February 2017

Former SBC leader Duke McCall: NAMB obsolete

October 22 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An elder statesman who led three Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entities for a total of 40 years says the denomination’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) is an obsolete bureaucracy that will likely have a diminished role or disappear altogether in the 21st century.

Duke McCall, 95, who retired from denominational work in 1982, says in a recently published essay that leadership missteps before 2006 add to NAMB’s vulnerability as a new generation of SBC leaders emerges in the first quarter of the 21st century. On the other hand, McCall says, NAMB’s successes have helped boost the growth of Baptist state conventions across the nation.

“These state conventions are a better alternative for domestic missions than a central organization,” McCall writes. “This has been obvious for at least 50 years in that most of the Cooperative Program funds sent to Atlanta for the North American Mission Board have actually been spent by the state conventions through various kinds of ‘partnership’ programs.”

McCall’s essay is a postscript chapter in Against the Wind: The Moderate Voice in Baptist Life written by Carl Kell.

McCall, who recently had a building named in his honor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., called the North American Mission Board a “wasteful funding mechanism” that “has served as a pressure device to keep state conventions in line with Southern Baptist Convention programs.” The board was established in a merger of three former SBC agencies in 1997,

“Thus the North American Mission Board continues to appeal to SBC leaders despite its clear obsolescence,” McCall says.

Southern Seminary photo

Southern Seminary President Al Mohler and wife, Mary, took Duke and Winona McCall on a tour of the newly finished Duke K. McCall Sesquicentennial Pavilion when the Southern Baptist Convention met in Louisville this June.


Kell said McCall originally submitted the essay and revisions in 2006-2007, before discussion that led to the appointment in June of an 18-member task force assigned to study how Southern Baptists can work “more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.”

Meetings of the task force, appointed by SBC president Johnny Hunt, are not open to the press, but comments by individual members suggest looking at the role of NAMB is part of their thinking.

According to the North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder, Danny Akin, a task force member and president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, recently told visitors to campus that NAMB “is broke, and has been broke for a long time.”

Pastors quoted in a task force listening session at a North Carolina Baptist church described Southern Baptists’ church-planting method as “stupid” and said it involved “massive replication.” Al Gilbert, a member of the task force and former special assistant to the president of the SBC International Mission Board, said NAMB’s image is different in Old South states that essentially provide the agency’s funds than it is in northern and western states that depend on NAMB funding.

McCall says a few changes in the Cooperative Program — the SBC’s unified giving mechanism — would improve efficiency and greatly strengthen the Baptist state conventions. He said a major overhaul of the unified funding plan is overdue.

“Like the nation’s budget, it has been the victim of political changes until it reflects political power more than fiscal rationality or denominational strategy,” he says.

McCall says a revision of SBC strategy “looms in the near future, but the political stars are not yet in alignment.”

He says it would probably be about 2015, after at least three “new breed” SBC presidents have served their terms and made appointments to the convention’s committee on boards. Any effort before that, he says, “would come from impatience and result in little change, because the mindset at the end of the last century will still be in office.”

He suggests a target date for “a renewal of the Cooperative Program” for its centennial in 2025.

“Renewing the Cooperative Program with the new vision and emphases of the new generation of leaders will shape the life of Southern Baptists for the 21st century,” McCall writes. “This will be comparable to the birth of the Cooperative Program in 1925. It will not alter the theological focus, but it will determine whether Southern Baptists major on evangelism and missions (and how) or on theological education (which will affect theology) or on social work (which will maintain the present alliance with national politics.)”

Born in 1914 in Meridian, Miss., McCall played an influential role in Baptist life soon after he graduated as valedictorian at Furman University. Originally an aspiring lawyer, he surrendered to a call to the ministry age 21.

At 25 he served as pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and at age 28 became president of the Baptist Bible Institute, now New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In his early 30s McCall became executive secretary of the SBC Executive Committee. In 1951, at age 37, McCall became seventh president of Southern Seminary, the denomination’s oldest theological school. He retired in 1982 after serving longer than any other president in the school’s history.

From 1980 to 1985, McCall served as president of the Baptist World Alliance. In 1990 he and several others formed the Baptist Cooperative Missions Program, an alternative channel for funding Southern Baptist ministries, which soon transferred its resources to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. McCall’s memoirs were released in 2002 with the title, Duke McCall: An Oral History.

Against the Wind, published by the University of Tennessee Press, is third in a trilogy of books by Kell, professor of communication at Western Kentucky University, analyzing rhetoric of the conservative/moderate controversy that divided the Southern Baptist Convention beginning in the 1970s.

Kell’s 1999 In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention, co-authored with North Carolina State University professor Raymond Camp, won a national book of the year award in 2000. The second book, Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War, came out in 2006.

