January 2017

Carol Pipes to lead LifeWay communications

January 10 2017 by Baptist Press & LifeWay

LifeWay Christian Resources has announced the promotion of Carol Pipes as the ministry’s new director of corporate communications. Pipes will replace Southern Baptist Convention veteran communicator Marty King who will retire in February.

Carol Pipes


LifeWay Executive Vice President Brad Waggoner made the announcement saying Pipes “brings nearly 20 years of communications expertise and experience, as well as a strong commitment to LifeWay’s mission and purpose.”
 
Pipes joined LifeWay in 2012 as manager of editorial services and editor of Facts & Trends. Previously, she served as team leader of content development at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and editor of On Mission. Prior to NAMB, she worked for The Salvation Army and the former Baptist Brotherhood Commission.
 
Pipes has received numerous awards and recognition for her work in the field of Christian journalism, and currently serves on the national board of directors of the Evangelical Press Association.
 
She is a native of Tennessee, and a graduate from the University of Memphis with a degree in journalism. She and her husband Keith have been married 18 years. They attend Friendship Community Church in Mount Juliet, Tenn., where Keith serves as director of worship ministries.
 
King earned communication degrees from Indiana State and Ball State Universities in his native state of Indiana where he spent 20 years in broadcast journalism and health care communications before joining the former Home Mission Board, now North American Mission Board, in 1992 as director of communications. He also served five years as associate executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association and as editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper, and was elected president of the Association of State Baptist Papers.
 
He and his wife Barbara have relocated to Jackson, Tenn., to be near their two daughters and four grandchildren.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – The report was submitted by LifeWay Christian Resources.)
 

1/10/2017 1:39:42 PM by Baptist Press & LifeWay | with 0 comments



Retirement not in missionary Gary Harthcock’s vocabulary

January 10 2017 by Caroline Anderson, IMB

“I’ll retire when the devil retires.” Gary Harthcock faithfully lived out his famous words on four continents and in multiple avenues of service.

Submitted photo
Longtime International Mission Board worker and volunteer Gary Harthcock, who died Jan. 5 at age 97 in Thailand, served in six countries with his late wife Evelyn who preceded him in death.


“That quote was taped to his desk, and he told me he read it every day. He has truly lived that out,” Kathryn Monroe* said. “Retirement was not in his vocabulary.” Kathryn and her husband Philip* were friends of Gary.

Gary went to be with the Lord on January 5 after an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was 97. He and his wife Evelyn were married 69 years before she passed away in September 2015. They served together overseas for 40 years in six countries.

International Mission Board (IMB) missionary Phil Wardell* served with the Harthcocks in Cambodia.  
 
“It was such a blessing to have these ‘grandparents’ join our team, and they were truly a team in every respect of the word in terms of how they ministered together in the city,” Wardell said. “There are very few people that have left such a legacy in missions, as they have given birth to [spiritual] sons and daughters in the Caribbean, Liberia, Guyana, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, and virtually in almost every country where they have visited since they began their marriage.”
 
Gary was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, on July 7, 1919. He served as a patrol plane commander in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Gary married Evelyn Dorothy White in 1945 and retired from active military service in 1946.
 
Gary used his bachelor of science degree in agriculture in a number of arenas, including starting a business building greenhouses. He eventually joined the staff at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and was later the director of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
 
Gary and Evelyn began serving with IMB when he was 56 and she was 55. They first served on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean. They developed irrigation systems on several islands and used agriculture to minister to the people.
 
Although they officially retired in 1985, they continued to work alongside IMB. Their life centered on loving, serving and showing people Jesus. Their service continued through multiple short-term and volunteer mission assignments.
 
Gary and Evelyn moved to Liberia in 1986 with IMB’s Master’s Program to continue the ministry efforts of IMB workers who returned to the U.S. for home assignments.
 
In 1992, the couple moved to Mongolia to teach English to medical doctors. While serving there, also with IMB’s Master’s Program, the couple wrote 85 lessons on the parts of the human body. These lessons were later published. Gary and Evelyn led 17 Mongolians to the Lord and started a church that was the first Christian church approved by the government.
 
The Harthcocks’ ministry service with IMB continued in Guyana where they served for six months before they relocated to Cambodia in 1996 to teach English to Buddhist monks and doctors, surgeons and medical professionals in hospitals.  
 
Gary and Evelyn hosted birthday parties for Buddhist monks in their home and served spaghetti, French bread and birthday cake. As the Harthcocks shared the gospel, several Buddhist monks made decisions to follow Christ and left the monastery, following the Lord in believer’s baptism and joining the church. 
 
As a result of their time teaching English, Gary and Evelyn developed “Easy English Teaching” tools and wrote 19 books for teaching English to Buddhist monks and others. Through these booklets, English students are exposed to the gospel.
 
