February 2009

'Strong Marriages' Florida campaign begins

February 16 2009 by James A. Smith Sr., Baptist Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The man who led the successful effort to amend Florida's constitution last year to protect traditional marriage says it's now time for pastors, churches and individual Christians to examine their own marriages, asking "hard questions" about the Sunshine State's high divorce rate.

John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Policy Council, in announcing a "Strong Marriages Florida" campaign, said the initiative will seek a 10 percent reduction in the state's divorce rate, saving taxpayers $100 million per year.

Other goals of the campaign (www.Yes2Marriage.org) are to increase the number of couples receiving premarital counseling, strengthening existing marriages and creating community awareness that celebrates marriage.

Florida leads the nation in the number of divorces, according to provisional data in the National Vital Statistics Reports for 2007 from the Centers for Disease Control, which includes data for all but California and five other "nonreporting" states. After Florida's 86,387 divorces in 2007, Texas came next with 79,469 reported in the CDC data.

Although the Strong Marriages Florida campaign ultimately will seek certain public policy changes — including modifying "no-fault" divorce — Stemberger said it first will focus on what churches can do to positively impact marriage.

According to Stemberger, in 1969 California Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the nation's first no-fault divorce law, which every state quickly followed, with the exception of New York.

"No-fault divorce has been a sociological disaster," Stemberger said during a Feb. 3 news conference in Tallahassee. "It is responsible for more impoverished single mothers, more irresponsible dads taking off whenever they want, more broken families and destroyed children's lives."

People can "get out of marriage easier than you can get out of a credit card," Stemberger said. "Something's not right with that when marriage is the primary socializing institution."

With a higher divorce rate than more populated states, Stemberger said Florida's 86,000-plus divorces per year come at great cost to families as well as society.

"Family fragmentation resulting from divorce and unwed childbearing has enormous social costs — human costs and financial costs," he said. "We have social costs involved with children and the effects upon them, business costs — lowered productivity, lowered profits — and the staggering burden upon taxpayers and revenues in the state."

Stemberger cited a 2008 study released by Institute for American Values and other organizations that found Florida spends $1.9 billion per year in response to divorce, fragmented families and unstable marriages. The cost to the nation is at least $112 billion annually, according to the study.

Two marriage advocates joined Stemberger in the news conference, Richard Albertson and Mike McManus.

Albertson, of Tallahassee-based Live the Life Ministries, has been the point person in creating a community marriage policy adopted by 70 area churches from various denominations. The churches have banded together to require certain premarital counseling practices and other steps for prospective spouses.

In the decade since the creation of the policy, divorce has dropped nearly 30 percent in Leon County, according to Albertson, with the number of divorces falling below 1,000 in 2007 for the first time in 20 years.

"People from all walks of life across the country are coming together in a growing marriage movement," Albertson said. "They are turning the tide in dozens of cities ... proving that if we act, if we can work together, we can restore marriage as the treasured institution that it once was."

Syndicated columnist Mike McManus, a national leader in the marriage movement, said a "left hand, right hand punch" of pastoral strategy and public policy strategy is needed to reverse divorce in America.

Author of Marriage Savers and other books about marriage and divorce, McManus has helped 200-plus cities create community marriage policies like the one used in Tallahassee. In those cities, divorce rates drop an average of 17 percent, according to McManus, with some cities, like Austin, Texas, and Kansas City, Kan., dropping 50 percent.

"It's important that both culture and policy work in cooperation to get the best results for protecting children and families," McManus said.

Although Stemberger did not offer specific legislation he would like the Florida legislature to pass, McManus said the types of public policy changes that could help reverse divorce trends include waiting periods before granting divorces, increasing premarital education hours, requiring couples to take premarital inventories, and modification of no fault divorce laws to require mutual consent in marriages with minor children, with certain exceptions.

2/16/2009 9:28:00 AM by James A. Smith Sr., Baptist Press | with 0 comments

GuideStone releases annual tax guide

February 16 2009 by Baptist Press

DALLAS — Ministers can receive additional help in preparing their federal income tax returns from GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The annual Ministers Tax Guide for 2008 Returns details recent changes to tax laws and their effect on ministers.

GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said the free tax guide includes sample tax returns with step-by-step instructions for active and retired ministers, as well as a special pull-out section regarding the federal reporting requirements for churches. "Our goal as a ministry," Hawkins said, "is to be a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security. The tax guide is a tangible example of that commitment."