In Against the Wind, Kell says that while there was no reason to label them “moderates” before the SBC controversy, there have always been men and women loyal to the Baptist ideal and rhetorical themes of freedom — Bible freedom, soul freedom, church freedom and religious freedom.

Kell argues that the men and women who came to be targeted for perceived “liberalism” and failure to conform to the prevailing fundamentalist perspective had roots in the post-World War II church culture, particularly in the youth-evangelism movement of the late 1940s and 1950s that helped swell the SBC’s membership. In later years a number of factors led many Southern Baptists away from the denomination of their youth, Kell says, and those factors continue to drive current and ongoing changes in the denominational drifts of the SBC.

McCall isn’t the only former SBC agency head questioning NAMB’s effectiveness. Larry Lewis, who was president of the Home Mission Board until it was combined with the SBC Radio and Television and Brotherhood commissions to form NAMB, called the merger “a step backwards” that “eliminated or marginalized some of our most productive entities.”

A newly released annual study of church giving conducted by empty tomb, inc., a Christian research and service organization based in Champaign, Ill., described the Southern Baptist Convention as having a clearly stated goal for engaging all of the world’s unreached people groups but lacking a strategy for raising new dollars to pay for additional missionaries.

The Great Commission Task Force is scheduled to meet Oct. 27 in Dallas with leaders of Baptist state conventions. Twenty-two of 42 invited state executive directors indicated they plan to attend. Bill Mackey of the Kentucky Baptist Convention will lead the executive directors in their presentation to the task force.
 
Two top SBC leaders — Jerry Rankin at the International Mission Board and Morris Chapman at the Executive Committee — have recently announced retirement dates. Ronnie Floyd, chairman of the Great Commission Task Force, issued a statement saying the task force’s assignment is not to pick their replacements, but that is up to each entity’s board of trustees.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)

10/22/2009 4:27:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 1 comments



Illinois pastor’s killer unfit to stand trial

October 22 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — A man accused of fatally shooting a Southern Baptist pastor inside an Illinois church in March has been found unfit to stand trial.

The decision handed down Oct. 20 followed a mental evaluation of Terry Sedlacek of Troy, Ill. He is accused of walking into First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., during a worship service March 8 and gunning down Pastor Fred Winters in the middle of his sermon.

According to local media, Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli signed an order agreeing with a court-ordered psychologist that Sedlacek, 27, is schizophrenic and unlikely to be able to understand the legal proceedings or assist in his defense.
 
Robert Heilbronner, a licensed clinical psychologist based at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., said the suspect “is likely to provide his attorneys with inaccurate or illogical explanations” for his behavior. He also said the defendant would have problems following the process in a courtroom setting and listening to or understanding explanations provided to him and be unable to respond in a relevant manner during pleading or testimony.

Madison County public defender John Rekowski told the Associated Press the judge made “obviously the correct ruling.”

Fred Winters, 45, died almost instantly after being shot in the heart while preaching at his pulpit in Maryville, Ill.


“Terry is a very sick individual,” Rekowski told St. Louis Public Radio. “He is not totally in touch with all the things he needs to be in touch with and doesn’t totally understand what’s going on.”
 
Sedlacek will be evaluated within 30 days to determine if treatment will allow him to stand trial within a year.

Madison County’s state’s attorney Bill Mudge said if Sedlacek responds to treatment and eventually is deemed fit to go on trial, “the people of the state of Illinois stand ready to prosecute this case and seek justice for the victims, their families” and the church.

If he is unable to stand trial, Sedlacek could be committed to a mental institution for life.
Committed = http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/sedlacek-32296-attorneys-heilbronner.html
First Baptist Church in Maryville released a statement supporting the legal process.

“One of the benefits and blessings to our country is our legal system, the foundations it was built upon, and the conviction that truth will prevail,” the statement said. “We leave decisions, like the one of today, in its hands. We are not in a position to make determinations like the court is able. Our responsibility is to pray for those who make these decisions and for God to bring to light any and everything pertaining to the truth of what happened.”

Still, the congregation’s statement continued, “Days like today can cause emotions to resurface reminding us of the unimaginable events that occurred on March 8.”

“That day can either divide us, or serve to unite our hearts with intentional purpose,” the congregation stated. “It is a reminder to us that many others have suffered similar tragedies and our desire for them is that we, the Church, would be able to bring them hope, grace, and encouragement, which we believe can only be fully discovered in a relationship with God.”

The church recently called an interim pastor to fill in while a permanent successor to Winters is sought. Tom Hufty, vice president for collegiate affairs at Hannibal-LaGrange College in nearby Hannibal, Mo., began duties Oct. 11.

