June 2017

IMB now on firm ground, Platt reports

June 16 2017 by Julie McGowan, IMB

Through Southern Baptists’ “faithful, generous and consistent giving” of more than $98 million to the Cooperative Program and approximately $153 million to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, the International Mission Board (IMB) has reached financially stability, IMB President David Platt told the entity’s trustees June 12.

Photo by Matt Jones
Jay Wolf, International Mission Board trustee, front center, takes notes as IMB President David Platt addresses the trustees at a meeting June 12 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

“That’s breathtaking: over $250 million given from Southern Baptist churches for the spread of the gospel among the nations,” Platt said. “And as a result of that giving, I am glad to report to trustees and the broader [Southern Baptist Convention] that IMB is standing on firm financial ground.”
In addition to the financial update, IMB trustees approved the appointment of 31 missionaries; recognized 10 trustees as they completed their terms; and elected 2017-2018 officers during their meeting held in conjunction with the June 13-14 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix.
“A couple of years ago, we said our goal was to work to get to a position of short-term financial responsibility and long-term organizational stability, and by God’s grace, we are there,” Platt reported.
“Now some might wonder, ‘The Lottie Moon Offering was less than last year, and even just under your Lottie Moon campaign goal ... so will IMB have a deficit for the 2017 fiscal budget year?’ And the answer is, due to our current expenses also trending below our budget for the year, we do not anticipate an overall deficit for the fiscal year,” Platt said.
Trustees in their support services committee reviewed IMB’s 2016 audited financials and its current financial position, including the core principles in the organization’s financial management: to present a balanced budget each year; spend 100 percent of Lottie Moon receipts overseas every year; do not use proceeds from property sales for operations; and maintain IMB reserves at appropriate levels.
Committee chairman Seth Polk voiced gratitude “to hear that we are on strong financial footing ... and [we] are really grateful to God for the trajectory that we’re on, and particularly for the faithfulness of Southern Baptists in giving and in making all these things possible. ...”

Eternal urgency

Platt confirmed in the trustees’ plenary session that every dollar Southern Baptists give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering “is going to the nations.”

Photo by Matt Jones
Outgoing International Mission Board (IMB) trustee chairman Scott Harris, middle, and David Platt, IMB president, pray as new chairman, Hance Dilbeck, right, pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church, closes the trustee meeting in prayer.

With the mission board healthy financially, Platt said the stage is set for Southern Baptists to send more missionaries. “And so in the same moment that we thank Southern Baptists for their giving, in the next breath we exhort Southern Baptists to give all the more – generously and sacrificially in the days ahead.”
In that light, Platt shared the story of Madeline Ray, a 21-year-old woman who was given a Make-A-Wish Foundation “wish” as a teenager due to a medical condition related to hemorrhagic strokes. Madeline’s heart’s desire was to use her “wish” to make an eternal impact in taking the gospel to an unreached people group.
So Madeline donated the funds for her wish to the International Mission Board. Platt shared a video about Madeline’s eternity-focused heart.
“This is what this meeting in Phoenix is about: It’s about followers of Christ and churches across our country who give an offering every week, saying, ‘We want to give for the spread of the gospel to those who have never heard it,’” Platt said. “[Madeline] could have another hemorrhaging stroke at any moment. She knows that any moment could be her last.
“To hear her saying, ‘I just want to use whatever moments I’ve got to make the gospel known to people who have never heard it’ – may that spirit mark Southern Baptists. May that spirit drive everything we do in and through the IMB.”

New missionaries, officers

The 31 new missionaries approved by the trustees were appointed during a Sending Celebration June 13 during the evening session of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Trustees recognized the service of outgoing trustee chairman Scott Harris, missions minister at Brentwood (Tennessee) Baptist Church, and nine other trustees completing their terms. Hance Dilbeck, senior pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was elected as trustee chairman for 2017-2018; Rick Dunbar, a member of First Baptist Church in Madison, Miss., was re-elected as first vice chair; Tim Simpson, pastor of Greenridge Baptist Church in Clarksburg, Md., was re-elected as second vice chair; and Lisa Lovell, a member of First Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas, was elected as recording secretary.
The next IMB trustee meeting and Sending Celebration will be Sept. 12-13 in Ridgecrest, N.C., in conjunction with IMB’s celebration of emeriti personnel.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie McGowan is public relations leader for IMB.)

6/16/2017 8:40:02 AM by Julie McGowan, IMB | with 0 comments

Southern Baptist churches send 31 new missionaries

June 16 2017 by Julie McGowan, IMB

As a young girl, as Ashley Sparkman listened to stories of missionaries serving around the world, she told God she would “go” to take the gospel to people who had never heard it. In college, as she studied physical therapy, she began to ask God to expand her horizons to go on mission.

Photo by Matt Jones
Messengers to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting pray for 31 new International Mission Board missionaries as they are commissioned. “Southern Baptists, this is part of, if not the primary reason we came together in the first place ...” said IMB President David Platt.