Richard Hammar, a noted CPA, attorney and widely published author on legal and tax issues for ministers, once again authored the guide's overview of recent changes in tax laws. The guide is edited by GuideStone's legal and compliance staff to address the tax issues that affect the greatest number of Southern Baptist pastors.

The tax guide can be obtained in PDF format from the GuideStone web site, www.GuideStone.org. Printed copies or a CD version also be obtained by calling GuideStone customer service at (888) 98-GUIDE or (888) 984-8433 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.

2/16/2009 9:19:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

N.C. Baptists remove trees downed by ice storm

February 16 2009 by BR staff

N.C. Baptists have helped more than 175 families in Kentucky and are on their way to help more.

Volunteers from N.C. Baptist churches have been in Kentucky helping people recover from a major ice storm that hit the state Jan. 27. More than 30 people died and hundreds of thousands were left without power.

At the height of the disaster, more than 90 of Kentucky's 120 counties had declared emergencies. National Guard troops were activated to help people recover.

Gaylon Moss, who coordinates disaster relief for N.C. Baptist Men, said in an e-mail to supporters that 85 N.C. Baptist disaster relief volunteers removed tree debris from homes in Stanford, Ky. Four people prayed to receive Christ, including one who is 91 years old, he said.

Kentucky Baptists have asked N.C. teams to help people in Livingston County, which is northeast of Paducah, according to Moss. Teams are expected to begin work within the next few days.

“Please be in prayer for those who are still in need of assistance,” Moss said. “Also pray for the volunteers as they minister in Christ's name.”

2/16/2009 3:48:00 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments

FBI probes Angel Food Ministries

February 13 2009 by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Angel Food Ministries, a Georgia organization known for its distribution of food to needy families, is under investigation by the FBI.

Steve Lazarus, a spokesman for the FBI in Atlanta, confirmed today (Feb. 13) that agents used warrants in a search of the ministry's headquarters near Monroe, Ga. He declined to give details of the investigation.

According to tax forms posted on the York (Pa.) Daily Record web site, Angel Food CEO Joseph Wingo's compensation increased from $69,598 in 2005 to $588,529 in 2006. It decreased to $164,938 in 2007.

Wingo's wife, Linda, with whom he co-founded the ministry in 1994, also saw similar changes in pay. In her role as vice president, her compensation rose from $69,598 in 2005 to $544,043 in 2006 and dropped to $54,723 in 2007.

N.C. Baptist churches, along with other denominations, are involved in Angel Food Ministries. The Biblical Recorder, North Carolina Baptists’ newsjournal, recently did a story about churches that were involved.

Ronn Torossian, a spokesman for Angel Food Ministries, the work of the ministry continues despite the investigation.

"Attorneys for the ministry are working with government attorneys in insure a smooth provision of information while not disrupting ministry operations and the fulfillment of food orders," he said. "Angel Food's ministry is to provide affordable, high-quality food to those in need and we will continue to feed the needy."

Torossian said said the ministry is cooperating with the authorities.

"Our attorneys are in touch with and working with the authorities," he said in a statement.
"The Board of Directors for Angel Food Ministries has pledged its full cooperation to law enforcement in order to furnish any information requested."

Another spokesman for the ministry, Juda Engelmayer, told the York newspaper last month that the compensation was appropriate for a ministry that size. He said the high compensation and nearly $1.1 million in loans from the ministry were intended to repay reduce debt the Wingos incurred when they started the ministry.

The ministry sells boxes of food for $30 that feed a family of four for about a week. The food, purchased directly from suppliers at a significant discount, has an average retail value of $60. It is distributed in dozens of states with the help of volunteers at churches.

Angel Food has said it provided $95 million in direct food assistance to families in the U.S. in 2007.

2/13/2009 10:26:00 AM by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service | with 1 comments

Fire leads church to look to future

February 13 2009 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

A congregation whose sanctuary burned Feb. 8 is saying good-bye to the old but preparing to embrace new things, its pastor said.
The sanctuary of Penelope Baptist Church in Hickory burned to the ground hours before services were scheduled on Sunday. The building was a total loss.
Investigators couldn’t determine the exact cause of the fire, but foul play is not suspected.
The church’s pastor, David Grinnell, said several days after the fire that church members were doing fine.
“It was a very emotional time,” he said. “We’re coming out of it.”
The congregation is focusing on positive thoughts about the future, Grinnell said.

