August 2010

Baptists respond to massive Pakistan flooding

August 16 2010 by Robert Marus, Associated Baptist Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakisan — Baptists around the globe are responding to the floods that have afflicted Pakistan for two weeks, sending money and resources in the aftermath of what could become the nation’s biggest natural disaster in modern times.

According to United Nations estimates, nearly 1,700 people have died in the floods and as many as 14 million more have been affected — with many millions left at least temporarily homeless. They were spurred along the Indus River watershed by unusually heavy seasonal monsoon rains, and floodwaters continued to travel southward Aug. 13.

Southern Baptists in the United States sent an initial $20,000 and British Baptists contributed about U.S. $16,000 shortly after the floods began. Additional contributions have augmented both of those grants.

According to Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist relief-and-development agency, the U.S. funds have paid for rescuers, food, tents for displaced survivors, medicine and other supplies.

BMS World Mission, the missions affiliate of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, does not have any missions workers in Pakistan, but is working with a partner agency in the nation to provide food relief.

“We need to deliver all that is required as soon as possible,” said John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, according to a U.N. press release. “The death toll has been relatively low compared to other major natural disasters. But if we don’t act fast enough, many more people could die of disease and food shortage.”

The U.N. has appealed for $460 million in funds to respond to the crisis. So far, about $150 million has been contributed or pledged by donors.

Experts warned Aug. 13 that many more lives could be lost due to the spread of disease and lack of sanitation in stricken areas — many of which are in remote parts of the nation of 177 million.

In addition, long-term work will be needed after the floodwaters have receded, according to relief-and-development experts. The floods have destroyed much of Pakistan’s already-tenuous infrastructure.

“With disasters of this kind, the bigger challenges often come during the later recovery phase of work, when homes, sanitation and livelihoods need to be restored, and it is very probable that BMS will be looking to help during that phase as well,” said Steve Sanderson, manager for mission partnerships at BMS World Mission.

8/16/2010 6:15:00 AM by Robert Marus, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Study says clergy neglecting self-care

August 16 2010 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

DURHAM — Many clergy are caring for others but not taking adequate care of themselves, according to a recent study by Duke University.

A survey of United Methodist ministers in North Carolina found them significantly more obese than their socio-economic peers in the general population. Ministers also suffered higher rates for chronic diseases like high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes.

The lead author of the study, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell of the Duke University Center for Health Policy, said mortality rates for clergy are lower than their non-clergy peers due to lower rates of sexually transmitted disease, accidents and suicide. She said that creates a false impression that the restraint clergy exercise in other areas of their life will carry over into things like diet and exercise.

Proeschold-Bell described “an urgent need” for health interventions in the United Methodist Church and possibly among other clergy to curb obesity and chronic disease.

“Churches and other religious institutions have often been viewed as structures in which to enact health interventions,” she wrote. “However, this study’s findings indicate that it is critical to improve the health of clergy themselves.”

Proeschold-Bell said clergy are also not immune from depression and anxiety. Because congregants put them on a pedestal and assume they have strong enough spiritual resources to handle it, however, many ministers are reluctant to admit feeling strain. She said that only adds to feelings of stress and isolation.

Stresses unique to clergy

Clergy-related issues that participants indicated as having the greatest impact on their health included the ability to set boundaries, the perception that the minister is on call 24 hours a day, church health, itinerancy and financial strain.

Participants reported feeling overwhelmed by pastoral needs from congregants and community members and struggling to set boundaries in order to protect their time for self-care practices like exercise and family time.

Barriers to protecting their personal time included the ministers' “own servant orientation” and expectations by the congregation that they be constantly available. Several noted that the expectation of constant availability made it particularly difficult to take vacations.

Other barriers included the tendency of pastors “to put everyone else's needs before their own and to have unrealistically high expectations for themselves.”

Participants also said unhealthy church dynamics had a large effect on their health. Several common church situations — such as a small number of congregants opposing even small changes suggested by the pastor, feuding cliques of church members that polarize issues along group lines and one or more congregants who use intimidation or abusive tactics to oppose the pastor — all had significant impact on clergy stress.

