February 2015

Page finds ‘rest’ & ‘comfort’ following God’s call

February 18 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Promoting the Cooperative Program (CP), building relationships with leaders at all levels of Baptist life and working to increase the involvement of ethnic minorities in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) were among the activities of Frank S. Page in 2014, he reported to the SBC’s Executive Committee (EC) Feb. 16.
 
“Once in a while people ask me how I feel about this role,” Page, the EC’s president and CEO, said. “‘Do you want to do something else?’ sometimes people say to me. ‘Don’t you want to be a pastor again?’ And I will tell them, in all honesty, I miss being a pastor. I do miss it. But listen to me: I am where I am by the call of God. And when you know you’re where you ought to be in the call of God, there is a great rest and comfort that comes with that.”
 
Page outlined the work accomplished during the past year by each of the EC staff’s six divisions, beginning with the office of the president.
 
“I have done a lot of travelling,” Page said, noting that he visited annual meetings of Baptist state conventions and local associations last fall.

page2-18-15.jpg

Photo by Roger S. Oldham
“I am where I am by the call of God,” Frank S. Page said Feb. 16 in his report to the SBC Executive Committee.

 

Page conducted “pastor listening sessions” across the country in 2014 attended by hundreds of Baptist leaders. To date he has hosted 18 such meetings with some 450 pastors, his accompanying written report stated. In 2015, Page said he has shifted his focus to “individual meetings with as many pastors” as possible.
 
“Everywhere I go, I meet with those I might call game-changer pastors,” Page said. “And I’ve already been meeting with a number and have several scheduled throughout 2015 from coast to coast.”
 
Working with the Asian American, Multiethnic, Mental Health and Small Church/Bivocational Church Advisory Councils continues to be a significant part of Page’s work, he said. The Hispanic Advisory Council and the African American Advisory Council each have completed their work, and Page is attempting to implement their recommendations.
 
The EC staff’s Cooperative Program division, led by vice president Ashley Clayton, encourages churches “in Cooperative Program understanding and development and stewardship development as well,” Page said.
 
The average CP gift hit an all-time low in 2012 of 5.41 percent of a church’s undesignated receipts but has increased to 5.50 percent, Page said.
 
Beginning in 2015, Page will launch a 10-year CP promotion campaign called Great Commission Advance that will emphasize the importance of CP at every level of Southern Baptist life and conclude with the 100th anniversary of CP in 2025.
 
Among the work of the EC staff’s other four divisions:

  • The office of convention advancement, led by vice president Ken Weathersby, “has been developing and implementing strategies for the involvement and participation of various ethnic groups and subset groups in our convention,” Page said.

In 1998, there were only 6,044 non-Anglo congregations cooperating with the SBC, Page said. But in 2013, there were 10,103.

  • The office of convention finance, led by vice president Bill Townes, manages the CP Allocation Budget and the SBC Operating Budget among other responsibilities. For 2014-15, receipts came in at 97.42 percent of the CP Allocation Budget. Receipts for December 2014 and January 2015 indicate an increase in personal and church giving, Page said.

  • The convention communications and relations office, led by vice president Roger S. Oldham, fields inquiries from the media, builds relationships with SBC entities and publishes both SBC LIFE and Baptist Press (BP) among other duties. BP published more than 2,200 news stories and first-person articles last year, Page said.

  • The convention policy and operations office, led by executive vice president D. August Boto, oversees the EC’s computer systems, provides legal and policy assistance to state conventions and SBC entities and manages litigation related to the SBC.

“I work with a small but very capable staff,” Page said. “And I thank God for each and every one of them.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

2/18/2015 5:41:31 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Icy conditions don’t freeze Exec. Committee productivity

February 17 2015 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

“Brrrrr,” Hawaii pastor Chris Metcalf responded to the roll call Feb. 16 for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s (EC) evening session in frozen Nashville.
 
Metcalf, pastor of Lihue Baptist Church in Hawaii, was among 44 EC members who comprised a quorum to conduct business in behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which will hold its annual meeting June 16-17 in Columbus, Ohio.
 
“Welcome to cold and frosty and snowy Nashville, Tenn.,” EC chairman Mike Routt, lead pastor of Colorado Springs’ Circle Drive Baptist Church, said in opening the EC meeting.
 
“If you have one inch of snow, it shuts down the entire city,” Routt quipped. “Denver had eight inches today and it’s business as usual.”
 
The EC’s quorum requirement is half of its 82 members – plus one – representing 34 state and multi-state regions throughout the nation.
 
A state of emergency to deploy the National Guard was declared mid-afternoon on Feb. 16 as ice, sleet and snow gripped the region. Drivers on several interstates faced lengthy closures due to accidents – one in which a mother and young child were killed by a tractor-trailer rig after stopping to help injured passengers in an overturned SUV. Dozens of accidents also were reported on secondary roads.
 
EC officers and EC President Frank S. Page decided Sunday (Feb. 15) to move forward with the Feb. 16-17 sessions since members of the Cooperative Program Committee and a number of other EC members had arrived in Nashville that day. Canceled flights and treacherous road conditions prevented nearly 40 other EC members from traveling to Nashville during the day on Feb. 16.
 
Photo by Roger S. Oldham
Frank S. Page leads Executive Committee members sheltered from a winter storm in Nashville in singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Once the meeting was underway, a sense of Baptist normalcy eased over the auditorium in the SBC Building, buoyed by Page conducting a resolute singing of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by EC members and other attendees – including mission board presidents David Platt of the International Mission Board (IMB) and Kevin Ezell of North American Mission Board (NAMB) and a number of state Baptist convention presidents and executive directors.
 
SBC President Ronnie Floyd, in his message Monday night, drew from Jesus’ words, “I Will Build My Church.”
 
Floyd challenged Southern Baptist leaders to build momentum for the upcoming annual meeting in Columbus; to tell “the compelling story” of Southern Baptists with conviction and clarity; to stand for religious freedom internationally amid onslaughts by the so-called Islamic State against Christians and other Mideast minorities; and to encourage other like-minded congregations to become Southern Baptists.
 
Floyd also continued his often-voiced yearning for spiritual awakening in America to reverse the nation’s moral demise and to stir Christians to take the gospel to the world’s unreached masses.
 
Noting the “Great Awakening” theme for the SBC annual meeting, Floyd said he knows of no other solution “than God coming down and meeting with us powerfully and miraculously like only God can do.”
 
