June 2012

NCBAM plans ministry to ministers

June 22 2012 by NCBAM

The North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) is currently developing plans for a new outreach to North Carolina Baptist ministers 65 and older – retired or still serving. Discussion forums and initial brainstorming meetings are scheduled for July 24, 26 and 31 at Baptist Children’s Homes campuses.
Pastors, directors of missions, or any other persons interested in contributing to this discussion are welcomed to attend.
• Tuesday, July 24, 2-4 p.m. – Kennedy Home, 2557 Cedar Dell Lane, Kinston, NC 28504 
• Thursday, July 26, 2-4 p.m. – Mills Home, NCBAM Administrative Building, 201-A Idol St., Thomasville, NC 27360
• Tuesday, July 31, 2-4 p.m. – Broyhill Home, 111 Sneed Drive, Clyde, NC 28721
Please contact NCBAM at (877) 506-2226 if you would like to help develop ideas for this new outreach.
6/22/2012 1:11:36 PM by NCBAM | with 0 comments

Messengers OK resolution on ‘Sinner’s Prayer’

June 21 2012 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention approved Wednesday morning June 20 at their annual meeting a resolution identifying what is frequently described as a “Sinner’s Prayer” as a biblical way of expressing repentance and faith.

Debate on the resolution consumed much of the 30 minutes allotted for the first resolutions report scheduled for the day. As a result, messengers were able to consider only three of nine resolutions reported to the convention by the Resolutions Committee.

In addition to the resolution on a “Sinner’s Prayer,” messengers also approved resolutions:

– Celebrating the 200th anniversary this year of Baptist work in Louisiana.

– Expressing appreciation to God and all those who helped with this year’s annual meeting.

The committee was scheduled to give its final report Wednesday afternoon when resolutions on the following subjects will be up for consideration by messengers:

– Cooperation and the doctrine of salvation, which appears to be a response to differences between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the convention.

– Defending religious freedom.

– “Same-sex marriage” as a civil rights issue.

– The inerrancy of the Bible and the historicity of Adam and Eve.

– Affirming community and human needs ministries by churches.

– Acknowledgment of the role of African Americans in Baptist work in the United States.

With an estimated 80 percent majority, messengers approved the resolution on a “Sinner’s Prayer” with some careful descriptions. The resolution reiterated the belief that “repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation” and said such a “crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord,” which constitute what is often described as a “sinner’s prayer,” are a “biblical expression of repentance and faith.”

The resolution also said “a ‘sinner’s prayer’ is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the gospel.”

It also urged Southern Baptists to continue to take the gospel to sinners of “every tribe, tongue, and language.”

Messengers defeated two efforts to amend the resolution. One called for removal of the words “a ‘Sinner’s Prayer’” from the resolution’s title and a paragraph. That amendment failed by what appeared to be a comfortable though not overwhelming margin.

Jimmy Scroggins, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., is chairman of the Resolutions Committee. Other members of the Resolutions Committee are Stephen Farish, senior pastor of Crossroads Church, Grayslake, Ill.; Cheri Jimenez, pastor’s wife and member of Taylors First Baptist Church, Greer, S.C.; Manpoong Dennis Kim, pastor of Global Mission Church, Silver Spring, Md.; Gary Lowe, member of Alta Canyon Baptist Church, Sandy, Utah; Tim Ohls, senior pastor of Believers Southern Baptist Church, Wichita, Kan.; Kevin Smith, pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., and assistant professor of Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Kevin Ueckert, senior pastor of South Side Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas; Stephen Douglas Wilson, member of First Baptist Church, Lone Oak, Ky., and dean emeritus and chair of the social studies/history department at Mid-Continent University, Mayfield, Ky., and Joe Wright, director of missions for Dyer Baptist Association, Dyersburg, Tenn.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)
6/21/2012 2:14:30 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Baptist21 panel talks SBC history & future

June 21 2012 by Tim Ellsworth & Keith Collier, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – The Conservative Resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the 1980s and ’90s and its implications for the future of the denomination were discussed at the Baptist21 luncheon June 19 in New Orleans where two key leaders of the movement – Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler – were honored.

