March 2018

Church security event teaches leaders to ‘be prepared’

March 20 2018 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

The headlines on mass shootings have become increasingly common – and worrisome.
Last November, it was an attack on First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a gunman came in with a rifle during a Sunday morning service. He shot and killed 26 people.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Bertie County Sheriff John Holly, from left; Hertford County Sheriff Dexter Hays; Director of Missions Terry Stockman; and Church Mutual Insurance representative Jay Hinton address a church security conference Feb. 5 in West Chowan Baptist Association in Ahoskie.

It was not the first such an attack.
More than 400 people have been killed in various houses of worship across America since 1999. And 135 of these incidents were in Baptist churches, more than any other denomination.
Increasingly, churches are asking how they can be safe. What should they do when the unthinkable happens?

Be prepared: It could happen at your church

Current events and a heightened interest in church security was the background for a conference on church security which drew more than 80 Baptists to West Chowan Baptist Association’s building in Ahoskie on Feb. 5. Similar events have taken place across the state and across the country following November’s shooting in Texas.
West Chowan’s Director of Missions Terry J. Stockman Sr. said he organized the conference in response to numerous questions on church security from the association’s 61 churches. Helping churches make disciples is his main assignment, he said, “but we must also be aware of security concerns that can come up and be good stewards.”
West Chowan Association’s churches are spread across Hertford, Bertie and Northampton counties – mostly rural with a few smaller towns. It’s a description that fits many North Carolina Baptist churches.

Thankfully, no violent attacks have occurred in West Chowan. But Stockman said churches should take preventive steps before an attack happens. “We want to get people on guard before something bad happens,” he said.
Stockman invited sheriffs from three counties and a church insurance representative to speak and to field questions. One sheriff could not attend.
Hertford County Sheriff Dexter Hayes and Bertie County Sheriff John Holley gave general information on church security, but they also offered to help churches tailor plans to their specific situations.
Hayes said law enforcement officials in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties have access to solid security recommendations from federal sources, and most will be willing to help churches evaluate security procedures, such as checking building entrances, lighting and the like.
Hayes said tailoring security procedures to individual churches is important, because churches vary in number of members and in the number and size of their buildings. Across North Carolina, some Baptist churches own their buildings while others rent space. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina helps plant more than 60 new churches a year, and many of these start by meeting in public schools.
But the two law enforcement officers presented solid helps on getting started. Many of the security steps will help deal with natural disasters, fires and other situations that do not involve shootings.
Sheriff Hayes said churches must consider security for all its activities, not just the Sunday services.
Shooters most often attack “soft targets,” or smaller, more vulnerable groups. He cited the shooting
at a prayer meeting Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., which left nine dead, including the pastor, on June 17, 2015.
Whether it’s a prayer group, Bible study group, or a few people working on the church food pantry, Hayes said, “That’s when the subject will come and try to do harm.”
Churches should have a trained team of people focused on security, Hayes said. Arrange for a limited number of people to carry concealed firearms. It would be best to enlist people with law enforcement or military experience, “so they won’t freeze in an emergency,” Hayes said.
Have someone familiar with members and the area to watch the doors so potential troublemakers can be watched. He noted there needs to be a balance between welcoming visitors, which churches want, yet keeping security in focus.
Once a security team is designated, the church needs to practice repeatedly so people will know what to do in a crisis. Someone should be designated to call 911 and give clear information about what is happening, starting with the church address. The church should provide training and preparation for lockdown situations, with safe areas where people can take shelter until law enforcement arrives.
Elderly or handicapped members should be seated near exits so they can be evacuated more quickly in a crisis.
Churches should have first aid supplies on hand that should include tourniquets to stop bleeding.
Have someone keep watch on the outside grounds. Inexpensive walkie-talkies work more quickly than cell phones, whose many features can slow down calling.
If someone carrying a weapon or, say, someone wearing a long, black coat when it’s 100 degrees, those outside security team members can alert the church, which can then be locked down.
Sheriff Holley said if he and his deputies come to the church to deal with an active shooter, “We come in first to take out the shooter. We’re here to kill him. The deputies might go right past you bleeding on the floor, because their first duty is to stop the shooter. As long as the shooter is in the building, he’s still a big threat. He may be trying to kill as many people as possible,” Holley explained.
“These things are very serious. We put our lives on the line every day,” he said.
Holley said his officers went through a very difficult training event a month ago in which the weapons actually fired – the bullets were non-lethal, but painful if they hit you. One woman passed out from her fear and anxiety, though it was only training. “You cannot tell how a person will react in an emergency situation,” Holley said.
Hayes said if law officers arrive in an active shooter situation, “Don’t be waving a gun around! It’s unhealthy!”
If your church has a Wi-Fi internet connection, churches can get more police presence by providing the password to local officers. That could lead to having deputies parking in the church parking lot all hours so they can fill out their online forms – a boost to security.
Both Hayes and Holley are Christians and members of area churches. Holley serves as minister of music at his church. One conference participant praised Sheriff Holley because all his department cars now carry the phrase“In God We Trust” on the back.

