July 2018

Zoning restriction stymies church’s expanded ministry

July 17 2018 by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends

Members of Redemption Community Church can grab a cappuccino and a scone in the building the church bought three years ago. They can hang out with friends, listen to live music or sit in on a coffee brewing class.
 

Photo via Ragamuffins Coffee House on Instagram
Redemption Community Church in Laurel, Md., can offer refreshments at its Ragamuffins Coffee House (center), but cannot hold worship services at the church-owned storefront because of a city zoning rule.

But they can’t go to church.
 
A zoning dispute has left the Laurel, Md., congregation in legal limbo in recent years. The church spent more than half a million dollars renovating a storefront into a coffeehouse that would double as a worship space.
 
But a change in local zoning codes – which seems aimed specifically at Redemption Community – means the church, formerly Covenant Presbyterian Church, can’t worship in the space without facing significant fines.
 
This spring, the church filed a lawsuit claiming the city’s zoning code is discriminatory. It’s one of the latest battlegrounds in what The Atlantic calls “the quiet religious-freedom fight that is remaking America.”
 

Zoning fights common

 
Disputes over property have become the most common legal battle for churches. Often those disputes involve rules that restrict where churches can be located.
 
A federal law passed in 2000, known as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), restricts the government from treating a church or other house of worship “on less than equal terms with a nonreligious assembly or institution.” The government can claim a legal exemption under the law, however, by showing it has a “compelling interest” and is using the “least restrictive means” to further that interest.
 
But few churches can afford lawsuits when cities or towns violate RLUIPA. Such suits are not only costly, but they can last for years. The Justice Department recently launched a new initiative to help churches involved in zoning disputes.
 
Zoning troubles for Redemption Community started about three years ago.
 
The church had sold its property in Burtonsville, Md., and planned a move about 11 miles east to the city of Laurel.
 
Moving to downtown Laurel, Redemption Community leaders believed, would boost the church’s ministry. The congregation had an active outreach program for the homeless, and leaders thought being in the city would help expand that ministry. The church also wanted to better minister to its neighbors, but felt isolated in the old location, Pastor Jeremy Tuinstra told The Baltimore Sun last fall.
 
“Churches can be fortresses,” he told The Sun. “I would stand up and preach about loving our neighbors, and I didn’t know mine.”
 
The coffee shop’s name – Ragamuffins Coffee House – was taken from a book by the late Brennan Manning. Its website features this quote from Manning:  “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”
 
“We hope you experience the goodness of God in this community of Ragamuffins, people changing by his love and grace,” the coffee shop’s website also says.
 
Before buying the building, church leaders checked the local zoning code and found a church would be permitted on the premises.
 
Within a month after Redemption Community bought the building, however, the zoning law changed, according to court documents. The congregation found it was not allowed to hold services in the building unless it obtained a special exception, according to the new zoning rules.
 
Getting the coffee shop off the ground took a hefty investment and some legal wrangling.
 
At first, the church planned to run a nonprofit coffee shop on Monday through Saturday and then hold services on Sunday, according to court documents.
 
The city’s zoning change threw a wrench into the plans. The new rule allows secular groups and businesses to hold events, but requires nonprofits or small churches to go through an extensive review process.
 
In response, the church organized the coffee shop as a for-profit venture. It got an occupancy permit to run the shop with no restrictions, according to court documents.
 
The church held Sunday services in its building when the coffee shop was closed. City officials objected and sent the church several cease-and-desist orders – leading the church to hold services at a local community center instead.
 
After trying to work out differences with the city, the church sued. Its lawyers say the local zoning code treats churches unfairly.
 
“The government can’t discriminate against churches simply because they are religious,” says Christiana Holcomb, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization representing Redemption Community.
 
“Despite making every effort to work with the city to comply with its burdensome zoning changes, Redemption Community Church is now being told to either stop holding worship services or pay severe fines. Federal law is clear:  The city’s discriminatory practices violate the law.”
 
City officials have denied any wrongdoing.
 
“The suit claims the city has discriminated against the church through the exercise of its zoning authority,” the city said in a statement, according to The Stream, a conservative Christian news site. “The city completely denies this claim.”
 