“We’re looking forward to some new things,” he said.

Misty Wilson Photography

David Grinnell, pastor, said a perfect cross was formed from two beams after one of the sanctuary walls fell.

Grinnell said some new members joined the church on the day of the fire and others are asking about becoming part of the church.
“God has something new for us,” he said. “We have confidence that He knows what He’s doing.”
The church is scheduled to hold a work day Feb. 14 to get the gymnasium in the church fellowship center ready to be the sanctuary. The gymnasium will seat about 840, and its lobby will seat about 100.
The center has two rooms. One can serve as a baby nursery, and one as a toddler nursery, Grinnell said. The congregation is revamping the Sunday School to fit in the remaining space in the educational building.
“We have the essentials to continue our work and ministries,” he said. “I’ve told them that we have to continue our ministries to the community.”
Grinnell serves as chaplain at the local fire department. The church also sponsors an after-school club at a nearby elementary school called “Club 316.” An average of about 100 children attend and more than 60 have come to know the Lord, he said.
The church is also working on a partnership with a church Africa.
“Adversity comes,” Grinnell said. “When it comes, you have to keep doing what the Lord wants you to do.”
Six fire departments reportedly put out the blaze. Other church buildings, including administrative offices and the educational building, had water, smoke and minor fire damage.
Construction on the sanctuary that burned was started in 1937 and completed in 1939, according to the church web site. The church was founded in 1888.
Church leaders think the church had adequate insurance. Other churches have sent love offerings and reached out to the congregation in other ways.
“We’re blessed,” he said.
Grinnell said one church has been amazing in its efforts to help. New Hope Baptist Church in Hickory has practically adopted Penelope.
Members of New Hope came to Penelope and brought more than 300 interlocking chairs, Grinnell said. New Hope is also allowing Penelope to use a projection system as long as it needs it.
“That church has really come to our aid,” Grinnell said.

New Hope’s pastor, Dale Watts, also told Grinnell that his church prayed for Penelope on the Wednesday night after the fire.
Grinnell asked for continued prayers.
“We’re excited,” he said. “We’re anticipating new things.”
Grinnell said he’s been on the news so much since the fire, people recognize him and come up to talk to him. The church averages about 220 in attendance, but the local fire marshall told the church that as many as 800 might attend the Sunday after the fire. A news crew from Charlotte television station is also expected to attend.
Grinnell said there was a moving moment when one of the sanctuary walls fell during the fire.

As smoke cleared, two beams formed a perfect cross.
“The cross stood on top of the rubble,” he said.
Grinnell said he took it as a sign that God was still with them.
“It was a message from the Lord,” he said. “It was very comforting at that moment.”
The pastor said he thinks its best that the church will never know the exact cause of the fire.
“I was praying that they would not find a cause,” he said. “I said, ‘Lord, let’s just move on past this.’”
Church members have come together since the fire, Grinnell said.
“I think they’re more unified than they ever been,” he said.

2/13/2009 9:39:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Church members team up for marathon

February 13 2009 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

No hills, no glory.

As Christopher Aho tried to pace himself during his nine-mile run, the hills were not a welcome sight. “No hills, no glory,” was a tagline on some of the shirts runners were wearing.

“It was the hardest leg,” Aho said of the Mayberry Team Marathon he ran with fellow church members from First Baptist Church in Mount Airy. “There were slight downhills but the hills were rougher each time.”

Aho, who is associate minister at FBC, has run other races before on his own or sometimes with other members in the church but never had he participated in a team marathon. In all 10 teams competed; four were from FBC, including a Masters team comprised of runners over age 40. Teams finished third, fourth, fifth and eighth. All of them were ahead of the Mt. Airy Police Department team, which came in ninth.

Contributed photo

Linda Denney, a member of the Masters age team in a marathon in Mount Airy, finishes her leg of her church’s marathon. Denney gets a high-five from fellow participant B.E. Coone. She was the oldest participant from First Baptist Church in Mount Airy. She is also the minister of music.

Another FBC staff member and the eldest member of the Masters team also ran the toughest leg consisting of about five miles of hilly roads. A grandmother, she tackled the hills with gusto.

