May 2011

Now, ‘We’re just a church without walls’

May 6 2011 by Lindsey Robinson, Baptist Press

PRATT CITY, Ala. — The super cell storm that ripped through Tuscaloosa and other Alabama communities battered Bethel Baptist Church in Pratt City.

The church had closed at 1:30 p.m. April 27, letting preschool classes out early and canceling Bible study for the first time anyone could remember. The storm system came through shortly after 6 p.m.

Winds of at least 140 miles an hour tore the roof off the gymnasium and sanctuary and threw a church van into a ravine. The church’s daycare and offices also were demolished. In a phone interview, pastor T.S. Lewis said his goal was first to rebuild the community, then work on the church damage.

“We’re still our church. We’re just a church without walls,” Lewis said.

Photo by Lindsey Robinson

Volunteers from Bethel Baptist Church in Pratt City, Ala., moved tables and chairs to a relief center at a local elementary school even though their own building sustained massive damage in the April 27 onslaught across the state.


Volunteers from Bethel Baptist arrived at 7 a.m. the next day to move tables and chairs to a relief center at Scott Elementary School on Hibernian Street. The center had a generator, and although people couldn’t sleep there, Lewis said they were providing food, clothes, shoes and transportation.

“While they’re now homeless, we’re going to make sure they’re not hopeless,” the pastor said.

In the first two days after the storm, cleanup crews looked for membership records, tax files and any scrap of the church’s 114-year history they could salvage, deacon Lee Anderson said. Bethel Baptist was rebuilt in 1990 on the same lot, but the first church was established in 1897.

Like many members who helped clean up Friday, Anderson was too grateful for how he and his loved ones survived the storm to be overwhelmed by the loss of the church building. “You don’t sorrow over what happened,” Anderson said. “You pick yourself up and thank God you’re alive.”

Though most of the church was reduced to piles of bricks and wooden beams, some rooms looked untouched. In the kitchen downstairs, plastic forks never moved from their holders and serving spoons and tea pitchers hung undisturbed over the stove throughout the storm.

About 350 troops from the National Guard patrolled Pratt City after the storm for security and support. Police roadblocks on Highway 78 prevented people from bringing their cars into town, so people parked on the sides of the street and in abandoned parking lots and walked to their homes.

In the wildest moments of the storm, Bethel Baptist members Rhonda Reed and Shelisa Spencer said the only sound they heard was a long, deafening train whistle. After the storm, there was an unreal silence, then the smell of gas.

The natural gas leaks were so powerful in Pratt City that police pulled families out of their homes the day after the storm so they could breathe slightly fresher air, Reed said.

The next day, people wandered in the streets looking for their belongings, disoriented because the storm uprooted street signs and leveled homes. An apartment complex next to Bethel Baptist lost its second floor.

Spencer, 20, attended Bethel Baptist her entire life. “As soon as I saw the church, I just broke down,” she said. “I broke down.”

Despite the damage to the church and neighborhood, the Bethel Baptist family has remained intact. The church planned to meet for Sunday worship in the Fair Park Arena in nearby Birmingham.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — View an e-edition of The Alabama Baptist with extensive tornado coverage at online.thealabamabaptist.org. For information about donations to Alabama Baptists’ disaster relief efforts, go to http://www.alsbom.org/feature3. Donations to disaster relief can be made to state conventions, or directly to the North American Mission Board’s disaster relief fund, at NAMB.net, or by calling 1-866-407-NAMB (6262). A $10 donation can be made by texting “NAMBDR” to the number “40579.”)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)

Related story
Pastor, family endure tornado at church
5/6/2011 8:37:00 AM by Lindsey Robinson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Pastor, family endure tornado at church

May 6 2011 by Neisha Fuson, Baptist Press

CULLMAN, Ala. — “They’re coming here to grieve,” said Ken Allen, pastor of East Side Baptist Church in Cullman, Ala.

Current and former members of East Side Baptist — some who even remember it being built in 1955 — came back to see the rubble that was left after the EF4 tornado bulldozed through the city April 27.

At the church, where Allen has served as pastor for eight years, the tornado leveled the sanctuary, damaged the Sunday School area and severely damaged the church’s gymnasium. It also damaged the building where Cullman Christian Elementary School meets.

Communication was difficult since phone and power lines were down.

Photo by Neisha Fuson

At East Side Baptist Church in Cullman, Ala., a tornado took down the entire sanctuary, damaged the Sunday School area and severely damaged the church’s gymnasium. It also damaged the building where Cullman Christian Elementary School meets.


Allen stayed at the church all day April 28 to be pastor to the people gathering there. But the comforting was going both ways.

Many were reaching out to the Allen family, who had survived the storms in the church building.