Page, in his EC report, recounted the work of the EC staff’s five divisions during 2014 and looked forward to the year ahead. He reported that a CP promotion campaign called Great Commission Advance will launch in 2015 and conclude at CP’s 100th anniversary in 2025, while the work of various advisory councils continues in an effort to increase the involvement of ethnic and other subgroups in the SBC.
 
In their business session the morning of Feb. 17, EC members approved several recommendations to the annual meeting, including:
 
– a new name, Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, from the former Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, in view of the seminary relocating its primary campus to the Los Angeles area from the San Francisco area.
 
– an amended NAMB ministry statement to include planting churches overseas in agreed-upon instances with the IMB, akin to an amended IMB ministry statement in 2011 to allow the IMB to assist with unreached people groups in the U.S. and Canada. EC members were told that the amended NAMB statement will relate particularly to military chaplains stationed at bases overseas.
 
– SBC bylaw amendments to allow for the potential use of electronic voting devices in the convention hall, after this year’s meeting in Columbus, and to establish a quorum for voting on all matters of SBC business as those present at the time of a ballot.
 
An expanded story about EC action on various business matters will appear in Baptist Press on Wednesday, Feb. 18.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. Contributing to this report were Diana Chandler, BP’s special assignment writer/editor; David Roach, BP chief national correspondent; and Marcia Knox, BP editorial assistant.)
2/17/2015 4:57:55 PM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



ERLC’s agenda includes religious liberty, life

February 17 2015 by Baptist Press staff

Measures to protect religious freedom and the sanctity of human life top the 2015 legislative agenda for the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy entity.
 
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) unveiled Feb. 11 its goals for the new congressional session. Unlike last year, the new Congress will be controlled by one party, the Republicans. The change from a divided Congress occurred in November, when the GOP won control of the Senate.
 
The ERLC faces the challenge not only of gaining passage of its priorities in the Senate and House of Representatives but of overcoming the frequent opposition of the White House, where Democratic President Barack Obama has two more years.
 
The ERLC acknowledged the political realities in its legislative agenda.
 
“While the environment remains very toxic politically, we know God has an agenda of His own,” said ERLC President Russell Moore and Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy. “We will seek to understand His will as we bring Southern Baptist biblical convictions to bear on the great public policy questions of our day.”
 
Religious liberty is particularly important at this time, according to the ERLC.

 
ERLC.jpg

“The ERLC exists to be a witness to and advocate for issues of the common good important to Baptists,” Moore said in a news release announcing the legislative agenda. “In a cultural moment when religious freedom is increasingly imperiled, with a new Congress, we have new opportunities to engage on these important issues, and I look forward to working with our team to engage in the public square for the cause of religious freedom and the common good.”
 
Among the ERLC’s religious freedom goals are:

  • Passage of the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would bar the federal government from discriminating against a person who acts on his belief that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman or that sex is reserved for marriage. Photographers, bakers and florists who have refused to participate in same-sex ceremonies because of their Christian convictions have lost in court or suffered financially despite their appeals to the right to exercise their religion.

  • Approval of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which would exempt from the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate in the 2010 health-care law those who object because of religious convictions. It also would protect the conscience rights of health-care providers and institutions that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or make referrals to abortion providers.

  • Adoption of legislation to protect the freedom of adoption agencies to place children in households based on the entities’ religious convictions.

  • Appointment by the president of a special envoy called for in the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act, which became law last year. The envoy would promote religious liberty in such countries as Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan.

  • Reauthorization of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan advisory panel that informs Congress, the White House and State Department on the condition of religious liberty overseas.

The sanctity of human life is still “a chief concern,” Moore and Duke wrote in the agenda. “While we are not yet at the place politically or culturally to reverse the horrific 1973 Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion on demand, we believe some steps to rein in the worst abuses are possible. Several bills offer us the opportunity to do just that.”
 
Among those bills, they said, are:

  • The Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions on babies 20 weeks or more after fertilization based on scientific evidence that a child in the womb experiences pain by that point in gestation. The House was scheduled to vote on the bill Jan. 22, but its leaders canceled the vote after some GOP members raised concerns about a reporting requirement for victims of rape or incest. New language on the reporting requirement is being formulated, according to the ERLC.

  • The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would institute a permanent, government-wide ban on federal funding of abortion by standardizing prohibitions on such funds that now exist in various federal programs. It also would make certain Americans can identify whether abortion is covered in health insurance plans. The House passed the proposal Jan. 22.

  • The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which would outlaw abortion based on the sex of an unborn child. The ERLC is seeking inclusion in the legislation of a ban on race-selection abortion.

 Other proposals on the ERLC’s agenda include:

  • The State Marriage Defense Act, which will direct the federal government to look at a person’s state of legal residence in deciding marital status of same-sex couples.

  • The Children in Families First Act, which would streamline the process for American households attempting to adopt children overseas.

  • Sufficient funding for the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ effort to establish technology to circumvent Internet firewalls in such countries as China and Vietnam.

  • Immigration reform that is “just and compassionate” and includes undocumented immigrants.

The ERLC will continue to oppose passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act, which would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of homosexual, bisexual or transgender status. The bill fails “to take into consideration all faith-based organizations or the faith-informed convictions of for-profit business owners,” Moore and Duke said.
 
Other issues the ERLC intends to address, Moore and Duke said, include human trafficking, criminal justice reform, hunger, pornography, homosexuality, gambling, predatory payday lending and poverty.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

2/17/2015 1:55:40 PM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



From jailer to church planter

February 17 2015 by Joe Conway, NAMB/Baptist Press

Openness – to the gospel, to people, to change, to God’s leading – has helped Victor Schloss find confidence in God’s calling on his life.
 
The 31-year-old church planter serves San Diego as city missionary for the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send North America focus.
 
At the heart of Schloss’ ministry is a passion to see broken lives reconciled. Experiencing brokenness in his own life, and witnessing it in others during his former career as a sheriff’s deputy, helped Schloss follow his call to church planting.
 
“I gave my life to Christ as a senior in high school,” Schloss said. “Prior to that I was aware of the gospel and who Jesus was, but He was never my Lord. It was never personal before that time.”
 
Schloss attended Azusa Pacific University on a football scholarship but briefly lost his way. He says the loss of his scholarship left him broken and shattered, but it led him to Bible college. It was there that Schloss began to think God might have a different path for him. “There I sensed a call to ministry for the first time.”
 

