January 2009

Board endorses NC marriage amendment

January 28 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Directors of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina joined the battle for a marriage amendment to the state constitution during their meeting at Caraway Conference Center Jan. 27-28.

Directors affirmed efforts of the NC4Marriage coalition to pass an amendment to the North Carolina constitution that defines marriage as between “one man and one woman” exclusively. North Carolina currently is the only southeastern state without such “defense of marriage” language in its constitution.

Fearing that “activist judges” would render current state statutes unconstitutional that already define marriage as between a man and a woman, and that prohibit same sex marriage, NC4Marriage is lobbying the legislature hard to put such language into the constitution. That would prevent any judge from declaring such statutes “unconstitutional.”

NC4Marriage efforts would also “settle” the definition of marriage and would prohibit legal recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships.
 
The North Carolina Baptist board affirmed their efforts by endorsing a proposal brought by the Council on Christian Life and Public Affairs, following presentations by NC4Marriage Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald first to the council, then to the full board.

Board President Allan Blume told directors that their action “does not say we are speaking on behalf of all the Convention. It is the board’s position.”

“Yet in spirit it does represent the churches and will be interpreted as such by most media and churches,” Blume acknowledged.

Fitzgerald appealed to the board for its endorsement, for the “support of your churches,” and for contributions.

She also encouraged board members to support “marriage Sunday” Feb. 22 and to rally with others in Raleigh in support of the amendment at 11 a.m. March 3.

Wording of the proposed amendment says, “Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

By passing such an amendment to the constitution, “the definition of marriage would be settled,” Fitzgerald said.

The board’s affirmation came by unanimous passage of a statement that said: “The Council on Christian Life and Public Affairs asks the board of directors of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to join us in a public affirmation of marriage by offering our full public support to the NC4Marriage Coalition in their efforts to pass a constitutional marriage amendment in our state.”  

Fitzgerald warned of dire consequences if homosexual couples in North Carolina who have been married in a state that recognizes such unions were to challenge the North Carolina statutes in court. She said “activist judges” have undone “the will of the people” in this matter by declaring statutes such as North Carolina’s to be unconstitutional in other states.

She said already in November opponents to such an amendment organized rallies in seven North Carolina cities, including one in Raleigh that drew 400, to protest the passage of a similar amendment in California, the infamous Proposition 8.

Failure to pass such an amendment, she told board members, could result in homosexuality being taught in schools as normal and acceptable; a redefinition of family; a “shrinking population and a diminished work force;” rising healthcare costs from AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. She said failure could threaten religious liberty and freedom of speech; eliminate the rights of pastors to preach from God’s word about homosexual sin and eliminate the right of churches to marry only heterosexual couples.

Thirty states have passed defense of marriage amendments as of Nov. 4, 2008, Fitzgerald said. North Carolina is alone in the southeast with no such amendment. Such amendments have passed in states that have them with 74 percent of the vote.

“Churches are the key to getting the marriage amendment passed,” Fitzgerald said.

1/28/2009 5:00:00 PM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Steelers embrace new chaplain

January 28 2009 by Art Stricklin, Baptist Press

TAMPA, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Steelers don't believe in putting many rookies in key roles on their team.

Seeking their sixth Super Bowl title in seven appearances, the AFC champions thrive on veteran players and leadership to take the Black and Gold to the football promised land.

But this year, the Steelers turned to a newcomer for matters of the soul: chaplain Kevin Jordan.

An Athletes in Action staffer, Jordan spent 10 years as the football chaplain for UCLA after a stellar career with the Bruins in which he set school marks in total receptions and receiving yards.
 
Following a brief NFL career which ended with the Denver Broncos in 1998, Jordan went to work for Athletes in Action (AIA), the sports ministry division of Campus Crusade for Christ.

"Football was just something I did because God gave me the ability to play," Jordan said.

While his own playing days are over, the 36-year-old chaplain still has plenty of experience in knowing what NFL players go through on a daily basis.