Preparing to be secure: What to do

Want to make your church secure?
It will take more than one meeting. Security experts urge churches to identify security as one of its ministries, a never-ending effort to keep members and visitors safe. Security should be coordinated with local law enforcement and tailored to each church’s situation.
As other ministries, security must be planned and staffed, with established procedures to follow.
The Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company provides a good overview on preparing for church security on its web site. Learn more at
The link provides access to a manual titled, “The Church Safety and Security Guidebook,” which received praise from Rit Varriale, pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby. Varriale speaks with authority since he served as a U.S. Army Ranger with the 82nd Airborne Division. Varriale was considering writing a book on church security, but decided not to after seeing Brotherhood Mutual’s material. He said their guidebook “is the most comprehensive text on the market.”
“What sets this guidebook apart from the rest is its practical advice for developing – in conjunction with local laws and regulations – Standard Operating Procedures for everything from basic first aid to active shooter situations,” Varriale said.
“Knowledge and training are the keys to security and safety, and Brotherhood Mutual provides a great start for both,” Varriale said. “In the world we live in, you can’t choose whether or not you’ll be a target, but you can choose whether or not you’ll be a hard target.
“It’s important to note that safety teams should train regularly for the more anticipated emergencies, such as health and first aid issues, and not just the worst-case scenarios.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE –LifeWay Christian Resources is offering free security training through its Ministry Grid platform. Log into with your LifeWay ID or register for a free account; then click the “Add to My Tasks” button in the description. The resource, featuring Dale Brooks, director of security for Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, is available through May 1.)  

3/20/2018 10:33:13 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Women invited to ‘embrace’ NYC

March 20 2018 by BSC Communications

Stephen Trainer serves with Graffiti Church and Community Ministries in the Coney Island community in Brooklyn, N.Y. Trainer serves as lead pastor of Graffiti Church Coney Island and executive director of Graffiti Ministries’ Learning Center.

Graffiti is a ministry partner of the Embrace Women’s Evangelism and Discipleship Ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. This fall, Embrace will lead a team of women on a short-term missions trip to work with Trainer and Graffiti Ministries. The trip is scheduled for Sept. 13-16, and the application deadline for the trip is May 4. Visit
Trainer recently took time to answer some questions about Graffiti Ministries, the partnership with N.C. Baptists and the importance of short-term missions team. His responses are below.

Learn more about Graffiti Ministries by visiting

Q: Can you tell us a little about Graffiti Ministries?

A: Graffiti Ministries is a nonprofit learning center providing educational programming to the poorest neighborhood in New York City. Our “other hand” of ministry is Graffiti Church Brooklyn. Through both of these facets of ministry, we work toward the holistic meeting of needs, both physical and spiritual. We are proud to be a part of a network of like-minded and similarly called ministry centers and churches serving communities of need.

Q: Why do ministry in Coney Island? What needs do you see?

A: Coney Island is home to a very famous amusement area, but many are not aware that this is the very poorest neighborhood in New York City. Most needs extend from the damaging cycle of generational poverty, such as homelessness, unemployment, hunger, drugs and gun violence.

Q: How have you seen God move among people while you and your family have served in Coney Island?

A: We have seen people come to a relationship with Jesus as King for the first time, people choose to follow Him in believer’s baptism, and move away from damaging situations and behaviors. We have seen people go from drug dealer to church service!

Q: Beyond God calling a lady to serve on a short-term mission trip in Coney Island, what is one thing you would share with women of why they should serve on this team?

A: Selfishly, we could use your hands and feet, and hearts! As important and valuable as short-term laborers are for our cause, it is even more important for us, in our view, to use our time together to help our teams understand God’s Kingdom in a new and exciting way and to understand the unique needs in the inner city. Many who have served with us tell us later how serving with Graffiti on a short-term mission trip has helped them understand ways to make the gospel available in their own communities, and we view investing in teams as a very important part of our ministry.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – The Embracing New York City missions trip is open to ladies college-age and older. More information, including the trip application forms, are available at Application deadline is Fri., May 4.)