Dependent confidence

After graduation Schloss secured a position with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. His strong, confident demeanor appeared to be a nice fit with his new assignment at the George F. Bailey Detention Facility where his primary duty was to guard and transport violent sex offenders.

 

Schloss praised God for giving him the confidence he needed to do the job.
 

NAMB.jpg

NAMB Photo by Greg Schneider
Church planter Victor Schloss (right) originally met Jason Esparza when Schloss was a jailer. The former guard and former inmate are now pastor and church member, because of the faithful Gospel conversation that started with another member of San Diego's The Body Church

“Confidence in yourself does not produce dependence on God,” Schloss said. “I want nothing to do with self-confidence. My confidence comes from my total dependence on God.”
 
Schloss was able to look beyond inmates’ propped-up defensive exteriors and see their pain. He took steps to connect with men who were willing to drop their facades.
 
“I was challenged by the brokenness,” Schloss said. “I felt compelled to answer with compassion. Some of my co-workers saw these men only as scum, defined by the charges they faced. I tried to see them as the people Jesus died for.”
 
Schloss’ professionalism and easy manner opened doors for advancement. The department tagged him for command training. But after two years he could not escape the call to plant a church.
 
“I was nervous speaking to my commander about my plans,” Schloss said. “They had invested so much in me, and I was on a leadership trajectory. Schloss said taking a promotion is often referred to by men he worked with as “I gotta roll up.” “I told my commander, ‘Sir, I gotta roll up. God is calling me to do this.’ He said, ‘Victor, we all have a chain of command. I understand.’
 
“They had been so encouraging to me I did not want to disappoint them. But ultimately I did not want to disappoint God,” Schloss said.

 

Confronting doubt

The next move jarred Schloss into doubt about his calling, testing his resolve and perseverance. He accepted a church assignment to serve as a church planter in residence with a quick timeline to launch a new church. But after he arrived, it became apparent to Schloss the plan had changed.
 
The church wanted Schloss to perform an administrative role indefinitely with an eye toward the possibility of eventually planting a new congregation. It was not what he believed he should do. He walked away with no immediate prospects.
 
“I was blessed to make a lot of connections during that time,” Schloss said. “Mike Carlisle (San Diego Southern Baptist Association director of missions) told me he was convinced God had a place for me. At my lowest point of doubt, God revealed Himself.”
 
That revelation would lead Schloss to join with 19 others to plant The Body Church in his San Diego home in 2011.
 
Schloss said since then there have been many confirmations for the move.
 
One recent validation involved him reuniting with Jason Esparza, who was once held at the Bailey detention facility.
 
It happened when Brandon Lamb, a member of The Body, saw Esparza walking his dog and the two men struck up a conversation. Lamb turned the conversation to the gospel when Esparza opened up to him about his personal brokenness.
 
Through that initial conversation, Schloss later connected with Esparza and his fiancé Inna Brody, who both came to faith in Christ. Schloss later baptized the couple.
 
Esparza and Brody are the first Christians in their families.
 
“Inna is a Russian Jewish immigrant,” Schloss said. “Her family wanted nothing to do with Christianity. I told her, ‘You know your family is not going to speak to you if you do this.’ She is the first person in her family to become a Christian. She told me she could not deny her faith, and she had counted the cost, understanding her family would disown her.”
 
Schloss says he has a vision to reach people far from God. He calls members like Lamb “body builders” because they engage their neighbors and introduce people to Christ.
 
The initial launch group of 19 has reached 120 members with a half dozen new first-time visitors attending every week. The Body has baptized 45 new members, established small groups, created partnerships in the community and started Saturday night worship to reach more people.
 
“If you are called by God to plant a church, do it,” Schloss said. “You need an authentic relationship with Christ – that has to come first at the core of who you are – and then be sure of your call. Don’t worry about anything else. Because when everything else is gone, you can trust your Savior and His call on your life.”
 
God’s confirmation, and Schloss’ confidence in Him, allowed Schloss to consider and accept an additional role – city missionary for NAMB’s Send North America: San Diego.
 
“God is bigger than my dreams or ideas,” Schloss said. “He loves this city. I learned not to try to come up with the next new idea. God is here, and if you will discern where He is working you can be much more effective. I’ve learned that I need God.”
 
Watch San Diego church planters talk about their work in “America’s Finest City”:
 


 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2014 edition of On Mission magazine. Visit www.namb.net/SanDiego to discover how you and your church can help reach San Diego for Christ.)

2/17/2015 1:41:15 PM by Joe Conway, NAMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Toronto just part of Daniel Yang’s story

February 17 2015 by Jim Burton, NAMB Communications

Clint Eastwood directed, produced and starred in a film called “Gran Torino” in 2008. The film was about Walt, a retired Detroit autoworker and widower whose neighborhood was no longer homogenous. Gangs were wreaking havoc in the area. When an Asian teen refused to steal Walt’s treasured Gran Torino automobile under gang initiation pressure, Walt befriended the boy, who was Hmong.
 
Eastwood filmed the movie in Daniel Yang’s childhood neighborhood.
 
“‘Gran Torino’ was glamorized compared to how I grew up,” said Yang, who is a second-generation American Hmong. “Jesus, rock and roll and the girls in my youth group saved me [from the gang experience].”
 
The Hmong are a minority people group from Southeast Asia, and they have no homeland. They reside in Vietnam, Thailand, China and Laos. Following the Vietnam War and the Laotian Civil War, many sought refuge in Thailand. By the late 1970s, many of those refugees resettled in Western countries. Detroit was just one landing spot.
 
The immigrant experience defined Yang both then and now.
 
As he struggled to define God’s call upon his life after college and while starting his career, one thing became clear. “I made you for the Word,” Yang felt God saying. “I’m going to use your story of being a second-generation immigrant.”

 
Faith stabilized his family

Immigration is a jolting experience as families face language, culture and economic barriers. His parents made a profession of faith through a Lutheran church, then started attending a Southern Baptist church. By age seven, Yang had also professed faith in Christ.
 
“There was a strong awareness of Jesus in my life,” Yang recalled. “It set the trajectory of my life and prevented me from joining gangs.”
 
By age 21, Yang sensed a calling to “some kind of missional ministry.” But first, there was the American dream.
 

Yang2-17-15.jpg

Facebook photo
Mike Seaman, left, a church planter in Toronto who spent 15 years ministering and studying in North Carolina, baptizes a new believer. Seaman and Daniel Yang started Trinity Life Church in Toronto about two years ago.

