March 2015

LifeWay campus under contract

March 25 2015 by Baptist Press

LifeWay Christian Resources has entered into a contract for the sale of its campus in downtown Nashville. Contract terms, including the sale price, have not been disclosed pending closing of the sale in a few months, according to a LifeWay news release.
 
The contract is with Uptown Nashville, LLC, a consortium of local and national developers formed specifically to develop this property.
 
LifeWay president and CEO Thom S. Rainer said in the release he is excited about the prospects for the property as well as LifeWay’s future.

 
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“Although the buyers are still finalizing a master plan for the site, I understand their intention is for it to be a mixed-use development including office, retail, residential, entertainment and hotel,” Rainer said.
 
“And, the sale – when completed this summer – will provide the resources for LifeWay to build a new facility, hopefully in downtown Nashville, that will support the technologies, collaboration and culture needed for today’s and tomorrow’s successful national and international ministry.”
 
Janet Miller, CEO of Colliers International, the brokerage firm representing Uptown Nashville, called the project historic.
 
“Re-development of the LifeWay campus is one of the largest economic development events in the recent Nashville history,” she said.
 
“The project will continue to create jobs and investment in the downtown core, much as LifeWay has done the past 120 years. This campus will be a lynchpin in the future development of downtown Nashville and has the potential to become a new gateway to the central business district.”
 
Miller said she looks forward to an ongoing partnership as “this valuable asset is reimagined and redeveloped.”
 
Rainer said the buyers have said Uptown Nashville will “architecturally combine historic charm, paying homage to Nashville’s roots, with the finest quality modern and forward-thinking design. They pledge the mixed-use community will be environmentally green, technologically advanced and service-oriented.”
 
LifeWay has previously acknowledged that after a sale is closed, they will lease back a portion of the facilities until a new building is finished.
 
The sale involves LifeWay’s 14.5-acre downtown Nashville complex, including more than 1 million square feet of office, warehouse and parking space. About 1,100 of LifeWay’s employees work in the downtown offices, utilizing about a third of the facility. The organization also oversees 186 stores and 4,300 employees in 29 states.
 
LifeWay began a preliminary feasibility study last August into selling its campus to relocate to facilities better suited to the ministry’s future. The entity was founded in 1891 as the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Information submitted in a news release by LifeWay Christian Resources. Baptist Press contributed to this story.)
 

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3/25/2015 10:14:02 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Americans don’t cite ‘God, family, country’ quite like the cliché goes

March 25 2015 by Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service

“God, family and country” might make for a good country music tune, but that’s not really how most Americans see the strongest influences on their personal identity.
 
The real order is family first (62 percent), followed by “being an American” (52 percent). “Religious faith” lolls way down in third place (38 percent) – if it’s mentioned at all, according to a survey released March 19 by The Barna Group.

 
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The California-based Christian research company found another 18 percent of those surveyed said faith had a little to do with idea of who they are, and nearly 20 percent scored it at zero influence.
 
Christians were the largest self-identified group in the survey and Barna looked at them two ways. “Practicing” Christians – defined in the survey as self-identified Catholics, Protestants and Mormons who say they have attended church at least once in the last month and/or say religion is important to them – scored faith first, at a rate more than double the national average.
 
But they’re not most Christians – not by a long shot. The survey also found only 37 percent of self-identified Christians are “practicing,” while 64 percent are non-practicing, said Roxanne Stone, a Barna vice president and the designer and analyst of the study. That may account for the third place finish for “faith” in the overall standing.
 
The results were also skewed by age:

  • Family first: Millennials (53 percent); Gen X-ers (61 percent); Baby Boomers (64 percent); Elders (76 percent)

  • Being an American: Millennials (34 percent); Gen X-ers (37 percent); Baby Boomers (66 percent); Elders (80 percent)

  • Religious faith: Millennials (28 percent); Gen X-ers (34 percent); Baby Boomers (45 percent); Elders (46 percent)

Barna surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults online from Feb. 3-11. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
 
Gen-Xers and Millennials have a reputation for wanting to be individualists–for wanting to break away from traditional cultural narratives and to resist being ‘boxed in’ by what they perceive as limiting expectations,” Stone said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Cathy Lynn Grossman is a senior national correspondent for Religion News Service)

3/25/2015 10:13:00 AM by Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Stores pull ‘heaven visitation resources’

March 25 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

LifeWay Christian Resources has stopped selling all “experiential testimonies about heaven” following consideration of a 2014 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolution on “the sufficiency of scripture regarding the afterlife.”
 
LifeWay told Baptist Press about its decision to halt sales of heaven visitation resources March 24 in response to an inquiry about the book 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, which is being made into a movie slated for release this fall. The book recounts Piper’s supposed experience of heaven following a severe auto accident and has sold 6.5 million copies in 46 languages.

 
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“Last summer, as we began developing LifeWay’s new structure and direction – what we’ve now identified as One LifeWay – the role of heaven visitation resources was included in our considerations. We decided these experiential testimonies about heaven would not be a part of our new direction, so we stopped re-ordering them for our stores last summer,” LifeWay spokesman Marty King said.
 
“Now that we’ve begun implementing the new direction, the remaining heaven visitation items have been removed from our stores and website and will not be replenished. We have more work to do aligning the LifeWay Retail Division with LifeWay’s vision and core values so we covet your prayers as we continue to provide trustworthy Biblical Solutions for Life,” King said.
 
Though LifeWay “was not mentioned in the SBC resolution affirming the sufficiency of biblical revelation and affirming the truth about heaven and hell,” King said, “the resolution was approved overwhelmingly and was considered during our process.”
 
The resolution, adopted by messengers to the SBC annual meeting in June, warned Christians not to allow “the numerous books and movies purporting to explain or describe the afterlife experience” to “become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife.”
 
