May 2018

Bible helps NBA’s Curry stay ‘focused, locked-in’

May 31 2018 by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends

Stephen Curry has been writing Philippians 4:13 on his basketball shoes since his first college practice, but it was another passage from the biblical book that may have helped him and his Golden State teammates reach the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.
 
At halftime of game 7 in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors looked out of sorts on the road at Houston. The Rockets had a double-digit lead and Curry appeared to be struggling, along with the rest of his team. The all-star point guard had only 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting in the first half. He needed something to help him regain his focus.

Wikimedia Commons photo by Keith Allison


So, according to Marcus Thompson in The Athletic, during halftime Curry pulled out his Bible app on his phone and read another familiar passage from Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
 
In the second half, Curry and the Warriors heated up. In the third quarter, Golden State outscored Houston 33-15, with Curry going 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-5 from three-point range.
 
He finished with 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, four steals and one block. He also had seven three-pointers, which has been done only once before in a game 7 – by Steph Curry in 2016.
 
He has made a habit of playing exceptionally well in the third quarter and second half this postseason.
 
“It’s been great to come out of the locker room kind of focused, locked in, made some shots, get some stops and just have fun,” Curry told ESPN. “Obviously, thankfully tonight with the way the first half went, it was like clockwork, so it was good.”
 
Another habit for Curry is writing Bible verses on his shoes.
 
It started his freshman year at Davidson College. His mom texted him her favorite verse, Romans 8:28, before his first practice and challenged him to find a verse for himself.
 
He chose Philippians 4:13, “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.” The verse has become so synonymous with Curry and his shoes that the star had Under Armor print the phrase “I can do all things” on his trademark shoe.
 
He has even worked in some more subtle faith references on his shoes. The grooves on the bottom use Morse code to reference Romans 8:28.
 
The NBA Finals begin Thursday, May 31, between the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends, factsandtrends.net, where this article first appeared.)
 

5/31/2018 10:12:06 AM by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments



Starbucks, Roseanne create John 13:34 opportunity

May 31 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Amid news of Starbucks diversity training and the cancellation of ABC’s “Roseanne” over a racist tweet by its star, two African American Southern Baptists have noted ways to increase cultural sensitivity among followers of Christ.
 
“Some basic commonsense practices and beliefs” need to become “universal,” said Ken Weathersby, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee’s vice president for convention advancement. “We ought to seek to understand before we can be understood, and we need to treat others the way we want to be treated.”
 
A.B. Vines, president of the California Southern Baptist Convention and a trustee of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press (BP) it’s “good” any time a company like Starbucks seizes a national moment to help people “understand different cultures,” “people’s differences” and how not to offend one another needlessly.
 
Starbucks closed more than 8,000 U.S. stores for four hours May 29 to hold anti-bias training for 175,000 employees, the Associated Press reported. The non-mandatory training was a response to public outcry over the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks in April after they sat in the coffee shop to await a business meeting and asked to use the restroom but did not buy anything.
 
Starbucks later settled with the two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, for an undisclosed sum and offered to pay for their college educations. The incident, Starbucks said, should never have occurred and highlighted a need for training on prejudice and stereotypes.
 
Meanwhile, ABC canceled the sitcom revival of “Roseanne” May 29 after its star Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist comment about former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett. Jarret is black and was born in Iran to American parents, Reuters noted.
 
Barr deleted the tweet and apologized, but ABC pulled “Roseanne” from its lineup despite the average of 18.7 million viewers each episode drew during the show’s run from March through May, according to Reuters. It was the 2017-18 season’s second most popular sitcom behind CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory.”
 
Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif., said, “If we just follow the Great Commandment” of John 13:34, “we can ease the tension. If I learn to love you like I love myself, I’ll be sensitive to who you are as a person.”
 
Any racial tensions or misunderstandings within the SBC, Vines said, can be solved by forging interracial friendships and not making assumptions about one another based on cultural stereotypes.
 
“Southern Baptists have the greatest opportunity because we’re the most diverse denomination in the world. We can truly show the world how to do it,” said Vines, a candidate for first vice president at next month’s SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
 
Weathersby told BP the SBC “as a whole in our meetings has spoken very loud and clear on where we are related to racial reconciliation.” Yet “individual, personal statements” lacking appropriate cultural sensitivity by some Southern Baptists sometimes are misinterpreted as “reflecting upon the whole” convention.
 
