March 2010

Gateway to offer all master’s degrees online

February 20 2019 by Kathie Chute, Gateway Seminary

Gateway Seminary will become the first Southern Baptist seminary to offer all its master’s degrees completely online in the fall of 2019.
 

Approval to offer the final two degree programs online came from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) on Feb. 15.

“Having all of our master’s degrees online means that more than ever before, Gateway students have optimum flexibility to hone their ministry skills as they expand God’s Kingdom around the world,” said Kristen Ferguson, Gateway’s director of online education. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to offer this flexibility to them.”
 
Ferguson said professors teaching online adhere to the best practices found in the field of online education, including:

  • Weekly interaction between students and professor as they engage the content of the course.

  • Timely feedback on assignments so that students grow each week.

  • High quality videos intentionally recorded for the online platform and for the online student.

  • Contextual assignments integrated in many classes so that students learn on the field and in their own context, then bring that learning experience back to the classroom for guidance and critique.

  • Class sizes limited to 24-28 students so that each professor has ample time to invest personally into the lives of each student.

 
“As a seminary intentionally designed for the 21st century, we are already well equipped to serve students from a distance through our library services, student support and administrative guidance,” Ferguson said.
 
She added that Gateway faculty members approve course templates that require the same learning objectives and signature assignments to be achieved in every course, no matter the delivery system.
 
“Gateway Seminary holds the online program to the same standards of excellent theological education and ministry training that a student receives on campus,” she said. “We measure the quality of Gateway’s online classes per semester and on an annual basis and consistently see that the quality is the same according to student evaluations and quality of coursework submitted by students.”
 
Besides all master’s degrees, selected certificates and concentrations also will be available online. The online master of divinity degree program will include concentrations in biblical studies, Christian counseling, educational leadership, global missiology, women’s ministry and youth ministry. Other online master’s programs include the master of theological studies, the master of arts in Christian counseling, the master of arts in educational leadership, the master of arts in intercultural studies and the master of arts in missiology.
 
The seminary taught its first online class in 1995 and in 2006 began offering the maximum number of programs allowed under ATS accreditation. In 2013, the institution became one of the first to offer a fully online master of divinity degree.
 
“Our hope is to not only help students gain the necessary competency in biblical knowledge and ministry skill,” Ferguson said, “but to foster a learning environment as students are actively engaged in ministry all over the world.”
 
For more information, contact enrollment@gs.edu or call 888-442-8701.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kathie Chute is director of communications for Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

2/20/2019 10:54:23 AM by Kathie Chute, Gateway Seminary | with 0 comments



Greear on CNN: Abusers ‘have no place’ in SBC

February 19 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear told CNN he is calling the convention to disfellowship churches “that show a wanton disregard that allows abuse.”
 
Appearing Feb. 18 on CNN’s “New Day,” Greear also said he will call tonight at an SBC Executive Committee meeting in Nashville for “enhanced language” in SBC documents to underscore the convention’s longstanding belief abuse “is out of step with” The Baptist Faith and Message.
 

CNN screen capture from YouTube
SBC President J.D. Greear told CNN Feb. 18 there is “no place in our convention” for “churches that show a wanton disregard that allows abuse.”

“Churches that show a wanton disregard that allows abuse, that allows it to happen, that protects the abuser – they have no place in our convention,” said Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Southern Baptist churches, “because of the God that we believe in and that we worship, ought to be safe places for the vulnerable, and predators ought to have no place in our midst.
 
“If that means that we are going to disfellowship churches that show this wanton disregard or show a criminal negligence when it comes to these issues, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Greear said.
 
Greear’s appearance on CNN was his first live interview, according to CNN, since the Houston Chronicle published a three-part series of articles on sexual abuse among Southern Baptists. The Chronicle claimed approximately 380 instances among Southern Baptists since 1998 – including more than 250 since 2008 – of “those who were convicted, credibly accused and successfully sued, and those who confessed or resigned.” The crimes have left more than 700 victims, the newspaper stated.
 
“Absolute horror” at such instances of abuse was Greear’s first response when he read the Chronicle’s reporting, he said.
 
The SBC already had condemned abuse in a 2018 resolution among other statements, and Greear launched a Sexual Abuse Advisory Study in July. But the Chronicle’s articles “made the urgency” of a report about the study to the EC “all the more pressing,” he said.
 
