July 2012

‘Suits for Servants’ founder Tatum passes away

July 9 2012 by Joni B. Hannigan, Florida Baptist Witness

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) – Radiant in an ivory dress suit, a smiling Bernice Tatum told mourners she met Jim Tatum nearly 63 years ago on a rainy July evening when he sought shelter from Florida’s rain.

It was the first time he ever set foot in a church, she said. What followed was a dedicated life of service to God and to the church, his wife told hundreds at a memorial service at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Jim Tatum, a longtime Sunday School teacher at First Baptist, a leader in state denominational life and the father of four adopted children, died May 26. He was 85.

Known throughout the Southern Baptist Convention for his “Suits for Servants” ministry, Tatum clothed thousands of ministers and missionaries, domestically and internationally.

After a successful career in insurance, Tatum opened a string of men’s clothing stores but eventually invested his time in operating only one while he traveled to show his wares at conferences, conventions, schools and seminaries.

Bernice Tatum joined First Baptist Jacksonville’s pastor Mac Brunson, executive pastor of education Steve Clifton and Florida Baptist Convention’s executive director-treasurer John Sullivan on the platform behind the flag-draped casket where her husband rested May 30.

She thanked those in attendance for honoring her “sweet husband” and lightened the moment with a revelation. “Can you believe he told me to do this?” After pausing for laughter, she said, “I thought that was stretching the submission.”
07-09-12suits.jpg

Pictured are Jim and Bernice Tatum.


Recalling young Tatum as a “very handsome visitor” at the young persons’ fellowship following church those long years ago, Bernice spoke affectionately of his long, black, curly hair and his olive skin, blue eyes and “nice smile.”

“I don’t remember the first sentence I spoke to him, but I know what his was: ‘Can I get your phone number?’” she chuckled.

A few weeks later the two were smitten and after four months (it took her mother that long to sew the bridesmaids’ dresses) they were married, but only after Tatum was saved. After he had “gotten out of the rain,” Bernice said. “He was immediately changed and eager to find out more and more and more.”

The most meaningful habit the Tatums had in their marriage was their daily devotions, Bernice recalled. He made the coffee, fluffed her pillows, and then they spent time reading the Bible and praying together.

“God gave us four wonderful adopted children, and they gave us nine wonderful grandchildren; and so a lot of our prayer time was devoted to them, and he prayed by every one of them by name,” Bernice said.

“He’s just a man of prayer, he’s the real deal. The same at home and at church,” Bernice said. “Except he didn’t shake as many of our hands.”

What she will miss the most, Bernice said, is her daily quiet time with her husband. Reading Ecclesiastes 7 the day after he died, Bernice said she was surprised at Solomon’s words, “the day of death is better than the day of birth.’”

While she pondered this, Bernice said that although some fear death and avoid going to funerals, “there is still time to change, to examine the direction our lives are going and have time to confess our sins before God before we have to stand in front of Him as our judge.”

“Jim and I lived 63 happy years, and I pray that for all of you,” she concluded. “Give God and His Word first place in your lives, and that’s the most exciting life that you could ever live. Don’t just show up at church Christmas and Easter. Give Him your best. All that Christ has done for us, how can we do less?”

Brunson spoke comforting words to family members and those gathered, reminding them Tatum had a great capacity to love. “Jim Tatum loved this church,” Brunson said. “Because he loved this church, he loved the house of the Lord.”

Comparing Tatum to Barnabas of the Bible, Brunson said Tatum was an encourager who taught people in his Sunday School class at First Baptist to go out and knock on doors to visit people before fellowshipping with each other.

“He loved people. He loved saved people, he loved lost people and he loved preachers,” Brunson said of Tatum. “He pastored that class.... There’s a legacy left to us in the man.”

Through the business and ministry Tatum developed, Brunson recalled the layman taking men’s suits to students at a seminary in upstate New York where the young men often would proclaim, “It’s the only suit I’ve ever had.”

In Germany, where First Baptist has a partnership training pastors in a church where Baptists’ forefathers’ worshiped, “a third of those preachers there I know have been clothed by Jim Tatum,” Brunson said.

Speaking of Tatum’s dedication to Christian ministry, Brunson said the World War II veteran not only knew Jesus but like David in the Psalms, Tatum “walked with Him day in and out.”

“I have never seen anyone get as much kick out of ministry as Jim Tatum,” Brunson said. “He loved serving others; it was the generosity of his heart.”

In describing what he anticipated would have been Tatum’s first words in Heaven, John Sullivan imagined him standing at the gates of heaven and sizing up the Apostle Peter: “‘You’re about a 46-long,’” Sullivan joked.

“I loved my friend Jim Tatum, and my friend Jim Tatum loved me,” Sullivan said quietly.

Citing a Bible passage which refers to Paul and Timothy being servants of Jesus Christ, Sullivan recited, in part, Philippians 1:6, “He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

“That simply means that Jim Tatum’s life on this earth is over, but let me tell you until the day of Jesus Christ, his Christian influence will continue to live. That’s the secret of the Christian life. That’s the secret of what it means to follow Jesus,” Sullivan said.

Citing 1 Samuel 20:17-18, Sullivan spoke of the story of Jonathan and King David, of the “friendship and love” between the two. Tatum likewise loved his king, Sullivan said. And he loved his family.

