June 2012

Faith-based ‘Unconditional’ to be shown at SBC

June 12 2012 by John D. Wilke, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Going to the movies can be an expensive outing, but this month at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in New Orleans, LifeWay Films is hosting a free screening of “Unconditional,” a new faith-based film.
At 7 p.m. CST, Tuesday, June 19, LifeWay Films will show “Unconditional” in Auditorium C of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. No tickets are required for entrance.

“Unconditional” – which will be released this fall – is a story about forgiveness, healing from losing a loved one and getting people out of their comfort zones to reach others for Christ.

According to Scott Mills, manager of LifeWay Films, “Unconditional” is based on the real life story of Joe Bradford, a Nashville man devoted to mentoring fatherless children in the inner city.
The film stars a number of well-known film and television actors including Lynn Collins, Michael Ealy and Bruce McGill.

“Cinematic storytelling has proven to be a powerful way to share a message,” Mills said. “Successful films like ‘Courageous’ and ‘October Baby’ continue to raise the bar for message-driven movie production.

“‘Unconditional’ is a solid tool for churches to reach their community. It will motivate us all to do something in our community outside the walls of the church to help meet others’ needs. For those who come to the screening at the SBC meeting in New Orleans, we ask that they help spread the word about the film to their fellow pastors and local theaters back home.”

For information about LifeWay Films, visit its booth in the exhibit hall at the SBC annual meeting. For more information about the movie visit UnconditionalTheMovie.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jon D. Wilke is media relations manager for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
6/12/2012 2:21:27 PM by John D. Wilke, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Church bombing in Nigeria kills 2, injures 40

June 12 2012 by Baptist Press, Compass Direct News

JOS, Nigeria – An Islamic extremist ran a car full of explosives at a Pentecostal church in Jos June 10, killing at least two Christians and injuring more than 40 others, military and police officials said.
Also on June 10, gunmen in Borno state reportedly killed at least two Christians during church worship. The Boko Haram Islamic sect reportedly took responsibility for both assaults.

The attack in Jos on Christ’s Chosen Church of God was the second suicide bombing of a church in two Sundays and the third church bombing in Jos in six months. The explosion, which hit after a service ended and church leaders and some children remained in the building, collapsed the roof of the sanctuary, witnesses said. The death toll was expected to increase as injuries were severe.

It marked the second consecutive Sunday that an extremist from the Boko Haram Islamist sect has been able to get through check-points to bomb a church, and reports followed of rioting by aggrieved youths that left further casualties.

Esther Solomon, a 31-year-old university student whose family’s house sits directly opposite the church building, told Compass Direct that a pastor, church elders and some children remained in the sanctuary at the time the bomb was detonated. She said she was in her family living room at the time.

“I heard this loud explosion that broke window glass. The impacts of the explosion forcefully opened the front door of our house and threw me into one of the bedrooms,” Solomon said. “I just found myself in the bedroom, and when I rushed out, I found out that a suicide bomber had crashed into the church across the road.”

Rahab Gunat, 41, said the suicide bomber first tried to bomb two churches, St. Peter’s Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), both located along Rukuba Road like Chosen church, but could not gain entry. The bomber then targeted Christ’s Chosen Church of God, though officials said he was stopped short of the building before detonating the explosives.

“He was seen trying to go to the ECWA church, but he was prevented from doing so by members of the Boys Brigade [similar to Boy Scouts] who were keeping watch over the church,” Gunat said. “From there, he went to the St. Peter’s Catholic Church, but was denied entry too, but when he found that there was no security in this church, he crashed into it.”

Celina Malo, 20, whose family’s house is just a few meters from the collapsed church building, told Compass that she was preparing for a bath when the bomb exploded.

“I heard a loud explosion that brought down the ceiling of our house, shattered all glass of our windows and violently brought down household items,” she said. “I was confused and began crying.”

Her two younger sisters, ages 8 and 11, were also crying, she said.

“I rushed outside to see what had happened and saw that it was a car that had crashed into a nearby church, and people inside were crying,” Malo told Compass.

She said that when she rushed out of her house, she saw the daughter of the pastor of the Christ’s Chosen Church of God crying outside the demolished structure.

“Her name is Victory, and she told me that her dad, the pastor of the church, and her mom, were both inside the church,” Malo said. “As we were thinking of what to do, people around rushed here to rescue people trapped in the church. Many have been injured, and they have been taken to the hospital.”

Malo added that she assisted in moving the 10-year-old son of the church pastor, Peter, away from the bombed church before he was taken to a hospital.

“The boy was bleeding from wounds he got in the explosion,” Malo said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the church pastor, Monday Uzoka, and a church elder were in critical condition following the blast.

In Biu, Borno state, gunmen reportedly shot at worshippers as they were leaving a worship service before entering the sanctuary and killing two Christians. The Borno state police commissioner reportedly confirmed the attack on the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN in the local Hausa language) congregation.

On June 3 in Bauchi state, a Muslim suicide bomber from the Boko Haram sect attacked the Living Faith church in Yelwa, a Christian settlement on the outskirts of the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi, killing 13, with allegations following that authorities killed eight others who were protesting the lack of security. The blast also collapsed a wall of the nearby Harvest Field Church of Christ, leaving three people in critical condition.