The resolution did not list specific book or movie titles, but it seemed to describe works like 90 Minutes in Heaven, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey and Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo along with its companion movie released last year by Sony Pictures.
 
The resolution affirmed “the sufficiency of biblical revelation over subjective experiential explanations to guide one’s understanding of the truth about heaven and hell.”
 
In January, LifeWay announced it would stop selling The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven after coauthor Alex Malarkey admitted that he lied about having a vision of heaven as a 6-year-old. At the time, King said LifeWay was “committed to becoming even more proactive in the next few months in evaluating the resources we carry.”
 
Giving Films announced the completion of filming for “90 Minutes in Heaven” March 12. The movie stars Hayden Christensen of “Star Wars” and Kate Bosworth of “Superman Returns.” The film also features veteran actor and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson as well as singers Michael W. Smith and Dwight Yoakam, according to a news release from Giving Films.
 
“I’m an ordinary man with an extraordinary story,” Piper said according to the news release. “I want people to see hope in their challenges, to see that pain can come with purpose.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

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3/25/2015 10:12:59 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



Egypt's president calls for moderated Islam

March 25 2015 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

Egypt’s president, in a move applauded by conservative Western media, is challenging senior Muslim clerics to reform their teachings rather than fuel extremist ideologies that have led to widespread terrorism in the name of Islam.
 
Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who was elected last spring after the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi, said in a speech at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, a leading intellectual center of Sunni Muslim thought, that Muslim religious scholars “must take a long, hard look” at the role of Islam in violent extremism.
 
In a feature on al-Sisi March 20, The Wall Street Journal referred to him as “perhaps the world’s most significant advocate for Islamic moderation and reform.”

 
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Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, President of Egypt

“It’s impossible to doubt the seriousness of Mr. Sisi’s opposition to Islamic extremism, or his aversion to exporting instability,” The Journal said. “In late February he ordered the bombing of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in neighboring Libya after ISIS decapitated 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.
 
“Egypt’s security cooperation with Israel has never been closer, and Mr. Sisi has moved aggressively to close the tunnels beneath Egypt’s border with Gaza, through which Hamas has obtained its weapons,” The Journal reported.
 
Meanwhile, a scholar affiliated with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), has observed that “an alarmingly high percentage of all terrorists are professing Muslims.” The scholar, Paul David Miller, is an ERLC research fellow and associate director of the University of Texas’ Clements Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft.


Urging an ‘enlightened ideology’

Al-Sisi, in his speech to Muslim clerics and scholars at Al-Azhar in late December, noted that it is “inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing and destruction all over the world.”
 
Al-Sisi said he was referring not to religion but to ideology because “the problem has never been with our faith.” He defined ideology, in a translation of a three-minute portion of his speech circulated online, as the “body of ideas and texts that we have sanctified in the course of centuries, to the point that challenging them has become very difficult.”
 
Islamic ideology has become hostile to the entire world, al-Sisi said, and “it is inconceivable that 1.6 billion Muslims would kill the world’s population of 7 billion so that they could live on their own.”
 
The Egyptian president acknowledged that he was speaking intentionally to religious leaders and said, “You cannot see things clearly when you are locked in this ideology. You must emerge from it and look from outside in order to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology.
 
“You must oppose it with resolve,” al-Sisi urged. “Let me say it again: We need to revolutionize our religion.”
 
Al-Sisi named the grand sheik of Al-Azhar specifically, telling him he bears responsibility before Allah for what is taught at the institution. “The world in its entirety awaits your words because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition.”
 
In comments to The Wall Street Journal, al-Sisi did not expect follow-through on his speech to be easy.
 
“The most difficult thing to do is change a religious rhetoric and bring a shift in how people are used to their religion,” he said. “Don’t imagine the results will be seen in a few months or years. Radical misconceptions [about Islam] were instilled 100 years ago. Now we can see the results.”
 
The real Islam, al-Sisi told The Journal through a translator, never commands its followers to kill others because they do not believe in Islam. “Never does it dictate that [Muslims] have the right to dictate [their beliefs] to the whole world,” he said.
 
Pulitzer prize-winning columnist George Will lauded al-Sisi’s Al-Azhar speech, which was televised in Egypt, and suggested that the nation’s president deserves a peace prize.
 
“As head of the Egyptian state, al-Sisi occupies an office once occupied by Anwar Sadat who was murdered by Islamic extremists for his opening to Israel,” Will said on Fox News Sunday Jan. 11. “This was an act of tremendous bravery by al-Sisi, and if the Nobel Peace Prize committee is looking for someone who plausibly deserves it, they could start there.”
 
CNN, in a story about the speech, said al-Sisi, a former defense minister, “has long positioned himself as a more secular option and defender against extremist views.”
 
As an example of his moderate stance, al-Sisi reportedly visited the main Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo to attend Christmas mass and deliver brief remarks.
 
“We build our country together,” the president said, according to the CNN report on Jan. 6. “We will accommodate each other. We will love each other.”
 
Other media outlets from CBS News to The Washington Times took note of al-Sisi’s call to reform the version of Islam preached by clerics. The Times said he “is alone among major world leaders in his willingness to go before an audience of senior Muslim clerics and tell them that parts of Islamic ideology are indeed driving terrorists to kill worldwide.”
 
The newspaper also noted that al-Sisi’s message is at odds with President Barack Obama’s view that Islam the religion has nothing to do with Muslim extremists. Obama spoke at the same university to a similar audience in 2009 and said, “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism. It is an important part of promoting peace,” The Times said.
 