3/20/2018 10:29:40 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Executive Committee approves scholarship funding

March 20 2018 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

The Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) voted to transfer $250,000 to the N.C. Baptist Foundation to support the Luther H. Butler Scholarship for N.C. Baptist Students during a meeting held Fri., March 2 at Caraway Conference Center.
The funds will come from a BSC reserve fund that receives payments from church loans that were previously managed by the state convention.
In 2015, the BSC Board of Directors voted to transfer oversight of the convention’s scholarship program to the N.C. Baptist Foundation, which resulted in the establishment of the Luther H. Butler scholarship program. The transfer in oversight meant that Cooperative Program funds would no longer be used to fund scholarships, so as part of the decision, the board agreed to provide funding as available from existing reserves to help grow the scholarship endowment.
The endowment provides funding for the Luther H. Butler Scholarship for N.C. Baptist Students, which offers merit and need-based scholarships to students of N.C. Baptist churches attending one of the universities historically affiliated with the convention, which include Campbell, Chowan, Gardner-Webb, Mars Hill and Wingate.
In other business, BSC Board President Marc Francis, pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, re-appointed board member John Compton as chairman of the Articles and Bylaws Committee and board member Jeff Isenhour as chairman of the Budget Committee.
Compton serves as pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church in Hickory, and Isenhour serves as pastor of Arran Lake Baptist Church in Fayetteville.
Francis also appointed Gregory Shaver, executive pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe, to the Articles and Bylaws Committee, and board member Terry Stockman to the Budget Committee.
Stockman serves as director of missions in the West Chowan Baptist Association.
Convention bylaws allow the board president to appoint the chairmen of the Articles and Bylaws Committee, and the Budget Committee, respectively, as well as appoint one board member and one non-board member to each committee.
Beverly Volz, BSC director of accounting services, also provided a financial report to the Executive Committee.
Through the end of January, the convention had received slightly more than $2 million in Cooperative Program (CP) receipts, which is about 16 percent behind the 2018 budget to date. Volz explained that CP giving totals are lower so far in 2018 because of how the convention bylaws stipulate that end-of-year funds must be received.
The bylaws stipulate the funds for the previous calendar year may be received up five business days following the last Sunday of the year.
Since Dec. 31 was the final Sunday of 2017, the convention was required to count any funds received during the first week in January 2018 toward 2017 giving totals.
Both Volz and John Butler, BSC executive leader for business services, said they expect CP giving to even out as the year goes on.
“As we get into the next few months (the budget) should even back out,” Volz said.
Butler added: “It’s just the way the calendar fell this year. ... This is not unusual, and we were expecting this.  We are still less than one week of typical receipts behind budget, so I’m not concerned at this point since January’s receipts really only reflected three full weeks of church contributions.”
The Executive Committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting is April 12.
The next meeting of the full BSC Board of Directors is May 21-22.

3/20/2018 10:26:53 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Track star runs ‘spiritual race’

March 20 2018 by Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A

Sanya Richards-Ross has completed the 400-meter dash faster than any other American woman. At the 2012 Olympic Games, she became the second American woman in history competing in the 400 meter race to be crowned an Olympic Champion, and the first American woman in nearly three decades.

Contributed photo
Sanya Richards-Ross holds up the United States flag at the 2012 Olympics in London. She is the most decorated female track and field Olympian.

Richards-Ross is the second most decorated female track and field Olympian ever, but that is not all. She is also a public speaker, philanthropist, entrepreneur and television personality. She founded the Sanya Richards-Ross Fast Track Program in Kingston, Jamaica, which provides children with literacy training, physical education and healthy meals. And her sports clinics are meant to empower young people with the necessary skills to succeed in life, both on and off the track.
Roman Gabriel III spoke with Richards-Ross about her new book, competing in the Olympics and faith. Below is an edited transcript.

Q: In 2017 you published your first book, Chasing Grace, What the quarter mile has taught me about God and life. Would you tell us about that experience?

A: Actually, I have two versions, Chasing Grace for adults and Run with Me, which is for kids ages 8-12. I was so excited, so happy. I waited until my career was over, because writing a book takes a lot of work. It was such a great journey to fully explore all of my experiences and to figure out what were the most important moments I wanted to share with the world to hopefully inspire other people to do great things.

Q: Can you talk about the biblical metaphor that describes how our spiritual journeys are like a race?

A: Absolutely, I think it is biggest takeaway from the book. As a young person, I was always chasing something. Later in life, it was about records, medals and all of those things. But, ultimately I was fortunate to run into grace.
I realized that it wasn’t about a physical race, but a spiritual race – becoming the best person I could be and glorifying God as much as I could through my journey. The 400-meter is one of the toughest races on the track, there are many times in life where things get tough too. So, many of the lessons I learned through the 400 are absolutely helping me to live the best life I can.

Q: What makes a person want to run one of the most grueling races in the world, the 400, and make that your life’s mission?

