February 2012

‘Scriptures Come to Life’ during 20/20 conference

February 15 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

More than 900 people attended the 20/20 Collegiate Conference with the theme “The Scriptures Come to Life” Feb. 3-4 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest.
 
Each of the main speakers – Danny Akin, D.A. Carson, Tullian Tchividjian and Tony Merida – spoke in Binkley Chapel about the importance of the Bible, its authority and how to integrate it into life.
 
“[The Bible is] true whether you encounter it or not,” said Akin, Southeastern’s president, to the students Feb. 3. “It’s true whether you believe it or not.”
 
He shared how Christ reacted to and interacted with scripture. Referring to Matthew 5, Akin said Christ believed that all scripture pointed to Him, and He believed that all scripture was perfect.
 
“If there ever comes a time in your life that you become convinced this book is full of errors,” Akin said, “realize two things: You’re saying Jesus was wrong. You’re saying you know better than Jesus.”
 
Following Akin, D.A. Carson shared “something strange” he learned in his almost 40 years of teaching the Bible: that while his students didn’t learn most of what he taught them, they did remember what excited him.
 
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SEBTS Photo

Danny Akin, from left, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Tony Merida, lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern; Bruce Ashford, dean of The College at Southeastern; Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, participate in a panel Feb. 4.

“Feed your soul so that you will always be excited about the gospel,” said Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., and author.
 
Referring to Luke 10 where Jesus is confronted by a man seeking the answer to how he could inherit eternal life, he said “it is deeply disturbing [the expert in the law] really thinks he can achieve [eternal life] all by himself.”
 
Carson went on to share the story of the Good Samaritan. Looking beyond Luke 10, Jesus is the greatest Good Samaritan, said Carson, emphasizing the importance of looking at the scripture in context of the verses around it and the entire Bible.
 
Jesus clearly “expects His followers to behave as He Himself does. For though we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, if it’s real grace and real faith, they’re never alone,” Carson said. “Where there’s real grace and real faith, there is real change.”
 
Some of the main plenary speakers joined with Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, on Feb. 4 to begin the second day of the conference and answer questions about scripture, its truth and application to daily lives.
 
“The Christian life begins by the Word of God,” Davis said. “We have to continue to take in God’s Word ... to sustain us. We’ve got to be feeding on God’s Word every day.”
 
Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, followed the panel session. Tchividjian is convinced most people read the Bible “wrongly.”
 
“It is possible to read the Bible, study the Bible, memorize portions of the Bible and miss the whole point. In other words it is entirely possible to read the stories and miss the Story … miss Jesus.”
 
So many treat the Bible as if it is a self-help book or a “divine fortune cookie,” Tchividjian said.
 
“God becomes a supporting actor in our story instead of the other way around,” he said.
 
“Many pulpits across the land preach the Christian not the Christ.
 
“I don’t know how we got to the point that the Christian is the focus of the Christian faith.”
 
Tony Merida, lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern, closed out the two-day event, offering four challenges on proclaiming the Bible:
 
• Proclaim Christ from the storyline of scriptures.
• Proclaim Christ as a five-tool minister of the Word – a steward, herald, prophet, theologian and sage.
• Proclaim Christ to mature people in Him.
• Proclaim Christ by His mighty power.
 
Merida recommended the Bible as the best book on how to preach and teach the Bible.
 
He challenged participants to “make the hero of the Bible the hero of every message.”
 
Merida said he admired Paul because he was “so wrapped up in the person of Jesus.”
 
If they wanted to kill Paul, Paul would say “so what, I’ll be with God,” Merida said.
 
If they decided to let Him live, then Paul dedicated his life to Christ. In the face of torture, Paul looked forward to the reward he would receive.
 
“We operate under someone else’s authority,” Merida said.
 
“We’re not giving advice. We are giving news: the tomb is empty; the throne is occupied. As long as you are proclaiming Christ you will never run out of material.”
2/15/2012 2:24:33 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Poll: Many pastors feel lonely, but privileged in role

February 15 2012 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Though almost all pastors feel privileged to be in ministry, a majority also experience loneliness and discouragement.
 
That is the finding of a new survey by LifeWay Research of 1,000 American Protestant pastors.
 
A full 98 percent agree with the statement, “I feel privileged to be a pastor,” with 93 percent strongly agreeing. Only about 0.5 percent of pastors disagree with the statement. Yet more than half (55 percent) also agree with the statement, “I find that it is easy to get discouraged,” and 55 percent say being in pastoral ministry makes them feel lonely at times.
 
