December 2012

Legal abortion has taken 400 women’s lives

December 4 2012 by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – More than 400 women have died from legal abortions since 1973, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that also shows the number of abortions fell by 5 percent in 2009.

The CDC reported Nov. 21 there were 403 deaths related to legal abortions through 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, and the number of abortions in 2009 fell from 825,564 to 784,507, marking the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade.

The Supreme Court legalized abortion effectively for any reason throughout pregnancy Jan. 22, 1973. The deaths related to legal abortions dwarfed those from illegal abortions during the same time period. A total of 56 women died from illegal abortions, according to the CDC.

The new report also showed 12 women died from legal abortions in 2008. That total doubled the number of deaths from legal abortion reported in 2007 and was the most since 1989, when 12 also were reported.

There likely were more deaths from abortions in both 2008 and during the years since the practice was legalized.

For one thing, the CDC statistics, which are based on reports from state health departments, do not include figures from some states. California and New Hampshire have not reported such information since 1998, according to the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). At least one other state typically does not provide statistics to the CDC, the NRLC reported.

In addition, both abortion clinics and families of women who die have interests in keeping the cause of such deaths unknown.

The much larger number of reported deaths from legal abortions in contrast to illegal ones runs counter to the arguments of abortion rights organizations, which contend the procedure needs to be legal in order to be safe and reduce mortality among women who want abortions.

The Guttmacher Institute, which compiles its data directly from abortion clinics instead of the states, has reported about 1.2 million abortions annually in recent years.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, applauded the five percent decrease in abortions in 2009 but said, “At the same time, we have to ask why the abortion-related deaths of 12 women are buried in the very last table of the [CDC] report and unremarked on in the news. The news from this report is that abortion harms women, as well as their babies.”

The Associated Press attributed the decrease in abortions to more people using contraceptives and to the economy possibly making women more careful not to get pregnant, but World News Service pointed to the undeniable growth in the pro-life movement and to surveys which show public opinion on abortion is changing.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.)
12/4/2012 1:53:53 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Nativity projects point to Jesus

December 3 2012 by Laura M. Reid, BR Editorial Aide

The message of Christmas is often overshadowed. It goes unnoticed by the growing number of people who celebrate the holiday for reasons other than for Christ.
 
More and more businesses and public places avoid displaying any signs of religious affiliation when they decorate.
 
Some North Carolina Baptists are taking more intentional steps to display nativity scenes as a way to share the true meaning of Christmas.
 

Neighborhood Nativity Project

Jeff Andler of Jeff Andler Ministries (JAMin) is in his first year of heading up the Neighborhood Nativity Project from his home in Charlotte.
 
“In response to the anti-Christian sentiment of recent years, it is our effort to rally believers all across America to make a statement of their faith by displaying a nativity scene on their property, rather than only mourn the fact that the world will not,” Andler said.
 
People can get involved by watching his video on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzXQpag8pAs) or at neighborhoodnativityproject.com. Next, they can display nativity scenes in their front yards or near their apartment doors. As nativity scenes are put up, people can submit their names and pictures to the website, where photos of other submitted displays are posted. Nativity scenes provide powerful images for nonbelieving neighbors to see. They also serve as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas for  Christians. “It’s a pretty strong symbol,” Andler said. “It immediately says the birth of Christ.”
 
To help spread the word about the initiative, people can also “like” the ministry’s Facebook page, facebook.com/neighborhoodnativityproject.
 
Andler works part-time with the senior adult ministry at Arlington Baptist Church in Charlotte, and he was in music ministry for more than 30 years. Then, he and his wife started JAMin, which is involved in a variety of ministry that includes everything from music and prison outreach to overseas projects with children’s camps, construction, literature distribution and more.
 
In 2011 Andler began receiving emails about how many businesses, government facilities and schools were removing the word “Christmas” from their decorations and any other connections to the Christian meaning of the season.
 
“While sharing the disappointment of others, it occurred to me that God never expects the world to honor His name,” Andler said. “In fact, He warned that they would hate Him and us.”
 
While Andler said he “can’t make the courthouse put up a nativity,” he emphasized that he “can sure put one up” and expressed the need for other believers to display one in their yard or at their apartment.
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Contributed photo

Wendy’s in Boone, along with other local businesses, took part in Bethlehem & Beyond last year by displaying a nativity scene.


Word is spreading about the nativity project initiative. Andler’s website has received hits from the west coast, the midwest, and even as far away as Eastern Europe and northwest Africa.
 
“Regardless of what happens this year, we have decided to keep the project going and plan to encourage growing participation in 2013 and beyond,” he said.
 

Bethlehem & Beyond

Three Forks Baptist Association in Boone, started Bethlehem & Beyond three years ago. Bethlehem & Beyond involves many Christmas projects including nativity tours and a nativity scene art contest. Last year was the association’s first art contest that was open to all ages. Participants submit their art to be displayed in Boone Mall Dec. 6-21. Winners in each age bracket receive a gift card to a local art store in Boone.
 
