July 2008

Sutton retirement package approved

July 29 2008 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An early retirement package for Jerry Sutton as pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., was approved by the congregation July 27.

The package will include one month's salary for each of Sutton's 22 years as the church's pastor, to be paid over a five and a half-year period.

Church members who voted July 27 approved the retirement package by a 78.8 percent margin, according to a news release from the church later in the day.

The package also includes medical and long-time disability insurance until Sutton, 56, starts a new job or reaches the age of 62.

Sutton, in a July 24 letter to the congregation posted on the church website, told Two Rivers members he hoped they would approve the package

"Over the last 14 months, we have been involved in a conflict which does not appear will go away," Sutton said in the letter. "An incredible amount of energy has been expended and consumed handling the conflict. Although we have won court cases and church votes, the conflict continues. Our people are weary, leaders are tired, and those who love Two Rivers honestly want it to end. I do not believe that will happen as long as I am pastor at Two Rivers.”

Andy Dunning, Two Rivers deacon chairman, said in church news releases July 17 and 27, "Church leadership agreed with Dr. Sutton's view that it is time for the next phase in the life of this church, and in his life as well."

Dunning said Sutton will preach both morning services on Aug. 3 and a reception will be held that afternoon to honor the Sutton family. 

The church has been embroiled in controversy over Sutton's leadership since July 2007, when a church trustee was removed from membership. A group of about 50 current or former church members filed suit in September, seeking access to detailed financial records and launched a website listing their grievances against the pastor.

In October, church members voted 1,101 to 286 to affirm Sutton as pastor and in January 2008 a judge dismissed the lawsuit but gave the plaintiffs access to records, including meeting minutes and financial documents. On May 4 of this year, a vote to dismiss 71 church members fell four votes shy of passage but that vote was reversed May 11 when the congregation voted to disallow ballots cast by the members who were the subject of that ouster motion.

 Sutton has served the 45-year-old congregation church since 1986.

7/29/2008 8:25:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Going deep: N.C. youth step out of comfort zone

July 28 2008 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Brad Martin of Durham Memorial Baptist Church in Durham lifts shingles onto a house in Boiling Springs Lake during Deep Impact.

An expanding Deep Impact draws on energy and missions to keep youth coming.

"We are trying to do things that will have the most long-term impact," said Mike Sowers, youth mobilization consultant with North Carolina Baptist Men. "If they can see God at work in their lives, they are more likely to share with others."

It was the fourth year of Deep Impact for Rebekah Simpson of River Bend Baptist Church in New Bern. The 17-year-old said she's learned a lot by being involved with the weeklong missions camp.

"Missions is not leaving and going across the ocean," she said. "Missions is everything you do. Everything is an act of worship. You can do everything for the glory of God."

Simpson was one of about 1,000 youth who participated in Deep Impact camps this year.

Sowers said almost 80 projects were completed — from construction to sports camps.
Simpson's job during Deep Impact was to help with a basketball camp. Three of her four years have been spent drilling and coaching young players in basketball.

"With these kids, you have to be patient with them," she said. "You connect with them."

Simpson doesn't consider herself a basketball player but enjoys the sport. That's one of the lessons she tries to convey to the children.

"You can still have fun enjoying something," she said. "Most of them hated it because they weren't (good). They're learning to love the Lord through it."

Learning experience

"I've learned that life is a mission trip," said Curtis Shelton, 13, of Oak City Baptist Church. "You don't have to go away from home to do mission work."

While Katie Basden, 16, has helped with re-roofing and painting projects before, she still signed up to do construction during Deep Impact.

"I love to do mission trips, said the Durham Memorial Baptist Church member. "We're not doing this just for ourselves."

For Adam Trahan's first two years at Deep Impact he played guitar with a choral group.

This year, the 16-year-old River Bend member signed up for the car care clinic.

"It takes a little bit of work to get out and share Jesus," said Trahan, who jumped around and danced by the side of the road while holding a sign to advertise that car care was available.

"It makes people smile just going down the road," he said.

Jason Whited, 17, said the Deep Impact leaders "present it well."

The Baynes Baptist Church member from Burlington said it was his first time at Deep Impact.

"It's not hard to do," he said, and the Impact trainers share "simple stuff to start a conversation with people."

Ashley Walser, 15, agreed with Whited about the ease of sharing the gospel.