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“Many oft-quoted statistics speak of miserable and unhappy pastors, but that’s not what we see when we actually ask them,” explained Ed Stetzer, vice president of research and ministry development at LifeWay Christian Resources. “There is discouragement and loneliness, but when 98 percent agree it is a privilege to be a pastor, we also know there is a great honor to being a pastor.”
 
Pastors 65 and older are the least discouraged age bracket. While 30 percent of those 65 and older strongly disagree that it is easy to get discouraged in ministry, only 19 percent ages 55-64 strongly disagree along with 13 percent ages 45-54 and 11 percent ages 18-44.
 
Pastors 65 and older are also most likely to strongly disagree (39 percent) with the statement, “Pastoral ministry makes me feel lonely at times.” Twenty-nine percent of those ages 55-64 strongly disagree, as well as 21 percent ages 45-54 and 19 percent ages 18-44.
 
Ironically, pastors of larger churches are lonelier. Of those in congregations with an average attendance of 250 or more, 17 percent strongly disagree that pastoral ministry makes them feel lonely at times. By comparison, 32 percent with churches of 0-49 and 27 percent with churches of 100-249 strongly disagree.
 
“Pastors feel privileged, but clearly the reality of constant service can take its toll,” Stetzer said. “There is discouragement and loneliness in ministry. It appears that the larger the church the more present the loneliness.”
 
The survey had good news for the families of ministers: Nearly eight in 10 pastors (79 percent) disagree with the statement, “Being in ministry has had a negative effect on my family.” A majority (58 percent) strongly disagree. Twenty percent somewhat disagree, 15 percent somewhat agree and 4 percent strongly agree.
 
“This statistic has to be one of the biggest surprises,” said Stetzer, who has also served as a pastor. “Pastoring can be stressful on a family, but contrary to some hyped statistics, most do not believe that being a pastor has hurt their family.
 
“Pastoring is difficult, and family life is a fishbowl, but overstating the challenge and dangers of pastoring can discourage pastors and create an expectation of family disruption – leading to that very problem,” he said.
 
Pastors in the South (63 percent) are more likely to strongly disagree that ministry has had a negative effect on their families than their counterparts in the Northeast (51 percent) or Midwest (54 percent).
 
The study found that 18 percent of pastors have more than 10 close friends in their congregation. Sixteen percent have six to 10, 38 percent have three to five, 10 percent have two and 4 percent have one. Twelve percent of pastors have no close friends in their congregation.
 
“Relationships matter and it appears that pastors value those friendships – particularly as they get older,” Stetzer said. “Older pastors – and I would add, younger pastors with wisdom – have developed more close friendships within their church and are less likely to be discouraged or lonely. This combination mirrors workplace studies that have shown that more friendships at work correspond with higher satisfaction with a person’s job and life.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is a pastor and writer in Shelbyville, Ky.)
2/15/2012 2:19:06 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Annie Armstrong Easter Offering sees 3 percent increase in 2011

February 14 2012 by Baptist Press

MIAMI, Fla. – Southern Baptist churches gave three percent more to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions in 2011 than they did in 2010.

For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the offering totaled $56,040,868.
 
The offering directly pays for missionary salaries and provides field resources for missionaries serving in North America. Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), shared the offering total at the Feb. 8 meeting of NAMB’s board of trustees in Miami.
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“I want to thank Southern Baptists for their generosity and for continuing to make North America a priority,” Ezell said. “I also want to promise that we place a high value on stewardship and that your offering dollars are being spent carefully and wisely.”

Funds given to Annie Armstrong go directly to missionaries serving on the mission field. They are not spent on salaries for staff serving at NAMB’s Alpharetta, Ga., building and they are not used for administrative costs.

“We have downsized significantly in Alpharetta and cut all of our budgets to put even more money on the field for church planting and other work our missionaries are carrying out,” Ezell said. “These funds are in addition to the Annie Offering which only goes to missionaries and resources for them.”

NAMB promotes Annie Armstrong in partnership with Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). Ezell thanked WMU leaders and members for their “tireless efforts on behalf of our missionaries and on behalf of this offering.

“Wanda Lee (WMU national executive director) and WMU are champions for our missionaries and they are the best partners we could ask for when it comes to encouraging Southern Baptists to support this offering,” Ezell said.

Said Lee, “It is both exciting and encouraging to see the 2011 offering total up from last year as these funds are used to reach North America for Christ. We are grateful for our strong partnership with the North American Mission Board, the committed missionaries who serve all across North America to make Him known and share His love, and Southern Baptists who give sacrificially each year so that their work might not only continue but flourish.”

