March 2015

‘Do You Believe?’ stars born-again Bosworth

March 17 2015 by Ginny Dent Brant

After the phenomenal success of God’s Not Dead (110 million worldwide), which explored the existence of God, Pure Flix will release a follow-up that takes Christianity to another level – the Cross. The movie leaves each viewer with the question, “Do you believe?” And if you do, “What are you going to do about it?”
 
With an award-winning cast, another appearance by The Newsboys singing “We Believe,” and the largest production budget of Pure Flix to date, “Do You Believe?” will also feature former professional football player Brian “The Boz” Bosworth.
 
Producer David A.R. White desires to bring people to the cross through this film. He said, “The Cross is critical, relevant and often debated in today’s culture. It has always incited passion, conviction and controversy, and most of all … it changes lives.” This film is written by the same team that wrote “God’s Not Dead,” Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon. Dove has given its family seal of approval for ages 12 and up.
 
"Do You Believe?" tells the story of a dozen lives that intersect on the streets of Chicago. Ted McGinley, of “The Love Boat” and “The West Wing,” plays the pastor who’s been shaken to the core by the dedication of an old street preacher who carries a large cross and challenges him to act out what he really believes. His response ignites a faith-fueled journey that impacts many.

 
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Golden Globe award winning actress Cybill Shepherd and veteran actor Lee Majors (“Six Million Dollar Man”), portray a couple in his church who are dealing with the loss of their only daughter.  Sean Astin (“Lord of the Rings,” “Rudy”) plays a doctor who doesn’t believe in miracles and takes the credit for saving lives. His wife and an attorney, Andrea Logan White (“Mom’s Night Out”), believes those who trust in a cross must pay for it.
 
Some of the most stirring scenes occur when Brian Bosworth (“The Longest Yard,” “Revelation Road”), who plays a transformed convict, reaches out to a troubled youth and a homeless mom and daughter. Brian Bosworth, also known as “The Boz,” signed the largest rookie contract in National Football League history with the Seattle Seahawks in 1987 at $11 million.
 
Bosworth reluctantly entered the film business at the insistence of his inner circle that believed he could play football and be a movie star in the off-season. “My advisers created ‘The Boz,’ and that was never who I really was. I felt stuck in a rabbit hole that I couldn’t crawl out of,” he said. After his agent gave him the script for Pure Flix’s "Revelation Road," he wanted to do the role because it spoke to him.
 
“That was the first script I ever read where I realized that dark, angry and resentful character was exactly who I had become,” said Bosworth. “It made me reflect on this person and what was I going to do about it. All the hidden frustration and anger resonated within me through this character and forced me to look at myself naked. I chose to do it because it spoke to me. That film sparked the flame that changed my life.”
 
Bosworth’s spiritual journey began on March 3, 2013, when he was saved on a speaking tour with "Revelation Road" in Chickasha, Okla. He finally set aside what had cost him his dream football career – his pride and ego – and let Jesus carry his burdens. “The wall I had made that imprisoned my heart and life came crumbling down,” Bosworth said. “I started a new life and from that moment, life has been nothing but a blessing.”
 
He admits his newfound faith has enabled him to play the role of Joe – a former convict more concerned with helping others than he is with the fact that he is dying of Leukemia. 
 
Bosworth also revealed that for many years, he took the credit for his successes and blamed the failures on God. He was angry and blamed God when he saw his football career being ripped out from underneath him. “I lived for 30 years and could not forgive myself for looking at the fishbowl and realizing that I was to blame for ruining what I loved so much – my football career.” “We must be willing to look in the mirror and point the finger to ourselves,” he warned. “Our pride is the shield that we hold in front of ourselves that is so powerful and difficult to penetrate.”
 
Bosworth compared himself to a kid riding a bike with training wheels. When he achieved success and the admiration of many, he took the training wheels off and said, “God, I don’t need you anymore – I’ve got it from here.”
 
On March 3, 2013, he realized he was forgiven. “God freed me from the guilt of my mistakes and Jesus wiped the mountain away that existed between Him and me.”
 
Since his conversion, he has a peace that he’s never experienced before, and he’s prayerfully seeking God’s will for the rest of his life one day at a time. The “New Boz” hopes that believers will bring others who are hurting to see this film. Each viewer will identify with one of the characters. For Christians this film will motivate them to match their walk with their talk.
 