“We’ve been very pleased with the cooperation from the director at the mall,” said Donna Nealy, director for Bethlehem & Beyond and wife of Barry Nealy, director of missions for the association.
 
“Through the conversations we had, Samaritans Purse was able to put a big tree up and advertise for Operation Christmas Child,” she said.
 
Nealy was able to arrange caroling at the mall this year as well. Every Friday (Dec. 7, 14, 21) choirs and ensembles will perform from 6-8 p.m.
 
This is also Three Forks Association’s third year of holding nativity tours as part of Bethlehem & Beyond. Dec. 14 through 16, nativity sets will be displayed in the association’s conference room. These sets are mostly loaned to the association for the ministry project.
 
“We are trying to have as many international sets as we can,” said Nealy.
 
Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer selling handmade products from artisans in 38 countries, is also contributing international nativity sets this year for the tour.
 
Bethlehem & Beyond encouraged local businesses and groups to include nativities as part of their decorations in the Boone Christmas parade Dec. 1. Bethlehem Bonanza was held Dec. 8 at Greenway Baptist Church in Boone. The bonanza is an event for families to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with crafts, face painting, prizes and more.
 
Nealy shared stories from previous years of the tour and how it has brought opportunities to pray for and share the love of Christ with people that the association never would have met otherwise.
 
All Bethlehem & Beyond events are free. Visit BethlehemAndBeyond.com.
12/3/2012 4:49:13 PM by Laura M. Reid, BR Editorial Aide | with 0 comments



Theme interpretation: N.C. Baptists need to wake up

December 3 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

Throughout North Carolina and even beyond, many Baptists are seeking a return to personal holiness.
During its annual meeting in Greensboro Nov. 12-13 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), messengers heard several people speak to the theme Awaken, based on Romans 11:13-14.
 
“In a very real sense America has spit in the face of God,” said Marvin Green, director of missions for Sandy Run Baptist Association.
 
“Awakenings start with repentant hearts therefore it must begin with me.”
 
Green was joined by Shelton C. Daniel, bishop of Greater Joy Baptist Church, and Sammy Joo, BSC senior consultant with international campus ministry, at various times throughout the annual meeting to highlight the need for believers to return to God and experience spiritual awakening.
 
“I’m grateful for our leaders in this convention,” Green said, crediting them with leading the way toward spiritual awakening.
 
His association began calling the community to pray in spring 2011. They met with Chris Schofield, BSC office of prayer director.
 
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BSC photo by K Brown

Shelton Daniel was one of three Awaken theme speakers during the Nov. 12-13 Baptist State Convention annual meeting in Greensboro. Daniel is bishop of Greater Joy Baptist Church in Rocky Mount.


Working together with other denominational leaders, Green said their community recently held its fourth meeting.
 
“The focus has been on prayer,” Green said, with each meeting drawing 700-900 people.
 

Get out of the pot

Daniel said believers are called to four things:
  • Called to wake up.
“Sleeping refers to slacking in intensity of faith, and it does not show any fear in the Word of God,” Daniel said.
 
Sleep refers to the “state of being uninvolved,” “being unexcited,” he shared.
  • Called to get dressed.
“We are walking around in pajamas all day long,” Daniel said. When Paul talks of the armor of God, Daniel assured messengers, Paul was not speaking of “pj attire,” but fighting gear.
  • Called to walk properly.
Daniel said not long ago he too was asleep. His ministry at a rural church was successful.
 
“I was asleep because I was comfortable,” he said.
 
Walking properly involves behavior, Daniel said.
 
It was in the middle of the night that Daniel heard God speak to Him to wake up. He answered the call to Rocky Mount and started an inner city church.
 
Four years later, Greater Joy Baptist Church, which began with 14 people, has 1,200 in attendance.
  • Called to stay focused.
Daniel said it is “high time to wake out of sleep.”
 
Referring to a recipe for frog soup, Daniel said the main ingredient is the frog.

The key in cooking frog soup is starting out at a comfortable temperature for the frog and raising the temperature gradually, lulling it into a stupor.
 
“The frog will never notice the changing temperature,” Daniel said,
 
The church has also become complacent.
 
“The issues of life have lulled us to sleep,” he said. “It is time for us to wake up.”
 
In the frog soup recipe, the enemy has made a mistake … he “forgot to put the top on the pot,” Daniel said. “As long as I keep looking up I’ve still got time.”
 

Reaching international students

Joo shared the story of Lily, a student who “experienced language barriers, culture shock and loneliness.”
 
She was also carrying guilt and shame, until she met Jesus.
 
“She has returned to her country and has found a solid Bible teaching church,” Joo said.
 
“She also shares the gospel with her husband who has never been to church. God changed Lily’s life.”
 
Joo shared another story of an Indian man. A Christian couple befriended him, gave him a Bible and encouraged him to meet other Christians.
 
Later this Indian returned home not only as an engineer but also as a preacher and evangelist.
 
“As a result of his faithful work for Christ, over 700 churches have been established in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal,” Joo said.
 