A six-member panel of three generations of Southern Baptists were featured at the luncheon moderated by Jonathan Akin, senior pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, Tenn. Akin provided some background on the Conservative Resurgence.

On the panel were Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; R. Al Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.; and Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.

“The Southern Baptist Convention’s entities were being highly influenced by a theology that was questioning and denying the inerrancy of the Bible – things like the exclusivity of Christ, the necessity of the virgin birth, the necessity of the resurrection, gender roles in the home, gender roles in the church, questioning the sexual ethics of the Bible, and many other things,” Jonathan Akin said.

Matt Miller

Baptist21, an organization that analyzes the faithfulness of Southern Baptists to gospel witness in today’s cultural context, holds a panel on the topic “The Conservative Resurgence, the Great Commission Resurgence and the Future of the SBC” at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans June 19. Panelists included, left to right: Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, J.D. Greear, David Platt and Danny Akin.

In such an environment, Akin said that God stirred in the hearts of some key men – such as W.A. Criswell, Jerry Vines, Charles Stanley and others – a desire to turn the SBC back from liberal theology to orthodoxy.

Baptist21 recognized two of those men at the luncheon, presenting plaques to Patterson and Pressler. Pressler, a layman, is a retired justice of the Texas Court of Appeals who wrote a memoir, “A Hill on Which to Die,” published in 1999 by Broadman & Holman.

“God used these two men as key leaders to bring about the Conservative Resurgence,” Jonathan Akin said, noting that the movement’s success of returning a denomination from liberalism to orthodoxy was unprecedented in U.S. evangelical history. “Baptist21 and a lot of young Southern Baptists feel a great deal of gratitude and debt to Dr. Paige Patterson and Judge Paul Pressler,” Akin said.

In examining the history of the SBC’s Conservative Resurgence, Patterson pointed to the importance of the book “Baptists and the Bible” by L. Russ Bush and Tom J. Nettles, both professors at the time at Southwestern Seminary. Bush and Nettles “cut the ground out from under the idea that somehow Baptists did not believe that the Bible was the inerrant, infallible word of God,” Patterson said.

Though Patterson said several opponents made attempts to rebut the book’s arguments, “all of them fell on deaf ears, and so that book prevailed.”

Danny Akin described Patterson as the movement’s theologian, Pressler as its organizer and Adrian Rogers as its preacher.

“When you put those three men together, they inspired and mobilized Southern Baptists to go to the convention and vote their convictions,” Akin said.

A rejection of substitutionary atonement and an embrace of inclusivism and universalism was already present in the SBC in the 1980s, Mohler said. Other denominations that went down that path, including most mainline Protestant denominations, now have theological debates over such issues as the ordination of homosexuals and the blessing of homosexual unions.

Mohler said if the Conservative Resurgence hadn’t happened, the SBC would be having the same kinds of debates today.

“Thanks be to God, we’ve got things to discuss, but not those things,” Mohler said.

Jonathan Akin asked Greear and Platt if they had any concerns in Baptist life where the sufficiency and authority of scripture are still being compromised.

Greear described the Conservative Resurgence as a “confidence in the Bible that leads to great urgency in the Great Commission,” and said that all practices and methodologies should be concerned with evangelism and reaching the lost.

Platt said he thought there were many preaching practices, even in Southern Baptist life, that deny the sufficiency of scripture, with pastors facing pressure to fill their sermons with their own thoughts and stories.

“If our sermons are not saturated with Scripture and driven by the text, then we’re not taking advantage of all that God by His grace has provided us with,” Platt said.

Jonathan Akin asked for the panelists to provide some criteria for determining which fights over doctrine and theology were worth fighting in the denomination.