Allen and his wife Sandra, their four children, East Side’s secretary and son and three church neighbors were huddled in the lower level of the church, beneath the stairwells, as the tornado was closing in on the Cullman area.

Allen recalled the events of the afternoon: He asked Sandra to pray aloud for the group. She prayed fervently.

Allen was checking his computer for updates and eventually went to check the front of the church when he saw debris swirling from the tornado in the distance. At that point he told everyone to get down and get as far back in the corner as they could.

“God have mercy on us” flowed from Allen’s mouth as he made his way down the stairwell to his family.

The tornado came over the church, shattering glass and ripping away walls and the roof. But the group was unharmed.

They slowly made their way out the front doorway (the doors were gone) and saw something “very different than what it was before.”

Shocked by the condition of the area but humbled by God’s grace and protection, Sandra was thankful.

“What good is your faith if you can’t weather the storm?” Sandra said.

Her daughters — Haley, 17, and Abby, 12 — who had been sitting next to her in the stairwell agreed.

“I was shocked and scared,” Abby said. “But God protected us.”

Sandra reminded the girls and herself that God doesn’t always protect in the same way. “When you see His hand of protection (like this),” Sandra said, “you can trust Him even when He lifts (His hand).”

Allen was pastor at Concord Highlands Baptist Church near Hueytown, Ala., when it was hit by an EF5 tornado in 1998. The small town of Concord again was hit in this round of storms as a large tornado sliced through the community and heavily damaged Concord Highlands once again.

As Allen thought back over the previous 24 hours that were “hazy” and the events that had occurred 12 years ago, the only thing he could clearly think to do was praise the Lord. “Praise Him with us,” Allen said. “It’s easy to praise Him when the budget is fine and members are regularly attending, but what about when you’re not sure you have enough insurance to cover the damage or enough water to get you through the week?”

All of East Side’s members were accounted for by the morning of April 28, and none were injured or had severe home damage.

Randy Makemson, director of missions for East Cullman Baptist Association, confirmed that East Side Baptist was the only church in the association with damage.

Photo by Neisha Fuson

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley shook hands with Annette Parker of Hanceville, who was on the scene to help at First Baptist Church in Cullman, Ala., following the deadly tornadoes.


Noting that East Side Baptist will have services at Christ Covenant Church in Cullman, Allen said, “The Cullman community is really stepping up.”

Ed Hayes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cullman for nearly 28 years, would agree. Several people helped clean up debris around First Baptist Cullman after the same tornado ripped through downtown where the church sits.

The force of the tornado tore a large hole in the gymnasium roof, lifted one third of the sanctuary’s roof off, and destroyed a large section of the Sunday School and children’s area. Built in 1951, the sanctuary had beautifully intricate stained glass windows, several of which were torn to the ground and mangled into a mess on the sanctuary floor.

The sanctuary was left unusable, but the gymnasium is reparable and was the planned location for upcoming worship services.

Jim O’Dillon, associate pastor for education and outreach at First Baptist Cullman, was still at the church when the tornado hit even though his wife had insisted on him returning home.

He was “Mr. Stubborn,” he said, and was finishing up the last two verses of a Sunday School study he was planning.

“I felt the wind get pulled out of me,” O’Dillon said, “... and then I heard the windows shatter.”

First Baptist Cullman had no member reports of fatalities or injuries in the immediate aftermath. Numerous families were without gas and power. Cullman was without a local supplier for gas, so the outage was expected to last several days. Cell phones also were “going in and out,” making communication difficult.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Fuson writes for The Alabama Baptist. View an e-edition of The Alabama Baptist with extensive tornado coverage at online.thealabamabaptist.org. For information about donations to Alabama Baptists’ disaster relief efforts, go to http://www.alsbom.org/feature3. Donations to disaster relief can be made to state conventions, or directly to the North American Mission Board’s disaster relief fund, at NAMB.net, or by calling 1-866-407-NAMB (6262). A $10 donation can be made by texting “NAMBDR” to the number “40579.”)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)

Related story
Now, Were just a church without walls
5/6/2011 8:24:00 AM by Neisha Fuson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



After bin Laden, ‘a grace mission’ continues

May 6 2011 by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press

LONDON — The diversity of comments following the death of Osama bin Laden was evident on most any Facebook news feed. Some pitied him.

Some cheered for the shots fired. “This is a great moment for every American,” one noted.

But Greg Turner* winces at the thought.

“I confess mixed feelings,” said Turner, a Christian leader in Central Asia. “On the one hand, there is no doubt that Osama bin Laden was a wicked man, and there is no injustice in what happened to him.”

But God says in Ezekiel 18:23 that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, Turner added.

“If God takes no pleasure in this, then we can commend the justice of bin Laden’s death, but we should never gloat about it,” he said. “Walk wisely, brothers and sisters, and take every opportunity to share Jesus with those on their way toward destruction.”