Greear delivered such a report the evening of Feb. 18.
 
Participants in the study, Greear said, have included Andrea Munford, the lead detective on the sexual abuse investigation of former U.S.A. gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, and Rachael Denhollander, an attorney and former gymnast who accused Nassar of abuse.
 
Greear turned to scripture to support his stance against abuse and churches that fail to act against abusers. He cited Jesus’ statement recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke that it would be better for someone to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned than to cause a child to “stumble.”
 
“What would make them stumble more than [for] the ones that they’re hearing about God from to be people that also are allowing them to be in situations where they can experience some of the worst kind of abuse ever known to mankind?” Greear asked.
 
When pressed by CNN anchor John Berman about taking more action against abuse than past SBC presidents, Greear noted the president lacks power to disfellowship churches. Only messengers to the SBC annual meeting, or the EC acting on their behalf between annual meetings, have that power. Yet Greear said he is confident Southern Baptists possess “a readiness to deal with this issue.”
 
Southern Baptists must be vigilant about preventing abuse, Greear said, and take care not to create, “intentionally or unintentionally, safe spaces for abusers.”
 
Some Southern Baptists, Greear said, seem to have assumed abuse is “not something that can happen to us.” However, abuse can occur “anywhere there are people.”

2/19/2019 3:35:45 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Cuba’s proposed constitution cuts religious freedom

February 19 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Cuban pastors are resisting pressure to support a Feb. 24 constitutional referendum that further limits religious freedoms in the Communist nation, international religious liberty advocates said.
 
The referendum comes amid a growth in Christianity in Cuba, Southern Baptists active there have said, including a reported 43,072 professions of faith among Eastern Cuban Baptists in 2017.
 
Cuban Communist Party (CCP) officials have gathered religious leaders, including Christian pastors in several cities, to confirm that religious leaders and their congregations would support the referendum, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported Feb. 15. At a recent meeting held Feb 12 in Santiago, the CCP only wanted to intimidate pastors, a church leader told CSW.
 
The proposed constitution significantly reduces religious freedom and removes language in the current constitution regarding freedom of conscience, religious liberty advocates have said. Also absent in the proposed constitution is language protecting religious freedom as stated in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Cuba signed in 2008.
 
“Church leaders have exercised their right to share their views on the content of the new constitution, and have publicly stated that they will not tell their members how to vote,” said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW-United Kingdom.
 
“Religious groups in Cuba, who represent the largest portion of independent civil society in the country, attempted to feed into the public consultation process around the new constitution,” Thomas said, “but their concerns were largely ignored, including those regarding weakened language on freedom of religion or belief and freedom of conscience.”
 
Thomas called on the Cuban government to cease its pressure and intimidation tactics, just as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urged in December 2018, according to a USCIRF press release.
 
“We urge the Cuban government to immediately cease all intimidation tactics and to fully consider the proposals put forth by religious organizations,” USCIRF vice Chair Kristina Arriaga said as early as Dec. 11, “to ensure freedom of religion and conscience for Cubans of all faiths or none.”
 
Cuba is already a USCIRF Tier 2 “country of particular concern” for religious liberty violations noted in the USCIRF 2018 Annual Report. The CCP threatened to confiscate church property, repeatedly interrogated and detained religious leaders, prohibited Sunday worship and controlled religious activity, USCIRF noted.
 
Only 5 percent of Cuba’s 11.147 million people are Protestant, according to the U.S. Department of State. As many as 70 percent are Roman Catholic, mixed with traditional African religions including Santeria, the State Department said. A quarter of Cubans are religiously unaffiliated.
 
Cuba’s current constitution has been in effect since 1976.

2/19/2019 3:35:30 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Lifeway ‘date nights’ nurture pastors & wives

February 19 2019 by Aaron Wilson, LifeWay Christian Resources

More than 80 ministry couples got a jumpstart on Valentine’s Day as LifeWay Christian Resources held a Pastor Date Night Feb. 12 at its downtown headquarters.
 
The event marked the 38th Pastor Date Night hosted by LifeWay the past four years in 19 states and Canada.
 
Mark Dance, director of LifeWay Pastors, and his wife Janet host Pastor Date Nights to help leaders develop healthy marriages and tackle questions specific to couples in ministry.