"You get rejected but at the same time you can accomplish some great things," said Walser, who is a member of Liberty Baptist Church in Thomasville.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

"I like helping people," said Kaylin Warren, 18, of Grace Family Fellowship. Warren participated in Deep Impact through the youth ministry of Oak City Baptist Church.

Deep Impact offers lessons for the leaders and chaperones as well.

Charles Keller, youth pastor at Fraley Memorial Baptist Church in Gastonia, likes Deep Impact because it teaches youth the lesson that they can do this in their hometown.

"The stuff we're doing is not easy," said Keller, who donned guitar sunglasses and held up a sign for a car care clinic in Shallotte at Calvary Baptist Church.

"I think they learn to do hard things" at Deep Impact, he said. His youth are encouraged even when they  get to talk to just one person.

Previous coaching experience helped Michael Gragg, youth minister at Perkinsville Baptist Church in Boone, adjust to the basketball camp at Deep Impact.

"I feel really comfortable," he said, and expressed a desire to take the lessons learned back to Boone to do a weeklong camp there.

He hopes his youth learn to "be willing, and God will use whatever you like to do."

Another basketball camp leader was Marty Dupree, team leader for mission growth evangelism at the Baptist State Convention. He also taught youth how to share their faith. Dupree said he was impressed with the impact these camps have on the youth.

"I think it teaches them they have something to offer," said Dupree. "It shows them how God can work through them. The fun component doesn't hurt either."

Joey Waters, a men's staff counselor at Caswell, used his off day to help with a car care clinic.

The Gardner-Webb University student is spending his third summer as a staff member at Caswell, but this was his first opportunity to take part in Deep Impact.

"Out of all the other things these kids could do this week, they pay to come here and work," said Waters, a member of Charity Baptist Church in Kannapolis.

Biggest impact

For Sowers, the biggest impact was "seeing so many youth get out of their comfort zone."

He said some come with the attitude of "I don't care" but the change over the week is incredible.

He said several studies have shown getting youth involved is key to their involvement as adults.

"They'll go home and practice it," he said. "It's something that becomes a lifestyle. One of the great things about this week is that kids are doing things that they never thought they could do."

Putting the youth in a new environment with youth and a leader they may have never met, "really pushes them out of their comfort zone," said Sowers.

Deep Impact really has two goals, Sowers said, to make a difference in the community and to encourage youth always to be on mission.


Most of the success of Deep Impact can be attributed to the many leaders across the state who participate in overseeing projects and developing partnerships with local churches and associations, Sowers said.

"We're profoundly grateful that we have this Baptist Men's mission camp in our community," said Mike Cummings, Burnt Swamp Baptist's associational missionary.

"We are beginning to see the potential for outreach in our area."

Many of the churches in Burnt Swamp are rural and might only have one full-time staff member. Having Deep Impact allows the association and its churches to reach beyond its normal capabilities.

"Deep Impact has been extremely beneficial to our churches," said Phil Frady, associational missionary with South Roanoke Baptist Association. "Our goal as an association is to help churches create more disciples and to start new churches.

Deep Impact teams have helped discover prospects, model teaching methods and fill in the gap for churches needing helpers.

"It's an opportunity for us to communicate God's love to our community," said Brad Ferguson, pastor of New Beginnings Community Church in Shallotte.

New Beginnings hosted a basketball camp for Deep Impact this year.

Ferguson said several members helped with registration and provided snacks for the children and the youth workers and leaders.

"Our churches are asking for Deep Impact teams to come back next year."

Sowers said working with associational leaders as well as Baptist Men has been key to running successful camps.

"One of the biggest things about this is the consistent leadership," Sowers said. "They're the backbone of it."

Sowers hopes the involvement of the youth will cause a "spark" that will continue in the churches.


Sowers would be happy with even more Deep Impact camps. Drawing about 1,000 youth this year is a big jump from the around 300 who came in 2007.

While Baptist Men is happy with the numbers, they still want to do more.

"My goal is that we'll have them within an hour to two hours" drive for all churches in North Carolina, Sower said, but he also wants them to "do Deep Impact at home."

Baptist Men is adding sites in Shelby and Greensboro next year, as well as sites in Pennsylvania and Ukraine.

Sowers is working with Florida Street Baptist Church in Greensboro to plan projects for next summer.

Taking lessons from this year's Deep Impact camps, Sowers said they are looking at combining even more biblical foundation studies into the camps.