Now, years later, Sparkman was one of 31 missionaries, including five families with ties to North Carolina, appointed by Southern Baptist churches in obedience to God’s call to take His gospel to people around the world. Southern Baptist messengers rejoiced with the new missionaries during a June 13 “Sending Celebration” at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix.
“From prayerwalking in West Africa, to fitting wheelchairs and sharing the gospel in the Eastern Europe, to Bible stories and dressing wounds in the desert, [God] affirmed His call on my heart to the nations and brought me from a place of timidity to sharing truth,” said Sparkman, who is sent by Calvary Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, to share the hope of Christ in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Eliza Hudson* was in second grade when a friend told her, “I don’t know Jesus. I’m from Lebanon.”
“I knew then, if they didn’t know, I would go tell them,” Hudson said.
Today, the displacement of Middle Eastern refugees gives Hudson and her husband William a new opportunity to engage unreached peoples with Jesus Christ. Their family of three will serve among refugees in Europe.
Sam Moon* is the eldest son in a Buddhist family. But even as a child, “the Lord did not stop me from sharing the gospel with my family,” Moon told messengers. “I faced persecution and disadvantage in the workplace for last 15 years. The Lord did not stop me from sharing the gospel with my coworkers.”
Sophia Moon said she and Sam have shared the gospel with many people groups for the last 10 years. As the first Christian missionaries of their entire family, the Moons are willing to obey God’s calling to serve in Central Asia along with their three children.

The ‘primary reason’

International Mission Board President David Platt said he recently was reminded of the astounding need to take the gospel to a lost world. Just a few days earlier, he was waking up in a remote village high in the Himalayas, in the northern part of Nepal, near Tibet.

Photo by Matt Jones
Kevin and Victoria Singerman were two of the 31 missionaries recognized during the International Mission Board Sending Celebration June 13 during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. The Singerman family, from First Baptist Church in Fairborn, Ohio, are going to Uganda.

“For five days, I was walking through village after village, and apart from a few Christians who recently moved to those mountains, there wasn’t one follower of Christ to be found. Not one,” Platt said. “Nine million people spread across 24 people groups in that particular region, and out of those 9 million people, it’s estimated that less than 100 of them are Christians.
“Most of these millions have never heard of Christ. They haven’t even heard His name. You’ll ask, ‘Do you know anything about Jesus?’ and they’ll say, ‘Who’s that?’”
Platt recounted drinking butter tea with one family who had a statue of Buddha on their wall, with silver cups in front of the statue. The family shared how every morning they wake up about 4:30 a.m., and before they go out to work in the fields, they fill the cups with water, place a candle in them, and light the candle to offer worship to the Buddha. And they just assume that everybody worships the same way and believes the same things because it’s the way their ancestors worshiped for generations.
“I just want to remind us that the reason we came together over 170 years ago [as a convention] and the reason we’re here in Phoenix this week is to change the future of little girls and boys and moms and dads like these in Nepal all over the world,” Platt emphasized.
“And if no one goes as a missionary to them – someone sent out beyond where they live to places where the gospel has not gone – then those people will continue for generation after generation without ever hearing the gospel.
“Southern Baptists, this is part of, if not the primary reason we came together in the first place: to send out and support missionaries, men and women and their families going out from our churches for the spread of the gospel where it hasn’t gone,” Platt said.
“The stage is set for limitless Southern Baptists to take the gospel to the nations,” he said. “And my question for us tonight is, Will we send them?”
To learn more about pathways to serve on mission, visit IMB.org.
*Names changed.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie McGowan is public relations manager for IMB.)

6/16/2017 8:35:17 AM by Julie McGowan, IMB | with 0 comments

Personal finances to gain SBC spiritual boost

June 16 2017 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

For people struggling financially – and others doing well – stewardship will become more urgent among Southern Baptists in the days ahead.
“We’ve not talked about it enough,” Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC), said in the EC’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention.
“We have not promoted it, supported it enough,” Page said June 13 at the SBC’s annual meeting in Phoenix.
“That ends today.”
Page set forth two initiatives of the Executive Committee aimed at strengthening stewardship among individuals and churches:

  • from the Ramsey Solutions organization: the “Momentum” plan in which churches can utilize the popular Financial Peace University resource in a nine-week church-wide emphasis. It marks Dave Ramsey’s first collaboration with an entire denomination.
  • from the Executive Committee in partnership with state Baptist conventions: an all-new “It’s a New Day for Financial Freedom” six-week study available free at the EC’s talkCP.com website for use in a variety of church settings and by individuals via a cellphone app. It’s a New Day resources for small groups will be available in time for use this fall.

