February 2010

Blend colors: Joiner urges rethinking ministry

February 24 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

People enamored by things they’ve built are unwilling to change until it hurts more to stay the same, according to Reggie Joiner, who has become a change agent for churches throughout the country.

Leading an “Orange” conference at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point Feb. 9 for church staffs, primarily youth and children’s ministers, Joiner walked them through processes to rethink ministry that is either “red” or “yellow” and blend it into orange.

He said red and yellow represent church and family and each can do only part of a ministry to children and youth. When you combine colors, you get a third color that opens completely new possibilities.

Instead of church staff implying that they can “fix the spiritual needs” of children and youth if families simply turned the children into the care of staff, ministers need to incorporate family members in ministry to multiply the positive effect.

He suggested carving 10-20 percent of time to work with families of youth and children and to help them address the questions their children will have during the 3,000 hours they’re at home and awake each year.

People are proud of what they’ve built and believe it should “be current and valid a lot longer than it is,” Joiner said, encouraging participants to be willing not just to make changes in the way they minister, but to upgrade frequently.

Joiner, one of the six original persons who founded the mega church North Pointe in Atlanta, pulled a 1984 version Macintosh computer off a table to demonstrate computing. When the audience snickered, he admonished them not to laugh because that machine in its day “started a revolution.”

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Reggie Joiner, right, with Brian Upshaw of the Baptist State Convention, shares with church leaders the importance of teamwork in ministry.

But when Apple’s founders saw that Mac computer roll off the assembly line, they didn’t slap themselves on the back and say, “We did it. We’re done.”

He then pulled from a mailing envelope a Mac Book Air, a light, thin, powerful Macintosh that virtually everyone in the audience wished they had, and said there were about 40 computer models between the original Mac and this one, each meeting the needs of its day, and none being the ultimate computer that would prompt designers to say, “We’re done.”

Too many churches are stuck in a time warp, Joiner said, because it is “so easy for us to build something and think it should last because we built it.”

Church leaders are slow to upgrade their offerings “because change seems too costly,” he said. But churches are “afraid of the wrong thing.” He said churches fear the cost of change when they should fear the cost of not changing.

For example, he said church leadership hesitates to initiate changes for fear of those members who might leave, when they should rather fear for the souls of those they might never reach if they do not change approaches to move from their time warp.

“One hundred years from now the only thing that will matter is a person’s relationship to God,” Joiner told the 140 who filled a children’s worship area at Green Street. So he encouraged them not to cling too long and too desperately to programs that met a need earlier, and might not meet that need today.

It is essential that church leadership meet regularly together so that every area is on the same page. Youth ministry should not have a different agenda than children’s ministry or benevolent ministry.

If you are not around the same table, you cannot have a comprehensive plan, he said.  Each time staff evaluates what they are doing, it gives them a chance to distinguish between core values and cultural habits in the church.

While we expect international missionaries to study language and culture in the nation where they serve, “We’ve forgotten how to be missionaries in our own land,” Joiner said. You can’t just add new ideas onto what you are already doing. You might need an entire new system.

For example he said he could not possibly download a modern Photoshop program onto his old Macintosh computer.

In the same way, “you can’t just take off your tie and have a contemporary service,” he said.

More teamwork is involved by connecting adults in the church to teens as mentors and disciplers.

While churches will never effectively compete with the entertainments of culture, “culture can never compete with the kinds of relationships you put together with kids,” he said.

During a recent meeting with 15 prominent youth leaders, Joiner asked them what they would do if they could do just one thing with their youth.

They all said, “I would do ministry with them.”

Leading by example, in relationship and plugging them into discipleship and service will cement their faith far more than creating another class or activity, he said.

The Orange event was sponsored by the Congregational Health group at the Baptist State Convention.

Group leader Lynn Sasser said the target audience was those who attend the Catalyst event in Atlanta. He has 100 tickets already purchased for the event that typically draws 12,000 from around the country.