Yang attended the University of Michigan on a full scholarship, majoring in computer science, and spent more than eight years as a software developer. But deep inside, he wanted to study the Bible and answer the question, “Do I believe this stuff?”
 
He enrolled in extension courses through The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and realized that God was redirecting him to vocational ministry.
 
“I didn’t want to be a pastor,” Yang said. “I thought I would be a missionary.”
 
He learned about church planting and saw it as a great merger of being a missionary and staying in North America where he felt led to help churches navigate cultural issues. Detroit seemed the natural place to do that. But even with a team and meeting place secured there, Daniel and his wife, Linda, realized that Detroit was not their destiny.
 

Texas pit stop

After participating in an assessment process and deciding not to plant in Detroit, Yang received an invitation to Texas where he joined the staff of NorthWood Church for the Communities in Keller, a predominantly Anglo congregation. He developed a college and young adult ministry while serving as an associate worship pastor.
 
“God was orchestrating something completely different from what I would have ever planned for myself,” Yang said. He finished his seminary degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary while receiving mentoring at NorthWood. Senior Pastor Bob Roberts introduced Yang to the North American Mission Board’s Farm System, aimed at assisting churches in discovering, developing and deploying the next generation of missionaries. Yang began looking for a city to plant a church. That’s when Toronto came into view. After their second vision trip there, Yang recalled, “My wife looked at me and asked, ‘Why aren’t we doing this already?’”
 
Though just four hours from Detroit, the cities are vastly different. Detroit is 87 percent black. Toronto is vastly intercultural and rapidly on the rise as the financial capital of Canada, while Detroit has been in steady decline. Still, he found one similarity.
 
“I grew up in one of the worst neighborhoods in Detroit, and Regent Park historically was the worst in Toronto,” Yang said.
 

North Carolina ties

Fellow church planter Mike Seaman and his wife, Missy, joined the Yangs in planting Trinity Church.
Seaman spent about 15 years in North Carolina, studying at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington for his undergraduate degree and then Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest for his master of divinity and doctoral degrees. While at SEBTS he served as student ministry at Red Bud Baptist Church in Castalia, N.C., which is one of Trinity Life’s supporters.
 
Gary Shugart, who became Red Bud’s pastor after Seaman had already left, said the church builds financial support of Trinity Life into its annual budget. Shugart, who emphasized the need for prayer support for the church, has been on a vision tour to Toronto to see the city and how the church works and is looking at partnering with Tar River Baptist Association, along with churches in the association, to plan future mission trips.
 
Other N.C. churches Seaman said are involved in the church plant include Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh; Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte; Hales Chapel Baptist Church in Zebulon; and Northside Baptist Church in Wilmington.
 
Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh has also been involved mainly through the North American Church Planting Foundation (NACPF), which the church hosts in its facilities. Open Door’s pastor, Dwayne Milioni, serves as NACPF’s board chairman, and Zach Nelson, director, operates the day-to-day ministry. NACPF has been involved with Trinity Life for almost two years. The church’s growth has been “unexpected outside of recognizing God’s grace,” Nelson said. He stresses the importance of coaching or mentoring and developing the essentials of a healthy church.
 
“Communicating the Word of God that can in many ways be timeless and at the same time cross geographic boundaries” can be difficult said Nelson. But that happens when leaders learn to listen and encourage the planters to find the context that works for them without changing the gospel.
 
NACPF’s goal is to link Southern Baptist churches with like-minded churches to help them encourage one another in ministry. In cases like Trinity Life, where there are young pastors who have never planted a church, it’s helpful for them to talk to experienced church planters. “What we are trying to provide is a healthy picture of what association looks like,” said Nelson, who has been NACPF’s director since 2011.
 
The foundation began in 2009 and consists of more than 40 cooperating churches working together to plant other churches.
 
Nelson said the hope is that Trinity Life becomes a hub where NACPF and NAMB’s Farm System can send future church planters to learn the ministry while working within a church. They then will take what they learn to other areas and plant more churches.
 
NACPF’s connection with SEBTS helps church planters as well. They provide a bridge to theological education for the planters on the field.
 
SEBTS is also involved in Trinity Life. They sent a mission team there when the church was starting and are readying another group this spring.
 
“I love working with these people on the ground,” said Stephen Eccher, SEBTS assistant professor of church history and reformation studies, who is leading the Toronto mission trip. “They are really heroes of mine … working in the tough and difficult sections of the globe.”
 
The group will consist of about 15 people, mainly students. One of those is an SEBTS trustee, said Eccher.
 
“Trinity Life is getting ready to do one of their biggest outreaches on Easter week.”
 
Because SEBTS stresses the importance of the Great Commission for professors and students, Eccher said the Toronto trip will be the fifth trip in about 18 months. “These are always a blast for me,” he said, because it allows the students to see him outside an academic context putting faith to action.
 

Church planting

The Yangs and Seamans started a home Bible study as they began building relationships in a city where they knew no one. “It’s always tempting to do what is manageable and predictable,” Yang said. “We could have stayed a house church for a long time.”
 
Through a relationship with the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club, a meeting space opened up. In September 2013, Trinity Life Church launched with the motto, “Discovering identity and destiny in Christ, influencing the city and the world.”
 
Regent Park is fast changing as young adults, many of whom are college educated, are choosing to live there. “Toronto is much like New York City,” Yang said. “It’s a thinking city. You engage people’s hearts through their minds.”
 
“It’s helpful when immigrants see that God sent me to North America and I’m on mission here,” Yang said.
 
As one of North America’s most culturally diverse cities, Toronto is a natural platform for influence. “We’d like to see multiple churches planted in different neighborhoods,” Yang said.
 
Soon, a church planting intern will join them from NAMB’s Farm System.
 
Yang has come to appreciate how Canadian and Southern Baptists do missions through the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®.
 
“We are NAMB missionaries,” Yang said, who recognizes the advantage that support from the entity and Canadian Baptists affords him. “[It] allows us to have a level of stability in terms of me raising my family here in Canada.”
 
The goal for the 2015 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is $60 million. To learn more about the Week of Prayer, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and how your church can be mobilized to push back lostness in North America, visit anniearmstrong.com.
 

Prayer points from Mike Seaman

  • Protection from the Enemy for our families Daniel and I are both married, he has 4 boys, I have 2 girls.