“We must keep the Christian values out front even if individuals who are Christians do not live up to the standard of God’s Word,” Weathersby said.
 
He expressed support for “any training we can do to help people understand we are like a salad bowl. Everything in the salad bowl may be different, but together it is good.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

5/31/2018 10:08:56 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



9 roofs & counting for church’s home repair outreach

May 31 2018 by Kayla Rinker, The Pathway

She had a 6-foot-wide hole in her roof and a 55-gallon drum catching rainwater in her living room.
 
Retired after 35 years in the local school district, she and her son, who is battling cancer, now have a new roof provided by the Love Thy Neighbor home repair outreach of First Baptist Church in Viburnum, Mo.

Photo submitted
The home repair outreach of First Baptist Church in Viburnum, Mo., has tallied nine new roofs and other home repairs; yielded new ties with other local churches; and given an answer to “What does Jesus have to do with me?”


“I was on that crew and every person except me had her as a teacher,” said Justin Perry, First Baptist’s pastor. “While the crew worked, she cried tears of joy and told story after story about having either them or their parents in class.”
 
A couple years ago, the team did a partial roof for an elderly couple just outside of Viburnum. The husband, who had been battling cancer for quite some time, told crew members he didn’t think he would make it much longer but was so thankful that his home was taken care of for his wife.
 
“We concluded our project on a Thursday and then that Sunday morning he passed away,” Perry said. “The timing makes you think that man was staying here to care for his wife, then we came in and did the last thing he thought needed to be done and then the Lord took him.”
 
This year’s weeklong Love Thy Neighbor initiative will be July 1-5. Volunteers have raised funds and made plans to put on at least three roofs this summer, adding to the nine roofs crews have already put on homes since First Baptist started Love Thy Neighbor four years ago. Along with the roofs, crews have also replaced decks and done exterior renovations.
 
Every project they take on is 100 percent free of charge to the homeowners.
 
“The first year we raised $17,000, the next year we raised just over $21,000 and the third year we raised $22,000,” Perry said. “We’ll be well over that $22,000 this year.”
 
Each year 75 to 100 volunteers help with construction, all meals for the week and each night’s worship service. Perry said it’s a massive undertaking that they’re only able to do because of community and multi-denominational support.
 
“We have workers from several of our like-minded churches and great support from pretty much all of our area businesses,” the pastor said. “If you consider the number of volunteers we need with the 700 population number on our city limit sign, it’s pretty significant.”
 
One of the biggest impacts of Love Thy Neighbor is the healed and strengthened relationships among Viburnum’s churches, Perry noted. While many communities end up segmented in their church populations, this project has made it so that the church body as a whole gets to serve together, worship together and be on mission together.
 
“We are rubbing shoulders with people who go to church two blocks down and swinging hammers with people who go to church across town,” he said. “We all believe in Jesus for salvation and we are committed to sharing the love of Christ with our community.”
 
But the most important thing Love Thy Neighbor does, Perry said, is provide an answer to the “why question” people have for Christ and for having a relationship with Him – “Why go to church?” “What does Jesus have to do with me?” “What is all this for?”
 
“[For] a lot of years the local church has answered back with ‘Come to our thing and see,’” Perry said. “With Love Thy Neighbor, we get a chance to show them what this is all about by doing something for someone that they could never do themselves. They ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ This is why: We are doing this because Jesus came, lived a perfect life, died and conquered death. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves. This is the gospel, and this is why we go to church and seek to share the love He has shown us on the cross.”
 
For more information on how to start the Love Thy Neighbor project, Perry said he is more than willing to help other churches get it off the ground in their own communities. His e-mail is pastorjustinperry@gmail.com.
 
“If we can do it, anybody can do it,” he said. “Like many other churches, we are doing as much as we can with as little as possible. This ministry is a great testimony of what can happen when God is in it.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kayla Rinker is a correspondent for The Pathway, mbcpathway.com, news journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)
 

5/31/2018 9:58:40 AM by Kayla Rinker, The Pathway | with 0 comments



Judicial wordplay redefines locker room reality

May 31 2018 by Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD Digital

Two courts, one in Pennsylvania and another in Virginia, last week disregarded students’ pleas for privacy in public school locker rooms and restrooms. The judges avoided making any distinctions between the sexes and ruled transgender students should be allowed to use the sex-segregated facilities that affirm their gender identity.
 