To secure preferred seating with one of those tickets contact Brian Upshaw at bupshaw@ncbaptist.org.
2/24/2010 7:18:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 1 comments

Faith stirs bobsled duo to ‘work stuff out’

February 24 2010 by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

WHISTLER, British Columbia — Erin Pac and Elana Meyers may be bobsled teammates, but they haven’t always been the best of friends.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Fede

U.S. bobsledding teammates Erin Pac, left, and Elana Meyers, both Christians, have a mended relationship as they begin competition at the Winter Olympics.

The U.S. bobsledding duo had a falling out last year. Though they decline to go into details, “We didn’t speak for a long time,” Pac said.

Not content to let things remain that way, however, the two women — both Christians — began working on their relationship. And now, as they prepare to compete together at the Winter Olympics, they have repaired their friendship and are ready to race not for their own achievement, but for God’s glory.

“It’s taken a lot of time and forgiveness,” Pac said. “I’m so happy that we can work stuff out and ... and be a light for Him.”

During her first year competing in the sport, Meyers served as Pac’s brakeman. In Meyers’ second year, she began switching drivers, which opened the door to the division between the two.

“It’s hard because one week you’re with a pilot, and then the next week you’re on a competing sled,” Meyers said. “So relationships get strained and things happen. It’s just a difficult sport to be in.”

In a lot of ways, Pac and Meyers are drastically different. Pac grew up in Connecticut and began bobsledding at the prompting of her college track coach. She started out as a brakeman but didn’t make the Olympics in that role, so she switched to piloting.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Fede

Elana Meyers

“The reason I decided to become a driver is because you are then in control of your own destiny to make the Olympic team,” Pac said. “It’s basically on the driver’s shoulders to make the Olympic team. It’s what happens down the hill, not when we’re just about to start.”

Meyers, meanwhile, hails from the warm state of Georgia and grew up playing softball, even playing professionally before deciding to take a different path with her life.

She watched bobsledding in the 2006 Olympics and started e-mailing people in an attempt to get involved with the sport.

Before she knew it, she got a tryout.

But as different as Pac and Meyers might be, the bonds that unite them are stronger than their divisions. Both of them came to faith in Christ as adults and are committed to being a witness to others in their sport.

“A lot of my teammates come to me if they need to talk, if they need encouragement, anything like that,” Pac said. “I think that’s God showing through me. Because I can’t do that on my own. I can’t help encourage other athletes who I’m competing against. That’s hard for me. I definitely think He’s trying to speak through me in the sport.”

For Meyers, her walk with the Lord helps her keep bobsledding from being a higher priority than it should be.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Fede

Erin Pac

“I used to be a person, before I accepted Jesus as my Savior, that believed that sports was the be-all, end-all,” Meyers said. “Even though I said God was No. 1, I put sports No. 1. My relationship with Christ really allows me to keep bobsledding in its perspective. At the end of the day, God loves me whether I win a gold medal or whether I finish dead last.”

Their shared commitment to the Lord also has helped them overcome the obstacles in their relationship.

“I think our relationship has grown a lot, and what we do share in common is our faith,” Meyers said. “We both have strong faith, we both believe in God and Jesus and I think that helps a lot when we’re trying to do what we’re trying to do and compete for the glory of God on the world’s biggest sports stage.”

When Meyers and Pac take to the slide Feb. 23-24, they know that the past is behind them, and they can unite behind the goal of performing well in the Winter Games. “I think we can really pull together now and just be an awesome team,” Pac said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ellsworth, in addition to his work for BPSports, is director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)
2/24/2010 7:14:00 AM by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Chapman calls for sacrificial giving

February 24 2010 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Cooperative Program (CP) is the greatest missions funding mechanism in the history of Christendom and must be supported by sacrificial giving, Morris H. Chapman said in his final address to the Executive Committee in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 22.

“The Cooperative Program is a highly valued resource for missions, ministries and theological education,” said Chapman, who has announced his plans to retire as Executive Committee president in September.

Southern Baptists’ combined giving results in 86 percent of every dollar received for national causes going to the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, Chapman said.