Researchers said one strength of the study, the first of its kind to compare the health of ministers with people of similar demographics in the general population, was the sample. All currently serving United Methodist clergy in North Carolina were offered participation, and 95 percent completed the survey.

They cautioned, however, that some of the findings related to Methodist clergy might not translate into other denominations. Instead of being “called” or hired by a local church, Methodist ministers are appointed by the bishop of their annual conference. In a given year, about 25 percent of ministers will be reassigned.

Ministers said the itinerant system forces ministers to re-establish their authority as a pastor, creates financial strain and takes a toll on spouses and children.

While there is discussion about ineffective clergy, one leader said, there needs to be more attention given to the problem of sending ministers into “toxic” churches.

While local churches determine their pastor's compensation, the annual conference typically appoints pastors within salary scales. Those on the lower end of the scale earn about $34,000 a year. They have a hard time affording resources like healthy food and membership in an exercise facility, especially for pastors trying to raise a family.

The Sabbath
Several participants discussed the importance of taking a Sabbath or spiritual retreat. Some mentioned “religious coping” with stress, such as one minister who reported realizing he was working too hard and “just putting my trust in the Lord and really believing that it's his ministry, not mine.”

One “interesting but not surprising” finding was that participants repeatedly included spiritual well-being in their definition of good health. Researchers said the findings confirmed earlier studies related to pastoral stress, but there were some surprises.

One was that when congregations commented and directly supported self-care practices, the minister felt more apt to engage in self-care.

“Although we often think of leadership as flowing from pastors to the laity, this finding indicates that leadership can also go the other direction, particularly when pastors feel like they need permission to stop serving others and care for themselves,” they wrote.

Clergy participants also reported that congregations have a shallow understanding of pastors' roles, sometimes perceiving that pastors only preach and make rounds with ill members. Church members who perceive pastors as having substantial free time are likely to have unrealistically high expectations for their ministers.

Participants also said they have less help from volunteers than in the past, and church members look to them as paid professionals responsible for any undone task.

Researchers said peer support is one way for ministers to learn ways of handling the unique demands and stresses of their profession. It is more likely to be effective if it occurs in a way that allows pastors to make themselves vulnerable to each other and ensures confidentiality, especially with pastors who hope to later move to a larger church.
8/16/2010 6:12:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Land: Ground Zero mosque too close for comfort

August 15 2010 by Elizabeth Wood

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--When it comes to religious freedom, people of the Muslim faith have the right to build mosques in America that are convenient to their communities under local standards, Richard Land told Warren Olney, host of Public Radio International's "To the Point" radio broadcast Aug. 11.


Currently, the debate resides over whether or not Muslims have the right to build a mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero. The national dispute has pitted those of the Muslim faith and others sympathetic to their position against other religious and conservative groups who believe it is inappropriate to place the Islamic center so close to the former site of the World Trade Towers.


Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said he believes building a Muslim mosque next to Ground Zero would be equivalent to building a Japanese Shinto shrine next to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.


"I defend the right for Muslims to have places of worship in lower Manhattan, but not at Ground Zero," Land said on the syndicated NPR program. "Polls show that 61 percent of people in New York don't want a mosque built there. The right to religious freedom doesn't include the right to have a religious worship place wherever you want it."


When asked if his stance was prompting expressions of bigotry toward those of the Islamic faith, Land said the SBC has consistently defended religious freedom.


Aziz Poonawalla, author of BeliefNet's City of Brass blog and a Muslim, argued on the program that prejudice against Islam was behind the perspective that a Muslim worship center should not be built near Ground Zero, a bias that would not exist if it were any other religion at the center of the discussion. 


In response to Poonawalla's "prejudice" comment, Land referenced the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


"The people who attacked the towers were not doing so in the name of another faith," Land said. "Let's deal with historical reality. These people claimed to be doing this in the name of Islam."