  • We need help discerning the next steps in multiplication.

  • Space is an issue in downtown Toronto. “It’s expensive and the spaces are small. We are growing (praise!), but we can’t find a new space that can accommodate our growth and that we can afford.”

Upcoming vision tours

Through the Great Commission Partnerships of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, N.C. Baptists have partnerships with three strategic focus cities: Toronto, Boston and New York. Vision tours are planned in April, May and September to each city.
 

Boston

  • April 28-29

  • Sept. 22-23

New York

  • April 29-May 1

Toronto

  • May 4-6

  • Sept. 21-23

First-time participants can receive $100 scholarship toward the cost of their trip. Visit ncbaptist.org/gcp for more information or contact Steve Hardy at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5654, or shardy@ncbaptist.org.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jim Burton writes for the North American Mission Board. Dianna L. Cagle, Biblical Recorder production editor, contributed to this story.)
 

2/17/2015 1:18:38 PM by Jim Burton, NAMB Communications | with 0 comments



Charlotte City Council to vote on transgender policy

February 16 2015 by M.H. Cavanaugh, Christian Action League

Christian organizations and clergy across North Carolina are concerned about a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance to be voted on by the Charlotte City Council, February 23. The ordinance would require businesses that work for the city and any “public accommodation” to abide by a non-discrimination policy which includes “marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression.”
 
“Public accommodation” refers to restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, public schools, public gymnasiums, private schools, and day care centers. It essentially means any establishment serving the public.
 
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, cautions, “The proposed ordinance in Charlotte would force every business that provides its services to the public and every business that contracts with the City of Charlotte to have this policy even if adopting one would violate their freedom of conscience and religion.”

charlotte2-16-15-1.jpg
 

“Ordinances of this nature are promoted by various pro-gay rights organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and Equality N.C.,” said Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “They are a serious danger to religious liberty. Their supporters will argue such policies do nothing to diminish religious freedom. But their idea of religious freedom is that you can believe whatever you want, you can worship in private or in your church whatever way you choose, but you can’t practice the tenants of your faith in public except in those ways authorized by the state. This is a clear violation of the principle articulated by the founders in the First Amendment.”
 
The ordinance would also apply to the city’s public restrooms. Dave Kistler, president of the North Carolina Pastors Network, said, “In other words, an individual claiming a sexual identity different than that which they were born would be allowed, by law, to use the restroom of the opposite gender. Obviously, this is more than dangerous and must be stopped.”
 
Fitzgerald said this is why these ordinances are commonly referred to as “bathroom ordinances.” “By passing this ordinance, the Charlotte city council will put women and children in danger,” she said.
 
Council member Ed Driggs (R) argued that the proposed ordinance could put children in danger, also. He said it could be used as a “cover” for sexual predators to go in a bathroom opposite of their gender and stalk little girls. “A lot of people worry that you might provide cover for bad actors,” said Driggs. He added that his statements were not aimed “toward people with legitimate gender identity issues.”
 
Councilman Michael Barnes (D) also raised concerns, saying, “If I send one of my daughters into a public bathroom, and I see a man going into that bathroom, I am going to have some concern.”
 
According to a report in The Charlotte Observer, councilman Kenny Smith (R) asked the council to remove provisions regarding transgender people. He also expressed concern about the bathroom issue in part because of his children.
 
Smith made a motion to remove the vote from the Feb. 23 agenda. His vote was defeated 7-4.
 
Similar laws forced Christian business owners Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to close their business in 2013 because they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. They argued they could not comply with the request because of their religious objections to same-sex marriage. But the Gresham, Ore. couple was found guilty of discrimination and ordered to pay a $150,000 fine to the lesbian couple.
 
In an email alert, Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte noted the proposed “Bathroom Bill” is also like the one supported by the city council and lesbian mayor of Houston, Texas. The measure caused an uproar when the mayor called for the sermon transcripts of several key pastors in the city to be subpoenaed, because of their opposition to the city council’s actions. “Now, the same agenda comes to our own Charlotte, N.C.” said Harris.
 
Fitzgerald said it’s critical this proposed policy be stopped in Charlotte. Its proponents are planning to take it to every major city in the Tar Heel state, she added.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story first appeared at ChristianActionLeague.org (CAL) and is used by permission. K. Allan Blume contributed to this story. The CAL website provides contact information for Charlotte’s mayor and city council members.) 

UPDATE: The Biblical Recorder has learned that the Charlotte City Council has moved the council meeting to Monday, March 2 at 6 p.m.

Related Stories:
Don't do it, Charlotte!
 

2/16/2015 2:21:08 PM by M.H. Cavanaugh, Christian Action League | with 1 comments



Apex church partners with IMB, brings gospel to migrants

February 16 2015 by Paige Turner & Leah Zamora, IMB

Supply bags in hand, the ministry team walked down the dirt path leading to the tin shacks set off from the main road. They spread two tarps across the ground like they do every week. The air offered its usual mixture of smoke and scents from nearby makeshift bathrooms.
 
A number of shacks were empty, and fewer children came to the tarp than weeks before to play games, listen to a Bible story and make crafts. During their last visit to this small village in Thailand, the International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries found out many workers were moving.
 
But this night was still special. Believers from another migrant worker camp just down the road came to share their testimonies. That camp is where IMB missionary Pamela O’Dell* serves. She came to encourage her friends as they shared with the neighboring village – a huge answer to prayer.
 
“We’ve prayed a long time for believers in our camp to be bold,” said the faithful prayer intercessor. “They haven’t really shared their faith outside of their relatives.”
 
A young couple invited the missionaries and migrant believers into their home. The wooden floors sank under the extra weight of the visitors’ every move as they stepped gingerly into the shack. Than* and his wife were the first believers in the camp and they were excited to see other migrant workers choosing to follow Jesus, just like them.
 
The visitors invited the couple out to the tarp to hear a Bible story. The wife stayed home with their newborn but Than* came out, as did several other adults, including a few who hadn’t before shown much interest.

 
Thailand2-16-15-1.jpg

The sweet-spirited migrant families are special to O’Dell, a 40-something mother of two from Mississippi. It’s in their camps throughout northern Thailand where she sees the gospel change lives. It’s where disciples are trained to share God’s love in their home country, a place where foreigners cannot go.
 
The journey to reach this unreached people group began five years ago with a simple prayer – two mothers asking God where He wanted to use their families.
 

