December 2016

Year in Review: Remembering influential Southern Baptists in 2016

December 27 2016 by BR staff

As one reflects on the past year, it is not only important events that come to mind. Specific people – especially leaders – are often at the center of significant events, leading in unique ways. Reflecting on the year is also an appropriate time to remember those who have passed away.


These Southern Baptist figures stood out for their unique leadership in a year filled with uncertainty.
Milton Hollifield: Celebrating 10 years
The Biblical Recorder dedicated eight pages of the April 9, 2016 issue to recognize Milton Hollifield’s 10th anniversary as executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He was elected and installed in a called meeting of the convention April 11, 2006. When Hollifield stepped into the leadership role, North Carolina Baptists were dealing with a lot of division. He has met and exceeded expectations.
Franklin Graham leads 50-state Decision Tour
Placing prayer on his priority list, Franklin Graham announced April 14 that he would travel to all 50 states in 2016 to conduct prayer rallies. Called the “Decision America Tour,” the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse said the only hope for the United States is “Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ.” Graham capped the months-long tour with a record-breaking rally in Raleigh on Oct. 13.
Steve Gaines accepts SBC presidency
Following a runoff vote that didn’t produce a winner, North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear announced June 15 he would withdraw from the race for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) during the annual meeting. Greear’s decision – in an effort to help bring unity after a close vote – avoided a second runoff and left Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines elected by acclamation as president of the SBC. Gaines humbly accepted.
Parliamentarians take center stage during SBC election
SBC parliamentarians normally work behind the scenes at the annual meeting, but their expertise took center stage as debate arose over the vote tallying procedure when the presidential election led to a runoff that failed to name a winner. Chief Parliamentarian Barry McCarty explained the voting policies and procedures to messengers. Amy Whitfield served as the SBC’s first female parliamentarian in 2016.
David Platt steers IMB, endures criticism
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), led the organization through a difficult budget recovery plan that began in 2015 to counteract years of deficit spending. Platt was faced with tough decisions and criticism from fellow Southern Baptists over the austerity measures. IMB announced in late 2016 that it would be sending more missionaries to the field and a balanced budget had been approved for 2017.


The Biblical Recorder remembers the lives of many who died in 2016.
Cliff Barrows
Clifford Burton “Cliff” Barrows, who served as music director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for many years, died Nov. 15 in Pineville, N.C., after a brief illness. He was 93.
Jerry Bridges
Jerry Bridges, influential author of The Pursuit of Holiness and longtime speaker with The Navigators ministry, died March 6 at the age of 86.
Antonin Scalia
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, a stalwart leader of the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative wing for nearly three decades, died Feb. 13 at age 79.
Richard Hicks
Richard G. Hicks, 75, died July 28. Hicks was a longtime pastor in North Carolina churches and graduate of Fruitland Baptist Bible College and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Pals family
A missionary family from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis died July 31 in a car crash. Jamison and Kathryne Pals were 29; their three children, Ezra, Violet and Calvin, were ages 4 years to 2 months.
Charles Ryrie
Charles C. Ryrie, a scholar whose name abounds on Ryrie Study Bible editions with more than 2.6 million in print in multiple languages, died Feb. 16 in Dallas at age 90.
Tim LaHaye
Tim LaHaye, author of the best selling Left Behind novels who helped stir a national interest in end-times prophecy, died July 25 of a stroke. He was 90.
Phyllis Schlafly
Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the conservative group Eagle Forum who was known for her decades-long advocacy on behalf of the traditional family, died Sept. 5. She was 92.
William Mills
William Mills died Jan. 2 at 89 years old. Mills was a WWII veteran and graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served many churches in North Carolina for more than 55 years.
The BR staff would like to recognize all missionaries that passed away in 2016, men and women of whom this world is not worthy.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15

12/27/2016 2:49:29 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Year in Review: BR staff’s guest column top picks for 2016