Land said he realizes that most of the people killed by Islamic death cults are fellow Muslims, but the idea of building a mosque that close to Ground Zero is still hurtful and painful to those who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks. Recent press reports indicate that human remains are still being found at the site where construction work has made some areas now accessible.


There is Supreme Court precedent for his stance, Land said, pointing to the 1997 Supreme Court case, City of Boerne v. Flores, in favor of the Texas city's refusal to allow a Catholic church to expand its structure. The court placed the need to preserve the historical nature of the town historic square ahead of the church's desire to build, he said.


"That was a community decision and that's where the mosque at Ground Zero comes into play," Land explained.


The New York Landmarks Commission voted unanimously (9-0) to move forward with plans to build the mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero.


In an unrelated move, New York Gov. David Patterson has offered developers an alternative site in New York City to build the mosque.


Laurie Goodstein, national religion correspondent for The New York Times and guest on the show, said the people who support building a mosque at Ground Zero want it to be a symbolic presence, opposing radical forms of Islam.


"These are people who have spent the past 10 years since 9/11 doing everything they can to denounce violence, to show the other side of Islam and to be bridge builders and peace makers," Goodstein said.


Opposition to the construction of mosques is not confined to New York City. Across the U.S. -- from Murfreesboro, Tenn., to Temecula, Calif. -- communities are dealing with the same issue. A plan to add a 63-foot minaret to a Muslim community association facility in Santa Clara, Calif., is being challenged by citizens there.


When asked about Muslims and their right to religious expression in the U.S., Land said Islamic believers have a right to have their own places of worship.


"It's not just freedom of religion for American religions; it's freedom of religion for everyone," Land said. "But, I would be much happier to see a mosque in New York City built one-third or one-half of a mile away from Ground Zero as opposed to two blocks away."


Elizabeth Wood is a writer for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

8/15/2010 3:37:00 AM by Elizabeth Wood | with 3 comments

At Sturgis rally, hope shines

August 13 2010 by Adam Miller, Baptist Press

STURGIS, S.D. — The sights and sounds in Sturgis, S.D., change where Main Street meets Junction.

Roger Persing, pastor of Church at the Warehouse in Sioux Falls, S.D., points across Junction to a strip of bars “where anything goes.” Bikers stagger in and out of the bars, as scantily clad women sit atop outdoor counters as a lure to the false hope inside.

“There’s a wall here. You can’t see it but it’s there. It’s spiritual darkness,” said Jim Hamilton, executive director of the Dakota Baptist Convention.

And this is exactly where leaders such as Hamilton and North American Mission Board missionary Garvon Golden wanted to have a gospel presence. Only a few yards away from Junction, more than 100,000 bikers out of an estimated 600,000 in Sturgis will cross paths with Southern Baptist volunteers each day who offer them true hope before they are bombarded with an alternative message only a few steps away down Main Street.

BP photo by Adam Miller

Tonya Hodgin connects with a woman biker near the Harley-Davidson dealership in Rapid City, S.D. “I just have a heart for bikers,” says Hodgin, who bought a bike two years ago to minister with the Beulah Baptist Faith Riders in Douglasville, Ga.

“That’s why we’re here,” volunteer Matt Searing said. Searing had never told a complete stranger about Jesus, and his first time was three days ago following a trek on a sport motorcycle from Missouri.

He and his wife Amy are part of a 20-member team from First Baptist Church of Nixa.

“I just drove 940 miles. I basically got off my bike and started sharing my story. It was awesome,” Searing said. “All I had to do was tell people how Christ had saved me. I just told my story.”

The Searings are two of hundreds of volunteers sleeping on church floors and in RVs who have traveled hundreds of miles to make Christ known to the swarms of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts at the 70th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Like every other vendor in the town, Southern Baptists provide a natural way of starting a conversation. If you listen to a three-minute story of how God changed a life, you can register to win a Harley or a four-wheeler. This year the Baptist ministry expanded to three venues — Sturgis, Rapid City and Custer, each with its own giveaway.

