February 2017

Committee on Resolutions named for 2019 SBC

January 29 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear has named members of the Committee on Resolutions for the June 11-12 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.
 

Curtis Woods and Keith Whitfield

“These committee members hail from state conventions, national entities, seminaries, local churches and local associations,” said Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area. “Each was chosen because they demonstrate great commitment to the Southern Baptist Convention, and because they reflect both who we are and who we are becoming. They are men and women who desire to see our convention keep the gospel above all.”
 
Curtis Woods of Kentucky was named as the committee’s chairman by Greear.
 
Woods is co-interim executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and a member of Watson Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
 
“Southern Baptists should be enthused about the brothers and sisters selected to serve as your 2019 Resolutions Committee,” Woods said, “since ‘the many faces of the SBC’ are well represented. Each person will prayerfully bring their academic expertise and experience to bear on each resolution.
 
“As chair, my heart is fixed on praying for each committee member to inhale the Word of God daily so that we approach this noble task with compassion, conviction and courage,” Woods said. “We must honor each brother or sister who takes time to pen and present a resolution even if the committee rejects the content.”
 
Greear appointed the committee in keeping with the provision in SBC Bylaw 20 that its members be named 75 days prior to the start of the annual meeting.
 
The other committee members, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Tremayne Manson, associate pastor for community development and outreach, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

  • Adron Robinson, pastor, Hillcrest Baptist Church, Country Club Hills, Ill.

  • Walter Strickland, associate vice president for diversity, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; member of Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C.

  • Angela Suh Um, founder and chief consultant, Boston Academic Consulting Group, Cambridge, Mass.; member of Antioch Baptist Church, Cambridge.

  • Trevin Wax, Bible and reference publisher, B&H Academic Group, LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville; teaching pastor, Third Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

  • Jared Wellman, pastor Tate Springs Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas.

  • Rick Wheeler, lead missional strategist, Jacksonville Baptist Association, Jacksonville, Fla.; member of Mandarin Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.

  • Keith Whitfield, vice chair; vice president for academic administration, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; member of Faith Baptist Church, Youngsville, N.C.

  • Alicia Wong, director of women’s program, Gateway Seminary, Ontario, Calif.; member of Rosena Church, San Bernardino, Calif.

 
The committee’s composition, according to Bylaw 20, must include at least two members who served the previous year, with Robinson, Wong and Woods meeting this requirement. Bylaw 20 also stipulates that the committee include at least three SBC Executive Committee members. This year they are Robinson, Wellman and Wheeler.
 
The procedure for submitting resolutions is as follows according to Bylaw 20:
 

– Proposed resolutions may be submitted as early as April 15 but no later than 15 days prior to the SBC annual meeting, giving the Resolutions Committee a two-week period in which to consider submissions. The committee also may propose resolutions for consideration during its deliberations. Resolutions may not be submitted during the annual meeting.

– Proposed resolutions must be accompanied by a letter from a church qualified to send a messenger to the SBC annual meeting certifying that the individual submitting the resolution is a member in good standing.

– Proposed resolutions preferably should be submitted by email or mailed to the Committee on Resolutions in care of the SBC Executive Committee, 901 Commerce St., Nashville, TN 37203. The drafts must be typewritten, titled, dated and include complete contact information for the person and his or her church.

– No person will be allowed to submit more than three resolutions per year.

– If a properly submitted resolution is not forwarded by the Committee on Resolutions to the SBC annual meeting, a two-thirds vote of messengers would be required to bring the proposed resolution to the convention floor.

1/29/2019 10:03:09 AM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



Men weigh ‘game plan’ in pre-Super Bowl weekend

January 29 2019 by Tim Ellsworth, Union University

With nearby Atlanta hosting this year’s Super Bowl, the Johnny Hunt Men’s Conference tapped into the football mood with a “Game Plan” theme for Christian living during Jan. 25-26 sessions that drew about 5,000 men.
 

Photo courtesy of First Baptist Woodstock
Johnny Hunts addresses forgiveness and bitterness during men’s conference’s 27th year, held prior to the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

“As we were looking through [Hunt’s] notes and what all he was going to be discussing,” Chris Lee, promotional director for the conference, said, “we realized that a lot of it was kind of providing a road map – a game plan, so to speak – of tools that guys can use. Men are, in a lot of cases, underprepared and underequipped to face the challenges that they’re going to face in their daily lives from a biblical perspective.”
 
Men are struggling with issues like pornography, faithfulness in marriage and relationships to their kids, Lee said. In football, the team that comes up with a better game plan is the team that’s likely to be victorious. The same holds true for the Christian life.
 
This year marked the 27th year for the conference, which is normally held on Super Bowl weekend at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. With the game in Atlanta this year, however, and likely hotel room shortages, it was moved up a week.
 
The conference typically draws 4,000 to 6,000 men. The online simulcast for this year’s conference drew an additional 25,000 men from 33 states, including viewers from Cuba.
 
“Men are the untapped reservoir of useful energy and resources for God’s Kingdom,” Hunt told the men in attendance to kick off the conference. “You’re the priest of your home. You’ll give an account, as the man of your home and the priest of your family in taking the spiritual responsibility to lead your family as God leads you.”
 

