January 2012

SBU committee named for ‘evaluations’ of ‘orthodoxy’

February 14 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Amid ongoing discussion of a former theology professor’s firing at Southwest Baptist University (SBU) and the board’s exclusion of a trustee elected by the Missouri Baptist Convention, SBU has announced the members of a Peer Assessment Committee to conduct “evaluations regarding orthodoxy” at the university.

Photo from SBU
Southwest Baptist University has announced the members of a Peer Assessment Committee to conduct “evaluations regarding orthodoxy” at the university.

Assessment committee chairman David Dockery, president of Trinity International University, announced the appointment of five additional committee members, according to a Feb. 13 SBU news release. They are:
– Ken Hemphill, director of North Greenville University’s Center for Church Planting and Revitalization and a former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
– Barbara McMillin, president of Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Miss., and president of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities.
– Joe Crider, professor of church music and worship at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former SBU faculty member.
– Tim Howe, an SBU alum and pastor of teaching and discipleship at Heritage Baptist Church in Lebanon, Mo.
– Camden Pulliam, an SBU alum and director of admissions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The committee will visit SBU’s Bolivar, Mo., campus at least once before spring break and at least one additional time prior to spring graduation, SBU stated. Committee members will work with administration, faculty and student leaders “to help determine the scope of their assessment.”
Clint Bass, the terminated theology professor at issue, saw his Nov. 28 firing upheld by a trustee subcommittee that convened in December. SBU President Eric Turner has accused Bass of violating faculty policy by, among other infractions, “collecting evidence and ascribing views to [faculty colleagues] without personal interaction.” An online petition supporting Bass claims he ran afoul of SBU administrators after informing the administration “of his concerns about the doctrinal instability” of SBU’s Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry.
During a Jan. 22 special called trustee meeting, SBU’s board voted to censure and exclude a trustee identified by Missouri Baptists’ Pathway news journal as Kyle Lee, who serves alongside Bass as an elder at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Bolivar.
Following Lee’s exclusion, MBC Executive Director John Yeats told the Pathway, “Censuring and exclusion of a duly elected trustee from any MBC entity board is very serious matter and warrants careful review by Missouri Baptist Convention leaders in discussion with SBU leaders. There are numerous issues that will be addressed in future conversations, including the exclusive legal right of the Convention to both elect and remove trustees.
“We need to understand SBU’s views as to whether there is a process to restore a censured trustee to full service. The trustee relationship to the Convention is a sacred trust in the Baptist world. Any unsettling of that relationship inhibits the mission we (MBC) have asked the trustees to do. MBC leaders are giving this matter the urgent attention it deserves,” Yeats said.
Dockery said he looks forward to working with Turner and other SBU personnel “on these very important matters.”
“We want to encourage the university community to take the next steps to enhance distinctive Christian higher education at SBU,” Dockery said.
Redford College dean Rodney Reeves said he anticipates “meaningful discussions with the Peer Assessment Committee.”
SBU announced the Peer Assessment Committee in December, named Dockery chairman and said the committee would “lead a University-wide dialogue regarding faith and learning” to include “deeper conversations and evaluations regarding orthodoxy.”

2/14/2019 10:28:13 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

James MacDonald fired after ‘inappropriate’ comments

February 14 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

James MacDonald, a former radio and television preacher who has spoken several times at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference, has been fired as pastor of Chicago-area Harvest Bible Chapel, the church announced Feb. 13.

BP file photo
James MacDonald, pictured here at the 2015 SBC Pastors’ Conference, has been fired from the Chicago megachurch he helped start more than 30 years ago.

Harvest’s elders said in a statement they already “had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor,” but their “timeline accelerated” Feb. 12 when “highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported.”
The elders’ statement apparently referenced recordings aired Feb. 12 by Chicago radio personality Eric “Mancow” Muller that allegedly depict MacDonald using crude language and insulting journalists who have written about him.
“This decision was made with heavy hearts and much time spent in earnest prayer, followed by input from various trusted outside advisors,” the elders stated.
MacDonald has spoken at the SBC Pastors’ Conference at least four times since 2012. During his 2015 appearance, MacDonald announced Harvest would begin cooperating with the SBC. According to the SBC Executive Committee, Harvest contributed to the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget in 2015. The EC has no record of contributions by Harvest since that time.
Harvest does not cooperate with the Illinois Baptist State Association.
In December, MacDonald withdrew from his speaking slot at this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference in Birmingham, Ala., amid renewed allegations by WORLD Magazine that he and other Harvest leaders “have shown an ongoing pattern of relational and financial abuse, a lack of transparency, and outright deception.”
Harvest announced last month MacDonald would take an “indefinite sabbatical from preaching and leadership.”
At the time, MacDonald said in a statement, “I have carried great shame about [a] pattern in certain relationships that can only be called sin. I am grieved that people I love have been hurt by me in ways they felt they could not express to me directly and have not been able to resolve. I blame only myself for this and want to devote my entire energy to understanding and addressing these recurring patterns.”
Earlier in January, MacDonald pulled his Walk in the Word broadcast from radio and television while keeping it as a podcast. He cited costs and changing demographics as reasons for the move.
In the elders’ announcement of MacDonald’s firing, they requested prayer for “our church, the Elder Board, staff, and the MacDonald family.”
MacDonald started Harvest in 1988 and has seen it grow to a weekend worship attendance of thousands.

