explicitly banning discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” according to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). Two more states interpret existing law as prohibiting such discrimination, and one state bars discrimination based only on “sexual orientation.” Twenty-six states have no explicit prohibitions.
The cases are Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County and Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC.
The high court’s next term will begin in October. Dates for oral arguments in the cases will be announced later.

4/25/2019 11:04:55 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘Love One Another’ nationwide prayer plea May 2

April 25 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Aligning American culture with God’s commandment to love one another is the vision of the 2019 National Day of Prayer (NDP) May 2, an annual event organizers say impacted perhaps 510 million people in 2018.

Neither society nor the church are loving one another as God commanded, NDP Task Force President Ronnie Floyd told Baptist Press.
“It’s pretty obvious that the culture is a great picture of what we’re not doing,” Floyd said. “And not only the culture in America but the culture in the church today. The way we conduct ourselves to one another is not a ‘love one another’ culture.
“We need to enter back in to what Jesus called us to do,” said Floyd, who is also president-elect of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. “Just think what would happen in the Southern Baptist Convention; think what would happen if ‘love one another’ took over.
“It’s important that we call the standard up for all of us,” Floyd said, “with no exceptions.”
Prayers at an anticipated 50,000 or more local events and the NDP national observance in Washington will call the nation to “Love One Another” as Jesus commanded in John 13:34. NDP events preceding the national observance will encourage the nation to pray, including a prayer breakfast and a formal dinner in Washington.
It’s not too late to plan a local event, Floyd said, with free tools available at nationaldayofprayer.org. An official NDP prayer signed by Floyd is available at nationaldayofprayer.org/national-prayer.
Floyd will expound on the NDP theme at the national observance 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time May 2 in Statuary Hall. A diverse group of speakers will address specific aspects of love, followed by several minutes of targeted prayer in the event livestreamed on the NDP Facebook page and broadcast on television and radio.
Persecuted pastor Andrew Brunson, who spent nearly two years jailed in Turkey for his faith, will, with his wife Norine, encourage the nation to love one another through prayer for persecuted Christians globally.
Anthony B. Thompson, whose late wife Myra was among nine blacks shot to death June 17, 2015, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., will focus on loving one another through forgiveness.
Other speakers are Julio Arriola, former worship leader at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and now a missionary to Mexico; Jay and Diane Strack, founder of Student Leadership University and co-founder of National Women’s Prayer Movement, respectively; Sammy Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Nick Hall, founder of student-led prayer and evangelism movement PULSE, who will speak via livestream from an NDP event in Minneapolis, Minn.
In events the preceding day, former International Mission Board President David Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va., will preach at a breakfast at 9 a.m. at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington; and Brunson will speak at a formal dinner at 6 p.m. Eastern Time at the Museum of the Bible.
NDP 2018 enjoyed the greatest impact in the event’s history, according to the NDP 2018 impact report.
The impact report counted more than 50,000 local events across the nation, with more than 1 million viewing the Facebook broadcast of the NDP service, more than 120 radio stations broadcasting NDP events, an estimated 1.6 million people in 38 countries watching the NDP livestream, an estimated 110 million reached through Christian news sites, and potentially 1 billion reached through NDP television broadcasts in 200 countries, NDP said on its website.
Local prayer gatherings are autonomous and are held in churches, schools, businesses, government offices and outdoor venues. Founded by Congress in 1952, NDP has been observed annually on the first Thursday in May since 1988.
As president-elect of the SBC Executive Committee, Floyd is resigning this year the NDP presidency he has held since 2017. The NDP Board of Directors will choose his successor.

4/25/2019 11:00:11 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Sri Lanka bombings fueled by ‘conflict of ideas’

April 25 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

As Sri Lanka continues to mourn at least 359 people who died in Easter attacks against Christians, a Southern Baptist seminary professor has called believers to consider the “conflict of ideas” behind the bombings.

Screen capture from NBC News
A mass funeral April 24 in Sri Lanka mourned some of the at least 359 people killed in Easter attacks against Christians.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the April 21 suicide bombings, according to media reports, and Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 60 people in relation to the attacks.