“[For] many of our people,” Page said, “life is a true struggle financially.”
Ramsey, in a brief video, said, “People in the church want to give” yet “most of them simply mathematically can’t give because they’re broke.”
And Chris Brown, host of the Ramsey Solutions-produced radio show and podcast Life Money Hope, told messengers that Americans, on average, are spending $1.26 for every $1 they earn.
Brown noted that 88 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck because of their spending habits, according to The Wall Street Journal. “It’s not about poor, it’s not about underemployed – it’s regardless of salary, $20,000 a year, $200,000 a year.”
Debt, Brown stated, is “the No. 1 thing holding the church back.”
Page voiced a yearning shared by many: “We want to see the Cooperative Program grow, we want to see churches grow and flourish, we want to see the fuel be provided for the largest missionary force, the largest church planting effort, the largest evangelistic emphasis, the largest theological consortium of education ever in history – and we believe it can happen if God’s people are serious about financial stewardship.”
Both stewardship and the Cooperative Program (CP), Page noted, are ministry assignments placed with the Executive Committee by the Southern Baptist Convention.
Giving for SBC national and international missions and ministries, as of May 31, is 3.64 percent ahead of the projected Cooperative Program Allocation Budget, Page reported on the $130.5 million total. In 2016, churches gave $450 million to SBC and state convention CP causes.
“We know that churches throughout our convention are giving. We know that people are talking about the Cooperative Program like never before,” Page said. “[E]very ethnic group, every age group is looking carefully at what [CP] is and how it is still the most effective, efficient way to do missions and ministry.”
The Cooperative Program provides “living water all throughout the world,” Page said. “It’s not just about sending money – it’s about people, it’s about changed lives [and] new churches for the glory of God.”
Yet, challenges continue to loom for Southern Baptists’ commitment to sharing the gospel, Page said.
The average percent of income given by church members declined nearly 13 percent from 2003 to 2015, from 2.48 percent to 2.16 percent, he noted, and the number of households giving to charity fell from 70 percent to 65 percent during that span.
Churches also declined, from sending 11.3 percent of their receipts to missions in 2006 versus 10.44 percent by 2015, Page said, counting Cooperative Program and other missions gifts.
“Everything we do as a convention revolves around the success of personal stewardship ... with individuals in a local church,” he stated.
Brown, describing the Momentum program utilizing Financial Peace University, said it seeks to create a church-wide culture to “remove the stigma that it’s only for the struggling ... to make sure people know what stewardship really is – managing God’s blessings, God’s way, for God’s glory.”
When the church led by SBC President Steve Gaines committed resources for Momentum, Brown noted that 30 percent of participants came from outside Bellevue Baptist in suburban Memphis.
“This is a real felt need,” Brown said of Momentum’s evangelistic potential. For church planters, the resource will be made available at no cost, so they can learn about using it in the early stages of a new congregation, he said.
Participants in Financial Peace University during the past 20-plus years have gotten out of non-mortgage debt in 18-24 months, Brown said, citing an $8,000 swing in their finances in 90 days.
Regarding It’s a New Day for Financial Freedom, Dave Scobey, the content developer, told messengers that God has “a plan for spending, saving and investing” to help them avoid a “financial treadmill.”
It’s a New Day, he said, helps people understand God’s plan and provides them with principles, tools and techniques to “complete the plan and make it work for them.”
The six-week study entails four lessons per week with accompanying video instruction, Scobey said, adding, “It facilitates itself.”
Page said It’s a New Day will be helpful for those whose finances are stable as well as strong. And for those in a “surplus” stage of life, he noted that state Baptist foundations and the Southern Baptist Foundation can play a key role in their stewardship, starting with a resource titled “My Legacy of Faith” to consider “what to do with that which God has given them in this life and in the life to come.”
“We don’t often even think about what’s going to happen to our estate once we die,” Page said. “We often tithe on the income we have, but forget that the vast majority of our resources are not in cash but otherwise. This surplus level of life can be strategic.”
Throughout the Executive Committee’s unfolding stewardship ministry in the days ahead, Page said, “We all can start with that belief that God says, ‘Bring the tithes into the storehouse,’ and we’ve got to teach our people how to do that so there will be plenty to do all the work God has called us to do. ... We want to be able to share living water with every man, woman, boy and girl on the face of this earth. May God help us as we continue to emphasize stewardship more than we ever have before.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

6/16/2017 8:31:38 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Hawkins recaps GuideStone’s legal & financial gains

June 16 2017 by Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources

GuideStone Financial Resources’ theme for 2017 is the “Year of Innovation,” President O.S. Hawkins said in the opening report to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), June 13-14 in Phoenix.

Photo by Marc Ira Hooks
GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins reports that “the year of innovation is GuideStone’s 2017 theme during a report June 13 on the first day of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention at the Phoenix Convention Center. Hawkins said GuideStone’s investment funds have been recognized for high performance in the market.

The annual theme guides the entity’s work, Hawkins said, noting a difference between imitation and innovation. At GuideStone, he said, the focus in 2017 is on innovation for the benefit of participants.
Hawkins reported to messengers about GuideStone’s litigation over the Obama-era contraceptive mandate, which would have required ministries like some Christian schools and missions organizations served by GuideStone to provide abortion-causing drugs and devices or face crippling fines.
In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in a case that also included the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic group, that the government must seek out a solution that does not violate the plaintiffs’ religious liberty concerns. Hawkins expressed appreciation for the Trump administration’s desire, through its executive order, to protect religious liberty.
Churches and closely integrated auxiliaries of churches were exempt from the mandate.

Health care

Hawkins told messengers about GuideStone’s ongoing efforts to control health care costs, including providing group health coverage to churches and ministries with as few as two employees.
Citing the rising costs in health care due to claims related to preventable diseases – those that can be mitigated or eliminated by proper diet and exercise, which account for half of the claims paid by GuideStone’s health plans – Hawkins invited messengers to come to the GuideStone booth for a free wellness check to learn their numbers.
“Just lifestyle changes would make such an incredible difference in the cost of health care expenses,” Hawkins said.
In property and casualty insurance, Hawkins reported that GuideStone’s coverage provided through Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company has a renewal rate of 98 percent of church and ministry accounts annually.


Hawkins reported that the GuideStone Funds Defensive Market Strategies Fund-Institutional Class was named the Lipper Fund Award winner out of 425 similar funds in the three-year period and the Lipper winner out of 322 similar funds in the five-year period in Lipper’s Flexible Portfolio Funds category as of Nov. 30, 2016. The Lipper Fund Awards honor funds for their consistently strong risk-adjusted performance relative to their peers. The accolades were announced at an investment industry awards dinner March 23 in New York. For the GuideStone fund family as a whole, this marks the eighth time in six years that Lipper has awarded GuideStone one of its prestigious trophies.
“We’re so thankful for our investment team and the incredible job they have done in that arena,” Hawkins said, adding that the accolades help GuideStone prove that investors can have Christian-screened funds that compete in the marketplace.