A: (Laughing) I don’t know Roman, but I can tell you one thing, running always came natural to me. And whenever you’re doing something that is really a gift, you do feel closer to God. Whenever I was practicing or training, I always felt like that was what I was born to do. Those times were often when I had my most revealing moments, and my most prayer-filled moments – on the track.


Q: What was your strategy in running the 400?

A: My coach trained me in the four “Ps.” Broken down into four sections: push, pace, position and poise. And the fifth “P,” which is always prayer. The four hundred taught me a lot, and I’m very grateful that I found this race and success on the track. I’m really blessed.

Q: What is it like to win four Olympic Gold Medals, to set your sights and goals really high, and then reach them?

A: Well, first of all, I always had a desire to be great. I think that was all. As a young person, I always thought I could do great things, but that was also nurtured by having an amazing family. I had tremendous support from my mom, dad and sister, who came to every track meet and encouraged me along the way. What I learned was that when you set lofty goals, you are setting yourself up to be vulnerable to failure.

Q: Why is failure so important in the process of becoming successful?

A: You cannot be afraid to fail, because those are the things that strengthen your character. Also, it helps you to redefine your goals and motivates you even more. For me, it was the most fulfilling experience of my life, what I would say helped me to run into my fairy tale, and finally get that individual Gold Medal. It’s hard to put into words what that meant. What made it even more special was my whole family being there. It’s amazing when you set a goal for your life, go through the ups and downs and actually accomplish it.

Q: Your success has been awesome on the track, but how has it furthered your influence and platform off the track?

A: I think our greatest responsibility, no matter how we reach success, is to reach your hand back and to always share and give to others. Some of the greatest moments of my life are not stepping on the podium, but being able to give back to the community. I’ve had a great program in Jamaica for years that helped over 700 kids to read on their grade level. When you get an email from a kid who went off to college and is in a pivotal part of their life, those things mean so much more to me than track success. I really think, as athletes, role models and celebrities, it’s very important that we use our platforms to inspire others, and to do good in the world. The world needs it. I take that role very seriously.

Q: Obviously your career was a great success, but you are also married to a former New York Giants’ defensive back, Aaron Ross, who won two Super Bowls. That’s quite a family picture. Your trophy room must be impressive?

A: At the height of our careers, we were traveling a lot and not home very much. I traveled all over the world, and in our first home we had a really nice trophy room.
But we moved – with babies coming, nurseries and everything. We do have a cool room with all of our stuff, but that’s not really the most important thing to me. It’s more of the journey, and our memories together. That’s just icing on the cake for us.

Q: When you were competing, did you have a special scripture passage that you held on to?

A: There is, the one I would say whenever I was on the starting line is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
When you’re standing on that start line at the Olympics, you’re so nervous, and sometimes that can cripple you.
I always reminded myself, I can do anything if I just trust and believe in God.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman Gabriel III is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Visit the Faith Family Sports website: Hear his Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at Visit his website:; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: @romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email:

3/20/2018 10:14:53 AM by Roman Gabriel III, BR Sports Q&A | with 0 comments

N.C. Pastors’ Conference announces 2018 theme, speakers

March 19 2018 by BR staff

Matt Capps, president of the 2018 North Carolina Baptist Pastors’ Conference (NCPC), has announced the “expositional theme” of this year’s event: “7 Churches of Revelation.” The conference will take place Nov. 4-5 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C., coinciding with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting.

Seven speakers will preach from passages in Revelation 2-3 that correspond with Jesus’ well-known “letters to the churches in Asia” in the ancient cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
In a statement on the conference website, Capps said God has issued a “clarion call to the entire church” in these passages, noting their relevance for the modern church.
“These letters are sober reminders of the importance of defending biblical doctrine and the impact of devoted doxological witness,” said Capps, who serves as pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C.
“[They] are both comforting and convicting. There is comfort in knowing that Christ walks among the seven churches and is intimately involved in our fruitfulness. At the same time, there is a call to faithfulness that should bolster our desire to minister in a way that is aligned with God’s call to all churches between the ascension and second coming,” Capps said in an email to the Biblical Recorder.
The speaker lineup includes Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham and candidate for president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte; Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C.; Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh; K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia; and Chris Griggs, pastor of Denver Baptist Church and NCPC vice president.
Visit to register for the event. The first 500 registrants will receive free books and other resources at event check-in, according to Capps. Registration is free.
“We are asking all the attendees to register this year so that we can communicate before and after the conference. Not only will the sponsors offer special deals on ministry resources, we will also make the conference sermon videos available online,” he said.
Sponsors include Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, The Christian Standard Bible, The Gospel Project, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Biblical Recorder and more.
“I am thankful for our sponsors,” said Capps. “Because of their partnership, I am praying that the majority of the money taken up in our two offering times will go towards North Carolina Baptist missions efforts.”