Because some North Carolina Baptists have been willing to work with international students, some of the students have made decisions to follow Christ.
 
Joo has seen that ministry firsthand.
 
“God has brought nearly 20,000 of these 21st century Moseses to North Carolina,” Joo said, referring to the Old Testament character who was raised in Egypt and went to the wilderness where God told him to return to lead the people.
 
Joo believes international students and Moses have a lot in common.
 
If N.C. Baptists can introduce these students to Christ, they might choose to follow Him and return to their homeland to share Christ with their people.
 
Using Colossians 4:2-5, Joo encouraged messengers to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”
 
“Small acts of generosity can make a huge impact in the lives of international students, and will open the door to sharing the gospel.”

Related stories

Banquet focuses on N.C.’s diversity, urges leaders to step up

For more stories from the annual meeting, visit here.
12/3/2012 4:36:24 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Banquet focuses on N.C.’s diversity, urges leaders to step up

December 3 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

North Carolina’s population continues to become more of a melting pot of ethnicities.
 
Because of the state’s diversity in jobs, competitive cost of living, and other factors, more people are moving here from different countries.
 
“The face of America is changing,” said Antonio Santos, Baptist State Convention of N.C. (BSC) senior consultant for Hispanic church planting, to participants of the Heavenly Banquet Nov. 13 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The Heavenly Banquet showcases multicultural ministry throughout North Carolina.
 
“Numbers are cold and hard to follow,” Santos said, but urged people to look around them. “We have the opportunity to share Jesus. We need to see it. We need to prepare our churches.”
 
The United States has the second largest Hispanic population in the world. An estimated 350,000 Hispanics immigrate to the U.S. each year. Santos called the Hispanic population around Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville “hyper growth” because of the speed at which the population is rising. He urged people to pray for:
  • cultural understanding of the Hispanic people by the general population,
  • salvation from the “bindings of Catholicism,” and
  • God to help “us to seize this historical moment in reaching the Hispanic population. It’s very hard trying to react later on.”
 

Diversity in North Carolina

Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, said 230 languages are spoken in North Carolina schools. “We are excited about reaching more and more people for Jesus Christ,” said Hollifield, “but we need more and more people who know [and] speak other languages.”
 
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BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Larry Phillips, center, performs with brothers Felipe, left, and Esteban Polo. The brothers are part of Apex Baptist Church’s Hispanic congregation. They asked Phillips, who was one of the speakers at the Heavenly Banquet, to play a song with them.


With the election of the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Hollifield said he has “never seen more excitement, more unity” than at the meeting in June in New Orleans where Fred Luter was elected.
 
Luter is pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.
 
“It was a great day in the history of the SBC,” Hollifield said.
 
Hollifield mentioned the need for more English-speaking congregations to support planting new non-English-speaking churches.
 
“We want to get the gospel to all people,” Hollifield said.
 

Always a missionary

With 13 years at the convention, 19 years in international missions and 13 years as a North Carolina pastor, Larry Phillips thanked participants of the multicultural ministries banquet for their support over the years in his role as Hispanic church planting consultant.
 
“So much of who I am is made of what I learned from you,” said Phillips, who currently is interim director of the Hollifield Leadership Center and formerly held Santos’ position as senior consultant for Hispanic church planting. He will retire in January 2013 and continue as a BSC consultant.
 
He encouraged participants to go beyond discipleship.
 
“If we just disciple … we will fall short of what God expects of us,” Phillips said.
 
“From this point in my life I will be only a missionary.”
 
Forget titles and positions, Phillips stressed.
 
“When it’s all said and done it has to do with character and it has to do with competency,” he said. “I believe that every believer is sent by Jesus … with the cross in community to the culture.”
 
For too long Baptists have had African-Americans working with African-Americans, Hispanics working with Hispanics, he said.
 
“It’s time for a change,” he said. “It is now time to break the barriers.”
 
Discipleship is a great first step. That critical step “leads us to become missionaries,” Phillips said.
 
“It’s now time to live life together,” Phillips said, encouraging them to take their “place at the table” by being part of the N.C. Baptist leadership.

Related stories

Theme interpretation: N.C. Baptists need to wake up

For more stories from the annual meeting, visit here.
12/3/2012 4:27:20 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Pediatricians push ‘morning-after’ pill for minors

December 3 2012 by Baptist Press

The country’s leading pediatrics association has urged its members to provide information about the “morning-after” pill to under-age, female patients and give them prescriptions in advance for the drug, which can cause abortions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which has 60,000 members, made the recommendation Nov. 26, according to Reuters News Service. If heeded by pediatricians, the policy would enable girls under 17 to acquire the “morning-after” pill more quickly after sexual intercourse.

Under federal regulations, girls 16 and under must have prescriptions to buy the drug. Women 17 and older do not need a prescription, but they must request the drug from pharmacists, who stock it behind their counters.

The “morning-after” pill, also known as emergency contraception, is basically a heavier dose of birth control pills. There are two-step versions – Plan B and Next Choice – and one-step versions – Plan B One-Step and Next Choice One Dose.