The shacks next door

Until O’Dell and her friend committed to prayer-walking every day, the duo hadn’t noticed the migrant workers’ hidden shacks near their homes. The entire community works long, hard hours on construction sites, yet still lives in poverty.
 
Sometimes they aren’t paid for their work. That’s why many in Than’s camp moved. Their boss hadn’t paid them in three months. With only a day’s notice they packed their belongings – nothing more than a few dishes, blankets and handful of clothes – and moved to the next site.
 
O’Dell knew nothing about their transient lifestyle of moving from one job to the next when she began praying. She learned their life of oppression began in a country filled with civil war and unrest. They fled here only to find a life as social outcasts.
 
Still, this spunky redhead knew God wanted her among these people desperate for love. “God said clearly, ‘You pass these people every day. What are you doing to share my love?’”
 
So O’Dell and her family, and another IMB family, prayed about how to build relationships with these migrant workers.
 
With Christmas quickly approaching, they decided to ask about hosting a party in the village. To their surprise the workers not only agreed, but also invited them back to teach the Bible.
 
“In sharing that Christmas party that one time, doors were opened,” O’Dell remembered. “It’s all through the power of prayer that happened.”
 
Week after week this natural nurturer shared plenty of smiles and hugs, played games and taught the Bible.
 
“We want them to know the hope of Jesus. We want to just love on these people,” O’Dell said.
 
Eventually most people in that village moved to other job sites and villages. But having come to love the people, O’Dell prayed for continued ministry.
 
“Although it was a little sad for us to lose the groups we had in the early days,” she said, “it was God multiplying the work.”
 
When workers moved to different camps throughout the city, they invited O’Dell and other IMB missionaries to continue teaching the Bible in their new villages. Prayers were answered as seven migrant camps now have weekly studies.
 

A church in every village

Migrant families aren’t really accepted in the countries where they flee. They are still isolated from society and treated unfairly. Their pain sometimes leads to a search for hope, which brings openness to something different than Buddhism.
 
O’Dell saw it happen for Aom,* an older woman who trusted in Jesus a few years ago.
 
Aom, one of few migrant workers who can read, likes to read the Bible out loud so that her voice echoes among the tin shacks and others can hear.
 
“We began immediately discipling her and challenging her to share her faith,” O’Dell said. “She shares Christ with everyone who moves in her village.”
 
As a result of her faithfulness, several people in her village became believers and a church started.
 
“The vision God gave us in the beginning was to see a church planted in every camp or village,” O’Dell said. “Then, for the migrant workers to be trained to start their own groups and eventually take it back to their home country.”
 
One local believer from the same people group as the migrant workers took this vision to heart. She’s worked side-by-side with the missionaries for years, trying to set an example for sharing one’s faith. Nu* became a Christian despite opposition from her Buddhist family.
 
Her people see trusting in Jesus as betraying their culture and country. For many migrant workers, culture is so strongly linked with Buddhism they can’t imagine turning from tradition.
 
That’s why O’Dell asked churches to pray for local believers and migrant workers who have trusted in Jesus to stand firm in their faith. She knows how important it is for this migrant church to reach out to another village. She knows that ongoing prayer is needed for this people group to truly overcome Buddhist strongholds.
 

Prayers needed

A mission team from Salem Baptist Church in Apex, N.C. spent 30 days in concentrated prayer as they planned to visit the migrants in Thailand and the missionaries that serve them. Kim Powell, a member of Salem, said she prayed for God to “push back the darkness” during the month of prayer leading up to her trip.
 
“I set aside ‘Tuesday for Thailand,’” Powell added. “I committed to pray as I went about my day and had a concentrated prayer time for the people group.”
 
Powell and an International World Changers mission team of college and high school students saw first-hand how God answered their requests. The team visited nine villages in Thailand, six of those were previously unvisited. The team targeted villages strategically, so that long-term missionaries could revisit later to continue discipling new believers.
 
The mission team’s strategy included visiting the migrant camps twice. They went initially to share a meal, play games, and show the “Jesus Film” to groups of up to 200 migrant workers. The team shared another meal on their return, then divided into groups where members of the mission team shared their testimonies.
 
Several of the women in a village, including Thu’s wife, prayed to receive Jesus as their Savior.
 
It was a night Powell will never forget.
 
“One of those ladies was crying and wanted the interpreter to tell me she wasn’t crying because she was sad,” Powell said. “She was crying because she had so much joy.”
 
Nights like these – ones that include tears for Jesus and new believers sharing with their neighbors – were five years in the making. Yet, O’Dell admitted spiritual warfare and darkness still thrive in the villages and among the people.
 
“We beg the American church to just intercede for these people and others like them,” O’Dell said. “God can take the gospel back to their country. We need intercession.”
 
*Name changed

2/16/2015 2:13:08 PM by Paige Turner & Leah Zamora, IMB | with 0 comments



Beth Moore celebrates 20 years with LifeWay

February 16 2015 by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources

This year LifeWay Christian Resources is celebrating 20 years of ministry partnership with author and Bible study teacher Beth Moore.
 
“Today we are honoring Beth Moore, but more important than that we are giving glory to God for His work through this ministry,” said LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer at a special chapel celebration Feb. 11.
 
“Beth Moore’s ministry has reached millions,” Rainer said. “Untold men and women have come to Christ because of her influence both directly and indirectly. She has been a stalwart for the Word of God, never compromising. And when all is said and done, the impact of Beth Moore can only be measured in eternity’s grasp. We are privileged to honor her this day.”
 
Rainer presented Moore with a piece of art created from tiny pieces of paper from the covers of each of her Bible studies. The artwork represents two decades’ worth of work and biblical inspiration.
 
A little known fact is Beth Moore’s first manuscript was turned down by LifeWay, then the Baptist Sunday School Board. But that decision didn’t hold for long. Lee Sizemore, then a video producer at the Sunday School Board, made a trip to Texas to hear the young, energetic Bible study teacher at Houston’s First Baptist Church. Moore was soon asked to give the manuscript back.

bethmoore2-16-15-1.jpg

Photo by Kent Harville
LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer presents Beth Moore with a collage created from the covers of each of her Bible studies. The artwork represents two decades’ worth of work and biblical inspiration.

 

LifeWay published Moore’s first Bible study – A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place – in 1995. Today, her studies have reached more than 21 million women worldwide. Over two decades, Moore’s ministry has extended to 17 Bible studies translated into 17 languages, along with numerous books and 166 Living Proof Live events.
 
