April 2019

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. Mission:Dignity 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

Credentials committee for 2019 announced

April 16 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear has announced appointees to the 2019 Credentials Committee.
“This year’s SBC Annual Meeting is all about prioritizing the gospel above all,” Greear said. “In order to do that, hundreds of volunteers will put in countless hours of work. This year’s Credentials Committee is a part of the incredible effort that makes our annual meeting possible. I know this group, which represents our best from across the spectrum of the SBC, will work tirelessly to give us a smooth and unifying meeting in Birmingham.”

Appointed as chairperson is Betsy Gomez, a layperson at First Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. Muche Ukegbu, lead pastor of The Brook Church in Miami, will serve as vice chair. See related story.
“I am grateful to serve with these committee members in order to help provide a smooth and organized experience for all attendees,” Gomez said. “It is my prayer that during our annual meeting the Lord will stir our hearts with great love for our neighbors and the nations and give us an even greater passion to make the gospel known to the ends of the earth. My goal is to serve them in any way I can and, together, serve our convention.”
Besides Gomez and Ukegbu, other committee members are:

  • Michelle Adkins, layperson, First Baptist Church, Westwego, La.

  • Jess Archer, children/youth mission education strategist, Louisiana Baptist Convention, Alexandria, La.

  • Troy Bush, senior pastor, Rehoboth Baptist Church, Tucker, Ga.

  • Julian Carter, For the City director, The Bridge Church, Wilmington, N.C.

  • Larry Craig, senior pastor, First Baptist Church Crim’s Chapel, Henderson, Texas

  • Jamilie Crespo, layperson, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City

  • Julio Crespo, senior pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City

  • Brenda Croston, layperson, Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

  • José Daniel Fasolino, pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church East, Toronto, Canada

  • Mary DeMuth, layperson, Lake Pointe Church, Rockwall, Texas

  • Char-La Fowler, Bull Street Baptist Church, Savannah, Ga.

  • Mandy Hayes, layperson, Biltmore Church, Arden, N.C.

  • Matt Henslee, senior pastor, Mayhill Baptist Church, Mayhill, N.M.

  • Jacki King, layperson, Second Baptist Church, Conway, Ark.

  • Mahlon LeCroix, pastor, Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, DeFuniak Springs, Fla.

  • Michael O’Neal, evangelism and missions pastor, First Baptist Church, Cumming, Ga.

  • Chris Orr, senior pastor, Grand Island Baptist Church, Grand Island, Fla.

  • Venson Pugh, pastor, Reach for the Son Christian Fellowship, Poway, Calif.

  • Angelia Routzahn, layperson, Union Baptist Church, Meridian, Miss.

  • Jonathan Santiago, Puerto Rico ministry director, North American Mission Board, Iglesia Bautista Transformacion, Humacao, Puerto Rico

  • Ann Stafford, layperson, Southside Baptist Church, Dothan, Ala.

  • Stacy Stafford, pastor, Southside Baptist Church, Dothan, Ala.

  • Kevin Ward, director of missions, Limestone Baptist Association, Athens, Ala.

  • Kristi Warden, layperson, Northbrook Baptist Church, Cullman, Ala.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Laura Erlanson, Baptist Press’ operations coordinator.)

4/16/2019 3:39:12 PM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments

Greensboro church reaches immigrant neighbors

April 15 2019 by Liz Tablazon, Biblical Recorder

Ther Dee came to the United States as a Karen refugee six years ago. When asked why he wanted to become a U.S. citizen, he said, smiling, “I live in America. I love America.”

BR photo by Liz Tablazon
Brenda Forlines leads a citizenship class at Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro.

Dee is one of about 20 refugees and immigrants who attend a weekly citizenship class at Friendly Avenue Baptist Church (FABC) in Greensboro, N.C. Every Monday evening, they spend almost two hours practicing the pledge of allegiance and oath of allegiance, reading, writing and conducting mock interviews.
Jenny Vaughan from Guatemala started coming after a friend completed the class. She said the class has helped her build confidence for the interview and learn how to connect with a lawyer.
“They’re good teachers,” she said about the volunteers who facilitate the class.
FABC began offering citizenship classes in October 2013, a few months after Brenda Forlines moved to the area from Florida. Forlines, who retired from the Florida Baptist Convention as the director of church and community ministries, intentionally pursued membership at FABC because of its preexisting outreach to the Karen population.
Three years before she retired, Forlines started directing an English as a Second Language (ESL) program at an apartment complex near her church that was home to mostly Karen refugees in Jacksonville, Fla.
“Once I retired, then I had time to get more involved in their lives,” Forlines said in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. “I ended up working 40-50 hours a week taking them to doctors, making appointments for them, helping them with their mail. … We just helped them do everything – go to WIC, open bank accounts, birth babies.”