The 2012 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering theme is “Whatever It Takes” and spotlights the work of five church planters serving throughout North America. The offering goal is $70 million. Downloadable videos, photos and other resources can be found at anniearmstrong.com.
 
2/14/2012 2:27:03 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



NAMB deploys for gains in church planting

February 14 2012 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

MIAMI – “Send North America” is the strategic plan to reverse the Southern Baptist Convention’s trend of losing ground in the planting of new congregations, North American Mission Board (NAMB) President Kevin Ezell told trustees during their Feb. 8 meeting in Miami.
 
Ezell revisited the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) church planting history in his remarks to the board’s trustees. Born in 1845, the SBC had planted one new church for every 3,800 people by 1900; using a football field metaphor, Ezell said that was like moving the ball out to the 50-yard line.

“In 2010, we had only one church for every 6,100 people, a 59 percent decrease, which meant we were back at the 20-yard line,” Ezell said.

“That’s why we announced Send North America as our national church planting strategy,” Ezell said. “We want to increase our net gain of congregations by 5,000 in the next 10 years, from 51,000 to 56,000. To do that, we need to plant 15,000 churches in the next decade because we lose 890 existing churches each year. In other words, we have to plant about 900 churches a year just to break even.”
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Photo by John Swain

North American Mission Board president Kevin Ezell tells trustees Feb. 8 in Miami that while “the Southern Baptist Convention is losing ground on new church planting and penetrating lostness in North America, the mission board’s new Send North America strategy is designed to reverse that trend.”


To reach its goal, Ezell said NAMB now is deploying church planting catalyst missionaries much more strategically than in the past, with the goal of having one catalyst for every million people in population.

“That’s why we are doing some cutting in some places and redeploying in others because, traditionally, the deployment of our church planters has been disproportional,” Ezell said. “For instance, in one area we have 23 church planting catalysts but there are only 5 million people in the two-state region. There should be only six catalysts there.

“In the New York area, with 19 million people, we have only 11 church planting catalysts,” Ezell continued. “So we have twice as many catalysts in an area of 5 million people as in the entire New York area. In Canada, with 35 million people, we have only six catalysts.”

Ezell said NAMB’s biggest need is “laborers.”

“In Matthew 9, Jesus told us not to pray for the harvest – that’s going to happen – but to pray for laborers for the harvest. That’s why we’re shifting our resources. We have to make sure our church planting catalysts are strategically placed. ... We must do whatever it takes to penetrate lostness.”

Offering increases
Trustees also received good news from NAMB’s vice president and chief financial officer, Carlos Ferrer, that the 2011 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions was $56,040,868, exceeding the previous year’s offering total by 3 percent.

Ferrer also reported that NAMB revenues from the Cooperative Program were just under $43 million. For the 12 months ending Dec. 31, 2011, total NAMB revenues of $119 million exceeded total expenses of $108.8 million.

Larry Wynn, vice president of evangelism, introduced the “Find It Here” New Testament distribution project scheduled for 2013. NAMB trustees approved the project, setting aside $2.5 million for the New Testaments, a case of which of will be distributed to every SBC church in North America. The “Find It Here” project will include English and Spanish New Testaments and training on strategies for distribution. The initiative is part of NAMB’s 10-year GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing) evangelistic effort.

Inner-city missions, bivocational pastors
Trustees also approved $800,000 for the eventual purchase of property in Miami for a church planting and ministry center that will house a new church plant while providing ministry space for activities like English as a Second Language classes, after-school programs for kids and sports clinics.

Ezell said NAMB also is renewing its focus on bivocational pastors, pastors who hold full-time jobs while also serving as full-time pastors of Southern Baptist churches.”

“The true iron men of the SBC are our bivocational pastors,” Ezell told the NAMB trustees, adding that in some states – like Alabama and Arkansas – bivocational pastors make up half of the Southern Baptist pastors.

“These iron men have been overlooked and under-appreciated for years in the SBC,” Ezell said. “Starting at the convention’s annual meeting this summer, we’re going to emphasize them in ways we’ve never done before. We’re going to recognize them and honor them.”

Aaron Coe, NAMB’s vice president for mobilization, announced that the former church planting forum and state leadership meetings will be merged into one large Send North America conference, July 30-31 at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. Invitees will be expanded to include not only church planters and state/association partners, but also all pastors and laymen involved in church planting who need to be trained in the Send North America process.

One, but not the same

Ezell, in his comments to trustees, said he is “proud to be a Southern Baptist, even more so than 16 months ago when I started at NAMB.”