December 27 2016 by BR staff

The Biblical Recorder features dozens of great guest columns each year. BR staff chose the top opinion pieces of 2016 based on content, quality and relevance.  Here are the BR staff’s top picks from this year’s guest columns.
Weeping with those who weep
By J. Josh Smith
It wasn’t until I returned home and turned on the TV that I began to fully understand the reality of what had taken place in this city that I love.
It’s truly overwhelming. I feel a sense of the gut-wrenching compassion that Jesus felt as He looked out over the multitudes and saw them as sheep without a shepherd. I feel it for the families of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. I feel it for the black community as they try to make sense of the last few days. I feel it for the 12 officers shot last night and their families. ... I feel it for our nation that seems to have somehow reverted back to the racial tension of a previous generation.
The breathtaking hypocrisy of the NCAA
By Paul “Skip” Stam
The hypocrisy of the NCAA’s “commitment” is breathtaking. The organization selectively boycotts North Carolina for policies it claims are unique to our state – but actually are common throughout the nation – and for daring to disagree with a sweeping federal mandate by the Obama Administration – a mandate that is currently being challenged in court by 24 other states. The NCAA is in violation itself of the civil rights provision of Title IX as interpreted by the Obama Administration. Let’s look at the facts …
Feeble prayers in a chaotic world
By Greg Mathias
Living in a new normal doesn’t feel so normal. ... Istanbul, Brussels, Paris, Boston – the list could go on. We live in a chaotic and fallen world. In a world where the new normal is one tragedy followed by another tragedy followed by yet another. It can be overwhelming. Strike that, it is overwhelming. … No matter the tragedy, the most immediate response ought to be prayer. Often, though, prayer feels small compared to the massive tragedy in front of us. Even so, we should pray. We need to pray. The question is, how are we supposed to pray in the midst of chaos when our prayers seem so feeble?
Reporting on the SBC
By Gary Ledbetter
What is the legitimate role of the denominational press, the Baptist state publications, as the leaders of our work and the constituent churches attempt to communicate with one another? ... the publications pass information to and from both parties in various ways. … I believe newsmakers and news reporters have distinct and important roles within the Kingdom of God. We each have responsibilities, and we can provoke one another to fully live up to our Great Commission ideals.
An appeal to young Southern Baptists
By Keelan Cook
I remember growing up in church, sitting through business meetings, and thinking that we were wasting God’s time. I can remember arguments over pastoral benefits and carpet color. Our generation does not like that. In fact, most of us are fed up with that, and rightly so. However, I fear we can make an error that is at least as egregious when we think the solution is avoiding the business meeting altogether. The solution to bad business meetings is not to avoid them, it is to change them. That takes participation.


12/27/2016 2:45:29 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Danny Akin exhorts grads to live as new creations

December 27 2016 by Harper McKay, SEBTS

During his presidential address at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) fall commencement ceremony, Danny Akin exhorted graduates, faculty and guests to proclaim the gospel because of who they are in Christ.

Photo by Maria Estes
Graduates line up as the Dec. 9 fall commencement ceremony begins at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Speaking from 2 Corinthians 5:17, which he called a foundational “life verse,” Akin explained that becoming a new creation in Christ means “you are radically altered … once you were lost, now you’re found. Once you were spiritually dead, now you are spiritually alive.”
He went on to explain the difference that being a new creation makes in the lives of Christ followers. “When you come to trust in Christ as your Savior, you have a new passion to inspire you,” Akin said. “You have a new priority to guide you.”
The fall graduates of SEBTS and The College at Southeastern make up the 64th graduating class with 208 total students receiving 28 undergraduate, 131 graduate and 49 advanced degrees.
Advanced degree graduates from SEBTS included Southern Baptist leaders Edgar Aponte, International Mission Board vice president of mobilization, and Malachi O’Brien, second vice-president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Akin reminded listeners of the double calling of 2 Corinthians 5:17. “This particular text is wrapped up in a call both to a ministry of reconciliation and a calling to proclaim a message of reconciliation,” he said. “That’s why you came to prepare. That’s why you go to serve, and that’s why many of you go to very difficult places where as of today the name of Jesus is very faint if there at all.”
As he closed, Akin expressed hope in the future ministries of the graduates. “We’re trusting that God is going to do something far more than we could ever hope or imagine or dare to think because you’re being faithful to what he has made you – new in Christ.”