Drew Carson*, a Christian leader among the peoples of Northern Africa and the Middle East, said Christians can respond in a way that makes clear who they are.

“As people of (God’s) Kingdom, our responsibility is not to respond like a human being but to respond with a Kingdom response,” Carson said. “That way, we won’t just see the moment, but through the moment to the real issue.”

The real issue involves mission, Carson said.

“We should advocate for justice, but we are not on a justice mission. We are on a grace mission. What we do and who we are is from a whole different perspective,” Carson said. “None of us deserves grace, but He’s giving it and wants to give it through our lives.”

It’s not that the military can’t respond in carrying out justice — Romans 13 says the government has the power of the sword, Carson said. “As followers of Christ we want people to have justice, but our job is more the grace job.”

Natalie Shepherd* takes that job seriously. She prayed for 10 years for bin Laden’s salvation.

“Today I still carry a picture inside my Bible of another top terrorist wanted by the United States government,” said Shepherd, a Christian worker in the Middle East. “His photograph reminds me to pray for his salvation and the salvation of his family. And when I look at him, I am reminded that God excels in doing what seems impossible to me. His face reminds me that my God is full of immeasurable grace, delighting to bring even the hardest of earthly criminals into His sheepfold even today.”

Saul is the perfect example of that, she said, explaining that if God transformed Saul into Paul — who reached much of his part of the world with the Gospel in his day — He could transform others for the same purpose.

“I challenge followers of Jesus to pray and fast for the salvation of people like Osama bin Laden who are still alive today so that if and when we hear of their deaths, we won’t party because justice was done but because grace triumphed,” Shepherd said.

*Names have been changed.  

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Thomas is an International Mission Board writer/editor based in Europe.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/6/2011 8:18:00 AM by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Embrace event speaks about pictures, promises

May 5 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

“God is faithful to His promises, not to our pictures. We have a tendency to paint pictures that interpret His promises — imaginations gone wild — daydreams — snapshots of what the fulfillment of God’s promises look like. God was showing me the difference between begging Him for the ‘picture’ and instead trusting Him for the ‘promise.’”

Wise words, yes. But they were not penned in haste. Leighann McCoy, prayer and women’s minister at Thompson Station Church in Tennessee where her husband is pastor, posted these thoughts to her blog after a season of trials and pain.

McCoy, speaker for the recent Embrace Women’s Ministries leadership training event at Apex Baptist Church, found out last year she had colon cancer. Exactly two months later the church building was damaged from a flood. One month later she found out that her 18-year-old daughter (the daughter who only needed to be disciplined once by her parents as a teenager) was pregnant and moving into an apartment with her boyfriend.

All this came around the same time she agreed to write a book for Bethany House Publishers about spiritual warfare. As she learned, believers don’t need to go looking for a battle. The enemy brings the battles home.

Photo by Alexandra King

Dondra Johnston, right, works on making a bracelet with a resident at Rex Rehab and Nursing Home in Apex. This outreach was part of a recent Embrace training event.


McCoy shared with those gathered for the Embrace event that through the trials she learned what it means to be given a picture from God, and what it means to trust God even when the circumstances give no indication that the picture will ever be complete.

For example, for many years the picture for Abraham and Sarah was one of inability to have children; not quite what Abraham expected after being promised he would be the father of many nations. Jacob was also promised numerous descendants, yet there comes a moment in his life when he fears for his life as his brother assembles an army against him. Joseph dreamed of his brothers bowing down to him — and still he finds himself in a pit and in a prison.

She encouraged believers to focus on God’s promises, trust Him to finish the picture in His timing, and avoid trying to accomplish God’s plan for their life on their own.

When believers start thinking God has not answered soon enough, they take matters into their own hands. As they try to orchestrate situations to bring about certain outcomes, essentially they are telling God that He “needs a little help getting His own glory,” McCoy said.

McCoy admitted she often struggled with God’s sovereignty in her life. “I was mapping out the plan and telling Him what to do,” McCoy said. “I felt like a giant bigger than God was on my battlefield.”

McCoy also found herself, for perhaps the first time, fearing something more than God. “Many Christians fear Satan more than God,” she said. “That which you fear most becomes a god to you. I had allowed my fear of the enemy to supersede my worship of God.”

As she struggled with her first crisis of belief in 46 years of being a Christian, McCoy learned God was doing some pruning.

And although that pruning produced cutting and bleeding, she came closer and closer to the vine, letting her roots grow deeper. “I know there’s going to be fruit,” she said.

“It will come in due season. God is going to complete the picture that He began in you.”

As one who has been in full time vocational ministry for many years, McCoy knows what it’s like to get into “autopilot.”