On May 24, a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Philadelphia took only 15 minutes to unanimously deny an appeal by four Boyertown, Pa., high school students seeking an injunction against a school policy allowing transgender students into sex-segregated private spaces. In the other case, G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, a female student who identifies as male challenged her Gloucester, Va., high school’s policy requiring her to use the restroom that corresponds with her biological sex.
 
By adopting a subjective meaning of the word “sex,” both courts ruled that those asking for sex-segregated facilities had no claim to protection under Title IX or the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. “Sex,” one judge declared, is “complicated.”
 
Only four minutes into Thursday’s oral arguments in the Pennsylvania case – Doe v. Boyertown Area School District – U.S. Circuit Judge Theodore McKee stopped plaintiffs’ attorney Randall Wenger and forbade him from defining the words “sex” and “opposite sex.”
 
“When you use the word ‘sex’ you complicate the discussion,” McKee told Wenger. “It’s not that simple. That’s why I use the term transgender boy or girl to try and get around that problem.”
 
Wenger replied, “Those terms stand in contradistinction because transgender wouldn’t make any sense apart from the terms.” But McKee again interrupted and demanded Wenger use “respectful” words.
 
“I know, for reasons beyond my comprehension, you don’t approve of those terms, don’t like to use those terms, but it greatly enhances the communication,” McKee said.
 
It also seemed to enhance the school district’s case. By using subjective terms about biological sex, the school’s attorneys easily avoided acknowledging that the Boyertown policy permits teenage boys and girls to use the same changing facility. In 2016, the year school officials quietly implemented the policy, one of the plaintiffs said he was humiliated after realizing he had undressed in front of a female student who also was using the same locker room.
 
The judges and defense attorneys made light of the plaintiff and the other students’ concerns about bodily privacy. No one expects privacy in a locker room, they said. And no private body parts were exposed during the incident, according to the lawsuit. Students who do not like undressing in front of a “transgender student” can change clothes in a shower or toilet stall, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ria Ma argued. Defense attorneys repeatedly avoided acknowledging sex distinctions by using terms like “student,” instead of boy or girl.
 
In Virginia, the Gloucester County School Board had allowed transgender student Gavin Grimm to use the restroom of her choice before community members discovered the practice and protested. The board then established a policy requiring students use the facilities that correspond with their biological sex.
 
Grimm, a female student who identifies as male, sued the school district in 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to hear the case until last year, when the Donald Trump administration rescinded an Barack Obama-era regulation requiring all publicly funded schools to accommodate transgender students. After the policy change, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia. On May 22, U.S. District Judge Arenda Allen denied the school district’s motion to dismiss the case.
 
In the three years since Grimm sued, rulings in similar cases have held that excluding transgender students from the private facilities of their choice on campus may subject the schools to discrimination lawsuits under Title IX and the equal protection clause, Allen said.
 
In making an argument for classifying transgender persons as a quasi-suspect class, Allen declared, “Transgender is immutable.”
 
The Gloucester County School Board has not indicated whether it will again appeal.
 
The plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania case could appeal to the full 3rd Circuit, where Wenger hopes he can define the terms at the heart of the case.
 
“A proper meaning of ‘sex’ and ‘opposite sex’ is critical to understanding the rights involved,” Wenger said. “Everything starts to become very illogical once terms like sex, boy and girl turn on gender identity.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bonnie Pritchett writes for WORLD Digital, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission. Pritchett also is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)
 

5/31/2018 9:53:41 AM by Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD Digital | with 0 comments



SBC prayer room offers haven of rest, peace

May 31 2018 by Morgan Collier, Baptist Press

With thousands of Southern Baptists meeting together each year at their annual meeting, it can seem difficult for people to hear themselves think – and to find a quiet place to meet with God.
 
But once again, at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Dallas, attendees can retreat to a prayer room and are invited to volunteer 15 minutes of their time to lift up concerns to God.
 
Every year the prayer room provides participants with an opportunity to focus on God and to follow His Spirit, said Ted Elmore, pastor/church relations associate and prayer strategist for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.
 
“As we look at our culture,” he noted, “we find that prayer is crucial now more than ever, and we hope through the prayer guides that we give to messengers [they will] pray for Dallas.”
 
All attendees will receive a prayer card with the option to fill out prayer requests and place them on a prayer board for others to pray over.
 