GuideStone was founded in 1918 to provide retirement assistance to retired pastors and their widows, which continues through Mission:Dignity’s financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows in their declining years.
In preparation for GuideStone’s centennial in 2018, the Mission:Dignity ministry unveiled its 100 Reasons campaign, encouraging churches and individuals to join in sharing in the ministry. More than 1,800 retired pastors and their widows receive assistance through the ministry, which receives no Cooperative Program funding.
“God has raised up Southern Baptists to help us raise over $100 million for Mission:Dignity,” Hawkins reported.
Churches that wish to learn more about Mission:Dignity can request materials for use in churchwide emphasis by visiting MDSunday.org. Mission:Dignity Sunday is the fourth Sunday of June on the SBC calendar – June 25 – but materials created for Mission:Dignity emphases are undated, allowing churches to use them throughout the year.
Hawkins also recognized three churches – Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan., First Baptist Church in Douglas, Ga. and Bedias Baptist Church in Bedias, Texas, for their support of Mission:Dignity.
Additionally, Hawkins noted the newest book in the Code series he has authored, The Christmas Code, a 25-day devotional available for less than $1 per copy with bulk pricing that will also benefit Mission:Dignity.
Hawkins has penned four Code books – The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code, The James Code and The Daniel Code. In addition to The Christmas Code, The Believer’s Code debuts this fall. All author proceeds and royalties benefit Mission:Dignity. By early next year, more than 1 million copies will be in print.
GuideStone will mark its centennial anniversary during the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas on June 12–13, 2018.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

6/16/2017 8:25:58 AM by Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources | with 0 comments

Every Christian is a minister: Steve Gaines

June 16 2017 by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist and Reflector

Every Christian is a minister, Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in his message to the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.

Photo by Adam Covington
Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives the president’s address during the first day of the SBC annual meeting June 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center. “The pattern of ministry that spawned missions and evangelism in Acts can yield refreshment and empowerment for believers today,” he said, preaching from Acts 13:1-12. “If you’ll do things God’s way you’ll get God’s power.”

Gaines told messengers at the 160th session of the SBC June 13 that he was not just giving a convention address. “I’m going to preach the gospel,” said the pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church.
Taking his message from Acts 13:1-12, Gaines emphasized that “every person in this room that knows the Lord Jesus Christ is a minister – a servant of the gospel.”
“You might not be called to pastor a church, but still, nevertheless, if you’re a Christian, you’re a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The ministry of Jesus Christ, Gaines noted, “has a fundamental, essential process/pattern.”
Referencing a recent Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game, Gaines said he noticed that “even baseball has a process or pattern.”
In order to score, a batter has to hit the ball, run to first base, to second base, to third base and then run to home plate in order to score, Gaines said. “Bad things would happen if they got that out of order.”
In order to count the run, the player cannot change that sequence, he continued, noting that the same principle applies to ministry.
Acts 13 provides a “divine sequence/pattern” for ministry, Gaines said.
First, Christians are to minister to the Lord, he said. “God wants you and me to minister first to Him.”
Second, the Lord “must minister to us and then anoint us with His Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, do we have the power, do we have the anointing to minister to other people,” Gaines told messengers.
Christians, however, sometimes get that sequence out of order, he said.
While many good things are happening throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, there are challenges such as a decline in baptisms, Gaines said.
“But I rise before you today to remind us all that there is hope for the Southern Baptist Convention, there is hope for the United States of America, there is hope for our lost world because there is a bloody cross and there is an empty tomb.
“And, praise God, there is an occupied throne. We do not serve a dead Savior. We serve a living Lord. And because Jesus is alive there is hope for all of us today.
“If we will follow God’s pattern, we can have access to God’s power,” he said.
Citing the example of the church in Antioch in Acts 13, Gaines said ministry for the Lord begins with prayer and worship. He noted that the five church leaders who were described as prophets and teachers (including Paul) exemplified the diversity of the church at Antioch.
“It was a good prototype for churches in America today,” he observed, noting the church had both Jews and Gentiles, blacks and whites, educated and uneducated, well-to-do and poor people. “Yet, all of them had one thing in common – they had Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“I want to say this. I will tell you what will take care of the race issues in America – the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one race, the human race. God loves us all and God has created us all in His image. Jesus has died for us all and anyone can be saved. If you will repent of your sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, receive Him into your life, calling upon the name of the Lord, you will instantly have the Holy Ghost in you and He will help you love everybody around you and you won’t care who they are and what their background is. That’s what we see in the church at Antioch.”
Gaines said the church followed God’s pattern. They ministered to the Lord and fasted, they set apart Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for ministry and then fasted, prayed, laid hands upon them and sent them away to be the first missionaries “to the ends of the earth.”
“That overseas call would never have been given by God had the leaders and members of that church not ministered to the Lord in worship, prayer and fasting,” Gaines maintained.
He noted that people minister to the Lord when they worship and praise Him, thank Him for all He has done, pray for forgiveness of sins, pray for the needs of others, fast, read His Word and assemble with other Christians to worship Him.
After ministering to the Lord, “He will minister to you with His Holy Spirit,” Gaines said. He encouraged Christians each day to ask God to fill them with His Spirit so they can witness to lost people, pray more effectively and worship the Lord.
After Paul and Barnabas were sent out on that first missionary journey, Gaines said, they encountered people who rejected the gospel but they also encountered people who accepted Christ and were saved.
Ministry comes full circle when Christians minister to others with the gospel, Gaines said. “I want to encourage you to be a soul winner. Be evangelistic,” he exhorted. “If we will share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost, people will be saved.”
But it must start with Christians ministering to the Lord, Gaines said. “If you do things God’s way, you’ll get God’s power.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector, baptistandreflector.com, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.)

6/16/2017 8:20:44 AM by Lonnie Wilkey, Baptist and Reflector | with 0 comments

Gaines re-elected as SBC President

June 15 2017 by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention

Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines was reelected by acclamation to a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) during the June 13-14 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.