Associate pastors have managed the church the last seven months. Guest preachers have included Southern Baptist Convention president Johnny Hunt, SBC International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin and Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.

Winters, 45, had been pastor of the Maryville congregation for 21 years. A search for his successor is expected to take up to two years.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)

10/22/2009 4:21:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Filipino pastors look past their own needs

October 22 2009 by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press

MANILA, Philippines — “It took me four hours to swim home,” says Mac Reyes, youth pastor at International Baptist Church of Manila.

He and Derick Jacinto, the church administrator, were at a church meeting Sept. 26 when Typhoon Ketsana began pouring out its wrath on Metro Manila.

As news spread of widespread flooding throughout the Asian megacity, the group was advised to stay put. But a few hours later, Reyes received a frantic text message from his wife that the water was rising rapidly in their home. He set out for home — on foot.

The way home for him was down Marcos Highway, a four-lane expressway that runs through northeast Manila, where the flooding was at its worst. Along with hundreds of others, Reyes pushed toward home. As night fell, water was up to his chest.

“I became a sort of traffic cop on Marcos Highway,” Reyes said. “There was no electricity, and I used the light from my cell phone to help direct people to the safest path.”

IMB photo

Minister Mac Reyes prays with Rosalina De Guzman in the Nangka resettlement area, home to more than 2,000 people in Manila, Philippines. De Guzman stopped Reyes in the alley and asked, “Are you born again?” When Reyes said he was, the woman replied, “I knew you were. Will you pray with me?”


He reached his neighborhood but found he couldn’t reach his house. He was able to reach them by cell phone.

“My wife and son abandoned the house and moved to a Catholic church in our neighborhood,” Reyes said. “From there, they moved to another church where they waited out the storm.”

Reyes swam against the current to reach the church where his wife and son were waiting. Days passed before they could return home.

Mudding out
Jacinto chose to spend that Saturday night at the church after learning his family was safe on the second floor of his sister’s townhouse. He, his wife and three children live in the first floor of the townhouse. He headed out early Sunday and was reunited with his family members a few hours later. On Tuesday, with water still standing in the bottom level of his home, Jacinto found tire inner tubes and floated his family to safety.

“My kids thought it was fun,” Jacinto smiled. “They said, ‘Oh, Daddy, let’s go swimming!’“

Two weeks later, Jacinto and his family were still living in a classroom at their church. The floodwaters in the streets of their neighborhood were still knee-deep.

Local residents are transporting neighbors to their homes via canoes. Several Kentucky Baptist disaster relief volunteers reached Jacinto’s home that way and spent a day cleaning out the mud. The group from Kentucky was among 30 trained state convention disaster relief volunteers whose efforts were coordinated through Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization.

Dovie Smallwood, the only woman in the group of volunteers, took great care to salvage as many of the Jacinto family’s mementos as possible.

“I see the treasures that need to be saved,” Smallwood said. “That’s why I think women are a vital part of a disaster relief team.” Then she joked, “These men just want to go in and throw everything away. But you take them into a tool shed, and they’ll save every rusty old screwdriver.”

However, few of Jacinto’s possessions were salvageable, including an overstuffed couch and loveseat. With homeowner’s insurance a rare luxury in the Philippines, the family may not be able to easily replace the furniture. The team carefully explained the health dangers of keeping the pieces, which were covered in mold and mud.

Jacinto merely hung his head and nodded.

IMB photo

Manila’s Nangka resettlement area, located near a large river, was hit hard by flash flooding. The release of storm water from a nearby dam forced some families to seek refuge on the roof of three-story homes.


“We can’t tell him to throw them away,” said Coy Webb, state director for Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. “It has to be his decision.”

Jacinto symbolizes countless Filipinos who lost most or all of their possessions in the flood.

Even in the midst of tragedy, however, glimmers of hope abound. Rosalina De Guzman, 70, lives among one of Metro Manila’s many neighborhood alleyways. As Reyes passed by her home two weeks after the storm, she sat on her front step, washing clothes in a plastic tub.

“Are you a pastor?” she called to him.

Reyes stopped to reply, “Yes, ma’am.”

“What is your religion?”

“I am a Southern Baptist.”

“Are you born again?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I knew you were born again when I first saw you here two weeks ago,” she smiled.

In the midst of trying to recover from their own personal disasters, both Reyes and Jacinto continue to assess their community’s needs and look for ways their church can best meet those needs in the name of Jesus.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rivers is a writer for the International Mission Board.)