Telling a story about a family who was going to give up a child, Sullivan recalled the grandmother of the family insisting those adopting be “a Christian family.” The counselor remembered 18 months earlier “a family by the name of Tatum had adopted a child.” That’s the way the Tatums adopted their fourth child, Sullivan said. “How do you measure that?”

“He loved him as he loved his own soul,” Sullivan said of Tatum’s son. “He loved his family, and his family loved him. They were attentive, and they took care of him. They take care of their mother because of their deep love and appreciation.”

Sullivan, who also is a member of First Baptist Jacksonville, said he appreciated his friend’s wise counsel and the way he taught his Sunday School class – “He could get more out of a verse of Scripture than I could” – and his “impeccable integrity.”

“Trying to catch the character of a man like Jim Tatum and the influence that he has exerted and continues to exert is like trying to catch the St. John’s River in a teacup,” Sullivan said. “You just can’t measure, and we don’t know how. We just know what we know. There are things that he did that are hidden and known only to God.”

A leader in Baptist work in the state, Tatum was serving a third three-year term as a member of Florida Baptist Convention’s State Board of Missions. He served as second vice president of the Florida Baptist State Convention from 2003 to 2004. He previously served on Florida’s SBOM from 2001 to 2006, was appointed to FBSC’s committee on nominations in 1997 and was elected to the committee on order of business from 2006 to 2009.

Tatum also is survived by four children and nine grandchildren.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joni B. Hannigan is managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, online at www.GoFBW.com.)
7/9/2012 3:03:28 PM by Joni B. Hannigan, Florida Baptist Witness | with 0 comments



Candidates urged to speak out for persecuted

July 6 2012 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Religious freedom advocates need to persuade each presidential candidate to “grow a backbone” and speak out for the rights of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, a Southern Baptist church-state specialist said at a recent Washington conference.

Speaking to a room of about 50 religious liberty supporters, Richard Land and two other speakers called for America and its allies to do more to help religious adherents in such countries as Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told the policy makers, faith leaders, scholars and religious liberty advocates that they “represent the movements and the capability of the last line of defense” for the persecuted in the Mideast.

“We need to in this room covenant that we’re going to do everything within our sphere of influence ... to make certain that both presidential candidates and both presidential campaigns grow a backbone and use their newly found vertebrae to stand up for the basic values, the basic human values, the basic universal values upon which this nation is based and upon which western civilization is based,” Land said.

When the United States “loses its backbone and becomes an invertebrate, the persecuted of the world suffer, and they suffer disproportionately,” he told his fellow advocates. “Unless we insist that this happen, it’s not going to happen.”

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and Habib Malik, associate professor of history at the American Lebanese University in Beirut, Lebanon, also addressed the precarious situation for minorities in the Middle East and made recommendations for American engagement.

The June 26 conference sponsored by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom came only two days after Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood was announced as the winner of Egypt’s presidential election. Less than 18 months after the Arab Spring uprising ended the Hosni Mubarak regime, the country’s 13 million Coptic Christians face potential peril under an Islamist president. An uncertain future confronts Christians and other minorities in war-torn Syria. The aftermath of the Iraq war has resulted in at least half of the country’s Christians abandoning their homeland and vast numbers of other religious minorities leaving or being killed.

Representatives of the Egyptian Coptic and Iraqi Christian communities participated in the conference, as well as representatives of the Ahmadiyya Muslim and Baha’i minorities. Spokesmen from Nigeria also attended.

“We’ve seen human tragedy in the persecution of Christians and others in the Middle East over the last 20, 25 years, and it’s increasing and it has increased as we know as a side effect of the Iraq war,” Land said.

With the Egyptian election result, “we’re talking about a whole different degree of magnitude here. [The Coptic Christians] are in severe danger,” he said. “And when we expand the discussion to talk about Nigeria, there are more professing, church-going Christians – Catholic and Protestant – in Nigeria than there are in any European country except Poland. ... And these people are at severe risk of being killed.”

Malik told participants, “Indigenous, Middle Eastern Christians – whether in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, among the Palestinians and whatever remains of them in Iraq, where they were nearly decimated on America’s watch –... do not see a spring anywhere in sight. To them, the term Arab Spring actually sounds increasingly like a bad joke, black humor. They see instead the makings of an Arab nightmare and one with the possibility of bringing death and destruction to them and to people and cultures far beyond the Middle East.”

Without these religious minorities, “pluralism is all but dead in the Middle East and along with it any real chances for genuine freedom and democracy,” he said.

As one of his recommendations, Malik said the United States and its western allies “must draw a thick red line to protect and preserve whatever meager freedoms already exist in part of the Middle East and build on them. This means among other things active protection for minority rights and for pluralism as absolutely integral components of any meaningful, full-bore democratization.”

Schonborn also said America and Europe have a duty to protect the “political rights and religious freedom” of Mideast minorities.

Among Schonborn’s recommendations were:

– “Insist on the importance of the secular state. The Christians and other minorities in the Mideast know that their only chance for survival is a secular state with real religious freedom. ... [W]hatever origin it may have, Islamic or other, theocracy is degenerating rapidly into totalitarianism. And as Christians, we stand firmly against any theocracy, because no state can assure the Kingdom of God.