2/14/2019 10:23:22 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NFL veteran and wife make ultrasound gift to New Orleans

February 14 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Southern Baptists celebrated the power of partnership with a veteran National Football League player and his family in dedicating a new ultrasound machine in a New Orleans health center.

Photo by Verge Media
Hannah Pounds, chief medical officer at Baptist Community Health Services in New Orleans, provides a demonstration of the ultrasound machine given by Benjamin and Kirsten Watson through the ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project after a dedication service Feb. 10.

Benjamin and Kirsten Watson, along with their five children, joined in the dedication of the new addition to the ministry of Baptist Community Health Services (BCHS). The Watsons donated the ultrasound machine in the fall through the Psalm 139 Project, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) ministry to help place such technology in pregnancy resource centers across the country.
The machine serves women in crisis pregnancies as well as others with medical needs at BCHS’ Andrew P. Sanchez Center in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. The nonprofit ministry provides health care through four centers in underserved areas of the city. The churches of the New Orleans Baptist Association, with the help of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, launched BCHS in 2014.
Speakers at the Feb. 10 ceremony at the Sanchez Center pointed to the cooperation demonstrated by the ultrasound machine’s placement.
“It’s been great to see how the Lord has used the passions of the Watson family being stirred by the Spirit of the Lord to find a partner who shares that same Spirit, linking resources, building networks all for the glory of God,” said Shawn Powers, BCHS’ chief executive officer.
ERLC President Russell Moore told the audience that included BCHS staff and board members that he is thankful “to partner with all of you and with the Watson family today.”
Watson, a tight end who retired at the close of this season after a 15-year career, told the BCHS community that his family is “very, very thankful to be a part of what you all are doing. We’re thankful that God placed us here for this time and made these connections, made these relationships.... We’re very humbled to play a role.”
Powers said BCHS’ partnership with the Psalm 139 Project “has been huge. It’s allowed us to feel somewhat like, ‘Yes, we’re a part of God’s Kingdom in a new way,’ being refreshed and encouraged.’”
Moore, in a written release before the dedication ceremony, said he is “excited to see how this machine will be used as a powerful instrument to help protect unborn children and mothers across the city of New Orleans. Ministries like BCHS play an indispensable role in advocating for human dignity, and I pray this placement would help them continue to flourish and serve” New Orleans.
The Watsons also collaborated with Psalm 139 earlier in 2018 when they largely funded an ultrasound machine for the Severna Park (Md.) Pregnancy Clinic outside Baltimore, where Benjamin played for the NFL’s Ravens the previous season. They made the donation – which resulted in the machine being installed in June – through the Evangelicals for Life (EFL) partnership of the ERLC and Focus on the Family.
Watson, who played the final season of his career with the New Orleans Saints, said the idea for donating ultrasound machines was birthed in his wife Kirsten a decade earlier when she was pregnant with their first child, Grace, now 10. Kirsten is now pregnant with twins.
The Watsons were visiting with the ERLC and Focus on the Family at the EFL conference in Washington, D.C., when they learned of the organizations’ collaboration in placing ultrasound machines. They realized, he said, “Why reinvent the wheel? This is our opportunity.

Photo by Chandler McCall
Benjamin and Kirsten Watson, shown with ERLC President Russell Moore, right, gave an ultrasound machine through the Psalm 139 Project to Baptist Community Health Services in New Orleans.