This includes all Cooperative Program gifts, mission offerings and designated offerings to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entities.

“We can rejoice in the 86 percent that is being given to our mission boards from all the combined offerings that come to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Chapman said.

The remaining 14 percent is used to support theological education in six seminaries, as well as the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and facilitating ministries (SBC operating budget).

The Southern Baptist Convention has a need for “highly respected and greatly loved pastors who will stand up and declare the Cooperative Program for the missions and theological educational lifeline that it is and ask all pastors to do the same in their churches,” Chapman said.

As he departs his role as Executive Committee president, Chapman said his prayer will be that the Cooperative Program will reach greater heights than ever since its inception in 1925.

The Cooperative Program, he said, is a unique gift from God.

“Many other denominations wish they knew how to receive it, how to spend it, how to get it together. None have ever been successful. I don’t know why God chose to give the Cooperative Program to us, but it is a treasure,” he said.

Photo by Morris Abernathy

Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, said the Cooperative Program must be supported by the kind of sacrificial giving demonstrated by the widow in Mark 12.

Chapman advised against shifting funds from one ministry to another amid financial challenges.

“(CP) reallocation among the SBC entities is not the road to revival, nor will it create drastic changes in the witness of our convention. Reallocation to one entity takes away from another entity,” Chapman said. “The pie cannot be stretched any further than 100 percent. The amount of the gifts must increase. That’s the answer.

“The decline of the Cooperative Program is rooted in the failure of today’s church members to practice biblical stewardship and the failure of pastors to cast a vision that stirs the hearts of God’s people to engage in direct missions sponsored by the church and to give generously through the Cooperative Program in order that our collective witness will be an eternal flame for Christ,” Chapman said.

In just over one decade, the average percentage of undesignated receipts that churches give through the Cooperative Program has declined from 10 percent to 6 percent.

“If our churches would raise their Cooperative Program gifts by an average of 1 percent, the Cooperative Program increase for all SBC entities would be $36 million in a given year. The International Mission Board alone would receive half of that amount or $18 million. The six seminaries would receive roughly $1 million,” Chapman said.

He pointed to the parable of the widow’s mite in Mark 12, where the woman gave to God all of the money she owned. Though the amount was small, the sacrifice was enormous.

“Jesus had designed the teaching moment to illustrate that people usually look at the amount to determine Kingdom worth, when instead they should be looking either to the proportion or the sacrifice,” Chapman said. “The greater lesson to be learned from God’s word is that our giving is to be sacrificial.”

A lack of sacrificial giving among Southern Baptists in general is a matter of the heart, Chapman said, and it must be corrected if the convention hopes for a stable future.

“In my opinion, the old Southern Baptist ship of Zion is not sailing steadily. It is being battered by the winds and the waves, but that’s not unusual for this old ship,” Chapman said. “In the years I have served you, I sought to add ballasts in one place or another to give the seafaring craft increased stability.

“But it appears that we have seldom sailed on glassy seas and maybe never will. Perhaps I sought in times to do the impossible. ... I do believe, however, that someone had to be at the helm of the ship and I am thankful God gave me the opportunity to do my best although we may not have reached perfectly peaceful waters and a safe harbor.

“Today in America, I fear that too much is all about us rather than all about God. The present generations have convinced themselves that it is, after all, about them,” Chapman said.

“When Satan catches us off stride, sleeping at the wheel or staring into space, the father of lies leaps into action to keep us from taking the leap of faith required to refocus upon Jesus and not ourselves.

“May we all together as Southern Baptists sail the seas more effectively in the years to come.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.)
2/24/2010 7:10:00 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 2 comments

Former detainee calls note story ‘fabrication’

February 23 2010 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A national media report claiming American missions volunteers in a Haitian jail feared for their lives and had been lied to by their team leader was “a complete fabrication,” one of those volunteers told Oprah Winfrey Feb. 19.