Literally meaning “Forbidden Book” and translated as “Western education is forbidden,” Boko Haram has targeted churches, state offices, law enforcement sites and some moderate mosques in its effort to destabilize the government and impose a strict version of Shariah (strict Islamic law) on all of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s population of more than 158.2 million is divided between Christians, who make up 51.3 percent of the population and live mainly in the south, and Muslims, who account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north. The percentages may be less, however, as those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by Compass Direct News, a news service based in Santa Ana, Calif., focusing on Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Used by permission.)
6/12/2012 2:15:09 PM by Baptist Press, Compass Direct News | with 0 comments

Science & scripture align, professor says in BioLogos exchange

June 12 2012 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the study of the origin of humans, ultimately what is true in the physical world will be perfectly consistent with scripture, a Southern Baptist seminary professor said in an essay arguing against theistic evolution.
James Dew, assistant professor of the history of ideas and philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, was the most recent writer to engage The BioLogos Foundation in a series titled “Southern Baptist Voices,” online at BioLogos.org.

In his essay “Teleological Arguments, Theistic Evolution and Intelligent Design,” Dew cited some basic concerns Southern Baptists have with theistic evolution. Southern Baptists, he said, are not convinced that macroevolution is actually true.

Many well-credentialed scientists have found significant problems with macroevolution, Dew wrote, yet it does not appear such evidence is being taken seriously by those who hold to evolution.

Southern Baptists can allow some flexibility in the interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis, but the interpretations offered by theistic evolutionists are not convincing, Dew wrote.

Also, Southern Baptists are uncomfortable with the way theistic evolution portrays God’s creative activity, the professor wrote in the essay, posted May 28.

“As I read certain theistic evolutionists, I often get the feeling that God is being pushed out of the creative process of living creatures,” Dew wrote. “God is allowed, and even needed, to explain the origins of the universe itself. But as [BioLogos founder] Francis Collins explains, ‘Once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required.’
“... As they see it, God directly caused the universe to come into existence, but once it was here, natural processes took care of the rest.” If, as theistic evolutionists believe, God was directly involved in the creation of the universe, the prayer life of the saints and miraculous events such as the resurrection of Christ, Dew wrote, then “Why is it problematic to say that He was directly involved in populating the earth with various life forms?”

Darwinism challenged the dominance of design arguments, Dew wrote, and many Southern Baptists believe Intelligent Design challenges evolutionary thought.

“We find signs of intelligence on a large scale by looking at the universe,” Dew wrote. “We also find signs of intelligence by looking at the smallest parts of nature that suggest evidence of fine-tuning.”

In his two-part response on behalf of BioLogos, Ard Louis, a reader in theoretical physics and a Royal Society University research fellow at the University of Oxford, said Dew’s “gracious tone invites real dialogue.”

A more careful reading of the first few chapters of Genesis, Louis wrote, suggests that it “was never meant to be read as a journalistic account with chronological days. For example, the sun and the moon are not created until the fourth day. You don’t need modern science to tell you that having a literal morning and evening without a sun doesn’t make much sense.”

Genesis, Louis wrote, “in no way requires us to assume that God could not create the natural world through His ordinary action,” as opposed to the supernatural action of creating Adam and Eve specifically.

Evangelicals have not invested nearly enough effort or energy into higher learning, Louis wrote, so “there is no trusted community of scholars to help the church adjudicate on such complex multi-disciplinary questions” as macroevolution.

“We rely far too much on single individuals. It can’t just be scientists on their own, or theologians on their own, or the church on its own,” Louis wrote. “Unfortunately, I’m not sure there is any short-term fix to this problem.”

The vast majority of Christian scientists Louis knows who work professionally in fields related to evolutionary biology, he said, “are pretty convinced that processes like mutations and selection played an important role in the emergence of biological complexity.”

“But without a proper forum or tradition of engagement between the academy and the church, such an argument from authority is, with some justification, probably not enough to dislodge longstanding suspicions that Southern Baptists may have about evolution,” Louis wrote.

Southern Baptist pastors, Louis said, should realize that recent developments in the genetic evidence for evolution will be “much easier for bright teenagers in their congregations to understand than more traditional evidence for evolution based on the fossil record.”

“I predict young believers will start asking more and more questions in the midst of their churches – your churches. My hope is that you, their pastors, will respond to this development by creating space for those who believe, as we do at BioLogos, that mainstream science, properly interpreted, is compatible with evangelical Christian faith,” Louis wrote.

Dew, the Southeastern Seminary assistant professor, expressed optimism that an ongoing conversation about the origin of humans would be beneficial.

“Southern Baptists normally reject theistic evolution. Nevertheless, it is important that we dialogue about these issues and that we do so in a Christlike fashion,” Dew said in a statement to Baptist Press.

“If God created the universe and inspired the Bible, then surely our theology and science will be consistent with each other,” Dew said. “Though we have some theological/philosophical concerns with their position, we are thankful that Biologos invited us to share these concerns and we respect them for their openness.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press.)
6/12/2012 2:04:23 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Pastors want to keep SBC name

June 11 2012 by Russ Rankin, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than half of the pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) do not intend to use the name “Great Commission Baptists” in communication about their church, although 40 percent say they have not discussed the issue or decided, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.