“Though the media doesn’t want to talk about the conflict of ideas that is back behind all this, I think we need to talk about it,” said Mike Edens, distinguished professor of theology and missions at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

A suspected leader of the coordinated suicide bombings at churches and hotels appears in a video that has surfaced, along with seven of his followers, swearing allegiance to the Islamic State, The Washington Post reported. The Islamic State also has issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attacks, which injured 500 people in addition to the slain.
Sri Lankan officials have attributed the bombings to a local Islamist group, the National Thowheed Jamaath, according to media reports. The government said it is seeking to determine whether the perpetrators had ties to the Islamic State.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Easter bombings may have come in retaliation for attacks last month in which an avowed white supremacist killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand, The Post reported.
Edens, who has ministered widely among Muslims abroad, said, “We need to be horrified and very strident in our opposition to the perpetrators of both” the Sri Lanka and New Zealand massacres. “Both of them, in seeking to suppress a religious expression, are destroying the image of God in the innocent individuals ... in the mosques and in the churches.”
Focusing on the Sri Lanka attackers, Edens said “a group of people have been benighted by a false religion and are convinced that their job is to inhibit access ... to the simple gospel of Jesus Christ.”
American Christians, “who have been blessed” with religious freedom, “need to be in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters of whatever denominational background they are in as they suffer around the world,” Edens said.
Near St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, where about 100 people were killed in a suicide bombing, a mass burial service mourned the dead April 24, The New York Times reported.
An article posted on the International Mission Board’s (IMB) website stated, “We may not know the perpetrators or motivations of Sunday’s attacks any time soon. But they stand as a grim reminder of the need for the gospel in a broken world.
“The juxtaposition of such deadly actions against Christ’s utter defeat of death – on Resurrection Day, no less – is palpable,” wrote the IMB’s Caroline Anderson, a media specialist serving in Southeast Asia. “We Christians felt the pang of death, and we continue to grieve with brothers and sisters whose lives are at stake for the sake of the gospel each day.”
The nine suicide bombers who allegedly carried out the attacks are all Sri Lankans and mostly from educated, middleclass backgrounds, The Times reported.
Edens lamented that the attackers missed the help and healing the gospel could have brought them.
“The Savior comes, and He transforms lives and renews broken life and gives us eternal life and a relationship with God,” Edens said, noting, “That’s the message the violent people in Sri Lanka ... have missed.”

4/25/2019 10:53:11 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Denton Lotz, former BWA general secretary, dies

April 25 2019 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Denton Lotz, general secretary emeritus of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), died April 23 at his home in Forestdale, Mass., at age 80.