"I think credibility is the right word for a chaplain who's played the game," said Corwin Anthony, chaplain for the Miami Dolphins who also oversees all pro ministry work for AIA.

The opportunity to work with the Steelers after last year's season required a step of faith for Jordan and his wife Jenny, a former UCLA volleyball player who grew up in Southern California. Although it entailed a move to the snowy Northeast, they felt God's perfect timing.

"I made the move in the summer after we had prayed about it and were counseled by AIA," Jordan said. "We felt it was the right thing to do."

It didn't take Jordan long to learn he had an ally in head coach Mike Tomlin, who was in his second year with the Steelers and is a protégé of former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy.

"Mike has a vision for the things he thinks are important and the things of the Lord," Jordan said.

Tomlin made sure the new chaplain was introduced to the Steelers team early last summer. And one of the things Tomlin had planned caught Jordan off-guard early in training camp.

With the team in a heated game-like scrimmage, Tomlin installed Jordan as the referee for a key goal-line stand, leaving it to the chaplain to declare whether a Pittsburgh player had scored.

"I was only there a few weeks and just trying to remember the player's names back then, but Mike was always trying to graft me into the team," Jordan said.

"The chaplain called what the chaplain saw, and who is going to argue with that?" Tomlin told the Pittsburgh media at training camp.

Jordan has spent as much one-on-one time as possible in building trust and a relationship with the Pittsburgh players. He also has started a couples study on Monday nights and a coaches Bible study on Saturday mornings. The regular Sunday morning chapel services, attended by about 25 players and coaches, have been a mix of Jordan speaking or bringing in special guest speakers.

"You're always learning, developing trust and a relationship with players," Anthony said. "The players are always changing. It's like the mission field is coming to you. We're proud of the job Kevin has done with the Steelers."

While it was a cold culture shock from sunny Southern California to often-frigid Pittsburgh, it's a bit of a return home for Jordan. He grew up in Maryland, where everyone in his family was an avid Washington Redskins fan, except Jordan who grew to love the Dallas Cowboys because of his football idol Tony Dorsett.

But this Steelers rookie, culminating his return to the East Coast with Sunday's Super Bowl test against the Arizona Cardinals, has proven to be a quick learner in helping one of football's most storied franchises score in the things of eternal importance.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Sticklin is a Dallas-based sports correspondent for Baptist Press.)

1/28/2009 2:46:00 AM by Art Stricklin, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



DHL layoffs devastate town

January 28 2009 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

In Wilmington, Ohio, a town of 12,000 people where 8,000 had been employed by DHL, a series of extensive layoffs at the shipping company have left the community experiencing what has been called the trauma of Hurricane Katrina without the physical damage.

The two Southern Baptists churches in Wilmington are scurrying to meet needs wherever they can.

Years ago, Wilmington was home to an Air Force base that closed and was rehabilitated into the headquarters for Airborne Express, a shipping company that ranked just behind UPS and FedEx. In 2003, the Germany-based DHL bought Airborne, but the venture struggled, and with the economic crash of last year, DHL began laying people off by the hundreds.

Now workers in the town who gave decades of their lives to the shipping industry are finding themselves unemployed, unable to pay tuition bills and seeing their homes foreclosed, according to a segment on CBS' "60 Minutes" Jan. 25.

"I remember people with scarves breathing through ice in just unreal (temperatures), ... eyelashes frozen, and I started in '81. And when you worked, you worked. Why weren't we bailed out?" Morris Deufemia, a former employee, told CBS in describing the harsh conditions the workers endured to make sure people received their packages on time.
 
Dennis Humphreys has been pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Wilmington for 17 years, arriving in the town when Airborne was flourishing. Now he is encountering in fellow residents the emotions associated with a failed business.

 "We've seen that kind of frustration because they were the largest employer," Humphreys told Baptist Press (BP). "That's where lots of people worked. That's been the hardest thing because it was a foreign company coming in and taking over an American company based right here."

In his church of about 200 people, Humphreys said about 30 families had been employed by DHL.

