June 2017

Pew: Gay marriage gains favor of younger white evangelicals

June 30 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Young white evangelicals – both Millennials and Gen-Xers – born after 1964 are among societal groups increasingly approving of same-sex marriage, according to new Pew Research Center figures.
 
Homosexual marriage is supported by 47 percent of younger white evangelicals today, compared to only 29 percent in March of 2016, Pew said in a study conducted June 8-18 among 2,504 adults. Older white evangelicals, including Silents born before 1946 and Baby Boomers, overwhelmingly remain opposed. Only 26 percent of evangelicals in the older groups approve of the practice, comparable to the 25 percent in the 2016 study.
 
Support for same-sex marriage was tabulated at its highest in over 20 years of Pew polling, with 62 percent of Americans in favor and only 32 percent opposed. Republicans, Baby Boomers and African Americans joined young white evangelicals in driving the growing approval of the practice, Pew said.
 
“Views on same-sex marriage have shifted dramatically in recent years,” Pew said. “As recently as 2010, more Americans opposed than favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.”
 
Baby Boomers are leading the way in acceptance, with 56 percent in favor of gay marriage and 39 percent opposed, Pew said. Last year, 48 percent opposed same-sex marriage, while 46 percent favored the practice.
 
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents registered a 47-percent approval of gay marriage, up from 33 percent as recently as 2013. Today, only 48 percent of those in the Republican-related categories disapprove of gay marriage. Acceptance is higher among moderate and liberal Republicans (63 percent), Pew said, with only 39 percent of conservatives opposed.
 
While African Americans “have long been less supportive of same-sex marriage when compared with whites,” Pew said, 51 percent of the ethnic group favor gay marriage today, compared to 39 percent in 2015.
 
A majority of white evangelical Protestants, 59 percent, still oppose same-sex marriage, Pew said, with only 35 percent in favor. Religion continues to drive opinions, with wide margins of Catholics (67 percent), white mainline Protestants (68 percent), and the religiously unaffiliated (85 percent) favoring legal marriage for same-sex couples. Black Protestants oppose gay marriage 50 percent to 44 percent, according to Pew.
 
Gay marriage continues to gain traction globally, with Germany considered next in line to legalize the practice. There, Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz has vowed to “push through marriage equality in Germany ... this week,” the Independent reported June 29. Same-sex marriage is expected to pass in Germany as early as June 30, the Independent said.
 
Nearly 775 million people now live in countries where gay marriage is legal, Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) news reported June 1. Same-sex marriage is legal in 22 countries, and is slated to become legal in Taiwan no later than 2019 under court order, SBS said.
 
In addition to the U.S., same-sex couples can legally marry in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland, Iceland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) and Uruguay.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

6/30/2017 10:10:40 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



W.A. Criswell website grows to 4,000 sermons

June 30 2017 by Michael Foust, Southern Baptist TEXAN

Legendary pastor W.A. Criswell passed away just as the internet age was beginning to boom and several years before high-speed internet was common.

Screenshot
More than 4,000 sermons from W.A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas for 50 years, are available via video and audio streaming as well as transcripts at the free website WACriswell.com.


But 15 years after his death, pastors and laypeople around the world are utilizing modern technology and a free website to listen to and research more than 4,000 sermons by the long-time pastor of First Baptist Church (FBC) in Dallas.
 
The site, WACriswell.com, features audio of his sermons from 1953 to 2001 as well as sermon transcripts dating back to his first year, 1944, as pastor of FBC. All total, the site includes about 1,000 sermons on streaming video and 4,150 sermons on streaming audio, all of which are accompanied by written transcripts. Most of the sermons also include a sermon outline and a PDF of his sermon notes. The site, which has continued to expand in material through the years, is a ministry of the W.A. Criswell Foundation.
 
Criswell served 50 years as pastor of the church, preaching his first sermon there in 1944 and retiring in 1995, before passing away in 2002. He twice was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
 
His longtime friend Jack Pogue led the effort to place all of Criswell’s sermons on the internet.
 
“We get emails from pastors from larger churches who say, ‘I never go to bed on Saturday night until I see what Dr. Criswell has said about the verse I’m going to preach about on the next day,’” Pogue told the TEXAN.
 
Users of the site can search for sermons by date, verse, topic, sermon series or keywords.
 