3/19/2018 2:58:38 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments

IMB missionaries ‘died for what matters most’

March 19 2018 by Julie McGowan, IMB

International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries Randy Arnett, 62, and Kathy Arnett, 61, died March 14 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Missouri-native missionaries served as theological education strategists for Africa.
IMB leaders and colleagues reflected on the Missouri-native missionaries’ love for missions and the people of Africa.

IMB photo
IMB missionaries Kathy and Randy Arnett, who served as theological education strategists for Africa, died March 14 from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle accident in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Randy and Kathy Arnett in so many ways represent what is best about the IMB,” said IMB President David Platt. “They gave their lives and family for over 30 years proclaiming the gospel, planting churches, and training pastors and missionaries across sub-Saharan Africa.
“They did all of this with a zeal for God’s name, a confidence in God’s Word, and a dependence on God’s Spirit,” he noted. “They lived – and died – for what matters most in this world. They will be missed deeply by their family and friends, our entire IMB family, and men and women across Africa, yet we are looking forward to a reunion with them when one day we will see all the fruit of God’s grace in them for His glory among the nations.”
The Arnetts were traveling to a theological training event with fellow missionaries Jeff and Barbara Singerman, from Ohio, when the single-vehicle accident occurred about two-hours’ travel from Kinshasa, the nation’s capital. The Singermans, who sustained injuries in the accident, were transferred to Kinshasa for medical care. They have since been transferred to Johannesburg, South Africa, for continued care. They were expected to undergo surgery on Mar. 19 or 20. The missionaries were driven by a Congolese national who also sustained injuries but has been released from medical care in Kinshasa.

Invested in Africa

Randy and Kathy Arnett were appointed as Southern Baptist missionaries on Oct. 14, 1986. Following French language study in Tours, France, they moved to roles in theological education in Lomé, Togo. Randy taught at Ecole Baptiste de Théologie pour l’Afrique Occidentale (the Baptist Seminary of Theology for West Africa), and Kathy directed the Bible Correspondence School and then served as director and professor in the seminary wives’ program.
In 2000, the Arnetts moved to Cote d’Ivoire to coordinate Southern Baptist human needs ministry for West Africa. Kathy also served as regional HIV/AIDS coordinator, responsible for the research and development of church and team HIV/AIDS responses for West Africa. In 2003, Randy became the West Africa research and analysis coordinator.
From 2004-09, he served as West Africa regional leader, still based in Cote d’Ivoire. Kathy became the regional events coordinator for West Africa, organizing large-scale meetings, mid-term conferences and training events.
From 2009 until their deaths, the Arnetts were theological education strategists for Africa. They were responsible for networking with seminaries worldwide and assisting national theological institutions in improving their effectiveness. They also taught at the Institute Baptiste pour la Formation Pastorale et Missionnaire in Côte d’Ivoire, in subjects such as evangelism, missiology, cultural anthropology and Baptist history.

Joyful rapport

“What stands out to me about Randy and Kathy was their love for Africans and the exceptional rapport they had with them,” said Roger Haun, who served alongside the Arnetts in Africa. “This rapport came from the fact that Randy and Kathy were joyful people – always smiling, and Randy was often teasing and joking with people and always sharing in their lives.”
Haun, who now serves as director of IMB’s personnel service center in Richmond, and his wife Sarah knew the Arnetts for the duration of their careers as missionaries. They served together on leadership of the West Africa regional team, they lived as neighbors in Africa, and their children attended school together. The last time the Hauns were with the Arnetts in Africa was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Baptist work in Cote d’Ivoire in August 2016.
“Many participants were marching about two miles from the nearby town to the seminary where the celebration was held,” Haun said. “Randy and Kathy were right there in the middle of it – singing and dancing the whole distance with the African participants under the hot African sun, rejoicing with their African brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Influence for generations

Colleagues of the Arnetts have noted how their lives impacted the work of theological education strategy in Africa and around the world.
“Randy and Kathy were long-term missionaries who epitomized what being a missionary is,” said Chuck Lawless, who serves as team leader for theological education strategists for IMB. “They were no longer North Americans taking the gospel to Africans. In some ways, they had become Africans taking the gospel to other Africans.”
“The Arnetts were theological trainers who knew well the importance of contextualizing our training approaches,” Lawless said. “We will miss them greatly, but their influence will continue for generations.”