 Surprisingly, Humphreys said none of his church members have moved to other towns yet in search of employment. One church member told him he got a job in Lexington, Ky., but wasn't necessarily going to move because his new employer is letting him work a four-day week given the long commute. The man said he was waiting to see if that plan would work for his family.

"A couple other families have begun to put resumes out and that type of thing, and they're just waiting to see what God does or what doors God opens," Humphreys said. "People have gotten other jobs already in the area. We've been taking it a day at a time and praying for one another and helping each other where we can. That's pretty much how we've been handling it.

"Everybody has been very upbeat and most people have just said, 'God's allowing us to go through this, so we're just going to take it a day at a time and let Him lead us through it.' That's kind of the attitude that the majority of our people anyway have taken," the pastor said.

Calvary has been collecting coats, hats and gloves for children this winter as more families find it harder to provide for basic needs.

At Immanuel Baptist Church in Wilmington, church members are collecting food for a pantry they've opened to people in the community who are struggling financially in the wake of the layoffs.

"We're trying to help them be able to take some of their grocery money and apply it to other bills," the church's pastor, Wayne Woody, told BP. "We're a smaller church, so we can't help directly financially, but we try to help out any way possible, and we found that a food pantry is one way of doing it. I've passed on information to anybody that would like to get in with Crown Financial Resources to help with budgeting and lifestyle changes."

Immanuel has 15-20 families, Woody said, and at least a third of them are directly affected by the layoffs.

"Just for curiosity's sake, I went on to one of the major search engines for job postings, monster.com, and searched for any job listings in the Wilmington area for a 20-mile radius," Woody said. "There were only six jobs posted for the Wilmington area, and they were management positions."
                
As a local pastor, Woody said he tries to make Immanuel a place where people can seek refuge in uncertain times.

"We've talked about how this seems like a very big bump in the road, but it is just a small bump in the road in comparison to life, and God's going to continue us on that path when the road gets a little bumpy," he said. "We've tried to minister individually and do our worship services and try to put a positive outlook on all the things that are going on in society right now.

"But with the loss of a lot of jobs, that really hits home quicker than anything else, so we try to be an uplifting ministry as much as we can."

"I keep telling people to keep looking upward. A lot of times we have a tendency as our human nature to look forward, but when we're talking about wanting God-sized miracles, we've got to be looking upward," he said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.)

1/28/2009 2:27:00 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Organizers hope meetings promote racial unity

January 28 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Planners of a Jan. 31 gathering of diverse Baptist groups hope a national mood set by the election of America’s first African-American president will spill over into renewed relationships between black and white Baptists.
 
“We are very excited in this time of a new atmosphere in the entire country to do some work to bring together a larger sense of the Baptist family,” said Gary Furr, co-chairman of a steering committee planning the first of a series of regional gatherings of an interracial network known as the New Baptist Covenant.
 
A regional meeting will be held April 23-24 on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.
 
Former President Jimmy Carter, who spearheaded the movement that prompted some 15,000 Baptists from 30 organizations representing 20 million Baptists across North America to attend a national meeting in January 2008 in Atlanta, is keynote speaker for the first of four regional versions of the gathering scheduled for 2009.
 
It will be held in Birmingham, Ala. — significant for its role in the Civil Rights Movement.
 
Sessions for the first event are scheduled at four sites: 16th Street Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, all within walking distance of each other in the downtown part of the city.
 
The historically black 16th Street Church is a particularly symbolic location, because it is where one of the most shocking incidents of the African-American struggle for civil rights took place. On Sept. 15, 1963, at the end of a tumultuous summer of anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, a bomb set by segregationists exploded at the church. It killed four young girls attending Sunday School.
 
Joining Carter on the program are Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, and Robert Smith, associate professor of divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School.
 
Small groups will focus on special interests including health care, poverty and race.
 
“I am proud to be a part of the New Baptist Covenant initiative,” said Arthur Price, pastor of 16th Street Baptist Church and the planning team’s other co-chair. “If ever there is a time when God’s people must come together and be on one accord to make an impact in our churches and the culture around us for Christ, it is now.”
 