Photo courtesy of First Baptist Woodstock
Jeremy Morton, co-pastor of First Baptist Woodstock, addresses church’s men’s conference now in its 27th year at the Atlanta-area church.

Hunt, who has been pastor at Woodstock First Baptist for 33 years, is transitioning to a new role as senior vice president for evangelism and leadership for the North American Mission Board.
 
Jeremy Morton, who is co-pastor at the church and will assume senior pastor responsibilities upon Hunt’s departure, served as co-host of the conference for the first time this year.
 
Morton said it can often be a curse for people to meet their heroes and get to know them personally, because they can be disappointed in what they see. But that’s not the case for him in getting to know Hunt.
 
“He’s even more impressive behind the scenes than he is on this stage,” Morton said. “In every way, he’s the real deal.
 
“Pastor Johnny believes God can save anybody, anytime. I love that about him. He believes nobody is beyond the reach of God’s grace. Everything about his public life is tied to intimacy in his private walk with the Lord.”
 
Morton said it speaks to Hunt’s character that at 66 years of age, in 48 years of marriage, in 33 years as First Baptist’s pastor and as 27 years as men’s conference host, he has never brought public reproach to the name of Christ.
 
“He’s vigilant about personal holiness,” Morton said. “He truly wants to walk with God.”
 
In following a “game plan” for their lives, Hunt said in the first of two plenary addresses, Christian men must be willing to show forgiveness to others, including their wives, since God has shown them ultimate forgiveness.
 
“Forgiveness reflects the highest human virtue because it clearly reflects the character of God,” Hunt said. “A person who forgives is a person who emulates godly character.”
 
Hunt used the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 to describe to men how much of a debt they owe to God for His forgiveness.
 
“Through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross, God has totally erased our certificate of indebtedness and made our forgiveness complete,” he said.
 
In his second plenary address, Hunt addressed bitterness, telling men that it blocks their spiritual growth and binds joy, peace and love in their lives.
 
“Satan wants to render us ineffective,” Hunt said. “He will use bitterness to take away our strength, to destroy our job and happiness. Bitterness will poison all of life.”
 
Morton delivered one plenary address on Saturday morning, encouraging men to pursue purity and personal holiness. More than anything else, he said, men’s wives, kids and churches need for men to be holy.
 
“This is a fight,” Morton said. “If you think the devil can’t bring you down by causing chinks in the armor of your purity, your integrity, your holiness, then you are already in a dangerous, dangerous, place.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.)

1/29/2019 10:02:50 AM by Tim Ellsworth, Union University | with 0 comments



ERLC’s 2019 agenda includes life, religious liberty

January 29 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) will continue to advocate for the sanctity of human life, religious freedom, the family and justice in its work during 2019 in Washington, D.C.

The ERLC released its annual Legislative Agenda Jan. 16 with the recognition a divided Congress will make its efforts more difficult in at least some policy areas. The Republicans increased their Senate majority by two seats in the November election, while the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives.
 
The ERLC’s objectives will remain the same in spite of the division, Russell Moore said.
 
“Each year, our mission and goal is for our legislative priorities to reflect the priorities of consciences transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and informed by the Word of our God,” said Moore, the ERLC’s president, in a written release.
 
“Whether it’s dealing with issues surrounding religious freedom, human dignity, justice or international engagement, the ERLC exists to serve churches and to stand for the common good for people around the world,” he said. “As always, our goal is to remain faithful in our witness and be tireless in our advocacy.”
 
In what he described will be “a year of gridlock,” Travis Wussow – the ERLC’s vice president for public policy – acknowledged, “We’re definitely going to have our work cut out for us this year.
 
“There are definitely some areas where we’re going to have to play defense,” Wussow said in the Jan. 15 episode of the ERLC’s “Capitol Conversations” podcast. “We’re going to have to push back on some of the things that are going to be coming at us from the House.”
 
That will be true on the abortion issue in particular. The Democratic majority – which supports abortion rights and government funding of the procedure – acted on the first day of the new Congress to repeal a pro-life measure.
 
The House passed a spending bill Jan. 3 that includes a provision that would rescind the Mexico City policy, which prohibits federal funds for organizations that perform or promote abortions overseas.
 
In addition, the Senate already has rejected one of the ERLC’s pro-life priorities for 2019. On Jan. 17, senators voted 48-47 to bring the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act to the floor for a vote on final passage, but the roll call fell far short of the 60 votes needed to succeed in the procedural move known as invoking cloture.
 
The bill would establish a permanent, government-wide ban on funds for abortions by standardizing the prohibitions that now exist in various federal programs.
 
In its agenda, the ERLC said several of its priorities are “long-term initiatives for which we are working to build support. For these kinds of initiatives, our work is focused on incremental progress and maintaining a long-term commitment.”
 
The ERLC’s 2019 agenda initiatives include:

  • Approval of the Born-alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would require health care for babies born alive during abortion procedures.

  • Protection of the Hyde Amendment, which has barred Medicaid funding of abortion since 1976 and became the general label for such bans on federal health programs. Congress must pass the Hyde Amendment and similar bans each year as part of spending measures.

