July 2009

Christ model for black men to lead families

July 28 2009 by David Winfrey, Baptist Press

RIDGECREST — Christ, not culture, models how black men can best lead their families, churches and communities, speakers said during the annual “Be the Man” conference.

“When we look at Jesus Christ as our model, we have the model — not a model — as to what it is to be a man,” said Fredrick Brabson, pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn.

The conference seeks to provide resources for churches while countering the negative stereotypes that keep many men from attending church, described by two speakers as “60 percent women and 40 percent men acting like women.”

“You’re trying to reach the first generation of African American men that have never been touched by the church,” Edward Johnson, pastor of Greater Galilee Church in Louisville, Ky., said, adding that many older, unchurched men previously attended church. “Did you ever think about asking them why they left?”

Johnson and other speakers said many men avoid church because of stereotypes and a congregational culture that is more suitable for women.

“Jesus is seen in ‘the hood’ as an effeminate cartoon caricature and the possession of the majority culture,” Johnson said.

Kevin Smith, pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, urged churches to reach and disciple young men.

“We have got to gain (understanding) that the church is hurt when men are not where men ought to be,” Smith said.

BP photo by Kent Harville

Dozens of men come forward during an invitation at the “Be the Man” conference and rededicate their lives to Jesus.

A study of Old Testament characters would help church leaders better portray a biblical view of manhood that is more attractive to most men, Smith said.

“One of the things that the culture throws at you is manhood submitted to Jesus Christ is weak,” Smith said. “And anyone who’s read the Old Testament and seen David or Joshua or Moses ... you realize that biblical manhood is anything but weak.”

Culture confuses submission and weakness, Smith said.

“U.S. military leaders who submit to the authority of President Barack Obama don’t lose their power,” he said. “It’s just an acknowledgement of the system.”

More than 450 men from nine states attended the conference May 8-9 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina, which began in 2003 as a joint initiative of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Attendance grew significantly compared to last year, when about 300 people attended, said J. Edward Richardson, senior coaching consultant for the North Carolina Baptist Convention.

The conference featured lively worship, resources and regular reminders that God has called Christian men to be spiritual leaders in all aspects of life.

“For us, the main goal is to help men become better men of God so that they can take the lead in their homes, to be better churchmen, leaders in their church, leaders in their community, to set the example of Christ and reach out to other men,” Richardson said.

The male-only environment allowed attendees the freedom to worship without many distractions, leaders said.

“If you think about it, most men never experience a man-only worship,” Jay Wells, LifeWay’s director of black church relations and consulting, said.

Workshops featured speakers on such topics as how churches can engage today’s masculine culture and ways to build men’s character.

Johnson said churches can reconnect with men by rebuilding bridges to their communities, presenting Jesus as the strong man that He was, providing authentic and culturally relevant worship and providing meaningful mentorship.

“Paul helps Timothy and Titus, Barnabas helps Paul, but who helps the young brother today?” Johnson asked. “The church has to re-engineer and revision herself ... to serve this present age. I think what was done yesterday was good yesterday, but I do not believe it’s relevant to the present age.”

Brabson said men should match the character of Jesus in terms of their humility, treatment of women and integrity.

“When we read the life of Christ, we see He was not interested in people’s attention,” Brabson said. “He was interested in people. Is who you are speaking so loud that I can’t hear what you say?”

During the conference, LifeWay launched “I’m the Man,” a theme designed to encourage creative and intentional outreach to men. It includes a set of promotional resources and Bible studies designed to help black churches start or strengthen their men’s ministries.

“We want to start this movement across the country for men to step up and lead,” Wells said.

Wells agreed with several speakers that men often don’t feel comfortable, welcomed or affirmed in many churches that cater to women’s preferences.

“They don’t have the ‘man stuff,’” Wells said. “We want to help churches get that back, rediscover the masculinity part and affirm men in that. We’ve got to get a correction to make men more comfortable.”

Noval Mayes, a member of Greater First Baptist Church in Lewisburg, Tenn., said the Be the Man conference reinforces obedience to God.

“It means that I’m doing everything that a man’s supposed to do as designed by my Lord and Savior,” Mayes said.

Mayes said he rode more than five hours with 21 men from his church because he has been seeking God’s direction for several issues in his life. He said the weekend reinforced his need to focus on God’s activity.

“Mainly what I came out of it understanding was I still need to be patient,” Mayes said.