– “Please ask the [politicians responsible] not to repeat in Syria and elsewhere the mistakes of Iraq. ... Syria and Egypt must not become Iraq.”

– Do not overlook the reality in the Middle East of the “new presence of Christians coming mostly from Asia.” Filipinos, Indians and Sri Lankans are among those who have moved to that region, and one million Catholics are now living in Saudi Arabia as servants and workers with no religious rights, he said.

The protection of religious rights in the Mideast can be achieved, Land said.

“I know that that’s a really, really ugly, fascistic regime in Iran and a very ugly, fascistic regime in Syria, but they’re not nearly as scary as the Soviet Union was,” he said. “And when the United States had backbone – defined as [President] Ronald Reagan and [Secretary of State] George Schultz – and we made the refuseniks [Jews and others seeking to emigrate] part of every discussion that we had with the Soviets ... in the end we won.

“If we can back down the Soviet Union, we can back down” the regimes in Iran, Syria, Egypt, Iraq “and anywhere else,” Land said.

After Land, Schonborn and Malik spoke, participants held an off-the-record discussion of strategies and efforts to advance religious liberty in the Middle East

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)

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7/6/2012 1:31:26 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Pastor’s encounter with terrorist: beatings, jail, yet perseverance

July 6 2012 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

ORISSA STATE, India – A group of criminals sits jam-packed in the filthy Indian holding cell. The smell of urine permeates the dank air.

Two bedraggled men in the corner stand out from the other detainees – not because of their threadbare clothes or clean-cut features but because of their actions. Pabitra Kata hums a hymn while Niladri Kanhar prays.

Their alleged crime: “proselytizing.”

Local authorities accuse the two of coercing a Hindu man into becoming a Christian. Neither denies the fact that they were sharing a Bible story, but the word “coercion” makes them shake their heads in disbelief.

Claiming Christianity in India’s Orissa State means persecution and brutal beatings. Both men have the scars to prove it. Kata sports a hairless, jagged line above his right ear where his head was caved in from a beating; Kanhar has an eight-inch scar along his right side.

Kata glances at his friend deep in prayer and remembers his own fervent prayer that started their journey.

Six years ago
“Lord, give me just one family to build Your church on,” Kata begged God in 2005. “We need a family that can stand strong like a rock – like Your disciple Peter.”

The Holy Spirit answered the pastor by leading him up a mountain path and through the forest. When he stopped at the edge of a well-known terrorist village, Kata couldn’t believe it. This para-military group often killed or terrorized Christians in a nationalist effort to keep India strictly Hindu. To make matters worse, one of the most feared leaders who lived in this village – Kanhar – was responsible for destroying churches and the beating, rape and even murder of Christians.

“Surely, God isn’t this crazy!” Kata thought. He had made a wrong turn in the forest, the pastor thought as he walked back home, pleading the entire way for just one family.

Inside the village, Kanhar sat in his house, a broken and angry man. All five of his children were sick. Despite his powerful position as the local terrorist leader, there was nothing he could do to make things better for his family. He already had tried everything – medical doctors, offerings at the Hindu temple and witchcraft.

At one point, Kanhar sensed that one of the gods to which he had made sacrifices told him someone in his house would die.
07-06-12persecute1.jpg

BP Photo

Niladri Kanhar,* left, and Pabitra Kata* reminisce about how they met a few years ago and have since partnered in sharing their faith. (*Names changed)


“I did everything you asked. We have become beggars and still we are suffering,” Kanhar screamed. “If you are not able to save us, go away and send us someone who can!”

A dream & a prayer
One night, Kata was startled awake by a vivid dream. It was as if someone called out to him. The pastor replayed the fragmented images in his head: a mountain path, a village and a falling tree. The tree pointed to the terrorist leader’s mud-packed home that emanated mourning and sorrow.

Kata dressed and told his wife that a family needed prayer. Then he scurried up the mountain path to the most feared home in the region.

The pastor arrived too late. Kanhar’s eldest daughter died during the night. The terrorist leader’s wife met Kata at the door, explaining that her husband took the body to the hospital for a death certificate. She advised the pastor to leave before her husband returned. Kanhar hated Christians and she didn’t want to see anyone else die today, feeling enough pain inside her for a lifetime.

The pastor pleaded with the mother not to give up hope. They just needed to pray. She didn’t know how, so he urged her to repeat “in Jesus’ name” throughout the night. He promised to return the next day at 10 a.m.

Miracles & faith
That morning, Kanhar and his daughter walked hand-in-hand up the path to their home. The pastor wasn’t surprised, but no one else could believe their eyes. Although doctors had pronounced her dead, she now ran to hug her mother.

Kanhar eyed the strange man standing at their door. Kata smiled, extended his hand and said, “I’m your new friend, Pabitra Kata.”

Kanhar’s face, however, showed his intent to kill the pastor as part of the terrorist group’s quest to wipe out Christianity. Kanhar’s eyes wandered around the yard, searching for anything he could use as a weapon.

“We hate Jesus here,” the terrorist stated angrily, moving toward the Kata.

Kanhar’s wife stepped between them, saying that the pastor’s prayers had been pivotal in bringing their daughter back to life. She boldly told her husband that she now believed in Jesus and prayed in His name.