NBC reported Feb. 6 that one of the jailed volunteers slipped a note through the bars of their cell that said in part: “We fear for our lives in Haiti. There is corruption and extortion. Laura wants to control. We believe lying. We’re afraid.”

The note purportedly added: “Please, you must listen. We have no way to call. Court will not let us have a say with anything about truth for us. We only came as volunteers. We had nothing to do with any documents and have been lied to.”

The report was “a complete fabrication,” Allen told Winfrey’s television audience via satellite from his home in Texas.

“I don’t know anything about that at all. I know what went on with the five men because we were together. The women were separated. Us five men had no ill feelings toward anybody.”

The 10 missions volunteers were charged with attempting to transport 33 Haitian children into the Dominican Republic, allegedly without proper documents. The 10 had planned on taking the children to an orphanage Silsby was establishing across the border.

Although police determined several of the children were not orphans, eight of the volunteers were released after Haitian parents told Judge Bernard Saint-Vil they had freely given their children to the American group.

The volunteers were released without bond after promising to come back to Haiti if further questions arise, The Associated Press reported.

Volunteer aid worker and former detainee in Haiti Jim Allen appeared with his wife Lisa on Oprah Winfrey’s television show Feb. 19.

Team leader Laura Silsby and an associate, Charisa Coulter, remain in detention while the judge investigates a trip they made to Haiti in December.

Allen told Winfrey he didn’t know anything about Silsby until he met her at the Miami airport on the way to Haiti. Winfrey asked what he thought about speculation that Silsby planned to make money by placing Haitian orphans with American families.

“During the whole trip, I didn’t get any indication myself that anything like that was going on,” Allen said. “It seemed like everyone in the group was legitimately concerned about the children and helping them, to the point that it was almost amazing to me they were so concerned.”

Although conditions in jail were difficult, Allen said he thought Haitian officials were doing the best they could with a bad situation.

Jail was “hard but they treated us as well as they could with what they had,” Allen said. “We slept on a concrete floor but we had a roof over our heads. We had one hot meal coming to us (each day); it was actually enjoyable and good.”

The roof of the prison leaked when it rained but Allen said his thoughts turned to homeless Haitians who had to sleep in the open because the earthquake destroyed their homes.

“They had it worse than I had it,” he said.

While he was shocked to find himself in prison, Allen said he understood the situation and trusted things would work out.

He said he recognized that Haitian authorities needed to go through their legal process and believed that when the facts were known the volunteers would be released.

“We had done nothing wrong,” Allen said. “I felt we would be coming home. I just didn’t know when it would happen.”

Allen is a member of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. Team members Carla Thompson, Nicole and Corinna Lankford, Charisa Coulter and Laura Silsby are members of Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho.

Three other detainees are from Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho: pastor Paul Thompson, his son Silas and church member Steve McMullen. Team member Drew Culberth is an assistant youth pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan.

Bethel Baptist is the only one of the three congregations not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.)
2/23/2010 9:30:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Raleigh church recovers stolen equipment

February 23 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

It’s back to business as usual at Korean First Baptist Church on Ray Road in Raleigh.

The Raleigh Police Department arrested four people Feb. 8, about a week after a break-in at the end of January, during a snowstorm weekend.

Two of the people arrested were juveniles.

“They were able to recover a lot of stolen property,” said Jerry Miller, the church’s English congregation pastor.

Thieves took two acoustic guitars, two electric guitars, a set of drums, a keyboard, an amplifier, instrument carrying cases and a soundboard.

“Most of that was recovered,” he said.

A Raleigh News & Observer article said the items stolen were valued at $11,000. In an effort to conceal their crime, the suspects poured hand sanitizer on the carpet and set it on fire.

In the N&O story Miller said fire damage was “minimal.” Three pews had burn marks.

Thieves entered the building by shattering two sliding glass doors at the rear of the sanctuary.

A church van was vandalized in the parking lot on Jan. 30.

Police are not sure if there was a connection.

Laura Hourigan, police spokeswoman, said the damage was contained in the sanctuary.