Danny Akin pointed to a “theological triage” system Mohler developed. He described “first-tier issues” such as the gospel, the deity of Christ, the sinlessness of Christ and the miracles of the Bible as things “worth spilling our blood over because those are what constitute being a Christian,” Danny Akin said.

Over “second-tier” issues, such as infant baptism, Danny Akin said Baptists could still affirm people as brothers and sisters in Christ, but working together in a church would be difficult. Even less important issues, such as eschatology, may be worth debating, but are not worthy of breaking fellowship, Akin said.

The discussion then shifted to the topic of Calvinism and the recent document “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” which by the time of the luncheon had been signed by more than 700 denominational leaders and pastors, including seven state convention executives.

Jonathan Akin mentioned that Patterson signed the document and asked Patterson if he thought Calvinists should be prohibited from serving in leadership positions within the SBC.

“No, I’ve never thought that at all,” Patterson said.

“When you get into a discussion, part of what you need to do is measure your own heat content,” he said. “The hotter you get, the less likely you are to be correct in the whole situation.”

Patterson said Southern Baptists have always had “two tributaries flowing into one river.” Pointing to church history, he said British Baptists in the 17th century failed when they split into General and Particular Baptists.

“They really needed each other; they needed the discussion. In Southern Baptist life, we’ve always been able to have this discussion,” Patterson said. Noting differing interpretations between himself and Mohler, he said: “Do we divide up and fuss and fight among ourselves? No. We state our positions clearly, as clearly as we know how, and then we go have a Baptist drink together – which is a Diet Coke. You have to learn to discuss these things without the heat content that is the problem that leads to divisiveness.”

Patterson said Baptists hold to religious liberty, so he has no problem with people issuing clarifying statements on their beliefs. However, he said, “I do not raise the statement that I signed to the same significance that I would the BF&M 2000. The BF&M 2000 represents a consensus among all Southern Baptists.”

Mohler echoed these sentiments, calling for Southern Baptists to state their convictions with grace and love.

“The last thing we need is the development of theological tribes in the SBC,” Mohler said. “The point is, what are you doing in order to glorify God and bring praise and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ, pushing back the darkness and sharing the gospel and gloriously celebrating when even one sinner comes home? ... We earned the right, from those who came before us in the Conservative Resurgence, for us to be able to talk about doctrine without embarrassing ourselves because a failure to do that means we become a non-theological people, and a non-theological people will lose the gospel.”

Additionally, Mohler said, “There should be absolutely no criticism of anyone who has the courage to frame a theological argument and to submit it for the discussion of the denomination.”

Connecting the discussion to a local church setting, Greear said his church does not allow the topic to be a divisive issue. He said there are Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the congregation and on staff, but they work together harmoniously.

“One of the things that we’ve found is that if you’re committed to the expository preaching of the Bible, ... then a biblical Calvinist and a biblical Arminian end up sounding unbelievably similar on the passages they preach,” Greear said. “There is room for us to agree on the essentials of gospel proclamation and to exegete texts correctly without having to vilify one another and put one another outside of this fold.”

Jonathan Akin broadened the discussion, asking Luter to address racial unity in the midst of diversity. Luter said churches must make people of all backgrounds feel welcome in their services. He also encouraged a focus on the gospel and God’s Word over that of skin color.

“When [we] go and stand and proclaim the Word of God, it’s amazing how those tensions can break down,” Luter said. “We're connected not based on skin color but based on sin color. We don’t have a skin problem here. We have a sin problem. Once we deal with the sin problem, I promise you the skin problem will work itself out.”

Jonathan Akin ended the discussion with the question of how Southern Baptists going forward can be good stewards of what was gained through the Conservative Resurgence.

Panel members said Southern Baptists must learn from history and remember debate over the inerrancy and sufficiency of scripture will never end. Members of the panel encouraged pastors to stand strong for the essentials of the Christian faith and to remain vigilant against attacks on the reliability of the Bible. With this in mind, panelists said, Southern Baptists must remain unified and be faithful to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.
6/21/2012 2:07:47 PM by Tim Ellsworth & Keith Collier, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Lino, Miller snag first, second vp elections

June 21 2012 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – Messengers to the 2012 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) elected Nathan Lino as SBC first vice president June 19 and Dave Miller as second vice president June 20.