Photo by Aaron Wilson
Mark Dance, right, director of LifeWay Pastors, and his wife Janet – joined by Mike Glenn, pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, and his wife Jeannie – answer questions texted in anonymously by ministry couples at the Pastor Date Night hosted Feb. 12 by LifeWay Christian Resources.


“Vocational ministry is the only profession on the planet that requires people to win at both work and home,” Mark told attendees at the Feb. 12 gathering. “It’s in our 2,000-year-old job description that if we’re to manage our church, we have to manage our home. We want to help you win at both.”
 
The Pastor Date Night at LifeWay was held in partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBMB) and six metro Nashville Baptist associations.
 
“Pastor Date Night was a great opportunity to show these couples that they’re loved, appreciated and valued,” said Steve Holt, TBMB church services director. “It was a blessing to see the interaction between couples around the tables, to hear the laughter and to witness the transparency of panelists as they shared from the stage.”
 
Pastor Date Nights are driven by a formula that involves fellowship, a complementary meal and the opportunity to ask anonymous questions to a panel of seasoned ministry couples via text messaging.

“That’s probably the most significant part of the whole event,” Dance said. “The wallflower in the corner has just as much a voice as the extrovert on the front row.”
 
Before texting in questions, couples enter a dining area set up as a date atmosphere with music playing in the background. Round tables invite guests to mingle and develop new friendships as dinner is served.
 
“After about 45 minutes, I’ll introduce the panel, which consists of Janet, me and another couple or two in ministry,” Dance said. “I let them know we’re not here to talk about growing their church but about growing them personally. We’re here to help them get healthy and stay healthy.”
 
At the Feb. 12 event, the Dances were joined by Mike Glenn, pastor of the Nashville-area Brentwood Baptist Church, and his wife Jeannie. The two couples tackled questions attendees anonymously texted such as:

  • How do you balance church work and marriage?

  • What are some healthy pastor marriage habits?

  • How open should you be with your spouse about church conflict?

  • How do you take a day off with all the challenges of ministry?

  • What’s the hardest part about being a pastor’s wife?

Photo by Aaron Wilson
LifeWay Christian Resources hosted a Pastor Date Night for more than 80 ministry couples on Feb. 12 at LifeWay's headquarters in downtown Nashville.

“It’s important for pastors’ wives to have their questions answered candidly by people who understand them,” Janet Dance said. “[Being a pastor’s wife] is a life with unique challenges as well as blessings. A pastor’s wife is very hesitant to share among people who don’t understand this life.”


As LifeWay Pastors events have gained traction across the country, Baptist associations, conventions and seminaries have all partnered with LifeWay to host Pastor Date Nights and Pastor Roundtables – seminary luncheons that include a panel discussion. By the end of 2019, all six SBC seminaries and the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Alberta will have hosted at least one LifeWay Pastors event.


“Seminaries are a crucial key to our strategy of pastoral care,” Dance said. “We also want couples to know early in their ministry that LifeWay cares about their lives and families, as well as their ministries.”
 
The next Pastor Roundtable will be at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 4. The next Pastor Date Night will in Indianapolis on April 5.
 
To see all 2019 LifeWay Pastors offerings, visit FactsAndTrends.net/events.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Wilson is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

2/19/2019 3:35:12 PM by Aaron Wilson, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



Church plant reaches millennials at local cineplex

February 19 2019 by Dave Arden, NAMB

A church plant that meets in one of the theaters in a cineplex may not be big news.
 
Except when a church plant impacts so many millennials that it never plans to leave.
 

Submitted photo
CityView Church's volunteers gather for prayer at a Phoenix cineplex prior to their Sunday morning worship.

Jeremiah Semmler and CityView Church in Phoenix have seen more than 350 people land in their theater seats and connect with the church family. Instead of watching a new release, many soon meet Jesus and become released to a new life in Christ.
 
“Every Sunday in the theater, more than likely there is somebody that does not know Jesus,” Semmler said. “We do not ever plan to leave the theater.”
 
Semmler is an Arizona native planting a church near the neighborhood where he grew up. He served for many years as a student pastor before becoming a church planter, launching CityView in September 2015.
 
Nsikan (pronounced n-say-ken) is one example of a millennial who has connected with Christ at CityView.
 