Next year’s conference is scheduled for May 14-15. More information is available from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina or LifeWay Christian Resources.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Winfrey is a writer based in Louisville, Ky.)

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7/28/2009 6:31:00 AM by David Winfrey, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Students still ‘critical’ after car crash

July 28 2009 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — Two “Innovator” student missionaries remained in critical condition at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings, Mont., three days after their SUV flipped and rolled over several times, injuring them and two companions. A dozen of their fellow student missionaries are already using the tragedy to share Christ with tourists at nearby Yellowstone National Park.
North American Mission Board (NAMB) resort missionary Brad Lartigue — a local, full-time resort missionary for NAMB and the four students’ supervisor — said 21-year-old Jeremy Vangsnes is still the most critically injured of the four. Vangsnes underwent a procedure July 23 to relieve pressure on his brain and reduce swelling, Lartigue said.
The driver of the Jeep Cherokee, 21-year-old Scott Minear of Marietta, Ga., also remains in critical condition but an MRI July 23 revealed no significant spinal or neck damage, Lartigue added. Conscious, Minear, a University of Georgia junior, is wearing a “halo” medical device to restrict head movement.

Contributed photo

From left, brothers Dan, Ryan and Jeremy Vangsnes are three of the four NAMB “Innovator” student resort missionaries involved in the Montana car accident on July 21.

Jeremy Vangsnes’ two brothers — 23-year-old Dan and 19-year-old Ryan — also were in the SUV at the time of the accident. The three brothers, residents of Spartanburg, S.C., were on a 350-mile side trip from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park, also in Montana, for a family reunion. Minear went along for the ride. Prior to moving to Spartanburg, the Vangsnes family lived in North Dakota.
“Dan has had three surgeries since the accident but suffered no significant head injuries,” Lartigue told Baptist Press. “Dan is talkative and lucid — he knows what happened.” Requiring only stitches, Ryan was treated and released from Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman, Mont.
Both the Minear and Vangsnes families immediately flew to Montana and are “strong Christian families who are holding up well,” Lartigue noted.
The Vangsnes brothers were nominated as Innovator missionaries by the North American Mission Board, while Minear’s appointment came through Georgia Baptist Campus Ministries.
The Vangsnes brothers and Minear were four of 17 Innovator missionaries who arrived at Yellowstone Park on Memorial Day Weekend to minister to resort visitors for 10 weeks, Lartigue said. They were slated to return home Aug. 3.
“The other kids are doing fine. ... I’m trying to reassure them,” said Lartigue, who acknowledges that his own emotions have been on a rollercoaster since the accident. “I’m strong in my faith and I know God’s in control. But at times over the last few days, I have been overwhelmed.”
Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, made a surprise visit to the Billings hospital yesterday, Lartigue added. Chapman, who coincidentally was vacationing nearby, said he learned of the accident via his Blackberry and the SBC web site.
Dennis Culbreth, senior assistant to NAMB president Geoff Hammond, immediately flew to Montana upon receiving word of the accident.
“The Montana Baptist Convention is doing a great job of making every effort to help these two families,” Culbreth said. “The spirits of the two families are good. They’re praying for a miracle for Jeremy.”
The brothers’ parents, Mark and Kathy Vangsnes, are members of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C. Minear’s parents, Frank and Tammy Minear, are members of Crosspointe Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Roswell, Ga.
“I told the parents that the entire NAMB family and Southern Baptists everywhere are praying for their sons,” Culbreth said.
Echoing Lartigue, Culbreth said he visited with the other Innovator student missionaries at West Yellowstone Park. “They’re in good spirits and praying for a miracle for Jeremy,” he said.
Culbreth said the dozen remaining Innovator student missionaries crafted posters on Thursday night with photos of Jeremy, Scott and Dan, and displayed them at Yellowstone, asking passersby to pray for their three friends.
“When tourists would come by and ask questions,” Culbreth said, “the students would use the accident to remind people that ‘you don’t know how long you have or what’s coming down the road. Do you know Christ?’”
Innovator missionaries are self-funded student missionaries — assigned by NAMB or a state Baptist Campus Ministry — who are involved in resort ministry at various tourist venues throughout the United States.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)

7/28/2009 6:29:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Hollywood most likely to offend Mormons

July 28 2009 by Tiffany Stanley, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — Mormons are the faith group most likely to say Hollywood threatens their values, followed by Jehovah’s Witnesses and evangelicals, according to a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The survey showed more than two-thirds of Mormons (68 percent) rebuffed the entertainment industry, followed by 54 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses and 53 percent of evangelicals. Less than half (42 percent) of the general population said Hollywood threatens their values.