Denton Lotz

Lotz led the BWA from 1988 until his retirement in 2007; he joined the staff in 1980 as director of evangelism and education. He subsequently was pastor of Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston until 2017.
Prior to his work with the BWA, Lotz was a missionary with the American Baptist Churches, USA, in Eastern and Central Europe and taught missions and homiletics at the International Baptist Theological Seminary, formerly in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, and now based in Amsterdam.
The Southern Baptist Convention ended its affiliation with the BWA in 2004. A recommendation by a nine-member study committee was approved by SBC Executive Committee in February and by messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June in Indianapolis.
Lotz issued a rebuttal to the committee’s recommendation, stating, in part, that the SBC’s exit from the BWA would cause “a schism within the life of our worldwide Baptist family and thus it is a sin against love!”
The SBC study committee cited theological concerns as the core reason for the recommendation, Baptist Press reported in December 2003.
More than a question of Southern Baptist biblical convictions, the study committee stated that “the larger issue is the potential impact” on constituent bodies when the BWA “gives apparent approval” to various “aberrant theologies.”
The theological problems, according to the committee, included “an increasing influence of positions contrary to the New Testament and to Baptist doctrines” – positions “being advocated in the various commissions and committees of the BWA” – stemming from “a number of European and North American conventions” with prominence in the BWA.
The study committee also noted: “A decided anti-American tone has emerged in recent years. Continued emphasis on women as pastors, frequent criticisms of the International Mission Board of Southern Baptists, refusal to allow open discussion on issues such as abortion, and the funding of questionable enterprises through Baptist World Aid provide just a surface sampling of what has transpired in recent years.”
The SBC study committee stated its prayer “for the day when the BWA will return to the faith on which it was founded and which has been historically held by Baptists for centuries. We pray for the restoration of fellowship that such a return will bring.”
Lotz, in his response to the study committee, said he “categorically rejects” any description of the BWA as “liberal,” calling it a “false accusation” akin to 1950s-era McCarthyism. “Our BWA member bodies affirm the trinity, the divinity of Christ, the resurrection, the atonement, second coming and future rule of God!” he wrote.
Lotz said the study committee’s recommendation was a “triumph of ideology over doctrine” and “contrary to all Baptist understanding of the competency of the individual and of soul liberty!”
Though conversations have taken place between SBC and BWA leaders during the past 15 years, no formal steps toward reconciliation have since occurred between the SBC and BWA, which was founded in 1905 in England with Southern Baptist involvement and, at the end of 2017, listed 239 member bodies in 125 countries and territories with 168,491 affiliated churches. The BWA is now based in Falls Church, Va.
In a tribute posted upon Lotz’s death, the BWA recounted, “In July 2005 at the BWA Centennial Congress in Birmingham, England, Lotz unveiled the Living Water initiative, a strategic plan designed to enlist and equip local Baptists for evangelism and servant leadership. Since its inception, Living Water events have taken place around the world from Cuba to Bangladesh with more than 4,500 registered delegates in attendance, who have engaged in prayer, focused Bible study, evangelism, and leadership training.”
The BWA also cited Lotz’s work in launching the Baptist International Conference on Theological Education in 1991.
At a 2007 retirement dinner, Anne Graham Lotz, whose late husband Dan was Denton Lotz’s brother, read a letter from Billy Graham, her father, who stated: “The Lord raised you up for such a time as we’ve been through. Your strong leadership and personal faith has been an inspiration and blessing to me. The fact that you are related through marriage, that you are a member of our board of directors, and because of our long-time association with the Baptist World Alliance, all give me a special reason to honor you on the occasion of your retirement. Not only will the Baptist World Alliance miss you, but your ecumenical leadership will be missed throughout the world church.”
A native of Flushing, N.Y., Lotz was the youngest of four sons raised by a minister and his wife. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1961-1963, subsequently earning a theology degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1966 and a doctorate at the University of Hamburg in Germany in 1970.
Lotz is survived by his wife Janice, three children and several grandchildren.
A memorial service will be at noon April 26 at Tremont Temple Baptist Church.

4/25/2019 10:48:15 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘50 Reasons’ campaign urges #SBC19 attendance

April 24 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A “50 Reasons” promotional campaign launching April 22 will unveil unique reasons to attend the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Birmingham.

SBC graphic

SBC Executive Committee President-elect Ronnie Floyd is spearheading “50 Reasons to Come to #SBC19” 50 days in advance of the event June 11-12 at the Birmingham Convention Center.
“The most important meeting each year in our Southern Baptist family is our annual convention,” Floyd said. “I hope at least one of these reasons will encourage you to join us.”
Brief daily social media posts will unveil daily encouragements to attend, with the 2019 annual meeting theme “Gospel Above All” highlighted in today’s reason.
“50 days till #SBC19, 50 reasons why you should be there. We’ll give you a new one each day along with @EC_SBC and @Talk_CP,” @SBCLife announced in its first 50 Reasons tweet today. “First things first: The Gospel Above All.”
The annual meeting program will be available this week on SBCLIFE.net, in Baptist Press and in the pre-convention issue of SBC LIFE mailed to subscribers.

4/24/2019 10:47:37 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NOBTS adds 3 new degrees, 3 professors

April 24 2019 by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) trustees approved three new degrees and curriculum updates for Leavell College and elected new faculty members during their spring meeting April 17.

Photo by Chandler McCall
Frank Cox, chairman of New Orleans Seminary’s trustees, thanks Chuck Kelley and his wife Rhonda for their many of years of service during a worship service honoring the Kelleys. Kelley will retire as NOBTS president at the end of July.