The terrorist reluctantly listened to his wife’s story and halfheartedly agreed to believe. After all, what choice did he have? The pastor’s God healed their daughter when nothing else worked.
07-06-12persecute2.jpg

BP Photo

Persecution still occurs in India’s Orissa state, yet Bible study groups continue to grow.


By 5 p.m., though, Kanhar truly gave his heart to God as his four other bed-ridden children also became well and got up to play.

“My family is healthy. This is a miracle of God,” the terrorist announced. “From this day, our household will worship only Him.”

A church is birthed
Each night, Kata snuck through the forest to the terrorist village. He ducked past guards and slipped in Kanhar’s back door. The family of seven sat waiting to learn new Bible stories and to pray.

Kanhar soaked up every lesson like a sponge. He had never felt so much peace in his life. Even though his neighbors were angry with him for bringing the shame of Christianity to the village, he openly shared his newfound faith.

Gradually, more people attended the nightly meetings. The para-military group tried to block this multiplication by fining anyone who talked to Kanhar 10,000 rupees ($200) – more money than most made in a year.

One night as Kata left the prayer meeting, a group of men grabbed and bound him. They dragged him along the paved road, finally stopping in a clearing where 30 others with clubs and sticks in hand waited to join the attack.

The men blamed the pastor for “turning” their former leader. They beat and kicked the crumpled man. They broke his ribs and bashed in one side of his head.

The pastor’s screams pierced the silent night, yet no one came to his rescue.

“God, like your servant Stephen, I am ready,” Kata prayed through the pain. When heaven did not open, the pastor changed his prayer. “Help me stand firm. Use me to build Your church here!”

Police picked Kata’s battered body up off the road and took him to the station. They threatened to charge him with “converting Hindus.” But in the end, they told him not to return to Kanhar’s village or, next time, he surely would die.

Despite the warning, the pastor continued to meet with the former terrorist leader for Bible study. During one of their prayer times, the pastor looked at Kanhar through still-swollen eyes and predicted, “You will have to suffer worse than me for your faith.”

Kanhar couldn’t believe what he heard. The village had forced his family to leave and filed charges against him for “conversions” after another entire family proclaimed Christianity. The former terrorist couldn’t find work to feed his family. His brothers disowned him. Even his children were forced to leave school. How could it get worse?

It didn’t take long for the pastor’s words to come true. One day as Kanhar worked in the field, a group of about 50 men carrying clubs and machetes chased him down. They bound their former leader and forced him to kneel.

Kanhar prayed as the men began throwing large stones at him. He lifted a prayer of thanksgiving when, somehow, none of the stones struck him. The enraged men then rushed at him, swinging their clubs and machetes. Blood pooled quickly around him.

“Stop!” a man yelled. “He deserves a slow death for what he has brought to our village.”

With that, they divided into two teams – taking turns kicking and clubbing. At one point, the men urinated on Kanhar, causing his open wounds to sting and burn. They broke his leg and placed a poisonous plant on his eyes to increase the pain.

“If you don’t come back to Hinduism, you will die,” a man told him.

“Even if you kill me or my children, I will remain a Christian until my last breath,” Kanhar replied. “I will stand firm in the truth of Jesus Christ.”

Back at the jail
Holding to that declaration has not been easy for the former terrorist as well as the pastor. Persecution is simply the cost of sharing the gospel. Beatings, unemployment and threats of jail time are to be expected.

The “good days” come when someone professes Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those days make their perseverance possible.

Kata sees the bailiff approaching and stands up. It’s time for their case. The judge glances through the papers then sternly warns them about “proselytizing.” He surprises everyone, however, by dropping all charges against the two Christians.

The two friends thank God and rush out the door. There’s no time for celebration – the pastor and the terrorist-turned-believer are late for evangelism training at the church.

*Names changed
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Rain is an International Mission Board writer living in Asia. To see more stories on persecution in Asia, go to http://www.asiastories.com.)

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7/6/2012 1:23:19 PM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Audio: ‘How many of you have been persecuted?’

July 6 2012 by Hans Peter* with Susie Rain, Baptist Press

SOUTHEAST ASIA – The evangelists sit on the floor listening intently as I teach about persecution. They soak up the lesson on 1 Peter like it’s news from a long lost friend.
 
I stop and ask, “How many of you have been persecuted for your faith?”

No one raises a hand.

This puzzles me. These men and women live in a Southeast Asian country where religious groups are required to get permission to read their Bibles and pray. So, I rephrase the question.

“How many of you have suffered for preaching the gospel?”

Again, no one raises a hand.

I shake my head in confusion. This has never happened before in a training session. They always raise their hands in countries known for religious persecution.

I ask a third time, “How many of you have been imprisoned for sharing the gospel?”
07-06-12persecuteaudio.jpg

IMB photo

Southeast Asian evangelists go to places Americans are not allowed to spread the gospel. Less than 0.5 percent of those who live in these mountains have been penetrated with the gospel due to political, geographical and religious barriers. Evangelists that venture here expect to spend time in jail because of their beliefs.


EVERY hand in the room goes up.

And then, one by one they begin to tell their stories of imprisonment:

Naked & burned
One evangelist tells the story of a man who was interrogated and burned by authorities for sharing the gospel. Even after being left naked and passed out overnight outdoors, this man still desired to return to the area because people were hungry to hear about Jesus Christ.