Bosworth desires for this movie to shed light and provide a mirror for all to reflect. He hopes that viewers see that, “everyone matters and everything we do matters, whether selfishly or unselfishly.” Do You Believe? opens in theaters March 20, 2015.
 
Visit doyoubelieve.com.  

(EDITOR'S NOTE – Ginny Dent Brant is an author, speaker, counselor and soloist. Author of "Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World." Brant is editor at large for Sonoma Christian Home Magazine.)

 

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3/17/2015 2:06:57 PM by Ginny Dent Brant | with 0 comments



80,000-plus Bibles shipped to Cuba for churches

March 17 2015 by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist convention

Three 40-foot containers packed with 83,723 Spanish-speaking Bibles to be distributed among Baptist churches in both Western and Eastern Cuba are expected to arrive in Havana March 25.
 
The shipment, slated to leave South Florida during the week of March 15, is the third Southern Baptists have sent to the island nation since 1999. This latest effort brings the total number of Bibles sent to nearly half a million, said Kurt Urbanek, International Mission Board (IMB) strategy leader for Cuba since 1997.

 
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IMB Photo by Wilson Hunter
Three 40-foot containers packed with 83,723 Spanish-speaking Bibles to be distributed among Baptist churches in both Western and Eastern Cuba are expected to arrive in Havana March 25. While worshippers at Calvary Baptist Church in Havana proudly hold up their Bibles in this file photo, an IMB missionary says many more are needed.

However, this represents the first time Bibles were shipped directly from the United States. The extensive process of seeking permission from the Cuban government to ship Bibles required a great deal of negotiation with government officials and the Cuban Bible Society, Urbanek explained. Clearance for this effort was given late 2014.
 
“We are grateful the Cuban government opened the doors for the Bibles,” Urbanek said.
 
In 1992 the Cuban government officially changed its status from an atheistic to a secular society, helping pave the way for the Bible distribution.
 
The shipment of the Bibles and Bible resources, coordinated by IMB, represents a collaborative partnership between IMB, LifeWay Christian Stores, Florida Baptist Convention, Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Fla., and other individuals and groups.
 
Last year, LifeWay customers across the country donated funds to purchase 144,000 Bibles for distribution in several Central American and Caribbean countries. Of those Bibles, 60,000 were designated for Cuba. IMB provided $100,000 for the project. Florida Baptists contributed $2,000 from the Maguire State Mission Offering to purchase 600 leather-bound Bibles. Others provided funding for additional Bibles and resources, as well as the cost of shipment.
 
In the past, the Cuban government required Bibles to be distributed to all evangelical denominations in the country. But this time 75 percent – or 64,000 – of the Bibles will be allocated to the Havana-based Western Cuba Baptist Convention and the Santiago-based Eastern Cuba Baptist Convention, resulting in each group receiving 32,000 Bibles.
 
With the Eastern Convention reporting 29,063 professions of faith in 2014, Urbanek said the Bibles potentially will cover the new Christians and only a few more. The eastern churches also will endure a logistical challenge getting the books across the rough Cuban terrain to Santiago, about an 18-hour drive from Havana.
 
Urbanek reported the Eastern Convention added 1,300 new house churches and missions in recent years.
 
“The growth is so incredible, that’s why Bibles are so important,” he said, noting Western Cuba churches have expanded likewise.
 
The shipment also includes Bible commentaries, study Bibles and giant-print Bibles for the visually impaired.
 
Florida Baptists, who have an 18-year partnership with Cuba Baptists, have participated in other shipments of Bibles to Cuba, said John Holloway, team strategist with the Convention’s Partnership Missions.
 
He asked Southern Baptists to pray for “unhindered delivery; no problems at customs in Cuba; immediate distribution; and the salvation of many.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention.)

 

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3/17/2015 1:48:00 PM by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist convention | with 0 comments



Evolutionists kill academic freedom bills

March 17 2015 by Dick Peterson, World News Service

Lawmakers in four states tried this year to introduce academic freedom bills to protect teachers for questioning theories like Darwinism, shielding them from discipline, demotion or termination. But opponents killed the bills before they could get a fair hearing, raising concerns among educators who might not fully embrace the theory of evolution.

 
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“There are a number of incidents around the country where teachers have been threatened or fired,” said Casey Luskin, research coordinator for the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “They simply cited some of the problems with Darwinism.”
 
Most, if not all, of the bills were modeled after an academic freedom statute drafted by the Discovery Institute, which advocates for intelligent design as a better scientific explanation for driving the mechanism of life. Critics claim the proposed legislation is a way to introduce intelligent design and creationism in the classroom.
 