“[I]t’s amazing how God will birth something in someone, and somebody else has the ability [to fulfill it],” Watson told the dedication ceremony audience. “And through teamwork, He will put people together for His purposes.”
Viewing an ultrasound of their first child in utero “sparked something for us as a couple,” Kirsten Watson said. “[W]e are just honored and blessed that we are able to provide that for other mommies and daddies.”
Hannah Pounds, BCHS’ chief medical officer, said the ultrasound machine is a gift at a “time of great need, and it also gives us amazing opportunities.”
“And those opportunities are to show visually and to show auditory evidence of the life within the womb, to give parents the most information and data possible as early as possible,” Pounds said at the ceremony. “Without this technology, we wouldn’t be able to do that. It also gives us the opportunity, which is our routine, to screen for emotional distress and spiritual distress.”
The machine enables the BCHS staff “to proclaim the truth that Jesus Christ loves them and it’s not just us and you and the baby in the room,” Pounds said. “There’s also Jesus, who loves each of us regardless of our past choices.”
Michael Flores, chairman of the BCHS board, said the ministry has experienced peaks and valleys, “but I don’t think we could find any previous peak that surpasses today.”
BCHS, which sees 50 to 70 patients daily, is the only known federally qualified health center connected to a Southern Baptist association.
“What I love about this health care mission is we can help treat the physical needs, the emotional needs of people and the spiritual needs of people, but it’s all being done with the desire to move them further into the mission of the redemptive love of Christ,” Powers said.
The Psalm 139 Project not only helps place ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers, but it funds the training of staff members to operate the machines. In the case of the Watsons’ gift to BCHS, Psalm 139 identified the center, coordinated the placement and arranged training on the machine.
Since 2004, the Psalm 139 Project has helped provide ultrasound equipment for centers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. The ERLC has collaborated with Focus on the Family’s Option Ultrasound Program on some of the machine placements.
All gifts to the Psalm 139 Project go toward machines and training, since the ERLC’s administrative costs are covered by the Cooperative Program, the SBC’s unified giving plan. Information on the Psalm 139 Project and how to donate is available at psalm139project.org.
The Psalm 139 Project is named after the psalm in which David testified to God’s sovereign care for him when he was an unborn child. He wrote in verse 13, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
Watson received EFL’s Pro-life Public Service Award and spoke at the conference in 2018.

2/14/2019 10:14:54 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Gardner-Webb announces new president

February 14 2019 by GWU Communications

The Gardner-Webb University (GWU) Board of Trustees announced Feb. 13 that William M. Downs has been named the institution’s 13th president. He currently serves at East Carolina University (ECU) as the dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences in Greenville, N.C.

Board members unanimously confirmed his appointment at a special meeting, capping a highly competitive one-year national search. His term as GWU president begins July 1.
According to David Royster III, GWU Board of Trustees member and chairman of the Presidential Search Committee, the new president has significant leadership experience and understands higher education on multiple levels. “He has served as a faculty member, department chair, program director and dean,” Royster noted. “The Board of Trustees has faith that Gardner-Webb will thrive and continue to provide transformative opportunities for students under his guidance.”
With more than two decades of service in higher education, Downs has been at ECU since 2014. He is the W. Keats Sparrow Distinguished Chair in the Liberal Arts and a professor of political science. He administers 16 academic departments and 17 interdisciplinary degree programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, which has more than 6,000 arts and sciences undergraduate majors and more than 730 graduate majors. Downs also ensures the quality of general education curriculum for more than 23,000 undergraduate students. Working with his colleagues, he has introduced several initiatives to improve undergraduate research and international study opportunities.
“I am truly honored by the privilege and opportunity of serving as Gardner-Webb University’s next president” Downs said. ”So many things have attracted me and brought me to this moment...GWU’s mission and underlying values, its people and programs, and its rich traditions of excellence.  Together, we will have the chance to write a new chapter in the history of one of North Carolina’s great universities.  I cannot wait to get started.” 
From 1997 to 2014, Downs served various roles at Georgia State University (Atlanta), including area dean, department chair, director and professor. He is an accomplished lecturer, research scholar and the author of Political Extremism in Democracies: Combating Intolerance. He has been a research fellow at Harvard University’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, a graduate research associate at the Carter Center’s African Governance Program and a Fulbright Research Fellow in Belgium.
The search committee worked in conjunction with the Charlotte-based executive search firm Coleman Lew + Associates, Inc. to help in the search process. Members of the Presidential Search Committee include trustees, GWU faculty and staff, and a student representative.
“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Downs to Gardner-Webb” said Jennifer Marion Mills, chair of the Board of Trustees. “He brings academic depth, significant leadership experience and vision to the position. We expect great things ahead.”
A Raleigh native, Downs earned his bachelor of arts in political science, with a minor in journalism, from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, in 1988, and his master of arts (‘90) and doctoral (‘94) degrees in political science from Emory University, Atlanta. Downs is married to Kimberly Harwood Downs and has two children, Rachel and Bradley.

2/14/2019 10:06:32 AM by GWU Communications | with 0 comments

Facebook expands church plant’s community connections

February 14 2019 by Rebecca Manry, SBC LIFE

Everyone craves connections – a truth that Living Stone Community Church has embraced by using Facebook to minister to their community.