Listen to the story.
http://soundcloud.com/asiastories/persecution
 
Solitary confinement
At one point, 14 of our evangelists were arrested and thrown into prison. That didn’t stop them, though. They continued to share. One of the evangelists prayed with many prisoners to receive Christ. He even conducted a church-like service in the prison courtyard. When the authorities figured out what was happening, they put him in chains and solitary confinement.

Going back
A Southeast Asia evangelist returns home to see his newborn son for the first time but plans to return to an area where he had been arrested almost a year for sharing the gospel. His reasoning for going back shows his dedication to not just sharing the gospel but also supporting those he met before: there were now new believers who needed to be discipled.

Listen to the story.
http://soundcloud.com/asiastories/going-back-v2
 
Expected response
Now I understand why no one raised their hands the first two times I asked the question. The evangelists simply do not equate imprisonment with persecution or suffering. Sure, some were stoned, imprisoned, beaten or evicted from their villages but to them it’s the “expected” response for sharing the gospel.

None of the persecution has deterred the gospel from spreading. I tally more than 900 baptisms from their verbal reports. I also find that none of the persecution scares away believers from volunteering their services.

Another evangelist tells the story of a young woman with “a heart as big as the world” who offered to take video and other materials to aid in spreading the gospel to an isolated area. Even though her friend had been sent to a hard labor camp after praying for the sick in the same area, the young woman still offered to take the resources. She said she knew she could share the gospel whether she was in or out of prison.

Listen to this story.
http://soundcloud.com/asiastories/expected-response-v2
 
I am simply amazed at how these evangelists remain faithful to the task, even at great personal loss. They unanimously tell me they must go forward with spreading the gospel. Because of their willingness to be used by God, there are now churches where none existed.

People are hungry for the message here. They want to hear about the one living God. These men and women are willing to take it to them.

*Name changed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Hans Peter, who serves in Southeast Asia, trains local believers to take the gospel where it is too dangerous for outsiders to go.)


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7/6/2012 1:10:16 PM by Hans Peter* with Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



CP 4.27% above budget for year

July 6 2012 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee are $5,959,045.57, or 4.27 percent, above the year-to-date budgeted goal, and are .32 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank S. Page.

The total includes receipts from state conventions and fellowships, churches and individuals for distribution according to the 2011-12 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.

The Cooperative Program (CP) is a channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church is able to contribute to the various ministries of its state convention and to the various missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention with a single contribution.

As of June 30, gifts received by the Executive Committee for distribution through the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget totaled $145,459,045.57 or 104.27 percent, of the $139,500,000 year-to-date budgeted amount to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America. The total is $464,635.86 more than the $144,994,409.71 received through the end of June 2011.

The convention-adopted budget is distributed as follows: 50.2 percent to international missions through IMB, 22.79 percent to North American missions through NAMB, 22.16 percent to theological education, 3.2 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. If the convention exceeds its annual budget goal of $186 million dollars, IMB’s share will go to 51 percent of any overage in Cooperative Program allocation budget receipts. Other ministry entities of the SBC will receive their adopted percentage amounts and the SBC operating budget’s portion will be reduced to 2.4 percent of any overage.

Designated giving of $173,504,478.86 for the same year-to-date period is 3.22 percent, or $5,405,119.18, ahead of the $168,099,359.68 received at this point last year. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities.

Traditionally, state and regional conventions have acted as collecting entities for Cooperative Program contributions. They retain a portion of church contributions to the Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to Southern Baptist national and international causes. The percentage of distribution from the states is at the discretion of the messengers of each state convention through the adoption of the state convention’s annual budget.

CP allocation budget receipts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state offices, to the denominational papers and are posted online at www.cpmissions.net/CPReports.

June’s CP allocation receipts for SBC work totaled $16,549.505.61. Designated gifts received last month amounted to $24,070,605.92.

The end-of-month total represents money received by the Executive Committee by the close of the last business day of each month. Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the number of Sundays in a given month, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions and the timing of when state conventions forward the national portion of their CP contributions to the Executive Committee.
7/6/2012 1:08:04 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



N.C. Baptists respond to W.Va. - UPDATED STORY

July 5 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

While many Americans were enjoying Fourth of July celebrations, North Carolina Baptist Men deployed its Manna One unit and about 50 disaster relief volunteers to Lewisburg, W.Va. Since then, they have helped provide meals to locals who lost power due to a destructive storm that moved through the area.
 
Gaylon Moss, disaster relief director for N.C. Baptist Men, received a call July 3 around 4 p.m. about providing assistance to people in Lewisburg. By midday July 4 the team had set up and began preparing about 1,200 meals.
 
“I praise the Lord for that,” Moss said. “The Lord is inspiring people,” to respond quickly to meet other people’s needs, he added.
 
Derecho – a straight-line windstorm in a fast-moving thunderstorm system – moved through the area June 29 knocking off power to many people.
 
Because of a boil-water advisory, the team also hauled in purified water to the site. (EDITOR'S NOTE: As of July 10, the latest report showed that 33,000 meals had been prepared and 15 people had made a decision for Christ.)
 
