February 2013

CBF approves new leader

February 22 2013 by Staff, press reports

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) unanimously approved its third executive coordinator Feb. 21.
 
The CBF Coordinating Council cast assenting votes for Suzii Paynter of Austin, Texas. She will officially begin work March 1 at the Atlanta office.

“Suzii Paynter has been with us since the beginning,” said George Mason, chairman of the CBF Executive Coordinator Search Committee and pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. “She is a lifelong Baptist. While it was important to our committee to honor the history and culture that has marked us as a peculiar people, we also knew that innovation is part of our makeup. We did not believe our duty was to recommend a caretaker for CBF’s legacy, but rather to write a fresh chapter of our history that will be marked by the same spirit of exploration found in our founders.”
 
The previous CBF executive directors were Daniel Vestal (1996-2012) and Cecil Sherman (1992-1996).
 
Paynter served as the director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission and director of the Advocacy Care Center of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT). In this position she directed all public policy initiatives for state and federal issues and built relationships with other religious bodies. She also handled church outreach, the state’s hunger offering and other areas of social justice and chaplain/counseling services.

Paynter has served alongside her husband, Roger Paynter, who currently leads First Baptist Church (FBC) in Austin, Texas, and teaches at the Seminary of the Southwest. She is an ordained deacon at FBC Austin and Sunday School teacher of more than 40 years.
 
Paynter was raised in church at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas, and has consistently held positions of leadership at CBF churches in Texas, Kentucky and Mississippi where she has been a member. 
2/22/2013 2:46:56 PM by Staff, press reports | with 0 comments



SBC EC OKs requests with int’l impact

February 21 2013 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – The Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) approved Tuesday (Feb. 19) two SBC entities’ requests regarding work in China and Canada.

Committee members unanimously approved a request by LifeWay Christian Resources to form LifeWay Global, a for–profit subsidiary that will make Bibles, Bible study materials and training materials available to churches and Christians in China.

Although China will be the only country initially impacted, the request also allows LifeWay Global to provide the materials to other countries. The for–profit status is necessary because China is reluctant to grant registration to international non–profits, Executive Committee members were told. The goal is for LifeWay Global to be self–funding.

Executive Committee members also unanimously approved a request by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to form NAMB Canada, a nonprofit corporation that will make it easier for NAMB to continue to expand its church planting work in Canada. Currently, NAMB must direct its Canadian ministry efforts through the Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC). Forming the nonprofit will allow NAMB to directly hire employees, rent office space and purchase property as needed.

Gerry Taillon, the Canadian National Baptist Convention’s ministry leader, expressed support for the proposal. The corporation will be funded solely by NAMB and will have five board members – three Canadian citizens and two U.S. citizens. Canadian law requires that nonprofits be governed by a board whose majority is comprised of Canadian citizens. Passage of any matter would require the votes of four of the five members. To change the bylaws, it would require five votes.

During subcommittee discussion of the proposal, NAMB President Kevin Ezell said the mission board has a good working relationship with the Canadian convention, but NAMB’s increased focus on reaching Canada means more church plants and more personnel, which would create an increasing administrative workload for the CNBC. The formation of NAMB Canada would remove that problem, Ezell said. 

NAMB’s ministry assignment encompasses two countries: Canada and the United States. 

GuideStone ministry assignment

Executive Committee members approved a recommendation from GuideStone Financial Resources that would allow it to offer its investment and insurance products and services to like–minded individuals. Under the proposal, to be placed before messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June, GuideStone would create two new affiliate companies that would be controlled by and answer to GuideStone’s trustees, much as its current affiliates do.

The Dallas–based board, which provides retirement, insurance, property and casualty and investment opportunities to Southern Baptist churches, affiliated ministries and their employees, has served approved like–minded evangelical churches and organizations for nearly a decade. GuideStone also sponsors Mission:Dignity, a ministry that provides financial assistance for retired Southern Baptist ministers and their widows who need financial assistance in their declining years.

Under the proposed expansion of its ministry assignment, GuideStone would begin making its mutual funds, which garnered key finance industry awards last year, available to Southern Baptist church members and other eligible evangelical Christians sometime in 2014. GuideStone also is studying potential insurance products and services it could make available. During the presentation before the Executive Committee, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said the initiative is “the capstone of GuideStone 100, our long–range strategic plan, for which we have been praying and working toward for several years.”

After the meeting, Hawkins emphasized the motivation behind the request for a change in ministry assignment, stating that GuideStone is committed “to further enhance the financial security of the SBC pastor at the crossroads by producing additional economies of scale and helping to undergird the coming needs of our Mission:Dignity program fueled by a massive baby boomer generation who is retiring within the next 15 years. … We are only requesting the opportunity to serve a larger audience because we firmly believe it will enhance our ability to serve our Southern Baptist pastors in a more cost–effective manner for the long–term.”

D.C. Baptist Convention

In another matter, the Executive Committee voted to consider a recommendation at its June meeting that the combination of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Delaware be designated a “defined territory” for the purpose of determining eligibility for representation on SBC committees and entity boards. Only a limited number of churches in the District of Columbia contribute to SBC causes, resulting in SBC committee and board members from the District routinely coming from a small set of churches. According to background material given to the EC members, this creates “an impression that runs counter to the goal of broadening inclusion and board and committee involvement as widely as possible among Southern Baptists.”

“It is not the trustees themselves which are in any way the subject of stated concerns, but the fact that the criteria presents a very limited set of churches from which to select qualified trustees” creates an anomaly in the trustee selection process, the background material stated.

According to SBC Bylaw 30, the number of cooperating Baptists in a defined territory must meet certain thresholds before Baptists in that territory qualify for representation on SBC boards and committees. By combining the District of Columbia with Maryland and Delaware as a “defined territory,” the number of churches from which qualified SBC committee and board members can be selected becomes a larger set, helping meet the goal of broader inclusion. 

The SBC will continue to relate directly to the District of Columbia Baptist Convention as a cooperating state convention, as it does seven other state and regional conventions in areas of the country that currently do not qualify for representation on SBC boards and committees.

The recommendation would require a change in SBC bylaws and approval by SBC messengers. The Executive Committee directed EC staff to “engage in further study of this plan and to receive and evaluate any input regarding this plan” prior to its June meeting in Houston.

Pastors’ Conference reimbursement

Also at its Feb. 19 meeting, the Executive Committee amended a February 2012 recommendation that had increased the reimbursement stipulation from the Pastors’ Conference for use of the SBC annual meeting facilities. That 2012 recommendation increased the reimbursement stipulation from $50,000 in 2011 to $100,000 in 2013, $150,000 in 2014 and a full reimbursement for all costs by 2015. Under the amended recommendation passed Feb. 19, a three–year plan will begin whereby the reimbursement will increase by $10,000 per year “of the base cost.” For this year’s Pastors’ Conference, the reimbursement will be $60,000.

The recommendation also asked EC staff “to continue documenting the variable cost attributed to the SBC Pastors’ Conference and request a written financial report be provided by the SBC Pastors’ Conference leadership by October 30, 2013, to the Executive Committee for review during its February 2014 meeting.”

The Pastors’ Conference paid a $38,000 reimbursement between 1992 and 2010 while its costs rose over the years, to $179,000 in 2010 in Orlando, Fla., for example, and to $201,000 in 2011 in Phoenix. The balance has been paid from Cooperative Program funds in the SBC Operating Budget.

Resolutions of appreciation

The Executive Committee approved resolutions of appreciation for Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and David Lee, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

Land will retire Oct. 23 after 25 years as ERLC president, and the resolution says Land and the ERLC staff “participated in thousands of meetings with congressmen, senators, congressional staff, and White House personnel throughout his tenure, advocating on behalf of Southern Baptists from a biblical perspective.”