During the celebration, Moore reminisced about the first study. Her husband Keith surprised her by taking her to the Houston LifeWay store and showing her the finished product on the shelf. “There it was, the ugliest cover I ever loved,” Moore said. “We bought every copy in the store.
 
“What began as a publishing relationship turned headlong and heartlong into a ministry partnership,” Moore told employees. “I’m so filled with memories and thankful for all the people who I’ve worked with over the years. I can’t thank you enough for the joy to partner with you.”
 
Through tears and laughter, Moore thanked her family for their support and encouragement through the years. And she thanked LifeWay for standing with her and allowing her to do the one thing she feels most called to do – teaching women how to love and live on God’s Word.
 
Referring to Acts 20, Moore pointed to the Apostle Paul as an example of how to live out God’s ministry calling. To fulfill our calling, she said, we must make an emotional investment, be compelled by the spirit, and be determined to finish the task.
 
“Our temptation is to be compelled by our culture,” Moore said. “But if you and I are compelled by culture and not by the spirit of God, whatever we produce will have the shelf life of a head of lettuce. Only what is compelled by the spirit will last.
 
“Today we’ve had the opportunity to look over our shoulders at these past 20 years. But we also look ahead because we have a task to complete.”
 
Moore told employees she is astonished at the breadth of discipleship material available to the body of Christ through LifeWay. Citing Paul’s words in Acts 20:20 Moore told employees, “You did not hold back anything that would be helpful, all for one reason, because Jesus said go and make disciples.
 
“It’s been a blast to look back on these last 20 years,” Moore said, “but now let’s go onward in the name of the living Lord Jesus Christ who is worthy of it all; we shall not hold back.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Carol Pipes is editor of LifeWay’s Facts & Trends magazine.)

2/16/2015 10:42:59 AM by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



Fla., Cuban Baptists offer hope

February 16 2015 by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention

As the United States turns its attention to restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, Florida Baptists continue to work alongside its neighbors 90 miles to the south maintaining relationships built during the past 18 years.
 
“We offer hope to each other,” said David Gonzales, director of volunteer teams ministry with the Western Cuba Baptist Convention, referring to the partnership between the Florida Baptist Convention and its sister convention in Cuba.
 
“We have volunteer teams who come to help our churches with evangelism, ministry and construction as a vital part of our vision for church planting,” Gonzales said. “I believe one of the best things that has happened through the partnership is the close relationships developed between Florida Baptist churches and Cuban churches.”
 
The partnership between the Western Cuba and Florida Baptist Convention was established in 1997 with Florida providing funding to underwrite pastoral salary assistance and other needed projects identified by the Cuban Baptist leaders.
 
In 2014, Florida Baptists sent 24 teams with 176 volunteers to work with the Havana-based Convention organized in 1905, which is estimated to include a combined 2,872 churches, house churches and missions, including 62 new congregations.
 
Florida Baptists established a similar agreement with the Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention in 2014, sending four teams with 32 volunteers to the Santiago-based Convention with 4,569 congregations.
 
This year, 23 teams from Florida Baptist churches are scheduled to go to Western Cuba; seven to Eastern Cuba.

 
cuba2-16-15-1.jpg

Florida Baptist Convention photo by Ken Touchton
Southern Baptist leaders prayer over Pastor Humberto Leal during a trip to Cuba in 2012. Pictured from left are Dennis Wilbanks, former strategist with the Florida Baptist Convention's Partnership Missions Team; Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board president; Craig Culbreth, lead strategist of FBC's Missional Support Group; Carlos Ferrer, NAMB's executive vice president/chief financial officer; and John Sullivan, FBC's executive director-treasurer.

“On average every 12 days a team of Florida Baptists goes to Cuba,” Craig Culbreth, lead strategist for the Convention’s Missional Support Group, said.
 
The volunteers are making an eternal difference as they minister in churches, lay bricks and build roofs, Gonzales said. He cited a Cuban mason hired to work alongside a Florida Baptist team who was led to the Lord through Florida Baptist volunteers. “Many of our churches have had that experience,” he said.
 
“I’ve seen the influence of Florida volunteers raising up lay persons to leadership and serving the Lord today as pastors in their churches,” he added.
 
“There are many examples of how the partnership makes a difference in reaching Cuba for Christ,” Gonzales noted. “Not only because of the financial support provided to us but also by the ministry of many American Christians who come and do ministry as part of a volunteer team.”
 
For the past four years, the 300-member First Baptist Church of Aurantia in Mims has worked alongside a church in Surgidero de Batabano, a small fishing village on the southern coast of Cuba with only one evangelical church.
 
Members from both congregations have worked together to construct a church building that the Cubans have been working on for 11 years. They expect to complete the project by 2017 or 2018.
 
Floridians also have preached, conducted Bible studies with adults, and led a children’s church that has touched young lives in Surgidero and neighboring villages, said Aurantia pastor Dal Cottrell, who returned from the island country Jan. 31.
 
The work in Cuba is “mutually beneficial” to churches in both countries, Cottrell said. “We go and provide biblical and construction materials they cannot get. While at the same time they teach us about perseverance and holiness in a society not so friendly to the gospel. We go with a mindset of giving and serving the Cuban people but we realize after we return we receive much more than we gave.”
 
Team members return from the trip with “a greater desire to reach their neighbors for Christ and to better reach our own community with the gospel,” he said.
 
“I see Florida Baptists as a vessel to take hope to a country in dire need of encouragement,” he said.
 
Steven Shelhammer, pastor of Northwest Baptist Church in Cocoa, took ten members to the Cuban Baptist campground in Mantanza Jan. 9-16. Performing construction tasks by day, the group led evangelistic ministry and a children’s ministry by night.
 
“It was absolutely rewarding to go to share the gospel with people who have never heard the message before. It was a blessing beyond measure,” he said.
 
Although initially concerned about whether church members who had never been on a mission trip would embrace the project, Shelhammer said he had little trouble filling the team of volunteers. Since the group returned to Florida this past month, more members have expressed interest in going next year.
 
“We now have a heart for Cuba. What God did there and here is unbelievable. We have been blessed,” Shelhammer said.
 
Florida Baptists’ passion to share the gospel with Cuba has historical roots, beginning when William F. Wood of Fernandina felt called to minister to Cubans living in Key West and then became the first missionary to Cuba in 1883, sent and supported by the Florida Baptist Convention. That action set into motion a 20-year commitment by Florida Baptists to underwrite missionary efforts to Cuban populations who had migrated to Key West, Tampa and Ybor City.
 