Manna One, N.C. Baptist Men’s largest feeding unit, has the capability to produce 30,000 meals a day.
 
The unit is the central hub for mass feeding operations in West Virginia, Moss said.
 
Meanwhile, more volunteers are needed in Pamlico, Dare and Burke counties in North Carolina. Pamlico and Dare county residents are still struggling after Hurricane Irene hit last year. A tornado also ripped through Burke County in January causing severe damage to houses in the area.
 
Individuals and teams would be working on reconstruction of houses that were damaged.
 
“We’d like to show them God’s love in a tangible way,” Moss said.
 
To volunteer, contact N.C. Baptist Men at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5606.

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7/5/2012 3:06:26 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Storms & fires activate DR in 15 states

July 5 2012 by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units are in action in 15 states in response to recent storms in the mid-Atlantic, flooding in Florida and wildfires in Colorado.

“It’s a busy time,” said Mickey Caison, the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) disaster relief team leader who is in Colorado assisting relief efforts with the wildfire in the state.

“The majority of the states have been able to handle it on their own. We have a few that we are assisting with water and some other resources – like Colorado and the two Virginia conventions,” Caison said in reference to Baptist conventions in the respective states.

Two of NAMB’s new 53-foot, 18-wheel tractor-trailers were deployed for the first time to deliver much-needed water to Virginia on July 2.

The new tractor-trailers, driven by Tennessee Baptist disaster relief volunteers, arrived at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., on Tuesday morning with 39 pallets of water – about 120,000 bottles. Thomas Road and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV) set up a “cooling station” at the church after powerful storms battered the eastern United States June 29, leaving at least 22 dead and more than 2 million people without power.

The cooling station provides area residents with a place to cool down, get water and rest as temperatures have reached triple digits over the past few days. The church also is providing snacks to residents. The bottles will come at just the right time as the SBCV and Thomas Road have been providing water since Saturday and were beginning to run low.
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BP Photo

Jonathan Falwell, left, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, speaks with Lynchburg city officials about Baptist relief efforts after what is being called the worst non-hurricane power outage in Virginia’s history.


“The neat thing about this event is that it’s definitely a local church event,” SBCV disaster relief director Jack Noble said. “Every one of our churches has the opportunity to get involved. ... They don’t need any training they just have to go be Christ.”

Two pallets of the water will also be delivered to the Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB), whose volunteers were feeding people in the Highland, Bath and Alleghany counties of Virginia. The Tennessee volunteers also delivered 80 rolls of roofing material to the SBCV, the VBMB and North Carolina Baptist Men who are all helping with relief efforts in their states. (See story relating to N.C. efforts.)

In fire-ravaged areas of Colorado, disaster relief work also is continuing. Caison said the Fort Collins area is moving into the recovery stage.

“We set up a receiving center for folks to make applications for support and work up in the mountains,” Caison said. “We did some preliminary assessment and identified areas where we can help. We’re working on the details of that today (July 3).”

Additionally, Oklahoma and Colorado units have set up a feeding unit at Vanguard Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. With 70 percent of the fire contained now, Caison said the unit will be closed either Tuesday or Wednesday as some area residents return to their homes in that fire-affected region.

Florida Baptist disaster relief units, meanwhile, are working in three locations in the state in the aftermath of historic flooding following Hurricane Debby’s onset in late June. The storm deluged several parts of the state, although its gusts never got above 45 miles per hour.

Fritz Wilson, the Florida Baptist Convention’s disaster relief and recovery team strategist, said the state’s Baptists are gearing up for a heavy response in Live Oak, one of the state’s hardest-hit towns.

“They received 20 inches of rain and the town just filled up like a bowl,” Wilson said. “There are all kinds of sink holes. There was 8 to 10 feet of standing water in houses. The water is just now receding because it had to soak through the water table to go down.”

On Sunday (July 8), Wilson said, Florida Baptists plan to start a large flood recovery response based at First Baptist Church in Live Oak. Wilson anticipates that Florida Baptist disaster relief will have three to four weeks of work in the Live Oak area.

Florida Baptists also are working in the town of Starke, where the flooding of the New River impacted about 50 homes. In addition, Georgia Baptists are helping to assess disaster relief needs around Lake City, Fla.

The Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention also has been active in flood relief near Duluth, Minn. The northeast part of the state was hit with floods nearly two weeks ago, with Southern Baptist volunteers subsequently participating in cleanup work and feeding in the area.

The convention reports many positive responses to their work, including a father and son who were “very skeptical” of accepting help at first. By the end of three days of Southern Baptist work on their home, they commented on how the volunteers were “living the Christian faith” in front of them.

“Pray for volunteers in all these areas that are working and for those who are affected,” Caison said. “Pray that we’ll have an opportunity to represent Jesus Christ and His love and grace in a very positive way during this time.”

For more disaster relief updates, visit namb.net/dr.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry is a writer for the North American Mission Board. Amanda Sullivan, a writer for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, contributed to this report.)

Related story
N.C. Baptists respond to W.Va., still working Irene requests
Amid wildfires, Beth Moore holds forth ‘New Start’ in Colo.
‘More than a fire’ in Colorado flames
7/5/2012 2:56:52 PM by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Amid wildfires, Beth Moore holds forth ‘new start’ in Colo.