Photo by Whitney Clayton
Building on their Facebook contacts, Ali and Whitney Clayton organize a block party for their neighborhood, assisted by a mission team from First Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

Facebook can be an important tool in getting to know neighbors and pointing them to Christ, said Ali Clayton, wife of church planter Whitney Clayton.
“We mainly use social media to get a pulse on our community,” she said. “People will put what they care about, what they’re going through, how they’re hurting on Facebook. So we’ve used it to connect personally to people.”
Sometimes, Facebook opens up opportunities for ministry.
Her husband met a man in their area of Mesa, Ariz., and made it a point to add him as a friend on Facebook. Later, he learned through Facebook that the man was going through some traumatic events – a death in the family and a car accident. The Claytons were able to take the family a meal, and as Whitney helped the man process his grief, he was able to share the gospel on three different occasions.
“I don’t know that [Whitney] would have known about all that was going on in that guy’s life had he not been friends with him on Facebook,” Ali said.
And Facebook can help start new relationships. Church members have used neighborhood pages and interest-based clubs on Facebook, such as fitness groups or book clubs, to meet people.
Ali joined a local mom’s group through Facebook when her family first moved to the area about three years ago. She built friendships during their weekly gatherings while their children played together and became especially close to one of the women in the group.
One day, the woman told Ali that her father had died, and her son was asking questions about heaven that she wasn’t prepared to answer. Knowing that Ali was a Christian, she asked if she could attend church with her. The woman subsequently became a follower of Christ and has remained active in their church.
Of course, using Facebook is not always a positive experience, with its potential to bring out some of the worst aspects of a person’s character, like narcissism, deception and jealousy.
Rather than using it as a platform for self-importance or broadcasting one’s feelings and opinions, Ali said, “I think that as believers on mission for God, Facebook can be used best when we have a posture of listening, and hearing from the lost people in our lives.”
Don’t just listen and be a “passive observer,” she counseled. If someone is struggling, reach out and offer Christ’s love to the person in need.
Ali said church members are always ready to deliver meals; whenever they hear about a family with a new baby, a death in the family or another life event, they are willing to step in and serve.
The Claytons make it a priority to open their home in order to build community with their neighbors and care for them. They host a weekly dinner that they regularly invite neighbors to attend. They also host a community Bible study open to anyone, which began after a suggestion on their neighborhood’s Facebook group.

Photo courtesy of Ali Clayton
Whitney and Ali Clayton, with their four children, reach out to their community through Facebook, a weekly dinner for neighbors and a community Bible study.

Maintaining a strong walk with the Lord is essential when ministering through hospitality, Ali said.
“I have four young kids – the oldest is 7 – so even keeping our house picked up and thinking about feeding our own family can be overwhelming at times,” she said.
“To think of inviting other people into that on a regular basis can be draining if I’m not connected to the Lord and really having Him fill me, so I can continue to pour out.”
Usually when a church is looking to establish a Facebook presence, or build up their existing presence, the advice centers around a few best practices: maintain a page with up-to-date information. Post content frequently that informs, inspires and encourages people in their walk with Christ. Promote major church events.
Yet Facebook has even more to offer to individuals interested in connecting more deeply with the people around them.
A good way to start making those connections, Ali said, is to see if your neighborhood has a Facebook group or page already established. If it does, join. If it doesn’t, start one. But don’t let your involvement stop there; keep in contact with the people in your community and if someone is in need, try to meet that need.
“I think we are all craving meaningful, deep relationships,” Ali said. “Taking [Facebook connections] a step further and meeting those people in person, and becoming friends with your neighbors, is the next step to bringing them into the family of God.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Rebecca Manry is communications specialist for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. This article first appeared in SBC LIFE, sbclife.net, journal of the Executive Committee.)

2/14/2019 9:52:19 AM by Rebecca Manry, SBC LIFE | with 0 comments

Greear addresses SBC response to sexual abuse report

February 13 2019 by Scott Barkley, The Christian Index

In a broad-ranging talk with members of the Association of State Baptist Publications (ASBP), Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear urged Southern Baptists to be a people known for the gospel.

Christian Index photo by Scott Barkley
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear talks with members of the Association of State Baptist Publications Feb. 12.

The meeting, which lasted more than 40 minutes, took place at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston during the ASBP’s annual meeting.
“This conversation is very complex,” he admitted, referring to a recent investigative report published in the Houston Chronicle about sex abuse in Southern Baptist churches. “… But I also understand this is a time for us to lament and to grieve. I do not believe you can in any way push this aside as an agenda-driven thing put out by the secular media to try to destroy us.”
And even if that were the case, said Greear, it doesn’t allow Southern Baptists to ignore the damage.
“There’s a problem. And we want to respond to this with humility … [and] by owning a wrong. If there is a time and a place to defend ourselves maybe that will come later, but it is not now. We’ll trust God to defend us; we’ll trust God to bring truth to light.”
He acknowledged that it’s likely most churches inadvertently create environments for predators through situations such as lack of training or education. Those environments, he added, become “safer for abusers than they are for victims.” In the cases exhibiting malicious intent to protect an abuser, Greear said Southern Baptists need to be unified on how to handle those situations.