A hearing on the lawsuit was held last month, The Stream reported.
 
For now, the church seems focused on running its coffee shop and reaching out to its neighbors. The shop offers a wide range of coffees and snacks. It has a 4.5-star rating (out of five stars), according to reviews on Yelp.com.
 
“The place is marvelous:  warming decor, fetching area, charismatic and attentive baristas, and down-to-the-last-drop worthy coffee (shout-out to their Chai Latte!!!),” one of the reviewers said.
 
The church’s pastor told The Baltimore Sun the coffee house is an essential part of Redemption Community’s ministry. “We’re trying to represent the tremendous love of God,” Tuinstra told The Sun.
 

Zoning tips for churches

 
Rob Hall, vice president of real estate services for Chicago-based National Covenant Properties, works with churches around the country on their facilities. He offered these tips on how to deal with zoning:
 

  • Serve the community. Churches with a track record of providing necessary, additional services to a community will usually find that communities are more open to the church being there. Churches need to be seen more as lighthouses for the whole community and not clubhouses for members of a small club.

  • Remember the personal touch. Churches should have face-to-face meetings with zoning officials when they are considering a location. They should not rely on what they find online with regard to zoning. It’s important to read the body language of the zoning official when you mention that you are a church.

  • Talk to potential neighbors. Churches should reach out to neighboring property owners before those owners hear from a third party about the church possibly moving in. The church wants to be able to introduce itself directly and convince nearby property owners that the church will be a good neighbor. Having those owners on your side will often help to sway a municipality to grant the necessary zoning.

  • Show up for hearings. Rezonings or special use permit applications will have a public hearing component. Church members who live in the community have a right to speak at those meetings in support of the rezoning or special use permit. Just because someone attends the church does not negate their opinion that having the church will be good for the community.

  • Count the costs. Zoning battles can be costly and time-consuming. A church has to weigh the importance of fighting religious discrimination by municipalities against its overall ministry goal of leading people to salvation and helping them to become more fully devoted followers of Christ.

 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends, factsandtrends.net.  Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

7/17/2018 10:11:29 AM by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments



Dripping Springs primed to reach sprawling Austin

July 17 2018 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

First Baptist Church in Dripping Springs was about 20 miles from Austin when it was founded in 1875 in a community of about 200 people. But Austin’s vast growth has reached Dripping Springs, and the church is positioned to reach the 35,000 living there now.
 

Facebook photo
Matthew Nance, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dripping Springs, speaks to the youngest of First Baptist Church’s growing congregation in the metro Austin area.

Dripping Springs’ population is projected to double in the next eight years, Pastor Matthew Nance said. To address that growth, First Baptist is working to become a multigenerational congregation with emphases on ministry to Hispanic immigrants and on meeting practical needs in the community.
 
First Baptist Dripping Springs affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) this year, and one of the reasons, Nance told the Southern Baptist TEXAN, is the SBTC’s strong level of cooperation with churches across the nation.
 
“I am thrilled that the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, in my understanding, leads the Southern Baptist Convention in the percentage of money that is passed on from the state level to the national level,” Nance, a former Southern Baptist missionary, said.
 
To support that effort, First Baptist Dripping Springs plans to increase its Cooperative Program (CP) giving by half a percentage point each budget year until it reaches 10 percent. The church now gives 8 percent of its undesignated receipts through CP.
 
Nance was a church planter in Texas from 1981-1990 before serving with the IMB nearly 20 years in East Asia. He then pastored in Georgia and Oklahoma before returning to Texas last year as pastor of First Baptist Dripping Springs.
 
When Nance was a church planter, there was only one state convention, he noted, and they paid part of his salary each month. “I went to all of their meetings, so I felt a heart connection with them,” he said. In 1999, the IMB asked Nance to represent the mission board at the SBTC annual meeting in addition to the older state convention.
 
“I went to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention expecting not to feel comfortable there because I wasn’t a part of that in the past. To my surprise, I heard ‘Cooperative Program,’ ‘Southern Baptist missions.’ … All of the things that I felt convicted about were being represented,” Nance said.
 