“Using a bike to draw people in communicates to them we’re serious about connecting with them,” Hamilton said. “We want to engage people in a way they understand with a language they understand.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who stay way past the three minutes just to talk,” he said.

Whatever the initial draw, God is using the stories inside the tents to create new stories among the hard-driving, hard-living bikers. Many of them leave the tent with a New Testament in hand and a deeper understanding of the gospel.

“Everybody has been very open and receptive, which I wasn’t expecting,” said Tonya Hodgin of the Faith Riders from Beulah Baptist Church in Douglasville, Ga.

Seeing an opportunity to reach women in the biker community, Hodgin said, “I just want to reach out to bikers and let them know that Jesus can save them. It’s not just for churchy people. It’s for all of us.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board covering Southern Baptist ministry at the 70th annual Sturgis Bike Rally in South Dakota.)
8/13/2010 4:50:00 AM by Adam Miller, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Database aids study of ancient texts

August 13 2010 by Gary D. Myers, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS — A unique electronic database amassing a wealth of information for scholars regarding ancient biblical manuscripts is emerging from nine years of painstaking research at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS).

The database can play a key role in upholding the Bible’s authority, noted Bill Warren, director of the seminary’s H. Milton Haggard Center for New Testament Textual Studies (CNTTS).

A video explanation of the database — called the Center for New Testament Textual Studies (CNTTS) NT Critical Apparatus — can be accessed on the seminary’s YouTube channel.

It is available with Accordance Bible Software and is coming soon to BibleWorks software.

By definition, a “critical apparatus” is a collection of notes identifying the variant readings found among Greek New Testament manuscripts. Over the centuries, these variations occurred as scribes created handwritten copies of the New Testament.

Photo by Boyd Guy

This manuscript of the four Gospels, which biblical scholars often refer to as Codex N from the late 5th or early 6th century, is among the ancient texts being studied for an online database developed at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Examples of the types include spelling differences; the reverential abbreviations of sacred names; and the addition of details that can clarify the meaning of the text.

By consulting ancient documents, biblical scholars seek to provide a Greek New Testament text as close to the original as possible. Thus the CNTTS apparatus is an important complement to the standard Greek text. In chronicling information about the consulted manuscripts, it can show why a particular reading was favored over others, Warren noted, and it can help scholars understand how the biblical text was preserved and passed down through hundreds of centuries.

The highly searchable CNTTS apparatus developed by Warren, NOBTS students and visiting scholars is the most detailed and comprehensive electronic critical apparatus on the market. An electronic innovation with nearly 17,000 pages of compiled data, the project simply would not be feasible in a printed format. The CNTTS includes 10 times as much data as the critical apparatus printed in the United Bible Societies’ editions of the Greek New Testament.

“This is a first in the field, both as a comprehensive, electronic apparatus and in terms of how searchable it is,” Warren said.

The software includes detailed information about each verse in the manuscripts the CNTTS has examined, including dates, contents, characteristics and variants. The software also allows users to search and compare multiple texts to the current Greek New Testament. A graphing feature helps users compare manuscript variations visually.

The center’s unique research is yielding expanded detail and new information; many of its findings have never been published before in any format.

“We give all the variants, major or not, and then we classify them as to what types of variants they are,” Warren said. “The big difference on this is that we actually classify (the differences) for people.”

The CNTTS apparatus identifies every textual variation found in hundreds of ancient biblical manuscripts, and the center is continuing to expand the project by researching more manuscripts. The CNTTS team currently is studying ancient papyri of Acts as well as several other manuscripts.

Today, many authors and skeptics travel the country arguing that the New Testament cannot be trusted. They often point to the sheer volume of variants to undermine the authority of the biblical text, giving very little attention to the nature and purpose of many of the variants in question.

On the other hand, the CNTTS staff looks at every variant in the text and seeks to classify even the smallest differences such as variations in spelling and abbreviations of sacred names.

Rather than eroding confidence in the biblical text, Warren believes the center is showing that the New Testament text is worthy of trust. Through the research, Warren has developed a theory as to why many of the variants exist.