12/27/2016 2:44:14 PM by Harper McKay, SEBTS | with 0 comments

Michael Blackwell offers 9 essentials for everyone

December 27 2016 by BCH Communications

Advice is often given freely, but it is rare that advice is rich and beneficial. In his fifth book, Above the Clouds: 9 Essentials for Thriving at the Peak, Michael C. Blackwell shares some of his best life lessons. Though the book is aimed at those who have reached the summit in their careers and other pursuits, the president of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) offers useful advice – sweetened with humor and inspiration – for just about everyone.

Blackwell was just a teenager when he got a gig as a radio deejay. Later his resonant voice and a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill helped him move into radio and television broadcasting, but he felt a strong call to a deeper purpose. That drew him to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, where he received three degrees. From there he pastored several churches in North Carolina and Virginia before settling into his current post at BCH, where he has devoted his time and energy for nearly 34 years.
His “9 essentials” label each chapter. They are: purpose, achievement, relationships, creativity, health, laughter, security, spirituality and legacy.
Here are some highlights from the book:
“Let’s not confuse career with purpose: Your life is bigger than your career,” Blackwell writes in chapter one. “If you are simply dedicating your waking hours to career to the neglect of your spirit, family, health and healthy interests, you won’t find your purpose, no matter what career goals are reached.”
In order to find purpose, he says, one must pursue “internal passion.”
He bares much of his soul to lead readers on their own journey of self-discovery. Spiritual depth is a necessity, he says, and that comes from “a conscious commitment to seek the heart and mind of God.”  Look deep into the soul, he advises, “not in the shallows of performance and platitudes.”
A story of brownie temptation appears in the chapter focusing on health. Blackwell relates other struggles in his years-long battle with weight and offers some meaty advice about the value of exercise and how to resist food temptation.
He writes, “... weight management affects everything about your health and well-being. Adopt this discipline early in your career and you won’t have to endure the yo-yo battle with weight that kept me wound up for so many years.”
If you are in need of laughter, Blackwell presents a few jokes in the humor chapter and explains why humor also has a serious side.
He writes: “If for no other reason, we need to laugh because it is literally good for us. Laughter boosts our immune system.”
Blackwell freely offers his best in expertise and experience to help the reader on his or her journey to the peak. From his “essential” on creativity where he dispels myths and declares: “But the beauty is that anyone can be creative” – to his words on spirituality and hope: “Spiritual faith has always abounded in hope and expectation and promise of life.  Through the centuries, nothing has been more characteristic of Christian people than a hope that enabled them to cope with life – a power to challenge and overcome circumstances instead of being devastated and overcome by them.” These are just a few of many gold nuggets you’ll pick up “running the ridge” with Blackwell.
His last chapter, with a focus on legacy, concerns how we will be remembered when we have departed this life: “Your legacy is the script you’re writing on the pages of history; the difference you make at some point in someone’s life will prompt a memory of you,” he writes, and you would prefer it to be positive.
“How do you leave a positive legacy? Ask yourself, ‘What can I do to make life better for others?’” Blackwell writes.
As for his own legacy, he says he still has much he wants to do at BCH. “But,” he says, “they’re not going to have to carry me out of my office. I want to have two or three weeks of retirement before I die!
“I want to end my tenure – in office and on earth – waving the checkered flag of victory. I want to cross the finish line still accelerating. I’ll reach for the flag and take my victory lap with shouts of joy.”