She challenged women to follow through on 1 Thess. 4:1, the theme verse of the weekend, seeking to grow more and more in the Lord and continuing to excel in the work in which He has called them. McCoy reminded women of Mark 4:35-41 and how terrified the disciples were during the storm on the sea.

Although Jesus was with them in the boat they doubted His concern for them. They forgot that Jesus was sovereign over all things and before getting into the boat had said, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.”

“If Jesus has told you you’re going to the other side, then there’s not a storm in this world that can drown you before you get there,” McCoy said.

Visit www.embrace.org.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/5/2011 7:52:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Until 1950s, KJV was ‘the Bible’

May 5 2011 by By Erin Roach, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The King James Version of the Bible, first published 400 years ago on May 5, 1611, is the Bible God used to give believers many of the riches of the Puritan movement, and it was the Bible at the heart of the Great Awakenings of the 18th century and the modern missionary movement, an expert noted.

“Until the 1950s, the King James Bible was ‘the Bible.’ It’s the version that English-speaking Christians used,” Michael Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press.

“People like John Wesley and George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards would all have used this version in their preaching. When the modern missionary movement begins with people like William Carey and Hudson Taylor and David Livingstone, this again is the Bible that’s used through the 19th century,” Haykin said. “It’s the Bible Charles Spurgeon would have preached from, and so on.”

Into the vernacular
A key thrust of the Reformation was to get the Bible to the people, which required translating it into the vernacular, the speech that people were using, instead of leaving the Bible in Latin, Haykin said.

“There’s a massive amount of translation activity going on between the 1520s and 1611, and the King James Bible is the crowning achievement of this long period of 80 years of translation into English,” he said. “The goal of that translation is to give the common reader an understanding of the Word of God.

“Now, in places, obviously, they try to be true to the text, and if the text is difficult to understand, then there are going to be challenges in understanding sometimes the theology of the Bible. But the goal is always to give the Scriptures to the people.”

Photo by Art Toalston

The King James Version of the Bible was “the Bible” for English-speaking Christians, as professor Michael Haykin describes it, from the date it was published 400 years ago -- on May 5, 1611 -- into the 1950s.


As the translators worked, Haykin said they were aware that a saving knowledge of God, which is given through the Bible, was something that promoted the spiritual health of individuals but also would have a deep impact upon society.

“I would seriously doubt that any of the people involved in the Bible translation of the 16th century felt that significant numbers of people who are English-speaking knowing the Scriptures would have a harmful effect upon their culture,” he said. “One of the ways in which they could build a solid culture and society was through a knowledge of the Scriptures. That’s one of the manifest aims.

“In the preface to the translation of the Scriptures, the man who wrote the preface, which is not always printed with the King James Version, a man named Miles Smith, who was actually a Puritan, he mentions that it was zeal for the common good that drove them.”  

King James in literature
The King James Version is the most important piece of literature in the West in the past 500 years, profoundly shaping language and thought, Haykin said. The English language is peppered with phrases that come from the KJV, and from the 1650s onward, poets such as Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Blake and T.S. Eliot and secular authors including Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens were influenced by that particular translation.

“The King James Version is the Bible that they would have heard if they ever went to church, and because these are people who make their living by using words and arranging words for poetry and novels, those patterns of speech in the King James Version are unconsciously picked up in their writings,” Haykin said.

“So when you’re reading through their writings, you hear echoes, the way they construct language, because the King James Version attempts to follow the syntax of the Greek and Hebrew. So in many ways it actually shapes the English language, how we speak English.”

Without knowledge of the King James Version, it’s difficult to understand the type of language that was used in English literature from the late 17th century through the mid-20th century, Haykin said.

“Even authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald who are manifestly opposed to the theology of the King James Version – the Bible and Christianity and biblical religion – are shaped by it because there is so much public speech,” he said, adding that some believe Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Winston Churchill’s notable World War II speeches would not have existed on one level apart from the King James Version.  

King James only controversy
In the 20th century, what is known as the King James Only controversy arose when some believers maintained that the King James Version was the inspired version of the Bible and no other version should be used. All other versions, as one author said, were considered “perverse.”

“The debate obviously turns on two things. One is the issue of the actual translation. The other issue has to do with the underlying text,” Haykin said. “There are problems on both levels. The King James Version that a person picks up today and buys today is not the exact version that was published in 1611. There have been modifications and changes to it.

“In the 1760s, which is probably the heaviest era of modifications and changes, there are somewhere around 24,000 changes that are made to the actual King James Version that was published in 1611,” he said.

Those changes consisted of the addition of commas, italicization and changes of singulars to plurals, but the text was essentially the same.