Trustees also received updates on the seminary’s “Different Voices” diversity initiative and spring enrollment growth, and they approved the seminary’s budget for the coming academic year.
And the board utilized the last regular trustee meeting of Chuck Kelley’s presidency to recognize his tenure at NOBTS, hosting a banquet and worship service in his honor on April 16 and electing him as distinguished research professor of evangelism during their plenary sessions on April 17. Kelley, who has led the seminary since 1996, will retire from the post July 31.
During his presidential report, Kelley lamented the tragic decision by the founders of NOBTS to exclude African American students. While the seminary reversed the policy in the 1950s, the seminary is still working to repair the damage it caused, Kelley said.
One step in the process was the creation of the Fred Luter Jr. Scholarship in 2011. Since then, NOBTS has awarded $1.4 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 African American students through the Luter Scholarship. Kelley noted that many more minorities have benefited from the general scholarships available to all students.
In recent years, Kelley launched the “Different Voices” initiative in an attempt to better serve minority students. Through the initiative, the seminary has been more intentional in inviting minority speakers to chapel and to seminary-sponsored events. The efforts also resulted in the creation of doctoral fellowships for minority students. In May, NOBTS will host its first gathering for minority students who feel called to teaching ministry or denominational leadership.
Kelley also reported that NOBTS now has African American, Korean and Hispanic representation on the trustee-elected faculty and a commitment by each academic division to intentionally utilize minority adjunct instructors. In addition, both Leavell College and Graduate Studies have women serving as associate deans, something Kelley believes is a first for a Southern Baptist seminary.
Trustees also learned of healthy enrollment and tuition income numbers. Initial spring enrollment numbers show a modest enrollment uptick over the previous year and tuition income is up 11 percent.

Academic additions

The board approved the creation of a bachelor of arts and associate of arts degrees in biblical studies and a bachelor of arts in psychology and counseling. Revisions to existing degrees included updates to the bachelor of arts and associate of arts in Christian ministry and bachelor of arts and associate of arts in music with an emphasis in worship.
The curriculum updates were developed by the Leavell College faculty during a two-year period of evaluation and prayer. L. Thomas Strong III, the college’s dean, said the changes are designed to enhance ministry training for students based on the current needs of the churches they will serve.
“When we developed the degrees, we definitely had the church in mind,” Strong said. “Our goals are that graduates will walk into church ministry really well-grounded biblically and in their doctrine.”
Strong said the plan includes the introduction of a Christian foundational core required of all students that includes strong exposure to the Old and New Testaments, Christian doctrine, hermeneutics, evangelism, teaching methods and other essentials for ministry. Every student will receive both the “Darkness to Light” training and MinistrySafe certification designed to help safeguard churches against sexual abuse and to minister to those who have been abused, Strong said.
The board elected Karla McGehee, George Ross and Charles A. Ray III to the faculty.
McGehee, who will receive the doctor of philosophy degree from NOBTS in May, was elected assistant professor of Christian education in Leavell College. McGehee earned her bachelor of arts in Christian ministry from Leavell College and went on to earn two master’s degrees from NOBTS before entering doctoral work.
An instructor in Leavell College since 2016, McGehee previously served eight years as minister of education at First Baptist Church in Belle Chasse, La. In addition to her teaching ministry, McGehee has been the seminary’s associate director of institutional effectiveness since 2013.
Ross, a missionary with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), was elected as assistant professor of church planting and evangelism (ministry-based) and will occupy the Cecil B. Day Chair of Church Planting.
A Mississippi native, Ross [brings] pastoral and church planting experience to his new role at NOBTS. For six years, he served as student pastor at Longview Heights Baptist Church in Olive Branch, Miss., before being called to plant Lifepoint Church in Senatobia, Miss., in 2004. Ross led Lifepoint Church until 2013 when he was named as the North American Mission Board’s Send missionary for New Orleans. Ross currently serves as co-pastor of Lakeshore Church in New Orleans, a NAMB replant.
Ross holds a bachelor of science degree from Crichton College in Memphis, Tenn., and a master of divinity from Liberty University and, in 2018, he earned a doctor of ministry degree from NOBTS.
Trustees elected Ray to serve as assistant professor of New Testament and Greek. Though born in Baton Rouge, La., Ray spent his childhood years in South Korea where his parents served as Southern Baptist missionaries. Ray’s family returned to the United States when he was 11.
Ray holds a bachelor of arts degree from Baylor University and three degrees from NOBTS – the master of arts (biblical studies), the master of theology and the doctor of philosophy. He has taught at Leavell College and NOBTS for more than a decade.
Since 2007, Ray has served as pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Gulfport, Miss. He and his wife Lisa have fostered nine children during their time in Mississippi, three of whom they adopted.
One of Ray’s primary roles at NOBTS is to serve as director of the Accelerated BA+MDiv program that allows pastoral ministry students to earn both the bachelor of arts degree and the master of divinity degree in just five years. Drawing on his own pastoral ministry experience, Ray will mentor students accepted into the rigorous program. For more on the Accelerated BA+MDiv program, visit www.nobts.edu/ba-mdiv.
In other actions, trustees:

  • approved a $23.5 million budget for 2019-2020.