Female-majority council to bring recommendations

Steps to address sexual abuse were developed by a diverse council made up mostly of women, said Greear, and which he will present at Monday’s Executive Committee meeting. He also noted this will be a culmination of meetings begun last July to address sexual abuse in the SBC.
“Nobody timed this,” he said. “The Houston Chronicle article was totally outside of our control. I am grateful that in the providence of God it’s coming around at the same time that we had already originally planned to say, ‘Here’s what we’re doing’ [regarding sexual abuse].”
Right now, he stressed, is a time to hear others out.
“We’ve got a lot more to learn. So let’s learn and listen to victims and advocates … and survivors … so that we can be a gospel witness in this time and reflect the gospel so our churches can be the safest places on the planet for somebody that’s vulnerable.”

‘A gospel people’

Responding to a question from The Index, Greear urged Southern Baptists to refrain from finding ways to explain away the Chronicle report’s findings. “This is not a time for sermonizing, virtue-signaling, posturing, or trying to point out where else it happens,” he said.
“The safety of victims is more important than the reputation of Southern Baptists.”

Greear began his time with the group emphasizing his desire for Southern Baptists to be known as a “gospel people.”
“When people think and talk about us they ought to think and talk about the gospel. That means there has to be some discipline and restraint at what we do because there are a lot of good and important things that can eat up [attention] and we aren’t talking about the thing (the gospel) we’re supposed to be talking about.”

Celebrate, not cause, diversity

Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., also reasserted his desire for the SBC to celebrate diversity “without causing it.”
“By God’s grace we’re one of the more diverse groups of churches in the nation. [Around] 20 percent of our membership is non-Anglo. The North American Mission Board … [President] Kevin Ezell told me that of all the churches they planted last year 62 percent were non-Anglo. I know in North Carolina that number is 65 percent. That’s amazing.”
Greear, however, expressed regret that SBC leadership hasn’t reflected that diversity. The Committee on Committees – to which the SBC president appoints members – is comprised of highly-qualified candidates regardless of ethnicity, he vowed.
“When you first look for someone to recommend for a job, you tend to go with people you know. I don’t think [anything] has been done with malicious intent. We decided to ask people who aren’t in the normal networks but fully-participating, cooperating Southern Baptists. Let’s get membership that reflects who Southern Baptists really are, where we want to go, and who we want to be.”
Leadership input from previously untapped areas, he stated, will make the SBC a stronger messenger for the gospel. His appointments for the Committee on Committees are made up of 45 men and 23 women. The average age is 43 with the youngest being 22 and oldest 73. Half are non-Anglo.
“We need the wisdom and leadership going forward of people who don’t look and think just like us,” Greear said. “We need different voices at the table.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story was originally published at ChristianIndex.org. Used by permission.)

2/13/2019 10:26:14 AM by Scott Barkley, The Christian Index | with 0 comments

For sex abuse trauma, churches must be ‘trustworthy’