Many of the additions found in ancient manuscripts were simply designed to explain the text, he noted. In some cases, when the original text attributed something to “the prophet,” scribes inserted the name of the prophet to help the readers and hearers understand the reference.

Warren compared these notes to the notes in a modern-day study Bible. “The scribe wants to make sure nobody misunderstands which prophet,” Warren said, “so the scribe puts the ‘study Bible’ note in the text.”

Developing the electronic apparatus involves a tedious process of researching and comparing a Greek manuscript to the Greek New Testament, thereby creating what is called a “collation.” To collate a manuscript, a CNTTS researcher starts with a copy of an ancient NT manuscript, usually a digital image or a microfilm, and a printout of the current edition of the UBS Greek New Testament.

The researcher checks line by line, word by word, and even letter by letter, for even the slightest differences. The differences are noted on the printout of the Greek New Testament. Another researcher repeats this process, and then the two collations are compared and reconciled to ensure the best results.

The process is long and requires a high level of skill, not only in reading ancient Greek but also in deciphering ancient handwriting and common abbreviations for divine names.

It takes a researcher on average 40-60 hours to work through one ancient manuscript of John; Luke, with its longer text, requires 70-100 hours. So for John, for example, the CNTTS staff invests 100-160 hours of work to create a final collation (collated twice and reconciled) for use in the database.

“The Gospels have more variations than any of the other books simply because they were the most used and the most copied,” Warren said. “We have more manuscripts of the Gospels than of the other books” of the New Testament.

The researchers keep all of these notated printouts in an archive in case they need to refer back to their original work.

The difficulty of the collation task is multiplied when only a low-quality manuscript copy is available. However, the CNTTS has developed a strategic partnership with Daniel Wallace, director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts and a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Wallace visits churches, libraries and museums around the world taking high-quality digital photographs of ancient New Testament manuscripts.

The center in Dallas focuses primarily on manuscript digitization through photography while the New Orleans center concentrates on the collation and study of the text. Together, the two research centers are leading contributors to biblical research in the digital age.

“We are up to about 800 manuscripts that we can access on-site,” Warren said. “We don’t have them all worked through, but at least we are working to study all of them.”

Very few universities in the United States, and even fewer seminaries, are attempting the type of research that is being done by highly skilled students in the master’s and doctoral programs at NOBTS.

“We are among the top U.S. institutions working with the manuscripts,” Warren said.

The other top manuscript research universities, including Duke, Michigan, Penn State and Yale, read like a “Who’s Who” of academic giants.

In addition to the ongoing collation work, the CNTTS staff is working on several future projects including iPhone and iPad applications for their field. Warren has also started a multi-year project to construct a New Testament commentary based on the variant readings the center has carefully studied.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Myers is director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)
8/13/2010 4:43:00 AM by Gary D. Myers, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Study finds prayer aids relationships

August 12 2010 by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

The old adage “couples who pray together stay together” may be true, especially for African-Americans, a new study shows.     

The survey of religion, race and relationships found that African-Americans attend church more as couples compared to members of other racial and ethnic groups.

Four in 10 African-American respondents said they attended services regularly as a couple, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. In comparison, 31 percent of Mexicans or Mexican-Americans, and 29 percent of whites, said they regularly shared a pew.

“Without prayer, black couples would be doing significantly worse than white couples,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, a co-author of the study and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “The vitality of African-Americans’ religious lives gives them an advantage over other Americans when it comes to relationships. This advantage puts them on par with other couples.”

In addition to worshipping together, African-Americans were found to be more likely than non-Hispanic whites to participate in prayer and Scripture studies at home.

In general, researchers found that people in same-faith relationships and partners who attended services regularly were more satisfied with their relationship.

But scholars said religion may not always help couples. Those with divergent religious beliefs and worship attendance tend to not be as happy about their relationships.