When Nance arrived in Dripping Springs, the church was still recovering from losing its building to a fire 10 years ago. The congregation almost disbanded back then, he said, after most of the people left for other churches.
 
“There were about 40 people that stuck with it in a local gym, and they rebuilt the church building, and it’s a beautiful facility that’s paid for,” Nance said. “We have an average worship attendance of 170. We’re growing.”
 
First Baptist Dripping Springs has many young families with elementary-age children as well as many senior adults, he said, “so our current challenge is to become truly multigenerational.” They’ve started a new ministry for people ages 45-60 and have about four new families in that group. Next they’re launching something for 18- to 30-year-olds, he said.
 

Facebook photo
Amid Austin’s growth, First Baptist Church in Dripping Springs nurtures a multigenerational congregation as well as its ministry to Hispanics.

Meanwhile, ministry to Hispanics is flourishing.
 
“The Hispanics who are in town are primarily very new to the United States, so even the children don’t have much English,” Nance said. “So in addition to the Hispanic worship service, we have English as a Second Language classes for the children and the adults.”
 
The church also has Mission Drippin’, through which the congregation addresses practical needs in the community such as building wheelchair ramps or sprucing up the trails at a local equestrian therapy center for children.
 
“We do have a lot of retired people who are very active. They love to have things to do,” Nance said. “Most mornings when I show up at the church office at 8:30, there’s already a group there saying, ‘Pastor, what are we going to do today?’ Today what they’re doing is:  we bought a new shuttle van for our youth program, and it didn’t have a place to park, so they’re building a carport for the shuttle.”
 
Something else Nance said he appreciates about the SBTC is its focus on reaching the major cities in the state (sbtexas.com/reachcities) such as Austin. “I’m familiar with Reach Austin and hope to be a part of that in some way,” he said of the SBTC initiative in church planting, church revitalization and mission team opportunities.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is a writer in Nashville. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

7/17/2018 10:10:57 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Lisa Harper shares ‘unlikely joy’ in new study of Job

July 17 2018 by Baptist Press & LifeWay Staff

Bible teacher, author and speaker Lisa Harper was stirred to study Job after her daughter took a tumble down some stairs just before breakfast one morning.
 

Lisaharper.net photo
Lisa Harper

Harper told the story to an audience of 9,000-plus women gathered in person and online for a release party for her newly published Bible study, Job: A Story of Unlikely Joy (LifeWay). Some 200 women attended the June 26 event at LifeWay Christian Resources’ corporate headquarters in Nashville while thousands more watched online.
 
Harper recalled being home on a Saturday morning making pancakes for her daughter Missy, who she adopted from Haiti several years ago.
 
Having called for Missy to come downstairs for breakfast, a few seconds later Harper heard a thud.
 
Missy had fallen down the stairs and as she wailed in pain, Harper began to panic and cry. It was in that moment she said she realized she doesn’t handle pain well.
 
“The whole world is suffering,” Harper told Christian recording artist Mandisa, who emceed the event. “As Christ followers, it’s incumbent upon us to learn how to better deal with pain and suffering.”
 
After Missy’s tumble down the stairs, Harper spent a year studying the book of Job – a man who suffered through the loss of his children, his livelihood and his home, as well as enduring physical affliction. The fruit of Harper’s time spent pouring over this Old Testament book is a seven-session Bible study to help people discover the redemptive aspect of Job’s suffering.
 
“When Lisa first shared her vision for this study, we were intrigued with her approach to this book of the Bible,” said Faith Whatley, director of adult ministries for LifeWay Christian Resources.
 
“Most people would view this book as hard to study because it’s impossible to comprehend the pain and loss Job experienced. Lisa’s way of pulling out the unlikely joy in the chapters of Job will give women a fresh approach on how to think about suffering. They will be able to see God working through trials and will give them a deeper faith to tell others about His amazing love.”
 
And it is through this deep love for Job, Harper said, that God saw fit to test this man of integrity.
 
“Right out of the gate, God says to the enemy, ‘Have you considered my servant Job?’” she said. “God nominated Job for pain. … Because God knows the end of the story, He knows how Job will walk out of it.”
 
Just as it is part of the human condition to experience pain and loss, Harper expects for the study to lead to spiritual growth – as God intended.
 