Under the two-part regimen, a woman takes a pill within 72 hours of sexual intercourse and another dose 12 hours later. The one-step version is taken in a single dose within 72 hours.

The “morning-after” pill can restrict ovulation in a woman or prevent fertilization, but it also can block implantation of the early embryo in the uterine wall. The latter effect causes an abortion, pro-life advocates point out.
12/3/2012 4:22:08 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Federal judge upholds Nev. marriage amend.

December 3 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – A federal judge has upheld Nevada’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, providing a victory for social conservatives who have suffered a string of court losses on the issue.

In his Nov. 26 opinion, Judge Robert C. Jones ruled that Nevada had a constitutional right to pass the amendment, which was approved twice by voters – once in 2000 with 70 percent of the vote and a second time in 2002 with 67 percent. The lawsuit was brought by Lambda Legal, which advocates for gay issues.

Within the past year, appeals courts have ruled against the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California Proposition 8, each of which could be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in coming months.

Jones, nominated by President George W. Bush, said Supreme Court action in a 1972 case confirmed Nevada’s ability to define marriage as it wishes. That case, Baker v. Nelson, came to the court on appeal from the Minnesota Supreme Court, which had upheld Minnesota’s traditional marriage law in a case that was seeking to legalize gay marriage. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal “for want of a substantial federal question” – that is, the court believed Minnesota had the right under the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman because there was no relevant federal issue.

But Jones went further in his ruling, saying Nevada had a legitimate state interest in defining marriage as it did.

“The perpetuation of the human race depends upon traditional procreation between men and women,” Jones wrote.

It is “conceivable,” he wrote, that if gay marriage is legalized, “a meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons would cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently ... because they no longer wish to be associated with the civil institution as redefined, leading to an increased percentage of out-of- wedlock children, single-parent families, difficulties in property disputes after the dissolution of what amount to common law marriages in a state where such marriages are not recognized, or other unforeseen consequences.”

Jones added, “Because the family is the basic societal unit, the State could have validly reasoned that the consequences of altering the traditional definition of civil marriage could be severe.”

Jones also pointed to this year’s elections, in which three states legalized gay marriage, saying that gays are not politically powerless.

“It simply cannot be seriously maintained, in light of these and other recent democratic victories, that homosexuals do not have the ability to protect themselves from discrimination through democratic processes ...,” he wrote.

The case is Sevcik v. Sandoval. The decision likely will be appealed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
12/3/2012 4:17:24 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



N.Y. Baptists approve task force report

December 3 2012 by Baptist Press

SCHROON LAKE, N.Y. – The Baptist Convention of New York (BCNY), at its 43rd annual meeting, approved the recommendations of its Vision Task Force along with the formation of an ad hoc team to implement the plan.

The Vision Task Force, which BCNY messengers approved last year, made recommendations to refine the convention’s vision and improve its effectiveness, made recommendations to improve cooperation and communication among BCNY staff, directors of missions, church planters and ministers; review and amend as necessary the BCNY constitution and bylaws; cooperate with member associations and churches to increase community and global impact; and to equip, empower and multiply church leadership.

Vision Task Force chairman Ted Harvey said the group reached its recommendations after several meetings and retreats, and often consulted with the BCNY executive board.

“Please know that our recommendations continue to be a work in progress as opposed to a concrete document,” Harvey said in the task force’s report to BCNY messengers. “Our team welcomes ongoing input that will help improve and clarify the direction of our convention.” Harvey is senior pastor of Somerset Hills Baptist Church in Basking Ridge, N.J., in the New York City metro area.

Other task force members were George Russ, John Mulligan, Richard Goforth, Milton Kornegay, Dale Suel and BCNY leaders Terry Robertson, the convention’s executive director; Jim Hundley, outgoing BCNY president; and Mark Davis, chairman of the BCNY Executive Board.

The task force recommended the BCNY offer an online roadmap that churches could use to chart their future and recommended state-of-the-art communication technology for meetings, training and communication.

The BCNY should evaluate its staffing needs as well as whether to keep, sale or relocate its offices, currently in East Syracuse, N.Y., the task force said.

“A study would be made on the need to keep our present facility in East Syracuse, versus selling the property and relocating remaining staff to strategic locations,” the task force said. “Findings and/or recommendations would be brought before the executive board and eventually to the 2013 annual conference.”

The BCNY also adopted its 2013 budget and elected officers for the coming year during its Sept. 23-25 sessions at Schroon Lake, N.Y.

The 2013 budget of $1,764,026 is just 1.8 percent below the current amount, but increases Cooperative Program giving to 28.50 percent of the budget, up from this year’s 28.25 percent. The convention’s CP gifts totaled $207,515.77 during the SBC’s 2011-12 fiscal year.

Ed Hart, director of missions for the Central New York Baptist Association, was elected as the BCNY’s new president, joined by Edwin Attaway, pastor of First Christian Church in Brushton, N.Y., as first vice president and Scott Gillette, administrative pastor of Amherst Baptist Church in Amherst, N.Y., as second vice president.