BR photo by Liz Tablazon
Students practice the Oath of Allegiance during a class at Friendly Avenue Baptist Church.

It was around that time that Forlines heard a conference speaker talk about teaching citizenship classes. The families and individuals she worked with in ESL were reaching the five-year mark at which they were eligible to apply for citizenship.
So when Forlines moved to North Carolina to be closer to family and met with FABC leaders about how she could get involved with ministry to the Karen community, she had citizenship classes on her mind.
Bryan Presson, FABC missions pastor, had citizenship classes in mind too.
A new class starts every September, with some students repeating the program until they are ready to meet with a lawyer to start the naturalization process.
Forlines said she, with help from three volunteers, spend the first three months teaching U.S. history and government structure and reviewing the questions included in the citizenship test. Applicants must answer six out of 10 civics questions correctly during their interview. They must be able to answer questions about their backgrounds, and read and write sentences in English.
“We just go at a pace that would fit them,” starting with five to seven questions per week then adding more as they progress, she said. By spring, students have usually learned all 100 questions that can be asked on the civics test.
Forlines teaches for about 20 minutes then divides the class into smaller groups.
“We practice, we practice, we practice every week,” she said. “Some of those who were young when they came here … they can go through it pretty fast, [but for] some of these others, it’s very hard.”
Seven students currently have open applications, and at least four have become citizens this year.
“Probably half of this year’s class will be citizens by the end of the year,” Forlines said. “There are four or five with limited English, and it will take them a while. … I’ve had two to fail because of language.”

BR photo by Liz Tablazon
Chuck Moy leads a review session, including Ther Dee, a Karen refugee who came to the United States six years ago.

She shared a story of a 60-year old woman who never went to school but has been attending the class every week.
“Every day she listens to the CD that we have prepared, and she has memorized these 100 questions.”
Forlines keeps in touch with many of the students after their oath-taking ceremonies, often helping them apply for their children’s citizenship certificates. Some are members of the FABC Karen congregation that Presson, a missionary church planter, leads.
Although the class includes people of different religious backgrounds, Forlines said the students are regularly exposed to Christianity. She opens class with prayer, and Evelyn Frost, one of the volunteers, closes with a Bible story to practice comprehension and speaking. Frost, a retired missionary to Uganda, uses The Story to teach her lessons. This week it was about Lazarus.
“I take them to a lot of their appointments … when we’re riding to take them to fingerprinting, I have some hours to just talk and hear their story and share. It’s an opportunity to share,” Forlines said about how the relationships she builds can lead to gospel conversations.
Frost and two other volunteers, Ola and Chuck Moy, lead the smaller practice groups. In addition to reviewing content, they encourage students to speak loudly and clearly. Two other FABC members serve as substitute teachers as needed, and another has contributed financially to help students with attorney and application fees.
The class isn’t the only activity in the building on Mondays. While elementary and high school students come for tutoring, a few of their parents stay for an ESL class taught by another church member, Cathy Lohr. On Saturdays, Presson trains Karen pastors and leaders as part of the ADVANCE program of Gateway Seminary.
Over the past six years, about 50 refugees and immigrants have become U.S. citizens with the support and assistance of FABC ministries and volunteers.
“I put that under the heading of missions,” Lohr said about the programs. “We’re not on the field, but we’re helping people who are not from here and who need that kind of help.”

4/15/2019 5:13:36 PM by Liz Tablazon, Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments

Mission endeavors ensure N.C. Baptists ‘Known by Love’

April 15 2019 by Dianna L. Cagle, Biblical Recorder

North Carolina Baptists continue to be “Known by Love” throughout its many mission endeavors.

BR photo by Steve Cooke
“The Great Commission is for every believer equally,” said D.A. Horton, pastor of Reach Fellowship in Long Beach, Calif., to the N.C. Missions Conference April 5 at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte.