12/27/2016 8:26:19 AM by BCH Communications | with 0 comments

Incoming N.C. gov. negotiates restroom law repeal

December 21 2016 by Evan Wilt, WORLD News Service

After months of angry debate over North Carolina’s restroom law, state lawmakers are debating whether to repeal it.
North Carolina Republicans passed House Bill 2 (HB2) in response to a Charlotte ordinance that forced city businesses to open their restrooms based on gender identity. Signed in March, HB2 superseded the ordinance before it took effect. The state law requires persons to use restrooms and locker rooms according to the sex listed on their birth certificates and applies to government buildings, schools and universities. It blocks municipalities, such as Charlotte, from adopting their own restroom rules.
The Charlotte City Council voted Dec. 19 to repeal a portion of its original ordinance with the goal of taking down HB2 with it. Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat, announced within minutes of the vote that the North Carolina General Assembly would meet to repeal HB2.
“Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called for Tuesday to repeal HB2 in full,” Cooper said in a statement. “I hope they will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full. Full repeal will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”
A session was called for Wednesday, but some lawmakers are saying they will not follow the alleged plan to repeal HB 2.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said in a press release, “I support HB 2 and do not favor its repeal.”
Vitriol over HB2 emboldened several businesses to boycott North Carolina, costing the economy potential revenue streams and jobs. Liberal states such as New York and Washington issued travel bans to the Tar Heel state and musicians such as Bruce Springsteen canceled scheduled concerts.
The sports world weighed in as well, with the NBA moving its 2017 All-Star weekend from Charlotte to New Orleans and the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference both canceling championship contests at North Carolina venues.
On the campaign trail, Cooper frequently attacked Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, for signing HB2 and sticking by it amid constant pressure.
North Carolina voters were almost evenly split between the two candidates. The election was so close McCrory called for a recount and didn’t formally concede defeat until nearly a month after Election Day.
The Charlotte City Council said it repealed its ordinance based on the agreement statewide lawmakers will repeal HB2. McCrory said the agreement proved Democrats never really cared about protecting transgender persons but merely wanted to get him out of the governor’s mansion.
“This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proved this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state,” said Graham Wilson, a McCrory spokesman.
McCrory often said HB2 was necessary to protect people from Charlotte’s problematic ordinance, which would have allowed men to enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms legally.
According to The Charlotte Observer, McCrory attempted months ago to negotiate a deal similar to what the city council agreed on Monday. But Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, and city council members rejected it.
Now that the city ordinance is gone, the previous expectations of privacy in showers, restrooms, and locker rooms will continue to be protected under existing state law, Wilson noted.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Evan Wilt writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine,, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission. BR Content Editor Seth Brown contributed to this story.)

12/21/2016 11:08:57 AM by Evan Wilt, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

Gatlinburg man grieves loss, forgives suspects

December 21 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A Gatlinburg, Tenn., man who lost his wife and two daughters in the wildfires that swept through the area has extended forgiveness publicly to two juveniles suspected of starting the blaze.

Michael Reed – whose wife Constance, 34, and daughters Chloe, 12, and Lily, 9, died at their home Nov. 28 – wrote about the tragedy in a Facebook post reported by various media outlets. “I forgive you,” he wrote. “My son forgives you ... We know you didn’t mean for this to happen. We know you would take it all back if you could.

Submitted photo
Michael Reed, whose wife Constance died Nov. 28 in a wildfire along with two of their children, extended forgiveness to two arson suspects in a Facebook post.

“We will pray for you. Every day. We will pray for your parents and your family members,” Reed stated in a Dec. 15 open letter to the suspects. “Every day. We will pray for your peace. We will show you grace. Why? Because that’s what Jesus would do. Faith ... Hope ... Love ... The greatest of these is love.”
The suspects’ arrests were announced Dec. 7. Their names and genders have not been released.
According to Knoxville’s WBIR television, Reed and his son Nicholas went for a drive Nov. 28 and didn’t realize how close the fire was to their house until Constance Reed called to report flames across the street. The couple expressed their love for one another on the phone, and Michael told Constance to call 911.
They never spoke again. The three deaths were announced at a press conference Dec. 3.
WBIR reported Dec. 4 that the entire family attended Parkway Church of God in Sevierville, Tenn., and “all accepted Christ into their lives this past month.”
Parkway Pastor Philip Morris declined to be quoted for this story, but he confirmed that all five Reeds joined Parkway Oct. 30. He also noted that a requirement for church membership is a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Reed told the Knoxville News-Sentinel he believes his wife and daughters would want him to forgive the two suspects.