She said the police distributed flyers in the community including local pawnshops to be on the lookout for the stolen equipment.

Hourigan said a concerned citizen shared some possible suspect information, and a video at one of the pawnshops clearly showed the suspects selling the items.

Miller praised the community, churches, Raleigh Baptist Association and the Raleigh Police Department for their support after the robbery.

A portable soundboard was used at the following week’s service, and Miller said they were happy to have the equipment back for the next service.

A week after the arrests Miller said the church was asked to pray for the people arrested.

“Long-term we’re concerned about people’s lives,” Miller said. “We’ve seen God’s hand at work in this situation. We’re praying for a powerful change and impact in these teens lives … a powerful wakeup call to come to know Jesus.”

This is not the first incident at the church. Miller said last summer someone stole freon out of the church’s air conditioning unit.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — The Biblical Recorder is working on an upcoming package about church security. What are some ways your church secures its people and possessions? What works? What doesn’t? Contact Cagle at dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or 919-847-2127.)
2/23/2010 9:27:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Hedrick to retire from speedskating

February 23 2010 by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

VANCOUVER — U.S. speedskater Chad Hedrick finished sixth in the men’s 1500 meters Feb. 20 in the last individual race in his speedskating career. 

Hedrick still has the team pursuit event Feb. 26-27 but has announced he is retiring from speedskating after Vancouver.

“I think you can watch on video and know that my race looked a lot different than it did in the 1000 meter,” Hedrick said of his 1000 meter bronze medal performance. “I am so shocked that I did better in the 1000 meter than in the 1500 because I don’t even practice it, and that’s what’s tough for me to swallow right here.” 

Photo by David G. McIntyre/Genesis Photos

Speedskater Chad Hedrick has announced that Vancouver will conclude his Winter Olympics career.

Hedrick’s mission in Vancouver was to show the world that he is a different person than he was in 2006, when he won three medals.

Once considered to be the “Paris Hilton of speedskating” for his active nightlife, Hedrick has since married and had a daughter; in recent months he also had become a Christian and was baptized. On the top of his skating blade he has written the letters “CGIM,” which stands for “See God in me,” as a reminder to himself that the world is watching.

“This race doesn’t define me,” Hedrick said after the 1500 meters, a race which he considered his best event.

Now, with his life rooted in Christ, “I am much bigger than this race today,” he said.

In other weekend results from the Olympics, U.S. bobsled pilot John Napier and his brakeman Steven Langton finished in 10th place in the two-man competition. Napier also is a relatively new Christian and was baptized last year by pastor Derek Spain at Lake Placid Baptist Church in Lake Placid, N.Y. 

“I’m ecstatic about the finish of the race and how everything went,” Napier said. “I’ve had more fun here than I’ve ever had in my life. We raced well, we pushed well. I made a bunch of mistakes driving, but hopefully we can use it all as practice, and hopefully the Lord gives me the skills and form to pull together some successful runs and maybe get a medal for the guys (in the Feb. 26-27 four-man event).”

British skeleton racer Adam Pengilly, who attends an independent Baptist church in his homeland, finished in 18th place in his event.

Pengilly acknowledged before the Winter Games that this season had been the most difficult of his career, plagued by a knee injury and complications in recovering from that injury. But his intention is to continue competing in the sport, because that’s the path he believes the Lord has set before him.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., is covering the 2010 Olympics for Baptist Press.)
2/23/2010 9:22:00 AM by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Church roof investigation may take months

February 23 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

It may be months before investigators determine the cause of roof trusses collapsing Feb. 18 at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Clinton.

The incident killed one construction worker and put two others in the hospital.

“There’s just a lot of speculation as to what went wrong,” said Tony Rackley, chairman of the church’s board of deacons. “It’s too early to tell. Any time you’re doing a building project and there’s loss of life it’s sad.”

Rackley addressed the church Feb. 21 during the worship service. There was special prayer time for the two injured men and the family who lost a loved one.