The survey also reveals more than 70 percent of pastors agree the name “Southern Baptist Convention” should continue to be used.
LifeWay Research conducted a random survey of more than 1,000 SBC pastors in light of the task force appointed by SBC President Bryant Wright to study a possible name change for the 167-year-old convention. The report of the task force, delivered in February during the president’s report to the SBC Executive Committee, recommended the convention maintain its legal name but adopt “Great Commission Baptists” as an informal, non-legal name for churches and entities that want to use it. The Executive Committee approved the president’s recommendation, and SBC messengers will consider the recommendation during the annual meeting in New Orleans June 19-20. The LifeWay data was released June 8.

LifeWay Research asked the question: “Do you agree that the Southern Baptist Convention should continue to be the name for this convention?” and found 72 percent of pastors agree (strongly or somewhat) the name should continue to be used. Twenty-three percent disagree and 5 percent “don’t know.”

The percentage of pastors who agree with the statement increases with age. Sixty-one percent of pastors under 45 years agree, while 82 percent of pastors over 65 years agree.

Pastors of smaller churches (under 50 in attendance) are most likely to “strongly agree” (64 percent) with the retention of the name Southern Baptist Convention.

And, pastors in the West (45 percent) are less likely to “strongly agree” than pastors in the South (57 percent).

Jimmy Draper, chairman of the task force that made the recommendation, told Baptist Press the “survey is about what I expected.” (See Draper’s full statement at the end of this story.)

“The vast majority of Southern Baptists prefer to keep the Southern Baptist name,” Draper told Baptist Press. “In our study we concluded that there were many reasons why we should keep the Southern Baptist name. That is why we recommended keeping that name. Approximately 90 percent of those who attend the convention annually are from the south. For most of us, we see the value of the name as a brand worthy of maintaining.”
Draper, though, said the task force made the “Great Commission Baptists” recommendation to benefit those outside the South, as well as ethnic groups.

“It is important for all of us to remember that we are now ministering as Southern Baptist in all 50 states,” Draper said. “For many of them the name ‘Southern’ is an impediment to gaining opportunities to seek to bring others to faith in Christ. For many of our African American church leaders in the SBC their involvement with the name ‘Southern’ has been a point of contention and conflict with their peers. We should believe in the Great Commission enough to be willing to remove every possible impediment to evangelistic outreach for those for whom it would be helpful.”

Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, said that “while more than one in five pastors indicate they are ready for a change in the name of the convention, across all subgroups measured the majority of pastors agree the current name should continue to be used.”

When pastors were asked if they agree “that a non-legal name like ‘Great Commission Baptists’ would be acceptable for use by those who would find it beneficial?” an equal number of pastors agree and disagree (46 percent) with the statement.

Responses to this question also vary by church size and pastor age. Only 36 percent of pastors of churches with less than 50 in attendance agree the non-legal name would be acceptable compared to 61 percent of pastors of churches with attendance over 250.

There is also a split in responses between younger and older pastors about the new name. The majority of pastors age 18-44 agree (59 percent), while the majority of pastors age 65-plus disagree (60 percent).

Pastors also were asked if their church intends to use the tagline “Great Commission Baptists” in some or all of their communication about the church.

More than half (54 percent) say they will not use the non-legal moniker although more than a third (35 percent) have not discussed it and five percent have not decided. Four percent responded they will use both Southern Baptist Convention and Great Commission Baptists in their descriptors, and two percent indicated they will use Great Commission Baptists exclusively in their church identification.

Pastors in the West are more likely than those in the South to select “Yes, we will use it exclusively.” Eight percent of those in the West compared to 1 percent of those in the South gave this response.

Draper said the percentage of churches possibly open to the descriptor is about what he envisioned.

“We should be willing to remove every obstacle that would discourage their efforts to reach others for Christ,” Draper said, referencing churches who would use the descriptor. “The point has never been to satisfy the majority of Southern Baptists. The point from the beginning was to seek to remove any barrier to the presentation of the Gospel where it would be helpful. Southern Baptists are Great Commission Baptists! I encourage the messengers of the convention meeting in New Orleans to wholeheartedly approve this recommendation.”
Said McConnell, “Of course, churches have complete control over the name of their own church, but messengers to the SBC annual meeting will decide whether to grant cooperating churches the latitude of using an alternative descriptor when they refer to the convention itself. Pastors in this polling sample who have an opinion are much more comfortable with the current Southern Baptist Convention name than proposing a non-legal name for churches that would benefit from it.”

Wright, the SBC president, said he hopes the descriptor of Great Commission Baptists will be seen as a “way of describing who we are and what our mission is as Southern Baptists.”

“No church has to use it, but a church or a church plant inside or outside the South might feel it would be helpful in reaching people for Christ,” Wright told Baptist Press.

The questions were asked as part of a mail survey of SBC pastors April 1-May 11, 2012. The mailing list was randomly drawn from a stratified list of all SBC churches. Surveys were mailed to the senior pastor with the option of completing online. The 1,066 completed surveys were weighted to match the actual geographic distribution and worship attendance of SBC churches.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Russ Rankin is LifeWay’s manager of editorial services. With reporting by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
Following is Jimmy Draper’s full statement:

“The survey is about what I expected. The vast majority of Southern Baptists prefer to keep the Southern Baptist name. In our study we concluded that there were many reasons why we should keep the Southern Baptist name. That is why we recommended keeping that name. Approximately 90 percent of those who attend the convention annually are from the south. For most of us, we see the value of the name as a brand worthy of maintaining.