“Some of the things we go through that are painful [happen] because of the fall [in the Garden of Eden],” she said. “Sometimes, in the course of redemptive history, God is going to allow pain – or even cause it, like He did with Job – to come into your life, but He’s doing it for your good and for His glory.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by Joy Allmond of LifeWay Christian Resources. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

7/17/2018 10:10:25 AM by Baptist Press & LifeWay Staff | with 0 comments



Budget proposal includes increase to SBC

July 16 2018 by Chad Austin, BSC & K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

The Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) approved a proposed budget for 2019 totaling $31 million that includes an increase in support of missions and ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) through the Cooperative Program (CP).
 
Members of the Executive Committee approved the budget proposal as presented by the BSC’s budget committee during a conference call on Thursday, July 12.
 
While the budget total of $31 million would remain unchanged from 2018, the allocation to the SBC will increase by one-half percent from 41 percent to 41.5 percent in 2019. If approved, 2019 would mark the 13th consecutive year the state convention has increased its percentage allocation to the SBC.
 
The proposal will be presented to the BSC’s Board of Directors for consideration at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 24-25 at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro. Following action by the board, a recommended budget will be presented to messengers at the annual meeting in Greensboro on Nov. 5-6 for consideration and final approval.
 
The budget proposal approved by the Executive Committee recommends a 2 percent salary increase for state convention employees and reflects a $125,000 increase to the convention’s operations budget to account for rising costs of benefits and insurance.
 
To offset rising expenses and accommodate the increased allocation to the SBC, all state convention ministry groups made cuts to their respective budgets, including Fruitland Baptist Bible College. In addition, the proposed budget reflects a total of $195,000 funding reductions at varying levels to the convention’s institutions and agencies, which include the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, the Biblical Recorder, the N.C. Baptist Foundation and N.C. Baptist Hospital.
 
Proposed funding for GuideStone and church protection benefits are unchanged for 2019.
 
After three years of budget increases, convention officials said the budget committee chose not to propose a budget increase for 2019 based on giving trends through the first half of 2018.
 
“We don’t anticipate reaching our budget for 2018, so we didn’t think it would be prudent to recommend an increase for next year,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer.
 
Total CP receipts from N.C. Baptist churches have been short of the budget through the first half of 2018. Beverly Volz, director of accounting services, reported to the committee that through the end of June, CP receipts have totaled slightly more than $13.4 million, which is about 13 percent behind the year-to-date budget.
 
Despite being behind budget, Volz and John Butler, BSC executive leader for Business Services, both said the convention is operating in the black and staff members are monitoring receipts and expenses to make operational changes where necessary.
 
Officials also said that in preparing the 2019 budget proposal, the budget committee sought to strike a balance between support for ministries within North Carolina and those of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
“There are many ministries that we do through state conventions that the SBC relies on state conventions to carry out,” Hollifield said. “We strive to strike a balance between investing in ministries in North Carolina with what we determine to send on to the SBC.”
 
In a separate measure, the Executive Committee also approved a budget goal and allocation amounts for the 2019 North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), the annual state missions offering that directly supports a variety of missions and ministry efforts in North Carolina.
 
Under the approved proposal, the $2.1 million NCMO goal for 2019 would remain the same from 2018 as would the allocations amounts to the five ministry areas the offering supports. Those ministries include N.C. Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission (41 percent), church planting (28 percent), mission camps (15 percent), local Baptist associations (10 percent) and missions mobilization projects (6 percent).
 
Like the proposed CP budget, the proposed NCMO budget will also be presented to the BSC Board of Directors for consideration at its September meeting and to messengers at the BSC annual meeting in November for final approval.

7/16/2018 1:41:54 PM by Chad Austin, BSC & K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



Kavanaugh nod nonpartisan, pro-Kingdom, Greear says

July 16 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Keeping the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) out of politics remains a goal of the SBC’s president and vice presidents, J.D. Greear said in defending their endorsement of President Trump’s justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
 

Facebook screen capture
J.D. Greear, in a Facebook Live interview, explains his endorsement of President Trump's justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh as reflecting the scriptural clarity on the sanctity of life and religious liberty.