“The SBC is a unique group of people. We’re one – supporting the Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon [Christmas Offering for International Missions]. And through the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, we’re united in what we believe. We are one and have a sense of unity. We can agree on that.

“But while we’re one, we’re not all the same. We have diversity. We plant nothing but Southern Baptist churches but we don’t want to plant churches that are all alike. Some churches have pastors with suits and ties, others who preach in jeans. Some like traditional music, others contemporary.

“We’re one but not the same. We just all want to penetrate lostness.”
 
2/14/2012 2:17:51 PM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Easter’s coming: Time to prepare for Annie Armstrong offering

February 14 2012 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Easter is getting closer, so it’s time to prepare for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.
 
North Carolina Baptists will join with Southern Baptists across the United States in contributing to this offering. It provides major funding to the North American Mission Board (NAMB), whose approximately 5,000 missionaries serve across the U.S. and Canada.  
 
For promotion materials, visit anniearmstrong.com and download videos, clipart and other resources. These materials are also distributed by Woman’s Missionary Union. The theme for the offering this year is “Whatever It Takes,” based on the account in Mark 2:1-5 of how a sick man’s friends broke through a roof so they could lower him down to be healed by Jesus.
 
NAMB leaders are saying Baptists must adopt a “whatever it takes” approach to both missions involvement and support, in order to make a significant impact on our continent’s lostness.
 
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The 2012 Annie Armstrong offering goal is $70 million, which will be used for missionary support, church planting and evangelism.
 
These offering funds and those provided by churches through the Cooperative Program account for the majority of NAMB funding.
 
Southern Baptists already start more than 100 new churches each month across North America, which is more than any other church group is doing. Yet, thousands of additional churches are needed to reach the estimated 259 million people across the United States and Canada who have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
 
NAMB recently launched the “Send North America” strategy, seeking to mobilize congregations and church planters across the continent in an all-out push to start more churches.
 
Missionaries will focus efforts on major urban areas such as New York City, where millions have no knowledge of the gospel.
 
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has committed to partner in several areas, including New York. More than 700 volunteers served there during 2011 through the Convention’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships.
 
North Carolina Baptists can use materials from the Annie Armstrong website to lead entire congregations to support this offering.
 
One good approach is to lead families to observe the Week of Prayer for North American Missions March 4-11.
 
Baptists can learn about missionaries they’re supporting as these missions servants struggle to reach people for Christ and start new churches in challenging places like Toronto, Canada; Norwich, Connecticut; and Clovis, New Mexico.  
 
Young people can learn how they, too, can help start churches by serving in one of NAMB’s programs, such as the semester missionary program or the US/C2 program.  
 
NAMB works with more than 3,000 Southern Baptist chaplains, including military chaplains, among others. NAMB also operates many other ministries, such as lay renewal, Christian apologetics ministry, sports evangelism, resort missions and disaster relief.  
 
This strategic offering was named for Annie Armstrong (1850-1938) because of her ministry of encouraging missions support.
 
A native of Baltimore, Md., Armstrong helped organize the Woman’s Home Mission Society in Maryland. She later helped organize the national Woman’s Missionary Union and served as its first corresponding secretary.  
 
She took that “corresponding” part of her title seriously.
 
In 1893 she sent out nearly 18,000 letters that she wrote by hand or by typewriter as she rallied Baptists to get behind missions with their pocketbooks and their prayers.  
 
Annie Armstrong’s “whatever it takes” approach to missions remains a great example of what Baptists can achieve when they embrace missions with a similar commitment.

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NAMB deploys for gains in church planting
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'A crazy leap' South African couple follows call to U.S.

2/14/2012 2:13:05 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



‘A crazy leap’ South African couple follows call to U.S.

February 14 2012 by Sara Shelton, Baptist Press

NORWICH, Conn. – No one understands doing whatever it takes to reach people for Christ better than Shaun Pillay. Born and raised in South Africa, he and his wife, Deshni, arrived in the United States in 2007 as newlyweds. Having sold their possessions to finance their move, they brought only two pieces of luggage, a Bible, their wedding album and a resolve to follow God’s call wherever it led them.
 
“It was a jump, a crazy leap,” Pillay explains. “Everything was so different here but Jesus remained the same and He saw us through. Every morning when we woke up we knew that this is where God wanted us to be.”
 
Shaun and Deshni Pillay are among five North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionaries featured as part of the annual Week of Prayer for North American Missions, March 4-11, 2012, and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® (AAEO). The offering helps fund Pillay and other missionaries like him who are serving for Southern Baptists in North America. With a goal of $70 million, this year’s AAEO theme is “Whatever It Takes.”
 