“It is important for all of us to remember that we are now ministering as Southern Baptist in all 50 states. For many of them the name “Southern” is an impediment to gaining opportunities to seek to bring others to faith in Christ. For many of our African American church leaders in the SBC their involvement with the name ‘Southern’ has been a point of contention and conflict with their peers. We should believe in the Great Commission enough to be willing to remove every possible impediment to evangelistic outreach for those for who it would be helpful. The survey showed that 46 percent of those polled agreed that the Great Commission Baptists descriptor should be acceptable for use by those who believed they needed to use it.

“The third question about the use of the descriptor by their churches shows that 11 percent either said yes or were undecided. That is about the percentage of folks who fit that description. We should be willing to remove every obstacle that would discourage their efforts to reach others for Christ. The point has never been to satisfy the majority of Southern Baptists. The point from the beginning was to seek to remove any barrier to the presentation of the gospel where it would be helpful. Southern Baptists are Great Commission Baptists! I encourage the messengers of the convention meeting in New Orleans to wholeheartedly approve this recommendation.”
6/11/2012 1:51:35 PM by Russ Rankin, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

New genetic test: a ‘death sentence’ for unborn

June 11 2012 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – A new blood test that might empower physicians to screen unborn children for more than 3,000 genetic disorders will result in a “death sentence” for many, a Southern Baptist bioethicist says.

In research published June 6, a University of Washington team reported it was able to map the entire genetic code of an unborn baby using a blood sample from the mother, who was 18 weeks into her pregnancy, and saliva from the father. The researchers predicted the noninvasive test could be widely used in several years, enabling screening for thousands of genetic conditions.
The research, however, raises “many ethical questions,” the scientists acknowledged, according to the British newspaper The Telegraph. Common use of the test likely would produce more abortions, pro-life advocates contended. Children whose screenings indicate unwelcome genetic conditions could become targets for elimination.

“This discovery, like others before it, raises the means/end problem,” Southern Baptist bioethicist C. Ben Mitchell told Baptist Press. “Everyone wants children to be born with fewer disabilities. That’s a good end. But if the means to achieve that end is the destruction of unborn babies, the end doesn’t justify the means. In fact, the logic is perverse: Save children from disability by killing them.”
Another problem with the test also exists, said Mitchell, professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and a biomedical and life issues consultant for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“[W]e will be able to diagnose these conditions long before we can do anything therapeutically for the child. So the diagnosis becomes a death sentence,” he said.

The test could result in the elimination of the unborn for reasons that stretch beyond genetic disorders, said bioethics commentator Wesley Smith.

“The list of abortion excuses could spread into cosmetics, hair and eye color, height, propensity to weight gain, the list could go on and on,” Smith wrote on his blog.

In addition, he said, “[T]here will be pressure placed on parents to abort those children with the most serious or undesirable conditions – as already happens with Down [syndrome]. Such a test could become mandatory as a means of controlling health care costs. … In other words, this test will really be measuring the morality of our culture.”

A British scientist told The Telegraph he supports parents being able to know about their unborn child’s genetic condition, so they have the option of aborting their baby – who, he said, is not actually a human being.

“No potential being has a right to become an actual being – abortion is not a ‘wrong’ to the individual because the individual in question will never have existed,” said John Harris, director of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at the University of Manchester in England.

“The ability to protect future generations from terrible conditions that will blight their lives seems to me to be an absolute moral responsibility and a duty that we should not shirk,” Harris said.

Invasive testing already exists that can predict some genetic disorders during pregnancy, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis is performed on embryos created by in vitro fertilization before they are transferred to a woman’s womb.

Unborn children who are diagnosed with Down syndrome and some other genetic conditions already are often aborted. It is estimated 90 percent of unborn babies who are detected to have Down syndrome in this country are aborted. The condition normally results when a person has three copies, rather than two, of chromosome 21.

The new test reported on in the journal Science Translational Medicine would detect many more conditions than are now possible to detect, the researchers said, according to The Telegraph. Observers said the screening is not foolproof, and it will often be unable to forecast how severe the genetic disorder may be in a child.

The research enabled the University of Washington scientists to find which natural mutations appeared during pregnancy, The Telegraph reported. These spontaneous mutations, known as “de novo” mutations, represent the majority of genetic disorders. The researchers compared their screening with DNA taken after the boy’s birth and learned they predicted 39 of his 44 mutations, according to the newspaper.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)
6/11/2012 1:40:55 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Council identifies needs of black Southern Baptists

June 11 2012 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Encouraging stronger churches to partner with declining churches and developing effective mentoring strategies to groom future missionaries, state convention leaders and denominational employees were among the topics discussed during the first meeting of the African American Advisory Council May 29-30 at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Building in Nashville, Tenn.
Led by chairman K. Marshall Williams, members began the meeting with an extended season of prayer. The group then discussed with Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee (EC), ways that the SBC benefits from participation of its 3,400 cooperating African American churches, and how these churches can more fully participate in convention processes.