Related stories
N.C. volunteers rush to aid victims
Vols mud out Manila, share God’s love
10/22/2009 4:11:00 AM by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Vols ‘mud out’ Manila, share God’s love

October 22 2009 by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press

MANILA, Philippines — Mud. Hunger. Garbage. Mud. Poverty. Sewage. Mud.

These were the sights and smells that greeted 30 disaster relief volunteers from Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas in mid-October when they arrived in an area of Manila, Philippines, hard-hit by two typhoons.

IMB photo

Neighborhood boys watch as disaster relief volunteers from Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas mud out the basement of a school in Manila, Philippines.


The group worked with local church members and Southern Baptist missionaries serving in the Philippines to help residents of metro Manila recover from the flooding that covered nearly 80 percent of the city when Typhoon Ketsana struck Sept. 26. Weeks later, parts of the area that weren’t still underwater were covered in mud.

“This is Katrina times four,” said Larry Shine, who directed the team’s efforts. Shine serves as the Southern Baptists of Texas task force director for cleanup and recovery.

According to reports, more rain fell in six hours than the city normally receives in the entire month of September. As the water began to rise at an alarming rate, residents began scrambling for safety.

At the height of the rains, floodwaters reached the top floor of a three-story building that houses Nangka High School. The building is situated in an area of squatter homes and shanties along the banks of the major river system in eastern Manila.

“We were not prepared for this disaster,” said Angie Tan, director of a vocational school for youth and adults that holds classes in the building’s basement. “Usually when the river overflows, it only rises to table level. My staff was working to move the small items in the baking classroom onto the big oven. But when the water reached their necks, they had to escape.”

In the week following the disaster, 42 families sought temporary shelter on the building’s third floor. As the water began to recede, the second and third floors were cleaned for some classes to resume. Meanwhile, the basement remained full of mud.

The Southern Baptist volunteers helped city workers clean up those basement classrooms after the volunteers mudded out the homes of two Filipino pastors and assisted with food distribution the week before.

“I am very glad to say thank you,” said Vilma Rollado, a Nangka community leader and staff member at the vocational school.

Rollado learned the Baptist disaster relief teams were available through Mac Reyes, youth pastor at International Baptist Church of Manila.

The Nangka community has no evangelical church presence. Just three days after the flood, Reyes worked with Southern Baptist missionary Shirley Seale to distribute food purchased with Southern Baptist world hunger funds to 300 people in a three-alley section of Nangka. Church members helped clean the vocational school and plan to provide medical clinics and post-traumatic counseling for flood victims.

“Our goal is to empower the local church to minister to the local people,” Shine said.

Because of the efforts of disaster relief volunteers, Luzon Baptist Convention is interested in starting its own disaster relief program, and International Baptist Church is leading the way. Shine and Reyes visited a basketball court serving as home to 500 people who lost their homes in the flooding. Shine helped Reyes assess additional needs that can be met by local churches and additional BGR volunteer teams over the coming weeks. International Baptist Church leadership also hosted a disaster relief training program for area churches.

IMB photo

Members of Metro Heights Community Church in Manila, Philippines, pack bags of relief food that include rice, noodles, milk, fish and cooking oil.


“We bring leadership, equipment and know-how,” said Miguel Tello, a Baptist Men’s disaster relief volunteer. “We want to leave the equipment and the knowledge with the nationals. If we just come and clean up, that’s not as effective.”

By training nationals to set up their own programs, Tello believes local churches will be better prepared to respond when the next disaster strikes.

But training programs are not the only positive results from the teams’ visit to Manila.

“The highlight of the trip for me was the six professions of faith in Pastor Rico’s church,” said Jimmie Eisenhower from Oklahoma’s disaster relief team. Eisenhower was part of the team that mudded out the home of Roger and Rosie Rico.

“Rosie had been praying for them for a while, and the disaster brought them to the church,” Eisenhower said. “It was just so good to see the Lord at work in the midst of adversity and to know that these six will be discipled by Roger and Rosie and will grow in their faith.”

Dovie Smallwood, a Kentucky disaster relief volunteer, had the opportunity to share Christ with one of her roommates.

“I rented bed space in the hotel, so there were about six others sharing the room,” Smallwood explained.

A Filipina who works in a Middle Eastern country was in the bed beside Smallwood. Although she claimed to be a believer, the woman said Christ could not accept her because of her lifestyle.

“I told her that God loved her and that He could release her from her bondage,” Smallwood said, “and I led her in a sinner’s prayer.”

Within days after Typhoon Ketsana struck, International Mission Board workers Greg and Jill Harvell and their house church had distributed 400 bags of food purchased with Southern Baptist world hunger funds. Four volunteers from Texas helped pack and distribute an additional 400 bags. In total, the house church has distributed 3,600 bags of food.