February 13 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Attempted suicide, drug overdoses, hatred of God and ruined teenage years are among the effects of sexual abuse described in a Feb. 11 Houston Chronicle report on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists.
Two Southern Baptist mental health experts say the effects of sexual abuse against children and teenagers are actually worse than the Chronicle described. They also say churches and pastors can mitigate those effects with prompt, biblical and wise responses.
“There are many more” effects of abuse “than the ones listed in the article,” said Chuck Hannaford, a Memphis, Tenn., clinical psychologist. At times, abused children and teens “have fear of being touched. Some get into sexual promiscuity. They can have habit disorders – biting, rocking, pulling their hair out.
“They can be aggressive at times because they’re keeping this stuff in. Self-injuries, behavior [issues], sleep problems. You can go down the list. Everything that is within the diagnostic context of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder they will have,” Hannaford told Baptist Press. “It’s a very traumatic event that can make life-changing negative impacts.”
The Chronicle said its investigation of sexual abuse among Southern Baptists had revealed approximately 380 instances since 1998 – including more than 250 since 2008 – of “those who were convicted, credibly accused and successfully sued, and those who confessed or resigned.”
The crimes have left more than 700 victims, the newspaper stated.
Citing the Amplified Bible’s rendering of Matthew 18:1-6, Hannaford described children as “trusting, lowly, loving and forgiving.” Abusing children is horrific because it “changes the way they think about themselves, they think about God and they think about relationships. And often these children feel what we call the ‘damaged goods syndrome’ – they feel dirty.”
In the long term, childhood sexual abuse can result in the abused experiencing sexual difficulties in their own marriages, becoming overprotective as parents, keeping other people at arm’s length and even becoming abusers themselves, said Hannaford, who served on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s Mental Health Advisory Group. At times, victims don’t realize their harmful behaviors stem from the abuse they suffered as children.
Dale Johnson, associate professor of biblical counseling at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated that “everyone” who has suffered abuse “endures some symptom or long-term effect that often takes a while to overcome, because when you’re talking about sexual abuse, it’s so intimate that it touches so many aspects of a person’s being.”
The first way to mitigate the effects of childhood sexual abuse is to report the abuse to law enforcement authorities, Johnson said. Hannaford noted the law in all 50 states requires pastors to report alleged abuse of children.
After proper reports have been made, Johnson said, churches must help victims understand the acts done to them were evil and not their fault. “If we’re condoning [the abuse], their world remains quite confused as to what’s good and what’s evil.”
Churches also must build networks around abuse victims comprising believers “who are supportive, who are caring, who are trustworthy so that we can begin to see true redemption occur for somebody who’s been so violated,” said Johnson, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. The “ministry of presence” is vital.
Hannaford urged churches to create support groups for sexual abuse victims to communicate love and tell victims they don’t have to feel ashamed of what happened. Care from a local church also should include referral of victims to mental health care providers who can help identify unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Pastors without specialized training in the care of trauma victims should always refer sexual abuse victims to mental health care professionals and not try to provide all necessary care themselves, Hannaford said. Approaching abuse with a “hyper-spiritual focus” or lack of training can set back a victim’s recovery.
“Most of the time,” Hannaford said, individuals who were sexually abused as children or teens will require “months of regular counseling, sometimes years” depending on “the intensity of the treatment” that may be needed.
Above all, Johnson and Hannaford underscored, the most important way to help underage abuse victims is to report their allegations to the authorities. Churches also must put protective measures in place, including background checks, to prevent abuse in the first place.
“The church has to do everything it can to protect the children and offer some sort of help for members that have experienced [abuse],” Hannaford said. Church leaders “should be prosecuted if they know of allegations of abuse and do not report it” to legal authorities.

2/13/2019 10:22:21 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Chitwood: IMB must communicate with Southern Baptists

February 13 2019 by IMB Staff

International Mission Board President (IMB) Paul Chitwood has set forth his vision for Southern Baptists staying abreast of the work of the nearly 3,700 IMB missionaries taking the gospel to the nations.
“Stewarding the unique role of the IMB in the missionary call requires that we are able to communicate with Southern Baptists,” Chitwood told trustees in his recent report to the board.

Roger Alford, a career journalist who has served as director of communications for the Kentucky Baptist Convention the past five years, has been named vice president of communications for the IMB.

“In many ways the IMB symbolizes the Great Commission arm of the SBC as it extends to the nations,” he stated, noting, “When the Great Commission isn’t the focus of our work and relationships, peripheral issues, classroom debates and personal conflicts seem always to fill the void.”
Chitwood has named Roger Alford, a career journalist who has served as director of communications for the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) the past five years, as the IMB’s vice president of communications.
During their Feb. 6-7 meeting in Richmond, trustees affirmed Chitwood’s selection of Alford to fill the newly created vice president [of communications] role for the 173-year-old mission board. Chitwood said he is thankful the Lord is bringing Alford to help lead IMB efforts to mobilize Southern Baptists for international missions.
“To ensure that we, at the IMB, are doing our part in setting the Great Commission firmly in front of Southern Baptists, I’ve asked the best communications director I know of in Southern Baptist life to join our team,” Chitwood said. “Over the past five years, Roger Alford transformed communications efforts in Kentucky and helped the KBC create connection to Kentucky Baptists that had never before existed.”
The IMB vice president of communications role is designed to build and maintain a communications approach, operation and staff to best serve the needs of the IMB and the Southern Baptist Convention. As Alford begins serving alongside the existing IMB senior leadership team in March, he will spend his first season on the job evaluating the mission board’s current communications efforts and working with the senior leadership team to develop a comprehensive communications strategy for the organization.
“I look forward to seeing how God will use Roger to pull together and develop the gifted team members who are already on board to ensure that Southern Baptists know the IMB; that IMB knows Southern Baptists; and that all of us better know our missionary heroes and the lost world God has called us to reach,” Chitwood said.
Alford said he is thrilled that Chitwood and the IMB’s trustees have entrusted him with the privilege of telling the stories of IMB missionaries.
“These are truly modern-day heroes of the faith who have committed their lives to working in difficult and often dangerous places around the world,” Alford said.
After more than three decades as a newspaperman and an Associated Press correspondent, Alford joined the KBC in January 2014. In that role, Alford, 56, created the online newspaper Kentucky Today, wholly owned by the KBC, to expand the KBC’s ability to communicate with its 2,400 churches and 750,000 members.
“Roger Alford is an exceptionally gifted communications professional who will effectively tell the story of the ministry of IMB missionaries to Southern Baptists,” said Jim Donnell, co-interim executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, which saw the benefits of Alford’s leadership in communication.