Lifelong learning

In the preface to his doctoral dissertation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which later became the book Pentecostalization: The Evolution of Baptists in Africa, Arnett wrote that he discovered through his study “that my missiology, birthed in the crucible of practice, holds up in the heat of academic inquiry. Indeed, I have adjusted and strengthened my thinking, but the foundation stands firm.”
“Many students begin their doctoral studies with a dissertation topic in mind. I did not,” he noted. “About two years into the program, I encountered a word in an obscure article that caught my attention – pentecostalization. The term captured that which I had observed among West African Baptists. Thus, the quest began, the quest of placing the pentecostalization of Baptists in the crucible of academic inquiry. And, it has been an insightful and enjoyable quest.”
Arnett added that “God called me to missions and gave the faculty of scholarship. My insatiable desire for understanding comes from Him. Thank you for your goodness and mercy that makes all this possible.”
The Arnetts are survived by two grown daughters, Bevin Wyrick and Jillian Cavness. Visitation is planned for March 29 from 4-7 p.m. at Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home in Springfield, Mo. A memorial service is planned for March 30 at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Springfield with a graveside service to follow. The daughters plan to honor their parents by wearing African clothing to the funeral and invite others to also wear African clothing, if they feel led.
(EDITOR’S  NOTE – Julie McGowan is public relations manager for the IMB.)

3/19/2018 2:55:49 PM by Julie McGowan, IMB | with 0 comments

Mom’s ‘aha moment’ becomes multiplying outreach ministry

March 19 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

What does it take to reach the nations with the gospel? Ashley Unzicker discovered that a sincere commitment to ethnic diversity and a little bit of everyday evangelism can go a long way.

Contributed photo
Ashley Unzicker displays pictures from The Jesus Storybook Bible to children at a Durham apartment complex. She began by taking things she would do with her children and planning for them on a larger scale at the complex. Anything from story time to water balloons, Unzicker is using this ministry to reach refugees in her area.

On a warm day last year, a few dozen children from around the world played on the lawn of a Durham, N.C., apartment complex, tossing water balloons at one another and giggling with each splash. Their parents watched in amusement. More kids hurried out to join the excitement. Many of those families came to the United States from nations torn by war, persecution or famine. They represent only a small fraction of more than 150,000 refugees in North Carolina’s Triangle region from Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries.
Unzicker saw the swelling crowd of migrants as an opportunity. “Oh my gosh,” she thought, “we could share the gospel right now.”
Unzicker called the group together and began to tell them about the Good News from a chapter in The Jesus Storybook Bible, a book by Sally Lloyd-Jones.
Unzicker’s aha moment – the sudden realization she could tell her foreign-born friends about Jesus on an average summer afternoon – was a turning point for her and the birth of a multiplying ministry.

What had begun as an attempt to increase the ethnic diversity of her friend group, eventually became a weekly outreach ministry to migrants called “The Yard.”
It has grown to include more than 60 regular volunteers and even spun off a similar initiative at another apartment complex.

Ethnic diversity fuels missional outreach

Four years earlier, Unzicker had come away from a conference session on ethnic diversity with a clear conviction.
“Do all of your friends look like you?” the speaker, Trillia Newbell, had asked. “If so, you need to change something.”
Over dinner that night, the answer became obvious to Unzicker. All of her friends were white women in the same stage of life.
“I knew something had to change,” she said.
Her commitment to diversity was sharpened into a missional strategy the following year when she travelled to New York City’s “Little Pakistan” with a church group. The neighborhood is known for its Muslim immigrant and refugee population.
The group’s evangelistic method was simple, and Unzicker began to see how it could fit into everyday life.
“I’m just going to parks here and meeting refugees,” she thought. “Why can’t I do this at home?”
She contacted a local refugee aid agency when she returned to North Carolina.
“I have three kids,” Unzicker told the aid workers. “I’m not able to do much, but I would love to be a friend to a migrant family.”
They connected her with a family of Afghan refugees.
She spent more than a year getting to know the mother of the family, but they eventually moved to another part of the U.S.
Unzicker was saddened to see her friend relocate, but eager to continue reaching out to migrants.
Another friend introduced her to a former Muslim Egyptian woman who regularly visited Syrian refugees living in an apartment complex in Durham.
Unzicker asked if she and her kids could tag along. She wanted to learn more about Middle Eastern culture and make some new friends.
Communicating with Arabic speakers was difficult, but the presence of her children was a surprising benefit.
“My kids became friends with their kids,” she said, “and their kids starting learning English.”
The weekly playdates went so well that Unzicker wanted to have a larger get-together with several families from the apartment complex.
That is when she decided to prepare more than 500 water balloons for an afternoon of fun.