House church member Priscilla Divas received a text message from her cousin, a doctor who is providing medical services to people suffering from the flooding in the Bulacan community. She expressed appreciation for her pastor and the relief team, noting that seven people had accepted Jesus as an offshoot of their generosity.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rivers is a writer for the International Mission Board. Donations to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund help make relief efforts like this possible. For information about donating, visit worldhungerfund.com.)

Related stories
N.C. volunteers rush to aid victims
Filipino pastors look past their own needs

10/22/2009 4:06:00 AM by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Charlotte, Shelby churches ride for children

October 21 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Children riding bicycles in the cold damp weather Oct. 17 to raise money for Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) met a hero who is going to ride across the state for the same cause next year.

First Baptist Church, Charlotte, and Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby joined forces to “Bike for Change.” It was Elizabeth’s first time joining First Baptist, which has raised $88,940 in seven years, including a record $17,876 this year.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

From right, JR Parker and Logan Standish line up with others to begin their “Bike for Change.” See photo album.


Elizabeth is the home church of Jay Westmoreland, the First Baptist member and BCH trustee who organizes the ride.

“I was particularly delighted to see the ‘multiplication effect’ as Elizabeth joined with us this year,” Westmoreland said.

He said Elizabeth Baptist is tentatively planning a similar event in Shelby next year and would invite other local churches to participate.

Children met Chris Boone, the man who holds the speed record for riding the entire 470 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in just 29 hours and 36 minutes.

To support BCH during its 125th anniversary year next September Boone will attempt to break the 564-mile Murphy to Manteo speed record of 41 hours.

As BCH development officer Lewis Smith says, “Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way.”

BCH will organize special events related to the anniversary and that ride, and Boone is going to begin a blog at www.biblicalrecorder.org so friends can track his training progress. Boone, 44, with his wife, Lisa and son Zach, are members of Rebels Creek Baptist Church in Bakersville.

Huddled with warm coffee and donuts, parents helped Westmoreland arrange children on the track by age group. After a couple laps on the wet track at Northside Baptist Church everyone’s jacket sported a broad wet stripe up the back.

Boone signed autographs and encouraged the riders. After riders had “dried off the track” Boone took a few laps with them. A triathlete, Boone owns a landscaping and a building stone company, and Lisa is director of nursing for the Mitchell County Hospice.

Other churches interested in holding a similar event can contact Westmoreland for helpful planning details.  

 

10/21/2009 5:24:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



‘The nations came to us’

October 21 2009 by Marilyn Stewart, Baptist Press

Missions was a way of life at Friendly Avenue Baptist Church of Greensboro, where the service projects list fills a page. Then, a nation showed up at their doorstep.
 
Refugees from war-torn Burma, known as Myanmar, are being relocated to the Greensboro area. Known as the Karen people, the refugees fled first into Thailand to escape political persecution and a country ravaged by last year’s deadly cyclone.
 
“The nations came to us,” said pastor Pat Cronin.
 
The church’s ministry to the Karen began when it “adopted” one family a little over a year ago. Recently, four Karen young adults were baptized.
 
“We never thought we would see this happen,” Cronin said, thrilled by the commitments of faith.
 
Cronin said the Karen church plant is a daily reminder of the ministry of the Cooperative Program (CP) around the world and fits well with the church’s mission statement to bring “all people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”
 
Resources were in place to begin the growing ministry, thanks in part to the church’s commitment to putting love in action through the Cooperative Program.
 
Ron and Evelyn Hill, church members and retired International Mission Board missionaries trained in the Thai language, provided a first contact with the group. They received their linguistic abilities as part of their missionary training provided by CP gifts from the more than 44,000 Southern Baptist congregations.

BP photo by Kimberly Kossover

Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro ministers to Burmese Karen refugees — like these Karen children — in their community.


The Cooperative Program is the way state conventions in the Southern Baptist Convention work together the Acts 1:8 way — supporting local, regional, national and international missions and ministries.
 
Fulfilling the Great Commission is why the church supports missions through the Cooperative Program. Currently 15 percent of the church’s undesignated offerings are committed to reaching people through the Cooperative Program.
 
Giving makes sense, Cronin said.
 
“When you hear the name ‘Southern Baptist,’ you think missions,” Cronin said. “How can you not tap into the resources that make us effective?”
 
Volunteers greet newcomers at the airport with food and basic necessities and help them settle into their new homes and surroundings.
 
The Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and the church’s missions education programs provide baby gifts, Christmas gifts and other items. Proceeds from a church-organized golf tournament help cover the Karen’s financial, food and housing needs.
 
Early 19th century missionary Adoniram Judson served in Burma among the Karen people. Ethnic cleansings and a decades-long civil war have kept the country in turmoil.  
 