“So which version are we talking about when we’re talking about the King James Version? Are we talking about the 1611? Nobody uses that today,” Haykin said. “Or are we talking about the version that was established in the 1760s by two men (Francis Sawyer) Parris and (Benjamin) Blayney? In fact, Benjamin Blayney probably is the man who establishes the text for the King James Version for today. So there’s that.

“But normally the King James Version supporters argue from the basis of the underlying Greek and Hebrew. The problem with that argument is that today we have about 5,300 copies or portions of copies of the Greek New Testament, for example, and 800 copies of the Hebrew Old Testament, or portions.

“And the King James Version translators probably had about 25 copies of the Greek New Testament along with a printed edition that they were using, which had about six or seven,” he said. “They had access realistically to about 30 copies or portions of copies of the Greek New Testament. We have 5,300. The textual basis of any recent English translation, he said, “is a much better textual basis than the King James Version.”

Subsequent translations
In the 1950s, significant calls to revise the King James Version arose because its language increasingly was not the language people were speaking. The Revised Standard Version was released in the 1950s, but Haykin said that didn’t catch on among evangelicals because several liberal theologians were part of the translation process and evangelicals found certain segments of the new version objectionable.

The ESV, Haykin said, is probably the key Bible today that is in the King James Version tradition. Another is the New American Standard Version, which was published first in the 1970s as a revision of the American Standard Version published in 1901.

“The American Standard Version was a revision of the King James. So the New American Standard, then, is a revision of a revision of the King James,” he said. Neither the New International Version nor the Holman Christian Standard Bible are part of that tradition.

King James still relevant
Haykin believes it’s the duty of every Christ follower to know at least something of their history as Christians, and he said familiarity with the King James Version is helpful in understanding Christian English-speaking church history for the past 500 years.

“In my own case, for example, when I was converted, my future mother-in-law gave me a King James,” Haykin said. “I had never had a Bible before then, really. So for about four or five years, all I used was the King James Version. That was enormously helpful to me because I’m a church historian and I’ve spent my life reading texts that have been shaped by the King James. So that was very, very helpful to me that for about four or five years the Bible that I used was the KJV.

“Failure to know the King James means that if you’re studying the history of the church, a lot of the allusions to the Bible – not the exact quotes, but the allusions and the echoes – you’ll miss them because you don’t know the King James Version.”

Furthermore, Southern Baptists should realize that when the first Baptist church in the South, First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C., was planted in 1682, the Bible they used was the King James Version.

“So the Bible of our grandparents was this version, and it shaped their lives. Therefore, it’s important to honor, I think, God’s use of this Bible and to remember it and celebrate it,” Haykin said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)

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5/5/2011 6:33:00 AM by By Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Poll: 400 years later, KJV Bible still popular

May 5 2011 by David Roach, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Four hundred years after it debuted as the first widely distributed Bible for the English-speaking world, the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible still holds a place of distinction among Americans, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research.

The poll, conducted to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, found that more than half of all American adults (62 percent) own a KJV Bible.

Among those who read the Bible regularly the percentage of KJV owners is even higher. A full 82 percent of Americans who read the Bible at least once a month own a KJV. Sixty-seven percent of American adults who own a Bible have a KJV.

Published in 1611 under the direction of England’s King James I, the KJV has wielded significant influence over both religion and language among English speakers, generating now-common phrases such as “fight the good fight,” “reap the whirlwind” and “feet of clay.”

“Christians believe that God’s Word is truth and that truth is conveyed through language –thus translations have always been integral to the spread of Christianity,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “It is hard to overstate the influence of the KJV not just on language and idioms, but because it brought the Word of God to English-speaking peoples in the first widely available format.”

When asked to indicate whether five specific statements had been their experience with the KJV, many Americans responded positively to: “I have found the language to be beautiful” (31 percent) and “I have found the language to be easy to remember” (23 percent).

The experience of some is less complimentary, responding, “I have found the language to be hard to understand” (27 percent) and “I have found the language to be outdated” (16 percent).

More than a quarter of adult Americans (27 percent) indicate they have never read the KJV for themselves. An additional 4 percent did not feel any of the statements matched their experience and 4 percent “don’t know.”

Women are more likely than men to own a KJV, with 72 percent of women who own a Bible having a KJV copy compared with 62 percent of men.

Age is also a significant factor related to KJV ownership. While 76 percent of Americans 55 years and older who own a Bible have a KJV, 67 percent of those ages 35 to 54 own a copy. For those under 35 years old, the percentage owning a copy drops to 56 percent.

Younger Americans also have less experience reading the KJV. Thirty-five percent of those under 35 have never read a KJV. Twenty-nine percent of those between 35 and 54 have never read a KJV along with 19 percent of those 55 and older.

However, the lower readership among young Americans does not seem to indicate that they have more difficulty understanding the language than their older counterparts. Only 21 percent of those under 35 say they find the language “hard to understand,” compared with 31 percent ages 35 to 54 who say the same and 28 percent 55 and older.