One of the young adults who ran had a baby five months prior to the November race. There was also a father-daughter duo who ran and a senior in high school.

Amy Bledsoe, a mother and a real estate agent, was on the Masters Team.

“We had so much fun,” she said. “It was a good chance for different ages to be involved.”

Bledsoe was surprised her church had as many runners as they did.

Even though she had been involved in running groups within the church over they years, she said she had lost touch with some, at least about their running.

“It’s the fastest thing you can do to stay in shape,” Bledsoe said.

Her appearance in the local paper has been the source of many conversations within the community.

“Personally it’s been a good way  to put that out there as a witness,” she said.

Aho said some church members participated in the half marathon while the teams ran the half marathon route twice.

“It would be kind of cool if a couple of other churches” would join next year, Aho said.

Aho anticipates having at least five teams in next year’s race, maybe more. Some more people have said they’d like to tackle the half marathon.

“I think for a long time church recreation ministry has been one of two things — No. 1: based in a building – what can we do with this recreation center? No. 2: Recreation committee making sure we have a softball and basketball team,” Aho said.

Aho said it would make a big difference if churches could use “recreation activities to connect people in meaningful ways.”

He considers it an untapped area of ministry.

“Oftentimes we’re afraid we don’t make opportunities to interact with other people,” Aho said. “When we do we benefit from it.”

In the busy world of today, Aho said it is easy to get disconnected.

“Through Blackberries and e-mail and texting … we’re more connected with people in less meaningful ways,” he said.

Aho sees the need for balance between fellowship and relationship … “not just what trophies we take home.

“I think it’s the first step in the re-creation of the recreation ministry.”

2/13/2009 9:30:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

NAMB’s directs $1.2 million to GPS plan

February 13 2009 by Staff and wire reports

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) will spend up to $1.2 million in 2010 on a national evangelism strategy that came under fire last year for a lack of funding.

NAMB will offer funds toward a strategic national media buy to implement the evangelism emphasis called God's Plan for Sharing (GPS), according to a Baptist Press report.

In November, GPS was the focus of an analysis in the Georgia Christian Index. The article criticized NAMB for failing to adequately fund the effort when NAMB’s budget showed no line item for GPS promotion.

The money next year will be spent on television, radio, newspapers and Internet. The efforts will be coordinated with state conventions to ensure the most effective approach is used in each region.

NAMB will coordinate the buys through a single source, produce the media pieces and make them available for free to state convention partners that participate in GPS.

A Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) official said the BSC has not had contact with NAMB regarding media buys in North Carolina. Meetings later will determine the best approach in the state and how GPS will play into the BSC’s overall evangelism strategy.

Before the announced media buy, the BSC’s evangelism leader Don McCutcheon said GPS would likely be ancillary to the BSC’s evangelistic strategy.

The Baptist Press report said that as state conventions commit to participating in GPS, NAMB will work closely with state convention leaders in those states to strategize the best media approach for that state. States able to contribute more funding to the effort will be encouraged to do so.

BSC officials previously said there were no plans for the BSC to purchase media buys.

NAMB already has begun producing media that will be used in the GPS campaign. In late 2008, NAMB commissioned a comprehensive survey discover the most effective media tools to use when sharing Christ with those not in the church and those who do not have a relationship with Christ. The survey was conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources.

"So far our research shows us there is no approach more effective than an individual personally sharing Christ with a friend or family member," said Geoff Hammond, NAMB's president. "So we should never expect media to take the place of a one-on-one contact. But there are clearly things we can do to till the soil of a person's life so he or she will be more open when someone is there to plant a seed."

Hammond introduced GPS at the 2008 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. NAMB's goal is to make GPS adaptable enough to adjust to local and regional specific needs and sensitivities, yet cohesive enough to give the denomination a single point around which to organize evangelism activities.

Baptist associations in five states — Texas, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, California and Georgia — will begin piloting GPS materials this year in their areas. Information obtained in the pilots will shape final versions of initial GPS resources that will be available for 2010.

2/13/2009 9:07:00 AM by Staff and wire reports | with 0 comments

‘God is in control,’ Rainer tells LifeWay trustees

February 12 2009 by Chris Turner, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — President and CEO Thom S. Rainer matter-of-factly addressed trustees Feb. 9 and explained the challenges facing LifeWay Christian Resources in a sinking economy.