7/28/2008 9:04:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Rural church plant has missions vision behind it

July 28 2008 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

BSC photo by Mike Creswell

A van given to Living Water Baptist Church in Connelly Springs has been useful in bringing people to services.

CONNELLY SPRINGS — A new Baptist church is spouting in this rural community. Small for now, a big vision promises future growth for Living Water Baptist Church.

The church has about 40 members, but church planter and pastor Jim Rice is baptizing new members.

"I just believe that unless a church is seeing people come to Jesus, it doesn't really have a reason to call itself a church," he said.

Rice celebrated his 75th birthday in July and he admits he did not immediately accept the challenge of starting another church.

"I started a church in Shelby years ago and I knew it was hard work. But we didn't have as much help back then as we do now," he said.

The help he refers to is limited-term financial backing from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina that has helped the church stay afloat long enough to get going. Living Water was able to buy a former public school building and five acres of land that later was used as a Bible school.

Church planting is a significant recipient of funds given by North Carolina Baptist churches through the North Carolina Missions Offering, conducted in most churches in September.
But North Carolina Baptists have helped in other ways as well.

A Baptist Men witnessing team visited homes throughout the community and two decisions for Christ resulted; one couple has become faithful members. Ruffin Stacey Baptist Church near Reidsville, sent a 23-member team to do outreach Vacation Bible Schools last year, led by Pastor Michael Tillman and his wife, Judy. The church is scheduled to send another team this year.

Though most Living Springs members are retirement age, Rice has had a thriving outreach ministry to children who attend a local public school. A church Rice formerly served as pastor in Shelby provided a van that member Roberta Penland drives to pick up members each week.

Living Water has sponsored music programs several times to attract people. Until they find a pianist Rice plays piano and his wife, Anita, leads singing.

With the church off to a good start, Rice now dreams bigger. He plans to begin reaching out to the nearby Hmong settlement, where the people from southern China have settled.

"We would welcome them into our church or if they want to start a separate work, they could meet in our building here," Rice said.

The Living Water building, constructed in 1923 and later, needs repairs, but it has spacious seating for several hundred plus an abundance of classrooms.

Rice has talked to a history commission about registering the building as a historical site, but he may call on Baptist Men to help. N.C. Baptist Men plan to construct a mission camp in nearby Shelby, which will include a warehouse for supplies and housing for scores of volunteers to tackle helping projects in a multi-county area.

He dreams of having a multicultural, multi-national, multi-racial congregation.

Rice has been to Jamaica on missions preaching trips for years, so multi-racial work is not new to him.

Pamela Mungo, church planting consultant with the Baptist State Convention, has been thrilled to see how the Rices have gotten Living Water Baptist Church up and going, and she likes Rice's missions heart. "I would love to see other retired pastors come help us start new churches. They have the experience we need," she said.

Rice is a blunt about it. "I see retired pastors my age sit down and do nothing and they die. I intend to keep moving," he said.

If that motion brings people to faith in Christ and sees a new church born, all the better.

7/28/2008 8:34:00 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Associations use NCMO for missions, ministry

July 28 2008 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

CARY — Picture this: Scatter seed money for missions projects across North Carolina and wait for all sorts of life-changing missions and ministry projects to bloom.

Wish you could help with something like that? North Carolina Baptists can — through the 2008 North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO).

Here's how. Ten percent of this year's challenge total, or $200,000, will be sent to Baptist associations over the state. This amount will be divided among the state's 80 associations according to how much each association's churches contribute to the offering.

A survey shows the associations will use this money for an amazing variety of missions and ministry projects.

Here's a sampling of what associations project they will do with funds from this year's NCMO and what they have done with the funds in years past, including both missions outreach and ministry to meet needs.

Sandy Creek — This historic Baptist association of 48 churches in and around the Sanford area is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year and its NCMO funds use reflects its lengthy missions tradition.

"We have used our NCMO money in a number of ways," said Gordon West, associational missionary.

"Just this month we voted to use over $5,500 of NCMO money to continue supporting our newest Hispanic mission for another year," West said.

More than 100 young people accepted Christ through Sandy Creek's one-day sports clinics partly funded by NCMO funds. "Between 600 and 700 young people have attended our clinics," West said.

Sandy Creek has used the NCMO funds to provide Jesus videos and the plan of salvation on bottles of water distributed at fairs and festivals in the area. The association reaches out to public school teachers who come from all over the world to teach in area school systems.