But in two states that already have academic freedom laws, that hasn’t happened.
 
As the first to pass an Academic Freedom bill into law in 2008, Louisiana has had enough time for any unintended consequences to surface. None have. In 2012 Tennessee became the second state to protect teachers who challenge students to think critically by discussing opposing sides of controversial topics.
 
The Louisiana Science Education Act “wasn’t limited to the evolutionary science question,” said Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum, a driving force for academic freedom legislation in Louisiana. “It was one of four controversial subject matters that were listed to include the origin of life, global warming, and human cloning,” he said. The forum argued that declaring a position “settled science” doesn’t dismiss opposing arguments and clear the way for any public policy based on it – not in the media, the state legislatures, or the schools.
 
“If we can discuss it in the media or at the legislature, then a child or a student may ask a question or a teacher may propose an alternative theory on any of these controversial subject matters and discuss it freely as part of an academic freedom effort,” Mills said.
 
Opponents to the Louisiana and Tennessee laws, and the bills that failed in South Dakota, Montana, Indiana, and Oklahoma, say academic freedom measures are a backdoor attempt to introduce intelligent design and creationism into the classroom. But Mills noted provisions written into the laws make that impossible. The legislation prohibits promoting religion, which would block creationism, and it prohibits teaching subjects outside of an approved course of study. To his knowledge, intelligent design is not a part of any curriculum in any public educational institution in the country.
 
Still, opponents continue their attempts to overturn existing academic freedom laws and block the passage of new legislation, claiming science shouldn’t be questioned. But science is never settled. Discoveries beget questions that research and more discoveries answer in a continuing quest for knowledge. Luskin and Mills say that cycle can only survive where scientists are free to pursue it and teachers are free to debate and teach it.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dick Peterson writes for World News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com.)

3/17/2015 1:31:24 PM by Dick Peterson, World News Service | with 0 comments



Publishers sue Family Christian Stores over bankruptcy plan

March 17 2015 by Lynde Langdon, World News Service

A group of Christian publishers that stands to lose $20 million is fighting back against part of Family Christian Stores’ bankruptcy plan. Twenty-seven companies filed a joint lawsuit in federal bankruptcy court Friday to protect products Family Christian Stores has on its shelves but hasn’t yet paid for.
 
The companies provided the so-called “consignment inventory” to Family Christian Stores (FCS) under a contract that required it to pay for their products after customers buy them from stores. Under a traditional retail arrangement, retailers buy products first, then resell them. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit–a who’s who of Christian publishers, including Baker Book House, David C. Cook, and Intervarsity Press–say they still own some of the books and other products in FCS locations.

 
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The dispute arose because in its bankruptcy petition, filed last month, FCS stated it wants to include the consignment inventory–at least what it had on hand before the bankruptcy filing – when it sells off its assets to pay creditors. According to court documents, FCS owes banks and vendors about $97 million, not including the $20 million in consignment inventory.
 
“What is happening ... is that Family is basically saying that they will take ownership of that product so that they can sell it,” said Mark Kuyper, president of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), which has been monitoring the bankruptcy for member publishing companies and keeping them informed of issues that affect them.
 
The plaintiffs have asked the bankruptcy judge to order Family Christian Stores not to include the consignment goods in its proposed asset sell-off and to either pay for the products or return them.
 
The dispute over consignment items is just one piece of the complex financial puzzle in the Family Christian Stores bankruptcy. The nation’s largest Christian bookstore, FCS has 266 stores in 36 states. The bankruptcy case pulls Christian publishers in two different directions. As creditors, they want to recover money the bookstore chain owes them, but as suppliers, they want the stores to stay open and profitable so they can sell their products in the future.
 
“The publishers would like to see Family succeed,” Kuyper said. “The challenge is the financial situation is also significant.”
 
A representative of Family Christian Stores said the company would not comment on the bankruptcy case while it remains in progress. Attorneys for the plaintiffs also declined to comment on a pending case.


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3/17/2015 1:23:35 PM by Lynde Langdon, World News Service | with 0 comments



Lesbian speaker at Bapt. college prompts protest

March 17 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A historically black college that used to have ties with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has drawn criticism for inviting three gay marriage proponents to address students.
 
Forrest Harris, president of American Baptist College in Nashville, specifically defended his decision to invite a lesbian bishop to speak by denouncing those who use “idolatry of the Bible” to discriminate against homosexuals. Harris defined idolatry of the Bible as “when people say [the Bible] is synonymous with God and the truth.” He added, “We can’t be guided and dictated by a first century worldview,” the Tennessean reported.
 