The study, which was based on responses to the 2006 National Survey of Religion and Family Life, does have limitations, scholars cautioned. For example, the responses to the survey came from one partner’s report on the quality of their relationship and the extent of their religious involvement.
8/12/2010 9:14:00 AM by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

Shelby mission camp looks for volunteers

August 11 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor

As things move along at the North Carolina Baptist Men’s latest mission camp in Shelby, there is an ongoing need for volunteers.

“There’s a real need,” said Eddie Williams, mission camp coordinator, not just at the site but in the surrounding areas.

The area has one of the state’s highest unemployment rates and a surprisingly high homeless rate, Williams said.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Shirley and Jim Collins cut wood for use in the main building at Shelby mission camp. See photo gallery.

The site, which is still under construction, can now house 84 people at a time. Deep Impact, a ministry of Baptist Men, almost maxed them out earlier this summer. The goal is to have sleeping accommodations for 210 people. Twelve acres of the 43-acre site are enclosed in fence.

To begin construction on the Shelby site timber had to be cut, the land had to be graded, and lines for sewer, water and electricity run to the property.  

Trailer living
On site coordinators Eddie and Martha Williams live in a camper “not built to live in all the time,” said Martha. The Williamses coordinated Baptist Men response to Hurricane Katrina in Gulfport.

For Internet use and at times when no volunteers are on site, the couple has a mission house donated by a couple at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby.

But when teams are in town, the couple has to stay on site to make sure everyone’s needs are met. They go home to Spruce Pine when they can.

Volunteers with Deep Impact went into the community doing Vacation Bible School and helped elderly people in Kings Mountain. Mission work relies on volunteers.

Locally trained disaster relief workers come and help too, especially when bigger crews are working.

With Deep Impact, 82 people on campus shared a shower trailer, but they did it in shifts so it worked, Martha said.

On Aug. 3, a team of 14 from Branch’s Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., was on site framing.

They spent part of the week building a couple of ramps at local houses as well. The team stayed in mobile sleeping units that sleep 26 and shared the shower trailer.

“This crew does a lot of work,” said Mat Brown, Branch’s pastor.

Hammers banging and saws whirring, the crew stayed busy at the task — serving God through laughter and sweat.

One of the volunteers sporting a yellow disaster relief shirt and hat was in Massachusetts just a month ago helping with flood relief efforts.

“We go somewhere two to three times a year,” said Warwick Llewellyn.

The Branch’s crew sent teams to work with Eddie in Gulfport and at the Red Springs mission camp.

After a hot morning, when the crew broke for lunch, Jim Collins prayed, “Thank you for the opportunity to serve You.”

When finished the main building will have areas for beds, showers and bathrooms to accommodate larger groups, and an office as well as a fully stocked kitchen and pantry. Now crews use the warehouse next door for the eating area and a mobile feeding unit to prepare food.

The main building and the coordinator’s house still have much work to be done.

The coordinator’s house — 1,500-square-feet — will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

A lot has been donated to help the site continue its work: two refrigerators and a stove, as well as the tables and chairs.

The key is keeping the associations and churches involved.

“So far we’ve had a great response,” Martha said. “The biggest challenge right now is with the economy.”

Martha said they utilized their experience when designing the buildings.

“I don’t think we have any wasted space,” she said. Someone donated some flowers and she and Eddie took the golf cart around the neighborhood up the street to get to know the neighbors. “We want to be a light in the community,” she said.

Some people from Campers on Mission have stayed at the recreational vehicle stations on site.  

On the go
Eddie and Martha stay busy. Each carries a cell phone and Eddie’s is labeled “Fuzzy,” a nickname from military days.

Eddie’s truck is a mobile office, complementing the files he keeps in the camper.

His mind is always churning, Martha said.

Eddie still receives media calls from Gulfport for follow-up stories on Hurricane Katrina and the work of N.C. Baptist Men.

The couple share with others about the work that is going on in Shelby.

“Everybody’s real excited about North Carolina Baptist Men being here,” Eddie said.

In March it had been a year since the Williams moved to the site. The hard winter has put work behind schedule. More volunteers are needed.  