“All three of us have a desire to keep the SBC out of politics, but we also want to speak with clarity in those places we feel like there is clarity,” Greear said in a July 12 Facebook Live interview. “And when it came to potential justice Kavanaugh, here’s somebody who has a history of standing for the sanctity of life and religious liberty.”
 
Greear, the SBC’s newly elected president, and first vice president A.B. Vines and second vice president Felix Cabrera publicly endorsed Kavanaugh July 9 as President Donald Trump’s choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Several SBC entity leaders and former SBC presidents are among 39 signers of the endorsement.
 
“Our community may disagree about where we vote at the end of the day,” Greear said in the interview, “but we can agree that somebody who respects these things [life and religious liberty] and has a history of it, that’s good for the nation and to build the Kingdom of God.”
 
Todd Unzicker, pastor of sending at The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., conducted the interview with Greear, the church’s senior pastor, for 15 minutes in Greear’s office July 12 around 2 p.m. Eastern Time.
 
The endorsement of Kavanaugh, Greear said, stands on gospel the Bible clearly delineates.
 
“It’s not that the gospel is not political, because it is, because good policy is often how we love our neighbor,” Greear said. “We recognize that there are some things the Bible’s clear on, and then there’s some things that Christians can disagree on. … But where the Bible is clear, we should be clear.
 
“So we want to show some constraint and not align ourselves with a particular platform or administration,” Greear said, “but we do want to speak with clarity.”
 
In the interview, Greear discussed his SBC activities since his June 12 election in Dallas.
 
Press interviews and meetings with various state Baptist leaders are comprising much of his time in the summer months, Greear said.
 
“Jimmy Draper told me, ‘Just be careful. You don’t speak for the SBC; if anything, you speak to the SBC,’” Greear said. “In one sense I know I am representing Southern Baptists to the press, so [I’m] just trying to speak with grace and truth.” Draper, current SBC Executive Committee ambassador, was SBC president from 1982-1984 and is president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources.
 
Interviews have focused on SBC changes, accomplishments and goals.
 
“Our identity is built in the gospel, not in cultural homogeneity. It’s not in political alignment,” Greear said. “Our unity is in the Great Commission; our identity is in the gospel; and I feel like those are some trends that are coming out in the interviews. That’s what they’ve been asking about.”
 
Prayer, evangelism, the gospel, revival and exhorting college students are among his priorities, Greear said, announcing plans to meet with state leaders this summer.
 
“My goal as the president is I’m the least important person in the conversation,” he said of state leaders. “And I want to say to these state agencies and these conventions, ‘How can I serve in what God has put on your heart to do and be a catalyst to help you facilitate evangelism in your area?’”
 
First vice president Vines pastors New Seasons Church in San Diego, Calif.; second vice president Cabrera leads Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

7/16/2018 12:45:57 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



African nation’s Baptists stirred to advance gospel

July 16 2018 by IMB Staff


IMB photo
IMB missionary Jeff Singerman, in a photo prior to his recovery from injuries in a March 2018 auto accident, preaches in a Baptist church in Benin, West Africa.

In the country that birthed voodoo, Baptists in Benin are working to pray for and support the spread of the gospel in the Sub-Saharan country.

It’s a story IMB missionary Barbara Singerman can’t share without tearing up.

“They are investing in missions,” she said. “They are expressing a love and appreciation and oneness – participation in the work. We are completely overwhelmed.” 
 

She and her husband Jeff lived in the West African country for 24 years. When they moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), they continued to encourage Beninese Baptists to actively engage in the Great Commission.
 
Then tragedy struck: A week after a visit to Benin in March 2018, the Singermans both endured severe injuries in the DRC from a horrendous car accident. They had no idea God was using this awful experience to mobilize their brothers and sisters in Benin, a French-speaking country of some 11 million people between Nigeria and Togo.
 
Friends from Benin presented an astounding love offering for missions to Jeff and Barbara, who wept. Widows gave out of their lack to help their “Beninese brother and sister” who were suffering. Others were upset they hadn’t been able to contribute right after the accident.

“They’re not giving it to us. They’re giving it to God,” Barbara said.
 