Among the critics of Harris and the college is a coalition of pastors who minister at congregations in cooperation with the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. (NBC USA), America’s largest predominantly African American Baptist denomination. Known as the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors, the coalition objects to American Baptist College’s speaking invitation to Yvette Flunder, an open lesbian and United Church of Christ bishop, Delman Coates, a pastor who led a campaign in Maryland to legalize gay marriage, and Allan Boesak, a South African minister and politician who urged the South African Dutch Reformed Church to affirm same-sex marriage.
 
The 150 members of the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors asked in a news release that Harris rescind Flunder’s invitation, that NBC USA Inc. President Jerry Young release a statement expressing his position on Flunder’s invitation and that Flunder’s addresses be moved from the American Baptist College’s facilities.
 
Dwight McKissic, a co-coordinator of the conservative pastors group whose church cooperates with both the NBC USA Inc. and the SBC, told Baptist Press that Harris, who teaches at Vanderbilt Divinity School, is taking American Baptist College “down a liberal Vanderbilt trail.”
 
“The issue with the college is, how did the board of trustees allow this to happen?” McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, said. “That’s the focus of what we’ve been looking at. The board of trustees has allowed Forrest Harris to take the school down a liberal Vanderbilt trail against the theological beliefs of the pastors of” the NBC USA Inc.
 
Randy Vaughn, pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, and the other co-coordinator of the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors said, “As a Baptist body believing that the scripture really governs and dictates to us what our convictions are about God and our Christ, the very fact of Yvette Flunder’s being in a lesbian same-sex marriage is a violation of what we believe. And certainly her preaching in our sacred sanctuary is much of an abomination for us. And as a result, that requires an objection.”
 
In a March 15 worship service at the college, those in attendance participated in a responsive reading that affirmed, “We are committed to a love and justice ministry that shuns all forms of oppression and hates based on race, class, gender and sexual orientation. We are committed to fostering leaders who uphold cultural and racial diversity, gender justice and developing effective leadership for a more inclusive church and society,” according to a copy of the reading provided by McKissic.
 
The NBC USA Inc.’s website describes American Baptist College as “an independent college for the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.” But Monchiere Holmes-Jones, a spokeswoman for the college, said it “is not directly correlated” with the convention. She did not know whether the NBC USA Inc. contributes any money to the college.
 
Harris did not respond to Baptist Press’s request for comment by press time.
 
American Baptist College’s governance has long been “shrouded in mystery,” McKissic said. Though National Baptists have been told the school is “owned and operated” by the NBC USA Inc., it is unclear who appoints trustees or whether the convention funds the college. McKissic believes Young, who was elected as NBC USA Inc. president last year and opposes same-sex marriage, will help clarify questions about American Baptist College’s governance.
 
Young was not available to comment by press time but may provide comments for a follow-up article, his assistant said.
 
Harris has not responded to emails or phone calls from McKissic and other concerned pastors, McKissic said. The college’s spokeswoman said Harris has decided not to respond but to let his supporters respond on his behalf. Open letters from supporters are posted on the American Baptist College website.
 
The controversy over Flunder and other gay-affirming speakers at American Baptist College may help generate discussion about a larger “tension” within the NBC USA Inc. regarding same-sex marriage, McKissic said.
 
The NBC USA Inc. has not taken a position on same-sex marriage as a convention, but Young announced in January that he would appoint a resolutions committee to develop a position statement on same-sex marriage for National Baptists to vote on later this year, according to McKissic’s blog. Last year, the NBC USA Inc.’s Home Mission Board released a statement instructing board-endorsed military chaplains “not to participate in any activity that implies or condones same sex marriage or same sex union.”
 
Founded in 1924 as the American Baptist Theological Seminary, American Baptist College was organized “for the training of Negro ministers and religious workers” and was jointly owned by the NBC USA Inc. and SBC. The SBC financially supported the college until 1995, when as a part of the Covenant for a New Century the SBC decided that the school was a “legacy of an age of racial discrimination, when African-American students were not allowed to enroll in the convention-supported seminaries.”
 
The SBC moved further toward racial inclusion by granting sole responsibility for the institution to the NBC USA Inc., noting that Southern Baptists “are convinced that this is no longer the appropriate structure for Southern Baptist support of African-American Baptist leadership.”
 