  • Defunding Planned Parenthood, the country’s No. 1 abortion provider and recipient of $563.8 million in government grants and reimbursements during its most recent financial year.

  • Passage of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would bar the government from discriminating against adoption agencies and other child welfare entities that refuse to take part in serving in a way that contradicts their beliefs.

  • Enforcement of rules instituted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to protect the conscience rights of pro-life, health-care workers.

  • Solutions for the opioid epidemic in the United States through engagement with Congress and HHS in such areas as poverty and welfare programs, as well as training for religious communities.

  • Implementation of policies designed to support adoption and foster care.

  • Enactment of legislation to provide a permanent remedy for undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children.

  • Expansion of criminal justice reform to include measures that promote the transformation and rehabilitation of prisoners.

  • Implementation of policies to guarantee aid is delivered to religious minorities and victims of genocide in Iraq and Syria.

  • Promotion of religious freedom initiatives in China and North Korea.

 
Bipartisan wins in 2018 included reform in the federal criminal justice system and success in fighting online sex trafficking, according to the ERLC.
 
The ERLC’s agenda may be found here.

1/29/2019 10:02:33 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



T. Vaughn Walker, ‘history-making’ professor, dies at 68

January 29 2019 by Aaron Hanbury, SBTS

Professor and pastor Thomas Vaughn Walker, who was the first African-American elected to any Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminary faculty and who taught at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) beginning in 1986, died Jan. 26 in Louisville, Ky. He was 68.
 

news.sbts.edu photo
Professor T. Vaughn Walker shortly after he joined the faculty of Southern Seminary in 1986.

“T. Vaughn Walker will go down in history as one of the most important seminary professors of the last century in the Southern Baptist Convention,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., who is president of Southern Seminary, said in a statement. “He became the first African-American full professor at any seminary in the Southern Baptist Convention. He came to Southern Seminary first as a student, having already completed graduate work all the way to his doctorate. He was quickly recognized for his scholarship and heart for ministry and he became a member of the faculty of the Carver School of Church Social Work, and he later served in two other graduate schools of Southern Seminary. He pioneered in scholarship and leadership through the development of the Black Church Leadership program.” 
 
A full professor, as distinguished from an assistant or associate professor, the seminary noted, is a member of a faculty who received the highest academic rank.
 
 In 2016, Walker retired from teaching full-time as WMU Professor of Christian ministry and the director of programs in Black Church Leadership. He then became senior professor of Black Church Studies, which allowed him to teach and supervise doctoral students on a part-time basis.
 

news.sbts.edu photo
T. Vaughn Walker and R. Albert Mohler Jr. at a luncheon celebrating Walker's retirement in May 2016.

“Through Vaughn Walker’s teaching, thousands and thousands of Christians have been edified through his commitment,” Mohler said. “He was always a Christian gentleman and he exemplified graciousness and collegiality and kindness. He leaves a legacy at Southern Seminary through our students, and he will always be cherished as a professor of this school.” 
 
Walker, who earned a master of divinity degree from Southern Seminary in 1987, pastored First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville for nearly 35 years, beginning in 1984.
 
A native of Heathsville, Va., Walker was an active leader within local church, educational, and denominational ministries. He served terms as a board member or officer of Georgetown College, Simmons College of Kentucky, the Academy of Preachers, and the Louisville Christian Foundation. He held several positions in Baptist associations throughout Kentucky and Missouri.
 
In Missouri, Walker was a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia and senior pastor of the Log Providence Baptist Church in Columbia. 
 
In 2000, Walker received Black SBC Heritage Award as a part of Black Church Leadership Week, an effort sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in cooperation with the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, and the Woman’s Missionary Union.
 
Provost Randy Stinson said Walker’s ministry at the seminary demonstrated to students a model of commitment.
 
“For three decades T. Vaughn Walker gave himself to the training of future gospel servants at Southern Seminary who would go all over the world fulfilling the Great Commission,” Randy Stinson, who is the provost of Southern Seminary, told SBTS News. “He modeled godliness, the centrality of God’s Word, and an impeccable pastoral commitment to his students. Even as [fellow seminary administrator] Adam Greenway and I were with him in his last days, his concern was for the doctoral students still under his care. He was a treasured colleague and will be greatly missed.” 
 
Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, the school that houses the seminary’s Black Church Ministry programs, Adam W. Greenway highlighted the significance of Walker’s tenure at Southern Seminary. 
 
“Dr. Walker’s passing is a significant loss for Southern Seminary, specifically because he was history-making in so many ways,” he said. “The passion he had for training people in ministry, as someone who was not just a professor but a pastor himself, is part of what made his contribution so outstanding. I was proud to have him for so long as a cherished colleague.”  
 
Walker’s numerous professional writings including chapters and articles in journals and books such as the Journal of African American Southern Baptist History, the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Challenge of the Great Commission, Faith and Family Values, Human Services and Social Change: An African American Church Perspective, and The Ministers Manual
 
“Vaughn Walker made history, but he was even more effective at making friends and teaching ministers,” Mohler added. “It was my personal privilege to know Vaughn Walker for over 30 years. And his loss to Southern Seminary and to his beloved congregation is eclipsed only by the magnitude of his loss as experienced by his faithful wife Cheryl and his children.” 
 