Association workers minister to people who work at the fair each year; NCMO funds help provide the workers a hot meal when they arrive and a service in which they hear the gospel, West said. "We use the NCMO money to help do missions. Thanks for sending it to associations. Please continue to do so," he added.

Truett — The Hispanic population has increased rapidly in western North Carolina and Truett Baptist Association has joined with other Region 10 associations to start new Hispanic churches.

NCMO funds are helping support the work of two church planters, Alejandro Arreaga and Robert Hernandez, said Mitchell Shields, associational missionary for Truett. The association is made up of 67 congregations in the Murphy-Hayesville-Andrews area of western North Carolina.

Robeson — This association of 71 churches around Lumberton also uses the funds for Hispanic work. "We pass our portion of the NCMO back to our missions," said Bud Parrish, associational missionary. "This has helped our Hispanic missions to remain stable and growing," he said.

Dock — "Our association is very small, but we are very missions-minded," said Alan Gore, missionary for the association of 15 churches east of Tarboro in coastal North Carolina.

"In recent years we have used the NCMO monies to help fund our outreach ministries, such as youth ministry, our senior adult ministries, our prayer ministry and wherever money is needed as long as it is a mission outreach project approved by the churches," said Gore, an unsalaried volunteer.

Stanly — "We dedicate the NCMO funds for volunteer missionary scholarships," said Hal Bilbo, associational missionary for the 64-church association whose office is in Albemarle, east of Charlotte.

"We support first-time international missions volunteers, believing that this is one of the great tools of life change, as well as bridging the gap between the local church and missions 'out there,'" Bilbo said.

South Mountain — "We invest this annual missions offering refund in our annual associational mission team trips," said Gwyn P. Sullivan, director of missions for the association of 28 churches northwest of Lincolnton.

"In fact, our missions team is on mission this week in the Brunswick Baptist Association (Wilmington area), conducting Vacation Bible Schools, doing handyman repairs and building handicap ramps where needed. Thanks," Sullivan said.

Atlantic — NCMO funds are used both internationally and locally by this association of 44 churches in and around Morehead City, reports David W. Phelps, director of missions.

"Over the past few years we have used NCMO funds to finance a large portion of building a church in Armavir, Armenia; build a church in Swaziland (Africa); and to provide funding for a Korean church plant in Ukraine," Phelps said.

The association has bought keyboards for four churches in South Africa and sent funds to the Greater Boston Baptist Association as part of a partnership, he said. The funds were also used for recovery after a hurricane struck the surrounding coastal area and helped pay the medical bills incurred by a language mission pastor and his wife related to the birth of their child.

A new church started within the association got audiovisual equipment from NCMO funds, he said.

Macon — "In a nutshell, the money goes toward our churches working together to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our communities," said Jeff King, associational missionary for the 45-church association around the rolling hills of Franklin, in western North Carolina.

Workers reach out to people hiking the Appalachian Trail by providing them food. The association also helps people going through hard times, in some cases building roofs for those in need or installing ramps for handicapped people.

"We serve an apartment complex, ministering to single moms, single dads and their children," King said.

Catawba River —
NCMO funds will be used for evangelism projects by Catawba River Association, said Phil Oakley, whose 67 churches are spread through the hilly area around Morganton. Oakley, a former Southern Baptist missionary to West Africa, has served as associational missionary for just over a year.

"We have not planned out which projects but are talking about using the funds for outreach to children in apartment complexes or having evangelistic outreach at some of our local festivals or doing a county-wide outreach to youth," Oakley said.

Tar River — "We have used the NCMO money for a Bible seminar and a prayer tent ministry during the Relay for Life (a local talent show which raises funds to help cancer patients)," said Georgette Burnette, secretary for Tar River Baptist Association, whose 52 churches are grouped around Louisburg.

"We also have used the money to fund a summer youth worker and for a computer for the association office," she said.

Pee Dee — "We put the NCMO funds into an account called the 'Minister's Emergency Fund,'" said Lanell Moree, who directs religious education and church development for the 42-church association in the Rockingham area.

"This fund helps our active pastors who have been abruptly terminated from their church as pastor, or on some occasions, a pastor who has run into a very difficult time with medical emergencies or any situation that our committee feels is a need," she explained.