In 1999, the Harthcocks, then in their late 70s, moved to Thailand and continued ministering and writing books, Bible lessons and tracts that have since been translated into seven languages and are used worldwide. Gary was 82 and Evelyn was 81 years old when they completed their Master’s Program assignments. The couple continued to serve using their own funds.
 
In his last days in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Gary wrote daily spiritual devotionals, titled “Spiritual Food,” that were distributed to people worldwide via email. He always addressed the emails to his “lovable worldwide family.”
 
Philip Monroe, a member of Gary’s “worldwide family,” said Gary’s life influenced him in several ways. “First, I am so impressed with his perseverance in ministry. Until the very day he was diagnosed with an aneurism that would end his life in a few days, he remained faithful in teaching the Bible through daily devotionals he sent to over a hundred people every day. Second, only a few months ago, he finished another one of his books that spreads the gospel through easy-to-read Bible stories in simple English. … Third, he loved people. During these last days at the hospital, many hospital staff came to his room in tears and hugged him and showed respect for him. The consistent incarnational life that he has lived among a lost world has accompanied his continual verbal witness to the life-changing message of the gospel.
 
“The key verse that comes to mind is 2 Timothy 2:2, ‘The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.’ This was Gary.”
 
Gary Harthcock is survived by his sister, Margaret Varnell of Cleveland, Tennessee; his brother, Thomas B. Harthcock, Sr. of Newton, Mississippi; sister-in-law, Lea Harthcock of Raymond, Mississippi; sister-in-law, Jean Finch of Raleigh, North Carolina; foster daughter, Carmen Fitzsimons of Summerville, South Carolina; as well as nieces, nephews, foster grandchildren and foster great-grandchildren. His wife, Evelyn White Harthcock; his parents, Martin Bates Harthcock and Thelma Bobo Barmer Harthcock of Clarksdale Mississippi; his sister, Doris Helen Harthcock Wallace; and his brother, Martin Bates Harthcock, Jr., preceded Gary in death.
 
Gary’s memorial service will be held Saturday, January 14 at Chiang Mai Ram Hospital, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
 
Memorials, condolences, and tributes can be shared on Gary’s memorial website: forevermissed.com/gary-harthcock/#about
 
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in Gary’s honor. imb.org/lottie-moon-christmas-offering.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Caroline Anderson is a writer for the International Mission Board based in Asia.)
 

1/10/2017 1:25:35 PM by Caroline Anderson, IMB | with 0 comments



Filipino former quarterback talks faith, ministry

January 9 2017 by Roman Gabriel, BR Sports Q&A

Chris Rix is the only player to start four years as quarterback for Florida State University. In his 2001-2004 college career, he played for the well-known coach Bobby Bowden. The team claimed three conference titles and played in four consecutive bowl games with Rix calling the snap. Rix kicked off his professional football career with the San Diego Rams in 2005 and also began working in sports broadcasting. He currently commands the mic as an analyst for Fox Sports Radio, regularly contributing on several shows. Rix also founded Champion Training Academy, which develops and mentors young athletes, and serves as the director of Fellowship of Christian Athlete (FCA) ministries in California.
 

Submitted photo
Chris Rix spent his college career calling the snap for Florida State University, the only player to start at quarterback for four consecutive years. He led the team to claim three conference titles and play in four bowl games.


Q: You are involved in covering high school and college sports for Fox, what about the stretch run for the College Football National Championship?
 
A: You have Ohio State, Clemson, Washington and Alabama for the championship. Now that you’re in, it becomes about who’s going to finish this thing. Who’s going to stop believing their own press – the hype? But this is why we love college football, right? You get here. This is why they play the games – survival of the fittest. Who’s going to be at the top at the end? Its always fun to watch. These next few weeks are going to be exciting!
 
Q: Let’s get down to business. There are very few Filipino quarterbacks ever to play in the NFL. My dad was the first one. Are you proud to be one of them?
 
A: Yes, my mother was Filipino. She passed away from cancer, God rest her soul. I’m very proud of my Filipino heritage and big family. And it was my family that let me know about the great quarterback [your father] Roman Gabriel.
 
Playing quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference for Florida State and against N.C. State, you learn a little bit more about your father. You said there weren’t many Filipino quarterbacks in football history. I have always tried to represent that well.
 
Q: You had the pleasure of playing for one of the great coaches in all of football, Bobby Bowden. Tell me what that experience was like.

A: He gave me the opportunity through a scholarship offer to go to Florida State. I was a good quarterback, but I know there were a lot more out there more talented than me, so I’m appreciative of the opportunity. For him to say this was the first scholarship offered to a California player, he really did recruit predominately from the South. During that process, Mark Richt, the offensive coordinator at the time, was recruiting me heavily. The combination of those two guys really led me to go there, and they had just won the national championship my senior year.
 