Furr — the white pastor of suburban Vestavia Hills Baptist Church — said he and Price, who is black, have been developing a friendship for several years and have done a number of things together, so planning the meeting together was a natural thing.
 
Particularly with regard to the helping the poor, Furr said he hopes the event will drive home the message that “we need one another and we need to help one another.”
 
“Our hopes for this event are, first of all, it will be a time of inspiration, worship and challenge to all of us to build community and to forge new relationships with one another and pledge to cooperate with one another more fully,” Furr said. “Our greatest hope is that people go home with a new set of relationships.”
 
Jimmy Allen, a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and coordinator for the national New Baptist Covenant celebration, said other regional gatherings are scheduled April 2-4 in Kansas City, Mo., and Aug. 6-7 in Norman, Okla. A fifth regional gathering is being planned in Chicago, with a tentative date in June 2010, and a triennial national gathering is planned for 2011.
 
A Baptist theological student network formed out of the New Baptist Covenant has also set meetings for March 26-28 at Mercer University in Georgia.

1/28/2009 2:19:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



'Bible Bee' offers $260,000 in prizes

January 28 2009 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A new competition is providing another opportunity for churches to encourage Scripture memorization among their children. The Bible Bee, a Bible memory competition for children and youth from 7 to 18, adds a new twist to the traditional Bible Drills that Southern Baptists have used for decades.

"The goal of the Bible Bee is to build godly character in young people by calling them back to the lost discipline of scripture memorization," a news release from the organizers stated.

"Most people are familiar with the Scripps National Spelling Bee, where youth compete annually in the nation's longest-running educational contest. While it is certainly beneficial for our children to commit the spelling of words to memory, imagine how much more life-changing it will be for them to memorize the Word of God," the release said.

The bee is coordinated by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, named after a woman who died of cancer in 2005 at age 23. Inspired by Kennedy's reliance on God's word, the nonprofit ministry encourages children and youth to grow in Christ through scripture memorization.
 
Instead of asking children to spell a word, the Bible Bee requires contestants to learn Bible passages and facts — with an ultimate goal of equipping the next generation to be bold ambassadors for Jesus. A written multiple-choice test and an oral round of questions involving Bible memory and knowledge are part of each Bible Bee competition.

Local Bible Bees will be conducted throughout the country Sept. 12, and 100 finalists from each of three age categories will advance to the National Bible Bee in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5-6. The Bible Bee Competition will distribute more than $260,000 in prize money with $100,000 being awarded to the first-place winner of the top age category.

The deadline for beginning the registration process to hold a local Bible Bee is Jan. 31; interested individuals can contact the Shelby Kennedy Foundation at (888) 3-BIBLE-B (or 888-324-2532). Registration for participants in a local Bible Bee will take place from Feb. 15 through April 30. Further information about fees ($20 for one child, $15 for a second, $10 for three through six participants, with a $75 maximum for families with more children), competition locations and other facets of the Bible Bee are available at www.biblebee.org. A free downloadable study guide, “Bee-Liever’s Handbook,” will be available May 1.

Bible Bee participants will be able to choose one of five Bible translations: King James Version; New King James Version; New American Standard Bible, New International Version and English Standard Version.
               

Bible Bee v. Bible Drill

The Bible Bee competition is not a Southern Baptist effort, but looks to be a great opportunity for the thousands of Southern Baptist churches already steeped in a Bible memorization tradition.

Many Southern Baptists grew up participating in Bible Drills, which are coordinated by LifeWay Christian Resources. The Children's Bible Drill is organized in cycles that rotate over a three-year period for children in grades 4 through 6.
                
Bible Drills help children by developing skills in locating books of the Bible and key passages. Participants also memorize the names of the books of the Bible in order, as well as selected Bible verses and key passages. Another goal is to help children apply the Bible to their lives.