Page, drawing from Judges 2:1-7 in his opening devotional, noted three kinds of tears when the angel of the Lord shows up – tears of regret, tears of repentance and tears of rejoicing. Page expressed gratitude for the “tears of regret” and “tears of repentance” that led to the SBC’s 1995 Resolution on Racial Reconciliation. “That was good,” he said. “But we have to go far beyond that.”

Page envisioned a time when “tears of rejoicing” will abound. “We are committed to a convention that is a Kingdom convention, that includes all ethnicities at every level,” he said.

Photo by Whitney Jones

Frank Page, K. Marshall Williams and Ken Weathersby sit in the first African American Advisory Council May 30 at the SBC Building in Nashville, Tenn.

Page was joined by EC staffers Roger S. Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations, and Thomas Hammond, vice president for convention advancement, during the meeting.

Some of the top needs identified by council members in the African American communities where they serve include reaching men, leadership development in the churches, pastoral health (“keeping him strong in all areas – spiritually, mentally, physically”), missions training, church planting, evangelism and discipleship. Members also discussed the need to encourage pastors and church workers by “connecting leaders with other leaders with whom they can more closely identify.”

James Dixon initiated a conversation on the “value of being valued.” He urged Page to share with other convention leaders the urgency of making Koreans, Hispanics and other Asians as well as African Americans “feel like they belong” in the SBC. A.B. Vines added it is hard to feel valued when one does not feel “respected at the table.” The most visible place this can occur, Vines added, is if the faces on the platform of the SBC annual meeting truly reflect the broader face of the convention’s churches.

Council members agreed that the number of African Americans serving on staff at SBC entities has declined over the past decade. In response, Mark Croston and Terry Turner reminded the group of the many victories they have experienced over the past half-century. Croston, agreeing that he would like to see greater intentionality among SBC entity heads to hire qualified African American candidates for denominational positions, urged the council not to forget the progress that has been made since the early 1960s. Currently, four states have African American convention presidents elected by the messengers in their respective annual meetings.

Frank Williams called on the council to keep prayer as the priority that overshadows its work and the work of the convention. “Lucifer will not sit back,” Williams said. “We must pray while we do these other things.” He enjoined the members to see themselves as missionaries to the SBC, to present themselves in such a way that “we are valued not just as equal partners, but as equal persons,” cooperating for the ultimate purpose of reaching the nation for Christ.

Concerned that racism continues to be a problem in American church life, Marvin Parker suggested that developing a curriculum on racism would reap spiritual benefits. Other members suggested holding classes in churches on racism and they discussed the value of the SBC hosting a nationwide conference to address the wounds racism has inflicted on the conscience of America’s Christian communities.

Roscoe Belton urged the council to encourage fellow African American pastors to participate in events sponsored by the state conventions. Leroy Fountain of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Mark Hammond, director of missions in Los Angeles, one of the largest associations in the nation, both added that one of the most significant ways individuals can impact churches with a Kingdom perspective is through denominational employment at the state convention or associational level. Kevin Smith added that “the closest brother-to-brother, sister-to-sister relationships” take place through the state convention and in the local association.

Keith Jefferson of the International Mission Board (IMB) encouraged churches to provide scholarships for high schoolers and collegians to participate in missions projects. He observed that, “When young people serve two weeks, it becomes easier for them to serve two months in the summer, then two years [as a Journeyman], than as career missionaries.”

During the advisory council’s final session, Ken Weathersby, joined by Kim Hardy, Dennis Mitchell and Chandra Bennett, led out in discussing a number of strategies for communicating the stories and accomplishments of African American churches and church leaders. These included setting aside one day each month to communicate with one another through social media, linking up websites more effectively, having a stronger presence in Baptist Press and carrying stories through LifeWay’s magazines that highlight the contributions of African American churches. Mitchell suggested “a big, red Easy button” on the SBC.net homepage that would point to resources for ethnic churches and church leaders.

The council closed its meeting with gathered prayer around Page, asking God’s wisdom, protection and guidance over him in these strategic days of convention advancement.

Participating in the African American Advisory Council May 29–30 meeting were:

K. Marshall Williams, chairman, senior pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pa.

Roscoe Belton, senior pastor/teacher, Middlebelt Baptist Church, Inkster, Mich.; president of the Michigan Baptist Convention.

Chandra Bennett, editorial team leader, adult ministry publishing, LifeWay Christian Resources.

Mark Croston, senior pastor, East End Baptist Church, Suffolk, Va.; president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.

James Dixon, senior pastor, El-Bethel Baptist Church, Fort Washington, Md.; president of the National African American Fellowship (NAAF).

Leroy Fountain, national coordinator, church mobilization group, NAMB.

Mark Hammond, director of missions, Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association.

Kim Hardy, speaker, author, church planter/pastor’s wife, Marietta, Ga.

Keith Jefferson, African American mobilization strategist, IMB.

Dennis Mitchell, senior pastor, Greenforest Community Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.

Marvin Parker, senior pastor, Broadview Missionary Baptist Church, Broadview, Ill.