Like Mohler, Hershael W. York emphasized Walker’s character as his defining characteristic. York, now the dean of the Southern Seminary School of Theology, was a colleague of Walker’s for more than 20 years. 
 
“From my first day on the faculty, Vaughn Walker welcomed, embraced, encouraged, and befriended me,” said York, who is also Victor and Louise Lester Professor of Christian Preaching at the seminary. “He was the perfect blend of professor and pastor, of head and heart, of truth and spirit. Though his place on Southern Seminary’s faculty was uniquely historic, he had a marvelous way of making everyone around him feel as special as he was. His love for students, for his colleagues, and for Christ will never be forgotten.”  
 
In addition to the M.Div. from Southern Seminary, Walker earned degrees from Oregon State University (doctor of philosophy), Eastern Illinois University (master’s) and Hampton University (bachelor’s), where, as a student, he lettered in football and baseball.  
 
Walker is survived by his wife, Cheryl D. (Jackson) Walker, as well as by their three children (David, Mary, and Eryn) and six grandchildren.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Cline Hanbury is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

1/29/2019 10:02:14 AM by Aaron Hanbury, SBTS | with 0 comments



Shutdown spurred ministry to ‘broken nation’

January 28 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

When portions of the federal government shut down, Southern Baptists ramped up their ministries to furloughed federal workers across the country.
 


BGCO photo
A DR volunteer prepares meals at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's Disaster Relief Center for delivery to federal prison workers.

President Donald Trump announced Jan. 25 he would sign a bill opening the government until Feb. 15 while lawmakers finalize legislation to increase border security. Still, some federal employees missed their second paycheck, and the partial shutdown stretched into a record-setting 35th day.
 
Amid the shutdown, Southern Baptists also attempted to bring Christian principles to bear on the legislative impasse between Trump and Congress regarding federal spending.
 
“We’re here to help,” said Don Williams, an Oklahoma disaster relief leader shepherding an operation that serves three meals daily to federal workers. Meanwhile, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary ethics professor Evan Lenow said the apparent “lack of civility among our elected officials sets a poor example for the rest of the citizenry.”
 
Some 800,000 federal workers are affected by the shutdown and will not be paid until the government reopens fully. Legislation signed Jan. 17 by President Trump guarantees back pay for furloughed workers once government reopens. For contract workers, back pay is uncertain.

Gift card distributions, free meals and concerted prayer efforts were among the ways believers sought to help federal employees in a financial bind. Dave Ramsey – a personal finance author and speaker who has partnered with the Southern Baptist Convention – offered financial counsel to furloughed workers.
 

‘Families who are suffering’


First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., distributed $16,500 in grocery store gift cards to furloughed federal workers at a Jan. 17 community event hosted by the church. With a $50 gift card given to each worker, it took just 30 minutes to expend the entire supply. First Baptist drew $14,000 from its emergency fund, and members gave an additional $2,500 for the ministry.
 
“My only regret is that we didn’t have more to give,” pastor Travis Collins told The Alabama Baptist news journal.
 
More than 700 people attended the event, which also featured booths manned by community aid organizations. About 40,000 federal workers reside in the Huntsville area between NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army post.
 
In Oklahoma, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) workers served 900 meals per day to Federal Bureau of Prisons employees at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City beginning Jan. 22. The 300 employees there help transport prisoners throughout the federal prison system.
 


Photo from Twitter
First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., distributed $16,500 in gift cards to furloughed federal workers at a Jan. 17 community event.

The meal service operation was manned by 15-20 DR volunteers who worked daily from 4 a.m. until 4 p.m., said Williams, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s disaster relief director.
 
“Disaster relief finds people that are in need, not only in a natural disaster, but in an event like this,” Williams told Baptist Press. “We’re here to help and meet that need.”
 
Had the shutdown continued, Oklahoma DR volunteers also planned to begin serving meals Jan. 29 to employees at a nearby federal prison, Williams said. Federal air traffic controllers had asked if they could be included in the meal service as well.
 
In northwest Arkansas, National Day of Prayer Task Force President Ronnie Floyd called his congregation, Cross Church, and other churches across the nation to pray that America’s leaders would be characterized by humility, understanding, cooperation and peace.
 
“This coming Sunday, I will lead our people at Cross Church to join me in prayer for a divine intervention” as Trump and Congress continue to negotiate, Floyd told BP via email. “We will also pray not only for our broken nation to find a way to see a resolution relating to this problem soon, but we will really pray for the great numbers of families who are suffering the financial consequences of our broken nation.
 
“We are also trying to identify who some of these people are within our church to come alongside of them at this time. Finally, I would call upon every pastor in this nation to stand up and call his people to prayer over this terrible crisis in America. God can do what we cannot do. Therefore, we need to call upon Him now,” said Floyd, a former SBC president.
 