“If you ever heard Dr. Criswell preach and you can remember just two words to that sermon, you can pull up that sermon,” Pogue said.
 
The website features some of Criswell’s classic sermons, such as “Whether We Live Or Die,” which he delivered at the SBC annual meeting in 1985, and “The Curse of Liberalism,” which he preached at the SBC meeting in 1988. The site also includes sermon series on entire books: Genesis (1956-58), Romans (1954-55) and Revelation (1961-63).
 
Pogue was not a Christian when he began attending Criswell’s church in the early 1970s. Criswell’s focus on the Bible immediately had an impact.
 
“Before Dr. Criswell got up to preach on my first Sunday there, he said, ‘I just want to say something. All these years I have been your preacher, I have preached from the pages of this sacred Book. And I promise you, as long as I’m your preacher, every sermon I will ever preach will be from the pages of this Holy Book.’”
 
Up to that point, Pogue had been attending what he calls a liberal church.
 
“When [Criswell] said that about the Bible,” Pogue recalled, “God said in my heart: I want you in this church, under this pastor.”
 
Eventually, Pogue met Criswell, and they became good friends. Criswell died in Pogue’s home.
 
“He would start preaching in his sleep,” Pogue said. “And he would give an invitation in his sleep. He would worry about not having enough counselors to take in the people who were answering the altar call.
 
“I wish my mind was like that, that even when I slept I would dream of Jesus and lost people and the cross.”
 
The sermons are transcribed by professional transcriptionists. Pogue then proofs the transcripts by listening to the sermons and checking for misspellings and wrong punctuation.
 
Although First Baptist began recording Criswell’s sermons in 1953, some of the early recordings contained static.
 
“They were very, very hard to hear,” Pogue said. “But new technology came around that got a lot of that static out, and you could hear the sermons much better.”
 
Pogue recounted how he once gave a personal tour of the website to Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., where Billy Graham is a member. Wilton asked Pogue to search for “imputed righteousness,” a topic of Wilton’s upcoming sermon. The search engine found dozens of Criswell sermons on the term.
 
But the website is not just for preachers, Pogue noted.
 
“I want the most uneducated man to be able to listen to Dr. Criswell preach, let him guide him through the Bible and win him to Christ,” Pogue said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)
 

6/30/2017 9:55:11 AM by Michael Foust, Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments



Involved dads save daughters from risky behavior

June 30 2017 by Kiley Crossland, WORLD News Service

Quality time with Dad decreases a daughter’s propensity for risky sexual activity, according to a study released last month.
 
The study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, adds to a host of research that continues to highlight the importance of fathering for daughters.
 
Researchers Danielle DelPriore and Bruce Ellis of the University of Utah, and Gabriel Schlomer of the State University of New York at Albany, found an inverse relationship between the amount of quality fathering a daughter receives and her likelihood for promiscuous sex, unprotected sex and sex while intoxicated.
 
While previous studies showed a link between less time with dad and risky sexual activity, some observers wondered whether genetics was somewhat to blame – a father prone to absence might pass on genes that made his daughter prone to risky behavior.
 
But this study derails that hypothesis.
 
For this study, researchers looked at families with two biological sisters, at least four years apart, in intact families, as well as families with a divorce or separation before the younger sister turned 14. Same family, same genetics, but two daughters with different amounts of quality fathering.
 
“We wanted to look into that ‘black box’ to see how a father’s behavior might change daughters’ environments in ways that promote or protect against risky sexual behavior,” DelPriore said.
 
Their conclusion: A quality relationship with a dad significantly influences a daughter’s behavior when it comes to risky sex.
 
“The prolonged presence of a warm and engaged father can buffer girls against early, high-risk sex,” said DelPriore, according to the The Wall Street Journal.
 
The authors note it was the quality of dad’s time in the home that made the biggest impact. When his influence and presence was positive, the older daughter – who spent more time with her father – delayed sexual activity and spent less time with sexually risk-prone peers. But more time with a distant and cold father seemed to have a negative impact on the older sister.
 