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Photo by Peter Field Peck

NAMB missionary Shaun Pillay, right, pastor of Cornerstone International Church in Norwich, Conn., prays with Tim Cable, a new believer and member of Cornerstone.

Pillay was called to missions at a missions conference in Birmingham, England. “I remember one speaker saying, ‘We need you to come to Europe and America. Our churches are dying,’” Pillay said. He was surprised when he heard of the need for missionaries in the United States. Even more surprising was the fact that he knew God was calling him to be one of them.
 
“I never thought of it to be honest,” Pillay said. “We hear of all that God is doing in Africa and other places like that, but it’s sad to see what’s going on in places like Europe and America with regards to church. When I heard about the need, I just felt God telling me, ‘Shaun, you go.’ And I said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will go wherever you send.’”
 
God sent Pillay and his wife to the small town of Norwich, Conn., a far cry from the home they’d known in South Africa. With a population of 40,000, the city is full of history and diversity. Once marked by money and influence, it is now equally marked by economic struggle, homelessness and drug use.
 
“We looked at the homeless population, the drug problems in Norwich and just knew there needed to be a light in the city,” Pillay says.
 
“We had compassion as Jesus did, looking on the multitudes and seeing them just waiting like sheep without a shepherd.”
 
Since their arrival, this has been the goal of Shaun and Deshni: to lead and love the people of the community just as Christ does. They started Cornerstone International Church in an effort to give the “sheep” in the community of Norwich a place to gather and grow in Christ. And it has been from the moment they opened the doors.
 
David Holland arrived at Cornerstone International Church as a carpet cleaner, hired to help spruce up the building before the church’s launch on Easter 2007. Notoriously known as a drug dealer and in trouble with the law in Norwich, David was worn and searching when he arrived to work at Cornerstone that day. Never one to pass up an opportunity to build a relationship, Shaun stayed with David as he worked and spent the afternoon talking and sharing with him, ultimately inviting him to Cornerstone’s launch that Sunday.
 
“David was in the congregation that Easter Sunday when we launched our church,” recalls Pillay. “As we were wrapping up, he came forward and accepted Jesus Christ. It was a huge moment in his life and the life of our church.”
 
Just last year Holland became the first deacon at Cornerstone International Church and is working alongside Pillay to reach the city of Norwich for the name of Christ. “God put Shaun right there in my life,” Holland says, “and he’s seen me through so much. He’s a good man, a man of God. And everybody I introduce him to just falls in love with him and his passion for the people and the city of Norwich.”
 
Holland’s transformation has not only been a testimony to the power of God but also the influence of Pillay in the city. Weeks after Holland’s salvation, the two ran into a group of policemen who knew Holland as the drug dealer and troublemaker he was before his conversion to Christianity. They hadn’t seen him in months and Holland took the opportunity to explain his absence from the legal system as the direct result of his newfound presence in Christ.
 
“The men were obviously moved,” Pillay recalls. “They said, ‘I wish all the drug dealers in the city would come to know your Jesus if this is the result.’ They knew for sure that David was a changed man.”
 
For Pillay, this exchange was just a small step in changing not just one life, but also the entire city of Norwich. Though the work is slow, he recognizes that every conversation, every seed planted is a victory in the name of Christ and looks forward to more stories like Holland’s in the years to come.
 
The Pillays have set up “proclamation points” around the city – locations where they can share the gospel and study the Bible with Norwich residents. Shaun’s most recent Bible study meets in a local barbershop owned by a former drug dealer. One by one, Jesus is transforming the city of Norwich.
 
“Whatever it takes to reach these people, whether it’s leaving our homeland or going to a place where we don’t know anybody,” Pillay said. “Whatever it takes to share the love of Jesus Christ, that is what we’re here to do.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sara Shelton is a writer for the North American Mission Board. Visit anniearmstrong.com or BRnow.org for more resources about the offering.)

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2/14/2012 2:07:42 PM by Sara Shelton, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Pastor: CP an old idea that still works well

February 13 2012 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

The road out to Holly Springs Baptist Church in Franklin winds through rolling hills that rule the scenery across Macon County. A newer and larger sanctuary sits alongside the smaller, original building.
 
More than 600 members gather here weekly for services led by Pastor Ed Trull or “Pastor Trull,” as he prefers to be called.
 
Despite the scenery, Pastor Trull is quick to point out that they are not really isolated.
 
“The world shows up – folks come here from all over the world,” he said.
 