Photo by Adam Covington
Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives the president’s address during the first day of the SBC annual meeting June 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

He will lead a diverse slate of officers including Walter Strickland, an African American leader of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Kingdom Diversity Initiative, first vice president; Jose Abella, a bilingual church planter from Miami, second vice president; John Yeats, who has served as recording secretary for the past two decades; and Don Currence, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo., registration secretary.
Gaines was nominated by his son Grant Gaines, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., who noted his father’s first year in office had been marked by wise leadership, personal prayer and personal evangelism.
The elder Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., called on Southern Baptists to pray and rekindle a passion for personal evangelism during his first year of service. He has championed the Cooperative Program (CP), Southern Baptists’ unified method of funding missions and ministries in North America and internationally.
No other persons were nominated as president.
In nominating his father, the younger Gaines said, “First, he has been a consummate statesman in a year full of political and moral turmoil in our nation. Through his example, he has shown us all how to combine both a prophetic voice when need be, as well as wise restraint when need be.”
“Second, through his emphasis on prayer, he has encouraged thousands of Southern Baptists to a deeper prayer life. Anyone who knows Steve Gaines knows him as a great man of prayer, and I would love to see his passion for this spread to even more people.
“Third, his emphasis on personal evangelism has been a needed reminder in our convention,” Grant Gaines said. “It’s important that we be reminded that without personal evangelism, church planting and global missions cannot be effective.”
First vice president Strickland was nominated by former SBC President James Merritt. “Walter Strickland encapsulates who we are as Southern Baptists today and where we need to go as the SBC tomorrow,” Merritt said.
As a “young, vibrant African American” believer who seeks to foster racial reconciliation in the convention, Merritt said, “if we are going to survive and thrive, we must become more racially diverse.”
Strickland, a member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., has been special adviser to the president for diversity at Southeastern since 2013. He also teaches theology at Southeastern and since 2015 has operated a consulting service to assist churches and other organizations with diversity-related issues.
Also nominated as first vice president was Abel Galvan, family life minister of First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim, Calif., by his pastor, Victor Chayasirisobhon. Strickland garnered 1,295 – or 68 percent – votes to Galvan’s 590 votes – or 31 percent.
Georgia Pastor Michael Lewis nominated Abella, lead pastor of Providence Road Church in Miami, for the office of second vice president. With no other nominations, recording secretary John Yeats cast the convention’s ballot for Abella.
The church planter “is a living picture of what we want to become as Southern Baptists,” Lewis said, “working to engage in an urban context, multiply churches, reach different generations ethnicities and social groups, all while being faithful to scripture.”
Yeats was reelected without opposition as recording secretary, a position he has held for the past two decades. With no other nominees, first vice president Doug Munton cast the ballot of the convention. Yeats, executive director for the Missouri Baptist Convention, was nominated by Missouri pastor Spencer Plumlee.
In a departure from recent memory, someone other than Jim Wells of Missouri was nominated for registration secretary. Wells had held the office for the past 15 years, but chose not to run this year due to his declining health.
A crowded field of five persons was nominated for registration secretary, resulting in a run-off between Currence, the current acting registration secretary and pastor of First Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo.; and Waylon Owens, a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor and administrator, the two top finishers in the first ballot. Currence received 554 votes (69.2 percent) and Owens received 231 votes (28.8 percent).
Others nominated were Leroy Fountain, a church planting consultant with the Louisiana Baptist Convention; A.B. Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego, Calif.; and Barry Calhoun, missions mobilization director for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.
Messengers elected Paige Patterson as the 2018 convention preacher, Kie Bowman as the alternate preacher and Mark Blair as the convention music director.
During the 12 years Steve Gaines has pastored Bellevue, the congregation has averaged 492 baptisms annually, according to data from the SBC’s Annual Church Profile. Previously, he pastored churches in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.
Earlier this year, Bellevue became the first church that cooperates with the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) to give $1 million through CP during a 12-month period, the TBC reported. The church has designated the same amount for CP in its 2017-18 budget year. In 2016-17, that total represented 4.6 percent of Bellevue’s undesignated receipts, according to the church. ACP data reflects similar totals.
Gaines served as president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference in 2005, preached the convention sermon in 2004 and was a member of the committee that recommended revisions of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000. A current trustee at Union University, Gaines has served in the past as a trustee of LifeWay Christian Resources and in various other state-convention and SBC leadership roles.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.)

6/15/2017 9:47:49 AM by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention | with 0 comments

Greg Laurie’s cooperation with SBC mutually beneficial

June 15 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Just one day after seeing nearly 3,400 come to Christ at a Harvest America crusade in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) 2017 annual meeting, megachurch pastor Greg Laurie announced his official cooperation with the SBC.