Lessons to learn


Lenow, director of Southwestern’s Land Center for Cultural Engagement, said ministries to furloughed workers became necessary because the government did not fulfill its moral obligations to “pay its employees,” “manage [federal] funds wisely” and demonstrate “civility.”
 
Congressional votes “typically fall along party lines,” Lenow said in written comments. “Sharp disagreement is certainly part of government, but ideological opposition today demonstrates a lack of civility. This lack of civility among our elected officials sets a poor example for the rest of the citizenry and exacerbates an already intense divide within our nation.”
 
Ramsey, who has partnered with the SBC Executive Committee to teach Christians biblical money management, wrote a blog post offering furloughed federal employees tips for weathering a period without pay. Among them:

  • “Create a budget”;

  • Pay for food, utilities, shelter and transportation first;

  • “Sell stuff”; and

  • Get a temporary or side job.

 
“You don’t want to make a rash, knee-jerk decision based on anxiety and panic,” Ramsey wrote. “When you’re facing the harsh reality of not getting paid for who knows how long, it’s easy to go into ‘freak out, do whatever we have to do to survive’ mode. But don’t get suckered into letting a credit card or loan catch your fall.”

1/28/2019 11:59:54 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Georgia Baptists drop 20 staffers after CP shortfall

January 28 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board (GBMB) has laid off 20 staff members after a near-$1.2 million budget shortfall in 2018 Cooperative Program (CP) giving, the Christian Index reported.
 

The GBMB will restructure the workforce for greater efficiency, GBMB Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond, Jr., told the convention’s news journal Jan. 24.
 
“We’re committed to making the Georgia Baptist Mission Board the best resource our pastors could ask for,” Hammond said. “Part of that will include streamlining some ministries and evaluating all of the activities of the Mission Board.”
 
The Index did not release the full list of eliminated positions, but the convention previously employed 170 missionaries and support staff, according to the GBMB’s latest annual report.
 
The $40,004,756 Georgia Baptist churches gave in 2018 fell $1,195,243 short of the 2018 budget, representing a 2.9 percent shortage, according to GBMB figures. In 2017, Georgia Baptists gave $40,846,763.
 
Hammond has pledged to help strengthen the state’s approximately 3,800 churches.
 
“The importance of the vitality of our churches and pastors cannot be overstated,” Hammond said in announcing the CP totals earlier this year. “This calls for our entire focus in helping them get stronger and healthier.”
 
Kevin Smith, GBMB vice president of operations, described the Jan. 22 layoffs as a difficult decision that involved reassessing priorities and consolidating some positions.
 
“This decision was made only after months of intense prayer, study, and discussion among the leadership team regarding the Lord’s will for the future of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board,” Smith said. “The GBMB finds itself in challenging times, and in our attempt to be the stewards we believe the Lord would have us to be, difficult decisions have to be made.”
 
Hammond announced the decision in a called staff meeting Jan. 24, the Index said, praying and expressing sadness.
 
“These decisions are hard, and we know that the transition will present new challenges for everyone involved,” he said after the meeting. “We have done our best to treat departing employees with grace, respect, and dignity. We’ll continue to pray for them in the days ahead.”
 
Hammond held the first in a statewide series of meetings to hear pastors’ concerns Jan. 23, the Index said, drawing 66 pastors at First Baptist Church in Lyons, Ga.
 
Pastoral health and strength have been Hammond’s priority since he assumed his position Jan 1, focused on spreading the gospel locally and globally.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – With reporting by Scott Barkley, editor of the Christian Index. Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor.)

1/28/2019 11:59:35 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Ellis: Human, civil rights ‘inseparable’

January 28 2019 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

In an era marked by political and cultural polarization, Karen Ellis, a speaker at the 2019 Evangelicals for Life conference, believes Christians should be united in their support of both human and civil rights.
 

ERLC photo by Karen McCutcheon
Karen Ellis addresses attendees at the 2019 Evangelicals for Life conference in a talk entitled, "Pro-Life and Civil Rights: Loving our Unborn Neighbors."

“They are inseparable,” said Ellis, who is director of the Center for the Study of the Bible & Ethnicity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Ga., and president of The Makazi Institute. “Both realities – civil and human rights – reflect different aspects of an affirmation of life.”
 
The event, which coincides with the annual March for Life, was co-sponsored by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and North American Mission Board. It was held Jan. 17-18 at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
 
Ellis began her talk by offering brief overviews of multiple leaders and activists from the past who embodied an undivided commitment to civil and human rights.
 
The list included Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist and orator who opposed the American slave trade; Maria Fearing, a former slave and Presbyterian missionary to Congo; and Ralph Bunche, the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and contributor to the United Nations’ creation and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
She also called Christians to understand pro-life issues in light of scripture, not solely as partisan talking points.
 
“Oh, how we love to demonize our political and cultural opponents as if they are the enemies of human souls,” she said. “For the Christian, there is only one enemy of life, the deceiver himself.”
 
Ellis urged attendees to find hope in Jesus Christ alone, whom she described as the ultimate “affirmation of life.”
 
She included insights from her own family history of civil rights advocacy and experience with abortion.
 