Readers of all generations find the KJV’s language beautiful. However, Americans in the South are more likely to say they “have found the language to be beautiful” (44 percent).

Owning and reading the Bible

When all translations are included, 89 percent of American households own at least one Bible, with the average household owning 4.1 Bibles.

Yet there is a significant gap in Bible ownership between those who read the Scriptures regularly and those who do not. Americans who read the Bible at least once a month own an average of 5.8 Bibles while those who read it less than once a month own an average of 2.2.

Women own an average of 4.7 Bibles compared with 3.6 for men.

Approximately half of all adult Americans (53 percent) indicate they personally read the Bible once a month or more. There are fewer non-Bible readers ages 55 and older than in any other age group. Eighteen percent of those age 55 and older never read the Bible, whereas 26 percent of Americans 35 to 54 and 28 percent of those under 35 never read it.

Women are more likely than men to be Bible readers, with 60 percent of women and 46 percent of men reading the Bible once a month or more.

“The power and inherent truth of Scripture comes from having God as its author,” McConnell said. “One’s willingness to engage the Bible determines its effect upon a life. Numerically, Bible ownership is similar to the percentage of Americans who indicate they are Christian. But owning a Bible and reading it are two different things.”

The survey was based on 1,004 telephone interviews conducted March 2-6.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is a pastor and writer in Shelbyville, Ky.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)

Related stories
Until 1950s, KJV was the Bible
340 million still need Bible translated
Professor: KJV has strengths others lack
How the King James Bible was born
5/5/2011 6:03:00 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



340 million still need Bible translated

May 5 2011 by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press

LONDON – Every Sunday, Vicar Gary Jenkins parts the pages of his Bible and preaches the Word to the parishioners of Holy Trinity Church in Redhill, United Kingdom.

In the United States, the King James Version of the Bible elicits mixed emotions from Christians, all the way from extreme loyalty to distaste. But in British cathedrals like Holy Trinity, it has special meaning Americans might not fully grasp.

Four hundred years ago, it was the Gospel brought to the British people in their heart language widely for the first time.

“It was devised to be read by churches in both England and Scotland,” said Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum. “It is one of the first things made by the whole island to be used by the whole island.”

And the whole island – churches, organizations, even the BBC – is celebrating the 400th anniversary with a year long slate of events.

A young Masai man proudly shows a copy of the Bible in his own language. Four centuries ago this year, the King James translation of the Bible opened the Scriptures to English-speaking people. Translations in other languages followed. Yet today, 380 million people across the world still have not received Scripture in their own language.


“Undoubtedly the Authorized (King James) Version has had a huge impact on the life of the nation, shaping our culture and even the language itself,” Jenkins said. “But even more importantly, this celebration gives the churches a great opportunity to convey the living Word of God afresh to a nation where there is now so much ignorance of Scripture.”

And, he said, it gives his church the chance to focus on the looming need worldwide – the “islands” that, 400 years after the KJV, still need the Bible in their own languages.

The need is about 340 million people speaking 2,078 languages, to be exact. These hundreds of millions of people don’t even have Bible translation programs started in their languages, according to Wycliffe Bible Translators.

That’s why Andrew Lancaster*, who has a degree in Bible translation and is headed to serve overseas, has a passion to see the need met.

“Why is it that there are now hundreds of English translations of the Bible, yet more than 2,000 languages of the world do not even have one word of it? English versions are produced left and right while thousands are dying without having ever had access to the Word of God,” Lancaster said.

Something needs to be done about this injustice, he said.

“If the efforts spent toward new English versions were redirected to translating Scripture into languages that have nothing, imagine what could be accomplished,” Lancaster said. “There are people who would pay a month’s wages, sell all they have or go to any number of extreme measures to experience the luxury of owning even one Bible in their language.”

Bob Creson, president and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, said the task of translation is urgent.

“We are committed to providing access to the Good News of the Gospel for all peoples as rapidly as we can,” Creson said. “We feel an urgency to make Scripture available sooner rather than later, so that millions will not pass into eternity without ever knowing God. Bible translation is a means for God’s Word to transform lives, and unlike ever before, it is possible that in this generation people from every tribe, tongue and nation will be reached in their own language.”

The biggest need lies in Sub-Saharan Africa, Papua New Guinea and Asia, according to Wycliffe.

“Learn about the needs of this world,” Lancaster said. “Learn about the people groups without the Word of God.”

Four hundred years ago, the King James Version translators saw the British people’s need and met it. Why? The translators wrote to the reader that “translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light, that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel.”

So many more are waiting for illumination, Lancaster said. “Pray for those without Bibles and for those involved with getting Bibles to them. Give your life in some capacity to seeing this work accomplished.”