Photo by Matt Miller
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., preaches June 13 during the evening session of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Laurie, founding pastor of the 15,000-member Harvest Christian Fellowship based in Riverside, Calif., concurrently announced plans to hold one of his Harvest Crusades in advance of the 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
Cooperating with the SBC “does not change our theology, philosophy of ministry or our history,” Laurie said in a June 13 press release. “It merely extends the reach of our fellowship within the Christian world at a time when the vision and mission of Harvest remains – as it has been for 42 years – focused on the teaching of God’s Word and the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
As a cooperating church, Harvest Christian Fellowship will maintain autonomy while gaining the opportunity to support Southern Baptist work, ministry and missions at the local, national and international levels. The church also gains the opportunity to hold appointments to SBC committees and boards, election to SBC posts and tuition discounts at SBC seminaries.
The benefits of cooperation are listed online at sbc.net.
Cooperating with the SBC will advance Laurie’s pursuit of the next great awakening, he said.
“We’ve chosen to partner in total, unrelenting pursuit of our nation’s next great awakening,” Laurie said. “I believe that the time is right to reach across the church and to lock hands in total support of the rapid advance of the gospel in our nation and in our world. I believe this decision is a powerful step in that direction.
“I appreciate the SBC’s focus on evangelism as well as their outreach in missions and relief ministries that touch our world every day in a significant way.”
Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines is among SBC leaders who have commended Laurie’s Harvest America crusades at harvestamerica.com.
“Greg Laurie has been serving the Lord evangelistically since the early 1970s, when God changed his life during the Jesus Movement in Southern California,” Gaines said in a statement at harvestamerica.com. “God has gifted Greg to give a clear, passionate, biblical presentation of the gospel. God uses him to call people to faith in Christ.”
The Southern Baptist North American Mission Board (NAMB) co-hosted with Laurie an evangelistic crusade June 11 at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale that attracted 38,000 attendees. Of those, nearly 3,000 accepted Christ in addition to 494 who made salvation decisions online. The event culminated the Crossover Phoenix door-to-door evangelistic outreach led by NAMB and widely supported by Southern Baptists attending the annual meeting, especially Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students and alumni, who knocked on thousands of doors in the Phoenix area in the week leading up to the crusade.
At the SBC 2017 annual meeting continuing through June 14, Laurie participated in a panel discussion during the NAMB SEND Luncheon and taught a Bible study on evangelism during a June 13 evening session.
More than 7.7 million people have accepted Christ during Harvest Crusades since Laurie launched the outreach in 1990, according to his ministry’s website. In 2012, Laurie launched Harvest America, a nationwide event simulcast to thousands of locations nationally.
Harvest Christian Fellowship, which also has a campus in Hawaii, will maintain its fellowship with the Calvary Chapel family of churches, Laurie said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

6/15/2017 9:47:22 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Messengers OK 9 resolutions, vote on ‘alt-right’ proposal

June 15 2017 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Messengers to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) passed resolutions June 13 repenting of prayerlessness and calling for leaders to practice biblical morality before deciding late at night to vote June 14 on a previously rejected proposal denouncing “alt-right” white supremacy.

Photo by Philip Bethancourt
Messengers raise their ballots Tuesday, June 13, to approve a request by the Resolutions Committee to present a resolution on “the anti-gospel alt-right white supremacy movement” at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, on the last day of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The approved resolutions covered some hot-button theological and moral issues, but the proposed resolution on the “alt-right” – a movement that supports white nationalism – gained the most attention.
The Resolutions Committee chose not to report out the proposal to messengers. An effort by the resolution’s author, Dwight McKissic, to bring the “alt-right” measure to the floor failed in the afternoon session, and a motion by another messenger in the evening session also fell short. Each motion required a two-thirds majority, and the evening vote received only 58 percent approval.
McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, asked that the SBC “would go on record to abate darkness that’s invading our nation right now.” Many “alt-right” members claim to be Southern Baptists, he said.
The committee reconvened during the evening, and asked the Committee on Order of Business for time Wednesday to present a new “alt-right” resolution, chief parliamentarian Barry McCarty told messengers. The Committee on Order of Business approved, McCarty said. Messengers then approved unanimously or nearly unanimously a vote on the resolution scheduled for 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, spoke for the resolution “On the Anti-Gospel of Alt-Right White Supremacy” when it was proposed by the Resolutions Committee.
“Racism and white supremacy are not merely social issues,” he said. “Racism and white supremacy attack the gospel itself and the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The resolution was approved by a nearly unanimous vote. Most messengers stood to applaud the measure.
Messengers approved all nine resolutions they received from the committee with unanimous or nearly unanimous votes. In those resolutions, they:

  • Confessed as sin any lack of prayer and called on Southern Baptists to commit to at least 15 minutes a day of prayer and regular fasting as they are able, as well as petitions to God to grant revival and the salvation of millions of people.
  • Expressed gratitude for leaders who live consistently moral lives, urged all leaders to abide by God’s moral standards and pledged prayer for the country’s leaders to resist temptation.
  • Reaffirmed the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement – which says Jesus took upon Himself in His death the divine punishment due sinners – “as the burning core of the gospel message and the only hope of a fallen race.”
  • Denounced Planned Parenthood’s “immoral agenda and practices,” in addition to urging all government defunding and commending the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) for making federal removal of money for the country’s leading abortion provider a priority in its legislative agenda.
  • Called for Southern Baptists and other Christians not to participate “in the sin of gambling,” encouraged pastors and convention leaders to continue to teach Southern Baptists about the deceptiveness of gambling and urged government at all levels to halt state-sponsored gambling.
  • Urged Southern Baptists to pray for and invest in evangelism and discipleship efforts with college students and strengthen the relationship between parachurch campus ministries and local churches.
  • Voiced gratitude to God on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation for its courageous leaders and urged recommitment to its convictions while advocating for religious liberty for all.
  • Offered thanks on the 100th anniversary of the SBC Executive Committee and commended the entity for its promotion of the Cooperative Program, the convention’s unified giving plan.
  • Expressed gratitude to God, as well as Southern Baptists in the Phoenix area and all others who helped with this year’s meeting.

Reporting the resolution on prayer as the first matter for messengers to consider was significant, said Barrett Duke, Resolutions Committee chairman, in a news conference afterward. That resolution included some “very specific language” for Southern Baptists, he said.

Photo by Matt Miller
Barrett Duke, resolutions committee chairman, answers questions about resolutions during a press conference at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting Tuesday, June 13, at the Phoenix Convention Center.