Drill dates are set by local Baptist associations and state conventions, and churches can schedule their own drills a week or two prior to their local drill. LifeWay offers Bible drill materials, and state conventions determine which version of the Bible will be used in competition.

Each year children learn the location of 10 important passages in the Bible and must be able to find the passage when the caller gives the title. For example, if the caller says, "The Crucifixion," the children must know that the reference is John 19 and be able to find the passage in 10 seconds. At the end of three years in Children's Bible Drill, children will be able to find 30 key passages.

Bible drill participants can choose one of three Bible translations: Holman Christian Standard Bible; King James Version; and New International Version.

Mark Jones, a childhood ministry specialist at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said Bible drill activities benefit churches.

"Oklahoma churches witnessed 4,247 children accepting Christ last year," he said. "Most will enjoy fun events yet never learn their Bible skills, rendering them handicapped Christians, unable to spiritually feed themselves. 'Bible Skills, Drills and Thrills' (LifeWay's curriculum line) has given churches a tool to assist parents and teachers as they work together to train children how to use their Bibles and become life-long disciples of Christ."

For additional information on Bible drills, visit lifeway.com/kids and type "Bible drill" in the search box or e-mail Mikey Oldham at mikey.oldham@lifeway.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach with reporting by Polly House of LifeWay Christian Resources.)

1/28/2009 1:58:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Blume elected board chair third time

January 27 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Allan Blume, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, was elected to a rare third term as president of the board of the Baptist State Convention during the board meeting Jan. 27 at Caraway Conference Center.
 
Blume, in his fourth year as a board member, was elected by acclamation, as was Cindy Stevens for a second term as vice president. Stevens is from Raleigh where she is wife of the pastor of Cross Culture Church.

The 100-member Board of Directors acts for the Convention between annual sessions and meets three times annually. From the board an Executive Committee is drawn and consists of the chairmen of seven board committees, presidents of three councils, the three Convention officers, president of the North Carolina Baptist Men, representative of the directors of missions association and four at-large members.

Committee chairmen are: Business services, David Treadway; church planting and Missions Development, Todd Brady; Communications, James Horton; Congregational Services, Lee Pigg; Evangelization, Aaron Wallace. Chairmen of the budget and articles and bylaws committees will be named later by Blume.

Council presidents are: Christian Higher Education, Joel Stephens; Christian Social Services, Scott Eanes; Christian Life and Public Policy, Greg Barefoot.

Kelton Hinton of Johnston Association, represents directors of missions. Dale Duncan represents Baptist Men.

Convention officers are Rick Speas, Ed Yount and Mark Harris.

Four at-large members elected from the board are:  Bobby Blanton, Cornelius; Ann Beck, Hendersonville; Eric Cook, Monroe and Joe Denson, Charlotte.

Blume said after the meeting that he agreed to serve another year as chair to lend “stability” to what has been significant transition during his tenure. Blume has been board chair for 24 of the 33 months that Milton Hollifield has been executive director-treasurer.

Together they’ve faced the change in relationship with the Convention of the five colleges, Baptist Retirement Homes and Woman’s Missionary Union. The articles and bylaws are halfway through significant revisions and income missed budget by nearly 12 percent last year.

“With the transitional times we’ve experienced I’ve had so many leaders, pastors and others encourage me to stay on,” Blume said. “I’d rather be serving more in my church, and I’m willing for others to do it, but I was encouraged by others to help during the changes.”    

1/27/2009 4:29:00 PM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Director named for new aging ministry

January 27 2009 by BR staff

A development director for Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) will head a new ministry to aging adults.

Sandy Gregory, who has served BCH as director of development for the South Central region of the state since 2005, will be director of the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM), BCH officials announced today (Jan. 27). Gregory will direct NCBAM’s daily operations under the leadership of BCH president Michael C. Blackwell.

BCH will oversee the new ministry, which was formally introduced to N.C. Baptists at the Baptist State Convention (BSC) annual meeting in November.