*Name has been changed.

(EDITOR'S NOTE — Ava Thomas is an International Mission Board writer/editor based in London.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)

Related stories
Until 1950s, KJV was the Bible
Poll: 400 years later, KJV Bible still popular
How the King James Bible was born
Professor: KJV has strengths others lack
5/5/2011 5:58:00 AM by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



BSC, BCH, BR take home BCA awards

May 4 2011 by BR staff

The Baptist Communicators Association announced the winners of its annual W.C. Fields awards competition at an April 29 banquet in Alpharetta, Ga.

Among the winners were employees of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) and Biblical Recorder.

The awards competition is named in honor of Fields, chief public relations officer for the SBC Executive Committee from 1959-87. The three-day gathering provides professional development opportunities for communications professionals with Southern Baptist entities, universities and churches.

Among the seven grand prizes, two went to N.C. Baptist contenders.

K Brown, BSC director of photography, won the M.E. Dodd Memorial Award for radio, television, film and video, named in memory of the pastor of First Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., who was a pioneer in radio ministry. His project was titled “Clean Water for Bihar, India.”

Dianna L. Cagle, assistant managing editor for the Biblical Recorder, received the Frank Burkhalter Award for newswriting, named in honor of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first publicity director for the Cooperative Program and longtime professor of journalism at Baylor University. Cagle won for “Closing Churches,” a package of stories that ran March 27, 2010. 

Of the seven categories, there were N.C. winners in four of them:
  • Audio-Visual Communications Division — Brown won two first place awards, one for a feature production less than 15 minutes and another for a promotional video. Each was about “Clean Water for Bihar, India.”
  • Photography Division — Brown won two awards in this division. His “By the Light” single image won first place for “Other Media — Print.” His “First Taste” single image won second place in “Other Media — Electronic.”
  • News Writing Division — Cagle won first place in “Series or Package” for newpapers for her “Closing Churches.” Jim Edminson, editor of Charity & Children for BCH, won second place for his first-person column “Paw Paw Loved the Saints.”
  • Design Division — Carly Conley, a BSC graphic designer, won first place in promotion and advertising for her “2011 Cooperative Program Calendar.” Edminson also received a first place award in “General Design and Illustration” for his quasquicentennial logo for BCH.
There were three honorable mentions in the design category:
  • Edminson for his quasquicentennial mascot logo.
  • Leslie Crane, BSC senior graphic designer for her Bible drill brochure.
  • Crane again for “Praying Toward His Passion” a direct mail piece.
The participants were judged in seven categories. The complete list of winners is available at www.baptistcommunicators.org/awards/2011.pdf.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/4/2011 1:07:00 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



Update: N.C. Baptist blogger issues apologies

May 4 2011 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A prominent North Carolina pastor-blogger has issued two apologies: “An Apology to SBC Leaders” and “An Apology to SBC Reformed Pastors.” Les Puryear, pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Clemmons, posted his apology to SBC leaders on his blog on April 28, stating simply:

“On April 14, I wrote a post which condemned SBC leaders for what I viewed to be as their hypocrisy. After much prayer and pondering, I have concluded that my position was extreme and wrong. Thus, for my remarks, which I have removed from this blog, I humbly apologize, repent, and ask forgiveness from SBC leaders.”

On April 27, Puryear devoted two paragraphs to his apology to SBC Reformed pastors:

“On April 15, I wrote a post which concluded that Reformed Baptists should leave the SBC. After much prayer and pondering, I have concluded that my position was extreme and wrong. Thus, for my remarks, which I have removed from this blog, I humbly apologize, repent, and ask forgiveness from Reformed pastors in the SBC.

“Although I do not hold to the biblical interpretations of Reformed pastors, I believe it is possible for us to work together to reach the lost for Jesus Christ. It is my wish to cooperate with and work beside those Reformed pastors who have the same desire. Though we differ in theology, we have the same Lord and the same Spirit and Christ has commanded us to love one another. In obedience to His command, I humbly offer this apology to make peace with those whom I may have besmirched with my previous post.”

Pastor-blogger Dave Miller of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, responded to Puryear at a blog site he shares with several others:

“I appreciate Les’ humility in issuing this apology. I think this spirit of grace is exactly what we need as we try to work together in the future. ... I have Calvinistic theology, but could in no way be called Reformed. But I think that this irenic spirit is the one that needs to prevail in the SBC.”

Puryear, who was previously pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church in Lewisville, led a self-described grassroots group named SBC Majority Initiative that endorsed several nominees as Southern Baptist Convention officers at the 2010 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. None of those endorsed by the group were elected.