Lino, church planting pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Humble, Texas, for the last 10 years, is a trustee of the International Mission Board and a former first vice president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

The only candidate for SBC first vice president, Lino was elected by acclamation as voiced by the traditional sole ballot of the recording secretary.

Lino was nominated by Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla.

“If you want to look at the character of a pastor, look at three things in his life: Look at his family, look at his heart and look at his church,” Whitten said in his nomination speech.

Lino believes the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 “can keep us tied in unity for years to come,” Whitten said.

“Nathan believes the light that shines the farthest still shines the brightest at home,” Whitten said, noting that the church also has a six-day a week pregnancy/medical ministry in Houston’s Fifth Ward that he estimates will save the lives of 2,000 babies this year.

For Miller, an earlier vote narrowed the field to two candidates. Miller, Eric Hankins and Brad Atkins had each been nominated. Hankins had joined Miller in a runoff election, when none of the three had acquired a majority of votes.

Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, and editor of SBCVoices.com, was nominated by Alan Cross, pastor of Gateway Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., was nominated by Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. Atkins, pastor of Powdersville First Baptist Church in Easley, S.C., was nominated by Johnny Touchet, pastor of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Piedmont, S.C.

“We are already unified,” Cross declared. “If we are all in Christ, then we are already one. That’s a spiritual reality we are called to live out daily. Dave Miller ... gets that and lives to promote that reality among Baptists. ... He takes seriously what it means to walk with Christ and follow him.”

While the other two presenters lauded the accomplishments of their candidates, Cross focused on Miller’s vision to bring unity to the Southern Baptist Convention. As the editor of a widely read blog – www.sbcvoices.com – Miller wants “to call all Baptists to be unified in our worship of Christ together,” Cross said.

“We must be intentional to include at the table of leadership a small church pastor from the pioneer areas of Southern Baptist work,” Cross also noted. “We need Dave’s voice to help us work together. If we are serious about reaching all of America, we need leaders from all of America.”

The final vote was 1,202 for Miller, or 59.5 percent of the ballots cast. Hankins received 798 votes, or 39.5 percent.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.)
6/21/2012 1:33:59 PM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Peachtree Memorial celebrates 175 years

June 21 2012 by Dwight Otwell, Special from The Cherokee Scout

Ten charter members, including two Cherokee Indians, started a church in Peachtree in 1837. The church, now located on N.C. 141 in Murphy, celebrated its 175th anniversary June 10.
The first church building was made of hewn logs and it would become known as Peachtree Memorial Baptist Church.
The church probably was called Peachtree Baptist Church in those days, said Chester Jones, who has been pastor of the growing congregation since 2000.    
“It is quite a thrill,” Jones said of being part of a church with such a long history. “We have held onto the dream of the charter members – keeping the dream and message alive.”
“I have seen a lot of change,” said Jim Hendrix, a church member since 1950. “Communications have improved. Hard benches have been replaced by [comfortable] pews.”

Photos by Scott Wallace swallace@cherokeescout.com

Cheryl Arrowood and Shirley Voyles join other members of Peachtree Memorial Baptist Church in preparation for the church’s 175th anniversary celebration at the congregation’s newest building in Peachtree June 10.