This is the first time she and Jeff have seen Benin’s Christians unite in prayer and sacrificial giving toward taking the gospel to the nations. Church leaders across the country are calling on their congregations to pray. People have told the Singermans they will pray until they are healed.
 
“We’re excited to see what happens,” Barbara said.
 
Prayer requests:

  • Please join Beninese Baptists in praying for Jeff and Barbara Singerman’s physical healing.

  • Ask God to continue to use this car accident to spur Beninese Christians to engage the Great Commission.

  • Pray that Beninese Baptists will boldly share the gospel with their countrymen and the nations.

Gifts by Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering support missionaries such as the Singermans who are taking the gospel to people in Africa as they help national believers lead out in that effort.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

7/16/2018 12:45:42 PM by IMB Staff | with 0 comments



Tiny houses: Sanctuary for needy shows ‘God is good’

July 16 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Tiny homes under construction spearheaded by a small Appalachian congregation will offer sanctuary and livelihood to people recovering from addiction and other life setbacks.

Photo by Grant Hasty
Volunteers pray and write Scriptures on the wood used in each tiny home constructed in The Light Community.

Crossroads Community Church in Stearns, Ky., bought a 13-acre site and is building 20 homes of 300-540 square feet to meet the needs of a community impacted by poverty, broken families and substance abuse addiction.
 
About 75 people attend the church “on a good Sunday,” many of them retired or unable to work, pastor Grant Hasty told Baptist Press. Yet God has given the church a multifaceted ministry with the help of others.
 
“Everything we do is through donations and volunteers,” Hasty said, including volunteers from the church. “Most [Crossroads Community Church members] are unemployed, some are retired, some of them are unable to work. We’re just giving them an opportunity to serve and to give back. And then we also partner with a lot of churches, and not just summer, but throughout the year.”
 
The housing development, called The Light Community, is about 12 miles from The Lord’s Café where the church worships and serves free hot meals four days a week.
 
“We’ve had mission teams that have been up here since Memorial Day week,” Hasty said, “and we’ll have … teams all the way through the 28th of this month [July]. We’ll have over 16 churches up here working.”
 
In addition to building homes and serving hot meals, volunteers are conducting a free summer camp four days a week, giving away groceries once a week, washing clothes in a laundromat ministry four days a week and conducting a crafts ministry at a privately owned adult day care, all while spreading the gospel with those at each outreach.
 
“A few years ago, we began having a few individuals come in and just needing a place to stay, sometimes temporarily,” Hasty recounted. “Some were dealing with addiction, some were dealing with being burned out, others were dealing with child protection services” or other issues.
 
The needs birthed The Light Community in Strunk, modeled after the Community First Village outreach by Mobile Loaves and Fishes ministry in Austin, Texas.
 

Photo by Grant Hasty
Volunteers are helping Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Stearns, Ky., build The Light Community of 20 tiny homes to help former addicts and others gain a firm foundation in life.

“I really fell in love with the model … in Austin to combat homelessness,” Hasty said, “and so we’re bringing that back to rural Appalachia and adapting it to our culture.”
 
Hasty founded Crossroads Community Church eight years ago and describes himself as technically bivocational, although the church is his only endeavor. He has no complaints about working fulltime at the church on a part-time salary.
 
“It does boil down a lot to faith. If God calls you to do something, He’s going to provide the resources for you to do it,” Hasty told BP. “Our prayer even from the get-go was: God show us the needs of the community and then provide the resources to help us meet those needs.”
 
The Light Community will house people who have demonstrated a clear effort to recover from substance abuse, such as opioid addictions that place Kentucky fifth in overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the 2016 Overdose Fatality Report of the Kentucky Office of Drug Policy Control. Overdose deaths numbered 1,404 in Kentucky in 2016, compared to 1,248 the previous year, the report said.
 
But seeing individuals in need, rather than knowing the statistics, was the driving force in founding The Light Community, Hasty said.
 
Rent paid by a couple to live in a two-bedroom cabin at The Light Community site, coupled with an outside donor, covers the mortgage and utilities for the construction site.
 
“The project is not costing the church anything each month,” Hasty said. “All we do through ministry is by donation and volunteers. God is good.”
 