Nsikan came to the AMC movie complex to see a movie. One of CityView’s greeters went over to welcome him and his friend and invited them to church.
 
Semmler encouraged the two friends after worship, “If you like it here come back next week.”
 
Nsikan returned and first connected with CityView member Sandy and then Carol and Tim. Soon at a Panda Express, Carol shared the gospel with Nsikan and he gladly received Christ.
 
“I would like to get baptized,” the new brother said.
 
Nsikan now is one of many who has made the move from being a sit-down acquaintance to a stand-up follower of Jesus.
 

Submitted photo
In a Phoenix cineplex, Jeremiah Semmler is leading CityView Church to taking root, seeking to reach people who are "looking for a community home."

Semmler understands millennials and knows how to speak their language, with 25-35-year-olds comprising the largest sector of the growing church.
 
“Our main focus is on people who are searching,” Semmler said. “We identify with people who are looking for a community home. One of the coolest things is to see someone on their way to the movies end up at church to give their life to Christ.”
 
The mission of CityView is to: Belong in community. Believe in Jesus. Become what God has called you to be.
 
“We accept people before they have begun a faith journey,” Semmler said. “We are OK with moving slow.”
 
CityView makes an impact on its community in various ways. They do a “Black Friday Outreach” sharing gift bags with retail workers who have to work during the holidays. They provide support for Park Meadows Elementary School’s students and teachers, including helping paint and fix up the school. The church also serves in first responders care for the local police, supports foster care ministry and has a women’s ministry to local strippers.
 
Semmler has worked in overdrive to build the church plant’s ministry teams.
 
“We have removed the word ‘volunteer’ in our ministry,” he said. “Instead, we use the word ‘team member.’ Team members take ownership.”
 
CityView has established a culture of leadership development with a pathway for “team leaders” to become “area leaders” and eventually move into “director” responsibility, expanding their influence in each role, with more than half the church now involved in service.
 
CityView Church may decide to move to a different location in the next 10 or 15 years. Or this “Church at the Box Office” might stay. With big vision, they are aiming to venture anew into church planting in the next few years.
 
Stay tuned for the sequel.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dave Arden is a freelance writer and church planter catalyst for the North American Mission Board in Phoenix.)

2/19/2019 3:34:53 PM by Dave Arden, NAMB | with 0 comments



Iconic missionary encourages N.C. Baptists to remember their calling

February 19 2019 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Sam James, longtime missionary with the International Mission Board (IMB), encouraged Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) staff members to rest in God’s call on their lives and demonstrate the supernatural love of Christ as they serve in their respective ministries.
 
“The call of God is sufficient,” said James, who served 54 years with the IMB in places like Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. James has also held a variety of leadership roles with the IMB and has led trainings and conferences in 115 different countries. 
 

BSC photo by K Brown
“No matter what (your ministry) is here in this building, God has called you here, and you are working and serving Him,” said Sam James, retired missionary to the Baptist State Convention staff during a chapel service Feb. 6.

“There have been so many times when the only thing I had left in life was my call, but that has always been sufficient for me.”
 
James’ remarks came during a Feb. 6 chapel service to the entire state convention staff as they gathered together for a series of meetings at the BSC offices in Cary.
 
“No matter what (your ministry) is here in this building, God has called you here, and you are working and serving Him,” James said.
 
James praised the work of N.C. Baptists, saying he tried to remain informed about the state convention’s various ministries while on the international mission field. A native of Liberty, N.C., James was educated at Wake Forest College in Wake Forest, N.C., and moved with the school to Winston-Salem where it eventually became Wake Forest University.
 
He also studied at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which now occupies the former Wake Forest College campus, as well as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
 
Prior to being commissioned as an international missionary, James helped found Homestead Heights Baptist Church in Durham, which is now known as The Summit Church and is pastored by Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear.
 
“Sam James had a vision of that church planting churches throughout the world, and that vision is still being lived out,” said BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr., who described James as an “icon” among SBC missionaries and leaders. “He is such a humble servant of God.”
 
During his message, James recounted several personal stories from his days as a missionary in South Vietnam, which included anecdotes of how God spared his life and granted him mercy and grace. God’s hand was upon James’ life and ministry to the point that it resulted in communist leaders showing him favor and granting him unprecedented opportunities to minister to the Vietnamese people.
 