From as early as 1817, Humpfrey Posey and Evan Jones, forerunners of the Baptist missionary movement, walked the valleys of what would be known as the Peachtree community.
They shared the gospel with Native Americans and white settlers, Jones said.
Fred Lunsford, director of missions for the Truett Baptist Association for 26 years until he retired in 1990 at age 65, said the church was organized about the time of the Indian removal and Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.
At that time, there was a group of Christians at Peachtree, part of the Valley Town Mission operated by the Cherokee Indians. That was the first church west of Balsam Gap.
After removal of the Cherokee, there is no history of Valley Town Mission, Lunsford said. Some of the members of that church became part of Peachtree Baptist.
A church history compiled by Cheryl Arrowood and the historical committee states that Peachtree Memorial is the second-oldest church in the Truett Baptist Association.
The congregation was formed from Valley River Baptist Church.
Jones said some believe Peachtree Baptist to be the oldest church in the county, while some think Valley River Baptist Church in Andrews is the oldest.
“Some believe Peachtree [Baptist] was once called Valley River [Baptist] before it was known as Peachtree,” Jones said.
One thing they do know, Jones said, is “it is one of the oldest churches in the county.”
The church, which has moved to various locations in the past, dedicated its present facility in June of 2009.
“Through the years, Peachtree Memorial has been a strong supporter of missions and a strong supporter of me during the 26 years I served,” Lunsford said. “It is what I call a foundation for the mission endeavor in the area.”
During the 175th anniversary celebration, collages of historical photographs were on display as well as pictures of artifacts found in archeological digs along the Hiwassee River in the vicinity of the mission church.
“Not every day do you get a church that has been around for 175 years,” said Mitchell Shields, who is director of missions for the Truett Baptist Association.
“That church has had a tremendous impact on our community for 175 years.”
6/21/2012 1:26:23 PM by Dwight Otwell, Special from The Cherokee Scout | with 0 comments

‘Great Commission’ descriptor approved by messengers

June 20 2012 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – The descriptor “Great Commission Baptists” was approved by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) by a vote of 53 percent to 46 percent after nearly a half-hour debate June 19 at the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans.

According to results announced Wednesday morning, 4,824 ballots were cast, 2,546 were in favor of the descriptor and 2,232 were not in favor of the descriptor. Forty-six ballots were disallowed. At the time of the vote, 7,831 messengers were registered.

The measure survived some parliamentary maneuvering as a messenger called for tabling the discussion indefinitely and another asked that the convention not consider the issue at all.

Messengers approved the recommendation from the SBC Executive Committee (EC) that “those churches, entities and organizations in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention” which desire to use a descriptor other than “Southern Baptists” to indicate their involvement in the convention consider using Great Commission Baptists.

The phrase, messengers agreed, is commended “as one fully in keeping with our Southern Baptist Convention identity.”

The legal name of the convention will remain “Southern Baptist Convention.”

In February, the Executive Committee approved the recommendation brought by SBC President Bryant Wright who had appointed a task force to advise him on the possibility of changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Based on their advice, Wright brought a recommendation to the EC that the convention keep its name but adopt an informal, non-legal Great Commission Baptists descriptor, to be used by any church that wishes to use it.

Jimmy Draper, chairman of the task force, said the goal from the beginning of the study “was to consider the removal of any barrier to the effective proclamation of the gospel and reaching people for Christ.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is Baptist Press’ assistant editor.)
6/20/2012 1:40:39 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Pam Tebow describes ‘fishbowl’ experience

June 20 2012 by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – Well-versed in living a “fishbowl” experience, Pam Tebow, mother of NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and a former missionary to the Philippines, joined Jeannie Elliff, wife of the International Mission Board’s (IMB) president, for the Pastors’ Wives Conference June 18 prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans.

Tebow challenged the ministers’ wives to appreciate the interest others have in their lives and use it as an opportunity for influence.

“That’s not a bad thing,” Tebow said of a fishbowl experience. “There are such advantages and great accountability. Use your influence intentionally because that’s why God created you – to glorify Him.”

Tebow urged the audience to get to know the Master, learn from His manual, discover the power of prayer, develop a biblical mindset that focuses on eternity, care about their mission and remain passionate about God and the opportunities He has given them to influence their children.

Photo by Adam Covington

Holding a framed poem ‘Influence’ that hung on her son Tim Tebow’s dorm room wall during his college years, Pam Tebow explains the responsibility mothers have in positively influencing their children.