Also among the observations reported by The Times is that al-Sisi’s speech “has received much more attention in the American conservative press than it has in the main liberal media, which are sensitive to charges of ‘Islamophobia.’”
 

Texas prof’s assessment

Addressing whether Islam is a terrorist religion, Miller, the ERLC research fellow and University of Texas scholar, noted in The Federalist Feb. 26: At the Obama administration’s summit at the White House on violent extremism, “all discussion of ‘Islam’ was studiously avoided.”
 
“It is false that jihadism has nothing to do with Islam,” Miller wrote, “but that does not mean that Islam is nothing but jihadism.”
 
The Islamic State is definitely Muslim, Miller said, and jihadism “most certainly has a strong, complicated and important relationship to Islam and its future.” Islam has become entwined with the politics of countries in which it predominates, he wrote, and Islamism is the transmutation of Islam into a political ideology.
 
“Jihadism is a variant of Islamism. It is the effort to impose Islamist goals – however defined – by force,” Miller wrote.
 
But nearly all Muslims are not jihadists, he stated. “Assume ten million active jihadists worldwide – a wild exaggeration of their true numbers. That is 0.63 percent of all Muslims worldwide.”
 
Not all Muslims are terrorists, “but these days an alarmingly high percentage of all terrorists are professing Muslims,” Miller wrote, adding that humanity does not seem to flourish in the heartland of Islam – because of a broad pattern of tyranny, oppression, misogyny, poverty, illiteracy and a lack of religious freedom.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is a writer in Nashville.)

3/25/2015 10:10:59 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Heritage awards honor 15 recipients

March 24 2015 by Biblical Recorder staff

Each year North Carolina Baptist entities honor people who have contributed to the individual organizations in unique ways.
 
This year’s N.C. Baptist Heritage Awards Banquet, planned for Feb. 24, was cancelled because of winter weather. The Baptist State Convention of N.C. and the N.C. Baptist Foundation co-sponsor the annual event.
 
• Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina: Walter Williams
 
Early in life Walter Williams adopted a formula that defines who he is: love God, work hard and bless others. Walter and his wife, Marie, have dedicated themselves to using their resources to give hope to others, especially children and young adults. As a rookie teacher, then a businessman, and founder of his own business, Walter believes in investing in people by doing the right thing and giving generously.
 
As a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Greenville, Walter has held every major leadership role and invested in its ministry in every way. Walter loves eastern North Carolina, East Carolina University and Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, especially Kennedy Home in Kinston.
 
Walter and Marie are honorary chairs of BCH’s Eastern North Carolina “Sharing hope … changing lives” capital campaign.
 
• Baptist State Convention of N.C.: Johnny E. Ross
 
From an early age, Johnny Ross developed a love of learning that was instilled in him by his parents, and nurtured by his pastor, teachers and coaches. He planned to pursue a career as an educator when he sensed God calling him to vocational ministry.
 
Instead of teaching in a school, Ross taught in Baptist churches combining his passion for learning, enthusiasm for teaching and love for people throughout his 34-year career with the Baptist State Convention. He regularly met with pastors and congregations to equip and encourage them on topics related to Sunday School and financial planning. From 1999 until his retirement at the end of 2013, Ross served as the state’s GuideStone representative, helping pastors, congregations and convention staff to understand the importance and necessity of adequately planning for their futures. Prior to that, Ross spent 20 years serving as the adult consultant with the state convention’s Bible teaching and reaching team from 1979 to 1999.
 
A native of Morganton, Ross is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in teaching. He later earned his master of divinity with religious education and doctor of ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
 
Ross and his wife, Rhea, reside in Apex and are members of Salem Baptist Church in Apex.
 
• Campbell University: Jim and Daphne Perry
 
Jim and Daphne Perry have been involved in numerous charitable organizations since Jim’s retirement from Major League Baseball in 1975. Now residents of New London, N.C., the Perrys are members of First Baptist Church in Asheboro.
 
Born in Williamston, James “Jim” Evan Perry Sr. is the 1970 Major League Baseball Cy Young Award winner and a three-time American League All-Star. A 1959 graduate of Campbell College, where he excelled in both baseball and basketball, Perry is also a member of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. Perry pitched from 1959 to 1975 for the Cleveland Indians, Twins, Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics. During his 17-year career, Perry compiled 215 wins and 1,576 strikeouts and pitched for the Twins in the 1965 World Series. He and younger brother and Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord, who also attended Campbell, are the only brothers in Major League Baseball history to win Cy Young awards. In 2011, he was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame.
 
Daphne Snell Perry, a native of Roper, graduated from Campbell College in 1960 with a degree in business education. She received the Outstanding Student Award and the Vivian Dawson Massey Music Award. She was co-captain of the women’s basketball team, the librarian for the Campbell Tour Choir, and a member of the New House Council, Beta Club and May Court.
 
In 2013, Daphne Perry was named a Distinguished Alumni of Campbell University. That same year, the school dedicated its newly renovated baseball stadium as Jim Perry Stadium, home of the Fighting Camels. The Perrys have three children and seven grandchildren.
 
• Chowan University: Walter Frank Rose Jr. and Penny A. Rose
 
Natives of the Elkin/Jonesville area of North Carolina, Penny attended Guilford College and Frank earned the bachelor of science in business administration from Wake Forest University. Settling in Eastern North Carolina, Frank has worked in the family business, Rose Brothers Paving Company his entire life, currently serving as CEO and chairman of the board. 
 
Penny serves her church as hostess committee chairman, works on the worship decorating committee, but most fulfilling, is teaching Sunday School for young adults at First Baptist Church of Ahoskie.
 
She has just completed a term as chairman of the board of Governors of the Elizabethan Gardens. Frank is a deacon, Sunday School teacher and Eagle Scout.
 