Brian Presson, church planter with the Karen mission, said that Buddhists and Animists — the predominant religions of the Karen — attend services.
 
“Acts of service open hearts,” Presson said. “Community draws people.”
 
Presson told of a woman who burst into tears when members greeted her at the airport, amazed that foreigners would care for her.
 
ESL (English as a Second Language) classes use Sunday School literature to teach the Karen. The church has contact with about 100 Karen. Services average 50.
 
Presson, with his wife, worked several years with the Karen overseas through another Christian organization.
 
“We went to the nations and then God brought us back home,” Presson said. “Then God brought the nations to us.”
 
Church members experience first-hand the impact of the Cooperative Program through mission trips to places such as the Sudan, Ecuador and Kenya and Vermont.
 
Youth work with World-Changers, a CP-supported endeavor of the North American Mission Board providing labor for community construction projects.
 
Cronin credits the church’s long history of mission service and giving through the Cooperative Program to a strong WMU and missions education program, and to being grounded on God’s Word.
 
“When you are biblically grounded, you have a Kingdom mindset, not just a local mindset,” Cronin said. “You are called to serve and give. Everyone wins.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Stewart is a writer with the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s communications office.)

10/21/2009 5:22:00 AM by Marilyn Stewart, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Campbell dedicates Butler Chapel over 4 days

October 21 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Campbell University stretched a “thrilling and most enjoyable moment” over four days to dedicate its new, $8.5 million Anna Gardner and Robert B. Butler Chapel Oct. 12-15.

Photo by Bennett Scarborough

Campbell's Anna Gardner and Robert B. Butler Chapel


The 12,000-sq.-ft. facility features an elegantly spartan, pine paneled sanctuary with lavish light, premier instruments, glass walls, creation and resurrection stained glass windows, a bride and choir room and the admissions office for Campbell University’s divinity school.

Other outside features include a memorial garden, meditation garden, memorial pool and memorial walk.
Construction on the red brick building began in May 2008.

Originally planned as a smaller facility, funding support was overwhelming, enabling a larger vision, according to Dwaine Greene, vice president for academic affairs and provost.

The new facility will seat 450. Turner Auditorium will continue to hold large student body events.
Butler Chapel, named for 1940 alumna Anna Gardner Butler and her husband, whose estate provided a $3 million lead gift toward the project, culminates a dream of Mrs. Butler who said, even as a student, that the Baptist university needed a chapel.

The chapel, with a 20-bell carillon tower above an intimate prayer room, commands the first view on the academic circle, a location placing it central to scholarly life at Campbell.

Greene said in his remarks Oct. 15 that “academic pursuit and faith commitment are like one hand washing the other and almost indistinguishable in this place.”

Allan Schuyler, pastor of Candle-wyck Baptist Church in Charlotte, said, “The God of the universe is neither contained nor containable,” but Christians construct such sacred places in which to meet Him.

“This chapel will speak to students as they walk by and give testimony to the hope of God leading us in his own way to all those who enter,” said Campbell President Jerry Wallace at the Oct. 14 service.

10/21/2009 5:20:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Atheism 3.0 finds a little more room for belief

October 21 2009 by Daniel Burke, Religion News Service

Bruce Sheiman doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe in religion.

Setting aside the question of whether God exists, it’s clear that the benefits of faith far outweigh its costs, he argues in his new book, An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off With Religion than Without It.

“I don’t know if anybody is going to be able to convince me that God exists,” Sheiman said in an interview, “but they can convince me that religion has intrinsic value.”

The old atheists said there was no God. The so-called “New Atheists” said there was no God, and they were vocally vicious about it. Now, the new “New Atheists” — call it Atheism 3.0 — say there’s still no God, but maybe religion isn’t all that bad.

Faith provides meaning and purpose for millions of believers, inspires people to tend to each other and build communities, gives them a sense of union with a transcendent force, and provides numerous health benefits, Sheiman says. Moreover, the galvanizing force behind many achievements in Western civilization has been faith, Sheiman argues,
while conceding that he limits his analysis, for the most part, to modern Western religion.

“More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision,” Sheiman writes.

Religion has always had its cultured defenders, atheists who speak up for the social benefits of faith. The philosopher Plato, for instance, did not believe in the Greek pantheon, but argued that other people should, for the good of society. He even proposed criminalizing disbelief in the existence of deities and immortality of the soul.

In recent years, the skeptical scene has been dominated by the New Atheists — Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others — who argue in best-selling books that religious faith is a mental illness, or worse.