"If there is one thing I know for certain tonight it is that God is in control," he said.
Rainer began by saying the struggling economy likely will not improve before LifeWay moves into a new fiscal year Oct. 1. At the same time, he said LifeWay is doing well given the economic climate, and difficult decisions last year to reduce the company’s workforce and trim expenses are proving helpful.

"This is the toughest time LifeWay has known," he said. "Even during the Great Depression we had a loyal Southern Baptist base we could count on. Times have changed. Church practices have changed, and we are not immune to the greater economic realities. However, God has been gracious to us, and I believe He is going to guide us through this tough time."

Rainer referenced Deuteronomy 34 and Joshua 1, which record the death of Moses and remind God’s people that their earthly leader is gone. Israel is at an obvious crisis moment as Joshua takes leadership. God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous and then tells Moses’ successor, "Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9; HCSB).

"Ladies and gentlemen, I do not lose sleep at night worrying about LifeWay because I know that God is in control," Rainer said.

Rainer referenced a recent quote by billionaire investor Warren Buffet that "the U.S. is engaged in an economic Pearl Harbor," but added that LifeWay can learn some lessons from that fateful 1941 event. He briefly recapped that day of infamy and said that for the Japanese it proved to be a short-term tactical victory but a clear strategic failure because it drew the United States into war, which led to an eventual defeat of the Axis powers.

"People did not know if they could recover from Dec. 7, 1941," he said. "I am not saying the economy can compare to the loss of lives, but, like then, many are asking if there is hope. Many are looking to you for encouragement. They are asking where God is in this. I see great possibilities in the face of these times."

Rainer cited eight lessons LifeWay can learn from Pearl Harbor:

  1. Be prepared for surprises (make contingencies). "Last year we were looking ahead to what we saw as a devastating economic trend and we had to make some hard decisions regarding personnel deletions," Rainer said. "We wanted to be prepared for this economy. We look back and can see it was not our collective intellect but God’s wisdom. We can say we are not perfect but we have been prepared for what’s happened."

  2. Make adjustments quickly. Rainer said LifeWay’s leadership is constantly engaging in conversations to determine whether adjustments are needed across divisions and throughout the company.

  3. Be totally open and transparent. Rainer said his hope is that trustees understand there is "nothing we won’t share" with them and said he never wants them to be surprised. "We constantly ask if our trustees know about particular issues so you can hold us in trust," he said.

  4. Be open to opportunities. "Hear me," Rainer said. "We are not standing still. We are slowing down, but we are not standing still. If together we had not made some of the strategic moves we’ve made over the past few years we would not be in as good a position as we are in now. We look at those opportunities closely because the margin for mistakes is small, but we are not standing still."

  5. Have the best leaders lead. Rainer said LifeWay has "the best employees around, hands down." He said he sees people across the organization contributing great ideas to see LifeWay through the tough times.

  6. Stay true to core values. Rainer said that in times like these organizations feel pressured to compromise their vision and values, but LifeWay sees its vision and values statements as guiding principles to navigate treacherous times.

  7. Do not fear. Rainer restated Joshua 1:9 and firmly stated that now is the time to be strong and courageous in the Lord.

  8. Trust in God. "We need to go back to the endless promises of scripture and draw confidence from what God says," Rainer told the trustees. "We are facing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and possibly greater than that according to some. But we do not face that alone. The Lord our God is with us wherever we go. God is in control."

2/12/2009 10:11:00 AM by Chris Turner, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Darwin controversial in life, death

February 12 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

Two hundred years after his birth on Feb. 12, 1809, British naturalist Charles Darwin remains controversial.

ABP photo

Charles Darwin

His theory of evolution became the linchpin of modern science, but a majority of Americans believe God created humans in their present form. And textbook battles rage over whether teaching about evolution ought to be balanced with alternative theories like Intelligent Design.
The debate began 150 years ago with publication in 1859 of The Origin of Species. In it, Darwin argued that species were not distinct and direct creations of God but rather evolved from common ancestors.

Darwin didn’t invent the idea of biological evolution. His preface cited 34 authors who believed in modification of species or at least disbelieved in separate acts of creation. His concept of natural selection — the idea that organisms that inherit favorable traits over long periods of time survive while those with unfavorable traits become extinct — created a firestorm, however, because it contradicted the popular belief in the literal biblical account of creation.