In contrast, majorities of all other major religions disagreed that stars and the silver screen are a moral threat.

The study did not delve into causes for the negative perception, but solid majorities of Mormons surveyed are conservative (60 percent) and 88 percent believe in absolute standards of right and wrong.

Adherents to the Mormon faith also showed “exceptionally high levels of religious commitment,” according to the Pew study.

On the small and big screens, a few notable actors have appeared in recent years with Mormon roots; among them, Katherine Heigl, Aaron Eckhart, Rick Schroder, Jon Heder and Amy Adams.

Incidentally, California is not just home to Tinseltown; it also boasts America’s second-largest Mormon population (13 percent), second only to Utah (35 percent). Mormons account for 1.7 percent of American adults, comparable to the nation’s Jewish population.

The current survey was released July 24 to coincide with Pioneer Day, a state holiday in Utah, which commemorates the arrival in 1847 of the first Mormon settlers in Salt Lake Valley.

7/28/2009 6:28:00 AM by Tiffany Stanley, Religion News Service | with 1 comments

Pastor’s marriage meter for healthy churches

July 27 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Healthy churches reflect healthy families and few churches will be healthier than the pastor’s marriage, according to Eddie Thompson, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) senior consultant for marriage and family ministry since April 2008.

“If we want healthy churches, those start with healthy families,” Thompson said during an interview, in which he said a “healthy church actually starts with the pastor’s marriage … a healthy pastor and his wife.”

Ministry demands, misplaced priorities and life in a fishbowl strain clergy marriages and the inability to be transparent with the church members they serve strain them further. Consequently, Thompson found a quick and eager audience for the pastor/wives retreats he is sponsoring.

Pastors tell Thompson that couples in their churches are hurting in strained and fragile marriages. Still many pastors do not teach on marriage and family issues because, they tell Thompson, their own marriages are in bad shape and they don’t feel they can “teach something I’m failing at.”

Thompson, who feels such testimonies confirm his ministry direction is on the right track, said pastors and wives often neglect working on their marriages as they respond to the constant tug of ministry and feel their marriage is untouchable — that God will protect it somehow. They struggle because their marriage is not above problems and pain, yet they want to model a good relationship for the church.

Leave and cleave
“All marriage problems actually come down to two things,” said Thompson, married to Janet since 1981 and doing marriage retreats together since 1993. “Either the partners are not leaving competing relationships or they’re not cleaving together.”

It is biblical and necessary to leave behind relationships and habits of a single life and cleave to your spouse, Thompson said. He counseled one apparently model clergy couple who no longer had a spark between them.

She was a puddle of tears when Thompson pointed out they never ate meals together, had no family time and did not even vacation together.

“You’re not married to each other at all,” he told them. “You’re married to your church.”

Sixty percent of pastors say they would stay in ministry even if they had a chance to leave, yet sixty percent of pastor’s wives say they would get out if given the chance, Thompson said.

The difference in those figures illustrates the “disconnect” between pastors and their wives, he said. While wives love God, they secretly resent the ministry toll on their family and “wish we had more of our own lives back.”

Thompson, who was pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Charlotte for three years before joining the BSC staff, said it is “easy for a pastor to let the church be his primary lover, to give all his time and energy away.”

The wise pastor counters time spent in night meetings with afternoons or mornings invested with his wife or children.

Four actions
Thompson is not focusing exclusively on clergy marriages in his role. The marriage weekends in churches are church wide and in them he teaches there are four primary actions for healthy marriages: leaving, cleaving, love and respect.

He calls these the “four dynamics laid out in God’s word for oneness.”

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Eddie Thompson

Thirty-nine percent of 1,400 young people aged 18-26 in a major survey said their biggest problem was parents who would not let them grow up. That hovering tendency of modern parents makes it difficult for young people to “leave” family and “cleave” to their spouse.

“If you don’t leave financially, physically and emotionally you can’t cleave to your mate,” he said.

Thompson’s conferences begin with dinner on Friday night and go through early Saturday afternoon. He often preaches in the church on Sunday.

Despite the seriousness of the topic, Thompson makes the weekends fun. Hopefully, he said, the pastor will take a next step, which needs to be more than a 4-week sermon series on marriage.