When Ellis was a child, her mother brought her along to the polling station each election day, even allowing her to help in the voting process. She said the “ritual” was her mother’s way of passing down “hope in the next generation – as it had been done for so many generations before us.”
 
Ellis said her own abortion “broke the line.”
 
“If my life had been a movie, in that moment all of my ancestors would have cried out from history with a collective ‘No!’”
 
Now, when she sees the voting booths on election day, “I don’t just miss my own child. I miss the hundreds of thousands who are not present throughout the generations of all races,” Ellis said. “I often wonder how our political and cultural landscape would look if the generations of voices lost to abortion were present to decide for themselves how they want to live.”
 
Comparing the societal effects of present-day abortion practices to the chattel slavery practices of America’s past, Ellis said, “I am reminded that the 20th century brought something that 400 years of mass human trafficking did not produce on a large scale. Somehow a loss of hope in the potential of the next generation, to carry on the hope of the ancestors, has been lost.
 
“… When we deny someone their agency to make a lifetime of decisions ... we debase ourselves and find that, at our core, we are no different than the slave trader or the architects of Jim Crow.”
 
She concluded the talk by encouraging people to understand human and civil rights as being unified, universal and biblical.
 
“We learned during the civil rights movement that legislation is a powerful tool for saving lives, but we also learned that legislation cannot do what the gospel of Jesus Christ can. Legislation alone cannot change hearts,” she said.
 
“Life is neither a progressive issue, nor a conservative one. It belongs not to Republicans, nor Democrats. It is an issue of respect for all humanity. It is an issue of hope. It is an issue of wisdom. For the Christian, especially the right to life, it is a biblical issue.”
 
View the full talk below:


 

1/28/2019 11:59:11 AM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



Photojournalism conference to honor Charles Stanley

January 28 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

Charles Stanley will be honored for his use of photography in ministry during the Southeastern Photojournalism Conference Feb. 1-2 at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Building in Nashville, Tenn.
 

Stanley, a former president of the SBC, is the longtime senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, founder of In Touch Ministries and an accomplished photographer.
 
Stanley’s photography is “an inspiration, and his use of the visual image to share the gospel has impacted so many people,” said conference director Bob Carey, a former president of the National Press Photographers Association.
 
“His use of his photographs in his sermons and books relates the love of Christ. That is the foundation of our conference and we feel he is deserving” of recognition, said Carey, chairman of the department of communication and new media at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.
 
In addition to Stanley, the conference will feature top photographers selected for their work and impact.
 
This year’s faculty will include Stacy Pearsall, a former military photojournalist who started the Veterans Portrait Project; Garrett Hubbard, former senior video journalist at USA TODAY; Gabriel Tait, Ball State University professor and former photojournalist at the Detroit Free Press; Me Ra Koh, a leading portrait photographer and video host; Bill Fortney, longtime nature photographer; and Country Music Hall of Fame musician Ricky Skaggs, who has been photographing his travels for the last several years.
 
The recognition of Stanley is scheduled for Friday afternoon and a show of his work will be presented prior to the event, with Stanley speaking about the spiritual importance of photographs and their impact. Earlier in the day, he will meet with the participants in the student workshop portion of the conference.
 
Stanley is the author of two photo books – the visual devotional Landscapes of His Grace and I Love to Tell the Story.
 
Stanley discussed his love of photography with the Georgia Baptists’ Christian Index news service in 2016, recounting, “Some years ago I was on a trip to Alaska with a good friend and photographer, David Smith. He asked me, ‘Would you like to get a good photograph of an eagle?’
 
“I told him, ‘yes’, and sure enough, I got a fantastic shot of an eagle. Later when I was preaching on Isaiah 40 where God says, ‘But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint,’ I showed that photo of the eagle. I believe God used it to enhance the effectiveness of the message.”
 
The conference was started by Southern Baptist photojournalists 27 years ago, originally meeting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, moving to Nashville in 2018.
 
The conference is open to professional photographers, students, beginners and anyone interested in photography.
 
“We focus on the ‘why’ of photojournalism,” Carey said in advance of the 2018 conference. “We bring in speakers that view their photography as a calling more than just a job. It is exciting to see how God has moved in so many of their lives and visual work.”
 
“Those who attend this conference are very serious about their work,” Jim Veneman, another conference organizer, had said, describing it as more “inspirational” than “technical.” “There isn’t much talk about f-stops and shutter speeds. It is more about visual communicators sharing their work, telling about what challenges them, and what inspires them.
 
“There is also a lot of relationship building,” Veneman, visiting professor of photojournalism at California Baptist University, added. “With the constant deadlines and the demands for producing creative, imaginative work, the media is a high-pressure occupation. This Nashville moment will also provide a time of support and encouragement.”
 
For more information about the Southeastern Photojournalism Conference, visit sepjc.com.

1/28/2019 11:58:39 AM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



Kammerdiener leaves legacy of service to missions

January 25 2019 by Mary Jane Welch, IMB

Donald R. Kammerdiener, a longtime missionary and administrator with the International Mission Board (IMB), died Jan. 23. He was 82.
 


IMB Photo
Dr. Don Kammerdiener, 2006.