Sandhills — "Some of the ways we use the funds are for Bibles, to support WMU, to support local ethnic ministries and newspaper ads, both general and focused tabloids," reported Patty Lunday, secretary. Sandhills Baptist Association has 35 churches located northwest of Fayetteville.

Surry —
"We at Surry Baptist Association have used our NCMO funds in two ways," said Billy Blakely, director of missions. Surry's 68 churches are spread throughout the hills in and around Mount Airy towards the Virginia border.

"First, we used the funds to supplement our Client Assistance Fund for our counseling center. We offer Christian counseling to people who need it, regardless of their ability to pay for the services, Blakely said. "We have seen two people accept Christ through our counseling center and have seen many couples reunited in their marriages through help received. Many of those we help are school-aged children and youth who have made remarkable changes for the better," he said.

Second, Blakely said, Surry has used NCMO funds to support a Spanish mission, which has constituted into a church and is now in the process of acquiring its own building.

Randolph — This association of 49 churches with an office in Asheboro is using its NCMO funds towards a new disaster relief trailer. At other times "we use the funds for whatever mission projects come up and need funding," said Drema Hill, secretary for the association.

Burnt Swamp — More than 300 families living below the poverty line are helped in December by an annual Christmas Toy Drive, run by the associational WMU leadership team from the association's office in Pembroke.

"This project requires much more funding than our association's share of the NCMO, but we are grateful for its availability to us," said Mike Cummings, missionary for the 68-congregation association.

7/28/2008 8:23:00 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Fruitland president Kenneth Ridings to retire

July 24 2008 by BSC Communications

Kenneth Ridings, president of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute since 1997, announced his retirement July 22.

Ridings, 72, told the Fruitland Board of Directors that he would retire in December. His wife, Ann, accompanied him to the board’s meeting.

“Ann and I would like to express our deep appreciation for North Carolina Baptists for giving us the wonderful privilege to serve our Lord at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute,” Ridings said. “God has his hand upon Fruitland and our prayers are that this will forever be true.”

Ridings became president of Fruitland in 1997 following the death of then Fruitland President Randy Kilby. Ridings began his service to Fruitland in 1968, teaching church administration and pastoral counseling. He started what would become a 39-year tenure as professor of homiletics the next year.

Ridings told the Fruitland board that more than 800 churches are currently served by Fruitland graduates. Other graduates are involved in a multitude of ministries across North Carolina and around the world, he said.

Members of the board and members of the staff shared their appreciation with Ridings not only for the impact he has made on the school, but upon their lives individually.

J.D. Grant, Fruitland’s vice-president of development, said it’s hard to think of Fruitland without Ridings.

“In my very first homiletics class as a student, God used Kenneth to change my life and ministry,” he said.

Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention (BSC), praised Ridings. “Your fingerprints are on this place, the preachers you have prepared and the people associated with Fruitland have been enriched by your ministry,” Hollifield said. “God blessed and honored your ministry, service, and leadership of this school.”

The Fruitland board has the responsibility of conducting a search for the next president and will begin the process of this important task in the days to come. “We want a man who loves the Bible more than the presidency of Fruitland to come lead us,” said board member David MacEachren.

Fruitland is an agency of the BSC and the Fruitland Board is accountable to the BSC Board of Directors. When the Fruitland board’s search for the next president is complete, the candidate will be presented to the BSC board for approval. Fruitland has been a ministry of the BSC since 1946.

Fruitland board chair George Cagle asked N.C. Baptists to pray for the board during the search.

“Fruitland has been blessed by strong leadership in the past, and our (Fruitland) board has a significant task before us, but we are confident that the next president will build upon the strong foundation of Dr. Ridings and his predecessors to lead Fruitland as we seek to prepare the next generation of pastors for so many North Carolina Baptist churches,” he said.


7/24/2008 5:48:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 1 comments

Fourth-century Bible to go online

July 23 2008 by Al Webb, Religion News Service

The Codex Sinaiticus, a portion of which is seen here, will be available online Thursday.
LONDON — The Codex Sinaiticus, thought to be one of the world’s oldest Bibles, is going online this week in a project led by the British Library to reconnect all its 1,600-year-old parts that are spread across Europe and Egypt’s Sinai desert.

A preview of the manuscript, which dates from the 4th century and includes what’s believed to be the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament, will be available free July 24 at www.codex-sinaiticus.net, the library said.