“It’s all about dosage of exposure to dads; the bigger the dose, the more fathering matters – for better and for worse,” concluded Ellis.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kiley Crossland writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)
 

6/30/2017 9:50:25 AM by Kiley Crossland, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



Federal court upholds N.C. religious liberty law

June 30 2017 by Leigh Jones, WORLD News Service

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 28 in favor of a North Carolina religious liberty law protecting county magistrates. The law allows the public officials to recuse themselves from performing marriage ceremonies for or issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
 
The appeals court declared the three couples who filed suit didn’t have standing because the law hadn’t harmed them. The ruling, issued by a three-judge panel, mirrors a district court decision against the plaintiffs for the same reason.
 
Under the law, counties in which magistrates have filed recusals must make other officials available to perform their duties. The plaintiffs argued the state law penalized them because it required taxpayers to cover magistrates’ travel expenses.
 
The plaintiffs could ask for a full 4th Circuit review, hoping to get a different decision, or appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
 
State Sen. Phil Berger, who authored the legislation, cheered Wednesday’s ruling: “Once again, a federal court has rejected the idea that exercising one’s First Amendment religious freedoms somehow infringes on others’ rights.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Leigh Jones writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission.)
 

6/30/2017 9:43:30 AM by Leigh Jones, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



Hard lessons in government interference

June 30 2017 by Leigh Jones, WORLD News Service

A case involving a Canadian Christian school embroiled in a fight with the government over “offensive” Bible passages offers a warning to U.S. private schools cheering the creation of school choice programs.
 
Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingman, Alberta, receives funds from the province for its 180 students under an agreement with the Battle River School Division. Alberta law allows for faith-based alternative schools as part of a publicly funded education system. Under the contract signed with the school board in 2009 and reaffirmed in 2015, Cornerstone is free to operate as a Christian school based on biblical teaching. But the school board now finds a passage in Cornerstone’s handbook that references the sinfulness of homosexuality “offensive” and in violation of Alberta human rights laws.
 
In May, the school board ordered Cornerstone to refrain from reading or studying “any scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals.” Lawyers with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, who represent Cornerstone, say that demand violates the Canadian Constitution as well as precedent set by the country’s Supreme Court. Canadian law requires the government to remain neutral when it comes to religion, which means it cannot prevent people from being offended by the beliefs of others, wrote Justice Centre president John Carpay.
 
“Many religious teachings are offensive to atheists, relativists, hedonists and materialists,” he noted. “This cuts both ways: The morality (or lack thereof) that is taught in public schools is offensive to religious parents. Government neutrality is meant to preserve and promote multiculturalism and true diversity, not to impose a ‘one-size-fits all’ model on every school.”
 
But the government has competing interests: diversity and inclusivity.
 
School board president Laurie Skori cited the Alberta Human Rights Act as justification for the board’s demands, noting it prohibits discrimination “because of the race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation of that person or class of persons or of any other person or class of persons.”
 
Carpay noted that the Canadian Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right of faith-based groups to “discriminate” in order to maintain their particular beliefs. But court precedent can change, and if Canada’s legal guardians determine inclusivity trumps diversity, Cornerstone could find itself on the losing end of a long court battle. Trinity Western University officials could tell them something about that.
 
U.S. Christian schools do not have access to state funding, an independence that has long protected them from government interference. But school choice programs complicate that relationship. During a recent congressional hearing, Democrats grilled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about protections for LGBT students at private schools that receive school choice funding. As a “worst offender” example, they pointed to Lighthouse Christian Academy in Bloomington, Ind., which receives close to $665,000 in state voucher funds to enroll 152 of its 300 students. Lighthouse “discriminates” because it follows the teachings of scripture and does not allow homosexuality or “any form of sexual immorality” among its students or in their families.
 
DeVos disavowed discrimination but tossed the issue back to Congress, saying her department only enforced existing law, it didn’t write new laws. President Donald Trump rolled back his predecessor’s attempt to rewrite existing law by interpreting the term “sex” in Title IX to include gender identity. For now, local public schools can set their own gender identity policies governing restroom and locker room access. But groups on both sides of the debate have filed suit, and the U.S. Supreme Court likely will be called to settle the issue sooner, rather than later.
 
What happens if Supreme Court justices outlaw “discrimination” based on traditional views of sex and Biblical views of sexuality? U.S. schools might find themselves in Cornerstone Christian Academy’s situation, forced to give up their values or forego government funds.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Leigh Jones writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)
 

6/30/2017 9:36:26 AM by Leigh Jones, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



Attracting unchurched grows small churches, study says

June 29 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Attracting and keeping people considered unchurched is rated as the top predictor of growth through new professions of faith at small churches, according to a new study encompassing 12 Christian denominations including Southern Baptists.
 