Kammerdiener was especially known as the steady hand administering day-to-day operations of the IMB under two presidents and stepping in to lead as interim president between the two, spanning a period from 1990 through 2001.
 
Kammerdiener and his late wife Meredith began their missions careers in 1962 in Colombia and later served in Argentina as he moved into leadership positions, first while serving in Latin America and later at the IMB’s home office in Richmond, Va.
 
“Don Kammerdiener is a legend in Southern Baptist missions,” IMB President Paul Chitwood said. “Leaders around the world consistently use words such as integrity, faithfulness, wisdom and role model to describe Dr. Kammerdiener’s reputation and his impact on their lives and work. And it is because of his unwavering commitment to his Lord’s work that the lives of countless people associated with the International Mission Board are richer for the privilege of knowing him and working alongside him.”

According to Jerry Rankin, IMB president emeritus, Kammerdiener was a respected administrator, “giving oversight to operations while others of us traveled the world and sought to mobilize Southern Baptists. When other administrators advocated idealistic visions and innovation, Don kept his feet on the ground with a pragmatic balance.”
 
“His humble and gracious style engendered respect and defused many tensions and conflicts,” Rankin noted. “He led and mentored as a servant and was largely responsible for my survival as president and any accomplishments attributed to me in the early years of my tenure.”
 

‘On my way’


Kammerdiener’s passion for missions was born in boyhood during nine years in Royal Ambassadors, Southern Baptists’ mission organization for boys. His mother was his leader.
 


IMB photo
Don and Meredith Kammerdiener mark the year of their appointment as IMB missionaries with a copy of The Richmond Times-Dispatch, dated Oct. 8, 1962.

When he headed to Oklahoma Baptist University, Kammerdiener wrote what was then the Foreign Mission Board, saying, “I’m on my way.” He kept in touch at least once a year through college and then as one of the first students at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which opened in 1958.
 
He kept his word, serving with IMB nearly 40 years.
 
In Colombia, Kammerdiener held such positions as pastor-director of the Christian Cultural Center in Cali, national coordinator for the Crusade of the Americas evangelistic campaign, field missionary in the Colombian department (state) of Valle, treasurer of the Colombia Baptist mission and trustee vice president of International Baptist Theological Seminary in Cali.

As Kammerdiener found himself taking on administrative tasks, he says he quickly learned he would grow stale if he let those drown out more important things.
 
“But if I would get out and witness to somebody, life became vibrant again,” he said.  
 
During his first term in Argentina, a fellow missionary brought a man, a ditch digger for the city water department, to Kammerdiener’s Sunday School class. He and Kammerdiener became fast friends and ministry partners and made a pact: anything the Argentine learned about the gospel he would teach Kammerdiener, and anything Kammerdiener knew about Christian leadership he would teach his partner.
 
On Saturday mornings, the two took a train to the town of Mercedes and went door-to-door, praying with people, reading the Bible and witnessing to them. Kammerdiener said it brought meaning to his administrative duties.
 

Quiet nurture


In Argentina, Kammerdiener served as field representative, seen as a pastor to missionaries, in eastern Spanish-speaking South America from 1970 to 1980. He also directed evangelism and missions for the Argentine Baptist Convention and taught missions at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Buenos Aires.

Whatever his role, Kammerdiener quietly nurtured leaders – both Latin American leaders and missionary leaders. Ron Wilson, retired IMB staffer who started as a missionary in Latin America, has vivid memories of the way Kammerdiener guided by asking questions. “If you were going to do this over again, what would you do differently?” Kammerdiener would ask. Or, “You read this book? What did you learn from it?”
 


IMB photo
Don and Meredith Kammerdiener attend a 1985 missions meeting in Barbados.

Kammerdiener was always open to talk with him, Wilson said, but he also was firm that Wilson make his own decisions and own them when he presented them to those he led. “Don’t hand your leadership over to me,” Kammerdiener told him.
 
Ron’s wife Janice remembers a time when she and Ron were young missionaries in the Dominican Republic. They were discouraged to report how little response they had seen. Kammerdiener responded by asking them to tell what their plans were, what they were trying to do. “If I can hear you’re making attempts and failing, I’m good with that,” Kammerdiener said. He would be concerned, he said, to hear they were not trying.
 
Kammerdiener later served as area director for Middle America and the Caribbean and then vice president for the Americas until 1990, when he assumed the role of executive vice president.
 

Missionary-statesman


Tom Elliff, IMB president from 2011 to 2014, noted, “Don Kammerdiener’s impact on the IMB is both considerable and enduring.
 


IMB photo
Don and Meredith Kammerdiener share a moment at the piano at their home in Richmond, Va., in 2001.

“Coupling wide experience on the field with his administrative gifts, Don helped shape much of what IMB is today. Don epitomizes the role of a missionary-statesman. His genteel nature never subdued his passion for the lost, nor did his dry sense of humor mask the fact that he is studied and well-informed.” 
 
Rankin, who served as president of the IMB from 1993 to 2010, recalled Kammerdiener as an integral component of his leadership team, calling him “one of the most competent mission leaders in a modern era of growth and change.”
 