The Codex is a "unique treasure" that "only a few people have ever had the opportunity to see more than a couple of pages," says Scot McKendrick, the British Library’s head of Western manuscripts.

Until now, anyone lucky enough to get a first-hand peek at the ancient book would have to approach the British Library "on bended knee," Oxford University scholar Christopher Tuckett told journalists. Even then, they would be limited to only two pages at a time.

"To have it available just at the click of a button is fantastic," Tuckett added.

The project is aimed at bringing together in digital form all the pages of the Codex Sinaiticus that are presently kept in Leipzig, Germany; St. Petersburg, Russia; St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s Sinai; and the 347 vellum pages that the British Library bought from Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1933.

Leipzig library curator Ulrich Johannes Schneider told France’s AFP news agency that Thursday’s preview would include more than 100 pages, 67 of them from the British collection and including the Codex’s complete Book of Psalms and parts of the Gospel of Mark.

Another part of the manuscript is scheduled to go online in November. By next July, all 800-odd existing pages in handwritten Greek, and more than 40 fragments, are expected to be online, complete with transcriptions, translations and search functions.
7/23/2008 10:16:00 AM by Al Webb, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

Recorder offices damaged by leak

July 23 2008 by BR staff

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
A water leak of undiagnosed origin caused a work stoppage at the Biblical Recorder July 21.
The Biblical Recorder (BR) closed on July 21 after staff members discovered a major water leak had flooded the office.

The leak originated from a hot water heater in the upstairs portion of the Recorder office on Millbrook Road in Raleigh.

Water damaged flooring and carpeting upstairs and burst through the ceiling between the two floors, eventually flooding into every room downstairs.

Recorder Managing Editor Steve DeVane discovered the leak. Water was pouring through the downstairs ceiling when he arrived at the office at about 6:15 a.m. on July 21. The paper had been closed since July 17.

A damage restoration crew was called. Workers arrived later that morning and started removing damaged ceiling, drywall and carpet. Some supplies and equipment were saved, but a number of items were unsalvageable.

By about 7:30 p.m., the restoration crew stripped most of the downstairs floor down to a concrete slab. Fans and dehumidifiers were brought in to help dry out the office.

Some BR staff members will likely have to relocate from their offices temporarily while the building is repaired. A damage estimate was not immediately available.

7/23/2008 10:05:00 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Busting the top four food myths

July 22 2008 by Tamara Quintana, Baptist Press

DALLAS — Have you noticed how complicated food is these days? Trying to select an item in a grocery store or restaurant can prove to be quite a head-scratching experience, especially if you are trying to choose a healthier option.

The constant barrage of conflicting information concerning food and dieting often makes separating food fact from fiction a daunting task. As a result, people often find themselves making the less-healthy choice without realizing it. Here are a few myths people tend to believe:

1. It's OK to consume a larger amount of "fat free" foods.

Unfortunately, fat free does not mean it is also calorie free. In fact, fat-free or reduced-fat foods actually may have a similar calorie count to the "regular" version of the food, and sometimes even more calories.

2. If a food is "organic," it must be healthier.

Not necessarily. The label "organic" means the product was grown using natural pesticides and insecticides, but doesn't mean the item has any greater nutritional or dietary value than conventionally grown products.

Similarly, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are very few nutritional differences between produce labeled "fresh" or "natural" and produce that is canned or frozen. The moment produce is harvested, it begins losing its vitamin content on the way to the supermarket. If food is frozen or even canned quickly after harvest, though, it can retain more nutritional value than fresh produce.

3. Margarine contains fewer calories than butter.

According to the American Dietetic Association, stick margarine and stick butter actually have the same number of calories, about 36 per teaspoon.

4. When in doubt, go with the salad.

This rule only applies if you're not going to load the salad up with cheese, dressings and other condiments that are usually high in fat content. Too much dressing can turn your previously healthy salad into a higher calorie option than many other items on the menu.

Keep these myths — and the truths behind them — in mind the next time you find yourself staring down a long grocery aisle full of choices. Food can lose its enjoyment if you are constantly holding it up to the light of the latest food fad.