Kevin Smith, senior pastor, Watson Memorial Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.; assistant professor of Christian preaching, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Terry Turner, senior pastor, Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church, Mesquite, Texas; president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

A.B. Vines, senior pastor, New Seasons Church, San Diego, Calif.; vice president and president-elect, NAAF.

Ken Weathersby, NAMB presidential ambassador for ethnic church relations.

Frank Williams, associate pastor, Bronx Baptist Church, and interim pastor, Wake Eden Community Baptist Church, both in Bronx, N.Y.; president, Black Church Leadership Network of New York.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article first appeared in SBC LIFE, journal of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.)
6/11/2012 1:21:47 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Dad’s best present: sons who are godly leaders

June 11 2012 by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press

JINOTEGA, Nicaragua – Rex Jones knows a thing or two about raising sons – he’s got three of them – and he’s trained them to make an impact on the world for Christ.
The Jones boys – Barrett, 22; Harrison, 20; and Walker, 18 – are all talented football players.
Barrett, a graduate student in accounting, is an NCAA unanimous all-American lineman for the University of Alabama who, in the past year, has won both the Wuerffel Award for combining exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement and the Outland Trophy for being the best college football interior lineman. Harrison is an upcoming junior at Alabama and plays as a tight end for the Crimson Tide. Walker, a rising senior at Evangelical Christian School in Cordova, Tenn., is on his high school football team and plans to play college football like his brothers.

BP Photo

Father-and-son duo, Rex (black shirt) and Barrett Jones, visit with a group of school children in Jinotega, Nicaragua. Throughout the trip, Rex helped his three sons as they ministered to those around them — both the people of Jinotega and members of their team.

Early in their marriage, Rex, director of advancement at Evangelical Christian School, and his wife, Leslie, decided to be “intentional” in their style of parenting and raise their sons with a clear focus on Christ. They wanted “to teach and train these kids to be a resource to the world,” Rex said.
“The world needs Christian men leaders,” he continued. “I don’t know that they’ll be pastors or missionaries, but … the world needs good Christian lawyers and doctors and dentists and people who are in professions that can influence people.”
The Jones boys have accepted their father’s challenge. Barrett has led three mission trips during his spring breaks from college; two of them included his entire family. The Joneses returned from a week-long mission trip to Nicaragua in March.
During that trip, Rex encouraged Barrett to take the leadership role for the team of about 30. He urged all three of his sons to disciple their friends on the trip.
Barrett understands the value of participating in missions and the importance of encouraging others to get involved.
“Missions is something that’s extremely important to the Christian community because God is so much bigger than just America — He’s a global God,” he said.
“We can only [reach] so many people,” Rex said. “But if we train other people to [reach] people, then it becomes exponential.”  
Rex also sees the family’s mission trips as a time to expand the vision for missions. He challenges participants “not only to experience serving on these mission trips, but to have a goal in their lifetime … to be able to do the same thing with their families.”
His hope is that each of the 30 people on the trip will go on a future mission trip and take 30 of their friends.
“That would be 900 people around the world that God could use to make a difference, and that’s our goal.”
Barrett, Harrison and Walker each use football to share Christ’s love with their teammates and the spectators.
“Obviously sports are for fun — that’s why I do them — but also you can have a great influence on others,” Walker said. “As we’ve seen with Barrett, really it’s given him a pedestal to be able to share the Gospel and share his faith, and that allows people to watch him more closely. I believe that if you take that opportunity and you make the most of it, then that can really change people for Christ.”
Rex says despite Barrett’s fame, the Jones family keeps him grounded.
“He has two brothers and a mom and a dad who work really hard to keep him humble, and we have fun doing that,” Rex said with a smile. “… it’s a great love that we have for each other. I challenge him to maximize his time to be able to use it wisely to do what God is wanting him to do.” 
The Jones brothers are appreciative of their father’s leadership, character and influence as a Christian role model in their lives.
“He’s a picture of Christ for me,” Harrison said. “He’s taught me everything that I think I want to teach my kids one day.” 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Laura Fielding is a writer for IMB. To see a photo gallery from their trip, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasgraham_imb/sets/72157629256700720.)
6/11/2012 1:10:28 PM by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

SBC annual meeting schedule

June 11 2012 by sbcannualmeeting.net

The Southern Baptist Convention is set for June 19-20. The event will be available live at sbcannualmeeting.net. Below is a basic schedule for the two-day annual meeting.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