Photo by Chris Carter, IMB
IMB trustee David Miller, right, from Tennessee greets Roger Alford, center, who will begin serving as IMB vice president of communication in March. In the role, Alford will build and maintain a communications approach, operation and staff to serve the needs of IMB and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dan Summerlin, senior pastor of Lone Oak (Ky.) First Baptist Church and chairman of the KBC administrative committee, echoed Donnell’s sentiments.
“Roger Alford is one of the hardest-working men I know, and combining his work ethic with his communication skills, he revolutionized Kentucky Baptist Convention communications,” Summerlin said. “Through his efforts, people around the world visited the website Kentucky Today to receive news about Kentucky Baptists, Baptist life and news from a Christian perspective. What he accomplished here is amazing.
“Although we are saddened in our state convention [that] he is leaving, we are thrilled at the prospect of what he will do to communicate the missional message of the IMB worldwide,” Summerlin said. “The IMB and Southern Baptists will be blessed by his work.”
Analytics showed the online newspaper had 500,000 readers last year in communities across the state. The actual number of readers is even higher because the KBC newspaper also operates a wire service that provides articles to newspapers across the state and a radio network that provides up to 10 newscasts per day to radio stations across the state.
“Roger Alford, in his capacity as editor of Kentucky Today, provided a vital service to Kentucky Baptists and the broader community in our state,” said Tim Searcy, pastor of Allen Baptist Church in Prestonsburg, Ky., and president of the KBC. “He had a passionate desire to see the churches motivated to greater and greater service for the Lord. It is my belief that he will do the same for the International Mission Board and for the cause of Christ around the world. Roger has a heartfelt intention to do his part in seeing that the Great Commission is fulfilled. I count him as a dear friend and feel the loss to Kentucky, but our loss is the IMB’s gain. May God bless him in his work of communicating to us and enticing us to missions.”
Alford has broad experience in managing all aspects of communications, including writing and editing, all aspects of traditional and social media, web development, marketing strategies, media relations, graphic design and mass mailings.
He and his wife Susan are members First Baptist Church in Owenton, Ky. They have three grown children: Emily, a teacher; Joshua, a corrections officer; and Mary, a journalist.

2/13/2019 10:14:51 AM by IMB Staff | with 0 comments

Track captain, in newfound faith, begins Bible study

February 13 2019 by Chris Doyle, Baptist Messenger

Andrew Doherty is his formal name, but those who know him best call him “Adoh.”

Photo courtesy of OU Athletic Communications
"Adoh," track captain at the University of Oklahoma and a new follower of Christ, now sees his running as a way to "give Him glory."

Adoh (derived from his first and last names) transferred to the University of Oklahoma (OU) in 2017 after running track at Providence College, where he earned three all-conference honors as a distance runner. Adoh came to OU, thinking it would help him pursue a career in running.
Growing up in Boston, Adoh had no previous knowledge of what it meant to be a Christian. He found out later that less than three percent of the Boston population claimed Jesus as Lord and Savior. But once he came to Oklahoma, his exposure to Christianity increased extensively.
“There were multiple people who would talk to me about Jesus,” Adoh said. “I thought, ‘What is up with these southern people and Jesus?’”
A girl he met on the OU softball team invited him to church. A strength coach shared his testimony. “I felt like I had a sign on my forehead that said, ‘This kid needs Jesus,’” he said.
Adoh appreciated the many people who shared Christ with him, but he did not take what they were saying seriously. He became the captain of the OU track team, so running competitively and leading his teammates was all he was focused on.
That all changed last summer. While at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colo., he met a guy named Cheyton, a former athlete who introduced himself as a missionary. Discouraged after having a hard time in a training session, Adoh thought he would listen to what Cheyton had to say.
When Cheyton offered to buy him dinner, Adoh got more than a free meal. As Cheyton was talking to him about Jesus, Adoh started to become more interested. He still had a lot of questions, but Cheyton encouraged Adoh to begin to see Jesus in a clearer way.
At a second meeting, Cheyton brought a friend with him to talk to Adoh. They talked about giving up everything to live for Jesus, which was a bold concept for Adoh because all he had known in his life revolved around running. There was no way, he thought, he could give that up.
Cheyton and his friend encouraged Adoh to join in a time of prayer, when he prayed for the first time.
“I didn’t know what to say,” Adoh recalled. “I just started apologizing to God. But then I remembered saying, ‘God, if You are real, prove it to me.’”

Submitted photo
"Adoh," right, and Bronson Baker of the Baptist Campus Ministry at the University of Oklahoma started a Bible study last fall, inviting members of the OU track team, growing to more than 20 in attendance.