“They’ve given the contractors the green light to get in there and clear the trusses out,” Rackley said Feb. 22 in a phone interview.

The new structure will include a sanctuary, pastor’s study and several rooms that will be designated later.

When it is complete it will be connected to the other buildings on the church’s campus.

The area that collapsed is where the cathedral ceiling is, Rackley said.

The trusses on the flat ceiling part were not damaged, but there was some minor exterior wall damage. The building and planning committee wants to do something permanent to recognize the loss of life at the facility. Rackley said it will most likely be a plaque.

“If I could choose a cause to this I would pick the wind and move on,” Rackley said, indicating the incident has been tough for all involved. “Your heart goes out to all of them.”

Rackley praised Clifton Halso, the general contractor on the project, for his “50 years of impeccable service. It’s very unfortunate for his company.”

Halso slipped into the church over the weekend and left an envelope at the church. Halso made a donation with a note thanking “the church for everybody being so nice and for understanding,” Rackley said.

Rackley said the goal is to finish building before the church’s 100th anniversary in October. He’s thankful for all the support.

“I know just as soon as it happened I began to get calls from area churches offering” to help, he said.
2/23/2010 9:16:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

GCR Task Force offers initial report

February 23 2010 by Bob Allen, ABP News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A task force studying ways to make the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) more effective recommended greater flexibility and cooperation among state and national entities in its initial progress report to the SBC Executive Committee Feb. 22.

Photo by Bob Allen/Associated Baptist Press

Task force chairman Ronnie Floyd, right, confers with SBC President Johnny Hunt during a press conference Feb. 22.

Task force chairman Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., said the group will meet at least once more before releasing a final report May 3 to be presented at the SBC annual meeting June 15-16 in Orlando, Fla.

While any structural changes suggested in the report would fall under purview of boards of trustees of various SBC entities, the task force proposed six specific components of a vision for Southern Baptists to champion in the future.

The first calls for a “new and healthy culture” that provides local Southern Baptist churches with a “missional vision” to present the gospel and make disciples in North America and around the globe.

“Our present culture represents First Corinthians 3 much more than First Corinthians 13,” Floyd said. “Envy, strife and division need to become unacceptable. Instead, let this world know us by the depths of our love for Jesus, the gospel and one another.”

The second component calls for the convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) to be “reinvented and released” to prioritize church planting in America among under-served people groups.

To do that, Floyd said, Southern Baptists must address “one of the stark realities” of the way the Convention currently functions. Two thirds of Cooperative Program dollars are spent among one third of the population that lives in the Bible Belt, while one third of the unified budget goes to the two thirds of Americans living in states in the West and Northeast with a much smaller Southern Baptist presence.

The task force recommends phasing out over four years cooperative agreements with Baptist state conventions through which NAMB shares the cost of certain missions personnel who are on state convention staffs. Floyd said ending the agreements would give NAMB freedom to budget for a national strategy instead of committing the bulk of its funds to established Baptist state conventions in the South.

Photo by Joe Westbury/The Christian Index

Milton A. Hollifield Jr., left, executive director/treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and GCR Task Force member J.D. Greear, center, pastor of The Summit in Durham, visit with Midwestern Seminary President Phil Roberts following the GCR Task Force presentation Feb. 22.

At the same time, Floyd said, globalization has flattened the world so that people groups engaged by highly trained International Mission Board missionaries are also found on American soil. A third component would allow the IMB to reach “unreached and under-served people groups without regard to any geographic limitations.”

Task force members said the strategy would create “a new synergy” between the North American and International mission boards.

“I think in Southern Baptist life it’s time for all hands on deck,” task force member Robert White told reporters. “If we can’t work together we need to learn how to work together.” The fourth component recommended by the task force is to move ministry assignments for promotion of the Cooperative Program and stewardship education from the SBC Executive Committee, which assumed them in a denominational restructuring in 1997, to the Baptist state conventions, which were understood to be primarily responsible for promoting and gathering funds for the unified budget when the plan was developed in the 1920s.