Q: Did Coach Bowden really take a holistic approach to student athletes on and off the field?
 
A: Hearing him start every meeting with a message of faith, salvation and then telling us about the FCA – it was just a totally different environment than I grew up in. Hearing from other Florida State great alumni like Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, Corey Simon and Peter Boulware coming back and talking about their faith to me. That really started the faith process for me. Coach Bowden as you know has made such a huge impact on former players. He is one of my heroes. I named my second son after him, Bobby.
 
Q: You and I have a couple of things in common. One of those is serving with FCA, which I did for almost four years. Aren’t you are doing the same now in Southern California?
 
A: My wife, Anita, and I have been with FCA going on seven years. FCA made an impact on me in college at Florida State. It started that faith journey for me and got me plugged into a church, then coming back here years later to speak at some schools in Southern California, which led to the opportunity to become a FCA director here in Los Angeles.
 
Combining two of my largest passions, ministry and sports, this calling from God has been a privilege. Right now we run about 95 campuses. It’s a privilege to share the gospel here in Southern California.
 
Q: It has become so much tougher to share the gospel on college campuses. Is it so important to reach youngsters in middle and high school?
 
A: Absolutely. I wish that I had some foundation in junior high or high school; I wasn’t introduced to a fun youth and sports ministry until college. I grew up going to church some, but I would call myself a “CEO” Christian: Christmas and Easter only. Maybe Mother’s Day to honor my mom, but I really didn’t grow up in the church. To have that kind of atmosphere in college was great, but if I had that earlier in my life I definitely would have made some different decisions. To be able to now connect with middle school and high school students has been invaluable. Because once you get to college, you start to get set in your ways. It’s awesome to have the opportunity to plant seeds and encourage students.
 
Follow Chris Rix at aimforgreatness.com and on Twitter @coachrix.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Hear his Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: @romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email: soldoutrg3@gmail.com.)
 
 
1/9/2017 4:34:38 PM by Roman Gabriel, BR Sports Q&A | with 0 comments



Sanctity of Life: Sustaining the courage to care

January 9 2017 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

When Tonya Baker Nelson’s Sunday School class decided to do a community project, something inside compelled her to take a bold step. Building another handicap ramp just wasn’t enough. Before she had time to hesitate, an idea was born: “We could open a pregnancy center.”

Contributed photo
Tonya Baker Nelson serves as the CEO of Your Choice Pregnancy Clinic in Raleigh, N.C., and Hand of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center in nearby Fuquay-Varina, which offer pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection testing, informational ultrasounds, abortion education and life skills training for men and women.


That was more than a decade ago, and she’s been marching forward ever since. Today, Nelson serves as the CEO of Your Choice Pregnancy Clinic in Raleigh, N.C., and Hand of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center in nearby Fuquay-Varina, which offer pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection testing, informational ultrasounds, abortion education and life skills training for men and women.
 
The organization has deep roots in the Christian faith, which Nelson credits as the sustaining core of their work. Crisis pregnancy ministry is emotionally taxing. That, coupled with an uphill legal battle, has tested her mettle over the past year, but she’s as ambitious as ever.
 
“I will run to face [Goliath] because I know God is not on my side, I’m on God’s side,” Nelson said.
 
Nelson didn’t hesitate to admit her fears, however, especially as she reflects on the early days. She had no experience operating a not-for-profit organization.
 
“I am in so far over my head,” Nelson thought.
 
But right from the beginning, she said, “the Lord starting putting the right people in the right place at the right time.”
 

Ending late-term bureaucracy

Hand of Hope outgrew two properties in Fuquay-Varina within a few years of their 2005 launch, eventually settling in a midcentury colonial-style residence near the center of town.
 
Nelson opened a second location on the southwest side of Raleigh in 2012, called Your Choice Pregnancy Clinic, which became the focus of a controversial legal battle after purchasing property in late 2015 next to A Preferred Women’s Health Center, a clinic which specializes in abortion procedures.
 
Initial plans to move into the new facility developed normally.
 
Your Choice filed a rezoning application in early 2016 that made its way unhindered through standard procedure, including reviews in neighborhood meetings, the Citizen’s Advisory Council and the Raleigh Planning Commission.
 
The planning commission approved the request by a 10-0 vote, clearly stating that reclassifying the one-acre property from residential to mixed-use office space fell within established guidelines. Nearly all of the nearby properties on the street had already been rezoned in similar fashion.
 