“These churches are places of invitation, welcome and involvement for the unchurched,” the study’s authors said. “So, the unchurched stick around in greater numbers. And they come to Christ and get committed to the church in greater numbers.”
 
The Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., conducted the newly released study in partnership with Lifeway Research of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Caskey Center for Church Excellence of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The telephone survey of 1,500 pastors and church leaders found and ranked 29 predictors of growth through Christian conversion at churches of 250 members or less. Study authors released the top 10 growth predictors June 26.
 
Second to attracting and keeping the unchurched, small churches that grow by Christian conversions tend to offer classes for new attendees, the study found. Such classes help even when they are not evangelistic.
 
Thirdly, small churches that grow through new baptisms are led by pastors who routinely undergo personal evangelism training.
 
“If the pastor is a learner and stays inspired and growing in the area of evangelism,” study authors said, “that pastor’s church will reach more people who commit to Christ and who stick.”
 
In response to declining baptisms in the U.S., Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Steve Gaines appointed a 19-member evangelism task force at the 2017 SBC annual meeting. The group of SBC seminary presidents and professors, pastors and a state convention leader are expected to report its findings at the 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
 
Nearly 90 percent of Southern Baptist churches had weekly attendance of 250 or less as recently as 2013, according to figures Mark Tolbert released in 2016 as vice chairman of the Bivocational and Smaller Church Advisory Council of the SBC Executive Committee. The figures drawn from the 2013 Annual Church Profile, and compiled jointly by the Caskey Center and the NOBTS Leavell Center for Church Health, placed 89.33 percent of Southern Baptists congregations in the small church category.
 
In the Wheaton study, the other top growth predictors among small churches are:

  • The pastor more frequently “pops the question,” asking people to commit after he shares the gospel.
  • The church spends a higher percentage of its budget on evangelism and missions.
  • Church members often tell the pastor that they themselves are sharing the gospel with others, rather than relying on the pastor to carry the load alone. “The church does not need superstar pastors who share their faith while everybody in the church cheers them on from the sidelines,” study authors said.
  • Unchurched visitors often communicate favorable feedback to pastors after weekly worship services.
  • The church shares the gospel outside its walls and conducts community service.
  • Churches that grow through conversions concurrently tend to draw members from other congregations. “In other words,” study authors wrote, “transfer and conversion growth tend to go together for small churches.”
  • Cited as the 10th most predictive factor of growth through new conversions, according to the study, “the pastor more frequently blocks out time in the calendar for the purpose of sharing the gospel with non-Christians. If the pastor is to lead evangelism in the church, the pastor must first personally live out the evangelism call.”

 
Smaller churches in the survey, those with 150 or fewer members, tended to grow more easily than the larger small churches in the survey, the study found. Additionally, predominantly Hispanic and Native American churches tended to fare better in growth.
 
Joining Southern Baptists in responding to the survey are members of the Assemblies of God, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, Converge Worldwide, the Evangelical Covenant Church, the Evangelical Free Church in America, The Foursquare Church, the Missionary Church, Vineyard US and The Wesleyan Church.
 
Study authors are Caskey Center director Mark Tolbert; Ed Stetzer, executive director of Wheaton’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism and former LifeWay Research executive director; and Rick Richardson, director of the Wheaton’s M.A. in Evangelism and Leadership. The study will be ongoing through follow-up interviews with pastors, according to the report.
 
LifeWay Research plans to release a full report of the study next week at lifewayresearch.com.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

6/29/2017 8:13:10 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Black church conference aids urban ministry, host says

June 29 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Anyone involved in urban ministry can benefit from the annual Black Church Leadership and Family Conference July 17-21 in Ridgecrest, N.C., organizer Mark Croston told Baptist Press (BP).


“Would it surprise you to know that black people are not the only ones at Black Church Leadership and Family Conference?” LifeWay executive Mark Croston said. “People who are serious about reaching our urban centers are here.”
 
Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Abundant Life Church in Silicon Valley, Calif., and president of the Kainos Movement to encourage multi-ethnicity in congregations, is scheduled to lead the conversation on urban ministry.
 
“Mission Possible: What is Impossible for Men is Possible With God,” based on Luke 18:27, is the 2017 theme for the event at LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center.
 