Also during Land’s tenure, the ERLC filed 62 amicus briefs with the Supreme Court and lower courts “championing religious freedom, basic human rights for all people, sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, the role and sanctity of biblical marriage, and addressing other issues such as education, fiscal policy, gambling, health care, homosexuality, and obscenity from a biblical perspective.”

The resolution also states that Land “worked tirelessly to effect racial reconciliation” in the Southern Baptist Convention and in American life, including as a principal architect of the SBC’s 1995 resolution on racial reconciliation. 

Among his other accomplishments, the resolution states, Land “helped Southern Baptists take positive, proactive steps to minister to those ensnared in the homosexual lifestyle or by drug abuse.”

Lee will retire July 31 after 13 years as executive director of the Maryland/Delaware convention. He previously served six years as director of the convention’s church growth and services division and in other positions.

“Lee’s tenure with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware was marked by a strong emphasis on missions and church planting, building relationships among pastors, and helping existing churches become healthier and more Great Commission–focused,” the EC’s resolution of appreciation states.

The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware achieved a growth rate of nearly 40 percent in the number of churches affiliated with the convention during Lee’s 19 years of leadership. 

Other business

In Executive Committee also: 

­– approved a 2013–14 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget of $191,500,000 for recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention during its June 11–12 annual meeting in Houston.

The proposed budget increases the allocation to the International Mission Board by .20 percent, giving IMB 50.41 percent of the total allocation. The increase is funded by a corresponding decrease in the allocation to the SBC Operating Budget, as requested by EC President Frank Page. While the current operating budget, which funds the SBC annual meeting and the work of the EC, is 3.20 percent of the budget, Page requested the allocation be cut to 2.99 percent, with the difference going to international missions.

The proposed budget maintains the current allocation of 22.79 percent to the North American Mission Board, for an overall total of 73.20 percent allocated for mission ministries nationally and internationally.

The six seminaries would receive 22.16 percent of the budget, with 4.80 percent distributed to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, based on the enrollment formula; 4.58 percent to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; 4.18 percent to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; 3.80 percent to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; 2.44 percent to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and 2.10 percent to Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. (Cumulative numbers may not match the sum of individual seminary percentages due to rounding.)

The budget proposal maintains a 1.65 percent allocation to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and .24 percent to the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives.

– recommended to SBC messengers that they approve a request by NAMB to increase the maximum amount of its contingency reserve fund. The current maximum is 90 days, and it would change under the recommendation to six months of the operating budget requirement. Messengers will consider it during the June 11–12 SBC annual meeting in Houston

– authorized a 1.7 percent increase in the Executive Committee salary structure for the 2013–14 fiscal year.

– received as information that C. Barry McCarty will be retained as the chief parliamentarian for the June 11–12 annual meeting in Houston.

– elected John G. Blackman and Marshall Albritton as Southern Baptist Foundation trustees for terms to expire in 2016. Blackman is retired from SunTrust Bank; Albritton is an attorney. Both men are from Nashville. 

The EC also responded to three motions referred from the 2012 annual meeting by:
  • declining a recommendation to meet every two years instead of annually, affirming an annual meeting “to inform Southern Baptists about their missions and ministries, encourage them to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and conduct the business necessary to facilitate Southern Baptist missions and ministries.”
  • declining a request to reduce the current seminary allocation percentage to allow for an increase in International Mission Board funding, “after doing its due diligence in weighing the request ... in consultation with the six SBC seminaries and the president of the International Mission Board.”
  • voting, in response to a request to create a program to train all convention–elected trustees, to report at the 2013 Houston annual meeting that it approved in 2005 the dissemination of certain orientation materials to trustees, and “still intends to formulate some methodology by which a more comprehensive, direct and concentrated orientation may be undertaken.” Inadequate funding has delayed the inception of such a program, the Executive Committee said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE ­– Compiled by Michael Foust, Erin Roach and Diana Chandler of Baptist Press; Mike Ebert of the North American Mission Board; and Roy Hayhurst of GuideStone Financial Resources.)
 

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2/21/2013 3:15:32 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



40 Days for Life: ending abortion, starting locally

February 21 2013 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – When 40 Days for Life launched a nationwide campaign in 2007, no plan existed for a follow-up. That fall effort was both the first and only, as far as its leaders knew.
 
“We had no intention of doing a second campaign,” said Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life’s campaign director. “I think the summer of ’07, if you could sum it up for me, we had absolutely no idea what we were getting into.”

Now, more than five years later, the organization’s twice-yearly events have become a vital, inspirational component of the pro-life movement. When volunteers gathered Feb. 13 at 261 locations for the first day of the latest campaign, they did so with a significant record of participation and results. Since 2007, reports by 40 Days for Life regarding its campaigns show:
  • More than 6,700 unborn children have been spared from abortion.
  • 28 abortion facilities have closed, and 76 clinic workers have left their jobs.
  • More than 550,000 people representing more than 15,500 churches have participated.
In addition, thousands of women and men have avoided the consequences of choosing abortion, many post-abortive women have received help and untold numbers have become active in the pro-life movement.

What has happened since that first campaign has confirmed the accuracy of a sense the leaders of 40 Days held regarding pro-lifers and abortion.

“[I]n all of our prayer, we were thinking and hoping that there was a burning fire at the local level for people to do more for the abortions that were happening in their own town,” Carney told Baptist Press (BP). 

“[D]eep down, we really, truly believed that, because we had done that in the community where we lived through the pro-life organization that we worked for,” he said. “And so, that has now been shown ... that people do want to do something to help end abortion at a local level. They don’t want to depend on Washington, D.C., to fix a moral crisis that’s going on in their neighborhoods. And that has summed up the rapid growth of 40 Days for Life.”

When people gathered Feb. 13 for a 40 Days campaign that will extend to March 24, they did so in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Pro-lifers in Australia, Canada, England, Poland and Spain again are holding 40 Days outreaches. For the first time, there are 40 Days events in Moscow, Russia, and Cape Town, South Africa, as well as Nigeria and Wales.

Around-the-clock prayer vigils outside abortion clinics are the focus, but 40 Days efforts also consist of community outreach and prayer and fasting to end abortion.

A 2004 prayer meeting gave birth to that approach, as well as the idea of 40 Days for Life. The staff of a small pro-life organization in College Station, Texas, gathered around an old wooden table in the office to express their frustrations about the lack of results they were seeing as the number of abortions increased at the local Planned Parenthood.

“We said, ‘We need to pray,’“ recalled David Bereit, now national director of 40 Days. “And for one hour around that old table, we just sat and we prayed fervently and just asked God, ‘Show us what to do, and we’ll try to do it.’ ... [D]uring that hour was when He first convicted my heart and us as a group about the 40-day time frame and, of course, the biblical significance of all the times that God has brought about transformation in the life of His people or in the nation or in the world through 40-day time frames, a time of testing but also a time of transformation.”

Carney and his wife, Marilisa, joined Bereit, then executive director of the Coalition for Life, and another staff member around that table. They quickly launched 40 Days locally. At the end of that successful effort, however, “[I]t was really kind of a closed chapter in the back of our minds,” Carney said. 
02-21-1340days.jpg

Yet, pro-lifers in such cities as Green Bay, Wis., and Charlotte, N.C., found out about the 40 Days effort in College Station and followed Coalition for Life’s online manual. Finally, Bereit and Carney decided God was doing something they needed to pay attention to.

“[W]e had all these groups and all these results,” Bereit told BP, “and we were like, ‘That was the Holy Spirit. We had nothing to do with it.’ And that is when we said, ‘God has bigger plans probably than what we would have ever imagined.’”

In the fall of 2007, the first nationwide 40 Days campaign involved 89 cities in 33 states. The effort grew from there. Bereit – who was working for another national, pro-life organization – went full-time with 40 Days, and Carney joined him later. They now lead the effort from the Washington, D.C., area.