Hasty struggled to secure a sewerage system for the property in McCreary County where the service is not provided, but an environmentally friendly system is being designed by a Cincinnati company and undergoing inspection for approval.
 
“God’s doing this,” Hasty said. “It’s going to come together. It’s just a matter of His timing.”
 

Photo by Grant Hasty
A 13-acre site in McCreary County is being readied for individuals and families needing a fresh start. 

Volunteers will construct homes in four sections of five homes each, with each section costing about $20,000 and including two studio homes and three two-bedroom homes, Hasty said. The first homes should be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2019. Christian faith won’t be a requirement for tiny home residents, which Hasty said will give the church additional opportunities to spread the gospel.
 
Long-term plans envision avenues for the residents’ livelihood, including an artisan center, a blacksmith shop, livestock and other ventures.
 
“They’re going to have to work,” Hasty said. “It’s not a handout; it’s a hand up.”
 
Among the churches Hasty listed as providing volunteers for The Light Community: Curtis Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga.; Crosspointe Baptist Church in Owensboro, Ky.; Central Baptist Church near Austin, Texas; Big Stevens Creek Baptist Church in North Augusta, S.C.; Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Fountain Inn., S.C., and Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier, N.C.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

7/16/2018 12:36:55 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



In-school newscast’s cancelation celebrated

July 16 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Channel One, the daily TV newscast for schoolchildren that once drew criticism from a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolution, announced it has ceased its daily broadcasts.
 

Screen capture from ChannelOne.com
After 28 years of newscasts for in-school use, Channel One announced that the 2017-18 academic year was its last year of broadcasts.

The announcement was greeted with celebration from the conservative group Eagle Forum, which said in a July 11 news release Channel One’s 12-minute newscast for “a captive audience” of public school students included commercials that “encouraged materialism” and promoted movies with “inappropriate behavior not condoned by parents.”
 
Bobbie Patray, president of Tennessee Eagle Forum, told Baptist Press she is “very happy” at Channel One’s announcement because she has been “very concerned” about it over the years. Patray served on the 1999 SBC Resolutions Committee and played a role in developing a resolution declaring “the advertising and commercial use of Channel One unfortunate and an erroneous educational strategy.”
 
“God created people to be very visual,” Patray said, “and when we see things, it has an impact on us,” including the objectionable Channel One advertisements shown to teens and preteens without parents’ knowledge.
 
According to a June 27 announcement on Channel One’s website, the broadcast ran 28 years and ceased following the 2017-2018 school year because of concerns related to “return on investment” and “strategic coherence” of its parent company’s “product portfolio.”
 
In the late 1990s, some 40 percent of all 11- to 18-year-olds in America watched Channel One because their school districts signed contracts with the network, the late Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly told Congress in 1999. Those contracts provided schools with televisions and other electronic equipment in exchange for a promise to show the daily newscast.
 
The SBC’s resolution put the number of daily student viewers at 8 million and called “on school administrators and community leaders to work to remove Channel One from their school districts.”
 
The SBC resolution stated, “Channel One advertising includes promotion of junk foods; chat rooms and ‘Personal Ads’ message boards; movies such as Eddie Murphy’s “Holy Man” and Adam Sandler’s “The Water Boy,” both of which are age-inappropriate for the students who see these ads; movies with sexually suggestive content such as “Never Been Kissed;” movies with ultra-violent themes such as “The Mummy Quest;” television shows like Stephen King’s “The Shining” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer;” sexualized magazines like Seventeen; and has broadcast the music of groups known for ... violent and sexually explicit lyrics such as the satanic rock band, Marilyn Manson.”
 
In 2000, Channel One gave Southern Baptists partial credit when it announced it would begin screening ads for PG-13 movies to determine their appropriateness for high school audiences.”
 
Patray noted that in recent years opposition to Channel One seems to have quieted.
 
Archived Channel One broadcasts remain available through the network’s website, including an edition for grades 3-5 and another for grades 6-12.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

7/16/2018 12:36:30 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Brindley to be BSC 1st VP candidate

July 13 2018 by Biblical Recorder Staff

Marty Dupree plans to nominate Perry Brindley, director of missions at the Buncombe Baptist Association in Asheville, as the first vice president for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) at this year’s annual meeting, Dupree told the Biblical Recorder July 12.
 