Dale Suel was elected as Executive Board chairman. Amherst Baptist Church in Amherst, N.Y., where Suel is senior pastor, will host the 2013 BCNY annual meeting Sept. 22-24. Andy Smith, associate pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Cortland, N.Y., is the new Executive Board vice chairman.

Van McClain, a professor and administrator at the northeast branch of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Schenectady, N.Y., will serve as recording secretary for both the BCNY and its executive board. Assistant recording secretary is Wayne Sibrava, pastor of Living Water Baptist Church in Owego, N.Y.

BCNY selected Sam Macri, pastor of Crosspoint Church in Whitesboro, N.Y., to preach the 2013 annual sermon, with Jae Lee, pastor of Ebenezer Mission Church in Oakland Gardens, N.Y., as the alternate preacher.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler. The task force report, in two parts, is posted at the Baptist Convention of New York website, http://www.bcnysbc.org.)
12/3/2012 2:36:49 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SBC of Virginia installs Brian Autry as exec

December 3 2012 by Baptist Press

HAMPTON, Va. – When church planter Clint Clifton was asked if the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) could do a video spotlighting his story of church planting during its 2012 annual homecoming, he didn’t think it would lead to a spontaneous offering.

“Our church is pretty small, and this is a God-sized dream,” said Clifton, pastor of Pillar Church in Dumfries. “We know God can do it; we just had no idea how He would do it. As I began to see men all over that room respond to the film, I was reminded that where God guides us, He always provides for us. I can’t wait to see what He does next.”

Clifton and the SBC of Virginia plan to plant a church at every U.S. Marine Corps base around the world. After multiple videos documented Clifton’s journey of planting seven churches in eight years in Virginia and beyond, SBCV Executive Director Brian Autry challenged messengers and guests to “stand up with those who stand up for us on the front lines.” Many pastors came forward to support the Praetorian Project, and more than $30,000 was pledged.

“Standing with me were pastors of churches that number in the thousands, but I was stirred to talk with one pastor, Michael Raphael, church planter of Jubilee Baptist in Fredericksburg, Va.,” Clifton recounted. “His church committed $1,775 to the project even though they only have a core group of eight members. It is so encouraging to see pastors and churches working together to bring the gospel to Marines and their families.”

Autry noted, “To see our pastors and churches respond spontaneously to give generously to support planting churches near Marine bases should be evidence to us all that the Holy Spirit desires to work in and through Southern Baptist churches in Virginia.”

On that same Monday night, Autry was officially installed as the third executive director of the SBC of Virginia. He has been serving in the role since May 8 when he was unanimously elected by the Executive Board. Kelly Burris, pastor of Kempsville Baptist Church in Virginia Beach and chairman of the executive director search committee, opened the service.

Autry was touched by the event. “To be installed as executive director of the SBC of Virginia at a church less than five miles from where I was raised, baptized and called to ministry – with my family and friends in attendance – was a deeply meaningful experience.”

The presidents of both Southern Baptist Convention mission boards congratulated Autry by video as did the previous SBC of Virginia executive director, Jeff Ginn, now senior pastor of Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.

At the end of the service, Autry washed the feet of five former presidents of the SBCV and then was lifted up in prayer by the original executive director, Doyle Chauncey.

“The installation service allowed three generations of my family, including my own three children, to see that the SBC of Virginia is a powerful partnership for the gospel,” Autry said. “My prayer is that the Lord will allow me to serve our pastors and churches and be a courageous steward of our missionary resources.”

The theme of this year’s Nov. 11–13 meeting at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton was “Transforming the World.” More than 800 people attended this year’s homecoming, with 510 of those registering as either messengers or guests. Another 300 unregistered guests attended either the executive director installation service or sang in the mass choir on Monday evening, which was led by Jeff Askew, worship pastor at Liberty Baptist. Sounds of Liberty and Scott Bullman from Liberty University in Lynchburg led worship throughout the annual homecoming.

Keynote speakers included David Miller, evangelist and founder of Line Upon Line Ministries, who gave the Sunday night message from 1 Peter 1 about regeneration. Monday’s messages came from Ellis Prince, lead and teaching pastor of The Gallery Church in Baltimore, who spoke from John 17 on “The Cost of Unity” and Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., who closed out Veterans Day with a message from 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13, “The Battle That Must Be Won.” Tuesday afternoon’s message came from Afshin Ziafat, lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas, who preached from 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 on “The Transforming Power of the Gospel.”

NASCAR driver Blake Koch also spoke on Sunday night after a special update from SBC of Virginia church strengthening team leader Steve Bradshaw about SBCV churches’ evangelistic efforts at five Virginia racetracks during special “FinditHere.com” races. Bradshaw encouraged messengers and guests to use every opportunity to spread the gospel.

Bradshaw gave The Pentecost Award for baptisms to two churches: total baptisms, Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton led by Grant Ethridge; per-capita baptisms, Geneva Park Baptist Church in Chesapeake led by Mike Ellis.