Submitted photo
Lily, front, and Chloe Reed died Nov. 28 in Gatlinburg, Tenn., wildfires. They are survived by their brother Nicholas.

“If you live your whole life holding a grudge against everybody who has ever hurt you, then you will be lonely the rest of your life,” Reed said. “The true definition of a Christian is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. I hurt and can be angry with them. This is not how our life was supposed to be. But if Jesus has forgiven me and my neighbors for our sins, I have to follow in His footsteps.”
Reed’s open letter is posted on the “Gatlinburg Fire Missing or Found” Facebook page. It apparently also appeared on his personal Facebook page, but the News-Sentinel told Baptist Press Reed’s page currently is offline.
“As I learned of your arrests last week I sat in silence for a long time,” Reed wrote. “You may be too young to understand this, but even through this tragedy I can feel God with me and my son.
“... As humans, it is sometimes hard to show grace. We hold grudges. We stay angry. We point the finger and feel we have to lay the blame somewhere. It’s human nature and completely understandable. But I did not raise my children to live with hate. I did not teach my girls or my son to point the finger at others. John 8:7 says ‘Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.
“Forgiveness isn’t for you,” Reed stated. “It’s for me. It’s for my son. It’s for Constance, Chloe, and Lily. It is for this community who lost so much in this tragedy.”
According to media reports, the fire started Nov. 23, killing at least 14 people and destroying more than 2,400 homes and businesses.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

12/21/2016 11:07:21 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Diversity, smaller churches in Pastors’ Conf. line-up

December 21 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

On Sunday mornings in the ballroom of a New Orleans country club, Ryan Rice Sr. preaches to about 55 worshippers at the Southern Baptist church he founded in 2015. The full-time pastor seeking his first seminary degree is among 12 leaders chosen to preach at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference June 11-12 in Phoenix.

Ryan Rice Sr.

“I was humbled and surprised at being selected as a speaker for the pastors’ conference,” Rice, pastor of Life Church, told Baptist Press (BP). “This is such a great honor to be on stage with other great men of God who have a desire to see Christ exalted.”
Rice, an African American, is among a culturally diverse line-up of pastors including six Anglo, three African Americans, one Jamaican American, a Cuban American and an Asian American. And nearly all pastor churches that average well under 500 in Sunday morning worship attendance, said Pastors’ Conference President Dave Miller.
Their selection to preach at the event was the result of an intentional attempt to choose ethnically diverse leaders of what Miller describes as the “average-size” Southern Baptist church.
“I’m hoping to demonstrate that the Southern Baptist Convention has some great resources in churches of 150 and 200 and 250 people,” Miller told Baptist Press. “The smaller churches have some really high-quality leadership.”
The conference speaker selection team is not opposed to mega church pastors, Miller said, but simply chose to showcase the resources available in the average-size church. He also hopes the change will encourage the majority of Southern Baptist pastors.
“Just because a church is small doesn’t mean that the leadership is bad or that it’s defective,” Miller said. “There are some great guys out there laboring in [average-size] churches that because of the community, or because of some reason, the church stays a certain size.”
But Miller noted, “The star of the Pastors’ Conference is going to be the book of Philippians, and our men are going to preach through the text, and I believe that will be encouraging. It’s a great book and it’s about a message we need to hear.”
In addition to Rice, who leads a multi-ethnic congregation of black, white and Hispanic members, other speakers – with ethnicity and SBC Annual Church Profile average attendance as available – are Jose Abella, Providence Road Baptist Church, Miami, Cuban American, 217; Michael Allen, Uptown Baptist Church, Chicago, Jamaican American, 164; Jamar Andrews, Word Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ark., African American; Bart Barber, First Baptist Church, Farmersville, Texas, Anglo, 375; David Choi, Church of the Beloved in Chicago, Asian American, 400; Chris Davis, Groveton Baptist Church, Alexandria, Va., Anglo; Shane Hall, First Southern Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Okla., Anglo, 687; Jimmy Meek, Immanuel Baptist Church, El Dorado, Ark., Anglo, 390; John Onwuchekwa, Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, African American; Spencer Plumlee, Riverview Baptist Church, Osage Beach, Mo., Anglo, 300; and Nathan Rose, Liberty Baptist Church, Liberty, Mo., Anglo, 171. Attendance numbers were not available for newest church plants.
There are many quality Southern Baptist expository preachers, Miller said.
“We just felt like it was time for the churches that comprise the Southern Baptist Convention to take a shot at this,” said Miller, who pastors Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, with an average Sunday attendance of 140. “My experience has all been in these [average-size] churches and I happen to know that there are some really good preaching and some really good people and some quality leadership in these churches.”
A total of 150 preachers were nominated as speakers, according to Pastors’ Conference statistics.
Adam Blosser, a member of the selection team, blogged about the selection process Dec. 15 on SBC Voices.
“We began by making sure that every preacher was listened to by at least two members of our team. From there we were able to narrow the list of approximately 150 preachers down to about 40 preachers,” Blosser wrote. “These 40 preachers received additional consideration from some of the members of our team. We then gathered together in a hotel conference room in St. Louis, listened to sermons, discussed what we heard, and put together a list of 12 speakers for the conference.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