The national/international campaigns have produced an influx of new participants in the pro-life movement during the last five years. For more than 34 percent of 40 Days volunteers, it is their first pro-life activity ever.

Participants in 40 Days campaigns represent a cross-section of ages, ethnic groups and religious affiliations. From his observation of hundreds of events, Bereit estimated about 70 percent of volunteers are Roman Catholics. Baptists easily constitute the second largest religious affiliation, he said.

Bereit, 44, and Carney, 30, shared about 40 Days with Baptist Press. Here are additional excerpts from that interview:

BP: Describe what a typical prayer vigil is like? Somebody wants to take part in one – what’s it like?

CARNEY: The first thing they will experience is probably a little fear and hesitation and nervousness. David’s had that. I’ve had that the first time I went out. And that’s healthy. That’s a good thing. There should be a discomfort and awkwardness almost the first time you go out, not just because it’s new but because you are confronting abortion on its home turf – where it’s legal, promoted, sold, where it takes place – for the first time. And it’s not uncomfortable or awkward because you’re there. It’s uncomfortable or awkward because they’re there. ... [W]hen you go out there and you take Christ with you, when you get out of His way and you allow Him to work miracles, there’s great peace. You’re bringing peace, like a missionary does, to a place that has no peace. You’re a witness to the gospel to people that many times have either given up on their own faith or think there is no hope. ... And you bring hope when you participate. And I think that’s how the fear is overcome. 

BEREIT: It’s usually going to be very quiet. It’s going to be a time of prayer. It’s not social hour. It’s not yelling hour. They may or may not choose to hold a sign. ... They’re not going to be expected to sidewalk counsel their first time out in any way, shape or fashion. And they may see no fruit ever throughout the 40 days directly. We use a Mother Teresa quote – “We’re not called to be successful; we’re called to be faithful” – as a way to just help people understand, “If God’s calling us to do that, we do it, whether we see the results or not.” ... [T]he last thing that we’re very transparent about is you may experience out there occasional persecution. Usually it will be somebody driving by waving a hand gesture ... or maybe shouting an obscenity or maybe a worker who gets angered or somebody who is going in and says, “Don’t judge me,” even though you’re not. And sometimes somebody will throw a coat hanger. Sometimes, you know, you’ll have somebody come up and yell in your face. And for me, that has been one of the greatest blessings, as strange as it sounds, because in my Christian walk I can honestly say I don’t remember ever being persecuted for the cause of Christ prior to getting involved in active pro-life efforts. 

BP: Do you get many reports about people sharing the gospel and either young women or their partners in responding positively to the gospel or even abortion clinic workers?

BEREIT: We do hear anecdotal stories. We don’t want people to feel that they have to evangelize, but we also encourage them, “Don’t park your faith at home when you’re out there.” We were in La Puente, Calif. – this one comes right to my mind – and the abortion facility there closed after five 40 Days for Life campaigns. We get to meet a baby who was saved in their past campaign. It was a really neat event. And one of the guys was sharing a story about a young man that had been taking – I think it was – a girlfriend into the clinic, and he came out and started yelling at the volunteers. And he just kept coming back every few days, and he would yell at them and yell at them, but over the campaign he softened. And he started finally to say, “Okay now, why are you here?” And they just shared the love of Christ with him. They explained why they were there, and then this gentleman invited him to go with them to his church, and that guy went with him and ended up choosing Christ as his Savior and deciding to give his life to God. ... I get emails all the time – since email is one of our primary forms of communication – from people saying, “I hadn’t gone to church in 20 years, and just by following 40 Days for Life it’s really deepened my faith, and I’ve started going back to church again.” So there’s a lot of opportunities to evangelize as we serve God in this cause of helping speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.

BP: What do you think 40 Days has meant to the pro-life movement?

CARNEY: I guess being on the younger side of it, I think it’s been a massive and exciting shot in the arm. The pro-life movement is good, like coffee, but 40 Days for Life is like espresso. It came along and made something extremely good even better, and for so many people, like we talked about before, it gave them something tangible to do that had the right focus, that had the focus of the gospel and prayer and fasting. And that’s what people want, and that’s what’s so effective in local communities. I mean I’ve had people pull me aside ... and just say 40 Days for Life has brought them a renewed sense of hope. 

BEREIT: I’ll preface this by saying all this is due to the grace of God and fully believe that. ... It’s not because of anything that we’ve done. I believe that in many communities and states and even somewhat on the national scene it has provided a bridge of unity for groups and people to work together that perhaps over the years have either not worked together or have even drifted apart over differences of approach. Who can’t agree with the importance of praying and fasting and peaceful response to the crisis of abortion? ... And the other thing somewhat that I’ll mention is: I think through 40 Days for Life God has revealed Himself more readily as the solution, and I’ve had leaders of national, political or legislative groups say to me things like: “You know what, it’s really helped me to realize that while what we do is vital, we have to focus here. We have to be focused on God’s will first, because ultimately that’s what drives all of us.” 

BP: What do you think 40 Days for Life has meant to the abortion industry or to abortion clinic workers specifically?

CARNEY: I think it has been disheartening, number one, because of the enthusiasm 40 Days for Life can bring to the pro-life local community, and that positive enthusiasm, at the same time, sheds an unwanted light on the local abortion industry. Planned Parenthood makes a living at nesting in a community, at trying to embed themselves in a community as a health-care provider. And a 40 Days for Life can really disrupt that through the peaceful vigil, through the community outreach. And so I think it’s brought light to the fact abortion is a local crisis. It’s not just something kept in Washington, D.C. And so it’s ignited a sort of grass-roots movement that the abortion industry does not have. 

BEREIT: When I was mentioning earlier about the unexpected blessings, the worker conversions is by far the one that has pleasantly surprised us the most. And the fact that they are finding in the people outside a welcoming place to turn has demonstrated the true face and the heart of the pro-life movement. 

Locations for this spring’s 40 Days campaign may be found online at www.40daysforlife.com. Bereit and Carney have written a new book, 40 Days for Life, that was released in January.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.) 

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2/21/2013 2:58:42 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘40 Days’ helps bring healing to N.C. Baptist woman

February 21 2013 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Katherine Hearn never intended to pray at an abortion clinic during 40 Days for Life or any other pro-life effort.
 
Yet, Hearn, a Southern Baptist church member, once again stood outside such a facility Feb. 13 in Charlotte, N.C., on the first day of the latest 40 Days effort – just as she has in every campaign since the pro-life ministry went nationwide in 2007.

At Charlotte and 260 other locations in the world, Hearn and others gathered at abortion clinics for around-the-clock prayer vigils that will continue through March 24. Those vigils – combined with other times of prayer, as well as fasting, and community outreach during two campaigns each year – have been the focus of the highly successful 40 Days approach. In barely five years, the national movement – which has now gone international – has reported more than 550,000 participants and more than 6,700 unborn babies spared from abortion.

Before 40 Days launched nationally, Hearn already had been spending time praying outside an abortion clinic – a place she had planned for a quarter of a century never to revisit. She had undergone an abortion she “never intended to tell anyone about” as a senior in 1976 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

“I never went back to the abortion clinic for my check-up; I was never going back to an abortion clinic,” said Hearn, 58, as part of email and phone interviews with Baptist Press. “So, about 25 years later, when I knew the Lord was calling me back to my abortion ..., I realized that if I truly trusted the Lord, then I had to obey Him and go back to where I never intended to go. The result for me was that my faith grew, and I met the Lord in a very personal way.”
02-21-1340days2.jpg

Photo by Keith Cooper

Katherine Hearn, left, and Jill Coward, both representing Concerned Women for America, endure rain during a prayer vigil outside a Charlotte, N.C., abortion clinic Feb. 13 on the first day of the 40 Days for Life spring campaign.