8:00 a.m. – Worship through Music
8:10 a.m. – Call to Order, Bryant Wright
    Registration Report and Constitution of the Convention, James H. (Jim) Wells 8:15 a.m. – Prayer
    Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
8:20 a.m. – Committee on Order of Business (First Report)
8:25 a.m. – Welcome
8:30 a.m. – Announcement of Committee on Committees, Credentials, Resolutions, and Tellers
8:35 a.m. – Introduction of Motions
9:00 a.m. – Worship through Music
9:05 a.m. – Local Arrangements Committee Presentation
9:10 a.m. – Crossover Evangelism Report, Kevin Ezell
9:15 a.m. – Woman’s Missionary Union Report, Wanda S. Lee
9:25 a.m. – Executive Committee Report (Part 1), Frank S. Page
10:25 a.m. – Worship through Music
10:30 a.m. – LifeWay Christian Resources Report & Presentation, Thom S. Rainer
11:00 a.m. – Traditional Worship
11:15 a.m. – SBC President’s Address, Bryant Wright
11:55 a.m. – Benediction
1:30 p.m. – Concert of Praise Combined choirs and orchestras
1:40 p.m. – Prayer
1:45 p.m. – SBC Historical Library and Archives Report
1:50 p.m. – Business Committee on Order of Business (Second Report)
    Referrals/Introduction of Motions
2:05 p.m. – Executive Committee Report (Part 2), Frank S. Page
2:35 p.m. – Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary Report, Jeff Iorg
2:50 p.m. – Election of Officers (First)
3:00 p.m. – Committee on Nominations Report
3:10 p.m. – Worship through Music
3:15 p.m. – The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Report & Presentation, Richard D. Land
3:50 p.m. – Executive Committee Report (Part 3): SBC Name Change, Frank S. Page
4:20 p.m. – Election of Officers (Second)
4:30 p.m. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Report, Paige Patterson
4:45 p.m. – Introduction of New Motions (Last Opportunity)
4:55 p.m. – International Mission Board Report & Presentation, Tom Elliff
5:55 p.m. – Benediction
Wednesday, June 20

8:00 a.m. – Worship through Music
8:10 a.m. – Prayer
8:15 a.m. – Business
    Committee on Order of Business (Third Report)
8:35 a.m. – Election of Officers (Third)
8:45 a.m.  – Committee on Committees Report
8:55 a.m. – Worship through Music
9:05 a.m. – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Report, Robin D. Hadaway, interim president
9:20 a.m. – New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Report, Charles S. (Chuck) Kelley Jr.
9:35 a.m. – Previously Scheduled Business, Bryant Wright
9:55 a.m. – Committee on Resolutions (First Report)
10:25 a.m. – Election of Officers (Fourth)
10:35 a.m. – Worship through Music
10:40 a.m. – GuideStone Financial Resources Report, O. S. Hawkins
10:55 a.m. – Previously Scheduled Business, Bryant Wright
11:15 a.m. – Election of Officers (Fifth)
11:25 a.m. – Contemporary Worship
11:40 a.m. – Convention Message, David Uth, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla.
12:15 a.m. – Benediction
3:00 p.m. – Worship through Music
3:05 p.m. – Prayer
3:10 p.m. – Presentation of Outgoing Officers, Frank S. Page
3:15 p.m. – Presentation of New Officers, Frank S. Page
3:20 p.m. – Business
    Committee on Order of Business (Fourth Report)
    Election of 2013 Convention Sermon Preacher, Alternate Preacher, and Music Director
3:30 p.m. – Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Report, Daniel L. (Danny) Akin
3:45 p.m. – Recognition of Past SBC Presidents, Bryant Wright
3:50 p.m. – Previously Scheduled Business, Bryant Wright
4:05 p.m. – Committee on Resolutions (Final Report)
4:30 p.m. – The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Report, R. Albert (Al) Mohler Jr.
4:45 p.m. – Worship through Music
4:55 p.m. – North American Mission Board Report & Presentation, Kevin Ezell
5:55 p.m. – Benediction
6/11/2012 12:00:52 PM by sbcannualmeeting.net | with 0 comments

Yeats to be re-nominated recording secretary

June 8 2012 by Baptist Press

HAYES, Va. – John L. Yeats will be re-nominated for another one-year term as recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) during the June 19-20 annual meeting in New Orleans, a Virginia pastor has announced.
“John has brought a level of professionalism to this strategic position which balances our need for both the high-tech and high-touch as a denominational body doing the Lord’s business with excellence in the twenty-first century,” Rodney Autry, pastor of Union Baptist Church in Hayes, Va., said in a statement.

“He represents the best in communication theory and practice redeemed by a quality walk with God,” Autry added.

Last year’s annual meeting in Phoenix marked Yeats’ 14th annual meeting as recording secretary.

The SBC recording secretary is responsible for the record of the proceedings of the Southern Baptist Convention, training volunteer pages and the final edit of the SBC Book of Reports and the SBC Annual. The recording secretary also serves as an ex officio member of the SBC Executive Committee.

Yeats designed the process currently used for the flow of information from the convention floor to the platform and distribution to the Order of Business Committee, a process that has enhanced the accuracy of the official record.

Last fall, Yeats was elected executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention. He recently proposed to the Missouri Baptist Executive Board a strategic blueprint based on a growth budget that reallocates Cooperative Program dollars to 50/50 by 2020.

John L. Yeats will be re-nominated for another one-year term as recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Yeats served for six years as director of communications for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. He is a former editor of state Baptist papers in Oklahoma and Indiana and has served churches in six states during 40-plus years of pastoral ministry.

Yeats is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2006, he received a doctor of ministry degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.

Autry, in his statement, said he will nominate Yeats “because he has proven himself a man of integrity in Baptist life. ‘Integrity’ could well be his middle name. Fractures in our fellowship require someone whose life is Teflon and above reproach to facilitate our records. John Yeats is that man.”

Autry also offered a personal reason for nominating Yeats.