So don't worry about keeping up with all the diet trends and latest health studies. Eating moderately, combined with exercise, is still the best road to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

(EDITOR'S NOTE — Quintana directs the employee wellness program for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)


7/22/2008 9:29:00 AM by Tamara Quintana, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Obesity in the body of Christ

July 22 2008 by Wendy Ashley, Baptist Press

On any Sunday, you could walk into almost any Southern Baptist church in America and enjoy doughnuts and coffee before Sunday school, a potluck dinner on the grounds after the morning worship service or an ice cream social in the evening. Many of our church activities are centered on food. Food is a gift provided to us by God to enjoy and to sustain our physical bodies. But are we overdoing it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is now the number one health threat facing Americans — and the church is certainly not immune. A study from Purdue University revealed that church members tend to be more overweight than the general population and Baptists, including Southern Baptists, have the distinction of being the most overweight denomination in the study.

Ken Ferraro, the Purdue professor of sociology who led the eight-year study, examined the relationships between religion and both body mass index (BMI) and obesity. He noted the trend could have resulted from a "strong emphasis for Baptists to avoid alcohol and tobacco and, as a result, indulge in overeating instead."

Unfortunately, our own statistics lend support to Ferraro's findings. Each year at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, GuideStone Financial Resources and LifeWay's LeaderCare ministry sponsor a Wellness Center where convention messengers can take advantage of a free health screening. An Executive Summary Report of Wellness Center statistics for the 2005 convention showed that more than 75 percent of the 1,472 participants who completed the screening were found to be significantly overweight. Compare this to the national estimate that approximately 65 percent of adults are considered overweight, and you see a problem that the church must address.

There is no question that excess weight poses a serious threat to our physical health, but is there more to it than that?

While some excessive weight problems may be due to medical problems, being overweight may also indicate a spiritual problem.

What can the church do? First, ministers need to look at themselves and determine if the change needs to start with them.

Next, they must speak up, and encourage their church members to have discipline in all areas of their lives. Because the Bible addresses eating, indulgence, self-control, self-discipline, gluttony and other related sins, we need to be able to address this topic in our churches without fear of offense. Congregations are blessed when their pastor encourages them to make changes in their lifestyles that will ultimately bring glory to God.

(EDITOR'S NOTE — Ashley is an insurance marketing support manager for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)


7/22/2008 9:03:00 AM by Wendy Ashley, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NAMB encourages healthier missionaries

July 17 2008 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

A Beaufort native uses the North American Mission Board's (NAMB) facilities to maintain and better her health.

When Carol Baker, now a missionary enlistment coordinator with NAMB in Alpharetta, Ga., was playing volleyball for Mars Hill College it wasn't hard for her to stay healthy.

Over the years, serving as a resort and summer missionary and later when her husband was a pastor then lawyer — now in administrative pastoral work — Baker relied on high metabolism and her small frame to keep the weight from building.

"I've always been small and felt like I could eat what I wanted but felt conviction from God," she said. "I felt compelled and convicted that God wanted me to take care of my body a little better."

Since the beginning of NAMB's fitness efforts, Baker has been on board. She began with circuit training at least twice a week.

NAMB employs a part-time fitness coordinator to work with individuals as well as groups on exercise regimens.

In December 2006 Baker had gone to the doctor and received some disturbing news: her bone density had dropped slightly below zero. Her doctor encouraged her to do some walking and take calcium, but for Baker, calcium counteracts an allergy medicine she takes regularly.

The next month, Baker began a weight class three times a week and by March her density had raised to 0.7

"I just think I feel better. I have more energy," she said. "I don't get as sleepy in the afternoon."

Part of core
Baker now works out five times a week. She is part of a core group of about 70 employees — out of a total of 250 — who regularly use the workout facilities at NAMB.

"I'm just thankful that the North American Mission Board allows us to have a trainer," she said. "If I didn't have that, would I do it on my own?"

Even when traveling Baker works with Lebron Pinkerton, NAMB's fitness coordinator, to develop a workout routine that she can do in her hotel.

Knowing someone is waiting on you, whether the trainer or the group you normally work out with, also motivates Baker to stay on track.

She said she regularly meets with missionaries across the country and she encourages them to take time to exercise.

"Even if it is walking, take 15 minutes during lunch and get outside," she said.

Pinkerton oversees two different facilities — one weight room and one aerobic area — within NAMB headquarters.

He offers 21 hours of classes that meet different needs and helps with wellness programs. Each month Pinkerton takes measurements for the active members to track the progress.

Off medication
"We've seen great results," Pinkerton said. "I've had many members of ours who've gone off blood pressure (or other) medicine."