BSC officials decided to form a ministry to older adults after Baptist Retirement Homes (BRH) decided to appoint its own trustees and give up Cooperative Program funding from the BSC.

BSC officials have said NCBAM will not compete with BRH, which provides residential care.

NCBAM is meant to be “an educational and information-based ministry connecting aging adults and their families to the resources they need,” according to a statement released by BCH. It will also help N.C. Baptist churches and associations develop ministries to benefit the aging, the statement said.

Blackwell said Gregory has been a “tremendous asset” to BCH’s development team.

“I am confident he will bring to NCBAM the same level of commitment and success as we
move forward with this new, dynamic resource to the aging and their families,” Blackwell said.

Gregory is a graduate of Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia. He has a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest and a doctorate in ministry from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Prior to joining BCH, Gregory has served as a pastor, associate pastor, and children and youth minister at churches in Virginia and North Carolina. He also served as executive director for the Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry and the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Plantation in Virginia.

“I am delighted to be appointed as director of NCBAM, and I am looking forward to working with aging adults and their families across the state,” Gregory said. “There is a great need to provide quality resources and information to this rapidly growing population.”

1/27/2009 10:15:00 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments



They teach spiritual truths, too

January 27 2009 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

Churches that teach biblical principles about money help more than just their members’ pocketbooks.

“It’s a good tool to bring people closer to God,” said Jessica Garner, a volunteer instructor for Crown Financial Ministries and financial training coordinator at her church, Arran Lake Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
 
Garner said the 10-week course that she has taught four times at her church changes lives, because “it lets people realize God does want them to be out of debt.”

The course teaches people to rely on God, to realize, “it’s a lot easier to let God have it all and roll with it,” she said.

Changes among those taking the course are “pretty dramatic,” Garner said. Some people started tithing.

Others decided to put their house on the market or sell their vehicles.

“It changes a person to realize that God does own everything,” Garner said.

Pedro Rosario, Eastern North Carolina area director for Crown, said Crown studies have shown that giving increases by 70 percent among those who take the course.

“The benefit to the church is the fact that (church members) are out of debt,” he said.

Rosario said the 10-week course is intense. Garner said participants must agree to meet for two hours each week.

Those who take the course often become lifelong friends, she said.

Garner encourages churches to teach financial stewardship.

Such efforts can be a springboard to help communities by teaching financial principles to church neighbors and by getting church members into a financial position where they can help meet community needs.

Garner became a financial instructor after her church taught a course on finding a ministry in which to be involved.

Later when the church was raising money for Vacation Bible School she didn’t have money to donate.

She talked to church staff, found out about Crown, and learned Crown had a partnership with the Southern Baptist
Convention. Garner became a certified trainer and more than 40 registered for her first class offering.

“It was a much larger turnout than we expected,” Garner said.

Since groups need to stay small for greatest effectiveness, most people were put on a waiting list. After four
classes, there’s still some on the list, Garner said.

“It’s more than I can keep up with, to tell the truth,” she said.

Financial health package
Across three issues of the Biblical Recorder and numerous postings online, the BR staff compiled stories dealing with financial health, budgeting, teaching children about money, stewardship issues, etc. For a complete list, click here.

1/27/2009 7:09:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Pastor: Church knew of new Haggard allegations

January 27 2009 by Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

The pastor of a Colorado Springs megachurch at the center of yet another sex scandal involving former pastor Ted Haggard told his congregation Jan. 25 that he knew of the lurid allegations 18 months ago but "there's nothing being held secret here."

Pastor Brady Boyd of New Life Church acknowledged that the church's insurance company arranged a settlement with a young man who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Haggard, who was forced to resign in 2006 after a male escort came forward with charges of gay sex and drug use.

Earlier, Boyd had said there was an "overwhelming pool of evidence" that supported an "inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship" between Haggard and the young man. He said he was confident the man was of legal age at the time of the affair.

Boyd told worshippers that none of their weekly offerings had been used to pay the settlement, and admitted that church leaders had long known about the allegations.