A fifth component reaffirms the Cooperative Program as the “central means” for supporting work of the convention, but also proposes a new nomenclature of “Great Commission Giving” for gifts designated to the Southern Baptist Convention, a state convention or local association instead of through the unified budget.

The final component calls for increasing the International Mission Board’s Cooperative Program allocation in the 2010-2011 budget by one percentage point to 51 percent, a both “symbolic and substantial” change that for the first time in history would mean that more than one half of money collected through the CP goes to international missions.

Viewing distribution of the Cooperative Program as a pie chart, that would require reducing spending to other ministries by 1 percent. The task force said moving assignments for Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education from the Executive Committee to state conventions should free up at least 1 percent of “facilitating ministries” that can then be reallocated to international missions. Floyd acknowledged the realignment would blur boundaries delineated in program assignments for various SBC entities developed over the years.

“Either we can sit back and play it safe with lines so clearly drawn you get your hand spanked if you cross over, or we can say: ‘Hey, let’s roll up our sleeves for the gospel. There’s plenty of lost people. Let’s go, and let’s make a difference,’” Floyd said.
2/23/2010 1:53:00 AM by Bob Allen, ABP News | with 0 comments

CBF Foundation leader to leave post

February 22 2010 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

ATLANTA — Don Durham, president of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) Foundation since 2002, is stepping down from the post at the conclusion of the 2010 General Assembly June 23-26 in Charlotte.

Durham, 40, who previously held development posts with United Methodist Family Services, Albright Care Foundation and Gardner-Webb University, said he has known for 20 years the day would come for him to leave an institutional setting for ministry in a local church.

A 1994 graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Durham said over a year ago he decided he wanted to move closer to his daughters in central North Carolina and pursue a bi-vocational ministry with people “for whom traditional church doesn’t typically work.”

Durham, who announced his plans to the CBF Coordinating Council Feb. 18, said he has been working with the foundation’s board toward a smooth transition since July 2009.

A national search for his replacement is underway, and board members hope to fill the position by the middle of 2010.

After working for institutions his entire adult life, Don Durham is stepping down as president of the CBF Foundation to minister in a local church.

“Don’s leadership has allowed the foundation to provide meaningful support to the work of the Fellowship into the 21st century,” said Rebecca Wiggs, a Mississippi attorney and current chair of the foundation’s board. “He has helped create a genuine partnership between Baptist agencies, churches and families who want to be effective stewards of their money so that the ministry of CBF will be ongoing.”

The CBF Foundation exists to raise endowments and offer endowment management and promotional services for all ministries of CBF and its partners, including local churches. While closely linked to the Atlanta-based Fellowship, the foundation is autonomous and governed by a separate board of trustees.

In more than seven years as president, Durham increased the number of CBF Foundation clients by more than double from 17 to 43, and he attracted the first multi-million-dollar clients for the foundation.

He secured more than $10 million in fund-management accounts and realized estate gifts including the foundation’s largest realized estate gift to date — over $1.2 million to endow CBF Global Missions field personnel salaries.

He also led the CBF Foundation to offer churches a way to invest a portion of their endowment principal in micro-enterprise development loans to entrepreneurial borrowers in poor countries who use the loans to start or expand businesses to support their families. The foundation has just over $1 million committed to microfinance investments so far.

“I’ve spent the last 15-20 years helping pay for an awful lot of good ministry as a fund raiser,” Durham said. “However, I believe it’s time for me to transition to a more direct expression of local ministry with my sleeves rolled up as one seeking to be the presence of Christ.”
2/22/2010 10:25:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 2 comments

Texas arson suspects former youth members

February 22 2010 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

TYLER, Texas — Two young men suspected of setting 10 East Texas churches on fire were active in the youth group of a Southern Baptist congregation before drifting away from church after the mother of one of them died three years ago.

David McAllister, father of 21-year-old Daniel George McAllister, one of two men arrested Feb. 21 on an arson charge, told the Tyler Morning Telegraph he had struggled with keeping his son on the right track since his wife, who home-schooled the boy and kept him active in First Baptist Church in Ben Wheeler, Texas, died from a heart attack and stroke.