The city council must review rezoning requests, so the application came up for consideration in a meeting June 21. The abortion provider next to the property and its supporters, fearing so-called patient harassment, obtrusive picketing and “physical violence,” voiced opposition to the pregnancy center – even objecting to the three-minute time limit on discussion. Nearby residents were largely in favor of the pregnancy center.
 
The council tabled the issue after discovering a typo in the meeting time indicated on the notice sent to nearby property owners, who were invited to attend the session.
 
When the issue was reintroduced a week later, Nelson said the tone of the room had changed. Only one resident offered testimonial, expressing favor for the pregnancy center since it was not a large operation that would generate traffic in the neighborhood.
 
The council then voted unanimously to deny the rezoning request, citing the city’s potential to draw higher tax revenue if the street was collectively rezoned to allow for “larger, more coordinated office development.”
 
In August, Hand of Hope filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Raleigh’s decision, claiming a violation of constitutional First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as a breach of federal law protecting religious land use.
 
The suit is ongoing; meanwhile an additional legal front appeared when the city attorney reinterpreted the pregnancy center’s designation as a civic group – which doesn’t require the property to be rezoned – rather its previous designation as a medical facility. The attorney’s pronouncement effectively overturned the council’s decision to deny Your Choice the ability to move into their facility.
 
Nelson said the reversal was good news, but the issue still isn’t resolved. The attorney’s decision is open to appeal, which the abortion clinic filed Dec. 26.
 
At this point it’s unclear when either the appeal or the lawsuit will be resolved. For now, Your Choice’s Jones Franklin Rd. facility sits unoccupied, as it has for more than a year.
 

The courage to be pro-life

The Biblical Recorder asked Nelson what it’s like leading an emotionally demanding ministry while also navigating tortuous legal obstacles.
 
“It’s intimidating, if that’s what you’re asking, but it’s the right thing to do.” she said. “I knew it was going to be a little difficult.
 
“I like the stress and pressure. Steam makes the engine turn,” she said, quoting her father.
 
The work Hand of Hope staffers undertake at the pregnancy center can be heart-rending, as they counsel men and women considering abortion. Nelson relies on her faith to keep going. She trains the staff to do the same.
 
“I can’t take the glory when they decide to keep the baby,” she said, “and I can’t bear the burden when they don’t. We leave the results up to God.”
 
Nelson’s approach, however, shouldn’t be mistaken for disinterest – just the opposite. Abortion isn’t merely a political talking point for her. It’s personal.
 
“I completely understood the pressures to abort your child,” she said, referring to her own unplanned pregnancy in her early 20s.
 
She’s also adamant that abortion is a problem inside the Christian community, not just for secular outsiders. LifeWay Research released a study in 2015 showing 43 percent of women who have had an abortion were attending a Christian church at the time.
 
“The church is pouring millions of dollars into the abortion industry,” Nelson said.
 
She didn’t claim to know why that is the case, since most evangelicals are appalled by abortion, but she suggested it has to do with the way many churches treat abortion as an unforgivable sin, keeping guilt-ridden women in the shadows.
 
LifeWay’s research supports her conclusion: 49 percent of women who have had an abortion agree that pastors’ teachings on forgiveness don’t seem to apply to terminated pregnancies.
 
People are ashamed to come forward, so they don’t get the support they need, and they’re unable to help others in similar circumstances.
 
Nelson not only wants pastors to speak about abortion with more grace, but also more often.
 
“We’re very thankful for those pastors that do a [Sanctity of Life] focus every January,” she said, “but abortions happen February through December.”
 
She continued, “I believe the Lord is looking for men and women in positions of authority and influence to say [to churches], ‘You’ve been quiet long enough.’”
 
In the meantime, Nelson is more than willing to suggest ambitious pro-life ideas for the next Sunday School community project.
  
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jan. 22 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, a day designated to reaffirm the value of all humans. Seth Brown is content editor for the Biblical Recorder, newsjournal of North Carolina Baptists.)
 
How to get involved:
• Take an on-site tour. See Hand of Hope’s pro-life ministry up close.
• Invite Tonya Baker Nelson to speak at your church or Bible study group.
• Engage on social media. Support Hand of Hope’s ministry by sharing information and updates on Facebook (@AHandofHope), Twitter (@HandofHopePRC) and Instagram (@HandofHopePregCenters).
 
Hand of Hope Pregnancy
Resource Center
607 North Ennis Street
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526
(919) 577-8002; handofhope.net
 
Your Choice Pregnancy Clinic
1522 Jones Franklin Road
Raleigh, NC 27607
919-758-8776
yourchoicepregnancyclinic.com

1/9/2017 4:32:34 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



Conference asks, ‘Who Moved My Pulpit?’