Thompson and the BSC have reached agreement with Focus on the Family to cooperate in marriage weekends.

Thompson will conduct his events in conjunction with the Colorado Springs based organization, utilizing their material and helping to identify “family champions” in each congregation.

To multiply himself and to strengthen North Carolina Baptist families, Thompson wants to identify and train in each church a “family champion” to assist the pastor in the area of marriage and family. Focus on the Family is seeking a similar effect, but does not have the resources to penetrate the approximately 220,000 Christian churches in the country. Working with the BSC will give Focus on the Family an opening to the 4,200 BSC churches.

“The body should be helping itself,” Thompson said. “In most of these things, if our people were trained, they could minister to one another.”

Usually at least one person in each church tells Thompson he or she would like to do what he does in family ministry, and asks to be shown how to do it.

“Family champions” would be the vehicle to carry people to that need.

Thompson predicts time is running out and if something doesn’t change within 10-20 years in how churches deal with clergy families, pastors may be divorced at the same rate as the general population.

Pastors juggling act
Thompson’s own marriage was not idyllic from the beginning. He and Janet struggled for three years before Thompson “met the Lord on a men’s retreat in 1984.” When Janet opened the door to their house upon his return he was overwhelmed.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I love you, but I don’t know why I love you so much more now than I did before.’” He knows now he couldn’t give selfless love until he had received it from God. In 1990 God called him into ministry.

Thompson, 50, is a graduate of UNC Charlotte with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He earned a master of ministry degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in Alabama, and has taken additional classes at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southern Evangelical in Charlotte.

He was pastor at Union Baptist Church in Monroe, then started Fairview in Apex before going to Cornerstone in Charlotte.

Thompson didn’t intend marriage counseling to become his niche, but couples kept approaching him and Janet as their pastor family.

“We always shared our life with them,” Thompson said.

“We told them where we’d failed. God met with us and changed not only our lives, but our marriage. If He can do that with us, He can do that with them, too.”

Thompson said good marriage counseling is really just good discipleship training.

Connecting to the Lord will draw couples close together, he said. Without individuals moving closer to God, “any attempt they make toward repairing their marriage is probably not going to work,” he said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — For an audio synopsis of Thompson’s ministry visit www.youtube.com/.)

Celebrating Marriage God’s Way
That’s the name of Eddie Thompson’s foundational church marriage weekend. Cost is $20 per person and each participant receives a notebook. The major cost for a pastor is committing a weekend to the event, clearing from the schedule any competing event.
The pastors and wives retreats Thompson is sponsoring will be limited to about 30 couples at a time and he will do at least two per year. Contact his office at (919) 459-5644 or ethompson@ncbaptist.org.

Related to this story
Church devotes year to building families

Special series — Body parts

Did you know you have a large church staff? Your gifts through the Cooperative Program support a staff resource at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina that exists to serve your church.

The Biblical Recorder continues a series — Body Parts — featuring one of your Convention staff members, and churches which has grown through that staff member’s ministry. Body Parts is inspired by 1 Cor. 12:12 — “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ” (NIV). The parts of the Baptist State Convention exist to serve you.

This week: Eddie Thompson, family ministry.

Visit Body Parts, a Biblical Recorder special series.
7/27/2009 8:17:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 2 comments

Church devotes year to building families

July 27 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

When Aversboro Road Baptist Church started seeing almost weekly another young couple struggling in their marriage, pastor Harvey Whaley decided to do a year-long focus on the family, and on marriage in particular.

Contributed photo

Harvey Whaley

Whaley enlisted Eddie Thompson, the Baptist State Convention’s (BSC) senior consultant for marriage and family, to conduct a marriage weekend at the church. He then enlisted his daughter, Beverly Volz, to chair the arrangements committee. Volz is an accountant with the BSC, and thus a co-worker with Thompson.

“You couldn’t have picked a better person to feature,” Volz told the Recorder. “We had a really, really good retreat with 34 young couples.”

Volz and her committee decided to create an “off site” retreat atmosphere without leaving home. They arranged for a candlelight dinner at church on Friday night, and secured special pricing at area restaurants so the couples could have a date night on Saturday.

Child care was provided for the whole weekend.

“Eddie is so down to earth and so real,” Volz said. “He shares personal stories about his struggles. He is not one of those speakers who stands up there and tells the way he used to be and ‘Thanks be to God’ he’s all better and, ‘If you do what I do you can be as perfect as I am.’”