Though the church was organized in 1914, its hip new website indicates Holly Springs is keeping up with the times.
 
Pastor Trull has led his congregation to reach out to new people moving into subdivisions that have been carved into the surrounding pastures and farmland during the past decade, part of Macon County’s rapid growth that leaders there talk about.
 
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BSC photo by Mike Creswell

In recent years Pastor Ed Trull has led Holly Springs Baptist Church in Franklin to give about 10 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program.

But Pastor Trull equally wants his members focused on reaching the world – the one that lies beyond these hills.  
 
That missions vision explains why Holly Springs has consistently averaged giving about 10 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program (CP) in recent years.
 
Pastor Trull sees CP as the answer to how Baptists could work together on missions causes.
 
“When Southern Baptists were formed in 1845, we did a lot of good things, but we didn’t know how to support them very well.  For about 60 years we struggled with that in a lot of ways,” he said.
 
Pastor Trull described a time when local churches were flooded with representatives of orphanages, mission boards and other Baptist entities, because there was no centralized system to help enable churches to conveniently support many causes.
 
It was Baptist forefathers, “those guys who are heroes in Southern Baptist Convention life,” who in 1925 developed a better way for Baptists to support multiple ministries, he said.
 
“God gave us a vision for a way to work together and pool our resources to not only reach the next-door neighbor but our neighbors on the other side of the world,” he said.
 
The Cooperative Program also enabled churches to fund supporting ministries, such as schools and seminaries ... “everything it takes to support that vision to reach the world with the gospel,” he said.
 
“I’m thankful we have the Cooperative Program as the avenue we use to get to the world with the gospel,” he said.
 
Pastor Trull has served on the Baptist State Convention’s Board of Directors, and has seen how working together can work, just as he has supported Macon Baptist Association, of which Holly Springs is a part.
 
Through their Cooperative Program giving, Holly Springs members support a wide range of ministries across North Carolina that includes: starting 125 new churches in 2010, the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, a youth program that reached more than 7,000 young people last year, evangelism and church growth ministry, prayer ministry, music ministry, women’s ministry, partnership missions and provides other pastor and church staff support.
 
The Cooperative Program helps the North American Mission Board (NAMB) with about 5,000 missionaries at work on evangelism and church planting across the U.S. and Canada.
 
It also supports nearly 5,000 IMB (International Mission Board) missionaries who seek to share the gospel among unreached and unengaged people groups around the globe.
 
This support includes six Southern Baptist seminaries that equip more than 13,000 students for church leadership and missionary service.
 
Those schools include Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at Wake Forest.
 
Other ministries receive CP support as well.

2/13/2012 3:25:18 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Midwestern seminary president resigns

February 13 2012 by Allen Palmeri, The Pathway

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – The trustees of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 10 accepted the resignation of seminary president R. Philip Roberts effective Feb. 29 during a called meeting at an airport hotel and named as acting president Robin Hadaway, associate professor of missions at the seminary.
 
Roberts, an 11-year president, was facing questions about misuse of seminary resources and verbal abuse of seminary staff. Other trustee meetings in years past had revolved around those same questions.
 
The resignation was announced in the afternoon by means of a three-paragraph press release. A morning trustee vote to express lack of confidence in the board’s executive committee failed, and at some point in the overall meeting there was a transfer of the chairmanship from Wayne Lee of Southlake, Texas, to Kevin Shrum of Madison, Tenn., who emerged as the sole trustee spokesman for the day’s events and the interim board chair until April. Shrum wound up taking a few questions from the media in mid-afternoon. In answering one inquiry, Shrum said Lee resigned as chairman.
 
“He felt like he had done what he needed to do,” Shrum said. “He’s still on the board.”
 
Trustees met early in the morning, with the door of the Ambassador Meeting Room at the Embassy Suites Hotel left open, and after about half an hour Roberts was seen leaving the room.
 
Roberts then greeted a representative of Baptist Press before walking down the hall to another room with staff and faculty.
 
After saying a quick hello there, according to someone present in the room, he left that room and headed toward the front desk area.
 
By that time trustees were fully engaged in executive session and had closed the door, and Roberts was not to be found.
 
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The trustees of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 10 accepted the resignation of seminary president R. Philip Roberts effective Feb. 29.

The resignation was announced in the afternoon by means of a press release. Part of the statement was worded to explain that a meeting to consider the performance of the president was “suspended,” and that before that meeting, Roberts tendered his resignation. The rest of the meeting time in the morning and afternoon was spent in executive session. The press release made no mention of a severance package.
 