Deeds for the college’s property drafted in 1977 and 1982 specified that the school “may not use or allow the use of the property other than exclusively for the purpose of training persons in Christian theology as interpreted by Baptist doctrine.” A violation of that condition would have resulted in the property being transferred back to the SBC.
 
In 2011, the SBC’s Executive Committee waived the convention’s rights to 55 acres on which American Baptist College sits, property appraised at $1.7 million at the time.
 
(EDITOR’S  NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

3/17/2015 1:16:02 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Supreme Court: lower court’s mandate decision lacking

March 16 2015 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The U.S. Supreme Court appears to be indicating the White House and some judges still don’t get it when it comes to protecting religious liberty.
 
The justices’ latest act regarding the increasingly contentious issue of free exercise of religion came as a rebuke to an appellate ruling in support of rules implementing the administration’s abortion/contraception mandate.
 
In a March 9 order, the high court vacated a ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals against the University of Notre Dame and told it to reconsider its decision in light of the justices’ ruling in support of the religious freedom of for-profit companies. The Seventh Circuit will re-examine its February 2014 ruling against the Roman Catholic school in view of the June win by Hobby Lobby and another business at the Supreme Court.
 
The abortion/contraception mandate, which was part of the implementation of the 2010 health-care law, requires employers to provide for their workers not only contraceptives but drugs and devices that can potentially cause abortions. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is on its eighth revision of rules in response to complaints it failed to protect the conscience rights of employers. None of those amendments has satisfied the concerns of religious liberty advocates.
 
The high court’s latest action elicited approval from defenders of free exercise of religion.
 
“The Supreme Court took a big step in the direction of liberty and justice,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “I pray that the present administration will stop its reckless disregard of soul freedom and liberty of conscience.”
 
Religious freedom lawyer Mark Rienzi called the justices’ order “a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty.”
 
“This is a major blow to the federal government’s contraception mandate,” said Rienzi, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has led the diverse effort challenging the mandate. “For the past year, the Notre Dame decision has been the centerpiece of the government’s effort to force religious ministries to violate their beliefs or pay fines to the [Internal Revenue Service].”
 
The Seventh Circuit’s ruling against Notre Dame left the South Bend, Ind., university the only non-profit religious ministry in the country without legal protection from the abortion/contraception mandate, according to the Becket Fund.
 
Four months after the Seventh Circuit’s decision, the Supreme Court upheld the objections of Hobby Lobby, the nationwide retail chain owned by evangelical Christians, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania cabinet-making company owned by pro-life Mennonites. The justices ruled the HHS mandate did not protect the conscience rights of “closely held” for-profit companies, such as family owned businesses.
 
While that opinion did not address the many non-profits with objections to the mandate, the Supreme Court acted in a non-profit case in July. It blocked enforcement of the mandate against Wheaton College, a Christian school in suburban Chicago, until the appeal process is complete. The justices’ order said the school – and, by likely extension, other objectors – need only inform HHS it is a religious non-profit with religious objections and not fill out a form required by the government.
 
In August, HHS issued its eighth rules revision in three years following the Supreme Court actions. The latest regulations provide a non-profit with the option of notifying HHS in writing of its religious objection to providing coverage of all contraceptives or those that are potentially abortion-causing. In response, the federal government will notify the insurer or a third-party administrator it is responsible for providing employees of the non-profit with payments to cover the services. The new version no longer requires the non-profit to authorize the government to contact its insurer.
 
The ERLC and other foes of the mandate and its failure to protect the conscience rights of employers strongly criticized the latest revision.
 
The new option does not eliminate the moral objection by religious organizations, Moore said in October comments filed with HHS. “Non-exempt religious organizations which object to providing abortifacients on moral and religious grounds are still the conduit by which employees receive the drugs and devices,” he wrote.
 
“Non-exempt organizations are unable to comply with the rules, and, at the same time, maintain fidelity to their religious beliefs,” Moore said. “The new accommodation is merely a reshuffling of the paperwork and does not resolve the concerns of non-exempt religious organizations: their actions are ultimately providing abortifacients to their employees.”
 
In recent months, some federal appeals courts have upheld the HHS’ latest regulations. The most recent decision came in February in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia against Geneva College, a Christian school in western Pennsylvania.
 