That transparency helps young couples relate to Thompson, and his wife, Janet, who leads the retreats with him.

“Young couples need someone to relate to, who has made mistakes, who struggles and who works hard every day to make their marriage better,” Volz said.

Aversboro opened their year-long marriage emphasis by showing the movie Fireproof. Members will participate in the Love Dare theme from the movie. In October members will participate in a second retreat, this one at Fort Caswell, again with the Thompsons.

Volz said she has seen friends at church applying what they learned to strengthen their own marriages. “They’re making strides toward where they want to be,” she said. “They are much more aware of each other’s needs. A lot of people walked away trying to do those things they learned in the retreat and it’s actually working.”

Divorce creeping in
Whaley, who came to Aversboro Road 11 years ago, after 17 years at Wrightsboro Baptist Church, believes pastors are not acknowledging the need for marriage strengthening emphases in their churches. The increased need for counseling and the divorce flood rising in the church should be alarm enough.

He believes Thompson’s assertion that a healthy church is made of healthy families, and that the pastor’s marriage is a barometer is on target. He and Ramona, his wife of 37 years, have attended marriage enrichment retreats for many years.

“The pastor ought to model a healthy marriage,” Whaley said. “And he ought to model that he’s working on his marriage.”

He understands that pastor’s wives get angry when their husbands misplace priorities and “believe the church is God.”

“When wives and children are the ones that go neglected, that prompts anger,” he said.

Such misplaced devotion threatens the relationship and can damage the church. A pastor in a tenuous marriage relationship is unlikely to preach helpful biblical sermons about marriage and is unable to model strength to struggling couples.

“Eddie has a great vision and he’s just beginning to unfold it,” Whaley said.

“If a church can have a continuing focus on family life, we need to do it,” he said. “We just need to do it.”

Related to this story
Pastor's marriage meter for health church

Special series — Body parts

Did you know you have a large church staff? Your gifts through the Cooperative Program support a staff resource at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina that exists to serve your church.

The Biblical Recorder continues a series — Body Parts — featuring one of your Convention staff members, and churches which has grown through that staff member’s ministry. Body Parts is inspired by 1 Cor. 12:12 — “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ” (NIV). The parts of the Baptist State Convention exist to serve you.

This week: Eddie Thompson, family ministry.

Visit Body Parts, a Biblical Recorder special series.
7/27/2009 8:12:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Team carries purity message to S. Africa

July 27 2009 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

Andy Ickes sensed the Lord’s guidance many times before, during and after his trip to South Africa.

Ickes, pastor of College Acres Baptist Church in Wilmington, led a mission team, which left for Durban, South Africa on June 19 and stayed about two weeks.

Eight team members worked with College Acres’ partner church, Austerville Baptist Church in the Wentworth community, and the True Love Waits organization in South Africa.

True Love Waits, a program created by LifeWay Christian Resources, encourages teenagers and college students to make a commitment to sexual abstinence until they are married.

Two of the College Acres team members — Angela Hewett, an art teacher at a Wilmington high school, and Ickes’ son Corey, a junior at UNC-Wilmington — stayed in Durban an extra month.

“It’s been really neat to see what the Lord has done,” Andy Ickes said.

College Acres started the partnership with Austerville about two years ago. Later, four church members went to find out what people in the area needed most.

College Acres had worked with the church in 1999 when the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina had a partnership with Baptists in South Africa.

In November seven church members led sports camps in the area.

“With each trip, the Lord has shown us more,” Ickes said.

After the team gave its report about the November trip, Ickes said he started praying that the Lord would direct the church to a need that would more closely connect the gospel with life.

In South Africa, 85 percent of people say they are Christians, but their behavior doesn’t always match those statements, Ickes said, “just like being in the States.”

About 40 percent of people in Durban and 20 percent of people in South Africa have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and Ickes began feeling the church should focus on purity and abstinence.

“Very few people over there have not been affected in some way by HIV/AIDS,” Ickes said.

Later, Ickes started sensing in his prayer time that the church would send a young lady to work on the field in South Africa.

Just before Christmas, Hewett came forward saying she felt the Lord wanted her to go to South Africa.

They prayed together and agreed it would be for the summer.

When one of the men in the church learned the emphasis in South Africa would be on purity and abstinence he connected Ickes to his sister-in-law, who had taught about abstinence in Bolivia.

When Ickes talked to her, the conversation turned to spiritual warfare and Ickes started praying for a young man to accompany Hewett.