January 9 2017 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

When Lynn Sasser read Thom Rainer’s book Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church he knew immediately that church leaders need to hear the book’s message. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and Sasser is the executive leader for the evangelism and discipleship group of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
 

Convinced that a statewide conference on the subjects of revitalization and change is needed, Sasser reached out to Rainer with an invitation to come to North Carolina. “We felt like [Rainer’s] presence would draw a number of North Carolina Baptist church leaders to come and begin thinking about how they need to deal with change in their church,” he said.
 
Rainer accepted the invitation, and the conference, Leading Change in the Church, is set for March 7 at the West Campus (in Advance, N.C.) of Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sasser called it “a one-day event for your entire church staff focused on leading change in the local church.”
 
“The book is about change in the local church,” said Sasser. “The reason it intrigued us is that it’s around the premise of church revitalization.”
 
Many churches are in decline and need to take intentional steps toward revitalization, but are reluctant to make necessary changes.
 
“Every church that needs to be revitalized has to deal with change,” Sasser said. “The church got where it is based on the way they’ve done things over time. If they want to have different results, they’re going to have to deal with change. That is what hooked our interest [in Rainer’s book].”
 
With more than three decades of experience as a pastor, director of missions and staff leader at BSC, Sasser understands church values. He said he was “very pleased” to see the book identified prayer as the beginning point for revitalization.
 

“That’s the very first thing that has to happen in a church. That really is the key problem in churches that need to be revitalized. It’s a spiritual issue more often than not. And I realize that some churches may have tried to be very faithful but just find themselves in a very, very hard place.”
 
Beginning with prayer, the book provides a clear outline of progression through the process of revitalization, he said.
 
“Then there’s also a very helpful piece called a ‘readiness change inventory’ in the book, and I hope Dr. Rainer will address that [at the conference].”
 
The conference is jointly sponsored by LifeWay, BSC and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). Two keynote sessions will feature Rainer. Four breakout session tracks will offer more than 20 training opportunities in revitalization through discipleship, age-group ministries, social media, worship, theology, multi-site options, cultural engagement and other related topics.
 
Breakout speakers from the three sponsoring organizations include Jamie Dew, Art Rainer, Ryan Hutchinson, Denise O’Donoghue, George Robinson, Sam Morris and John Ewart from SEBTS. Lifeway’s speakers are Trevin Wax, Daniel Im and Aaron Armstrong. Breakout leaders for BSC include Brian Upshaw, Chuck Register, Kenny Lamm, Merrie Johnson, Mark Smith, Cheryl Markland and Zac Lyons. Rob Peters, Calvary’s senior pastor, is also a breakout leader.
 
Advance registration is requested at leadingchange.church. Individual registration for the conference is $10 and covers admission to the conference and lunch. Church staff pricing for more than five attendees is $50 for an entire group. For more information email questions@leadingchange.church or call Kathryn Markham at (919) 459-5648.
 
1/9/2017 4:29:08 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Colerain church perseveres through storms

January 9 2017 by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer

Christmas came a few weeks early for Wakelon Baptist Church in Colerain, N.C., a church that pushed through some challenging months.

Contributed photo
Wakelon Baptist Church in Colerain sustained damage from a tropical storm and hurricane in 2016. With help from Baptists on Mission, also known as North Carolina Baptist Men, N.C. Baptists from a local church and students from Chowan University, the church received needed repairs in time for Christmas.


Members saw new stained glass windows installed in the sanctuary during the first week of December, months ahead of schedule. Allen White, Wakelon’s pastor, said the church initially put the project on hold to focus on repairing damage done by tropical storm Julia in September and Hurricane Matthew in October.
 
The windows were among a list of upgrades that included a new ramp, a fellowship hall and new bathroom floors – a process of restoring the church that had not held regular services for three years.
 
Wakelon, originally built in 1943, was once a small but thriving congregation of more than 100 members. As children grew and moved away, and older members passed away, the church found itself without a pastor and only a handful of members meeting for Sunday School every week.
 
White was a layman at Edgewood Baptist Church in Windsor, N.C., who answered the call to ministry in June 2015.
 
“I kept riding by the little church. Something kept drawing me to the church even before I entered the ministry,” he said.
 
He asked a retired sheriff who lived a mile away from the church about it, and the sheriff pointed him to William “Speck” Bryant.

Bryant had been a long-time member and treasurer of Wakelon and called himself the church’s check writer.
 
Bryant faithfully cut grass and paid light and gas bills month after month. He told White he would love to have the church back up, but the floors in the bathroom were in poor condition.
 
White was a bivocational carpenter. “I said, ‘Well if that’s the only problem, I’ll go in there because that’s what I do. [Bryant] was just amazed. He had no idea someone could fix it,” he said.
 