Service to Chowan University has been a driving force in Frank’s life. He is currently serving his sixth year as chairman of the trustees. The Roses maintain a longstanding devotion to Chowan, generously supporting the scholarship program and capital projects. As a result of their leadership and generosity, the Rose Family Tennis Complex is among the new athletic facilities to open on campus.
 
Serving family, church, and community is representative of their life. The Roses have three children and six grandchildren.
 
• Gardner-Webb University: Jack and Ruby Hunt
 
Born and raised in Lattimore, N.C., the Hunts have demonstrated the importance of service, integrity and generosity. They raised five daughters, ran a successful dental practice, represented their community at the local and state levels, and continue to support a myriad of projects in their home county to improve the quality of life for others. 
 
Jack excelled as a dentist, farmer, entrepreneur and statesman of Cleveland County. A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Hunt earned the rank of major in the U.S. Army. With the support of his wife and family, he served for more than two decades as an elected representative in the North Carolina General Assembly. He was the longest-running chairman of the House rules committee and also served as Speaker Pro-Tempore. Now in their golden years, the Hunts have financially supported many community projects for local institutions including Cleveland Community College, the Ruby Hunt YMCA, and the Earl Scruggs Center.
 
In 2014, the Hunts offered a significant donation to Gardner-Webb University, which established both the Hunt School of Nursing and scholarship endowments to educate future nurses. The Hunts understand that their legacy was built through hard work, sustained through faith in Christ, and exhibited through their philanthropic commitment.
 
• Meredith College: Allen F. Page
 
Professor, department head, dean, college registrar and vice president for academic programs – Allen F. Page has held many key leadership roles in his 37 years as a highly respected member of the Meredith College community.
 
He served on the college’s major committees, taught a wide variety of classes in the religion department, oversaw undergraduate instruction, authored numerous academic works, and directed Meredith’s 2010 SACS reaccreditation process. In the community, he also served as a volunteer leader at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Method Day Care Center, Bern Bullard Industries, the Rotary Club, the Democratic Party, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, and many others. 
 
Page earned an associate’s degree at Mars Hill College, a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University, a master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary, and a doctor of philosophy degree from Duke University. He also attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and served as visiting scholar at Duke University.
 
Page’s mother, sister, nine of his aunts and several cousins all attended Meredith. His wife, Barbara, is a member of the class of 1954. Allen and Barbara have been very generous to Meredith having made plans to endow a special award for staff members – the Allen and Barbara Page Staff Award.
 
Retired from the College since 2010, Page continues to generously share his time, talents and resources with his community, his family, his church and with Meredith. He currently serves as a liaison for the college’s capital campaign “Beyond Strong.”
 
• Mars Hill University: Ron Brown
 
A preacher by calling, Ron Brown is first and foremost a relationship builder and community servant. For almost two decades he served as a volunteer chaplain with the Asheville Police Department. He is the longest tenured pastor at three Asheville area churches: Enka Baptist Church in Enka, Oteen Baptist Church in Asheville and Cumberland Avenue Baptist Church in Asheville.
 
Since 1981, Brown has committed himself to bettering the lives of students at Mars Hill University through service on the Board of Trustees. During those many years, he has offered a balanced perspective to presidential search committees, served as a role model to fellow trustees, been recognized as a master fundraiser, and recruited numerous students. He and his wife, Louise, have two children.
 
• North Carolina Baptist Foundation: Margaret Joyce 

 
Margaret Joyce was not born a person of financial privilege but was raised on a small farm in Wilkes County with a sister and two brothers. Her upbringing instilled in her an appreciation for the simple blessings of life, as well as an ability to dream big.
 
She received her undergraduate degree from American University in Washington, D.C., a master’s degree in counseling from UNC-Greensboro and studied at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She went on to enjoy a teaching career of more than 36 years during which she established the very first guidance-counseling program at Madison/Mayodan High School. Her love for music has led her to serve as organist at her church, Grace Baptist Church in Madison, for more than 40 years.
 
Margaret married her husband, William, in 1953. After he graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, he worked 34 years for N.C. Services for the Blind. William, who died in 2000, was blind from birth.
 
Over the years, Margaret and William established endowments that will support, in perpetuity, church music ministries, college scholarships for needy students, children’s ministries both at home and abroad, as well as scholarships for those preparing for ministry at Fruitland Baptist Bible College. Because of her generosity and fund raising efforts, Caraway Conference Center recently named a building for Margaret.
 
• N.C. Baptist Men: Jack and Cathy Ollis
 
Jack and Cathy Ollis have devoted their lives to serving Christ through missions. In the early 1970s both taught college chemistry in Danville, Va. They were very active in their local church and open to God’s call for missions. In the mid ’70s, Jack helped launch N.C. Christian High Adventure, a wilderness backpacking program. Later, he served as the Eastern U.S. Christian High Adventure director.
 
Jack and Cathy were appointed in 1980 by the International Mission Board (IMB) as missionaries. They have served throughout Southeast Asia. Their first assignment was to serve as teachers in India. Thailand was their next home. They started the Cooperative Outreach of India. In Singapore, Jack and Cathy worked with unreached people groups, including a partnership between North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) and Ladakh Medical Projects. Cathy directed the World A Resource Center at Gardner Webb University. Jack also served at the IMB in Richmond as an associate for East Asia. They later returned to and served in Thailand and India. 
 
Jack has served on the board of directors of North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) as the state prayer coordinator and is currently the Region 9 director. Cathy presently serves as the state prayer coordinator. Her passion in sharing the importance of prayer is making a difference in all of the 18 NCBM ministries.
First Baptist Church in Black Mountain is their home church where they faithfully serve. They have three children and three grandchildren. 
 
• Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: Linwood L. Davis
 
Stand in Davis Memorial Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and you will see the stained glass above the side door. You will also see the crests of the Shore and Davis families, resting on the words from Jonah 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
 
The touch of Linwood L. Davis’ hand can be seen in his thoughtful interest in the chapel’s daily operations, assuring sanctuary for patients, families and staff as they seek solace, wisdom and direction.
 
A senior partner in the law firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP, Linwood recently completed his sixth term of office as a trustee of North Carolina Baptist Hospital, and is past chair of both the hospital and medical center boards. An active member of First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, Linwood is a deacon and has served on and chaired multiple congregational committees. Linwood and his wife, Martha, have four children and seven grandchildren.
 
• Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina: Dorothy Barham
 
Dorothy Barham’s God-given passion for missions and prayer began when she was invited to a Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) circle meeting. She was a young mother seeking the fellowship of other women, but God opened the world of missions, showing her a lost world needing to know Jesus Christ.
 
WMU has been the medium through which Dorothy has learned and participated in missions and prayer.
Praying for missions has led her to participate in mission trips that have taken her to 20 countries including the Ukraine, South Africa, Honduras, Canada, Myanmar, Lebanon, China and Armenia and on 19 mission trips within the United States.
 
Many of her mission trips have included opportunities to prayerwalk and lead prayer conferences and retreats for women, fulfilling her desire to teach women to pray for the lost where they live. “My life has been richer and fuller because of the influence of WMU, and I shall be eternally grateful,” she said. She has served WMU-NC on the executive board as well as leading training conferences and prayer retreats.
 
Dorothy has served and continues to serve in WMU leadership in Lillington Baptist Church and the Little River Baptist Association. She is the mother of three, grandmother of five and great-grandmother of three.

 
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3/24/2015 1:01:28 PM by Biblical Recorder staff | with 0 comments



Warrens mark 35 years at Saddleback

March 24 2015 by Diana Chandler. Baptist Press

Pastor Rick and wife Kay Warren marked 35 years in ministry at Saddleback Church on March 22 in Anaheim, Calif., celebrating its growth from a seven-member Bible study at the Warrens’ home to more than 27,000 weekly worshippers at 10 U.S. campuses.
 
More than 20,000 worshippers gathered for the celebration held at Angel Stadium to accommodate the crowd.
 
“I believe that the growth of any church … is dependent upon both sovereignty factors and human factors,” Rick Warren told the crowd. “Why has God blessed our church in such an unusual way? It’s not because we’re smarter; it’s not because we’re better; it’s not because we’re stronger; it’s not because we’re better looking; it’s not because we’re more deserving, none of those factors.
 
“But God has blessed Saddleback because we have chosen to believe God for just a little bit more …,” he said of the Southern Baptist congregation. “We chose to say, ‘Let’s go to the whole world. We chose to say, ‘Let’s go after multiple campuses.’“

 
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Photo by Scott Tokar
Rick Warren celebrates 35 years as pastor of Saddleback Church during a March 21 service at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

The Warrens came to Orange County after he graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1980, and have built a church known for innovative ministry and discipleship, including The Purpose Driven Life, which, according to The Purpose Driven website, has sold more than 36 million copies. Prior to writing The Purpose Driven Life, Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Church that included a series of discipleship resources.
 
“Kay and I, when I was finishing up seminary in Texas, got out a map of the world and we said, ‘God we’ll go anywhere in the world if you’ll let us spend our entire life in one location. We don’t care where you put us,’“ Warren said during the 35th anniversary sermon posted on the church website. “And God gave me a vision, and God gave me a dream, and God gave me a calling specifically to Southern California and specifically to Orange County.”
 
In The Purpose Driven Church Warren records an encounter in Texas at age 19 with legendary Baptist pastor W.A. Criswell, who prayed for the young Warren when he greeted Criswell in a receiving line at First Baptist Church of Dallas.
 
“Criswell looked at me with kind, loving eyes and said, quite emphatically, ‘Young man, I feel led to lay hands on you and pray for you!’ Without delay, he placed his hands on my head and prayed these words that I will never forget: ‘Father, I ask that you give this young preacher a double portion of your Spirit. May the church he pastors grow to twice the size of the Dallas church. Bless him greatly, O Lord.’“
 
Warren considered the encounter with Criswell, who died in 2002, confirmation of his calling to pastor a local church, he wrote in the book.
 
Among well known, successful outreaches birthed at Saddleback are the Celebrate Recovery Christ-centered recovery program now in use at more than 27,000 churches; the global PEACE plan ministry, aimed at planting churches that promote reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation; the Global HIV & AIDS ministry, which uses the CHURCH acronym to equip churches in Rwanda and globally to “Care” for and support AIDS suffers, “Handle” HIV testing and counseling, “Unleash” a volunteer labor force, “Remove” the Stigma, “Champion” Healthy Behavior, and “Help” with HIV medications.
 
Other hallmark Saddleback outreaches include the Local HIV & AIDS Initiative to raise awareness of the illness, promote prevention, lower the stigma, and care for the needs of victims; and the global Orphan Care Plan, aimed at providing vision, tools and training for churches within communities to help children remain in or reunite with families, or regain a family, through kinship care or adoption.
 
A year after their son Matthew’s 2013 suicide, the Warrens launched a mental health ministry to reduce the stigma of mental illness and help sufferers and their families.
 
Warren coauthored The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life, a New York Times best-seller. In 2005, Time Magazine listed him among the 25 Most Influential Evangelical Leaders in America.
 
Warren preached the same sermon at the 35th anniversary that he preached when he held the church’s first service at Laguna Hills High School with 60 in attendance. But instead of preaching it in the future tense, as he did in 1980, he preached it in the past tense, he said, “because it actually happened.”
 