“Countless men of God across our Convention have found a praying friend in John Yeats when in the crucible of life. A couple of years ago I was there and John Yeats was there with me supporting me with his prayers,” Autry said.

“We desire that we have more than the ‘right’ man for leadership among us; we demand men who are right with God as well. John Yeats is that man. This man walks with God. He will serve us and the Lord well.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach.)
6/8/2012 1:30:18 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Fritz Wilson named NAMB DR exec. director

June 8 2012 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Fritz M. Wilson, disaster relief and recovery team strategist for the Florida Baptist Convention since 2006, has been named executive director of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) disaster relief team.
Wilson will be working with NAMB’s disaster relief (DR) team leader Mickey Caison through a time of transition. The announcement was made June 7.

Wilson has already begun developing a strategy plan, but will officially begin his leadership of disaster relief at NAMB in October of this year to enable him to continue leading Florida disaster relief until the end of the current hurricane season. He eventually will relocate to Alpharetta, Ga., where NAMB is headquartered.

Fritz M. Wilson has been named executive director of the North American Mission Board’s disaster relief team.

During the time of transition, Caison will continue to utilize his relationships and expertise in the disaster relief network with special concentration on new-work states.

“Fritz brings many years of great experience and relationships throughout the disaster response network that will allow him to build on the outstanding foundation Mickey Caison has established over the years,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “This ministry is so significant to Southern Baptists and so essential to the United States disaster response network, we want to handle this transition with great care.”

The transition period will allow Caison – who will remain DR team leader – to work with new-work states and help them strengthen their disaster relief strategy and volunteer base, Ezell said.

“While Mickey Caison’s years of dedicated service and experience – plus his national reputation and professional network in disaster relief – are difficult to match, Fritz Wilson will come to NAMB with his own unique set of skills and experience to begin the transition,” said Kevin Ezell, NAMB’s president.
Since 1996, Wilson has served in a variety of positions of increasing responsibility while directing the disaster relief ministries for the Florida convention in Jacksonville, Fla.

Wilson says one of the highlights of his Florida DR career followed the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Serving as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) DR incident commander in Haiti, Wilson developed and implemented the “Buckets of Hope” response, during which 158,000 buckets of food were collected from Southern Baptists across North America and distributed in Haiti. He also oversaw the “Rebuild Haiti” program, which built more than 1,000 new block homes for Haiti earthquake victims over a 19-month period.

Since 1999, Wilson has led Florida Baptists in more than 100 disaster responses. During the same period, the Florida convention’s roster of credentialed disaster relief volunteers grew from 800 to more than 9,000. In 2006, DR became a stand-alone, dedicated department in the Florida convention and in 2007, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief won the Governor’s Hurricane Conference Award for “most outstanding volunteer organization in the state.” Wilson also played a key role during the 9/11 response in New York, establishing the SBC DR/Salvation Army partnership and heading up the first kitchen operations at Ground Zero and Staten Island.

“I am humbled and honored to be asked by Dr. Ezell to fill this role at NAMB,” Wilson said. “I covet the prayers of all Southern Baptists as I seek to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with my brothers and sisters across the convention, ministering as the body of Christ to survivors, responders and anyone in need.”

The 50-year-old Wilson said he is also excited by the recent announcement that NAMB will shift disaster relief to the mission entity’s evangelism group, headed by vice president Larry Wynn.

“Disaster relief volunteers have always done evangelism – seeking opportunities to share their faith as they serve a meal, gut out a flooded home or provide a hot shower,” he said.
Wilson said he is also “humbled” to follow in the footsteps of 62-year-old Caison.

In the wake of Alabama’s deadly tornadoes, Fritz Wilson speaks gently to calm Iyrese Haughton, who is blind, as a team of Florida Baptist disaster relief chain saw volunteers remove a fallen tree in her front yard. As a teen in Jasper, Ala., Wilson and other church youth played ball in Haughton’s yard, across the street from where he grew up. Wilson is the Florida Baptist Convention’s disaster relief director. He was recently named executive director of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) disaster relief team.

“It’s like how Elisha must have felt to follow Elijah. Mickey has been a friend and mentor to me for the past 16 years, especially during the 2004 hurricane season in Florida and during the Haiti earthquake response.

“God has used Mickey to lead Southern Baptists through exponential growth in disaster relief following Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to today,” Wilson said. “Mickey is recognized and respected throughout the U.S. emergency management community, and has played a significant role in establishing NAMB’s national relationships and partnerships with government agencies and volunteer organizations like FEMA, The Red Cross and The Salvation Army. He will continue to be our liaison with those groups.”

A native of Jasper, Ala., Wilson earned a B.S. degree in health, physical education and recreation at Mobile College, and a master of divinity degree in religious education at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

Wilson and his wife, Deborah, are the parents of two sons, Benjamin, 18 and Elijah, 13.

From NAMB’s disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., Caison, Wilson and NAMB staff members will continue to coordinate and manage Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) responses to major disasters throughout North America via a partnership among NAMB and the SBC’s 42 state conventions, most of which run their own state disaster relief programs with state convention-owned assets.

Total SBDR assets are comprised of 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and some 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained, credentialed disaster relief volunteers in the United States, including The Red Cross and The Salvation Army.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.)

6/8/2012 1:18:05 PM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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