Hearn was saved while a high school student at a Billy Graham evangelistic service in Charlotte, she said, but she “met the Lord in a way that completely, radically changed” her life when He led her to pray at an abortion clinic.

“It’s all about Jesus,” she said.

Hearn and a pro-life friend, Andrea Hines, already had spent an hour a day for 40 days praying outside a Charlotte clinic when Hines discovered on the Internet the 40 Days for Life effort inaugurated by a pro-life organization in College Station, Texas. When David Bereit and Shawn Carney – the leaders of that local campaign – decided to go nationwide in 2007, Hearn and Hines, were ready to lead the effort in Charlotte.

Though Hearn expressed disappointment in the “lack of response” to 40 Days from pastors and churches in Charlotte, that assessment did not extend to her pastor and church. They have strongly supported the 40 Days campaigns, she said. Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, led by example in 2008 and has continued to encourage the church to participate.

Harris told the church “he would be out all day, 12 hours,” Hearn said. “That is the kind of leadership that inspires the church body to get involved. The response was overwhelming.”

The prayer vigils outside Charlotte abortion clinics continue beyond the 40 Days spring and fall campaigns. A group from First Baptist Church goes to one of Charlotte’s abortion clinics to pray one day each month. Hearn, Hines and others pray regularly at a facility between 40 Days campaigns.

The 40 Days efforts in Charlotte have resulted in what Hearn conservatively estimated as more than 200 babies being saved. Last fall’s campaign recorded 31 children spared from abortion, she said.

On Oct. 8, a mother who decided not to have an abortion in the previous spring’s campaign gave birth to her son. She came to the clinic March 10 to abort her baby, Hearn said.

“She decided not to abort and came to talk with some of us out praying,” Hearn said. “From March until her son’s delivery in October we had lots of opportunities to witness and share the gospel with her.”

She also has seen at least a glimpse of the kind of healing she experienced occur as a result of 40 Days vigils.

During the fall outreach, a woman with a 40-day-old baby joined Hearn and others to pray outside a clinic. 

“Right before she was preparing to leave, she began to cry,” Hearn said. She finally shared she had undergone an abortion seven years before at the same clinic. 

“She had never told anyone, not even her husband,” Hearn said. “We were able to get her post-abortion help.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.) 

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2/21/2013 2:00:58 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Don Rutledge, global missions pioneer, dies

February 21 2013 by Erich Bridges, Baptist Press

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – Renowned photographer Don Rutledge, who told the story of missions through his camera lens for several generations of Southern Baptists, died at his home near Richmond, Va., Feb. 19. He was 82 and had been in declining health for some time.

Traveling throughout the United States and to more than 140 countries over 40-plus years, Rutledge captured quiet moments of humanity and mission ministry in hundreds of classic photographs taken for the Home (now North American) Mission Board and later for the Foreign (now International) Mission Board. His images helped millions to understand, pray for and participate in missions. 

“I love photojournalism and enjoy using it as a worldwide Christian ministry,” Rutledge once wrote. “It forces me to see, to look beyond what the average person observes, to search where few people care even to look, to glance over and beyond my backyard fence.... It helps me translate the national and international ministries into human terms by telling the story through people rather than through statistics.”

Born on a farm in Depression-era Tennessee, Rutledge originally intended to be a pastor. He tried preaching for a time after studying theology in college and seminary. But he discovered an old box camera that belonged to his uncle – and the call to photograph the world and the people in it proved far stronger. 

“He was a good pastor because he was a good listener,” Lucy, his wife of 61 years, remembered. “But photography was always in the background.” 

Black Star, ‘Black Like Me’

Rutledge began to shoot photo stories as a freelancer and obsessively studied the work of great photographers. Some of his self-assigned stories in the 1950s and early ’60s required considerable physical courage, including coverage of the violence surrounding the growing civil rights movement in the South. Still a raw rookie, he heard about New York-based Black Star, then the nation’s top photojournalism agency.

“In total ignorance, I wrote [to Black Star] and offered to do photo stories,” Rutledge recalled many years later. “A form letter replied that they would need to see a portfolio of my work. I felt my pictures were not yet good enough for me to send a set.”

But he sent a list of 10 story ideas. Black Star expressed a mild no-promises interest in one of them for a magazine client. Rutledge took that response as a firm assignment, shot the story and sent in the film. Amused and intrigued, Black Star and the magazine’s editor decided to take a chance on the young upstart and asked for more photos to fill holes in the story, which was eventually published. Rutledge’s future was set.

He eventually joined Black Star as a staff photographer – a job offered to only a handful of America’s top shooters – and covered stories for the next 10 years in numerous countries for magazines such as LIFE, LOOK and Paris Match. He would disappear for months at a time into Latin America and other regions, armed with hundreds of rolls of film and a list of story assignments. 

“I always packed his suitcase with enough shirts, socks and underwear for 10 days,” Lucy said, remembering her early years as a young bride learning the patience and longsuffering she would need for many decades to come. After that, he had to find someplace to wash his clothes. On the first long trip, she added, “I put all his socks in one compartment [in the suitcase]. I don’t think the man found them until he got home.”

Rutledge’s reputation quickly grew – and he became internationally known when he shot the pictures for Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin’s 1961 book about his harsh experiences of racism in the last days of the segregation-era South, when Griffin darkened his skin to appear black. In his racial disguise, Griffin traveled through Louisiana and Mississippi in 1959 with Rutledge at his side. It was a dangerous assignment for the 29-year-old photographer, who never accepted the racial hatred that buffeted his Tennessee boyhood. After the book was published, Griffin was hanged in effigy in his hometown and threatened with death. Even a decade later, Griffin was beaten with chains by Ku Klux Klansmen and left for dead on a back road in Mississippi. He recovered and continued his work. Black Like Me, a modern classic, sold more than 10 million copies, becoming one of the most powerful and influential chronicles of the struggle for change during the civil rights era. 

Back to his roots

At the height of his potential as a globe-trotting photographer, Rutledge left Black Star in 1966 to shoot pictures for the then-Home Mission Board in Atlanta. Several photographer colleagues told him he was crazy but they didn’t understand his deepest motivations. He’d been searching for creative ways to communicate the gospel since his youth in Tennessee.

“In the early 1960s I received a package with photographs and story of an inner-city mission in Chattanooga from a Don Rutledge, known to me only by his part in the creation of the book, Black Like Me,” said Walker Knight, editor of Home Missions magazine at the time. “I recognized the quality of the work in the envelope and immediately wrote back that I would like to publish the story, but I did not have a budget for freelance work. He wrote back that I was to pay what I could and go ahead and use the material. I sent him $25. It was the beginning of a lengthy friendship and the publication of many photo stories from this Black Star photographer, who was also a Baptist minister....
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Photographer Don Rutledge, who told the story of missions through his camera lens for several generations of Southern Baptists, died Feb. 19. He was 82. First in the United States and eventually throughout the world, Rutledge captured quiet moments of humanity and mission ministry in hundreds of classic photographs taken for the Home (now North American) Mission Board and later for the Foreign (now International) Mission Board. He called them “windows on the soul.” His images inspired millions of Southern Baptists to pray for and participate in missions. See photo gallery.


“Later, when the [Home Mission Board] needed a photographer, I recommended Don, but those hiring said he wouldn’t come for our salary. I said, ‘Why not let Don make that decision?’ Don accepted the position and, in the process, changed the denomination’s concept of the power of photography. The publication I edited felt the readership quiver from his first cover, and [photographer] disciples flocked to be taught by his gracious skill.”

Over the next decade and more, Rutledge traveled to all 50 states, capturing the compassion of missionaries and the needs of the people they served in the pages of Home Missions magazine and several full-length books.