12/21/2016 11:06:37 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Kasich: Veto of ‘heartbeat bill’ was strategic

December 21 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

In an action that drew divided response from the pro-life community, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Dec. 13 banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and vetoed a measure outlawing abortion following detection of a fetal heartbeat.
The 20-week ban includes an exception only for saving the life of the mother, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The so-called “heartbeat bill” would have banned most abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy.
Kasich, a Republican, said in a statement he strives “to strengthen Ohio’s protections for the sanctity of human life” but believes enacting a fetal heartbeat law is not a wise legal strategy at present.
“Certain provisions” of the Heartbeat Bill – Amended Substitute House Bill 493 – “are clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion,” Kasich said.
“Similar legislation enacted in two other states has twice been declared unconstitutional by federal judges, and the Supreme Court declined to review those decisions. Because the federal courts are bound to follow the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion,” the bill “will be struck down,” Kasich said.
“The State of Ohio will be the losing party in that lawsuit and, as the losing party, the State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers,” Kasich said. “Furthermore, such a defeat invites additional challenges to Ohio’s strong legal protections for unborn life. Therefore, this veto is in the public interest.”
The bill Kasich signed – Senate Bill 127 – imposes the 20-week ban based on evidence babies aborted after that point can feel pain.
“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates,” Kasich said, “that S.B. 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life.”
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis thanked Kasich for saving “hundreds of unborn lives each year” and positioning Ohio “to directly challenge” the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion ruling. He added that vetoing the Heartbeat Bill “required the governor to exercise great restraint.”
Heartbeat laws that have been ruled unconstitutional “never took effect and saved not one unborn life,” Gonidakis said. “Legal scholars believe that asking the Court to entertain a third heartbeat law at this time would cause irreparable harm to the pro-life movement.”
Even if President-elect Donald Trump fills the current Supreme Court vacancy with a pro-life justice, Gonidakis said, the court likely will retain “a pro-abortion majority.”
Janet Porter, president of the pro-life group Faith2Action, views Kasich’s veto differently.
The governor, Porter said in a statement, “betrayed life, broke his pro-life promises and turned his back on 20,000 babies whose heartbeats can be heard.”
Porter added that “the battle is not over” and urged the state legislature to override Kasich’s veto.
While the Senate passed the Heartbeat Bill by a veto-proof majority, the 56 votes it received in the House fell short of the 60 needed for a three-fifths override vote, The Dispatch reported.
Ohio law already forbids abortions after 24 weeks, with those between 20 and 24 weeks requiring “a medical finding that the fetus is not viable,” according to The Dispatch.
Some 145 of nearly 21,000 abortions in Ohio last year occurred after 20 weeks, The Dispatch reported.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

12/21/2016 10:45:28 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Bobby Bowden documentary in theaters Jan. 8

December 21 2016 by Baptist Press staff

Legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden and his family will kick-off the NCAA Football National Championship weekend next month with the release of the true story, The Bowden Dynasty: A Story of Faith, Family and Football.