Kammerdiener continued to serve as executive vice president of IMB until his retirement in 2001. A multipurpose auditorium complex at the IMB’s International Learning Center training center was named for Kammerdiener in 2002 as a testament to his legacy.
 
Before missionary appointment, Kammerdiener was pastor of churches in Richville, Okla., and Kansas City, and assistant pastor of a church in Independence, Mo.
 
He received the bachelor of arts degree from Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, and the master of divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City. He received Oklahoma Baptist University’s Alumni Achievement Award in 1987 and the Joe L. Ingram School of Christian Service Award in 1986. He was named an Alumnus of the Year at Midwestern in 1982. Kammerdiener also received an honorary doctorate from OBU.
 
He is survived by five grown children: Carol, Joyce, Linda, Donny Jr. and Jon. 
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mary Jane Welch is a contract writer for the International Mission Board. Russell Rankin also contributed to this story.)

1/25/2019 1:51:48 PM by Mary Jane Welch, IMB | with 0 comments



N.Y. abortion bill: ‘alarming in every sense’

January 25 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

New York may have re-established itself as America’s leading abortion state by enacting a law that critics say goes beyond even the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
 

Flickr photo from Gov. Cuomo’s press office
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs Reproductive Health Act (RHA) into law Jan. 22, legalizing abortion until birth for the mother’s “health,” which is not defined.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) into law Jan. 22 shortly after the state legislature completed passage of the controversial proposal. Enactment of the legislation came on the 46th anniversary of the high court’s decision striking down all state bans and legalizing abortion throughout the country.
 
The new law legalizes abortion until birth for the mother’s “health,” which is not defined and has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to include, in essence, any reason. The measure also enables non-physicians – midwives, nurse practitioners and physician assistants – to perform non-surgical or chemical abortions. In addition, it protects abortion performers by moving abortion law from New York’s criminal code to its health code.
 
The new law not only puts pregnant women at risk, but it is so radical it permits infanticide by eliminating protections for babies who survive an attempted abortion and by removing fetal homicide penalties, according to Americans United for Life (AUL), a pro-life organization that focuses on legal issues.
 
If the Supreme Court were to overturn the Roe opinion and return the issue to the states, New York’s law would remain in effect.
 
“The Empire State’s new abortion bill is alarming in every sense,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments for Baptist Press. “This bill stripped all possible legal protections for children past 24 weeks in the womb.”
 
AUL President Catherine Glenn Foster called the law “extreme,” saying in a written statement it “de facto permits infanticide of the sort that notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted [of] only recently.”
 
Christina Fadden, chair of New York State Right to Life, described the law as “inhumane.”
 
“RHA has made abortion a ‘fundamental right’ and prohibits all limits on abortion. ... RHA has expanded abortion-on-demand in New York past 24 weeks – well past when unborn children feel pain, are viable, and suffer during the course of an abortion – and up to birth,” Fadden said, according to National Right to Life News Today.
 
Cuomo, who had promised passage of the measure in the first 30 days of the legislative session, said in a written statement, “With the signing of this bill, we are sending a clear message that whatever happens in Washington, women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body.”
 
The governor has said he wants the law to be added to the state constitution.
 
Laura McQuade, president of Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC), said in written remarks, “This is a historic day in New York and we are thrilled to see our legislation catch up with our progressive values in building the state our communities can thrive in.”
 
Abortion rights advocates have expressed concern the Supreme Court may reverse Roe with the addition of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as associate justices since President Trump took office.
 
The New York Senate had prevented passage of such a measure for more than a decade while it was controlled by Republicans. Democrats gained the majority, however, in the November election. The Senate voted, 38-24, for the bill, while the Assembly approved it in a 92-47 vote.
 
When the Senate passed RHA, many observers in the gallery cheered and gave the members a standing ovation. A seven-second video posted by PPNYC on Twitter went viral with many pro-lifers declaring their angst over the response.
 
Moore told BP, “The scene in the New York Senate chamber highlighted this horror as the abortion industry applauded lawmakers further codifying the culture of death. The applause in that chamber should remind us of the importance of the work before us as we engage our neighbors with the gospel. The church will not be deterred from speaking up for those the world wants to silence.
 
“My prayer is that some of those who cheer ghastly injustice as we saw this week might be awakened to the reality of life in the womb and, even more importantly, of the possibility of everlasting life in Christ,” Moore said. “Maybe, like the Apostle Paul, some of those now cheering the destruction of the vulnerable may one day be the most powerful witnesses for the sanctity of every human life, born and unborn.”
 
New York legalized abortion in 1970, and New York City became the abortion capital of the country as a result, drawing thousands of women from other states for the procedure.
 
While the Supreme Court struck down state laws in its Roe decision in 1973, a companion ruling – Doe v. Bolton – had the effect of legalizing abortion “on demand,” as pro-lifers have described it. In Doe, the high court provided an exception from state regulations of abortion for “maternal health,” which it defined as “all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient.”
 
The Supreme Court affirmed Roe in a 1992 opinion but also ruled states may regulate abortion to protect the lives and health of women.

1/25/2019 1:51:17 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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