“They were doing real gutsy kinds of things,” Rutledge said of home missionaries. “They had people in New York doing ministries right in the middle of the drug culture.... I felt that the camera at this point could become a means of communicating something that people needed to know about.... They were doing things out of their Christian faith and their love of people.”

He shot many stories over summer-long road trips with Lucy and his two young sons. The family would pile into a car and head west. Mom and the boys enjoyed the traveling, sightseeing and motel swimming pools along the way while Dad shot mission-related photo stories. They always ended up at Glorieta (N.M.) Baptist Conference Center for Home Missions Week.

Rutledge went alone, however, to shoot perhaps his greatest U.S.-based story. He spent three weeks in 1979 with Bailey and Luvenia King, a rural Mississippi couple who had long struggled with poverty.

At 62, King was broken by a lifetime of dawn-to-dark labor to feed his family. Doctors claimed it was meningitis and a stroke. “It weren’t that,” a friend said. “His body just plumb wore out.”

But King’s mind was keen. In fact, he was a country Baptist philosopher. “What’s the difference between me and a colored man?” King asked. “Ain’t none, ‘cept sometimes people call me mister.” His belief in accepting others and sharing what little he had shone through. Some folks “don’t want to fool with nothin’,” King observed. “But ... people is worth foolin’ with. All o’ them is. I guess not carin’ is ‘bout as bad a thang as is.”

In the lines and ridges of King’s weathered face, in the light and shadows of his sagging clapboard house, Rutledge’s photographs found his soul.

To the world

In 1980, Rutledge joined the then-Foreign Mission Board in Richmond, Va., as a special assignment photographer, continuing his photographic ministry worldwide for another 15 years, primarily for The Commission magazine. His photo coverages launched the “golden age” of that magazine, which regularly competed with the likes of TIME and National Geographic for top national photo awards each year.

“The coming of Don Rutledge to the Foreign Mission Board (FMB) was a key step in development of The Commission magazine,” said now-retired editor Leland Webb, who spearheaded the magazine’s emergence as a journalistic force to be reckoned with. “Though soft-spoken, Don was strongly determined to get the right photos and to see them used properly. On assignment, if someone seemed about to interfere with Don’s getting the shot he needed, his steely side would surface. He was always passionate about his photography, which he properly understood as his designated Christian ministry.

“Don worked very closely with design editor Dan Beatty; the two could be closeted for hours in Dan’s office reviewing every photo from a trip. Don’s effect on FMB communication, besides his own photography, was in his ... work with Dan and his influence on other photographers. The bulk of the board’s photography in the past could be classified as documentary. Don brought the element of true photojournalism into the mix.”

What was his approach to a story? Some photographers barge into a situation, gadget bags swinging, and create virtual chaos. Then they wonder why people don’t “act naturally.” Somehow, Rutledge managed both to blend into the background and to make friends with everyone in sight – all the while quietly searching out the story. That was his outward method; something more mysterious happened within. No matter how carefully they observed the same people and situations, writers who worked with him on stories would look at his pictures later and discover he had seen important things that had escaped their notice – a look, a sigh, an emotion. He called them “windows on the soul” of his subjects.

“Between 1980 and 1989, I worked with Don on some memorable coverages: Japan, Brazil, Australia, Haiti, Belgium, Russia, Canada, Barbados,” said former IMB writer/editor Mike Creswell, who now works with North Carolina Baptists. “When your writing was going to be arranged around Don’s photos, you were assured of greater readership. He raised the photography bar high indeed for the two Southern Baptist mission boards. When Don brought in his single lens reflex cameras, the Home Mission Board photographers were still carrying heavy, large format cameras around. It is absolutely true that he revolutionized photography for the boards: equipment, philosophy, presentation. He took it from dry documenting to an art form.

“Don Rutledge talked a lot about ‘going beyond’ in photography,” Creswell said. “He was not looking to merely document an event, but rather by going beyond that to introduce a fourth-dimensional depth of relationships. It was sort of like capturing the ‘decisive moment’ which famed photographer Cartier-Bresson wrote about. But rather than capturing the decisive moment in a situation, Don focused his attention on capturing the instant in which relationships were revealed – the instant in a conversation, for example, when a combination of eye contacts, expressions and body language reveal much more than just what the individuals look like.”

Rutledge formally retired from IMB in 1996 but continued doing freelance assignments in the United States and overseas until he suffered a debilitating stroke in 2001.

He received more than 300 awards for his work and inspired hundreds of young photographers, writers and mission communicators – many of whom he mentored personally – to follow in his footsteps. Even the writers, who were the frequent target of his collection of humorous travel stories and who always seemed to have to pick up the tab when they went to lunch with him, loved him. The photographers he has influenced are legion.

“The chance to learn from Don Rutledge was one of the best opportunities in my life,” said photographer Stanley Leary, who first encountered Rutledge as a young newspaper photographer and eventually wrote a master’s thesis about his work. “Don’s storytelling with his camera helped missionaries realize God’s calling for them. Those impacted by his work are vast. Just as vast as his stories are those he mentored. Unless Don was on the phone, his door was open at the office. While I worked with Don, I cannot remember how many people came by or called to ask for Don’s advice. No matter how bad their work, Don treated each and every one with honor, dignity and respect....

“Don understood [that] the relationship of people to each other in the photo is the real power of the storytelling image,” Leary said. “Don understood that God gave His life for a relationship with each one of us. Nothing was more important than to establish and grow relationships. All of Don’s work was to show the power of God’s love. You either see the celebration of God’s love or you feel the sadness of someone who isn’t letting God into their life. Don helped me to realize how I could fulfill my call to ministry with the camera. Don was a pastor who realized the camera was a pulpit and the congregation wasn’t limited by the walls of a church.... I can never thank Don enough for helping me to see the world through God’s eyes.”

In addition to his wife Lucy, of Midlothian, Va., Rutledge is survived by two sons, Mark, an IMB missionary in Haiti, and Craig, of Albany, Ga.; and five grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are incomplete, but the family anticipates a memorial service will be held Feb. 23 at 11 a.m. at Winfree Memorial Baptist Church, 13617 Midlothian Turnpike, Midlothian, Va. 23113. Burial and graveside services will be scheduled later in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Rutledge’s hometown.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erich Bridges, IMB global correspondent, knew Rutledge for more than 30 years and worked with him on multiple overseas assignments.)

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2/21/2013 1:41:02 PM by Erich Bridges, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Can the Lord count on you?’ Luter asks Southern Baptists

February 20 2013 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – Fred Luter challenged Southern Baptists to follow Jesus and be known for evangelism, discipleship and concern for the lost, in his presidential address to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) in Nashville.

Using the familiar question, “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD) Luter stood on Matthew 9:35-38 and drew wisdom from the biblical accounts of Jesus’ interactions with Zacchaeus, blind Bartimaeus, the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery, emphasizing concern for the lost, compassion and prayer.

“If the question was asked, WWJD, what would Jesus do about this generation, about this society, about our nation, my answer would certainly be, Jesus would be concerned about them. Therefore, brothers and sisters ... if Jesus would be concerned ... about the unchurched, we also must be concerned,” Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, preached during the EC’s Feb. 18-19 sessions.

“We must be concerned about their hurts, concerned about their struggles, concerned ... about their addictions, concerned about their pain, ... concerned about their decision. We must be concerned about their eternal destination.

“From this day forward, the Southern Baptist theme should be if I can help somebody, as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or a song, if I can show someone that they’re traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain,” Luter said, quoting the spiritual popularized by Mahalia Jackson.

God has challenged the church to act, not the government, Luter said.
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Photo by Morris Abernathy

Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter addressed the SBC Executive Committee at its Feb. 18-19 meeting in Nashville, challenging Southern Baptists to follow Jesus’ example of compassion, discipleship and concern for the lost.