When asked by a reporter about the absence of President Trump’s name from the resolution on moral leadership, Duke said, “There was no need to single out President Trump or anyone else. We simply believe the resolution stands on its own without bringing particular characters into it.”
Trump’s multiple marriages and past actions toward and comments about women were subjects of concern among Southern Baptists and others during the 2016 election, although many Southern Baptist church members voted for him in November.
Regarding the measure on gambling, Duke said “We looked back, and we noticed that we never in the past have actually labeled gambling as a sin in that kind of explicit way.“
Moore described the resolution on penal substitutionary atonement as “very well worded, reflecting the viewpoint of the Baptist Faith & Message [the SBC’s statement of faith] and in a context where penal substitutionary atonement has been the subject of a hot debate in recent years.”
He told reporters it was a “very appropriate word for this convention to speak to the fact that we believe, as the book of Romans teaches, that God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus through the atoning sacrifice of Christ.”
In explaining why the committee did not report out McKissic’s resolution, Duke told reporters afterward the panel spent a number of hours considering the proposal “before we finally said we just didn’t see a way that we could speak to the multiple issues that were raised in that resolution in a way that we felt would be constructive.”
Duke said the committee agreed with the resolution’s point on racism, but thought it and other “elements [in the proposal] already had been addressed recently” in Southern Baptist life.
The committee also chose not to act on resolutions submitted regarding Genesis, pro-life support, unity in the SBC and country, collaboration on ministry to refugees, praying for the peace of Jerusalem and encouragement of trustee representation.
Duke is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Billings, Mont., and executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention.
The other committee members, in alphabetical order, are: Ken Alford, pastor, Crossroads Baptist Church, Valdosta, Ga.; Felix Cabrera, pastor, Iglesia Bautista Central, Oklahoma City, a mission of Oklahoma City’s Quail Springs Baptist Church, and co-founder of the Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance; Linda Cooper, member, Forest Park Baptist Church, Bowling Green, Ky., and national president of Woman’s Missionary Union; Jason Duesing, member, Antioch Bible Baptist Church, Gladstone, Mo., and provost and associate professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City; David Leavell, pastor, First Baptist Church, Millington, Tenn.; Matthew McKellar, member, First Baptist Church, Dallas, and associate professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas; Jeffrey Riley, member, Edgewater Baptist Church, New Orleans, and professor of ethics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans; Rolland Slade, pastor, Meridian Southern Baptist Church, El Cajon, Calif.; and James Smith, member, Covenant Community Church, Fredericksburg, Va., and vice president of communications of the National Religious Broadcasters, Washington, D.C.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

6/15/2017 9:40:38 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Valverde returns as Hispanic fellowship president

June 15 2017 by Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Witness

The National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship (NHBF) of the Southern Baptist Convention, in a four-hour meeting June 12, discussed business, honored a Hispanic leader, worshiped and heard God’s Word.

Photo by Keila Diaz
Fermin Whittaker, center, Hispanic Southern Baptist leader, is honored at the annual meeting of the National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship by executive director of fellowship Julio Fuentes, left, and Augusto Valverde, right, newly elected fellowship president.

The group of approximately 50 elected new officers made an amendment to their constitution and voted on three motions brought forth from their last meeting.
Augusto Valverde, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Nuevo Amanecer in Miami, was elected as the fellowship’s new president. Valverde served as NHBF president from 2002-2004 and again in 2006.
Julio Fuentes, the fellowship’s executive director, said many people consider Valverde’s terms of service as a time when the fellowship was active and doing well, and many would like to see him lead again.
Carlos Valencia of Texas was elected as first vice president. Walter Loyola of California and Maria C. Gonzalez of Florida are each serving in their third consecutive year as second vice president and secretary, respectively.
NHBF’s treasurer, Juan Barcos of Florida, is moving to a yet-unspecified position within the fellowship, and Ramon Rodriguez of Arizona was elected as his successor.
Inocencio Gomez of Kansas was elected to assist Goonzalez as vice-secretary and Jose Moreno of Arizona to assist Rodriguez as vice-treasurer.
Fuentes suggested that a change be made to the constitution to allow officer nominees to be approved even if they are not present at the meeting in which a vote takes place.
“We find that many times because of unforeseen circumstances the nominees can’t make it to these meetings but they are strong nominees that have gone through a long vetting process and we would prefer not to see them lose the opportunity to serve,” Fuentes said of the amendment to the constitution, which passed.

Photo by Adam Covington
Estefan Sarabia, center, a member of Tierra Fertil Christian Church in Yuma, Ariz., leads two youth in prayer during the National Hispanic Fellowship meeting June 12 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

The fellowship also approved a motion to have a legal consultant; a motion for the executive committee to suggest names for that role; and a third motion to introduce the terminology of active and inactive members to the constitution.
All motions passed.
Also, a nominating committee for 2018 was named.
David Johnson, executive director-treasurer of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, visited the group and invited the pastors to partner with Arizona Baptists to plant more Hispanic churches.
“Arizona is 30 percent Hispanic and there are only 55 Hispanic [Southern Baptist] churches,” Johnson said. “We need your help to come plant churches.”
The keynote speaker and honored Hispanic leader at the gathering was Fermin Whittaker. The worship leader was Josue Castro, pastor of Tierra Fertile in Yuma, Ariz.
Whittaker served as executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention for 22 years before retiring last year. The Panama native served in Panama, Canada and Georgia, preached many crusades in the United States and abroad and has been a guest lecturer at various Southern Baptist seminaries.
In his sermon, Whittaker encouraged the pastors to continue to work ardently to spread the gospel.
“Keep the focus and trust that God will help you,” he said.
He also encouraged the fellowship to be the prayer warriors that the next generation needs to continue to do the work of the Kingdom of God.
“We talk a lot about the future but rarely the past, so I want to remind you about the Baptists in the ’70s who gathered to pray at Lake Yale and other places so that people would hear the gospel, and God heard them and provided people to do it. … We need to pray like that again.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keila Diaz writes for the Florida Baptist Witness, goFBW.com.)