"For the last two years, we carried the burden, the weight, of this information to protect you," Boyd said. "We've been diligent, faithful, pastoral, honest ... every step of the way."

Boyd said church leaders were forced to keep quiet because of the settlement's terms, and also because "I have to use discretion, our staff has to use discretion, and sometimes we have to use confidentiality ... especially when it concerns people we're trying to help heal. There's nothing being held secret here."

"There's no secret. I've known every single bit of information for 18 months as your pastor. I've held it. I know how to handle it. I've walked it out."

Boyd, who took over after Haggard resigned in disgrace, apologized for the new round of allegations against the church's former pastor, which came just days before Haggard is scheduled to resurface in an HBO documentary, "The Trials of Ted Haggard."

"It's been my hope as your pastor for the 18 months I've been here that this wound would heal and we wouldn't have to revisit the unpleasant parts of our past, but unfortunately this week we've had to do that," he said, adding later, "The wound will not always be with us, the wound will not always define us."

1/27/2009 4:46:00 AM by Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Super Bowl QB Warner feels blessed by God

January 26 2009 by Brett Maragni, Baptist Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When it comes to Kurt Warner as a player, his football career has been better than a movie script.

An undrafted quarterback out of the University of Northern Iowa, Warner experienced some success in the Arena Football League and with NFL Europe. Then he secured the backup role to Trent Green with the St. Louis Rams entering the 1999 season.

When Green went down in the preseason with an injury, Kurt took the reins and blazed a path few will forget anytime soon. In leading the Rams to a 13-3 record, he produced one of the greatest seasons for any quarterback in the history of the NFL, leading the Rams through the playoffs and on to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. Along the way, he was awarded NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP.

For the next two seasons, Warner was at the top of football, taking his Rams back to the Super Bowl in 2001 and earning another NFL MVP award.
 
But Warner's stellar career slipped. The Rams released him. He lost his starting job in New York. He had two average seasons with his current team, the Arizona Cardinals. As Warner was facing the twilight of his career, some were probably thinking he was more of a "flash in the pan" than a bona fide NFL superstar.

This season Warner is back on track. His current play has him in contention for another NFL MVP award and on a trajectory for a sure spot in Canton's Hall of Fame.

But Warner the player is not as impressive as Warner the person. In the three times he's lost his starting job, he has enthusiastically taken on the role of backup, cheerleader and even mentor to the younger men who moved ahead of him on the depth chart — all without losing the competitive fire that has kept him in a position to return to a starting role.

Warner's charitable work has been well profiled. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Peter King gives example after example of Warner's sterling character. King shares a personal anecdote of the time when he asked Warner to send an autographed item to a fan who was serving in Iraq. Warner did more than that. Not only did he send him an autographed mini-helmet, upon hearing that the young man was home on leave, he called him (or at least he attempted to) — five times. Most stars would give up after one call, if they called at all.

This is just one small example of Warner's commitment to help people. Other examples, among many, include funding a recreation center in a children's hospital, spending every Christmas day with foster children who have no family to spend Christmas with, championing Habitat for Humanity and taking "Making a Wish" families to Disney World.

The key to understanding Warner as a person is to look at the source of his strength: Jesus Christ. In 1996, when Warner was dating his future wife, Brenda, a tornado killed her parents. In an interview several years back with CBN, Warner discussed the impact that event had on his life.

"That situation showed me that you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow," Warner said. "You have to live life for today and for this moment. It was at that point that I realized the Lord needed to be at the center of my life. I couldn't wait until tomorrow or next year. It needed to be right now."

As the accolades have been rolling in again this season, Warner has been quick to give the glory to God. After a Monday Night Football win in November, Warner was asked, "With all the ups and downs, when something like that is happening at the end of the game, where does your mind go?"

Warner responded, "My mind goes to how awesome God is. He blesses me over and over again. I just can't say enough about the position He puts me in."

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Maragni is senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel of Jacksonville, Fla.)

1/26/2009 9:42:00 AM by Brett Maragni, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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