“In that very first service 35 years ago, I titled the message ‘The Beginning of a Miracle,’ pretty apt, when you think about it. And I listed five choices in faith, and I told those people that because we were going to do these five things in faith, that this church was guaranteed to succeed,” Warren said. He had told the church to dare to dream great dreams, dare to expect God to act, dare to love people unconditionally, risk failure through experimentation, dare to sacrifice and never give up.
 
Also at the anniversary, Warren launched “Daring Faith,” an initiative aimed at doubling its Southern California campuses from 10 to 20 in the next three years through the use of special small groups and an emphasis on dreaming biblically. Currently, small group attendance averages 7,500 a week, according to a church press release.
 
In addition to its U.S. campuses, Saddleback has locations in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and South Manila.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

3/24/2015 12:54:42 PM by Diana Chandler. Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Unlikely Delaware church planter prays, receives unusual fruit

March 24 2015 by Jim Burton, North American Mission Board

Mark Lashey had zero desire to live in Delaware. There was no sweet tea, no biscuits. Children there didn’t say sir and ma’am. The Northeast seemed cold in terms of relationships, not to mention climate. Yes, he understood his wife, Tammy, wanting to raise their children close to her parents, but the state held no other attraction for him.
 
Then he started praying during his regular neighborhood jogs. Through his praying, God gave Lashey a burden for the community.
 
“There were times I would cry as I was running and praying for people,” Lashey said. “When I started praying for the people in this community, I started loving them.”
 
When the Lasheys moved to Delaware a few years after college, he was working as an accountant.

 
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NAMB photo by Colby Ware
Mark and Tammy are parents of Abby-Jane, 14, Hudson, 12, and Sophia, 9.

Corporate America was good to the Lasheys, but their passion was music. With Tammy’s sister, Stephanie, and her husband, Rob Leight, the two couples formed Calling Levi.
 
Along with a sound technician and nanny, the couples traveled for 10 years throughout the U.S., including Alaska, singing in churches and at special events. Most of their engagements were in the South.
 
Lashey thought music would be his ticket out of Delaware, and he wanted to move back to the Bible belt where he spent many of his formative years in a military family.
 
“Every weekend we were traveling south,” Lashey said as he continually rationalized the move, particularly as Calling Levi was on the verge of signing with a record label. “God was saying to us, ‘No, you are to stay in Delaware.’”
 
Now Lashey knows why: “It was for such a time as this.”
 
Their community was a burgeoning suburbia comprised of four towns: Middletown, Odessa, Townsend and Smyrna. Lashey learned that about 130,000 people lived within 15 miles of his family.
 
Other families there were commuting to Philadelphia, Wilmington, Dover, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and even New York City for work. The families are mostly young and raising children.
 
“We prayed as we lived here that God would plant a church in our community,” Lashey said, not realizing that God was calling a singing accountant to do something that most pastors from the South were not willing to do – start a church in Delaware.
 

Home Bible studies

The Lasheys and Leights started a Tuesday night home Bible study that they called LifeHouse based on John 10:10. Fifteen came to the first meeting.
 
“It wasn’t pretty,” Lashey recalled. “It was raw.”
 
The Bible study grew to about 100 attendees.
 
Soon they were meeting at the Townsend Firehall on Tuesdays, which had space for their growing gathering. As the Bible study expanded, so did the team’s vision.
 
LifeHouse would become a new church, and it launched Feb. 12, 2012. By August 2012, they were able to rent space at a school.
 
The growth continued, and now average attendance is 650; about 200 are sixth grade or younger.
Those 10 years of building relationships in the community are now bearing fruit.
 
“Our community is very receptive to the gospel,” Lashey said. “They are (spiritually) hungry.”
 
Neither accounting nor music ministry prepared Lashey for explosive growth. Not only did he not want to live in Delaware, Lashey didn’t want to be a pastor.
 
He had begun online seminary studies while with Calling Levi, but that was out of his hunger to better know God’s Word. His family had been traveling about 45 minutes one-way to attend the closest Southern Baptist church.
 
When the members of Calling Levi became the core group for a new church, little about the experience was conventional.
 
Lashey had no church planter training, but he received much coaching from David Jackson, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) team strategist for church multiplication.
 
BCM/D’s June Holland prepared them for children’s ministry. Since the launch, the North American Mission Board’s Farm System has provided one church planting intern and several student missionaries.
Lashey knows that their rapid growth is not typical for a new church, which is more reason to celebrate and pray.
 
“Hundreds of people have made professions of faith,” Lashey said. “Between 150 and 200 have been baptized by immersion. We are blown away.”
 
One of those conversions was Mike Wright, a former college wrestler who was teaching at the elementary school where LifeHouse met on Tuesday nights. He inquired about what was happening, and joined them the next week. Then he attended an Easter service.
 
“He started running after Jesus,” Lashey said.
 
Today, Mike is the husband of Sheri Wright, LifeHouse’s media director and the former technician for Calling Levi.
 
No longer is Lashey longing to leave Delaware. The state has become his home, and he plans to be there a long time as pastor of LifeHouse.
 
“I anticipate continued growth,” Lashey said of the new church. “We want to be involved in church planting.
 
“My heart is not to build a mega church. We’ve not been focused on building a church, we’re building the kingdom of God.”
 
The goal for the 2015 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® is $60 million.
 
To learn more about the Week of Prayer, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and how your church can be mobilized to push back lostness in North America, visit anniearmstrong.com.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jim Burton writes for the North American Mission Board.) 

3/24/2015 12:41:49 PM by Jim Burton, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments



Cruz begins GOP bid; social issues percolate

March 24 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

With Ted Cruz becoming the first Republican to officially announce his candidacy for the White House in 2016, social conservatives are beginning to assess potential candidates’ stands on abortion, gay marriage and other social issues.
 