6/15/2017 9:40:07 AM by Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Witness | with 0 comments

Moments of restoration recalled at WMU annual meeting

June 15 2017 by Barbara Denman, WMU

“Defining Moments,” those dramatic, life-changing experiences that make an eternal difference in the hearts and minds of the Christian believer, were recounted and celebrated during the Monday sessions of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, held June 11-12 at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

Photo by Van Payne
Linda Cooper, WMU national president, addressed the group’s annual meeting, with the theme “Defining Moments.” Cooper shared some defining moments from her own life, including accepting Jesus as a 12-year-old in a revival service.

The 325 registered participants of the two-day meeting explored defining moments in the Bible and in the lives of missionaries, national WMU leaders, Acteens panelists and other Southern Baptist Convention leaders.
The Monday sessions paralleled the Sunday opening theme examining “Defining Moments ... Restored” and “Defining Moments ... Released.”
“Often we make a mess of our lives and wonder if it can ever be fixed,” said Linda Cooper, WMU national president. “When Christ shows up, He restores us and give us new purposes.”
In the annual President’s Address, Cooper, a member of Forest Park Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky., shared the first of many defining moments in her life when as a 12-year-old in a revival service in a small country church she accepted Jesus as Savior.
These moments continued throughout her life as “God revealed a lost world to me,” she said “and led me to today where I represent an organization that is literally changing the world.”
Cooper recalled meeting Skeeter, a kitchen manager at a Nashville mission this past Spring. The former homeless man had been beaten and thrown over a bridge when he came through that ministry. There he “learned about grace and experienced God’s saving grace.”
And she recounted the story of the Rwandan woman who came to know Christ after she was freed from the bonds of sex trafficking by producing crafts through WMU’s WorldCrafts to earn a sustainable living.
Cooper, who was also elected to her third term as WMU president, reminded the women that they too are providing defining moments in the lives of men, women, boys and girls in WMU – “an experience that is changing people forever.”
Throughout the meeting, Southern Baptist missionaries serving throughout the world shared stories of restoration and release.
Ross and Dena Frierson have seen God’s redemptive hand through history while ministering to the Udmurt people of Russia. God’s plan for this previously unreached and unengaged people group can be traced back to a 2007 prayer emphasis “that I am sure some of you were a part of,” said Dena Frierson, referencing the 2007 Day of Prayer and Fasting for World Evangelization that focused on the Udmurt people group.
The Friersons, who began serving in Russia in 2009, helped plant churches in Udmurtia, located about 700 miles east of Moscow. “God is still at work around the world to accomplish His redemptive purpose for all of the people groups on the earth,” Dena Frierson said. The family will soon be serving in Wales.

Photo by Van Payne
Jacob and Jessie Dahl, church planters in Washington with the North American Mission Board, share about their work during the Woman’s Missionary Union annual meeting June 12 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

North American Mission Board appointees Jacob and Jessica Dahl serve as church planters in Ellensburg, Wash., home to 11,000 college students at Central Washington University. In their church plant, the missionary couple has seen more than 103 persons baptized, 98 salvations and their core group of believers grow to 250.
As an International Mission Board worker in Thailand since 1992, Cheryl Derbyshire directs Thai Country Trim, a ministry that provides income for more than 200 rural village women who use their talents and gifts to produce WorldCraft products. As their handiwork is sold across the world, the women are being led to Christ and become leaders in their local churches.
Bringing a biblical message based on Luke 14:16-24, Gordon Fort, senior ambassador for the president of the International Mission Board, said the lost are waiting for invitations to join the feast and sit at the right hand of the Master.
“The invitation to this wedding feast is in your hand,” Fort said. “This is not just ‘a defining moment,’ this is ‘the defining moment.’”
The 2017 Dellanna West O’Brien Award was presented to Becky Sumrall, executive director of Begin Anew, Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) of Middle Tenn., in recognition of her work with CWJC as well as investment of her time in developing outstanding leadership skills in the women she works with. Read related story here.
The annual meeting concluded Monday night when nearly 700 persons viewed the movie Mully, and met the subject of the film, Charles Mulli, a Kenyan man who worked his way from abject poverty to great wealth, only to be called by God to return to poverty.
WorldCrafts is partnering with Mully Children’s Family (MCF) to help share the story of Mulli and expand WorldCrafts impact among impoverished artisan groups around the world.
The film begins as Mulli, the first born in a family of eight living in poverty in Kenya, was abandoned by his parents as they left in search of a better living. He grew up begging on the streets and became a Christian as a teenager.
When Mulli was 17, he walked more than 40 miles to Nairobi to seek employment. He found work and met his future wife Esther. He became a wealthy entrepreneur and respected community leader, and he and Esther had eight biological children.
In 1989, Mulli said, the Lord laid it on his heart to help other children living in poverty in Africa. He sold all his property and businesses in order to provide street children in Africa with shelter, medical care, education and more.
Since then Charles and Esther Mulli have taken guardianship of more than 12,000 abandoned children.
The story was met with a standing ovation by those in attendance and an interview with the couple who shared how God had met every need.
The next WMU annual meeting is set for June 10-11 in Dallas, Texas.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.)

6/15/2017 9:38:38 AM by Barbara Denman, WMU | with 0 comments

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