“Church, listen to the challenge of Jesus and notice the challenge is not to the government – it’s not [gonna] happen. The challenge is not to the president – it’s not [gonna] happen. The challenge is not to the governors, or the mayors, or the police chiefs – it’s not gonna happen.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the challenge from Jesus is to the church. It’s to us, to the body of Christ, to the followers of Jesus,” Luter said.

“The text says, ‘Jesus said to His disciples,’ not to the Republicans [but] to the disciples; not to the Democrats [but] to His disciples. Not those riding the donkey [but] to His disciples. Not those riding an elephant [but] to His disciples. Not those who are pro-Obama [but] to His disciples. Not those who are anti-Obama – Jesus challenged His disciples,” Luter said. “He challenges His children. He challenges His sons and His daughters. He challenges the church.”

Luter called on Southern Baptists to accept Jesus’ challenge and follow His many examples.

“Let’s accept the challenge of Jesus. Let’s accept the challenge of our CEO,” Luter said, referencing SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page. “Let’s accept the challenge of our president, myself. Let’s accept the challenge of the Southern Baptist Convention, that we will continue to be a convention that’s known for the Great Commission and for the Great Commandment,” he said.

“That we will continue to be a convention that’s known for evangelism, that’s known for discipleship, that’s known for our concern for the lost. Let’s accept the challenge by showing America that we care for them. Let’s accept the challenge by showing our states that we care for them. Let’s accept the challenge by showing our world that we care for them.”

Luter emphasized the phrase in Matthew 9:36 that Jesus was “moved with compassion,” noting the Lord’s humanity.

“Don’t read that too fast – notice the human side of Jesus. Notice the humanity of Jesus. Yes, He was divine because He was fully God, but He was also human because He was fully man,” Luter said.

“When Jesus saw the people, the Bible [says] He didn’t look down on them. He saw their predicament ... and was moved with compassion,” Luter said. “In like manner Southern Baptists ... if we’re going to reach this generation, if we’re gonna really care about this generation, we must, we must, we must have compassion for them.”

Luter described the current generation as lost, weary, scattered and without a shepherd. Society has no values, no morals, no spiritual convictions, no conscience, he said, challenging Christians to remember God’s grace.

“Those of you who are still amazed by God’s amazing grace in your own life, not in somebody else’s life; those of you [who] know where you came from; those of you who know how lost you were; those of you who know that if the Lord had not have come into your life, where you would be right now; those of you who are still amazed by God’s amazing grace in your own life,” Luter said, “we must show compassion for this generation.” 

Luter challenged Southern Baptists to be creative, cooperative, committed and willing to do as Jesus.

“What about you Southern Baptists? Can the Lord count on you to be a laborer, to be a worker in His harvest? Can the Lord count on us as Southern Baptists to step up to the plate and make an impact in our world, in our society, in our country?” he asked. “What will it take to reach our generation? I believe we’ve got to do just what Jesus did.

“He was concerned enough to go. He was compassionate enough to help, and He sent out a challenge for more laborers,” Luter said.

“The question of the hour is can the Lord count on each and every one of us, in each of our states, each of our associations, each of our churches, each of our ministries to do the work that he’s called us to do to make a difference in our community, in our city, and in our world?”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer.)
 

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2/20/2013 2:30:36 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



1% Challenge a surprising success, Page says

February 20 2013 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – The 1% Challenge for increased Cooperative Program (CP) giving has been a surprising success, Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee (EC), said Feb. 18. 
 
Page had asked the convention’s 45,000 churches to consider a 1 percent-of-budget increase in Cooperative Program giving, which would add $100 million to the funding stream for Southern Baptist missions and ministries.

“The 1% Challenge began almost two years ago and has received a great deal of positive attention. Honestly, more than I thought it would,” Page told EC members in Nashville. “I thought ... it might have some traction until we got a more comprehensive strategy in place.”

But the challenge has caught on, Page said, and at least 15 percent of Southern Baptist churches either have adopted the challenge or are seriously considering it. “It’s making a difference,” he said.

Also in his report to trustees, Page previewed a sweeping initiative still in the planning stages: Great Commission Advance. 
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Photo by Morris Abernathy

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said the 1% Challenge to increase Cooperative Program giving has received more positive attention than he expected. “It’s making a difference,” Page told EC members.


“We will present the bare bones of this at the Houston convention [in June], but it will be developed much, much more over the next year and then presented in fullness in 2014,” Page said. 

Great Commission Advance, Page said, is an aggressive global vision – reaching the world for Christ – based on a strong home base, fueled by the Cooperative Program. The initiative will start in 2014 and go through 2020, Page said, and it will begin with a massive emphasis on stewardship.

Among the goals of Great Commission Advance are 7,000 international missionaries, 10,000 new churches in North America in the next 10 years and reduced seminary education costs for students. State conventions can add their own specific goals, Page said. 

“Friends, I do believe we’re in a new day where we have an opportunity to do some things together better than we’ve ever done before,” Page said. “We’ve struggled with trust in the past. We’ve struggled with really respecting one another. 

“I believe we’re seeing a day and a time where we realize the enemy is so powerful and the world is going to hell so quickly we must work together,” Page said. “We don’t have an option anymore. This us/them mentality has got to go. So I’m begging you to come together so that we can work together to do the work of the Lord.”

Also in his report, Page said an area he has worked hard on during the past year is ethnic relationships. Through the Hispanic Advisory Council and the African American Advisory Council, Page said, he has been working with ethnic brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage deeper involvement in the convention than ever before.

Soon Page expects to announce the members of an Asian Advisory Council. “That is such an important group of ethnics within our culture,” he said.

“Of our 45,000 churches, almost one in four is ethnic in some fashion – almost 10,000,” Page noted. “Our leadership in all of our convention needs to reflect that ethnic diversity. Let’s work hard on that.”

Page said he will be working with David Dockery, president of Union University, on an Educational Summit where representatives from colleges, universities and seminaries will work specifically on “making education more accessible to our ethnic brothers and sisters.”

Another area of concern during the past year, Page said, has been working toward unity on Calvinism. The advisory council he formed expects to deliver a report to the convention at the annual meeting in Houston, he said. 

“While I’m a non-Calvinist, I’m not an anti-Calvinist,” Page said. “Again, friends, if there was ever a day and time when we all need to be at the table together so that we can work together in missions and evangelism, it’s today....

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re going to come to a new day of saying, ‘We respect each other and we are going to work together to win this world for Christ,’” Page said. 

On the Saturday before June’s SBC annual meeting in Houston, Page said, he’ll be in the “roughest, poorest” part of the city going door to door, sharing the gospel as part of the yearly Crossover evangelism initiative. He challenged SBC leaders and others to join him.

Also in his report, Page mentioned two particular issues that call for increased prayer in the coming days: the anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage and the Boy Scouts of America’s vote on whether to allow homosexual troop leaders and members. 

The Supreme Court’s decision, Page said, could “affect our entire culture.” He added, “We need to pray.” Regarding the Boy Scouts, “God’s people spoke up and spoke up loudly,” he said. “Continue to do that, please.”

Page began his report by showing a Cooperative Program promotion video produced by the Missouri Baptist Convention titled “From You to Eternity,” illustrating how a tithing Southern Baptist impacts the world. 

“That’s one of the things we’re trying to do – some collaborative work with our state partners and entity partners. We come up with that which is best and then we share that and help provide those resources so that all of our state conventions can utilize those resources,” Page said. The video can be accessed at www.mobaptist.org/cp.

Page recognized Jamie Jordan for 30 years of service as a convention attorney alongside Jim Guenther. The two serve as the Executive Committee’s outside general counsel.