Right then, Adoh said he lost feeling in his legs. He, Cheyton and Cheyton’s friend were in a circle, and he had to grab hold of both of them not to fall.
Five minutes later, he was able to stand on his own, but it was enough to change his life. “I took a 180 in a matter of five minutes,” Adoh said.
In less than a week, Adoh was back at OU for move-in day for the fall semester when he met Bronson Baker, a campus missionary through the OU Baptist Collegiate Ministry.
“The first thing Adoh told me is ‘I’ve been a Christian for five days,’” Baker said about meeting Adoh. “He is fired up for the Lord.”
Baker and Adoh met over lunch and talked about the importance of discipleship. This is when Baker learned that Adoh was reading the Bible for the first time.
“I started explaining to him what Jesus did in investing in these 12 guys,” Baker recounted. “For three years, Jesus gave them everything He had. As a side note, I said, ‘Only 11 of those guys worked out.’ He replied, ‘No, no, no! I just read something about that. Two of them didn’t. That one guy denied Him three times.’ Then I realized he hasn’t even got to the point in John where Jesus restores Peter. So I told him, ‘Man, you’ve got to keep reading.’ And he’s been in the Word every day ever since and growing.”
Adoh told Baker he wanted to start a Bible study and invite others from the track team. “God was putting in my heart a passion to help other people,” Adoh said. “I told Bronson, ‘I want to start a Bible study, but I don’t even know the Bible,’ and he said to me, ‘If you get them there, I’ll help you lead it.’”
The first Bible study was in Adoh’s apartment with five others. Then he went to the track coach to see if they could use the track team room to have a Bible study.
“The track coach was blown away,” Baker said. “He knew how Adoh was when he first came to OU, and it totally caught him off-guard when Adoh asked to use the team room for a Bible study.”
Throughout the fall semester, Adoh and Baker led a weekly Bible study. When Adoh got up, as team captain, during the team meetings to talk, he ended his time inviting his teammates to the Bible study, which has grown to more than 20 people.
With the spring semester beginning, Adoh is looking forward to what new people will attend the Bible study.
“People come up to me, thanking me,” Adoh said. “‘You are helping me grow closer to Christ,’ they tell me. I tell them it’s not me, it’s the Lord.”
Adoh is still committed to pursuing his goals as a professional runner, but now his focus is different.
“I want to minister to as many people as possible,” he said. “My life is now totally devoted to Him. This gift of running is from Him for me to glorify Him. I recognize that this isn’t me doing the running. As long as He allows me to run, I will give Him glory.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chris Doyle is managing editor of the Baptist Messenger, baptistmessenger.com, news journal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)

2/13/2019 10:09:10 AM by Chris Doyle, Baptist Messenger | with 0 comments

Macedonian Baptists awaken to church planting

February 13 2019 by IMB Staff

They realized they had been missing something.

IMB photo
A group of Macedonian Baptist leaders listens to a pastor from Mississippi share about beginning discussion-led small groups. IMB missionary Jeff Williams says he hopes every Baptist Macedonian can learn to start evangelistic Bible studies outside of church walls.

A group of Macedonian church leaders gathered in 2017 in the small nation’s capital, Skopje, to talk about evangelism and church planting. But when they discussed starting new groups as a method of outreach in the European nation of 2 million, no one had anything to contribute – they had never seriously talked about it before.
A few years earlier, International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries Jeff and Amy Williams had asked a local Baptist pastor to send out one of his best couples to join them in starting a new church. The pastor hesitantly agreed.
Wanting church planting to be at their group’s core, the Williamses felt the first step was to teach Christians to lead Bible studies outside the church’s walls.
“In an Orthodox setting they’re not going to come to the church building, but you could start a Bible study with them,” Jeff Williams said of the country’s primary religious tradition. “We want to make sure our Baptist believers are able to lead new evangelistic Bible studies.”

Last year, momentum began to emerge as local Baptists attended a training about discussion-led small groups. Additionally, the local leadership of CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) wants to help students start new groups. And Baptist leaders heard from Russian pastors who have started churches.

IMB photo
Macedonian church leaders join in a discussion about church planting after collectively realizing they had not previously been serious about starting new churches.

This openness, Williams said, is the result of decades of praying and talking about church planting in Macedonia, a Balkan nation to the north of Greece. It’s as if local Christians have suddenly awakened to the idea.
Pray that Macedonian Christians and ministry leaders will continue to catch the vision of church planting. Ask God to give them a passion for talking about scripture outside the church’s walls. Pray many Macedonians will follow Jesus as a result of this fresh awareness of church planting.
Gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering support Southern Baptists who can live alongside Macedonian Christians to help them learn how to plant healthy churches and expand their gospel witness in Europe.

2/13/2019 10:01:52 AM by IMB Staff | with 0 comments

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