A new children’s Sunday School curriculum companion to the popular You study series, culturally relevant books authored by Southern Baptists, and a new schedule designed to allow greater participation in more than 100 workshops are in store for the entire family, said Croston, LifeWay’s national director for black church partnerships.
 
“Other conferences are typically great for adults or youth or children,” Croston said. “Black Church Leadership and Family Conference is for the family. It is the one conference where you don’t have to leave the rest of the family at home. ... There is something great for every member of the family and every job in the church.”
 
In addition to Loritts, featured speakers include Byron Day, president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md.; Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay’s Church Resource Division; Peter Wherry, pastor of Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, Charlotte, N.C.; and Bartholomew Orr, senior pastor of Brown Missionary Baptist Church, Southaven, Miss.
 
Praise dance and spoken Word presentations will augment the schedule that includes nightly praise and worship services, noon Bible studies, recreational events, ministry-focused fellowship, CentriFUGE camp and events caterings to the unique ministry needs of women and men.
 
Additional information, registration and resources, including a conference app, are available at LifeWay.com/BlackChurchLife.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

6/29/2017 8:12:24 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Church leaders gather ministry tips in Phoenix

June 29 2017 by Lisa Cannon Green, LifeWay Christian Resources

So what? That’s the question Rob Tims says he tries to answer right away when he leads a small group.

Contributed photo
Rob Tims, a manager in groups ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, leads training on “5 Helps for Getting to Application in Your Group” in the exhibit hall during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix.


Tims, a manager in groups ministry, and his colleagues at LifeWay Christian Resources led 18 drop-in training sessions over three days to give practical skills and ideas to church leaders. The training was held June 12-14 in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting in Phoenix.
 
“We’re trying to provide help to churches – not just educating them on resources but educating on practice as well,” said Jon Emery, director of marketing for LifeWay’s resources division.
 
Topics included levels of biblical learning, discipleship strategies, kids’ ministry and creating a gospel culture in the church.
 
“All the topics are touching on our core curriculum lines in some way, whether it’s philosophically or in some cases actually drilling down into a product itself,” said Aaron Armstrong, brand manager for The Gospel Project.
 
SBC messengers and guests drifted over to listen as the presentations in the open space of the exhibit hall caught their attention.
 
“This is valuable information,” said Gwendolyn James, attending the meeting with her husband Kevin James, pastor of New Creation Bible Fellowship in Tracy, Calif.
 
She appreciated the in-person learning experience. “I don’t get that at home, and if it’s online it’s harder to absorb it,” she said.
 
After the training, she and others gathered in twos and threes with LifeWay leaders to get more ideas. The impromptu discussion after Tims’ session focused on creating trust within a small group.
 
“Trust is the foundation for vulnerability and authenticity,” Tims said. “So we spent some time talking about how to build trust and create an environment where people feel free to talk about how God is working in their life.”
 
Afterward, James said she’d probably return for the next session. An hour later, she was listening to LifeWay’s Matt Morris lead a session on discipleship.
 
“I like the new stuff that’s coming out,” she said. “I love the new teaching styles, so that’s what I came for – to get something fresh, innovative, something new. And I did.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lisa Cannon Green is manager of editorial services for LifeWay Christian Resources.)

6/29/2017 8:12:01 AM by Lisa Cannon Green, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



Ten Commandments monument toppled at Arkansas Capitol

June 29 2017 by Arkansas Baptist News staff

City workers have removed pieces of the newly installed Ten Commandments monument from the Arkansas Capitol grounds after a Van Buren man apparently toppled it with his car.

Photo by Tim Yarbrough
The recently installed Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol lays in pieces after a Van Buren man rammed it with his car early Wednesday morning, June 28.


The 6-foot-tall stone monument was installed June 27 in Little Rock, but was destroyed less than 24 hours later after Michael Tate Reed, 32, of Van Buren allegedly drove a vehicle into the statue. City officials told the media he carried out the act while streaming it live on Facebook.
 
Chris Powell, a spokesman with the Secretary of State’s Office, said he was notified June 28 that a man had driven a vehicle through the monument. Reed was arrested by Capitol police shortly afterward. He was previously accused of destroying a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma, according to news reports.
 