He also recapped the roles of each Executive Committee office: convention policy, convention communications and relations, convention finance and convention advancement. 

At the close of the 2011-12 fiscal year, Page reported, revenues exceeded the Executive Committee budget by more than $384,000, expenses were under budget by $336,000, and an undesignated reserve fund reached more than $5 million. 

“Financially, the Executive Committee is in a very positive state of rebound, and we praise God for that,” Page said. “I told you before that we will always be fiscally careful. I am frugal in my own personal life and I believe it is God’s money and we must be good stewards. We have worked hard to do this.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press.)

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2/20/2013 2:15:36 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



EC resolution criticizes Scout leadership

February 20 2013 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee Tuesday (Feb. 19) unanimously passed a resolution that criticizes Boy Scouts leadership for trying to change the policy on homosexuality but also urges the Scouts’ voting members to uphold the current policy in May.

The resolution also commends the Southern Baptists’ Royal Ambassadors program “irrespective” of what the Scouts ultimately decide.

The Boy Scouts executive board appeared poised in early February to lift its prohibition on gay Scout leaders and members and replace it with a “local option,” whereby each sponsoring organization would decide the policy. But facing pressure from its base, the board decided to put the matter before its 1,400 voting members at the national convention in May. 

“We applaud the many Scouts, Scout families, Scouting leaders, host church leaders, and other interested individuals for raising their voices with courage by contacting the national leadership and national board of the Boy Scouts of America,” the resolution states. “... [W]e call on and urge the representatives of the approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America courageously to stand strong on their moral convictions and vote to reject the proposed resolution from the national Scouting leaders, retaining the current policy of moral rectitude that has marked the Boy Scouts of America for more than one hundred years.”

The resolution is critical of Boy Scouts leadership, noting that in January Executive Committee President Frank Page learned in a conference call with Boy Scouts leadership that they “had been working behind the scenes for many months to reverse this policy” while “keeping the more conservative majority of the scouting family in the dark concerning their initiative.” That, the resolution states, amounted to “breaking trust with the very Scout Oath and Law they pledge to uphold.”

The Executive Committee, the resolution says, expresses “its deep dismay and disappointment at the conduct of any Boy Scout leader who openly or surreptitiously built support for their proposal to reverse the Scouts historic position on this issue, thereby alienating conservative religious bodies that sponsor the vast majority of Boy Scout units.”

Lifting the policy, the resolution says, would “increase legal exposure” for any “chartered or sponsoring organization” which decides to uphold the biblical view of sexuality. The resolutions also says that “should this new policy be adopted, dues from all local Scout troops and chapters would flow upward to help fund a national organization that would no longer share the complementary values once espoused by all chartered groups within the Boy Scouts of America.”

Further, if the Boy Scouts change their policy, it would place them “at odds with a consistent biblical worldview on matters of human sexuality, making it an organization that would no longer complement, but rather contradict, belief in God and His moral precepts that serve as the basis for our Christian faith.”

The resolution also calls on “business and corporate leaders who believe in the values of sexual purity, human morality, and biblical righteousness to render financial support for the Boy Scouts of America.”

The resolution mentions the Royal Ambassadors, the Southern Baptist missions organization for boys in grades 1-6. 

“[I]rrespective of the decision of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, we continue to lift up and commend Royal Ambassadors as a Christian values-based organized that, for 105 years, has taught Christian values to boys in Southern Baptist churches, educating at least two million boys in biblical missionary principles and winning tens of thousands to faith in Christ through chapter meetings, Royal Ambassador camps, and other Royal Ambassador activities,” it says.

Following is the full text of the resolution:

RESOLUTION ON THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA’S PROPOSAL TO
CHANGE ITS MEMBERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP POLICIES


WHEREAS, The Boy Scouts of America has, for the past 103 years, been a values-based organization designed to “prepare young people for a lifetime of character and leadership,” equipping them “to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law”; and

WHEREAS, The Scout Oath and Law contains language that complements, and is not contradictory to, belief in God and His moral precepts that serve as the basis for Christian faith (“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”); and 

WHEREAS, The leadership of the Boy Scouts has, for these 103 years, restricted from membership and leadership those persons whose presence would affect in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate “public or private viewpoints” in regard to belief in God and His moral precepts; and

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 2000 that opposition to homosexuality is part of BSA’s “expressive message,” and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message (Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale); and 

WHEREAS, In 2004, the BSA adopted a policy statement that said, in part, “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.”; and

WHEREAS, In 2012, an eleven-person committee convened by the national council of the Boy Scouts completed a two-year study and reported its unanimous consensus that the Boy Scouts retain the current policy as outlined above; and 

WHEREAS, It was reported by NBC News as a breaking news story on January 28, 2013, that the Boy Scouts were poised to change their historic policy at their February board meeting, scheduled for February 4-6, 2013; and

WHEREAS, On January 28, 2013, it was learned in a conference telephone call that included Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, and the three top leaders of the Boy Scouts of America that Scout leadership had been working behind the scenes for many months to reverse this policy, seeking input from activists and disaffected elements of the broader scouting family while keeping the more conservative majority of the scouting family in the dark concerning their initiative, thereby breaking trust with the very Scout Oath and Law they pledge to uphold; and 

WHEREAS, During the week between when news broke of this proposed policy change and the February board meeting, the Boy Scouts received “an outpouring of feedback from the American public”; and

WHEREAS, On February 6, 2013, the national board of the Boy Scouts of America determined that, “due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a deliberate review of its membership policy”; and

WHEREAS, The national BSA board has stated its intent to “further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns” and to allow the “approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council” to “take action on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013”; and 

WHEREAS, The Boy Scouts of America is organized as a hierarchical structure in which authority flows downward from the national organization to keep the program consistent across the country and make the movement of members from one Scout unit to another possible; and 

WHEREAS, This proposed policy provides for each chartered organization—in many instances sponsored by a religious, civic, educational, or other community-based organization – to determine for itself how to address the issue of homosexual membership and leadership, a tenuous position that would allow divergence from the historic, hierarchical structure of the Boy Scouts and increase legal exposure for its chartered or sponsoring organizations; and 

WHEREAS, Should this new policy be adopted, dues from all local Scout troops and chapters would flow upward to help fund a national organization that would no longer share the complementary values once espoused by all chartered groups within the Boy Scouts of America; and

WHEREAS, Biblical teaching is clear that human sexuality is expressed most nobly and appropriately as a monogamous marital relationship between one man and one woman for life; and

WHEREAS, If adopted, the resolution will place the Boy Scouts organization at odds with a consistent biblical worldview on matters of human sexuality, making it an organization that would no longer complement, but rather contradict, belief in God and His moral precepts that serve as the basis for our Christian faith; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention express its deep dismay and disappointment at the conduct of any Boy Scout leader who openly or surreptitiously built support for their proposal to reverse the Scouts historic position on this issue, thereby alienating conservative religious bodies that sponsor the vast majority of Boy Scout units; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we applaud the many Scouts, Scout families, Scouting leaders, host church leaders, and other interested individuals for raising their voices with courage by contacting the national leadership and national board of the Boy Scouts of America; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on and urge the representatives of the approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America courageously to stand strong on their moral convictions and vote to reject the proposed resolution from the national Scouting leaders, retaining the current policy of moral rectitude that has marked the Boy Scouts of America for more than one hundred years; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on business and corporate leaders who believe in the values of sexual purity, human morality, and biblical righteousness to render financial support for the Boy Scouts of America, sending a strong signal to those corporations that have pressured the Scouts to capitulate to popular culture by financial coercion; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That, irrespective of the decision of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, we continue to lift up and commend Royal Ambassadors as a Christian values-based organized that, for 105 years, has taught Christian values to boys in Southern Baptist churches, educating at least two million boys in biblical missionary principles and winning tens of thousands to faith in Christ through chapter meetings, Royal Ambassador camps, and other Royal Ambassador activities.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.) 