July 5 2012 by Russ Rankin, Baptist Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With acrid smoke from devastating wildfires still looming over Colorado Springs, approximately 5,000 women there lifted their voices in praise and worship to God at a Living Proof Live conference featuring Bible teacher Beth Moore.

Fires have charred nearly 18,000 acres in the Waldo Canyon area of Colorado Springs, burning hundreds of homes and forcing the evacuation of 32,000 people. Yet author and Bible teacher Moore said, “There was no doubt that this is where we needed to be this very weekend.”

Living Proof Live events are sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Pain, peril and threat put us in a posture to listen [to God] like nothing else,” Moore told attendees, adding that LifeWay opened the doors to women at local evacuation shelters to attend the July 28-29 event for free.

In a subdued, somber beginning to the usually spirited opening, Moore asked women who had been evacuated from their homes or lost their homes entirely to stand and allow others to pray for them. Moore prayed for the 65 women and led the attendees in a reverent responsive reading.
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BP photo

Bible teacher and author Beth Moore speaks in Colorado Springs about finishing well. Her event coincided with 32,000 people being evacuated from the area as wildfires burned 18,000 acres.


Moore said she debated whether she should change her material because of the emotional weight the fires have brought to the Colorado Springs community but concluded her message was applicable.

“Sometimes we need a new start, but what we need more often is a good finish,” Moore said, directing attendees to Acts 20:24 as her focal passage of scripture. “You and I live in a culture of a million starts and a handful of finishes. We need the strength and presence of mind to finish well.”

Across her three teaching sessions Friday night and Saturday morning, Moore shared truths about finishing, drawing repeatedly from scripture to illustrate how God directs the believer to walk a path of intentionality for the purpose of bringing about completion.

“Biblically, every new start has a corresponding finish,” Moore said. “You are on the course you are supposed to strategically walk for the purpose of finishing. Scripture tells us we are made perfect by reaching the intended goal God has established for us.”

Moore cautioned attendees to not settle for a life of passivity and inaction with a mentality of “God’s in control; it’ll all be perfect in the end so I can rest now.”

“The process of walking the strategic role God has for us is where we get more interested in the Healer rather than focusing on the healing,” she said.

“The fire did not end anything,” Moore said. “Yes, it wiped out homes and decimated so much beauty. But hear me clearly: Nothing ended this week [with the fires]. Something started.

“From these ashes, something beautiful will emerge,” she said. “What started here in your beautiful, great state can be a beautiful testimony for the living God.”

But “out of anything beautiful He would bring out from the ashes, it would be you,” Moore said to the attendees.

Because God finishes what He starts, “He is not finished with us,” she said. “You’ve not sunk so low He cannot reach you. You’ve not destroyed so much He can’t restore.”

Colorado Springs resident Danielle McIntire said the local wildfires “are the worst thing we’ve ever had to deal with, and it has been truly frightening. But this event is exactly what we needed. Beth has reminded us to look at this through God’s eyes and give our burdens to Him.

“So many have lost everything they have and feel like it’s the end,” McIntire said. “So what a perfect topic for us – God’s not done. It’s not the end.”

Worship leader Travis Cottrell announced Friday night that 100 percent of a special offering taken would be directed to relief efforts in Colorado Springs.

Cottrell added – to applause – that Moore’s Living Proof Ministries would match the offering dollar-for-dollar. “Let’s shake the earth with our giving spirits,” he said. Attendees gave $85,591, for a total offering of $171,182 contributed to relief efforts in the surrounding communities.

“We’ll never forget this week,” Moore said, “coming to this place that has been ablaze, yet getting set ablaze by the Spirit of God.”

Future Living Proof Live events are scheduled for July 13-14 in Austin, Texas; July 27-28 in Moline, Ill.; Aug. 10-11 in Knoxville, Tenn.; Aug. 24-25 in North Charleston, S.C.; Sept. 15 in Reading, Penn.; Oct. 12-13 in Long Beach, Calif.; and Nov. 2-3 in Lewiston, Maine.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Russ Rankin writes for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information, visit LifeWay.com/LivingProof.)

Related stories
Storms & fires activate DR in 15 states
N.C. Baptists respond to W.Va., still working Irene requests
‘More than a fire’ in Colorado flames
7/5/2012 2:51:56 PM by Russ Rankin, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Gay marriage issue appealed to Supreme Court

July 5 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – The issue of gay marriage has officially been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a move that could lead to a landmark ruling.

On June 29 lawyers for the House of Representatives filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, asking it to take up a case concerning the constitutionality of a major section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 federal law which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Because the court is in its summer recess, attorneys may not know for weeks or months whether the Supreme Court will hear it.
 
The appeal comes after the First Circuit Court of Appeals in May overturned DOMA Section 3, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Section 3 of DOMA defines marriage in federal law in the traditional sense.

Massachusetts and the gay legal group GLAAD filed the suits that led to the First Circuit ruling, arguing it’s wrong for the federal government not to recognize the gay marriages from states where it’s legal – and, by extension, not to grant federal benefits to the couples.
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But the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) – the House’s attorneys – said the federal government has legitimate reasons to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It also said the federal government is a sovereign body – just like each state – that has the power, like Massachusetts, to define marriage as it chooses.