Ickes talked to his son about it and he agreed to go.

Ickes contacted the International Mission Board about possible resources for the team to use while they served in South Africa.

Cindy Schirle, who worked for True Love Waits in South Africa for two years, came and trained the College Acres team.

Before the team left, Ickes preached a sermon using the main points of True Love Waits.

After the service, a senior adult told him the sermon should be preached in every church in America.

“It’s just a message that everybody needs to hear,” he said.

While in South Africa the team made presentations at four schools and spoke to about 1,200 seventh graders, Ickes said.

Team members also made a presentation through an interpreter to a camp for Zulu youth and held a youth night for a number of area churches.

The people in South Africa connected with presentations about True Love Waits, Andy Ickes said.

“They have seen the devastation of sexual sin,” he said.

7/27/2009 8:09:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Articles/Bylaws gives EC crack at changes

July 27 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Messengers to the 2009 Baptist State Convention (BSC) annual meeting in November will consider the second half of extensive revisions to the BSC Articles and Bylaws in a process they started last year.

“I think you’ll like them,” Articles and Bylaws Committee Chair Shannon Scott told BSC Executive Committee members July 16 when he presented a draft of the changes, soliciting their questions and input. Because of changes made to the Articles and Bylaws in 2008, the committee is now a committee of the Board of Directors and it presented changes to the Executive Committee as a courtesy.

Revisions will be considered by the full Board of Directors in September. Their final product will be considered by messengers in November.

Brian Davis, executive leader for administration and convention relations, was staff liaison with the Articles and Bylaws Committee. He said when the final product is approved by messengers it will represent the most extensive revisions in the Convention’s corporate documents in probably 75 years. That covers a period of extensive changes, such as when the colleges were added, Baptist Retirement Homes was created, Wake Forest University and Meredith College withdrew and auxiliary relationships changed.

Even through extensive revisions, the Articles and Bylaws contain little that will change the way the Convention operates. The basic effect is to streamline systems, clarify, collate and condense the verbiage in 13 current articles to just four, and combine redundant committees that will ultimately save the Convention “tens of thousands of dollars” according to John Butler, BSC executive leader for business services.

They also clarify procedures for severing or re-engaging ministry or institutional relationships, and for the first time, a clear process for transition to a new executive director-treasurer.

In 2008 the Articles and Bylaws Committee reviewed documents relating to the board of directors and other entities, such as the institutions, agencies and auxiliaries. The 2009 recommendations are about the Convention and miscellaneous items.

Articles and Bylaws relating to the Convention have been amended to be covered in just four categories: meetings of the Convention, officers, committees and miscellaneous.

The changes also address the relationship of the Baptist Retirement Homes of North Carolina and a study related to the three Convention councils that will change their status to committees of the Board where they will function as other committees.

The relationship with Baptist Retirement Homes will be described as “a historical social services institution” in the new document, a term similar to that of Wake Forest University and Meredith College, which are “historical educational institutions” and not “affiliated” educational institutions.

The Retirement Homes “is autonomous in its governance and its board of trustees shall be elected by its board of trustees in accordance with such procedures as set forth in its governing documents,” according to proposed wording.

“We looked at what we needed to do as an organization to be more flexible and more nimble,” Davis said in his office later. “The effort to streamline an organization as big as ours starts here.”

Redundant trustee orientations conducted by the institutions and by the Convention “disappear” Davis said. In the proposal, Convention staff will assist the institutions in whatever way requested as the institutions orient their new trustees.

Committees are reduced from nine to four, and all members will be elected to three-year terms.

Total membership on the committees is reduced from 106 in the nine, to 57 in the four. They are combined in this way:
  • The trustee orientation committee is eliminated.
  • The Committee on Committees is combined with the Committee on Nominations and is called the Committee on Nominations.
  • The Enrollment, Program, Place and Preacher and the Local Arrangements committees are combined into the Committee on Convention Meetings.
  • The Resolution and Memorials committees are combined into the Resolutions and Memorials Committee.
  • The Historical Committee remains as is.
All members of current committees will finish their terms on the combined committees. So these committees will be abnormally large for a couple years.

The proposal eliminates two officers of the Convention: the recording secretary and assistant recording secretary.

That work has fallen primarily to the secretary of the Board in recent years assisted by audio and video technology.

The parliamentarian, named by the president, is to be recognized as an officer of the Convention during the annual meeting.