  • approved faculty rank promotions for Blake Newsom to associate professor of expository preaching, ministry-based faculty, Bo Rice to associate professor of evangelism and preaching and Adam Harwood to professor of theology.

  • approved tenure for Kevin Brown, associate professor of church and community ministries; Bo Rice; and Jeff Farmer, associate professor of church ministry and evangelism.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gary D. Myers is director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)

4/24/2019 10:43:40 AM by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS | with 0 comments

Chitwood urges Great Commission faithfulness

April 24 2019 by SBTS Communications

A glorious vision of people from all nations worshiping God should inspire all ministry and mission, says Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board.

SBTS photo
"You and I know that the vision will be fulfilled, and the great privilege we have is to be part of it," Paul Chitwood, International Mission Board president, told students at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, April 18.

Chitwood spoke during The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s chapel, April 18. He is a two-time graduate of the seminary, having earned both his master of divinity and doctorate of philosophy at the school.
Chitwood preached from Revelation 7:9-10, which he said is a “glorious culmination” of God’s plan to claim his church from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. Speaking the day before Good Friday, when Christians around the world remember the death and burial of Jesus Christ before his resurrection on Sunday, Chitwood said the apostle John’s vision in Revelation 7 is the fulfillment of Christ’s work and the driving force behind the mission of the church 2,000 years later. 
“This vision of heaven … is not only the culmination of the events of Holy Week, it is what drives the ministry and mission of the church to this very day and will continue to drive the ministry and mission of the church until the Lord Jesus comes to claim his church. That vision is what we must look toward to, what we give our lives to, and – if called upon – what we give our lives for.”
The vision of heaven is inclusive, Chitwood said. The multitude John sees will not be made up of a crowd of people from some nations or most nations, but every nation. If the vision included just some or most people and languages, Chitwood said, Christians could take it easy. 
“If that’s the vision, then you can go home,” he said to the students, faculty, and staff of Southern Seminary. “All the frustrations and heartaches of serving in churches and seminaries or spending your life on the mission fields of the world are for nothing if the vision has already been fulfilled. But they aren’t for nothing.
“The frustration and heartaches of local church ministry are necessary, as is doing whatever it takes to get the gospel to the very ends of the earth, because the adjectives [in this passage] say ‘every’ and ‘all.’ The vision has not yet been fulfilled, and it is for the fulfillment of this vision that this institution was birthed and exists today.”
In his sermon, Chitwood focused on the reasons why Christians should pay attention to the vision of the apostle John recorded in Revelation 7, asking questions like, “who?” “where?” “how?” and “why?” These questions reveal the nature of the vision and its meaning for believers today, he said. 
The “who?” question is answered by the inclusive nature of the vision, bringing together people from every tribe and nation, while the “where” and “how” questions are addressed by the people’s presence before the throne of God, dressed in white robes. All these people do not gather before the throne because they deserve to. They are brought from all over the world by the blood of Jesus Christ alone, who paid their debt of sin and gave them garments of righteousness, he said. 
“How can a people so stained with guilt be here in the vision, clothed in white robes? That is the ‘how’ of salvation (in addition to ‘who’ and ‘where’),” Chitwood said. “Prophecy came to pass and law was fulfilled. A curse was carried, a debt was paid, judgment was carried out and wrath was satisfied. His wounds brought us healing, he atoned for our sin, a messiah came, a lamb was slain, his death brought life, and he has become the first fruits of the resurrection.”
Christians, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can boldly share the gospel and take its message to the ends of the earth because they know this vision will be fulfilled, Chitwood said. They can participate in God’s great victory. 
“You and I know that the vision will be fulfilled, and the great privilege we have is to be part of it,” he said. 
Audio and video from the chapel address is available at Southern Equip.

4/24/2019 10:39:29 AM by SBTS Communications | with 0 comments

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