Those who participate in the prayer room will also receive a guided prayer booklet and the opportunity to talk with a prayer leader.
 
“God draws us into His purpose through prayer,” Elmore said. “This is a time to let go of the ‘baggage’ we bring into the room, whether it be from home, the hotel room or the convention floor.”
 
Elmore encourages everyone to participate and use the prayer room as often as time allows them.
 
Rick Shepherd, prayer strategist for the 2010 Orlando annual meeting, said many have found the prayer room to be a place they can cry out to God and hear Him speak to them and show His presence.
 
He said many “take what they hear and feel from God back home to their families, churches and local communities.”
 
“Every year we see things happen that wouldn’t have if people wouldn’t have prayed,” he noted.
 
Many people, Shepherd said, are living with a “me first” selfish attitude and must go to the Lord to lay down these sins, burdens and shame for peace and direction.
 
“The answer to our dilemmas will never be through men and women, it is always through the Lord,” he said. “We must go to the Lord for redirection and guidance, for there is nothing selfish or tainted through the Holy Spirit.”
 
The prayer room is located in the back of Hall F in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, and is open from Sunday, June 10, at 6 p.m. through Wednesday, June 13, at 5 p.m. More information about the prayer room can be found on the SBC website sbtexas.com/pastorchurch-relations/prayer/.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Morgan Collier, who will be a senior at Lamar University, is a summer intern with Baptist Press.)
 

5/31/2018 9:51:03 AM by Morgan Collier, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SWBTS: Patterson stripped of emeritus title, benefits

May 30 2018 by Biblical Recorder staff

The executive committee of the board of trustees for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced their decision tonight (May 30) to terminate President Emeritus Paige Patterson after meeting to discuss how he handled allegations of sexual assault against a student while he was president of another school.
 
The committee decided unanimously to strip Patterson of his honorary title and compensation immediately. He was transitioned from acting president to president emeritus last week in a controversial, 13-hour meeting of the full trustee board. The committee also rescinded a previous invitation for Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, to reside in the seminary’s Baptist Heritage Center in retirement.
 
In a statement, trustees said Interim President Jeffrey Bingham “made it clear that SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse.”
 
Read the full statement below:
 
During the May 30, 2018, Executive Committee meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) Board of Trustees, new information confirmed this morning was presented regarding the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution and resulting issues connected with statements to the Board of Trustees that are inconsistent with SWBTS’s biblically informed core values.
 
Deeming the information demanded immediate action and could not be deferred to a regular meeting of the Board, based on the details presented, the Executive Committee unanimously resolved to terminate Dr. Paige Patterson, effective immediately, removing all the benefits, rights and privileges provided by the May 22-23 board meeting, including the title of President Emeritus, the invitation to reside at the Baptist Heritage Center as theologian-in-residence and ongoing compensation.
 
Under the leadership of Interim President Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, SWBTS remains committed to its calling to assist the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by biblically educating God-called men and women for ministries that fulfill the Great Commission and glorify God.
 
Further, the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse and grieves for individuals wounded by abuse. Today, Dr. Bingham made it clear that SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse. Additionally, Dr. Bingham called for the SWBTS community to join the Body of Christ in praying for healing for all individuals affected by abuse.
 
This story is developing.

5/30/2018 10:14:13 PM by Biblical Recorder staff | with 0 comments



Rocky Mount church confronts N.C. opioid crisis

May 30 2018 by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer

In 2017, the North Carolina Division of Public Health reported 5,762 emergency department visits for opioid overdoses – a 38 percent increase from 2016. According to the N.C. Department of Justice, nearly four North Carolinians die from a medication or drug overdose every day.
 
When Mike Dixon, pastor of Oakdale Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, realized the gravity of the state’s opioid crisis, he and his church decided to act.

Contributed photo


In March of last year, Oakdale Baptist launched Living in Freedom Everyday (LIFE), an addiction recovery ministry. Today the ministry serves about 26 individuals through weekly fellowship and counseling, and it recently extended counseling services to family members dealing with a relative’s substance abuse.
 
“The Lord delivered me from drugs and alcohol 30 years ago,” Dixon said. “I’ve had a burden to reach out to minister to those that are where I once was.”
 
Every Tuesday night, participants meet in two Edgecombe County locations for a free meal, co-ed Bible study and smaller group discussions, for which men and women meet separately. Dixon, a licensed clinical addiction specialist, said they approach counseling with a Biblical perspective, studying how scripture relates to participants’ struggles.
 