In the miscellaneous area, Davis said Article 11 adopts clear language both for severance or establishment of relationships or ministries. If adopted the new language clarifies and quickens the process. If the Board of Directors has at least six months to consider a proposed change in relationships, such a change can be approved by the Convention in one annual session, rather than two.

Changes clarify the responsibilities of the Board and of the Executive Committee in both search for a new executive director-treasurer (EDT) and in the case of termination of a serving EDT.

7/27/2009 8:07:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 1 comments

Pastor’s accused killer faces evaluation

July 23 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — A man accused of gunning down an Illinois Baptist pastor in the middle of a worship service last March will undergo court-ordered testing to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.
According to the Belleville, Ill., News-Democrat, lawyers for Terry Sedlacek filed papers arguing their client is bipolar, schizophrenic and has “visual and auditory hallucinations.” Judge Richard Tognarelli of Madison County gave the prosecution and defense two weeks to submit names of experts they want to evaluate Sedlacek, who is charged with first-degree murder in the March 8 death of Fred Winters, pastor of First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill.

Sedlacek, 27, had no known connection with the congregation before he allegedly walked down the sanctuary aisle and opened fire at Winters, 45, the church’s pastor of more than 20 years, as horrified worshipers looked on. Some men in the congregation managed to subdue the assailant, but not before one bullet went straight through Winters’ heart, killing him almost instantly.


This is one of several “healing walls” inside First Baptist Church in Maryville posted with messages of condolences and members’ feelings.

After his arrest, an old newspaper report surfaced describing Sedlacek’s declining mental health, which his parents attributed to Lyme disease.
Meanwhile, First Baptist Church announced July 19 that the congregation was taking preliminary steps toward forming a pastor-search committee to find a replacement for Winters.
“The difficult part of this announcement is that since we are a large church family, we are a family encompassing a wide variety of emotions, thoughts, and dynamics in our lives,” said an article on the church web site. “Some desire to move forward, feeling the passion to see ‘Greater things have yet to come’ while others are hurting, still grieving, and desire to just wait a while longer.”

Once in place, leaders said they expect the search committee to work 12 to 24 months before recommending a new pastor, in order to give the church time to heal and embrace the future.
“It is very difficult for people to say goodbye to the familiar way of how things were done, say goodbye to the fond relationship and emotional bonds with Pastor Fred, and then be able to embrace a new way of doing things,” the statement said. “That’s a lot of change.”
Since the tragedy the church’s attendance is up, baptisms have increased and finances are stronger than they have been in a long time, according to the statement.
Recently the Southern Baptist Convention publishing arm honored Winters by naming him posthumously the first recipient of a new Holman Christian Study Bible Award honoring excellence in preaching and Bible teaching.
“The first HCSB Award goes to a former student of mine, a friend who led First Baptist to unprecedented growth and biblical faithfulness,” Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, said while presenting the award to Winters’ widow and daughters at the SBC annual meeting June 23. Rainer told messengers that Winters died “while he was preaching the word as he had done faithfully at First Baptist Church of Maryville for nearly 22 years.”
Earlier both the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions honoring Winters.

Since the tragedy a detective with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office has been speaking in area churches with a presentation he developed about improving congregational security plans.
“Churches should have a security plan, especially now,” Capt. Brad Wells, a 17-year veteran of law enforcement who now serves as the county’s chief of detectives, told the Alton Telegraph. “If somebody wants to do something bad, they are going to do it. But if you put a plan in place, you may prevent something worse from happening.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)
Related stories
Seminary luncheons draw alumni, guests (July 1, 2009)
Seminaries report to Louisville messengers (July 1, 2009)
Illinois pastor receives award from Lifeway posthumously (June 25, 2009)
Does your church have communications plan? (May 1, 2009)
Pastor’s widow points to ‘celebration day’ (March 16, 2009)
Wedgwood pastor to preach at grieving church (March 12, 2009)
SBC pastor killed in church shooting (March 9, 2009)

7/23/2009 7:03:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

A half marathon fueled by faith

July 23 2009 by Jenny Wingard, Baptist Press

BP photo by James Yates

From left, Travis Morgan, Sandra Riggin and Allie Hustead bow for a group prayer before the start of the Downhill@Dawn half marathon at the LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Riggin went on to win first place in the women’s group.

RIDGECREST — The air was crisp in the Blue Ridge Mountains as about 100 runners gathered behind the starting line of the Downhill@Dawn half marathon.