Shrum said that Hadaway, as acting president, will serve through the April board meeting, when the board’s executive committee will be recommending the process that the seminary will use to move forward in a search for a new president.
 
Hadaway, who is an associate professor of missions, has been with Midwestern for eight and a half years.
 
He previously served as IMB (International Mission Board) regional leader for eastern South America, supervising more than 300 missionaries in Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
 
Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director John Yeats signaled his level of spiritual concern after the news of Roberts’ resignation became public.
 
“We just need to be in prayer for the institution, for the faculty, and for the students, for Dr. Hadaway, for Dr. Roberts and his family, and for all the seminary families,” Yeats said.
 
Roberts was elected as Midwestern’s fourth president in January 2001 and began serving that February. Among facility projects during his time were the purchase of the Koehn-Myers building, construction of housing facilities and renovation of many of Midwestern’s existing buildings.
 
The seminary is currently building a 1,000-seat chapel complex.
 
Roberts came to Kansas City after serving seven years with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), where he served as vice president for the Strategic Cities Strategies Group.
 
He also was director of NAMB’s Interfaith Evangelism Department and vice president for urban evangelism and church planting.
 
In the early 1990s he was professor of missions and evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, and co-directed the Lewis Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies.
Roberts has written several books from an apologetics perspective, most notably on Mormonism, and is known in Europe for his pulpit work in international churches in England, Germany and Belgium. His Ph.D. is from the Free University of Amsterdam, and he also conducted post-graduate research at Oxford University.
 
Among the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders who came to Kansas City for the Feb. 10 meeting was Bryant Wright, SBC president. He left the meeting room before Shrum released the official statement and had no comment.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Allen Palmeri is associate editor of The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)

2/13/2012 3:18:41 PM by Allen Palmeri, The Pathway | with 0 comments



Haiti relief: 2 years of care, thousands of changed lives

February 13 2012 by Holly McCrae, Baptist Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Smiling through her tears, Madam Maris thanks and kisses the Southern Baptist volunteers as they hand her the keys to her new home.
 
For nearly two years, the 70-year-old Haitian woman has lived in a tent. She lost her husband, two nephews, her arm and her home in the Jan. 12 earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010. Now, she and her niece have a chance to start over.
 
Theirs is one of many new beginnings Southern Baptists have helped provide since the 7.0-magnitude quake, which killed 230,000 people and left millions more injured, homeless or both. To date, Southern Baptists have given more than $11 million in aid. Many have volunteered their time and skills to help Haitians recover.
 
At first, Southern Baptist aid workers focused on the most pressing needs – medical care, food and basic shelter – that would serve as a witness to the love of Christ. But they also sought more long-term solutions to help Haitians break the cycle of dependency that keeps them mired in extreme poverty.
 
Since the quake destroyed or damaged millions of houses, the vast need for housing captured the attention of Southern Baptist relief planners. They developed a project called “Rebuild Haiti,” a joint effort involving Haitians and Southern Baptists.
 
By the time the housing project ends this spring, Rebuild Haiti will have constructed about 2,800 houses in 30 communities. IMB (International Mission Board), Baptist Global Response, the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Network and Florida Baptist Convention all have contributed to the effort.
 
N.C. Baptists
North Carolina Baptists also have partnered with Florida Baptists and local Haitians to build 46 homes and 800 temporary shelters.
 
They also helped provide medical care for 130,000 patients.
 
Even today, volunteer medical teams continue to see 800 to 1,000 patients a week. There also are efforts underway for North Carolina Baptists to help build a clinic north of Port-Au-Prince. They hope to complete the clinic by the end of the year.
 
“That was our bigger thrust,” said Gaylon Moss, who directs N.C. Baptist Men’s disaster relief ministry. 
“We’re looking at a long-term partnership with Haiti that will transition into different phases,” he added, “but we’re looking for a long-term presence in Haiti.”
 
02-13-12haitinc.jpg

While Southern Baptist volunteers set up an outdoor medical clinic to help earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince with ongoing needs, a Haitian believer, left, leads waiting patients in a time of worship. In the two years since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts have helped thousands of Haitians rebuild their lives.

For those interested in signing up for future medical projects in Haiti, go to baptistsonmission.org or contact N.C. Baptist Men at (800) 395-5102.
 
‘A cooperative effort’
Through ongoing Southern Baptist relief efforts, an estimated 16,800 Haitians are now in stable homes. Many of these were built on original foundations, keeping families who owned land from relocating and losing their property. These projects also revived local businesses and put Haitians back to work.
 