The abortion/contraception mandate, which was part of the implementation of the 2010 health-care law, requires coverage of such drugs as Plan B and other “morning-after” pills that appear to possess a post-fertilization mechanism that can cause an abortion by preventing implantation of tiny embryos. The rule also covers “ella,” which – in a fashion similar to the abortion drug RU 486 – can act even after implantation to end the life of a child.
 
HHS provided an exemption to the mandate for churches and their auxiliaries but did not extend it to non-church-related, non-profit organizations that object. The result has been federal lawsuits by 140 non-profit parties in 56 cases, according to the Becket Fund. In addition, more than 190 for-profit plaintiffs have filed suit in 49 cases.
 
The Southern Baptist Convention’s health and financial benefits entity has filed its first-ever lawsuit against the federal government in a legal challenge to the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate.
 
GuideStone Financial Resources, the Southern Baptist convention’s health and financial benefits entity, has sued the federal government because of its objection to the mandate. Its case is under consideration by the 10th Circuit Court in Denver.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

3/16/2015 11:45:11 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Congregation’s sacrifice sparks ministry ‘rebirth’

March 16 2015 by Baptist Press staff

It was a bittersweet celebration for the few remaining members of Andrew Baptist Church as they met once more before handing the building keys, and their evangelism legacy in Bowling Green, to a multi-ethnic church plant a half-mile away.
 
“It has been a time of tears and a time of rejoicing,” said Peggy Sharer, an Andrew Baptist member for more than half a century.
 
A handful of remaining Andrew Baptist members voted last September to disband and give their church facilities to Christ Fellowship Church, a Southern Baptist church with a heart for the city’s low-income and refugee population. Andrew Baptist’s final service was held March 1.

 
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Photo submitted by Jeff Crabtree
Jeff Crabtree, regional consultant at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, speaks during a celebration service on March 1 at Andrew Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky. A decline in membership led Andrew members to disband the congregation and give their building to Christ Fellowship Church, a Kentucky Baptist church plant meeting at a nearby strip mall.

Brian Curtis, pastor at Christ Fellowship, called the decision a “tremendous blessing.”
 
“How many times does another church offer you a building for free?” Curtis asked.
 
Andrew Baptist is located within the very neighborhood Christ Fellowship seeks to minister to and shares a parking lot with an elementary school.
 
Since forming in 2009, Christ Fellowship has leased space in a strip mall alongside a grocery store, a pharmacy and a fast-food restaurant located near the city’s low-income housing project.
 
Sixty-six years ago, Andrew Baptist had similarly humble beginnings, holding its first prayer meeting in a store. Worshippers brought their own chairs and song books.
 
A mission of First Baptist Church of Bowling Green, Andrew Baptist would later meet in a tobacco warehouse for a time before moving in the early 1950s to its present-day location.
 
“We have a beautiful church,” Sharer said, as she reminisced about hayrides, revivals and being baptized into the church at age 10.
 
Membership at Andrew Baptist grew to more than 300 at the turn of the century then began to decline, according to Annual Church Profile reports.
 
“We had been losing members since about 2003,” Sharer said. “I did well to have six kids in Sunday school class.”
 
As Andrew Baptist shrunk in size, Christ Fellowship was growing. Membership increased by 61 percent from 2011 to 2013, resulting in the need to rent additional space at the strip mall.
 
Andrew Baptist reached out for help from Jeff Crabtree, a church regional consultant at the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
 
As one of six consultants statewide, Crabtree’s job is to work with Kentucky Baptist churches and associations in the south region by helping them develop plans to grow and fulfill their God-given ministries.
 
Crabtree offered Andrew Baptist several paths for revitalization, including a complete relaunch. Members, many of whom are elderly, however, chose to let their legacy of serving God live on through Christ Fellowship.
 
“It’s not the end of a ministry; it’s the rebirth of a ministry,” Crabtree said. “We’re all standing on someone else’s shoulders, and Christ Fellowship is just going to build off the shoulders of Andrew Baptist.”
 
Christ Fellowship has big plans for the Andrew Baptist facilities. To accommodate the church’s growing children’s ministry, Curtis said the sanctuary will be turned into classrooms. A new sanctuary will be added to the back of the church, with the majority of the construction completed in July thanks to help from an Alabama-based construction ministry.
 
Curtis said Christ Fellowship will move into the building within a year.
 
“This has been a hard transition for them,” Curtis said of Andrew Baptist’s members. “A lot of these people have been there from the beginning, but clearly the Kingdom means more to them than their building.”
 
Sharer agreed the decision was a difficult one for the handful of remaining members.
 