White received donated materials to finish the bathroom floors, and members from Edgewood Baptist Church came to help clean on the Saturday before the first service.
 
He remembered Bryant propped up by a truck, watching the work.
 
“He had tears rolling down his cheeks,” White said. “I said to him, ‘I guess you never thought you’d see this church open, did you?’ He said, ‘No, I never thought anyone would care about it as much as I did.’”
 
On July 12, 2015, Wakelon held its first Sunday worship service in three years, and White was ordained.
 
Bryant died at 75 years old in March 2016. He saw his beloved church hold four baptisms and grow to 18 members and 30 regular attendees.
 

Storms strike

One year after reopening, Wakelon had just raised enough funds and signed a contract with Laws Stained Glass Studios for new windows, when Tropical Storm Julia hit last September and flooded the air conditioning unit in the sanctuary.
 
The contract meant Wakelon could not cancel the new windows, but the company agreed to delay the installation.
 
“I told the congregation, ‘Don’t worry about it, the Lord is going to take care of us,’” White said.
 
Terry Stockman, director of missions for West Chowan Baptist Association, connected White with Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM), and churches within the association to help with repairs after Julia. Wakelon received a grant to replace the air conditioning units, but halfway through installing the unit, Hurricane Matthew caused more devastation, this time flooding the fellowship hall.
 
All the work that was completed in the bathroom also needed to be removed.
 
“After all the progress, it felt like the devil was trying to shut us down or flood us out,” White said.
 
Members from the neighboring Colerain Baptist Church and students from Chowan University came and helped tear out hardwood floors in the fellowship hall.
 
Stockman continued to make phone calls in search of partnerships, support and resources for the church, until White received a call from Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director, saying a check was in the mail to cover the floor replacements.
 
“The Lord’s been good to us and been good to them,” Stockman said about Wakelon. “We want to thank the churches of the association that helped with floors and provided assistance. The response has been overwhelming.”
 
Once Wakelon received the funds from NCBM, they were able to move up the installation of the new windows.
 
“It’s amazing how the Lord has blessed us so much when we thought we were down … shows you have to keep your faith in the Lord even through the storms,” White said.
 
Church repairs are expected to be complete by the end of January, if weather permits.
 
“If not, we’ll finish in the spring when it gets warmer,” White said. “Just doing it a little bit at a time.”
 
NCBM continues to help churches and homeowners with repairs after the devastation that Hurricane Matthew brought to North Carolina. To partner with a church or homeowner, contact (800) 395-5102, ext. 5599.
 
Visit baptistsonmission.org.

Correction: The original version of this story stated Wakelon Baptist Church was closed for eight years, and at one point, had no heat or water. Additional sources confirmed the church never officially closed doors, though they did not hold regular services for three years after former pastor Bob Johnson moved. We regret the error.

1/9/2017 4:28:19 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer | with 0 comments



5 dead in airport shooting; Hawkins had just left

January 9 2017 by David Roach, Baptist Press

At least five people are dead and eight wounded after a gunman allegedly opened fire Jan. 6 in a baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Among air travelers to narrowly miss the shooting were GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins and his wife Susie.

Screen capture from CNN.com


The shooting occurred in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, according to media reports.
 
The alleged shooter reportedly arrived in Fort Lauderdale on an Air Canada flight, “pulled a gun out of a checked bag, loaded it in a bathroom and started shooting,” the Associated Press (AP) reported. One witness told AP the shooter emptied his weapon and then reloaded.
 
The suspected gunman is in custody, according to CNN.
 
Early Friday morning, Hawkins tweeted he was “looking forward to preaching Sunday” morning at First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, where he was pastor from 1978-1993. He and his wife then apparently flew to Fort Lauderdale.
 
At 12:10 p.m. Eastern Time, after news of the shooting broke, Hawkins tweeted, “Thx for all the calls. Multiple dead in FLL airport shooting thirty minutes after Susie and I passed thru baggage claim.”
 
Among those to respond to Hawkins’ tweet with expressions of shock and gratitude for his safety were author and women’s Bible study leader Beth Moore and Adam Dooley, pastor of Dallas-area Sunnyvale First Baptist Church.
 
Greg Jackson, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Camden, Ohio, tweeted, “God has you right where you need to be to minister to the people of Ft Lauderdale this weekend.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

1/9/2017 10:18:59 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Kentucky bills to protect unborn babies progress

January 9 2017 by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today

Kentucky House Republicans managed to do Jan. 6 what they’d been trying accomplish for years: pass legislation that would require women to undergo ultrasounds before having abortions.
 
Frustrated Kentucky voters elected a super majority of pro-life Republicans in the November election, paving the way for passage of the ultrasound bill and a litany of others that had languished while the House was under Democratic control.
 