“Almost all the labor was done by Haitians,” said retired missionary Carter Davis, who has worked with relief efforts in Haiti since the earthquake.
 
“This provided income for many and stimulated the local economy by purchasing the materials from local stores.”
 
“It was a cooperative effort,” agreed Jeff Palmer, Baptist Global Response. “Haitian Baptists and [other] Haitian workers actually built more of the houses than the volunteer teams. But the teams were good for coming down and interacting, sharing their faith, as well as just giving encouragement to the local people that ‘Hey, somebody cares, and they’re coming from the outside to help us rebuild our homes.’”
 
Using local materials ensures Haitians can continue to build and expand these houses after Southern Baptists leave, Palmer noted.
 
“We’ve tried to break the cycle of dependency and entitlement by saying to the people who are the recipients of this goodwill and aid [that] they’ve got the same abilities and capabilities,” he said. “The work will go on, but the Haitians will be the ones to complete it.”
 
Southern Baptist workers encouraged Haitian Baptist churches to take the lead in identifying aid recipients. Since resources were limited, these churches began focusing on people who had the greatest needs.
 
“What we found over and over was they were choosing orphans,” Palmer said. “They were choosing a lot of those we would have given priority to. We saw a real transition from dependency to more Kingdom values.”
 
“There was a great support to provide first for the widows and mothers with children,” Davis added. “There was a tendency by some to provide only for the church members, but as time went on, I saw more and more [desire to] provide for others [in need] in the communities. This is the concept we stressed to the pastors and churches – to recognize that Jesus cared for everyone and we need to follow His example.”
 
Davis recalled the generosity of one Haitian church in a town not even directly affected by the earthquake. Many of the church members had already taken in displaced relatives from Port-au-Prince, but the church wanted to do more.
 
“The [congregation] asked if we could assist by providing funds for the church to construct houses on land that the church owned and would give to [quake survivors],” Davis said. “We constructed 50 houses on this land.”
 
Helped in other ways
Although housing was one of biggest needs after the quake, Southern Baptists helped in many other ways as well.
 
Missionaries and volunteers donated supplies – such as benches, desks and chalkboards – to seven struggling schools. They also rebuilt damaged buildings, repaired roofs and installed bathrooms so thousands of children could return to school.
 
Women’s groups across the U.S. sewed clothes for orphans while churches and other Baptist organizations provided food and medicine for needy children. Missionaries and volunteers even started a mini-farm and gardens to help some orphanages become self-supporting.
 
Despite all that has been accomplished, Haiti still faces years of recovery.
 
“For many people, things are improving and they are moving ahead with their lives,” said Delores York, an International Mission Board missionary in Haiti. “For thousands of others who are still in tents or make-do shelters, help has not arrived. There is still a problem of unemployment and survival on a day-to-day basis. Cholera comes in waves, along with malaria, typhoid, TB and many other diseases.”
 
Even though many Haitians remain in need, York and other workers believe the generosity of Southern Baptists will continue to encourage Haitians as they rebuild their lives and communities.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Holly McCrae is an international correspondent with Baptist Global Response. Biblical Recorder staff contributed to this story.)
2/13/2012 3:10:57 PM by Holly McCrae, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



S. Baptists protest latest contraceptive decision

February 13 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – President Obama Feb. 10 announced a change in the way that employees of religious organizations will receive free contraceptives that can cause abortions, but it fell far short of what is needed to protect religious liberty, say Southern Baptist leaders.
 
The controversy began when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in January finalized a rule requiring private insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives, including “emergency” ones such as Plan B and “ella” that can block implantation and kill the embryo – an action that pro-life groups and many Christians view as an early abortion. The drugs would be free for employees and be covered as part of the health care law’s goal to offer free preventive services.
 
The HHS rule included an exemption for most churches, but that exemption does not cover Christian colleges and schools or faith-based hospitals and social service programs. Obama said Feb. 10 that the burden on providing emergency contraceptives would fall on insurance companies, and that the coverage still would be free.
 
“If a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company – not the hospital, not the charity – will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge without co-pays and without hassles,” Obama said.
 
Religious leaders, though, were not pleased, and said the same problems with religious liberty remained.
 
“It is an attempt to deal with a matter of religious conviction with an accounting gimmick,” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press.
 
O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resourses, called it an “approach that does not address the issues at hand for Southern Baptists who oppose so-called contraceptives that can and do cause an abortion.” GuideStone provides health insurance coverage to 60,000 people, including pastors and missionaries.

Related story
GuideStone: Obama mandate violates religious liberty
2/13/2012 3:06:07 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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