Randall T. Hahn, senior pastor of Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, was re-elected for a second term as president. His convention message from Romans 15-16 focused on how SBCV churches can continue to “Partner Big for the gospel.”

“All I can say is, ‘Wow!’ This year’s annual homecoming was as much revival as it was business,” Hahn said. “Good business was conducted, but in the midst we were inspired, challenged and equipped. We were given great opportunity to worship the God for whom we were conducting business. I can’t wait ‘til next year.”

Other officers elected for 2013 include first vice president, Doug Echols, pastor of Bethel Baptist in Yorktown; second vice president, Robert Rowland, pastor of Smyrna Baptist Church in Dinwiddie; and secretary, Daryl Harbin, pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Orange.

Messengers had the opportunity to follow the story of International Mission Board (IMB) missionary Mike Smith throughout the day on Tuesday through several videos, some of which were shot on location in Zambia, Africa. At the end of the day, Brandon Pickett, SBCV director of communications, interviewed Smith live via Skype.

“It really meant a lot to me to be part of the annual homecoming,” Smith said. “We are a long way from Virginia. Not only physically, but emotionally and experientially. I didn’t know just how much it meant to my whole family until they all came in our bedroom and got on the bed while I was on the Skype call. We really felt like we were truly part of the meeting, despite being 10,000-plus miles away.”

Smith, who has planted four churches on the field and leads a Bible translation project, originally went to Zambia through an SBCV-sponsored vision trip when he was pastoring outside of Staunton, Va. After that trip, his church, Deerfield Baptist, committed to adopt the Nkoya people group.

“Just when we were coming online with the meeting, I heard them recognize people from Deerfield Baptist, the church where I was the pastor until moving to Zambia,” Smith said. “Even though I couldn’t see them, it meant a lot to me. At the conclusion of the call, Jim Davis was called to the stage. Jim was the first person to ever mention the people group Nkoya to me in 2006. It was then that God began to birth in me a heart and deep passion for the self-proclaimed ‘prodigal people.’”

Autry said he continues to be impressed with how churches aren’t just content to reach Virginia for Christ but to stretch beyond. “SBC of Virginia annual homecoming messengers demonstrated in a powerful way that the Lord moved among us to stir us toward a bolder commitment to the Great Commission.”

SBCV’s new treasurer, Eddie Urbine, and Autry gave the treasurer’s report. The 2013 ministry investment plan of $9 million was unanimously adopted. It includes a 0.25 percentage point increase in CP contributions going to Southern Baptist Convention causes, raising it to 51 percent. Urbine told messengers that, as of November 2012, SBCV churches had given more than $105 million to the Cooperative Program since the SBCV began.

Urbine presented The Macedonia Awards for Cooperative Program Giving: for per-capita CP giving, Matoaca Baptist Church in Matoaca led by Donald Joyner; total CP giving, Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond led by Mark Becton.

The approved 2013 ministry investment plan shows nearly 37 percent of the resources allocated for Virginian toward church planting with another 30 percent toward church strengthening and missions mobilization.

Church planting team leader Mark Custalow reported that 20 SBCV churches sponsored church plants this past year. He explained that each will receive or has received a special Eagle Award plaque. He also shared that, in addition to church planters approved in 2012, six church planting apprentices were also approved.

In a resolution, the SBC of Virginia voiced appreciation of the United States armed forces. Another resolution, focusing on prayer, brought comments from the messengers to clarify its wording, which mentioned the 2012 political election. After five messengers came to the microphone to speak to the resolution, Curtis Barnes, chairman of the Resolutions Committee and pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist in Colonial Heights, made a motion for the committee to reword the resolution and bring it back to the convention. The motion was approved by a voice vote, and the reworked resolution was brought back to the messengers on Tuesday afternoon. After three comments, the resulting voice vote was overwhelming in favor of the resolution. The resolution entailed a call to “pray regularly and consistently for spiritual awakening in our homes, churches, and communities and for our elected leaders at the local, state, and national level” and to “view the changes in our nation as a providential missiological opportunity by maintaining a focus, passion, and intentionality on sharing the gospel through Great Commission initiatives.” (The full text of the resolutions follows this article.)

Doyle Chauncey, president of the SBC of Virginia Foundation, presented The Nehemiah Awards for Service to Glen McLaughlin, former pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church in Leesburg, who currently serves at Hamilton Baptist Church in Hamilton, and Arthur Leary, a layman from Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton who currently serves on the SBCV Executive Board as chairman of the ministry support services committee.

The 2013 annual homecoming of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia will be Nov. 10-12 at First Baptist Church in Roanoke.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Adapted from a report by Brandon Pickett, director of communications for the SBC of Virginia.)

SBC of Virginia resolution on the armed forces

WHEREAS, The members of the United States Armed Forces give of themselves courageously from love of country and devotion to duty to the extent that ‘All gave some and some gave all;’ and

WHEREAS, said service members frequently see far less reward or expressions of thanksgiving and appreciation than their actions merit; and

WHEREAS, we recognize the sacrifices made by the families of our service men and women are commensurate with that of the soldiers themselves; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia hold them in the highest esteem for their sacrifice and service inasmuch as they have allowed themselves to be instruments of God’s goodness in securing our freedom of worship and conscience.