New and experienced runners began their race against the stopwatch at the LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center, journeying along quiet streets, beside flowing water, down gravel pathways and through a quaint one-stoplight community on their 13.1-mile trek to the finish line at First Baptist Church in Old Fort.

LifeWay Christian Resources, ChristianRunners.org and the Nashville Striders, who handled most of the race’s administrative work, cosponsored the trek.

While the race weekend focused mostly on activities for people who love running, the gathering also had a spiritual dimension, including a short devotional time after a pre-race pasta buffet Friday night and a prayer at the starting line Saturday morning.

 Paul Pickett, a participant from Pine Hurst, appreciated the Christian environment. “Other races aren’t bad, but it’s nice to be able to come to a race and talk about God…,” he said. “And this course is absolutely beautiful.”

BP photo by James Yates

Runners wind their way through the Blue Ridge Mountains course of the Downhill@Dawn half marathon, which began at the LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center. Natasha Anderson, foreground, finished second in her division at 1:38:59. 

Pickett had heart surgery as a child and wasn’t able to exercise much growing up. He began running a few years ago and Downhill@Dawn was his third half marathon.

“I run because I’m thankful,” Pickett said. “It’s hard and it takes discipline, but if you make up your mind to do it and get into a routine, it get’s easier.”

For Tony Farmer, a pastor from Deerfield Beach, Fla., Downhill@Dawn was his third half marathon as well. Inspired by his former youth pastor Fred Garmon, who has run for years with two other running buddies, Farmer began running last year out of concern for his health.

“I have a 17-year-old at home and when I turned 40 years old, I knew I had to do something about my health,” Farmer said. “So I started running, and so far I have lost more than 65 pounds.”

Garmon, who also ran in the June 6 Downhill@Dawn, works for a humanitarian organization in Southeast Asia and considers running to have significant spiritual benefits. “Running is a time to just get out and pray and meditate … and with no cell phone,” he said, grinning.

Joseph Watson, from Ridgecrest, was the first to cross the finish line. Although he is a new runner and Downhill@Dawn was his first half marathon, he was in front of the pack most of the race.

“I can’t believe I came in first,” Watson said. “I kept looking around while I was running and wondered where the people were.”

Lynda De Paulis from Hermitage, Tenn., among Downhill@Dawn’s veteran runners, celebrated her birthday on the day of the race.

“I’ve been running for over 32 years,” De Paulis said. “So far this year I’ve run a half marathon every month.” Her birthday present was a second-place finish in the race bracket “females, 50 years old and up.”

Plans are underway for the third annual Downhill@Dawn half marathon to be held next June at Ridgecrest.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Wingard works in the Internet technologies area of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information on the Downhill@Dawn race, visit LifeWay.com/halfmarathon.)

7/23/2009 6:59:00 AM by Jenny Wingard, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

4 student missionaries injured

July 22 2009 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — Two North American Mission Board (NAMB) student missionaries remain in critical condition after the Jeep Cherokee in which they and two others were riding flipped and rolled over on Interstate 90 near Belgrade, Mont., around 3:30 p.m. local time Tuesday, July 21.

At last report, Jeremy Vangsnes, a student missionary from Spartanburg, S.C., was listed in critical condition after being flown by helicopter from Bozeman’s Deaconess Hospital to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings. On a ventilator, Vangsnes is reportedly showing brain activity but remains unconscious.

The driver of the SUV was Scott Minear, a Georgia Baptist Convention student missionary who is active in University of Georgia Baptist campus ministries. Minear also was airlifted to the Billings hospital following the accident and remains in critical but not life-threatening condition.

Jeremy Vangsnes was one of three brothers involved in the single-car accident while on assignment as NAMB student missionaries in the West Yellowstone, Mont. His brother Daniel is still in the Bozeman hospital while another brother, Ryan, has been treated and released. The Vangsnes brothers’ parents are en route to Billings from their home in Spartanburg, S.C.

“Right now, we’re getting calls from people who want to know what they can do, but all they can do is pray,” said Amy Signaigo, student consultant for NAMB, whose job includes the placement of all student missionaries.

Signaigo said the four student missionaries are part of NAMB’s Innovator resort ministry program around the U.S. She said the accident victims were four of 17 self-funded student missionaries working this summer in the Yellowstone Park area under the supervision of NAMB full-time resort missionary Brad Lartigue.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)

7/22/2009 10:00:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 3 comments

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