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Don Rutledge, missions photographer, dies

February 20 2013 by Erich Bridges, Baptist Press

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – Renowned photographer Don Rutledge, who told the global story of missions through his camera lens for several generations of Southern Baptists, died at his home near Richmond, Va., early Feb. 19. He was 82 and had been in declining health for some time.

Traveling throughout the United States and to more than 140 countries over more than 40 years, Rutledge captured quiet moments of humanity and missions ministry in hundreds of classic photographs taken for the Home (now North American) Mission Board and later for the Foreign (now International) Mission Board (IMB). He called his best photos “windows on the soul.” His images helped millions of inspired viewers to understand, pray for and participate in missions. 

Born on a farm in Depression-era Tennessee, Rutledge originally intended to be a pastor. He tried preaching for a time after studying theology in college and seminary. But he discovered an old box camera that belonged to his uncle, and the call of photographing the world and the people in it proved far stronger. 

He began to shoot photo stories as a freelancer and eventually joined Black Star – then the nation’s top photojournalism agency – covering stories for the next 10 years in numerous countries for magazines such as LIFE, LOOK and Paris Match

His reputation quickly grew, and he became internationally known when he shot the pictures for Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin’s 1961 book about his experiences of racism in the last days of the Jim Crow-era South when Griffin darkened his skin to appear black. The book became one of the most famous chronicles of the struggle for change during the civil rights era. 
02-20-13rutledge175.jpg

Don Rutledge


At the height of his potential as a globe-trotting photographer, Rutledge left Black Star in 1966 to shoot pictures for the then-Home Mission Board. Several photographer colleagues told him he was crazy, but they didn’t understand his deepest motivations. He’d been searching for creative ways to communicate the gospel since his youth in Tennessee. 

Over the next decade and more he traveled to all 50 states, capturing the compassion of missionaries and the needs of the people they served in the pages of Home Missions magazine and three full-length books.

In 1980, he joined the then-Foreign Mission Board as a special assignment photographer, continuing his photographic ministry worldwide for another 15 years, primarily for The Commission magazine. He formally retired in 1996 but continued doing freelance assignments in the United States and overseas until he suffered a debilitating stroke in 2001. 

Rutledge received more than 300 awards for his work and inspired hundreds of young photographers, writers and missions communicators – many of whom he mentored personally – to follow in his footsteps.

“I love photojournalism and enjoy using it as a worldwide Christian ministry,” Rutledge once wrote. “It forces me to see, to look beyond what the average person observes, to search where few people care even to look, to glance over and beyond my backyard fence....

“It gives my ‘seeing’ a newness and a freshness as I work to communicate the Christian messages I want to convey. It helps me translate the national and international ministries into human terms by telling the story through people rather than through statistics.”

Rutledge’s survivors include his wife of 61 years, Lucy, of Midlothian; two sons, Mark, an IMB missionary in Haiti, and Craig, of Albany, Ga.; and several grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are incomplete. 

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erich Bridges is IMB’s global correspondent.)

Related story

Guest column: Don Rutledge: teacher & encourager
Don Rutledge, global missions pioneer, dies
Photo gallery

2/20/2013 1:58:59 PM by Erich Bridges, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Pregnant teen wins case against parents

February 20 2013 by Bonnie Pritchett, Baptist Press

HOUSTON – A judge on Monday (Feb. 18) granted an injunction against the parents of a pregnant teen who alleged they were forcing her through intimidation and threats of violence to have an abortion. 

Stephen Casey, an attorney representing the 16-year-old girl, said she and the teenage father of the baby are both relieved by the decision of Judge James Lombardino of the 308th Harris County Family Court in Houston that frees her to carry the pregnancy to term without coercion from her parents.

“We are very proud of our teenage client for being strong enough to stand against her parents to save her unborn child’s life,” said Greg Terra in a news release from the Texas Center for Defense of Life

Terra and Casey, founders of the Texas organization, represented the girl known in court documents as R.E.K.

Taking the Roe vs. Wade decision and “turning it on its head” as he put it, Casey argued the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand also provides women the right to choose life for their unborn babies. A 1979 case, Bellotti vs. Baird, gave minors the right to choose abortion or life.

Casey admits there is an irony in using the 1973 abortion case to champion a pro-life cause. But he likened the situation to David’s defeat of Goliath.

“It was Goliath’s sword. It wasn’t something David crafted. He used what was there,” Casey told the TEXAN.

A family member of the teenage father sought legal assistance for R.E.K. after discovering she was being pressured by her parents to terminate the pregnancy. Court documents reveal a contentious relationship erupted between R.E.K. and her parents following their discovery of her pregnancy in mid-January. 

The teen’s mom reportedly suggested slipping an abortion pill into a drink for her daughter. On Feb. 8, according to court documents, the teen’s father sent her a text message telling her she “needs an a– whoopin’.”

Casey obtained a temporary restraining order against the parents Feb. 12. The case for the injunction was heard Monday afternoon.

“[Her parents] agreed not to coerce her to have an abortion for the duration of her pregnancy,” Casey said following the hearing.

The parents of both teens agreed in the final order to equally share financial responsibility for medical care related to the pregnancy. If the teens get married the financial burden will fall to them. 

R.E.K.’s parents, the defendants in the case, gave “irrevocable consent” for their daughter to marry the father of her baby. Under a 2005 Texas law, teens as young as 16 can marry with parental consent.

Texas minors can circumvent parental consent and seek judicial intervention when determining whether to have an abortion. Pro-life proponents and their legal advocates claim a majority of abortions are performed on minors who are unaware they can deny consent to the procedure. 

The Texas Center for Defense of Life provides pro bono legal aid to pro-life organizations and women under pressure to terminate their pregnancies.

Those who coerce women to have an abortion violate state and national laws, the attorneys said.

The mother of R.E.K., who indicated she had undergone four abortions, reportedly said an abortion for her daughter was “the right thing to do.” Initial intervention efforts temporarily quelled the situation. When those measures failed, Terra and Casey were called on for help.

“A lawsuit is the nuclear option,” Casey told the Southern Baptist TEXAN last week after filing the temporary restraining order.

Allan Parker, executive director of the Texas Justice Foundation (TJF), said the issuance of a “Dear Parent Letter” usually pacifies parents’ aggression. Created by the TJF, a San Antonio based nonprofit that provides legal assistance for clients like R.E.K., the letter outlines the rights pregnant minors possess. Minors “old enough to get pregnant” can take their case before a judge to keep or abort their babies, he said.

But most minors wanting to keep their babies do not know the law is on their side. The Dear Parent Letter effectively lays out the case on their behalf.

In part, it reads: “Dear Parent ... You (or any other person) may not force, coerce, or pressure your daughter to have an abortion. Besides criminal prosecution ... you and the abortionist could be held liable for the various civil torts, such as battery, negligence, false imprisonment, or other claims.” The letter is used by more than 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers across the nation. Parker credits the letter with saving several thousand unborn babies each year.

Parents usually back down from their intimidating efforts once they learn of the legal ramifications, Parker said. When the fighting stops, more reasoned and life-affirming decisions can be addressed.

Though court intervention is the last resort, the goal is always to bring the family together and not further alienate the daughter from her parents. The reconciliation of the family is a priority in all cases, according to pro-life advocates.

R.E.K., who had lived with her boyfriend’s parents for several months prior to this case, now lives with her mother. Under the ruling, R.E.K. must maintain a “B” average in school in order to have unrestricted use of her vehicle.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bonnie Pritchett is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN.)
2/20/2013 1:48:56 PM by Bonnie Pritchett, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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