Tasks ahead
Baptist Men has been asked to help with the renovation of a homeless shelter and to be part of a local program to spruce up neighborhoods.

The goal is to “set a higher standard,” Eddie said.

With so much to do Martha is hesitant to call anything a challenge. “I feel blessed by everything God has given,” she said. “I don’t ever want to look at anything as a challenge but an opportunity.”

Once the main buildings are done, the eventual plan is to build ball fields and have fields for soccer and other sports camps. Williams foresees this as a hub of activity for the community and for people to come to volunteer.

Part of his long-term vision is to have cabins like at Caraway for people or groups to stay. To volunteer, contact N.C. Baptist Men at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5599. 

The Mission Camp is a project of North Carolina Baptist Men, which operates on gifts received through the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO).

This year’s NCMO goal is $2.1 million. 

8/11/2010 5:46:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor | with 0 comments

BSC secures discount hotel rate for messengers

August 11 2010 by BSC Communications

Messengers to the 2010 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting will be able to stay at the headquarters hotel, the Sheraton Four Seasons in Greensboro, for a discounted rate of $99 per night, $112.61 including tax.

This pre-pay rate, which is the same for king and double rooms, is only available at the BSC annual meeting web site. Reservations cannot be made by calling the Sheraton or the BSC. A reservation is refundable if notice of cancellation is given at least 24 hours prior to time of check-in.

All messengers staying at the Sheraton receive free wireless Internet. This year’s annual meeting will be held, as it was last year, at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The Sheraton Hotel is located on the same property as the Convention Center.

High participation by messengers rooming at the hotel will keep ancillary costs of the other meeting spaces down.

“By staying at the Sheraton, messengers have everything — their hotel room and access to all the meeting halls — under one roof,” said John Butler, BSC executive leader for business services. “You never have to leave the convention center. I believe North Carolina Baptists who stay at the Sheraton will find this set up very convenient.”

Butler also said making room reservations online, as opposed to mail-in registration or even phone and e-mail registration, greatly reduces cost and time spent by staff processing the reservations. Reservation deadline is Oct. 31.

Reservations made after Oct. 31 must be made directly with the Sheraton Hotel at their normal rate.
8/11/2010 5:42:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 1 comments

Campbell to name library for Wiggins

August 11 2010 by Campbell University

BUIES CREEK — Campbell University will name its new library the Wiggins Memorial Library in memory of former president Norman Adrian Wiggins and in honor of his wife Mildred Harmon Wiggins.

Wiggins, Campbell’s third president, died in 2007, leaving a legacy of accomplishments which includes the establishment of the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law in the building where the new library is located. The law school relocated to Raleigh in 2009.

File photo

Norman Adrian Wiggins and his wife Mildred Harmon Wiggins in 1987.

“It is indeed a great honor for the library to be named after one of the most outstanding leaders in the history of Campbell University and his wife,” said Library Director Borree Kwok. “The newly positioned and significantly enhanced library reflects the Wiggins’ passion and vision for education, providing a dynamic learning environment for students, and serving as the center of the university’s intellectual life.”  

The library, which also occupies part of Kivett Hall, contains 59,000 square feet and over 241,000 books, journals and government documents, a wireless network of over 110 computers and approximately 1 million microforms. It also contains a vast inventory of audio/visual materials such as CDs, DVDs, VHS, audio books and teaching aid materials.

Norman Wiggins was president of Campbell University from 1967-2003. During those decades, he led the school to university status, and, by 2001, Campbell had a thriving four-year undergraduate liberal arts program as well as five professional schools: the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the School of Education and the Campbell Divinity School. In addition, Wiggins established the award-winning Army ROTC program in 1971 that grew to include three other campuses — Fayetteville State University, Methodist University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Campbell also established satellite campuses at Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune, Research Triangle Park in Raleigh and a degree program in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during Wiggins’ tenure.

Wiggins was president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 1984-85 and as one of the founders of the state Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, he helped secure public tuition grants for North Carolina students.