Baptists on Mission (NCBM) executive director-treasurer Richard Brunson thanked participants of the April 6-7 NCBM Missions Conference for their work and urged them to stay committed for the long haul of Hurricane Florence recovery efforts.
“You’re known by the great love of Jesus,” Brunson said. With 18 different ministries, NCBM offers many opportunities to share God’s love with our neighbors.
“I know it was in the power of God and the obedience of the people of North Carolina,” said Pastor Jason Burden of First Baptist Church in Nederland, Texas.
N.C. Baptists responded there after Hurricane Harvey. In the days after the hurricane to the time he appeared at the missions conference, Burden said 99 people joined his church, many by profession of faith and baptism.
Laura Story, senior worship leader for Perimeter Church in Johns Creek, Ga., provided the music for the two-day event, which started with a volunteer supper and included breakout sessions on a variety of topics. Several main speakers rounded out the schedule: Tom Richter, D.A. Horton, Jennifer Rothschild, Bryan Loritts, Karen Kingsbury and Bob Goff.
Richter, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cullman, Ala., walked participants through John 21 when Jesus meets the disciples on the shore to fish.
“He sent those fishermen out to fish, and He didn’t even need the fish,” Richter said. “When the smoke clears … He could do all this without us.”
Richter urged believers to follow Jesus every day.
“God’s call on your life comes regardless of your past,” he said. “The call comes regardless of the cost.”
Horton, pastor of Reach Fellowship of Long Beach, Calif., said he respected the faithfulness of N.C. Baptists’ work.
“The Great Commission is for every believer equally,” Horton said. “The reality is some things are worth dying for; Jesus made peace. A peacemaker does not sit in a place of peace they run toward the tension and work toward reconciliation.”
Horton stressed that our preferences need to die.
“The perfect life of our Savior covers us,” he said. “May we tear down the dividing walls of hostility. Let Jesus destroy those walls.”
After sharing a couple of stories about not allowing her blindness to keep her from trying new things, Rothschild, an author and speaker, said, “We need to be granted the strength to say, ‘I can.’ Saying ‘I can’ is my response to His ability.”
Loritts, lead pastor of Abundant Life Church in Silicon Valley, Calif., shared Revelation 2 saying the church in Ephesus had abandoned its first love.
“He’s dealing with the idolatry of ministry,” Loritts said, even though the members worked hard.
“Jesus not being first is sin. Something becomes precious to you when you treat it as precious.
“Buy the flowers, write the note, plan a weekend excursion,” Loritts said of his relationship with his wife. “Even when she doesn’t feel precious, when you treat her as precious the feelings will come.”
Best-selling novelist Karen Kingsbury shared about her father’s belief in her writing, even at a young age.
“My dad was always such a big supporter,” she said. “You’re writing a bestseller with the days of your life. Make it about the Messiah.”
God calls His people to be on mission every day, she said.
“If we are on mission, we will see the miraculous,” Kingsbury said.
Bob Goff, author of Love Does, encouraged loving people.
“We don’t need any more programs,” he said. “It will never be about Jesus if I make it about me.”
He questioned their motivation for ministry.
“Are we doing it for the applause?” he asked. “If we are doing it for the applause, join the circus. Satan doesn’t need to destroy us; he just needs to distract us.”
Goff urged N.C. Baptists to love people well.
“Love people without an agenda,” he said. “His biggest mission is that you would be His and He would be yours.”
Asatur Nahapetyan, general secretary for Armenian Baptists, presented Brunson with a plaque recognizing him and North Carolina Baptists for their work in his country.
Brunson presented Bobby and Wanda Temple with the volunteer of the year award. Currently, the couple serves in Puerto Rico.
They are members of Fellowship Baptist Church in Creedmoor.

4/15/2019 5:06:15 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments

N.C. communicators bring home awards

April 15 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

The Baptist Communicator’s Association held their annual workshop and awards competition April 10-13 in Riverside, Calif. Four organizations with ties to N.C. Baptists received more than a dozen awards at a ceremony April 12. The honors were as follows:
Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina – The Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina and Credence Pictures won second place in the audio-visual category for a promotion more than five minutes long.

Jim Edminson, editor of Charity and Children, won second place in the design category for general illustration.
North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) – Carol Layton, NCBAM director of communications, won second place in the audio-visual category for a miscellaneous video and two awards in the overall publication category, second place for promotions or advertising and third place for miscellaneous publications. 

Layton and Edminson together won two second place awards in the overall publication category for a miscellaneous submission and a book.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) –

  • Megan Chadwick, SEBTS graphic designer, won third place in the design category for direct mail promotion and advertising.

  • Emily Flowers, SEBTS graphic designer, won third place in the design category for a specialty item.

  • Rebecca Hankins, SEBTS photographer, won two awards in the photography category, first place for event coverage and third place for a single portrait.

  • Ryan Thomas, SEBTS graphic designer, won two awards in the design category, second place for a magazine cover and second place for a special display.

Biblical Recorder The Biblical Recorder’s design team won two awards in the design category, first place for a state Baptist newspaper front page and second place for a single issue.
The Recorder also won third place in the overall publication category for a state Baptist newspaper. 

4/15/2019 5:00:58 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 0 comments

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