Puryear also was an unsuccessful nominee for SBC president at the June 2008 SBC annual meeting. In April of that year, Puryear was an organizer of a conference for small-church pastors, “Impact 2008,” at Lewisville Baptist Church which drew 110 participants from 13 states. The conference was cosponsored by several Baptist entities, including LifeWay Christian Resources and the International and North American mission boards.

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/4/2011 1:03:00 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Historic church flattened, ‘not giving up’

May 4 2011 by Joni B. Hannigan, Baptist Press

ECLECTIC, Ala. — The half-mile-wide deadly tornado which tore through Elmore County, Ala., late April 27 ripped down power lines, shredded trees and tossed a trailer park on a path from Wetumpka to Kowaliga before pushing through the front doors of tiny 115-year-old Mount Hebron East Baptist Church in Eclectic.

The twister exploded the historic building and a 2-year-old adjacent fellowship and educational building onto the church’s cemetery, its powerful winds knocking flat the heavy headstones and spewing the churned up contents nearly two miles into the surrounding woods.

Word spread quickly. Pastor Bob Williamson said a member who lives close to the church site called and told him the church was “gone.”

“What do you mean gone?” he asked. She told him it had taken a direct hit and “nothing was left except a pile of rubble and the slab of the fellowship hall.”

At the site the next day, Williamson reflected on his first reaction to the destruction.

“I was just amazed to see the damage here, just obliterated, the church,” Williamson said.

Some of the church members were weeping, he said, and wondering what to do.

“Well, we’re going to do that last thing the Lord told us to do and that’s to be the people of God,” Williamson said he told them.

The pastor cancelled his plans to preach at a revival and determined that the church would meet at the site for worship May 1. Williamson has been the church’s pastor for about six months. He and his wife Vicky retired from the International Mission Board after serving nearly 22 years in South Africa.

“I’m not leaving my church in this kind of struggle and going any place,” Williamson said. “We’re gonna make a statement and it’s gonna be, ‘We’re not giving up, we’re going on. We’re gonna be the people of God. We’re gonna worship You and we’re gonna be faithful to do what You told us to do, and we’re gonna be Mount Hebron East Baptist Church.’ ... [W]e recommit ourselves to the dream to be what God wants it to be. That’s what we’re gonna do.”

Photo by Joni B. Hannigan

A woman and child sat amid rubble in Eclectic, Ala., where a half-mile-wide tornado tore through the community, destroying a trailer park and the 115-year-old Mount Hebron East Baptist Church.


First Baptist Church in Eclectic volunteered to bring 50 chairs to the site and a local funeral home loaned a tent, Williamson said.

“God is not surprised by this. You trust in the Lord and keep on doing the last thing the Lord told you to do unless He tells you to do something different.... God’s faithful and we want to be faithful people,” he said. “That’s what we are committed to be.”

Six people were confirmed dead in the area, the local sheriff’s department reported; none were members of the church. One church member’s home was heavily damaged, Williamson noted.

Jim Jackson, director of missions for Elmore Baptist Association, said it’s miraculous that none of the association’s other 42 churches were destroyed considering the intensity of the tornado and the widespread destruction. Some of the churches received minor damage.

While children played on the now clean slab of the fellowship hall at Mount Hebron East, stacks of hymnals, plastic flowers and a few other tangible items stood in contrast to the splintered wood planks, insulation, cabinet doors and roofing shingles still spread out behind the church.

Congregants and their families had been coming by all day. Some stayed to help clean up. They wandered around and made small piles of things considered usable.

Some of the onlookers were members of their community who had family members with ties to the church or were just curious, Williamson said.

Dusty Duck, 27, was there most of the day helping. He and other men of the church righted most of the heavy headstones and salvaged tables and pieces of the pulpit.

“I’m just trying to lend a helping hand,” said Duck, who has grown up in the church. His sister helped pull old hymnals out of the basement room under the church’s wooden platform in anticipation of it giving way.

“My heart just dropped when I saw this,” Duck said.

He lives in one of the nearby trailer parks that was not destroyed. The one that was destroyed was where four of the six who died in Elmore County lived, according to officials.

God is still in control, Duck said, and even with all that is going on, he has hope that the church will persevere.

“Hopefully the good Lord will let us rebuild and become stronger than this,” Duck said. “It’s not the building that makes the church, it’s the people.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hannigan, managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness newspaper, wrote this article as a special correspondent for The Alabama Baptist. View an e-edition of The Alabama Baptist with extensive tornado coverage at online.thealabamabaptist.org. Donations to disaster relief can be made to state conventions, or directly to the North American Mission Board’s disaster relief fund, at NAMB.net, or by calling 1-866-407-NAMB (6262). A $10 donation can be made by texting “NAMBDR” to the number “40579.”)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
5/4/2011 12:56:00 PM by Joni B. Hannigan, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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