James and his wife, Rachel, served in South Vietnam beginning in 1962. They served there throughout the Vietnam War, but were ultimately forced to flee the country when communist forces conquered Saigon on April 30, 1975, marking the end of the war. James was able to return to Vietnam 14 years later in 1989.
 
Although he is officially retired from the IMB and living in Virginia, James continues to travel to Vietnam for ministry at age 86.
 
James said his heart for the Vietnamese people doesn’t come from anything inside himself, but rather it is a manifestation of God’s supernatural love. James recounted a time when God reminded him of that love when he was deeply discouraged in the early years of his ministry. “That night, I knelt before God after six years in Vietnam,” James said. “God told me, ‘You’re not in Vietnam because you love the Vietnam people. You’re in Vietnam because I love them, and I want to love them through you.’”
 
James challenged N.C. Baptists to allow that same kind of love to flow through them. “That means you are surrendering yourself to Him,” James said, referencing Galatians 2:20 about being crucified with Christ. “That’s the call. That’s the mission.”

2/19/2019 3:34:07 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Gospel reaches complex culture

February 19 2019 by Brandon Elrod, NAMB

Full of color, life, beauty and disparity, Miami is a city where “you can lose yourself and find yourself all at the same time,” said church planting missionary Muche Ukegbu.
 

NAMB photo by Daniel Delgado
Muche Ukegbu, his wife Diamone, and kids, left to right, Noah, Serenity and Joelle moved to Miami from Atlanta to plant The Brook Church in Miami in 2015. They are surrounded by several different cultures in Miami, and their ministry has led to the creation of a multi-ethnic church. The Ukegbus are featured in the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering Week of Prayer.

 

Miami’s spectrum of economic, ethnic and cultural diversity generates a complexity that Ukegbu and his family have been navigating since moving to the city to start their church, The Brook Church, which launched in the April of 2015.
 
As residents in Miami attempt to find themselves, they experience a certain level of freedom, but “if Jesus isn’t a part of that, if He’s not the center of that [search], then it’s not real freedom,” said Muche. “So, the need for Jesus in the midst of a collision of stories is why we’re here.”
 
Muche and his wife, Diamone, are 2019 Week of Prayer missionaries for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and are bringing the hope of the gospel into one of the most diverse cities in North America.
 

“Miami is global and international,” said Muche. “There’s an international root here that you’re just not going to escape.”
 
With the confluence of so many different people groups comes a need to help people find a solid foundation for their identities, and only twenty percent of people in Miami identify as an Evangelical Christian.
 
“Each culture tries to find itself,” said Diamone. “It may be someone coming from somewhere here in the States or trying to figure out, ‘How am I supposed to advance in life after my family has brought me here to this country?’”
 
Muche and Diamone have experienced their own journey of finding their place in the city – whether it’s being mistaken for Haitians or learning to raise their children in a symphony of varied cultures. They know to rely on God to help them minister with wisdom.
 
“The richness of Miami is that depending on what supermarket that you walk into, it’s going to determine what language they’re going to use to speak to you,” said Muche.

One neighborhood will speak Spanish, another Haitian Creole. In an area with high Jewish influence, the entire region shuts down to observe Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah.
 
“All these different customs that would be normal for that culture are concentrated in that area,” said Diamone, “and you feel it in each of the different sects of the city.”
 
While that diversity is beautiful, Muche comments, “the fact that in certain parts of the city it’s so distinct shows how segregated the city still is.”
 
Continuing to speak about the diversity, Muche said, “We occupy the same space. We’re in the same room, if you will, but what does something better than bringing people into the same room is Jesus. He brings different people, not just into the same room, but into the same family.”
 
While this sort of cultural isolation comes naturally, The Brook Church strives to understand and practice the truth of the gospel in such a way that enables everyone to feel a part of the family of God.
 
“And it’s glorious,” Muche said, “because even though you’re brought into that family, you don’t lose your cultural identify. It’s just redeemed.”
 
Their congregation attempts to make this reality apparent in the way they worship together – by singing the same song in multiple languages.
 
“It helps them feel like they’re part of something without losing something that they weren’t meant to lose in the first place,” Muche said.
 
That approach has made room for multiple nationalities to find a home in their church.
 