But now, a new crew of nonbelievers is taking on the New Atheists, arguing that while they may not have faith themselves, there’s little reason to belittle believers or push religion out of the public square. The back-and-forth debates over God’s existence have shed a little light, but far more heat, they argue, while the world’s problems loom
ever larger.

“The work that we need to do, we atheists, humanists and non-believers, is to build a better world and not try to tear down those with whom we disagree,” said Greg M. Epstein, the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University.

“When our goal is erasing religion, rather than embracing human beings, we all lose.”

Epstein argues in his forthcoming book, Good without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, that morality does not depend on a judgmental deity and that nonbelievers can lead meaningful, even purpose-driven, lives. But they can also learn from people of faith, such as California megachurch pastor and Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren, Epstein says.

Warren’s best-selling book basically says that “you have to have a purpose in life bigger than yourself, and that not everything is all about you,” said Epstein. “And he’s absolutely right about that. But he’s wrong in saying that you have to believe in Jesus Christ and if you don’t you’re going to hell for eternity.”

Atheists who insist that religion be removed from the public square are doing themselves a disservice, argues Austin Dacey, a former United Nations representative for the staunchly secularist Center for Inquiry and author of The Secular Conscience: Why Belief Belongs in Public Life. A godless public square not only shields religion from public criticism, it also circumvents a broader debate on morality, he argues.

“If they privatize faith, they also won’t be able to criticize it,” Dacey said of the New Atheists an interview.

On the flip side, atheists too, can be a “blessing” for believers, said Samir Selmanovic, co-founder and co-leader of New York’s interreligious Faith House Manhattan and author of It’s Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian.

Atheists are “God’s whistle-blowers,” who keep believers honest and focused on the here-and-now, Selmanovic said. “Atheism at its best grabs us by the collar and throws us to the ground, demanding to see lives well lived, forcing us to dig deeper and live up to the best of our own religions,” he writes.

While no one expects the God debate to end any time soon, in the meantime, perhaps people can agree to disagree a little more agreeably, the new New Atheists argue.

“There was a moment when atheist books were selling,” Dacey said. “But people like objectivity, they like the feeling of balance. So after this wave of atheist books and the criticism that they are extremist, people are trying to find a happy medium.”

10/21/2009 5:18:00 AM by Daniel Burke, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Auburn men share faith through ‘dry’ tailgating

October 21 2009 by Jeremy Henderson, Baptist Press

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn University students Michael Nunnelly and Kevin Johnson walked away from Jordan-Hare Stadium after the Tigers’ 41-30 win over West Virginia — happy, drenched with about 3.75 inches of rain and registering a blood-alcohol level of 0.00 percent.
 
Their clothes were soaking wet. Their tailgate was bone dry.
 
Just like always.
 
Nunnelly and Johnson don’t drink. Neither do the approximately 15 other guys who help set up the College Kids Tailgate, a loosely, but devotedly, organized game-day gathering that is beginning to draw attention — for school spirit rather than spirits — on the Auburn campus.
 
But if not beer, then what?
 
“Have you ever had Cheerwine?” Johnson, a member of the nondenominational Auburn Church, asked of the cherry-flavored soft drink. “We drink lots of Cheerwine.”
 
The tailgating began in 2007 with seven friends who lived in Lupton Hall, where the group still sets up camp. The seven friends are Christians, who just, you know, don’t drink.
 
“We just decided to tailgate together, and it just grew into this,” said Nunnelly, a member of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn.

Photo courtesy The Alabama Baptist

A small group of Auburn University students launched a game-day “dry” tailgating event that now draws hundreds of collegians and sports fans — for school spirit rather than spirits — on the Auburn campus.


“The most was 320 (tailgaters) for the Mississippi State game a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “Or at least that’s how many signed the guest book. There were probably more.”
 
Since the 2009 football season started, more than 1,000 people have stopped by the tents full of Cheerwine, orange cotton candy and guys wearing orange jumpsuits — trademarks of College Kids Tailgate.
 
The group is not affiliated with a specific church, denomination or campus ministry.
 
Still, connections have been made. Lots of hamburgers have been grilled. Relationships have been developed.
 
“I just appreciate them hanging out together and providing a place where kids can come hang out and feel safe and enjoy the game,” said Johnson’s mother, Tami, as she took shelter underneath one of the tents during a game-day downpour.
 
Tami Johnson and her husband, Kent, members of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in the Birmingham area, drove down for the day.
 
“It’s a place where parents can know their kids are safe and where they would want them to be,” she said.
 
That’s the idea, Nunnelly said.
 
“We wanted to create a no-pressure environment,” he said. “Something fun for everybody where people of all kinds of backgrounds, both churched and unchurched, lost and saved, can come and build relationships and have a good time.”
 
Johnson agreed.
 