Carlton Young, pastor of the Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated church for 15 years, remembered Wanda McAllister as the “spiritual anchor” of the family.

“I knew her death affected him tremendously, but I hadn’t seen him enough since his mother died to know how much,” Young told the Tyler newspaper. “It was a really traumatic experience for their family.”

Young said neither McAllister nor the other suspect, 19-year-old Jason Robert Bourque, had attended the church for a year and a half. He said their attendance fell off after McAllister’s mother died and Bourque’s family moved from Ben Wheeler, a town of 600 east of Dallas, to Lindale, Texas, about 20 miles away.

Police arrested Bourque in Van Zandt County, Texas, and McAllister in San Antonio.

Both arrests were without incident and both suspects were taken to Smith County to face charges of arson in the Feb. 8 blaze that destroyed Dover Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas.

Authorities believe the duo is responsible for nine church fires set between Jan. 1 and Feb. 8 in four East Texas communities. They also are suspected in three attempted church break-ins during the rash of arsons.

Additional charges are expected to be filed. Police say they believe that a Jan. 19 arson that destroyed First Baptist Church of Temple in Central Texas is unrelated to the East Texas church fires.

An official with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said Feb. 21 that a person of interest has been identified in the Temple fire, which caused an estimated $15 million in damage.

Police did not discuss a motive for setting the East Texas church fires, but they said they had known about the two suspects for several weeks.

Officials said a telephone hotline tip triggered the arrests and that DNA evidence linked one of the two men to the scene of one of the fires.

News of the arrests brought relief to area churches, which had been advised to take security measures such as installing alarm systems and surveillance cameras and members taking turns guarding church buildings in what law-enforcement officials called “church patrols.”

In Texas church arson is a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison. Bourque and McAllister are being held on $10 million bond.

“No investigation is finished until guilt is proven in court, but today marks a significant milestone,” Robert Champion, special agent in charge of the ATF in Dallas, said Feb. 21. “The arsons in these communities have been devastating, but the citizens have been resilient and aided each other and the investigation.”

The men were arrested by a task force created Jan. 20 to stop the arsons and find the people responsible for them. Hundreds of local law enforcement officers, more than 200 personnel from the Texas Department of Public Safety — including Texas Rangers, Highway Patrol troopers and Criminal Investigation Division agents — and numerous FBI and ATF agents and specialists worked the case in a three-county area covering 2,648 square miles and an estimated 713 churches.

“By working closely with our local and federal partners, we brought tremendous resources to this investigation, working around the clock, and culminating in these arrests,” said Steven McCraw, director of the Department of Public Safety. “The arsons of these houses of worship were despicable and cowardly acts, and Texas won’t stand for this kind of criminal activity.”

The pastor at First Baptist Church in Ben Wheeler told the Tyler newspaper that in hindsight, he wishes he had taken it more seriously four or five years ago when Bourne and McAllister snuck into the church building after finding an unlocked door. Nothing was damaged or taken, but Young’s wife spotted the youngsters sneaking out of the building during the early morning hours.

Young said he attributed the incident to youthful indiscretion by a couple of kids finding a way to play in the youth room. At the time he said he decided not to discuss it with the boys’ parents, but now he wishes he had used harsher words.

McAllister’s father agreed. “If something would have been done then, then maybe this could have been different,” he said, adding that he and his wife should have punished their son at the time.

Bourque’s family declined to discuss his arrest, but Young remembered him as “mischievous” as well as intelligent and capable of doing anything he set his mind to. The pastor said he was not aware of the boys being involved in any illegal activity and that he and the church were in “total disbelief” on hearing about their connection to the church arsons.

“I would have never dreamed it,” Young said. “If you had told me they were caught doing some youthful, stupid thing, then OK. But to dream of them ... we were totally devastated to think they would do that.”  
2/22/2010 10:21:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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