Simple, reproducible ministry

The impromptu gospel-centered storytime that day was a hit, so Unzicker decided to make it a regular feature of their visits.
She also began to recruit volunteers for help with games and lessons. Leaders at The Summit Church lended support to the ministry by providing supplies and helping with volunteer coordination.
A Summit Church leader said they want to be “catalytic” for the ministry. The church dedicated one of its yearly “ServeRDU” projects to Unzicker’s apartment initiative. More than 300 volunteers served immigrants and refugees that week.
The one-on-one connections made at those events foster close relationships between Summit members and migrants. Many migrants feel unwelcome and isolated until they learn the language and find work, according to refugee aid agencies. One volunteer visits a specific family each week, helping them learn English and grow accustomed to life in America. She was also able to help the father secure a job.
“It has been great to see people in the homes of refugees,” Unzicker said.
Another volunteer decided to replicate the outreach in a nearby neighborhood.
Unzicker is excited to see the ministry multiply, and she hopes other churches and Christian groups will think creatively about how to reach the international people groups living in U.S. cities.
It’s doable, she said, even for a mom of three.
“It just takes relocating the everyday activities I already do with my kids, as simple as going to the park.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Seth Brown is content editor for the Biblical Recorder, news journal for North Carolina Baptists, and a member of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s 2018 Leadership Council. This article first appeared at Used by permission.)

3/19/2018 2:47:32 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Object lesson reaps rewards for hurricane relief

March 19 2018 by Sheila Allen, Northwest Baptist Witness

A hands-on Bible lesson took on a life of its own for 10-year-old Dallas Claytor after attending Sunday services with his parents and sister.

The Claytor family all participated in a hurricane fund raising effort after a Sunday sermon on using your talents.

Young Dallas heard pastor Keith Evans of Pathway Church in Gresham, Ore., preach about the parable of the talents. Evans used unmarked envelopes of money to hand out to unsuspecting volunteers during the sermon in denominations of $10, $20 and $50 each. He then asked each recipient to use the money to bless or encourage someone in coming days.
“I got the envelope with $50 in it,” Claytor said. “The pastor wanted us to multiply the money and make God proud. I was shocked.”
Pamela and Erick Claytor, the boy’s parents, realized it was the first time he had seen a $50 bill.
“We were left on our own to make a decision about what to do with the money,” Claytor said. “Our family talked about it and I knew about Hurricane Harvey and heard about people that were killed and whose houses had flooded. So we came up with the idea to raise money for that.”
The fourth grader set about his project with an entrepreneurial spirit that he had used in other fundraising efforts for school and sporting events.
“I like candy and have sold things at my school,” Claytor said. “All people like candy, so we went to Cash and Carry and spent $50 all at once on an assortment of Hershey bars. My sister Aspen and I made labels that my dad copied for me and we glued them on each candy bar.”
The labels had such monikers as “We’re praying for Texas,” and Claytor decided to sell each candy bar for $2. He and his parents first went door to door in his neighborhood, explaining at every home what he was doing and why. They found people generous, with some giving extra to the effort. The young man then encouraged fellow Pathway attenders to join his mission to help those left in the wake of the hurricane.
“I asked if I could set up a table in our church lobby and then made a poster with pictures of the hurricane damage to sell the rest of the candy,” Claytor said. “I was able to bring in $690, which much more than doubled the money I was given.”
In an effort to encourage those in the flood-torn region, Claytor wanted to write notes to accompany a case of the chocolate bars and send them to relief workers or those affected by the storm in Texas. He mentioned the effort to his school teacher, who loved the idea and incorporated the notes into a writing assignment for each of his classmates.
Because of their years at Pathway Church, the Claytor family was familiar with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the efforts of disaster relief volunteers across the nation, so they chose to send the money, notes and candy bars to NAMB offices in Alpharetta, Ga. Claytor included a letter explaining his project and the sermon that inspired it.
“Dallas actually received a phone call from a representative from NAMB, but he was at school, so didn’t get to talk to them, but they let us know they received it and would pass it on,” Pamela Claytor said.
Northwest Disaster Relief volunteer James Sanders of Springfield, Ore., was one of five northwesterners who served the residents of Vidor, Texas, for more than three weeks at a mobile kitchen set up in the parking lot of First Baptist Church, Vidor.
“The second Sunday we were there, the staff member who was preaching made the presentation to the church of the box of candy bars and the money that the 10-year-old from Pathway Church raised to invest for the cause of missions and the gospel,” Sanders said. “It was both a proud and humble moment for us Northwest folks. God was glorified and that young man was praised for his heart and ingenuity.”
Claytor’s original goal was to raise $200 and he has been surprised that others who live thousands of miles from Oregon would hear his story.
“This has been fun to do as a family and experience missional living together,” Pamela Claytor said. “The kids could understand the concept of what we were doing, because it was physically something they could do.”
Claytor said, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up and help heal people like God does.”
“I have learned that people are very generous and care about others who are hurting,” he said. “They seem to want to help and encourage others who were affected during the hurricane.”
For more information on how you can help with disaster relief efforts, contact your state convention or go to
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sheila Allen is managing editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness,, news journal of the Northwest Baptist Convention.)