“When we invest in our kids, husbands and ministries of our churches, those are things that last forever,” Tebow said. Her testimony provided highlights of her ministry with her husband in the Philippines and as the mother of five children.

Aware that many of those investments do not yield immediate appreciation, Tebow said, “We’re not patted on the back and we don’t get a lot of accolades when we do things on behalf of children, husbands and churches, but God notices and He rewards you eternally for what you do for the cause of Christ.”

Elliff, a former pastor’s wife and missionary, traced the hand of God in her life as she recounted the touchstones that point to the promises of God’s deliverance found in Psalm 34:15-19.

Growing up in a non-ministry family, she married a preacher, Tom Elliff, who pastored nearly 20 years before God called them to the mission field of Zimbabwe. Their departure was bittersweet, leaving within a year after Tom’s father walked away from a 43-year marriage. “We were like two little kids holding on to each other,” she said, recalling the night her husband learned of his father’s lapse in moral character.

Still in their mid-30s at the time, Elliff said they were crushed and scared. “After that, things began to happen in our lives that really proved our faith.”

There was the act of sabotage that wrecked the car she was driving in Zimbabwe, throwing three of the four children out of the car and leaving their 14-year-old daughter on the highway pinned under the vehicle and eventually requiring a return to the States for medical care.

Then, a 20-year pastorate began with recovery from the monumental debt the church had incurred in previous years. Later, their 16-year-old son hit a car head-on, killing the driver. In one year both of her parents died leaving her with the responsibility of selling their house and belongings.

Then there was the fire that destroyed their home in Oklahoma, followed soon after by an F5 tornado that exploded the condominium to which they had moved. A knee injury forced her husband to preach from a wheelchair during his three-month recovery, and her two battles with breast cancer taught her that he was a better nurse to her than she was to him.

At one time 11 of their grandchildren lived overseas. “Tom and I cannot grieve over the sacrifice we make in being away from our children,” she said, calling the nearly 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries and their 4,000 children “the world’s unknown heroes.”

“When God broke my heart for missions as a pastor’s wife and helped me get out of myself and the issues I was struggling with, I realized it’s not just about me,” she said. After developing an interest in the IMB, she realized it is only in eternity that the sacrifices of missionaries will be fully known. “Join me,” she said, “in getting to know who they are.”

Parenting preachers’ kids was the focus of a roundtable discussion led by Susie Hawkins, author of “From One Ministry Wife to Another,” joined by Elliff, as well as Carmen Howell of Daytona Beach, Fla., Elicia Horton of Kansas City, Mo., and Cindy King of Philadelphia.

Begun in 2005 as a pre-convention session of the annual meeting, the event is operated on a shoestring budget with LifeWay Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) underwriting much of the funding necessary to rent space and cover travel expenses of outside speakers.

The session was opened in prayer by one of the most experienced women’s ministry leaders in the country, Barbara O’Chester of Wake Forest, N.C., with Kathy Litton, national director of the North American Mission Board’s ministry to pastors’ wives, closing the session with a guided prayer applying the principles taught on behalf of preacher’s kids.

Litton encouraged wives of ministers to check out NAMB’s online resource at www.flourish.me as well as www.contagiousjoy4him.com for pastors’ wives and other women serving in ministry.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist Texan.)
6/20/2012 1:29:18 PM by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