The film explores the life and career of Bowden, the winningest coach in college football.
“There is no question Coach Bobby Bowden is a legend on the grid-iron, but he also is a man that has ‘run the race’ in order to live a life that honors God in all he does,” said Trey Reynolds, director of LifeWay Films, which is partnering with the film’s promotion. “We encourage churches, small groups and families to go to theaters Jan. 8 and experience The Bowden Dynasty on the big screen.”
Coach Bowden noted, “The most amazing thing about our dynasty years is how consistent we were. But what makes those dynasty years so ridiculously satisfying is that we ended each season ranked no lower than number four in the polls, won two national championships, played for three others and won 11 bowl games, including nine in a row.”
“None of us thought about these things at the time,” he said. “Nor did we plan for them. In hindsight, I realize we accomplished something unique in college football history.”
From 1987 to 2000, the Florida State Seminoles thrilled their fans with 14 consecutive top-four seasons with 10 or more wins. Beginning with a come-from-behind victory in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl, Bobby Bowden’s teams began a flirtation with perfection. In seven of those seasons they lost only one game. More often than not, the players’ quest for a perfect season came down to one play where mere inches or seconds determined the outcome.
The feature documentary’s all-star cast includes: Fred Biletnikoff, the Bowden family, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Johnson, Jim Kelly, Burt Reynolds, Nick Saban, Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, Peter Warrick and more. The film was produced by John Corry, along with Rob Harvell and Brian Goodwin (ESPN Films’ The Book of Manning).
The Bowden Dynasty will be shown in U.S. theaters for a one-night premiere on Sunday, Jan. 8 live at 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central and tape-delayed to 6 p.m. MT/6 p.m. PT. The event will be broadcast live from the Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla., on the eve of the NCAA Football National Championship happening across the bay in Tampa. Following the feature presentation will be an exclusive question-and-answer session and presentation with Coach Bowden and special guests.
Tickets can be purchased online by visiting or at participating theater box offices which are available on the site. More information about the film is available at
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This report was compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources and Baptist Press.)

12/21/2016 10:30:00 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments

Moore clarifies comments on Trump supporters

December 20 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Russell Moore has clarified that he never intended to criticize all evangelical supporters of President-elect Donald Trump, noting many were motivated by “biblical convictions” and “voted their conscience.”