NAMB photo by Daniel Delgado
Diamone Ukegbu, center, leads the worship team at The Brook Church where they sing songs in three different languages so that those who attend can sing in their native tongue.

“When you walk into our church, it is amazing that there’s Bolivians and Peruvians and Colombians and Venezuelans sitting on the same row,” Diamone said.
 
To bring the gospel to Miami, The Brook Church works to bridge cultural divides with the power of the gospel, which requires them to find ways to relate to people across every level of their community.
 
“The need isn’t just an intellectual presentation of the gospel,” Muche explained. “It’s a relational one. The gospel shapes, not just how I see myself in relation to God, not just vertically, but this is how the gospel shapes how I see myself in relation to [others].”
 
As the culture changed in Miami during the 60s and 70s, Muche described how some of the church’s response “left a sour taste in the mouth of a lot of people in South Florida.” So, The Brook Church seeks to minister to the whole person – care about the whole person – in order to have an opportunity to share the gospel with their neighbors.
 
About 15 people moved with the Ukegbus when they came to the city, and now they see more than 100 people come on Sundays. As a church, they have baptized people who now experience a burden to go overseas to share the gospel or start churches throughout North America.
 
“God is working in ways that we couldn’t have planned for,” Muche said, “but because He is faithful, we’re experiencing them.”
 
Gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering make churches like The Brook Church possible. To learn more, visit anniearmstrong.com.
 

2/19/2019 3:33:21 PM by Brandon Elrod, NAMB | with 0 comments



Greear: 10 ‘key areas’ for addressing sex abuse

February 18 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., gave an address to the SBC Executive Committee this evening (Feb. 18) that outlined initial recommendations and resources from the presidential study group on sexual abuse.


Baptist Press photo

 
The Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group was launched in July 2018 through partnerships with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and SBC Executive Committee.
 
Greear’s address focused on 10 key areas:
 

1) A call to “repent for decades of inaction;”
 

2) The announcement of a series of 12 training videos called, “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused;”
 

3) The announcement that all six Southern Baptist seminaries, officers of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders and all Baptist state conventions have adopted three respective “Statement of Principles on Abuse” documents;
 

4) A call for Southern Baptist churches, associations, conventions and entities to take immediate action to review policies and procedures relating to abuse;
 

5) A call for the SBC Executive Committee to make background checks a minimum requirement for Southern Baptist committees and trustee boards;
 

6) A call for Southern Baptists to review local church ordination practices to ensure proper vetting;
 

7) A call for state conventions and LifeWay to identify questions related to abuse that can be added to the Annual Church Profile;
 

8) The announcement of programming at the SBC annual meeting that will address abuse among Southern Baptists, including a time of lament and an event hosted by the ERLC;
 

9) The announcement that the Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group is evaluating the possibility of creating a database of offenders, but Greear acknowledged the development of such a resource is “complicated” and “will take time to evaluate;”
 

10) A statement that the study group “strongly believes” the governing documents of the SBC should be reviewed and amended regarding the definition of a cooperating church, so that churches demonstrating “wanton disregard for sexual abuse … are not in good fellowship with this convention.”

 
Greear said the Executive Committee had affirmed a proposed constitutional amendment and would exercise existing authority to review churches that “may well have already demonstrated a lack of good standing on this issue.”
 
He called the bylaws workgroup of the administrative committee to do due diligence in reviewing the standing of the following churches mentioned in recent media reports on sexual abuse to determine whether they have a “faith and practice which closely identifies” with the Baptist Faith & Message:
 
• Arapaho Baptist Church, Garland, Texas
• Bolivar Baptist Church, Sanger, Texas
• Brentwood Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
• Cathedral of Faith, Houston, Texas
• Eastside Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga.
• First Baptist Church, Bedford, Texas
• Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
• Sovereign Grace Church, Louisville, Ky.
• Trinity Baptist Church, Ashburn, Ga.
• Turner Street Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.
 
Greear emphasized the goal of such action is “never disfellowship, but correction.” He also expressed gratitude for the Houston Chronicle’s investigative report for “shining a light on the magnitude of this horrific sin.”
 
He said to Southern Baptists, “We need to regard any exposure, any shining of light on abuse, as our friend, even if it makes us ask some uncomfortable questions about ourselves, publicly. Our job is to love and serve people, especially those who have suffered abuse. Our job is not to protect our reputation.”