Republicans were joined by most of the remaining Democrats in the House in passing the ultrasound bill 83-12. The bill now moves to the Republican-led Senate where it is expected to pass overwhelmingly.
 
The legislation would require physicians to display the ultrasound images so women can see them. However, they would have the option to avert their eyes. The measure calls for a $100,000 fine against abortion providers for a first offense a $250,000 fine for subsequent offenses.
 
State Rep. Addia Wuchner, R.-Burlington, said ultrasounds will provide women with information that’s vital in making decisions about whether to have an abortion.
 
“This is not a bill about abortion; it’s a bill about knowledge,” said state Rep. Jim DuPlessis, a newly elected Republican lawmaker who voted for the legislation.
 
State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, decried what she described as elected officials making medical decisions. “This from the majority party who say they want less government in people’s lives,” she said.
 
The Senate, meanwhile, approved legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, at which point babies can survive outside the womb.
 
“This protects pain-capable children from cruelty,” said Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard. “It’s unacceptable this is happening to our children. There is no doubt in Kentucky we care and now have a chance to end this practice.”
 
The measure cleared the chamber 30-6 and goes to the House.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Latek is a writer for Kentucky Today, kentuckytoday.com, a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)
 

1/9/2017 9:56:15 AM by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today | with 0 comments



Investigative panel urges defunding of PPFA

January 6 2017 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Planned Parenthood should no longer receive federal funds, a special congressional panel has recommended following a nearly 15-month investigation.
 
The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives issued its final report Jan. 3 into the practices of abortion providers and others involved in the fetal tissue procurement business. The report not only called for congressional action to protect unborn children and their mothers, but it also recommended restrictions on government grants to abortion providers and on research using fetal tissue.
 
Congress established the panel – which operated under the umbrella of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce – in October 2015 after undercover videos allegedly provided evidence Planned Parenthood was trading in body parts from aborted babies. The secretly recorded videos appeared to show various executives of the country’s No. 1 abortion provider discussing their sale of fetal parts, as well as their willingness to manipulate the lethal procedure to preserve organs for sale and use.
 
Southern Baptist and other pro-life advocates commended the report.
 
“What the investigative panel discovered is what many of us already knew existed – a predatory industry that exploits women and families,” said Steven Harris, director of advocacy for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.  
 
“The case studies conducted by the panel reveal years of negligence, cut corners and noncompliance, and my hope is that the swiftest of action be taken regarding the recommendations, and that the abortion industry might at long last be held accountable,” Harris told Baptist Press in written comments.
 
Steven Aden, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said of the panel’s findings on Planned Parenthood, “Congress should end taxpayer subsidies of an abortion business that has enjoyed nearly a billion dollars in profits over the last decade while taking more than $4 billion from American taxpayers. It’s time to end this immoral partnership that has been forced upon the American people.”
 
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates received $553.7 million in government grants and reimbursements in its latest financial year, 2014-15. Planned Parenthood’s affiliates performed 323,999 abortions during 2013-14, the most recent reporting year for which statistics are available.
 
Planned Parenthood’s receipt of federal funds has long produced opposition from Republicans and support from Democrats. Last January, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have eliminated about 90 percent of federal money for PPFA during the year. In mid-December, the Obama administration issued a final rule that effectively blocks states from prohibiting federal family planning funds for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
 
President-elect Trump has pledged to work to defund PPFA.
 
In its report, the panel asserted there was evidence some tissue-procurement companies illegally profited from the trade in body parts from aborted babies. One of the procurement firms, StemExpress, increased its revenue from about $156,000 in 2010 to $4.5 million in 2014 in its role as a middleman between abortion clinics and researchers, according to the report.
 
Planned Parenthood denied it made a profit but refused to provide accounting documents to demonstrate its claim, the panel reported.
 
The report said, “[T]he relationships that have formed between tissue procurement companies, abortion clinics and universities are fraught with questionable practices, including the possible use of illegal, late-term abortion practices to procure fetal tissues and organs, violations of federal laws and regulations on patient consent and systematic violations of patients’ HIPAA rights,” which protect the confidentiality of health-care information.
 
The panel listed in the report 15 referrals it made for possible criminal or regulatory violations. In some cases, the referrals were for potential violations of federal or state laws by Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics. The referrals also included possible illegal profiting from the sale of baby body parts by StemExpress and other tissue-procurement companies.
 
Among the recommendations in its final report, the panel called for:

  • Congress to eliminate grants for Planned Parenthood and certify that such federal funds go to comprehensive health-care providers that do not perform abortions;
  • Congress to ban federal funding of research using tissue from aborted babies while instituting a program to support procurement of ethically acquired fetal tissue for research;
  • Congress to approve legislation – known as the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act – to safeguard unborn children after 20 weeks gestation;
  • The Department of Justice to increase its commitment to the prosecution of those who profit from the sale of fetal tissue;
  • The Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidelines for emergency care by abortion providers to children born alive during the lethal procedures.