3/19/2018 10:36:58 AM by Sheila Allen, Northwest Baptist Witness | with 0 comments

Embezzlement ordeal leaves church ‘anxious to move on’

March 19 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Days before its former treasurer faces arraignment in the alleged embezzlement of more than $300,000 from the congregation, Antioch Baptist Church, Hannibal, Mo., remains focused on ministry, pastor Jack Emmite told Baptist Press (BP) March 16.
“[We’re] just anxious to move on with what the Lord has for us to be doing,” Emmite said. “We’re trying to just stay focused on doing ministry right now.”
Donald R. White, 68, of Hannibal was arrested March 9 on two federal counts of wire fraud “in connection with the theft of monies in excess of $300,000 dollars from the parishioners of the Antioch Baptist Church,” Ralls County Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie announced in a press release. White was transferred to St. Louis for incarceration, the sheriff said.
White is expected to face arraignment March 19, Emmite said, in the case that stemmed from a suspicious fire that destroyed the church building days before Christmas of 2016. Church members suspected White “of being involved with the large scale theft of church funds just prior to the fire,” the sheriff’s office said in its press release.
Antioch Baptist is rebuilding its church facility while worshipping in a Seventh Day Adventist congregation’s building in Hannibal on Sundays, Emmite said.
“We’ve been through a lot, obviously with this and the fire,” Emmite told BP. “But the church is anxious to get into our new facility we’re in the process of rebuilding, and we’re really, really trying to focus on that.
“Of course all of this is still ongoing,” Emmite said, “so we’re not finished with this I’m sure.”
Volunteer construction teams from Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri and possibly other states will help the church rebuild in June on a foundation expected to be in place by May, Emmite said.
“We anticipate by possibly fall or winter we could be in the building,” Emmite said. The church was founded in 1870 and had been rebuilt in 1966. With 200 resident members, the church attracted about 60-75 to Sunday morning worship services as recently as 2017, according to the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Annual Church Profile.
White had served as volunteer treasurer since at least 2000 and deacon chairman since 2012, according to SBC data. The Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service and the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office assisted the Ralls County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation, the sheriff’s office said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

3/19/2018 10:04:43 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Hemphill unveils campaign website backed by Louisiana Baptists

March 16 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

An organized campaign is underway to elect Ken Hemphill for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), including a website, social media accounts and promotional content backed by the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC).

Image captured from

The site,, includes articles about his upcoming nomination, podcast episodes featuring Hemphill and a series of video interviews hosted by a Vimeo account owned by the LBC.
Hemphill told the Biblical Recorder that he began working on content for the site soon after his candidacy was announced. Students from North Greenville University, where Hemphill serves as an administrator, filmed and produced the video interviews. LBC Communications Director John Kyle created the website, which is stored on LBC internet servers.
David Hankins, LBC executive director, said “a number of people” have been involved in the website’s development.
“Our communications team gave counsel. We have a lot of people writing articles, a wide ranging group of people,” he told the Recorder in a phone interview.
“We are glad to host the website because we believe it is in the best interest of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and we are excited about the opportunity for people to know Ken Hemphill and how he can lead us as the next president.”
Hankins declined to name other individuals involved in the campaign, but he said some have already made on-record endorsements and more names will be made public in the future.
When asked if voter mobilization or other campaign efforts were underway, Hemphill said he is “coordinating hearing sessions” with pastors in Tennessee and other regions. Some Southern Baptists have contacted him “spontaneously” to ask questions about his candidacy and other issues, he said.
Asked why he believes a direct promotional effort is necessary, Hemphill said, “I am deeply passionate about the Southern Baptist Convention ... and I felt like this may give me an opportunity – even if it’s short-lived, just four or five months, whatever God has in store – to really talk about some things that are a concern to me.” He named a decline in Cooperative Program giving, both in dollars and percentages, as one of those concerns and said his focus is “revitalizing our denominational partnerships.”
Some Southern Baptists have questioned the propriety of both an open campaign for SBC president and direct support for such an effort by a state convention.
Hemphill objected to the perception of formal electioneering.
“I wasn’t trying to run a campaign,” he said. “I was trying to communicate some values that I think are important. ... and how to communicate these convictions in the broadest method.”
Hankins called the effort a “grassroots campaign where rank-and-file Southern Baptists are trying to exercise their opportunity and duty to shape their convention.”
Hemphill’s forthcoming nomination was announced Feb. 1 by an unnamed “group of distinguished Southern Baptists,” according to a news report from Louisiana’s Baptist Message.

3/16/2018 2:58:15 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

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