An arrest report on the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department website reported Reed is being charged with defacing objects of public interest, criminal trespass and first degree criminal mischief. Reed faces fines of $2,500 and jail time for the offenses. He was being held without bail pending an initial court appearance.
 
An officer said he spotted a dark-colored vehicle “start from a stopped position and ram the Ten Commandments monument” shortly before 5 a.m. Wednesday. The arrest report for Reed listed “unemployed/disabled” under occupation.
 
Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, who sponsored the 2015 law to erect the monument on state grounds, called the statue’s destruction “an act of violence” and said he expects to be able to raise funds quickly to replace the display, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

A Facebook Live video to an account under the name Michael Reed, appears to show a driver shining his headlights on the monument and shouting, “Freedom!” as he drives toward it. As the vehicle makes contact with the monument, the video cut out, the Democrat-Gazette reported.
 
In another Facebook video posted by a man who identified himself Michael Reed, the Democrat-Gazette reported, the man described his beliefs in both Jesus and the separation of church and state.
 
“I’m a firm believer that part of salvation is that we not only have faith in Jesus Christ but we obey the commands of God, and that we confess Jesus as Lord,” the Democrat-Gazette reported he said in the video. “But one thing I do not support is the violation of our Constitutional right to have the freedom that’s guaranteed to us, that guarantees us the separation of church and state.”
 
There’s “no one religion” that the government should represent, he reportedly said in the video.
 
In 2014, Reed was accused of ramming his truck into a Ten Commandments statue of a similar design at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, the Tulsa World reported.
 
Authorities said he also made threats against President Barack Obama, lit money on fire and walked into a federal building to spit on pictures, the paper reported. Reed was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after being taken to a mental facility for evaluation following the crash, the report said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – The Arkansas Baptist News, arkansasbaptist.org, is the newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist Convention.)

6/29/2017 7:43:48 AM by Arkansas Baptist News staff | with 0 comments



New initiative to generate funds for Kentucky churches

June 29 2017 by Robin Cornetet, Kentucky Today

Is your church raising money for a planned building expansion, mission trip, or summer camp? A new initiative through the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) could soon help with that.

Kentucky Today, Robin Cornetet
Kentucky Baptist Convention finance and business services team leader Lowell Ashby, shown here speaking to mission board members, is leading a pilot initiative to allow church members to generate money for their churches by shopping.


KBC iBennie has been created to allow members of Kentucky Baptist Convention churches to receive discounts and cashback from thousands of online retailers. The initiative will be piloted in about 125 churches beginning later this summer and could be offered statewide as soon as next year.
 
“This has the potential to generate some serious money for churches,” said KBC Business and Finance Team Leader Lowell Ashby. “We’ll know just how much after the initial group of churches give it a trial run. From all appearances, it will be win-win for church members and for their churches.”
 
Through KBC iBennie, Ashby said, members earn up to 20 percent cash back at more than 2,000 online retailers. They also can save an average of 20 percent on hotel bookings. And they can save up to 70 percent on prescription medications.
 
However, those discounts aren’t the only benefits to using iBennie.
 
KBC churches would also receive donations of 1 percent each time they book hotel rooms or purchase tickets to theaters, sporting events and concerts. They would receive 50 cents each time they purchase prescription medications. And they would receive a 10 percent donation based on the cash back earned by their members in purchases from a wide array of retailers, including Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, JCPenney and Petco.
 
“In essence, the initiative saves money for shoppers while generating contributions for their churches,” Ashby said.
 
Membership in iBennie is free to members of participating churches. However, iBennie has partnered with The Entertainment Book to provide more than 365,000 coupons for an annual fee of $20, half of which iBennie will return to participating churches.
 
“We are a loyalty platform that provides incredible savings and discounts to the members while their purchases help support their favorite charities,” said Brad Renzelman, president of iBennie. “This is one of those initiatives that may sound too good to be true, but, in fact, it works as advertised. Other companies have been offering this service for years. What we’re doing is making it work for the benefit of Kentucky Baptists and their churches.”
 
Renzelman described it as a great stewardship opportunity where members can save money and churches can get additional charitable donations.
 
“We see it as a way for churches to have extra money for mission trips and ministries,” Ashby said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Robin Cornetet is the managing editor of Kentucky Today, kentuckytoday.com, a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

6/29/2017 7:34:10 AM by Robin Cornetet, Kentucky Today | with 0 comments



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