“Hopefully it’s making more of an impact than just not having alcohol but by having people that are here developing relationships with Christians that are doing evangelism with their own lives,” he said.
 
Nunnelly’s mother, Lottie, who has tailgated with him before several of this year’s games, has seen just that firsthand.
 
“There’s people that just walk up that don’t know anyone there,” said Lottie Nunnelly, who serves as assistant to the pastor at Shades Mountain Baptist. “There were some kids from Mississippi State that came up. I actually got to hear someone asking another student, ‘Hey, so where are you going to church?’ It was really cool to see it working.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Henderson writes for The Alabama Baptist, newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention.)

10/21/2009 5:14:00 AM by Jeremy Henderson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Roberta’s story testifies to forgiveness

October 20 2009 by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications

Roberta can’t help but smile as she sits with her children by the lake at Broyhill Home. The family unpacks fresh, chicken salad sandwiches and cool drinks from their picnic basket.

Noah and Hannah eat pausing every so often to observe fish splashing in the placid waters. Roberta reminices about days gone by when she fished in the lake.

She was not much older than her children when she came to live at Baptist Children’s Homes’ western area campus.

As a child, Roberta’s life was filled with fear. Roberta was six-years-old when she, her two siblings, and mother moved in with Frank.

BCH photo

Former Baptist Children's Homes resident Roberta Brunck has broken the cycle of abuse in her family. Today, she and her husband Aaron live in Clyde not far away from the Broyhill Home campus where she lived as a child. The couple has two children, Noah and Hannah.


At first, her mother’s boyfriend was nice, but soon Frank’s demeanor changed completely.   

“He started hitting us, spanking us, and really hurting us,” Roberta recalls. “And my mom did nothing.”

Roberta’s mother continued to allow Frank to torment her children. Roberta remembers instances when she was not allowed to eat, and she was forced to sleep outdoors on the cold, hard ground.

Frank’s abuse and the humiliation he caused had no boundaries.

“He would feed me on the ground like a dog,” Roberta reveals.

“He would say it was because I was nasty, dirty, or whatever he could think of that day.”

The suffering continued unchecked for years until the Department of Social Services learned about the children’s tumultuous situation and intervened.

When the police arrived, they gave Roberta’s mother a choice of staying with Frank or keeping her children.

“My mother said, ‘If I have to choose, I choose him,’” a tearful Roberta remembers. “That was hard. Really hard.”

Roberta’s mother and Frank were charged with 52 counts of child abuse. Roberta and her younger sister and brother were placed in separate foster homes until they were reunited at Broyhill Home in Clyde.

“Before, I didn’t know what family was all about,” Roberta says. “When I came, I met people who loved and accepted me.”

Among those people were house parents Jim and Vivian Johnson.

“She was able to work through a lot of anger and resentment,” Vivian says. “It was amazing to see her transformation, especially when she accepted Christ.”

At Baptist Children’s Homes, caring staff members taught Roberta about God’s love and forgiveness.

“I remember them praying for us and some of the devotions in the cottage,” Roberta says. “Those things fed my soul.”

Roberta’s mother eventually left Frank. And through her relationship with God, Roberta was able to forgive her mother.    

“The Lord had offered the greatest forgiveness towards others,” Roberta explains. “So, I had to forgive her. I had to take that step.”

Today, the mother and daughter relationship is restored. Roberta is a caretaker of her mother who is experiencing serious health problems.

“It’s the power of forgiveness and how Baptist Children’s Homes helped me start that journey of forgiveness,” Roberta says.

Today, with Noah, Hannah and her husband Aaron by her side, the cycle of abuse in Roberta’s life is broken.

“I am a child of Baptist Children’s Homes,” Roberta says.

“If someone hadn’t helped me, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

Prayer guide — November 15-22
  • Sunday — Pray for all children and families in North Carolina.
  • Monday — Pray for all the hundreds of children and families to whom we offer hope each year.
  • Tuesday — Pray for all the dedicated child care workers, residential care givers, and Chiefs who give of themselves around the clock to care for our boys and girls.
  • Wednesday — Pray for our social workers who guide, encourage and challenge our children and families to be all that God intends.
  • Thursday — Pray for those who live at all of BCH’s homes for developmentally disabled adults.
  • Friday — Pray for Oak Ranch and BCH’s equine therapy service.
  • Saturday — Pray for BCH president Michael C. Blackwell as he leads the institution boldly into the future.
  • Sunday — Pray that you will be sensitive to the hurting children around you.

Related stories
Spoke'n: Roberta breaks abuse pattern
Mills Home helped former resident hit back at life
10/20/2009 8:11:00 AM by J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications | with 0 comments



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