BSC photo

Dupree, director of missions for Little River Baptist Association in Lillington, said he is a longtime friend and touted Brindley’s record of ministry.
 
“Perry is a great friend,” Dupree said. “Perry has been involved in the leadership for North Carolina Baptists in many different ways for many years.
 
“He also has a great heart for North Carolina and North Carolina Baptists. His knowledge of churches, associations and the convention will serve him well in leadership to help us all as a convention of churches and associations.
 
“He’s been an effective pastor and supportive of the Cooperative Program.”
 
Brindley, 58, has served the Buncombe association for five years. Prior to that, he served as a pastor for 29 years. Much of that time was spent in North Carolina at Skyland First Baptist Church in Skyland and Mount Zion Baptist Church in Canton.
 
Dupree noted that Brindley has been involved in evangelism and disciple-making strategy efforts that target “pockets of lostness,” which included the “launching of multi-housing ministry and ethnic church planting.”
 
Brindley has previously served as president of the BSC board of directors, president of the Fruitland Baptist Bible College board of directors, chairman of the BSC nominating committee and two terms as a member of the BSC board of directors.
 
“My desire is to continue to support and encourage convention leadership as we move forward to pursue greater passion for church revitalization, for replanting and for new work,” Brindley said. “The Buncombe association has seen progress in each one of those areas, and I know that progress is being made throughout the state in all 77 associations.
 
Brindley also expressed support for the North Carolina Missions Offering. He said the Buncombe association churches have increased their giving over the past five years toward the special offering each September, which supports disaster relief, church planting and associational projects across the state.
 
He stressed the importance of supporting and strengthening relationships between associations and the BSC. “We are much stronger as we work together to bring progress to the areas of church revitalization, replanting and new work,” he said. “I will serve North Carolina Baptists as I have tried to serve in ministry every day with passion and integrity.”
 
Brindley holds degrees from Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute (now college) and Luther Rice Seminary. He and his wife, Della, have two children and eight grandchildren. She is presently on the BSC board of directors. They are members of Pole Creek Baptist Church in Candler.
 
The BSC annual meeting will be held Nov. 5-6 in Greensboro. Micheal Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Icard, will also be nominated for BSC first vice president.

Related stories:
Current BSC officers bow out of upcoming elections
Harrison to be nominated for BSC president
Pardue to be nominated N.C. Baptist 1st VP
Ledbetter to be nominated N.C. Baptist 2nd VP
White withdraws BSC 2nd VP bid

7/13/2018 2:20:50 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 0 comments



IMB toughens cyber security after data breach

July 13 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

(Updated July 13, 5 p.m.)

A data breach occurred at the International Mission Board (IMB) that may have exposed personal information of current and former employees, volunteers and applicants. The Southern Baptist entity launched a “comprehensive response” immediately upon discovering the cyber security incident and promptly notified law enforcement officials, according to a statement released to the Biblical Recorder on July 12.
 
The IMB began contacting individuals potentially affected by the “unauthorized intrusion” on July 6, offering free enrollment in an identity protection and credit monitoring program, as well as access to a toll-free call center for inquiries and assistance.

Reports from multiple people who have received information through the designated hotline suggest the number of those impacted by the breach could reach into the hundreds of thousands.

One of the letters mailed to potentially affected individuals was obtained by the Recorder. It said the IMB "discovered unusual activity in our IT network" on April 11.
 
Investigations by law enforcement and independent digital forensic experts are ongoing, the IMB said. Investigators confirmed to the IMB that an “unknown external actor” gained access to personnel records that contained names, addresses, birth dates, contact information, Social Security numbers and limited health information.

The breach did not affect the IMB’s financial systems, email systems or operational records, the statement said. IMB officials have received no indication the compromised data has been misused.
 
The IMB said it “deeply regrets any inconvenience or concern this security compromise may cause” and emphasized that newly implemented protections “will improve our ability to detect and respond to threats to our data networks.”

7/13/2018 12:21:22 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



Displaying results 41-50 (of 50)
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 >  >|