SBC of Virginia resolution on the election & spiritual renewal

WHEREAS, All elections, including the election of November 6, 2012, should always remind believers that God is the one who holds the keys and hearts of kings and that historically, spiritual awakening has come in similar periods as the result of unified, explicit, extraordinary prayer on the part of all God’s people and acknowledging that prayer is indeed our greatest need and most powerful resource; and

WHEREAS, We affirm our Baptist heritage as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention messengers in June 1980 that “The Kingdom of God is above all, to influence all in terms of the eternal and sovereign will of God and that in terms of 1 Timothy 2:1-5 that the church is always to pray for all peoples and especially for civil authorities;” and

WHEREAS, The 2012 Annual Homecoming has emphasized the changing demographics and culture of our nation and increasing opportunities for sharing the Gospel by fulfilling the Great Commission; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the churches of the Southern Baptists Conservatives of Virginia pray regularly and consistently for spiritual awakening in our homes, churches, and communities and for our elected leaders at the local, state, and national level; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptists Conservatives of Virginia view the changes in our nation as a providential missiological opportunity by maintaining a focus, passion, and intentionality on sharing the Gospel through Great Commission initiatives.
12/3/2012 2:24:37 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SBTC continues 55/45 CP budget

December 3 2012 by Jerry Pierce, Baptist Press

SAN ANTONIO – Messengers to the 15th annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) re-elected President Terry M. Turner of Mesquite, Texas, by acclamation and passed a $26.3 million budget and eight resolutions on topics ranging from “a clear and complete” gospel message to religious liberty violations in the federal health care law.

The meeting at Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio, with the theme “Hearing and Doing,” based on James 1:22, drew 916 registered messengers and 489 registered guests.

Turner, pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church near Dallas, was unopposed and re-elected for a second one-year term. He is the first African American to serve as SBTC president.

Garland pastor Russell Rogers nominated the Oklahoma native, noting his longtime friendship with Turner that began when Rogers was a young preacher and Mesquite Friendship was a fledgling work begun under Turner’s leadership in 1991. Today, the church has more than 2,100 members.

In visiting the church, Rogers said he was struck by how much the people at Mesquite Friendship love him, “and I quickly realized he loves them.” In Turner, SBTC churches have “another gentleman we can love and who truly has a heart for God and a heart for us,” Rogers added.

Geoff Kolander, a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Hyde Park Baptist Church and an Austin attorney, was elected by acclamation as SBTC first vice president, while James Nickell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Quitman, was re-elected as recording secretary by acclamation.

The 2013 budget of $26,343,626 is an increase of .26 percent over 2012. The convention will continue its 55/45 allocation of forwarding 55 percent of undesignated receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program (CP) allocation budget and retaining 45 percent for in-state ministry – the largest share for church planting, missions and evangelism.

Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis told messengers the SBTC finished the giving year fourth in total CP dollars forwarded to SBC work behind Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The 55 percent forwarded to the SBC is the highest portion of any state convention.

Messengers also passed eight resolutions, without discussion, on topics ranging from how the gospel is proclaimed to religious liberty violations in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The resolution “On Evangelism and Missions” called for “a clear and complete gospel presentation” and “the invitation to repent of one’s sins and to believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to receive God’s salvation....”

Other resolutions covered the sanctity of life, support for traditional marriage, the nation of Israel, the Cooperative Program, support for military members and their families, and appreciation to the host church.

Houston native Richard Land, who will retire in October 2013 as president of the Nashville, Tenn.-based Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was honored through a resolution for his years of service.

David Fleming, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, told messengers in his convention sermon that James 1:22 – “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” – requires Christian transformation between the hearing and the doing.

Fleming said doing grows out of being or becoming what God intends. With Christ alone and not worldly power, believers are “called, commanded and commissioned to make disciples.”

Sounding “A Call to Preserve the Faith and Glorify God” from Matthew 5:13-16, Turner preached a rousing president’s address, calling the convention to remain salty and holy amid a culture that reviles what is holy. “God is looking for some folk who will be salt,” Turner pleaded.

Executive Director Jim Richards reported that 312 Texas churches have taken the first steps toward engaging an unengaged, unreached people group with the gospel – a challenge issued at last year’s meeting by International Mission Board President Tom Elliff.

Lamenting the rise of what he called “hyper-individualism” among churches, Richards said a healthy missional strategy involves direct and cooperative missions. “It is not a matter of either/or, it is both/and,” he said.

The Cooperative Program is a channel of blessing “because when you give through the Cooperative Program, your dollar never sleeps,” he noted, explaining that 5,000 missionaries on nearly every continent and in nearly every time zone are telling people about Jesus.