2/18/2019 8:49:18 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 2 comments



Greenway announced as candidate to lead Southwestern

February 18 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

Adam Greenway has been announced as the preferred candidate for president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, according to an email sent to trustees from the search committee today (Feb. 18). Trustees are set to vote on the nomination at a special called meeting Feb. 26-27.

Baptist Press photo
Adam Greenway has been announced as the preferred candidate to lead Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

 
Greenway is dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Ky., where he is also the William Walker Brookes Associate Professor of Evangelism and Apologetics.
 
Greenway also serves as chairman of the Committee on Order of Business for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). He has also served as assistant parliamentarian for the SBC and parliamentarian for the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC). Greenway is also a past president of the KBC and former trustee and chairman of the board for LifeWay Christian Resources.
 
He previously served as pastor and interim pastor of churches in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and Florida, according to his SBTS faculty page. Greenway received a bachelor of arts degree from Samford University, master of divinity from SWBTS, master of nonprofit administration from the University of Notre Dame and doctor of philosophy degree from SBTS.
 
A nine-member search committee began seeking candidates for the position last August after former president Paige Patterson was terminated in May for mishandling sexual assault allegations. D. Jeffrey Bingham, dean of the School of Theology at SWBTS, currently serves as interim president.

2/18/2019 7:56:55 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 5 comments



Border crisis offers ‘two-fold’ opportunity

February 18 2019 by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer

No one fits the Matthew 25:35 description of a stranger better than migrants seeking asylum at the United States border, John Faison, executive director of the Council on Immigrant Relations, recently told the Biblical Recorder.
 

Photo by John Faison
A volunteer offers a drink to a young migrant at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico.

“They don’t have any food … these people have the clothes on their back that they walked in … on the U.S. side, they are in prison. On the Mexico side, they’re sort of imprisoned – they’re on a compound,” he said.
 
During a trip last month to Tijuana, Mexico, Faison saw both the need for people to serve asylum seekers and the open opportunities for volunteers to do so. He stayed with Juvenal Gonzales, a church planter who built dormitory-style facilities in his own home to host volunteers and students from the U.S.
 
The opportunity is “two-fold,” Faison said.
 
“When you get people to go to the border and meet with these people … holding their children, watching the tears flow down their eyes, as a Christian, you can’t sit there and go, ‘Oh, deport them all,’” he said. “You can’t do it. The Holy Spirit lives in us [and] doesn’t let us do that. And then that allows us to start asking questions. And if somebody can provide us with the theological understanding of God’s image and of justice, then that will transform our fear into compassion.”
 
It was a piece of bread and a cup of coffee that reminded Faison of the power of serving “in the name of the Lord, in remembrance of Him.”
 
In Tijuana, he met a young mother who was previously in a U.S. detention center with her children. She said officials woke them up at 5 a.m. for breakfast; if they missed the meal, they had to wait until 4 p.m. She told Faison they were scolded for asking for food or to use the bathroom.
 
When he served her family breakfast at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, a thought came to Faison’s mind. He asked himself what the difference was between the breakfast he helped distribute and breakfast at the detention center.
 
“I was overwhelmed with the fact that doing it in Jesus’ name was not about me. It was about Him,” he said. “The Bible says, ‘when you give a cup of cold water in My name, you’ve done it unto Me.’”
 
Faison returned to Mexico Feb. 13 to connect Mexican and American pastors and churches on both sides of the border in hopes of establishing outreach to migrants.
 
He and Alan Cross, missional strategist for the Montgomery (Ala.) Baptist Association, created a resource page and plan for engaging migrants, which is available on cirnc.org.
 
North Carolina Baptists are specifically “positioned by God in a way that can make a fantastic difference in all of the U.S.,” Faison said. A new Immigrant Hospitality Center in Lincolnton, N.C., opened in January. Baptist State Convention of North Carolina leaders plan to open more centers across the state (see story).
 
Faison said N.C. Baptists can get involved with local ministries like the new Lincolnton center, financially support volunteers serving at the border or consider going themselves.
 
“When you look at ‘welcoming’ the stranger, that word means ‘to bring in,’ ‘to make into family,’ ‘to embrace,’” he said. “We have so many opportunities to do that.”

2/18/2019 7:55:32 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer | with 0 comments



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