WMU-NC announces interim leader

June 20 2012 by WMU-NC press release

The Executive Committee of Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) chose Robin C. Bass as its interim executive director-treasurer during a recent meeting.
The decision was made June 7. Bass, part-time minister of education and volunteer worship leader at Hermon Baptist Church in Waxhaw, will be working part time at WMU-NC as well.
“I love missions and God is continually burdening my heart for people who are lost and need someone to tell them of Jesus,” said Bass in the press release. “I believe God has uniquely prepared me for this role at this point in my life.”
A press release indicated that leaders thought Bass will work two or three days a week depending on scheduling demands.
Bass previously served on the WMU-NC Executive Board and chaired the Camp Committee. She has continued to be involved in aspects of WMU-NC and currently serves as chair of the Heck-Jones Offering Committee. She recently completed a master of divinity in Christian Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. She has her bachelor’s in zoology from N.C. State University in Raleigh and another master’s degree (business administration) from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. She and her husband, Henry, are involved in the N.C. Baptist Men’s disaster relief ministry and have been state coordinators through the North American Mission Board’s church renewal ministry. They have been married 27 years.
6/20/2012 1:17:33 PM by WMU-NC press release | with 0 comments

Drinking water project transforms spiritually, physically

June 20 2012 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

Through help from North Carolina Baptists, Biju Thomas is on a mission to bring spiritual and physical change to Bihar, India.
“I believe it is the birthright of every person in Bihar to hear the gospel at least once in their lifetime,” said the founder and president of Transformation India Movement (TIM), which is partnering with North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM).
Sharing Jesus with everyone in Bihar is no small task. The population exceeds 100 million people and less than 0.5 percent claim Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. The majority of the people live among Bihar’s 45,000 rural villages. Poor roads often make access to the villages difficult and most villages lack basic necessities such as clean water.
Instead, villagers often have no choice but to drink water from contaminated rivers, ponds or open wells, leading to a high rate of water-borne disease in Bihar.
Yet, Thomas is determined to fulfill his mission through a holistic ministry that begins with something as simple as giving people clean water in the name of Jesus Christ. Through its clean drinking water project, TIM provides water wells to villages in need throughout Bihar. Most of the funding for the project is provided through TIM’s NCBM partnership.

TIM photo

Because of N.C. Baptists, Transformation India Movement (TIM) is able to reach Indians for Christ through its wells. Providing clean drinking water opens doors for TIM to share Christ but also to hold events and train people to better their circumstances.

The partnership began in 2007 after Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director-treasurer, witnessed firsthand TIM’s ministry and the conditions in Bihar. “I was really blown away by what they were doing and the need in Bihar,” he said.
Shortly after Brunson’s first visit, NCBM furnished TIM with a truck and portable well drilling rig and began raising donations to help fund additional wells. Since 2007, the partnership has installed more than 950 wells.
Additional funding is provided for the training and long-term support of indigenous church planters, sewing training for women, literacy training and sponsorships for children in need. These ministries support TIM’s holistic approach to reaching Bihar for Jesus Christ. The goal for the partnership is to plant a church in every village. Wells are a crucial first step in that process. “If somebody were trying to stir up trouble and say that Christians should be run out of town you would have a tough time finding people in those villages with clean water that would feel that way,” Brunson said. “Their attitude is different because they have seen that Christians care about them.” 
A change in attitude toward Christians has allowed Thomas and his team of church planters to proclaim the gospel like never before.
Each well has a permanent inscription in Hindi that proclaims Jesus as the giver of living water. In most cases, that well is the only Christian witness in a village.
The well is a powerful witness that is breaking down barriers to the gospel, Thomas said. “The clean water well project has become an evangelistic tool to take the gospel to many villages that were previously closed to the gospel,” he said.
In 2009, TIM began to build on this goodwill by conducting evangelistic rallies in numerous villages on Christmas day. The rallies included dramas, singing and the proclamation of God’s Word.