Cruz, a first-term senator from Texas, announced his candidacy March 23 by tweeting, “I’m running for president and I hope to earn your support!” He launched his campaign with a speech at Liberty University, the Christian school founded by the late Jerry Falwell. In the speech, Cruz “signaled that he will cast himself as a principled social conservative and align himself with the evangelical voters who play a critical role in the early primary states,” Politico reported.
 
Other potential Republican presidential candidates include, alphabetically, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker.
 
Cruz, a member of First Baptist Church in Houston, told his audience at Liberty, “I believe God isn’t done with America yet.”
 
Cruz has introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would allow states to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. As solicitor general of Texas, he successfully helped defend a federal ban on partial birth abortion before the U.S. Supreme Court and successfully defended a Texas law prohibiting groups that provide abortions from receiving state funds, according to Cruz’s website.

 
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Screen grab courtesy of CNN.

Among the positions of other candidates on traditional pro-family issues:

  • Bush, former governor of Florida, supported a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage a decade ago but drew criticism from some social conservatives more recently for seeming to soften his stance on gay marriage and hiring high-level advisers who are either homosexual or gay-affirming, according to MSNBC.com. Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins called Bush “2016’s Gay-Friendly Republican.”

As governor, Bush signed pro-life legislation including a bill that attempted to save the life of a paralyzed woman named Terri Schiavo when her husband sought to have food and water withheld. Bush converted to Roman Catholicism 20 years ago and continues to practice his faith, The New York Times reported.

  • Carson, former director of the pediatric neurosurgery division at Johns Hopkins Hospital, opposes same-sex marriage and abortion. He has criticized abortion advocates for characterizing pro-lifers as waging a “war on women,” according to LifeNews.com. “The war is on their babies,” Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist, said.

  • Christie, governor of New Jersey, opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. However, in 2013 he dropped his appeal of a court decision legalizing gay marriage in New Jersey. Also in 2013, Christie signed a bill banning state-licensed counselors from trying to help children under 18 reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction.

  • Christie, a Roman Catholic, does not believe being homosexual is a sin or a choice, Religion News Service reported in 2013.

  • Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, has pastored Southern Baptist churches in Arkansas and served as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He is a former student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. Huckabee opposes abortion and same-sex marriage.

  • Paul, a libertarian-leaning first-term senator from Kentucky, opposes same-sex marriage but says the issue should be settled by state governments rather than the federal government, the Washington Post reported. The GOP ought to “agree to disagree” on issues like gay marriage to welcome a broader coalition into the party, Paul said according to the Post.

Paul introduced a bill in the Senate that would declare a fertilized egg a human protected by law, but he told a University of Chicago forum his personal belief that “life begins at the very beginning” does not reflect the views of many Americans. Paul is a Presbyterian.

  • Perry, former governor of Texas, supported a Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage as “only a union between a man and a woman,” but in 2011 he affirmed New York’s right under the Tenth Amendment to legalize same-sex marriage. Perry was a United Methodist until he began attending a non-denominational evangelical church in 2010.

  • Rubio, a first-term senator from Florida, defends states’ right to define marriage as between one man and one woman and believes “the right to life outweighs the right to choose an abortion,” National Review reported in 2014.

Rubio has drawn criticism for identifying himself at times as Roman Catholic and at times as evangelical. In 2010, The New York Times published an article on his denominational affiliation titled “Marco Rubio: Catholic or Protestant?” Rubio has been a regular attendee of Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist church in Miami.

  • Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, is pro-life and opposes same-sex marriage. Santorum is a Roman Catholic.

  • Walker, governor of Wisconsin, is the son of a Baptist pastor. He told attendees at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in February he supports “strong marriages” and seeks to protect innocent life, according to an NRB news release.

As governor, Walker signed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to view ultrasound images of their babies. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and has defended Wisconsin’s ban of same-sex marriage, Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel reported in October.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

3/24/2015 12:31:09 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Kara Tippetts, Brittany Maynard and ‘death with dignity’

March 24 2015 by Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service

Metastatic breast cancer took Kara Tippetts from her pastor husband, Jason, and their four children on March 22. She was just 38.
 
But in her last years of life, her saga of accepting suffering became, in a quietly powerful way, a cultural force for another way of choosing death with dignity, one that refused to hasten death.
 
In recent years, the movement for physician-assisted dying has seized the phrase “death with dignity” in its campaign to expand that option beyond the five states where it’s now legal. The group Compassion & Choices brought national attention to Brittany Maynard, who chose to die Nov. 1 when she was just 29, by taking a legal lethal prescription rather than lose her mind to an aggressive cancerous brain tumor.
 
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Photo courtesy of Mundane Faithfulness
Metastatic breast cancer took Kara Tippetts, 38, from her pastor husband, Jason, and their four children on March 22. 

Maynard starred in tear-inducing videos circulated by Compassion & Choices. There was no record of any mention of a religious or spiritual superstructure underlying her reasoning. She saw no spiritual gift or benefit in the meaning of suffering.
 
Tippetts didn’t release national videos but she wrote a book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard, and she kept a blog, “Mundane Faithfulness,” that was full of praise for God and images of a woman well-loved by friends and family. Her writing was imbued with a Christian vision that physician-assisted dying is not an act of loving life, but rather a betrayal of love, God and faith.
 
In calm and elegant posts, Tippetts’ evangelical Christian faith wrapped her in spiritual comfort. In a post titled “By Degrees – Living and Dying” she wrote: “My little body has grown tired of battle and treatment is no longer helping. But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well. By degrees doing both, living and dying, as I have moments left to live.”
 