Pinkerton has helped Gail Dover, benefits coordinator for NAMB, with her back. Comparing him to a physical therapist, Dover said he showed her strengthening exercises she could do to strengthen her back.

She said the fitness initiative has helped with costs at NAMB over the years as well.

"About six years ago our benefits were getting out of sight," she said.

NAMB offers to pay the copay for a physical as well as helps offset the cost of a gym membership. Since missionaries are scattered across the country, Joe Outlaw, human resources director, said they are encouraged to get active in their areas of service. NAMB's offer to take some of the cost away of joining a gym is an effort to motivate missionaries towards a more healthy lifestyle.

Outlaw said NAMB has gotten proactive on how it covers benefits.

Save a million
The investment has paid off.

"We feel like this has played a significant part in savings," Outlaw said. "We were able to reduce a budget line item by $1 million" (health care benefits line item budget 2008 vs. 2007).

Outlaw said the initiative is not just for physical health.

"We encourage good quality family time, quiet time, healthy patterns, finances, eating," he said. "We are trying to impact the overall health of our missionaries."

NAMB helps pay for Outlaw's membership to Weight Watchers, where he has lost 20 pounds.

"We can preach a personal message," Outlaw said.

Richie Stanley had always been a recreational runner before NAMB's fitness initiative began. But since Stanley, team leader for Center for Missional Research, started working out at work, "it has definitely had an impact on my health."

A recent physical showed Stanley had gained a little weight but his body fat had reduced.

Stanley said his regular workouts Monday and Wednesday with a group keep him accountable.

"When someone is not there, they are missed and are encouraged to come back," he said. "There are some mornings I get up and may not feel like coming in but I know Lebron and some of my coworkers are expecting me."

Another added benefit to his 6 a.m. workout — no traffic jams.

"It gives me a better outlook on the day," he said. "It's a blessing really. I count it as a major benefit for working here at NAMB."

Mike Ebert, coordinator for publications and communications consulting for NAMB, has seen the benefits too.

Ebert's cholesterol is down about 15 points from a year ago.

The goal is to "address the whole person," he said.

To do that NAMB partners with Emory University to offer classes, workshops, lunch and learn opportunities for its employees. Classes might be on Microsoft packages, developmental training, etc. GuideStone also does financial planning seminars. There are also health fairs, blood drives and other opportunities.

While the International Mission Board (IMB) does not have a specific fitness facility at its headquarters, a spokesperson for IMB said a wellness plan is in the works.

"The individuals and their well being is our primary concern," said Wendy Norvelle.

At the IMB, staff and missionary personnel are considered separately. Missionaries are held to a higher standard for meeting certain physical, mental, and emotional requirements. At the missionary learning center, there is a gymnasium with recreation equipment available.

"What we do is a pretty extensive upfront screening," said Randy Rains, associate vice president for the office of mission personnel, "for every missionary and for every family member."

The IMB maintains that missionary candidates and family members must meet certain Body Mass Index (BMI) parameters. Rains said this means "making sure who we send are healthy when we send them."

For long-term missionaries, which the IMB defines as two years or more, candidates must be 30 BMI or lower to qualify.

"From a health standpoint we not only look at the physical health we also have a mental, emotional component as well," said Rains, listing lifestyle and life choice issues as considerations during the screening process. "We delve pretty deep into people's mental, emotional health."

As long as people meet the BMI and other requirements, those who take maintenance medicines for ongoing health issues are considered. Rains explained that doctors might leave a note limiting where they are assigned.

Feel rejected
Many times candidates who don't meet the requirements feel rejected.

"They are not rejected," Rains said, but put on weight delay. "We actually work with them" using an organization to provide consultations with nurses or others in the health field to encourage them to lose weight, but more importantly to get healthier, he said.

"Of course that's up to the candidate" in the end, Rains said. "We've had people lose 100 pounds ... just to be fit to go."

Candidates receive support if they are delayed because of other issues as well.

The guidelines are a little more flexible with short-term missionaries (37 BMI), but if that short-term person wants to go back for a longer period, he or she will be expected to meet the more stringent requirement.

As a recreation and sports and marriage and family specialist with LifeWay, John Garner said employees receive incentives for weight loss and meeting other fitness goals. Certain hallways are designated for walkers inside the headquarters in Nashville so employees can take their breaks and lunches to get in a workout.


7/17/2008 5:45:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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