 
The panel’s deep division throughout its work was obvious once again when the final report was issued. The eight Republicans on the panel praised the report in a release. The six Democratic members – who had lambasted even the panel’s existence – had issued a minority report Dec. 5 chastising the GOP-controlled investigation and opposing the effort to defund Planned Parenthood.
 
The panel’s chairman – Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. – said in a Jan. 4 news release she hopes its work “will result in some necessary changes within both the abortion and fetal tissue-procurement industries. Our hope is that these changes will both protect women and their unborn children, as well as the integrity of scientific research.”
 
Another member of the panel – Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. – said its investigation “has laid bare the grisly reality of an abortion industry that is driven by profit, unconcerned by matters of basic ethics and, too often, noncompliant with the few laws we have to protect the safety of women and their unborn children.”
 
The panel’s lead Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, blasted the report, calling it “illegitimate.”
 
“Republicans refused to give Democratic members the opportunity to review the report, failed to hold the required public meeting, and ignored the requirement that the full Panel vote on its release,” Schakowsky said in written comments Jan. 3.
 
The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) produced the undercover recordings involving Planned Parenthood that prompted establishment of the select panel and also released videos regarding StemExpress. Among the videos was one of a former StemExpress employee allegedly discussing her experience procuring baby organs at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
 
The full report is available at energycommerce.house.gov/sites/republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/files/documents/Select_Investigative_Panel_Final_Report.pdf.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

1/6/2017 9:01:59 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Study: Where do Americans look to solve nation’s woes?

January 6 2017 by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends

America has its problems and needs to talk. But according to a new study, few Americans agree on who can best lead a conversation about the nation’s woes.
 
Less than a quarter (23 percent) would turn to the office of the U.S. president. About 1 in 10 would turn to the nation’s preachers (11 percent) or to college professors (10 percent), a survey by LifeWay Research shows.


“Almost no one would ask a musician or pro athlete,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, “even though they often try to start public conversations.
 
“Musicians or athletes get a great deal of attention for their public statements about the issues,” McConnell said. “But few Americans seem to look to them as thought leaders.”
 
Before the recent presidential election, LifeWay Research asked a representative sample of 1,000 Americans this question: “In America today, who is in the best position to generate a healthy conversation on challenges facing our society?” Among possible responses were “our elected president,” preachers and even pro athletes.
 
About a quarter of those surveyed said the office of the president has the best chance of fostering healthy public conversations (23 percent).
 
Eleven percent say pastors of local churches. Ten percent say university professors.
 
Members of the media (8 percent) fared slightly better than business leaders (7 percent) or members of Congress (6 percent). Few Americans look to professional athletes (1 percent) or musicians (less than 1 percent) to lead healthy conversations about the nation’s challenges.
 
The most common response: “None of these” (33 percent).
 
Among other findings:

  • Southerners are more likely to look to the president (25 percent) than those in the Midwest (18 percent).
  • Those in the Northeast choose the media (11 percent) more than those in the South (5 percent).
  • Younger Americans – those 18 to 34 – look to the media (12 percent) more than those 65 and older (3 percent).
  • African Americans are the most likely ethnic group to choose local pastors (21 percent) and the president (37 percent).
  • Hispanic Americans are the least likely ethnic group to choose the media (3 percent).
  • Christians are more likely to look to pastors (16 percent) than those from other faiths (1 percent) or Nones – those with no religious preference – (2 percent). 
  • Christians (7 percent) are less likely to look to professors than those from other faiths (18 percent) or Nones (15 percent).
  • Americans with evangelical beliefs have faith in pastors (36 percent) but little faith in the media (3 percent) or professors (3 percent) to guide such conversations.

 
Overall, the survey reflects the reality that Americans are fractured and divided, McConnell said. Few leaders can draw a wide, diverse audience.
 
“There’s a vacuum of public leadership in America,” McConnell said. “We know we have problems and that we should talk about them. But there’s no one who can bring us all together.”
 

Methodology

LifeWay Research conducted the study Sept. 27–Oct. 1, 2016. The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population.
 
Initially, participants are chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel. For those who agree to participate, but do not already have Internet access, GfK provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection.
 
Sample stratification and weights were used for gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, metro/non-metro, education and income to reflect the most recent U.S. Census data. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
 
For more information, visit LifeWayResearch.com. LifeWay Research, based in Nashville, is an evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect the church.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine.)
 

1/6/2017 8:56:24 AM by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments



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