Tippetts also wrote an open letter to Maynard last October. It began with gratitude. “I think it is good for our culture to know what is happening in Oregon. It’s a discussion that needs to be brought out of the quiet corners and brought brightly into the light. You sharing your story has done that. It matters, and it is unbelievably important.”
 
But, Tippetts wrote: “Dear heart, we simply disagree … hastening death was never what God intended.”
 
Jesus, she told Maynard, “overcame the death you and I are facing in our cancer. He longs to know you, to shepherd you in your dying, and to give you life and give you life abundant – eternal life.”
 
Tippetts offered the altar call of traditional Christian belief, one in which suffering has meaning, to the dying reader. On her Facebook page on Dec. 31, where she mentions she has now turned to hospice care, Tippetts writes that in God’s time … “Doors will appropriately open and close.”
 
Her voice was amplified in the mainstream media. Rod Dreher of The American Conservative writes: “Tonight after I put the kids to bed, I will gather myself before my icon of Christ, and pray the prayers for the departed, for Kara. How strange and wonderful that I’m rejoicing that her pain is over, and that we have all gained a phenomenal intercessor. I know. Crazy Christian stuff. That’s how we are.”
 
“Mundane Faithfulness” began as her chronicle of motherhood and living in kindness. The obituary that appeared the day she died says it morphed into “a blog about looking for God’s grace to show up even in the hardest, messiest, ugliest places. It was a window into her life of chemo, church planting, spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen with her littles, her passion for Jason, her passion for those who don’t know Jesus, and her struggle to accept her growing cancer as God’s story for her life. Her self-described ‘mundane’ life appeared anything but mundane to her readers who inevitably fell in love with her inviting, joyful personality and her love for and trust in Jesus; readers were attracted to her honesty, vulnerability, sense of humor, and simple faith. She never hesitated to share the hard moments, but she always pointed her readers – and herself – back to Jesus.”
 
Jason Tippetts and their friends wrote the blog entries in the last 12 days. On March 10, Kara Tippetts wrote what would be her final post, beginning with the arrival of a hospital bed so her days in hospice care might be more comfortable. Then she wrote:
 
“There is so much about this we cannot understand. I can’t understand that I’m not sleeping in my wedding bed with my guy tonight. I hurt that I understand what this greater pain I’m experiencing means. I feel too young to be in this battle, but maybe I’m not in a battle at all. Maybe I’m on a journey, and the journey is more beautiful than any of us can comprehend. And if we did understand, we would hold very loosely to one another because I’m going to be with Jesus. There is grace that will seep into all the cracks and pained places when we don’t understand. In the places we don’t understand we get to seek. And how lovely is one seeking truth. Stunning.”
 
Brittany Maynard had the spotlight for autonomy and defiance. Kara Tippetts takes the spotlight now in “mundane faithfulness.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Cathy Lynn Grossman is a senior national correspondent for Religion News Service.)
3/24/2015 12:17:44 PM by Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



New bill defends faith-based adoption agencies

March 24 2015 by Kiley Crossland, WORLD News Service

Legislation introduced in Congress earlier this month would prohibit government discrimination against faith-based adoption and foster care organizations that are not willing to place children with same-sex couples.
 
The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., was re-introduced on March 4. Enzi and Kelly submitted the same bill last year, but it never made it out of committee. The act would ensure state-licensed child welfare providers are allowed to operate while also holding to religious and moral convictions on homosexuality and family structure.
 
“This commonsense bill simply ensures that these child welfare providers can keep doing what they do best and are treated the same as the rest,” Kelly said. “When it comes to helping kids and making families stronger, all service providers – religious or otherwise – should have a seat at the table. … No provider should ever have to forfeit their First Amendment rights in order to create a better life for a child.” 
 
In four states – California, Illinois, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia – faith-based adoption and foster care providers have been forced to stop providing services because they refused to place children with same-sex couples. Boston Catholic Charities, a 100-year-old organization that had placed more children in permanent adoptive homes than any other state-licensed agency, was forced to end its foster care and adoption programs in 2006. Since then, a number of other faith-based providers, including D.C. Catholic Charities, Catholic Charities of Illinois, and Illinois’ Evangelical Child and Family Agency, have been forced to transfer adoption and foster care programs to other providers.
 
“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., told The New York Times.
 
Opponents argue the bill does the opposite of what it claims. “In truth, the bill’s name is deceptive,” Rich Valenza, founder and CEO of RaiseAChild.US, wrote in an editorial at the Huffington Post. “It is about exclusion, not inclusion. It is designed to allow religious foster and adoption agencies to deny services to all ‘nontraditional’ prospective parents.”
 
But the bill’s sponsors and supporters argue the measure would not exclude anyone. Any couple, regardless of their sexual orientation, can apply to adopt with an agency in their state.
 
“Protecting religious liberty in this instance takes nothing away from anyone,” The Heritage Foundation’s Sara Torre and Ryan T. Anderson wrote. “Couples who do not wish to work with faith-based agencies because of a difference of belief are free to work with another private provider or directly with the state offering foster care services. A diversity of providers only increases the chances more children will end up in permanent, loving families.”
 
About 400,000 children spend time in the foster care system each year. Of those, roughly 100,000 are eligible and waiting to be adopted, according to the U.S. Children’s Bureau.
 
Support for same-sex adoption is on the rise, according to a May 2014 Gallup survey. When asked if same-sex couples should have the legal right to adopt a child, 63 percent of those surveyed said yes, up from 46 percent in 2007.  A smaller number, 55 percent, expressed support for same-sex marriage.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kiley Crossland is a writer for WORLD News Service.)

3/24/2015 12:11:31 PM by Kiley Crossland, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



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