In the days prior to the rallies, teams of church planters and volunteers went door-to-door in the villages handing out Bibles, sharing the gospel and inviting villagers to attend a rally.
That first Christmas the teams shared the gospel with 13,000 villagers. The following year that number grew to 62,000 people, and the 2011 Christmas outreach was the most successful yet.
The goal for Christmas 2011 was to share the gospel with 75,000 people, but about 115,000 people were reached, most hearing the gospel for the first time. 
“In many areas, the whole village was reached with the gospel,” Thomas said. “People were very touched to hear the message. After the preaching, in many villages people were asking what to do next.”
More than 1,500 people at the Christmas outreach responded by praying to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. In addition, house churches were started in 22 villages as a result of the 2011 rallies. 
All total, about 7,000 people have come to faith in Jesus Christ since the partnership began, and 1,200 villages have been reached with the gospel. 
Thomas believes it’s a great start toward achieving his goal.
“God is moving in Bihar like never before,” he said. “People are responding to the gospel and the opportunities are wide open. I believe the seeds that have been planted will yield its fruits in due season.”
In many cases, sowing seeds in Bihar is as simple as providing clean water in Jesus’ name. 
“We are called to meet people’s needs in Jesus’ name and there is not a place I can think of that is in greater need in the world than Bihar,” Brunson said. “And we have a great way to do it and make a big difference in a place that over the years has seen very little of the light.”
For more information about the India partnership, including information about how you can help, visit baptistsonmission.org/Projects/Outside-US/India or contact Kecia Morgan at kmorgan@ncbaptist.org.
6/20/2012 12:59:54 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

SBC elects first African American president

June 19 2012 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor, and Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

There were no surprises during the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) presidential election June 19 in New Orleans, but the convention’s decision to elect Fred Luter Jr. as its first African American president was no less historic.
While some Baptists described it as a “new day” for the convention, Daniel Akin, president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., contended it is "one of the most significant events in SBC history since the convention’s founding in 1845.”
“It makes a statement as to who we have become and what we hope to be in the future,” added Akin, who nominated the pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans as first vice president of the convention last year in Phoenix, Ariz.
“I long for the day when the church on earth looks like the church in heaven. The election of Fred Luter, one of the finest and most godly men I know, will move us further down that road."

Photo by Heather Pendergraft

Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church and nominee for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, talks about homes in the church's neighborhood that were affected by Hurricane Katrina during a block party at the church June 16. The event was part of Crossover, a series of evangelistic events held prior to the 155th Southern Baptist Convention June 19-20 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

News of Luter being willing to accept a nomination of president first surfaced in February after he told his congregation he was open to the idea.
Phil Davis, pastor of Nations Ford Community Church in Charlotte, brought along his staff to New Orleans to witness what he believes to be an “historic” and “refreshing” moment in Southern Baptist’s history.
Davis, who has known Luter for more than 20 years, said the decision is historic, “not [for] just Southern Baptists, but the Christian community as a whole, given the size and footprint of Southern Baptists across the nation.”
“I hope … whether you are African American, whether you’re Anglo, Hispanic, whatever the case may be, people will see that leadership is leadership, and Fred Luter is a good leader,” he said.
Davis described Luter as having “tremendous zeal for winning souls, starting churches and preaching the gospel and reaching people,” he said. “The bedrock of evangelism runs through his blood and that’s critical in this day and time.”
Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions development with the Baptist State Convention of N.C., first met Luter about 20 years ago while Register taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
“It’s obvious within a few minutes of meeting Fred that you understand his passion for people,” Register said, “and for helping them have a life-changing relationship with Christ. He is a passionate witness.”
Register also described Luter as a “pastor’s pastor,” dedicated to teaching his congregation to love God’s Word and a good friend to New Orleans.
“He has certainly fallen in love with the people of New Orleans,” Register said. “And that has enabled him to stay through all these years, even after Katrina, and to make a Kingdom impact.
“He will bring a thorough understanding of how to cast vision, lead a congregation, and lead his fellow pastors.”  
Antonio Santos, Hispanic church planting consultant for N.C.’s Baptist convention, said the election of Luter sends a positive message to minority groups.
“We are a very diverse country,” Santos said. “In our neighborhoods the faces are changing. In my neighborhood, my children play with Hispanics, African-Americans, and people from India.
“We need to reflect the composition of the population around us,” he said. “To remain relevant, we don’t have a choice.”
6/19/2012 3:54:33 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor, and Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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