Russell Moore

In a Dec. 19 blog post, Moore acknowledged “pointed conversations in my denominational family about the election” over the past month, “some of them ... directed at me.”
“I remember one situation where I witnessed a handful of Christian political operatives excusing immorality and confusing the definition of the gospel,” Moore wrote. “I was pointed in my criticisms, and felt like I ought to have been. But there were also pastors and friends who told me when they read my comments they thought I was criticizing anyone who voted for Donald Trump.
“I told them then, and I would tell anyone now: if that’s what you heard me say, that was not at all my intention, and I apologize. There’s a massive difference between someone who enthusiastically excused immorality and someone who felt conflicted, weighed the options based on biblical convictions, and voted their conscience,” Moore wrote.
Moore’s blog post was published the same day as a Wall Street Journal article about the ERLC president with the headline “Baptist figure faces backlash over his criticism of Donald Trump.”
Moore has voiced criticism of Trump’s candidacy since at least September 2015.
The Journal, to whom Moore provided an advance copy of his blog post, included critiques of Moore by former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham, Louisiana Baptist Convention executive director David Hankins and former Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee chairman William Harrell among others.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and evangelical voter Ruth Malhotra, a millennial Republican who opposed Trump, expressed support for Moore to The Journal.
ERLC trustee chairman Ken Barbic told Baptist Press (BP) Moore “is a gospel centered and faithful voice for Southern Baptists.”
“He speaks with prophetic clarity to the pressing cultural and ethical issues of our time, with which every Christian must wrestle,” Barbic, a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, said in an email. “I am particularly grateful for his courageous and convictional leadership, under which I’ve observed within our convention and beyond, significant newfound energy and excitement about the work of the ERLC the last several years. I have had the privilege of seeing up close the remarkable efforts he leads the ERLC to undertake here in Washington, across this country and abroad, all of which make me thankful for his leadership within the Southern Baptist Convention.”
In the Journal article, Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and a member of Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, cited Moore’s criticism of Trump during the presidential campaign for alleged “disrespectfulness towards Southern Baptists and other evangelical leaders, past and present.”
“It’s disheartening that this election has created this kind of divisiveness,” Graham said, adding Prestonwood is “considering making major changes in our support of the Southern Baptist Convention,” presumably a reference to designating financial gifts to specific SBC causes rather than giving through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified channel of supporting missions and ministries in America and worldwide, including the ERLC.
Hankins told The Journal he knows of churches that “have said they are going to” divert their giving away from the ERLC. Messengers to this year’s Louisiana Baptist Convention annual meeting referred to the convention’s Executive Board a motion regarding concerns with the ERLC.
Harrell, EC chair from 2006-08, made a similar assertion about churches’ potentially withholding funds from the ERLC in a Nov. 15 blog post, stating the ERLC “was never meant to be a political voice which would promote a certain candidate or ... discourage people from voting for another one.”
As examples of allegedly inappropriate statements by Moore, Harrell, a retired Georgia pastor, cited a Sept. 2015 New York Times op-ed, in which Moore argued “evangelicals and other social conservatives” must “repudiate everything they believe” to support Trump, and a Jan. 2016 Roll Call article that quoted Moore as stating, “Ted Cruz is leading in the ‘Jerry Falwell’ wing [of evangelicalism], Marco Rubio is leading the ‘Billy Graham’ wing and Trump is leading the ‘Jimmy Swaggart’ wing.”
Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wrote in an email obtained by, “I am utterly stunned that Russell Moore is being paid by Southern Baptists to insult them.”
In support of Moore, Mohler told The Journal in an email, “I know his heart and his character and his love for the Southern Baptist Convention. I also have confidence in his ability to serve all Southern Baptists as president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.”
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Provost Jason Duesing and former SBC president Bryant Wright have expressed similar sentiments.
Duesing wrote in a Nov. 8 blog post that Moore and the ERLC staff fulfilled their ministry assignment well during the presidential election season.
“While no leadership team of the convention’s public policy arm, past or present,” Duesing wrote, “can carry out this task with perfection or to the full approval of every member of the churches they serve – nor should they be held to that unassailable expectation – it is always right to express thanks to them and for them for their service, courage, and efforts. Particularly, that is true during this election year.”
Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., tweeted May 9 following criticism of Moore by Trump, “Coming from Trump, this is a badge of honor. Thankful for Russell Moore’s leadership.”
In May, Trump mentioned Moore by name when he tweeted, “Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!” to which Moore responded on MSNBC, “I am a nasty guy with no heart, which is why I need forgiveness of sins and redemption through the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The Journal quoted Malhotra, a 32-year-old Baptist, as illustrative of the “younger evangelicals” who allegedly support Moore and “who are becoming more diverse and [appear] to be turned off by the culture wars of their parents’ generation.”
Moore seemed to reference that supposed generational divide in an Oct. 9 op-ed for The Washington Post, in which he stated, “The [evangelical] old-guard is easier to engage in politics, because they find identity in a ‘silent majority’ of Americans. The next generation knows that our witness is counter to the culture.”
Moore called “reaffirmation of support for Trump” by members of “the old-guard Religious Right establishment” “a scandal and a disgrace” but “not ... a surprise.” His op-ed followed reports of “sexually predatory recorded comments” made by Trump.
In his Dec. 19 blog post, Moore clarified that “many Christians, including some of my very best friends and closest ministry partners approached the ballot box conflicted but felt compelled to cast a ballot for the ‘lesser of two evils,’ hoping for the best with a less than ideal president.”
Moore added, “We all owe it to our brothers and sisters in Christ to understand their convictions and be slow to judgment when biblical motivations are the primary motivators. In the heat of an extraordinarily divisive campaign, that is something all of us, myself included, are wise to remember.”

Read Moore's blog post here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

12/20/2016 10:47:19 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

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