Some liberal theologians embraced natural selection as the instrument of God’s design, but Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, one of the most prominent religious figures in England in the 19th century, called it “absolutely incompatible with the word of God.”

Darwin’s book also divided the scientific community. Thomas Huxley, a London lecturer and naturalist who opposed church control over science, coined the term Darwinism and compared Darwin’s achievement to theories of planetary motion of Copernicus. Huxley’s ardent defense of evolution earned him the nickname “Darwin’s Bulldog.” Scientist Richard Owen, meanwhile, inventor of the word “dinosaur,” viewed ideas in The Origin of Species as dangerous to society. He thought Darwin’s theory left too many questions unanswered and steered science away from its role of investigating God’s creation.

ABP photo

Charles Darwin remains controversial.

Darwin’s own views on the subject evolved during the first 50 years of his life. As a young man, he began studying for the clergy at Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge. He embraced philosopher William Paley’s famous metaphor of the watchmaker to argue that complexity of the universe implies an intelligent designer.
Introduced to botanist John Stevens Henslow, however, Darwin’s interest shifted to natural science, and Henslow, an Anglican minister, became one of his closest friends. Darwin first began having doubts about Paley’s argument from design with observations made during a five-year expedition journaled in his 1839 book The Voyage of the Beagle.
Darwin said in his autobiography he was “quite orthodox” while aboard the ship, and in fact was laughed at for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on points of morality.

“I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation,” Darwin said. His disbelief crept over him so gradually “that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct,” he explained.

Darwin’s main objection was the belief that if Christianity is true, all who do not believe will be punished eternally. “And this is a damnable doctrine,” he wrote.

“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble to us,” Darwin wrote, “and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”

Darwin’s book, however, was not overtly anti-religion. He used the word “Creator” several times, though scholars disagree about whether that was because by then he believed evolution was guided by a divine hand or simply to head off accusations that he was an atheist.

Darwin’s argument was that religious dogma should not trump reason. Arguing contrary to scientific observation on religious grounds, he observed, “makes the works of God a mere mockery and deception.”

“I would almost as soon believe with the old and ignorant cosmogonists, that fossil shells had never lived, but had been created in stone so as to mock the shells now living on the sea-shore,” he wrote.

Darwin kept his theories about evolution to himself for a long time, because he knew they would be explosive. Seventeen years before publishing The Origin of Species, he made an outline of reasons not to publish that included concern that trouble-making atheists would use it for their agenda and the church would scorn him.

Darwin’s health was too poor for him to spend much energy in the debate he launched, but his ideas grew into the mainstream so fast that by the time he published The Descent of Man in 1871, where he applied his concepts to human origins, there was little outcry.
Darwin died April 19, 1882, and was given a state funeral. He is buried in Westminster Abbey, a burial place reserved for kings, the famous and the great.

Related stories:
Young-earth creationists value literal reading of Bible
Scientific groups, court: 'Intelligent design' not science
Intelligent design renews science, religion debate

2/12/2009 3:22:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Hickory church loses sanctuary to fire

February 11 2009 by From staff reports

The sanctuary of a N.C. Baptist church in Hickory burned to the ground hours before services were scheduled on Sunday, according to published reports.

The sanctuary at Penelope Baptist Church was a total loss, the Hickory Daily Record reported.

Investigators couldn’t determine the exact cause of the fire, but foul play is not suspected, according to the paper.

The congregation worshipped in the gymnasium of its fellowship center on Sunday. The church office has been temporarily relocated to the center, according to a statement on the church web site.

“During the coming days and weeks we ask that you keep our church family in your prayers,” the statement said. “Also be patient with us as we try to put things back to some semblance of order.”

Six fire departments responded to the scene to put out the blaze, the Record reported.

Other church buildings, including administrative offices and the educational building, had water, smoke and minor fire damage.

Construction on the sanctuary that burned was started in 1937 and completed in 1939, according to the church web site. The church was founded in 1888.

“We are a ‘come back’ church,” pastor David Grinnell told the Hickory newspaper. “This church has been in existence for 120 years and has made it through some tough times. And we'll do it again this time.”

2/11/2009 8:33:00 AM by From staff reports | with 0 comments

Displaying results 31-40 (of 59)
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6  >  >|