Also in 1881, the State Board of Missions employed Adela Fares of Key West as a missionary to the Cubans; and commissioned Alberto Diaz in 1886 who was preaching Baptist doctrine in Havana, a rarity at that time in Catholic Cuba.
 
Responsibilities for Cuba were assumed by the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board (HMB; now North American Mission Board) in the late 1880s. But that did not stop Florida Baptists’ involvement. At the HMB’s request in 1913, Florida Baptists’ Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) corresponding secretary Charlotte Peelman travelled to Cuba to organize the first Southern Baptist WMU in the island nation.
 
The HMB continued to support the ministry in Western Cuba through church planting and pastor training until the 1959 Communistic takeover which forced the gradual withdrawal of 168 Southern Baptist missionaries two of whom were imprisoned. Between 1970 and 1994 no Southern Baptist missionary effort was permitted.
 
Despite government persecution, Cuban Baptists kept fighting to spread the gospel.
 
In 1987 the Southern Baptist work in Cuba was reassigned to the International Mission Board.
 
Having returned from Cuba this past September, John Holloway, strategist in Florida’s Partnership Missions Team, said he believes the country is undergoing a “transitioning.”
 
“Change progresses as the influence of cultures from around the globe and the growing tourism pushes change forward,” he said. “The entire country seems to be more mobile. People are on the move. A cautious optimism prevails with change on the horizon.”
 
The Cuban brothers in Christ continue to demonstrate a zeal for evangelism and church planting that Holloway calls “contagious and epidemic.” Church members pray and plan for gospel advancement in the areas of church planting and strategic locations of leadership development.
 
In the future, Florida Baptists, who provide a large percentage of both Cuban conventions’ operating budgets from gifts to the Maguire State Mission Offering, will assist the Cubans to expand new groups, houses of prayer and investing in Bibles and discipleship materials.
 
And while many Cuban Baptists in the 1960s were involved politically, this generation of church leaders has always lived under a communist government and now work within the guidelines given to them, Culbreth said.
 
“Young pastors are becoming more courageous and are thinking strategically about church life and how to make disciples,” Culbreth noted.
 
“The most visible change seems to be in the heart of the evangelical leaders nationwide as they pray and plan for their tomorrows,” Holloway said. “There is a prevailing belief that God has given Cuba a mandate to advance the gospel and that He is orchestrating the events of Cuban history to bring about His will.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.)
 

Related Stories:

U.S.-Cuba diplomacy sparks hope and wariness
Elliff calls SBC to ‘one sacred effort’

2/16/2015 10:33:12 AM by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention | with 0 comments



Southern Seminary launches Global Campus

February 13 2015 by S. Craig Sanders, SBTS Communications

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary launched its new Global Campus allowing students who serve in ministry around the world to complete a master’s of divinity degree through distance learning options including online, seminary leaders announced Feb. 12.
 
“We do not merely want to have a program that allows people to access Southern Seminary online,” said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. when he announced the initiative in chapel during the seminary’s Great Commission Focus. “Our ambition is bolder than that — it is to reach the nations.”
 
Through the Global Campus, students can earn the M.Div. entirely through Southern Seminary Online or one of the institution’s nine extension centers. Other distance learning options include hybrid modular, conference, mission trip or J-term courses, and the Ministry Apprenticeship Program.
 
Mohler said the digital age has opened new opportunities to “eclipse geographical boundaries” and provide theological education to anyone regardless of location. He said faculty trips to China have led to requests from Christians there to continue learning from seminary professors. The Global Campus, Mohler said, is the seminary’s opportunity to overcome previously “impermeable” barriers.
 
“Our mission is, and will always be, the same: to train, to educate, and to prepare God-called ministers for more faithful service in the churches and on the mission fields of the world,” Mohler said. “We want to make certain that the reach of Southern Seminary’s theological education is not bounded by physical distinctions that new technologies have allowed us to overcome.”

globalcampus2-16-15.jpg

 R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discusses the school's new Global Campus in a video available at www.sbts.edu/globalcampus.

 

The seminary held special events during the week of Feb. 9 for Great Commission Focus, an emphasis on the call to missions and evangelism. Mohler said in a video recorded for the Global Campus that the Great Commission “fuels our global vision.”
 
“We’re not trying to sell a product to the world, we have a message to take to the world,” Mohler said in the video.
 
The Global Campus opportunity will not only make theological education more accessible for international students but also allow students like Katie Gibson to obtain a degree while obeying the missionary call. Katie and her husband Jonathan Gibson, of Danville, Illinois, are preparing for a move to west Asia, and said even though she will have no access to campus that she can “benefit from the wealth of resources and knowledge available at SBTS.”
 
While the Global Campus will allow students to earn the M.Div. online, Mohler said Southern Seminary remains “absolutely committed to the centrality of the on-campus experience.”
 
“The most important context to which we can aim is that which puts a professor and students in the physical classroom, where we believe the most amazing things of all can happen in the educational opportunity the Lord has given to us,” Mohler said in his chapel announcement.
 
A variety of Global Campus opportunities retain the on-campus learning experience. The hybrid modular courses blend online learning with classroom experience at the Louisville campus. J-term courses are week-long sessions held in the winter or summer between semesters. Southern Seminary operates nine extension centers across the United States: New York City; Boston, Massachusetts; Columbia, Maryland; Knoxville, Jackson and Nashville, Tennessee; Greenville, South Carolina; Springdale, Arkansas; and Washington, D.C.
 
Students can also earn course credit on mission trips through the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization or in seminary-affiliated conferences. Churches that participate in the Ministry Apprenticeship Program provide opportunities to earn course credit through qualified ministry internships.
 
The Global Campus tagline, “From Louisville to Laos,” emphasizes Southern’s commitment to providing quality theological education wherever students are faithfully serving in ministry, seminary leaders say.
 
“You may remember that great Methodist John Wesley who said, ‘The world is my parish,” Mohler said. “Now Southern Seminary is ready to say, ‘The world is our campus.’”
 
For more information on Southern Seminary’s Global Campus, visit sbts.edu/globalcampus.

2/13/2015 3:52:02 PM by S. Craig Sanders, SBTS Communications | with 0 comments



Displaying results 31-40 (of 50)
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5  >  >|