“God’s house needs to be full again,” Sharer said. “Andrew’s not really closing her doors because they will be open again and the Lord’s work will be fulfilled. The church is the people, not the building. And that building is to be used for God’s people.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This release was prepared by Robin Cornetet, marketing and media relations associate at the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

3/16/2015 11:37:29 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Dorsett elected New England exec.

March 16 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Terry Dorsett, a New England director of missions and church planting catalyst, was elected executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England (BCNE) March 12 by a unanimous vote of the convention’s board of directors.
 
Dorsett, who succeeds the retiring Jim Wideman, will assume his new role April 1.

 
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Terry Dorsett

“My vision for the Baptist Convention of New England,” Dorsett told Baptist Press in email comments, “includes: engaging ethnic pastors in key leadership roles, increasing our leadership development ministries, building a sense of team ministry between the state convention, our seven associations and [the North American Mission Board (NAMB)], enhancing our efforts through the Baptist Foundation of New England to provide additional resources for ministry and partnering with other New England evangelicals who share our love of the Bible and burden for lost souls.”
 
Dorsett added, “I plan to invest a portion of my time building relationships with pastors and key leaders so that I can hear their real needs and respond accordingly.”
 
Since 2012, Dorsett has worked for the BCNE as a NAMB church planting catalyst based in Hartford, Conn. Before that, he was director of missions for the Green Mountain Baptist Association in Barre, Vt., for 12 years.
 
Dorsett is coordinator of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s My Hope outreach campaign in Connecticut and Rhode Island. He has served on church staffs in Vermont, South Carolina and Virginia, planting one church in Vermont and revitalizing another.
 
After interviewing Dorsett, the BCNE board of directors “took some time to pray for clear discernment,” board chairman and BCNE interim executive director John Revell wrote in a letter to New England Baptists. “It became clear to us all that the Lord had His hand on this process and on this conclusion, and we all felt compelled to vote accordingly.”
 
The author of seven books, Dorsett holds a doctor of ministry degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, a master of religious education from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a bachelor of science from Liberty University.
 
Dorsett is married to Kay and has three adult children and one grandchild.
 
Wideman, who retired in December after 13 years as the BCNE’s executive director-treasurer, served in January as interim executive director before Revell took over in February.
 
Wideman led the six-state convention with “a passion for building missional churches,” according to a resolution adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee in September. He helped the convention minister amid “changing regional demographics by nurturing numerous ethnic congregations” and by nurturing “a growing number of native New Englanders who have chosen to establish themselves in their home region to serve as pastors, church planters and lay leaders.”
 
During Wideman’s tenure, the number of BCNE cooperating churches increased from 230 to 340, baptizing more than 17,000 people, an average of 1,300 per year, the resolution states. In Cooperative Program giving, the BCNE has increased the percentage of church gifts forwarded to SBC CP missions and ministries from 21 percent in 2001 to 25 percent in 2013.
 
“BCNE Baptists have deeply appreciated the leadership and ministry of Dr. Jim Wideman over the years and are grateful for how the Lord blessed the BCNE through him,” Revell, pastor of Stamford (Conn.) Baptist Church, wrote. “Now, on behalf of the board of directors, I can share that we are excited at how the Lord has set the stage for taking the BCNE to the next level in the passionate pursuit of making disciples of all nations.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

3/16/2015 11:22:50 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘One Day’ for one-stop equipping

March 13 2015 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Many church training events provide equipping for a particular ministry focus area, such as youth or Sunday School. It’s often hard to find events that offer training in virtually every aspect of church ministry, but an upcoming event sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is helping meet that need.
 
The One Day training event, scheduled for Sat., May 2 at Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, is designed for pastors, church staff, ministry leaders and volunteers to receive training and equipping in their respective ministry areas all in one place and all at one time.

 
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“You can think of One Day as a ‘one-stop shop’ for ministry leaders to get trained in the work they are called to do in their churches,” said Lynn Sasser, executive leader for evangelism and discipleship with the BSC.
 
“This is an opportunity for us to help ministry leaders in the local church understand how they should and could be making disciples, no matter what area of ministry they serve in.”
 
One goal of the event is to help ministry leaders understand how each ministry area aligns and contributes to the church’s overarching mission to make disciples.
 
“Disciple-making is not a separate ministry of the church,” said Brian Upshaw, team leader for the disciple-making team with the BSC.
 
“It should be the glue that connects every ministry within the church.”
 