He challenged churches and individual Southern Baptists to consider giving 1 percent more of their income to Kingdom work. “Let’s give it away before they take it away from us,” Richards said. “This could be the year that Jesus comes. I pray He finds us hearing and doing His will.”

Retired Houston Judge Paul Pressler presented the award named for him to Ernest Gregory, a physician who won “countless thousands to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ” through his medical missions work and in his daily life, Pressler told messengers.

Born to missionary parents, Gregory, 88, served in the Pacific theater in World War II. In addition to medical missions abroad, Gregory established the San Antonio Christian Medical Society in 1968, helping heroin addicts through faith-based treatment, and served as president of Baptists with a Mission, a conservative group that helped form the SBTC.

Standing before messengers to accept the Pressler Distinguished Service Award, Gregory told of approaching his mother when he was 8 years old and telling her, as she ironed clothes, that he wanted to get saved.

“She looked at me carefully and she said, ‘Well, you know how to get saved don’t you? OK, talk to the Lord about it.’“ Gregory said he went to his room, got down on his knees and “asked the Lord to come into my life.”

He said if the Lord gives him more time he’d like to “lead some others to Christ.”

Charles Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, closed the convention with a message on how God has sustained him. The 80-year-old preacher recalled that after he preached his first sermon his mother shared a passage that he would need all the years of his ministry, citing the instruction of Joshua 1:9 to be strong and courageous.

He later visited with his evangelist grandfather who taught Stanley to obey God and leave all of the consequences to him. That principle guided every decision he would make for the rest of his life, Stanley said.

“Whatever God is going to do in your life, He will do it in proportion to your obedience and time spent on your knees,” Stanley said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist Texan, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. With reporting by Tammi Reed Ledbetter.)
12/3/2012 2:18:54 PM by Jerry Pierce, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Utah-Idaho Baptists aim to double churches

December 2 2012 by Baptist Press

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah-Idaho Southern Baptists focused on extending their reach in line with the 2020 Vision of sharing Christ and starting and strengthening churches during their 48th annual meeting in Salt Lake City last month.

Messengers unanimously approved the 2020 Vision report encouraging doubling the number of churches to 300 and reaching 1 percent of the population in the two states by the end of 2020. The 2020 Vision team led by Utah-Idaho convention president Kirk Baker will continue its work on aligning the state convention with the new vision statement and report its progress next year.

The overall 2013 budget of $1,980,813 is 5 percent less than the 2012 amount of $2,085,317, and includes $1,049,900 from the North American Mission Board, $60,000 from LifeWay Christian Resources and $96,176 from the state missions offering.

In 2013 Cooperative Program (CP) contributions from Utah-Idaho churches, $774,737 is budgeted, which is $52,240, or 6.3 percent, less than the 2012 CP budget. Utah-Idaho Baptists will utilize $581,053 of CP gifts for state missions and ministries and forward $193,684 for SBC causes, continuing a 75-25 percent UISBC-SBC allocation that does not entail any shared expenses between the two conventions.

With the theme “Leading from our Knees,” drawn from Ephesians 3:14-19, the meeting included a strong emphasis on prayer. The Oct. 23-24 sessions at Canyons Church included 128 messengers representing 47 churches.

Guest preacher Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, encouraged messengers in evangelism and discipleship, asking them to pray for laborers.

Messengers re-elected Baker, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to a second term as president. Other officers, all unopposed, are first vice president Clint Henry, pastor of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho; second vice president Russ Robinson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Provo, Utah; and recording secretary Arie Sparkman, wife of pastor Ray Sparkman of Desert Streams Fellowship in Kuna, Idaho.

Utah-Idaho recognized several individuals upon retirement or tenure milestones: Dan Walker, retiring after 15 years as jointly appointed missionary to associational work/church planting; Eric Frye, retiring after 10 years as state convention cross-cultural/multiethnic chaplaincy consultant; Don Hayhurst, retiring after eight years as jointly appointed missionary to associational director of missions/church planter catalysts; and Judy Baker, retiring after eight years as executive assistant.

Business services director Bill Pepper was recognized for 10 years of state convention service.

Brad Bessent, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Hopkins, S.C., told messengers how the small church he leads has adopted an unengaged people group and has seen God plant indigenous churches in an area without a Christian witness.

“No matter how small your church is, God can provide the resources to reach an unengaged, unreached people group,” Bessent said, speaking during a missions banquet co-sponsored by the International Mission Board and the state convention. He contrasted Beulah’s membership of 200 with that of a 10,000-member church that deemed itself lacking resources to reach the people group.

At the pastors’ conference preceding the annual meeting, speakers included Steve Ruth of Calvary Baptist Church in Weiser, Idaho; church planter Ryan Booth of Price, Utah; Harold Fields of Unity Baptist Church in Salt Lake City; Kevin Carpenter of Hope Baptist Church in Nezperce, Idaho; and Baikkung Fnu of Southern Chin Christian Church in Salt Lake City.

Messengers scheduled next year’s annual meeting for Oct. 22-23 at Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Rob Lee, executive director and treasurer of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention.)
12/2/2012 2:29:33 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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