“Section 3 of DOMA simply asserts the federal government’s right as a separate sovereign to provide its own definition which ‘governs only federal programs and funding,’” the House attorneys wrote in the request. “Congress, of course, did not invent the meanings of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ in 1996. Rather, DOMA merely reaffirmed and codified the traditional definition of marriage, i.e., what Congress itself has always meant – and what courts and the executive branch have always understood it to mean.”

Unless the First Circuit’s ruling is reversed, the United States would join 11 countries around the world that recognize gay marriage, even though it’s legal only in six states and the District of Columbia.

The 35-page House request notes that DOMA passed with bipartisan support and was signed by President Clinton, and it quotes from both Democrats and Republicans who backed it.

Significantly, the request argues that heterosexual relationships are unique and that children need a mother and father – arguments that the Obama administration had avoided even when it was defending the law.

Congress, the request says, believes it has a “deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing.”

“Congress recognized the basic biological fact that only a man and a woman can beget a child together without external assistance, and sought to encourage children to be raised by both their biological parents,” the request says.

The request even quoted an 1885 Supreme Court decision that had said marriage between a man and woman was the “sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.”

Four district courts have found DOMA constitutional, four have found it unconstitutional, the request said.

“This Court and this Court alone has the power to settle this question and redirect controversy over this important national question to the democratic process,” the House attorneys wrote.

Technically, the DOMA suit being appealed to the high court would not impact states’ rights to determine their own marriage laws. However, a separate lawsuit out of California – the high-profile Proposition 8 case – could directly affect states. A Ninth Circuit panel overturned Prop 8, and that decision is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court takes the Prop 8 case, then it probably would determine the constitutionality of the laws in the 44 states that don’t recognize gay marriage.

Former Solicitor General Paul Clement is the lead attorney for the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
7/5/2012 2:46:41 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



These Corinthians cooperate to support missions

July 3 2012 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

If you pass through Elizabeth City headed to the coast, you just might pass by Corinth Baptist Church that sits alongside U.S. 17 near the city’s cluster of restaurants and shopping centers.
 
David M. Turner, Corinth’s pastor, is committed to cooperation with the other churches of Chowan Baptist Association, North Carolina Baptists and Southern Baptists beyond. Corinth averages 350 in attendance on Sunday mornings.
 
Turner is committed to the Cooperative Program as the best way to support missions and ministry.
 
“I think the Cooperative Program helps us work together in a joint effort with other Baptists. We get so focused on our own different areas of ministry here, sometimes it’s hard to see the world beyond and see the different areas where we’re working together with other Baptists,” Turner said.
 
He compares giving through the Cooperative Program to giving through the church. 
 
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BSC photo by Mike Creswell

“I think the Cooperative Program helps us work together in a joint effort with other Baptists,” said David M. Turner, pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in Elizabeth City.


“On a given Sunday, I say, ‘You don’t give to the church, you give through the church. As you give through the church, you’re literally enabling the gospel to go to the ends of the world. As we give through the Cooperative Program, it affects every aspect of world missions and touches many different folks in the world. To me, the Cooperative Program is something that pulls us together as a church,” he explained.
 
“There are so many things we can support through the Cooperative Program, such as starting new churches, preparing young men and women for ministry, supporting our military and prison chaplains, reaching out to the different ethnic groups now in our state and so on. The Cooperative Program also pulls our many churches together in supporting these many ministries,” he said.
 
Corinth currently gives about 8 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, but he has challenged the church to increase its giving by half a percent a year for the next four or five years. He followed the same approach at his previous two churches, Turner said.
 
He believes when Corinth members learn about the far-reaching ministries they support through the Cooperative Program, it encourages them to give more. 
 
“We are stewards of what God has given us, not just as individuals, but as a church. We are stewards,” he said.
 
In 2010 Corinth began supporting a ministry to the many Asians who live in the area, and they were able to call on church planting consultant Ralph Garay with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to help them get the ministry started. 
 
Twice a month now they teach English and hold Bible studies for Chinese restaurant workers in the area and they have seen several people come to faith in Christ.
 
Corinth also supports the work of N.C. Baptist Men and has both volunteer men and women and several “blue hat” coordinators among the members. 
 
Corinth is a strong supporter of the N.C. Missions Offering that supports Baptist Men, church planting and other missions causes.
 
“Our Baptist Men leader, Tim Adylett, and Woman’s Missionary Union leader Mrs. Barbara Spear, are both very supportive of the Cooperative Program, as is our finance committee. They see the benefits of having our church support the Cooperative Program and they are aware of what it does and what it’s about,” Turner said.
 
Turner said he likes the fact that the Cooperative Program is operated from the bottom up, not from the top down. 
 
“As a congregational church, we decide we want to support the Cooperative Program and we send that to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina,” he said.
 
“The state convention decides in annual meeting how the Cooperative Program will be divided and it goes on to the SBC and to the uttermost parts of the world.”
 
In 2011 Corinth co-sponsored a missions conference with Chowan Baptist Association, invited missionaries and special speakers over a weekend that included grilled steaks and lots of information sharing on missions. A Cooperative Program exhibit was included.
 
“We hope to have even more churches take part next time,” he said.
7/3/2012 1:29:18 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 1 comments



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