Bruce Raley, director of church partnerships with LifeWay Christian Resources, will lead plenary sessions to help leaders see how different church ministries connect with one another and contribute to creating a disciple-making culture within the church.
 
Raley will also lead training and leadership sessions throughout the day for pastors and church staff.
 
In addition to hearing from Raley, attendees can select from a host of ministry tracks ranging from preschool to senior adult ministries and everything in between.
 
“The One Day conference will stand out among other trainings because it provides church leaders not only the opportunity of a single day set aside for training, but all of the breakout sessions for each church ministry track, from birth to senior adults, are focused on the vision of making disciples,” said Ashley Allen, Embrace Women’s Ministry consultant.
 
BSC consultants and other church practitioners will lead equipping sessions in each ministry track. Tracks include: Sunday School; small groups; disciple-making; preschool, children, youth and special needs ministries; women’s ministry; family ministry; preschool and children’s choir; worship; pastoral and lay leadership; stewardship; Hispanic ministry and more.
 
Kenny Lamm, BSC consultant for worship and music, said attending the One Day training event offers the depth and quality of a stand-alone ministry training that is coupled with an emphasis on how that ministry fits within the overall life and mission of church.
 
“You are going to get the practical training in your particular focus of ministry, and it’s all couched under the big umbrella of discipleship,” Lamm said.
 
More information about the One Day training is available at onedaync.org. Registration is underway and includes an early-bird rate of just $15 per person for those who register by April 17. The registration fee includes lunch.
 
“The One Day event is a tremendous value, and I would encourage people to sign up today,” Sasser said. “This is a great opportunity for pastors, staff, volunteers and all ministry leaders to come together for one day in one place for training and equipping that will help them sharpen both their ministry skills and their ministry focus.”

3/13/2015 11:50:23 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



S. Korean Baptists offer help to Syrian refugees

March 13 2015 by Brian Andrews, Baptist Press

Syrian men, women and children, refugees impacted by the civil war that has raged for four years in their country, lined the cold stairwell leading to a registration room where Korean doctors waited to attend them. Some had come from miles away to receive medical care from the team, members of a South Korean Baptist church holding their first clinic in the Middle East.
 
The team spent one day in Zaatari, Jordan’s largest refugee camp, and two days at a local clinic.

 
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BP Photo
A pediatrician from a South Korean Baptist church examines a Syrian girl's leg at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The team spent three days offering free medical care to hundreds of refugees.

The need for a medical clinic first became apparent to the Korean Baptists last year, when their church donated caravans for Zaatari refugees to use as housing. The volunteers were struck by the sheer number of refugees, none of whom appear to have access to regular medical care in Jordan.
 
The doctors – two dentists, two internists, a general surgeon and a pediatrician – utilized their specific skills to meet a wide range of medical needs. During the course of three days last month, they saw more than 700 refugees.
 
Joseph Kim, team leader, said Koreans have a special love for victims of civil war. Many members of the team grew up in the aftermath of the Korean War that tore the country apart in the 1950s. Their country has since grown into a fully-developed nation, and they said they want to show Syrians that Syria can do the same.
 
The pediatrician on the trip said he sees Korea’s development as a blessing from God and feels a sense of responsibility to bless the refugees in turn. God’s blessings, he said, are not meant to be kept to one’s self.
 
“If you just keep all your blessings inside yourself, it’s going to become like [the] Dead Sea,” he said. The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea, which borders Jordan and Israel, but the sea has no outlet. Its waters have a high concentration of minerals, and virtually nothing can live there.
 
Refugees appeared to respond positively to the Korean doctors. The team’s pediatrician hopes this clinic will be the first of many. He encourages other doctors, both Koreans and Westerners, to consider short-term trips like this one, and would love to see doctors come for a couple of years at a time.
 
He warns against thinking the Syrian crisis is almost over, predicting that the effects will carry on for years, even after the war officially ends. He urges people not to keep waiting for the “right moment,” but to act now.
 
“Today is the time,” he said. “This is the place.”

 

Pray

  • Pray that doctors and other believers worldwide will respond in helpful ways to the Syrian crisis.

  • Pray the South Korean team’s church will be able to continue sending medical volunteers to work among Syrian refugees.

  • Ask God to provide doctors willing to work among refugees for a couple of years at a time.

For information about helping assist Syrian refugees, visit Baptist Global Response.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Andrews is a writer for the London Bureau of Baptist Press.)

3/13/2015 11:39:36 AM by Brian Andrews, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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