Mildred “Millie” Harmon Wiggins defined the role of First Lady of Campbell University, working quietly behind the scenes to support her husband and the Campbell mission. A member of Campbell’s class of 1948, Millie Wiggins is a native of Coats and a graduate of Campbell College, Wake Forest College and Columbia University. Mrs. Wiggins taught in the Rocky Mount and Winston-Salem public school systems.
8/11/2010 5:39:00 AM by Campbell University | with 1 comments

Bringing Screwtape to life

August 11 2010 by Mary Jacobs, Religion News Service

In the theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ novel, “The Screwtape Letters,” now playing at New York’s Westside Theater, actor Max McLean brings one of Satan’s top demons, Screwtape, to life.  

Garnering positive reviews in the secular press (“One Hell of a Good Show,” according to the Wall Street Journal), the play recently extended its run indefinitely. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q. So what was it like playing Screwtape?

I hate to admit it, I loved playing him. Screwtape is the smartest guy in the room. It’s all about him. He walks in and just sucks the air out of a room. He loves the way he looks, he loves the way he talks, he loves the way he dresses. He’s pure pride. To be able to get that across on stage, it’s quite joyous.

RNS photo courtesy Joan Marcus/Fellowship for the

Actor Max McLean plays Screwtape in C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters,” currently on stage at New York’s Westside Theater.

Q. Screwtape is a rather elegant demon in a red brocade smoking jacket. How’d you make that choice?

The devil appears in many guises. He works in deception, in the illusion of grace, power, and elegance, for the purposes of enticing us into his world. There was an elegance there, but as soon as Screwtape took off his jacket, you saw that his shirt was ripped and bloody. He was covering up his true malevolence.

Q. In the book, C.S. Lewis doesn’t tell readers much about Screwtape himself. How did you fill in the gaps to create a character?

I thought of Shakespeare’s Iago in Othello, because he was able to get into Othello’s and everyone’s confidence. He gave the appearance of a man of peace, who wants the best for everyone, when what he really wants is the best for himself. There was a little of Hannibal Lecter from “The Silence of the Lambs,” because he was frightening, but from a very erudite, calm perspective. Then bits of (British actor) Noel Coward, just for that la-de-dah elegance and physical grace he exuded. All of that is to establish the kind of Illusion required to entice you. As in, “Oh, he’s a good guy. I can trust him. I want to be like him. I want what he has.”

Q. You’re a member of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. How has your faith been affected, after spending several months in the skin of a devil?

In a very positive way. St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that we must not be ignorant of his devices. That was Lewis’ intent. In Lewis’ books, Christianity does have a villain. He wants Christians to be more aware that there is an enemy to our souls. That has been the biggest lesson of Screwtape, being more aware. The way it manifests itself, it has certainly deepened my prayer life.

Q: As in defensive prayer?

Yes. Jesus says Satan goes about like a roaring lion looking for whom he will devour. In the temptation, Satan tells Jesus, “All this I will give you if you bow down to worship me.” Of course Jesus doesn’t take it, because he’s strong enough but we might say, “Well, let me think about it.” Lewis reveals that, while Screwtape gives the illusion of offering stuff, he has nothing of beauty, of merit, of goodness to offer at all.

Q. You’re getting good turnout for this play. Do you think your audience is mostly Christians?

It’s definitely more of a mixture. We have a group sales department and about 12 percent of our audience comes from outreach to religious groups. I don’t think we would still be running if we were limited to a niche audience. New York is a competitive theater environment. There are so many choices.

I do hear anecdotally, from people coming up to me who define themselves as either atheistic or agnostic, and they tell me how much they enjoy the play. They enjoy the language, and the philosophical and psychological insight. They enjoy the questions that it raises.     

So often I hear about the wonderful conversations after the play. There’s a buzz about what has been said that I think is really good. And here’s my favorite comment: “It’s fascinating to spend an evening with the devil.”
8/11/2010 5:35:00 AM by Mary Jacobs, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

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