“It’s more about how you build your relationship with the Lord. For lost people, it’s evangelism. For saved, it’s discipleship,” he said.
 
LIFE’s name is founded on John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
 
Dixon based part of LIFE’s curriculum on a book he wrote, “Casting Down Idols Through the Power of the Gospel.” The program takes one year to complete, but Oakdale invites people from the community to join at any time.
 
Dixon leads the ministry with a team of Oakdale Baptist members who have also overcome drug addiction in their own lives. They partner with Christian nonprofit detox and recovery programs such as Hebron Colony in Boone, N.C., and Bethel Colony of Mercy, in Lenoir, N.C., and connect individuals to those residential organizations when necessary.
 
LIFE also works with local law enforcement initiatives, such as the Nashville Police Department’s Hope Initiative, which encourages anyone caught in substance abuse to bring drugs to the police without fear of charges, and guides them in beginning a recovery process.
 
“Part of our vision is to see it multiply, to help other churches implement the program,” Dixon said about LIFE. “We want to reach more people. The epidemic is just getting worse. Too many people are dying.”
 

5/30/2018 9:20:55 AM by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer | with 0 comments



Survey: VBS remains popular among American parents

May 30 2018 by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends

Back in the 1890s, a pair of Sunday School teachers – D.T. Miles of Hopedale, Ill., and Virginia Hawes of New York City – both had the same idea.


School kids were off for the summer.
 
Why not invite them to church to study the Bible? And maybe sing a few songs and have some fun along the way?
 
The idea was a hit.
 
Today, Vacation Bible School – better known as VBS – remains one of the most popular church programs in America.
 
Six in 10 Americans say they went to VBS growing up. Two-thirds of American parents say they plan to send kids to VBS this summer – even if they skip church themselves.
 
And almost everyone involved had a positive experience, according to a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which surveyed 1,200 American adults about VBS.
 
“Each week of the summer there are thousands of VBS programs going on around America,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “It’s one of the things that people love about church.”
 

VBS attendance & memories

Twenty-two percent say they went every summer growing up, while 14 percent said they went most summers. Another 13 percent went occasionally. Five percent went more than once. But 40 percent never went.


Many went because of a family tie. Forty-two percent say they went because their family attended that church. Twenty-five percent went because their parent or another family member was one of the leaders. Twenty-six percent went because the church was near their home. Twenty-five percent went because a friend invited them.
 
Among their memories: spending time with kids their own age (46 percent), learning Bible stories (45 percent), singing songs (40 percent), creating crafts (37 percent) and playing games (34 percent).
 
One in 6 (17 percent) remember making a spiritual commitment at VBS.
 
Most (88 percent) say VBS helped them better understand the Bible. That includes two-thirds who either completely agree (37 percent) or mostly agree (26 percent). Twelve percent disagree.
 
Americans who didn’t go to VBS as a child also didn’t go to church at all (31 percent) or went to a church that did not offer VBS (31 percent), were too busy (10 percent), weren’t invited (7 percent) or didn’t go for some other reason (15 percent). Five percent say their family went to a church that offered VBS – but they weren’t interested in going.
 
More than half (61 percent) of American adults who did not go to VBS agree they have some positive thoughts about the program. That includes 28 percent who completely agree (14 percent) or mostly agree (14 percent). Thirty-three percent slightly agree. Thirty-nine percent disagree.
 
A majority of Americans (57 percent) who did not go to VBS also believe the program could have helped them better understand the Bible – at least a little. Forty-three percent disagree.


About half (52 percent) agree the program could have impacted their spiritual growth. Forty-eight percent disagree.
 
The survey’s results are a great reminder why VBS matters, said Jana Magruder, director of LifeWay Kids.
 
“It’s a strong affirmation of the work that churches put into VBS programs,” Magruder said. “I hope churches are encouraged by this research to continue to host VBS for their communities.”
 

Popular with parents

About half (47 percent) of parents with kids under 19 say their child has been to VBS.
 
The most common reasons: The family attended the church where the program was held (38 percent) or the parents were also taking part in VBS (33 percent). Twenty-nine percent say they valued their child’s spiritual growth; 27 percent valued studying the Bible.
 
A fourth (26 percent) say their child went to VBS because someone – other than family – invited them.
 
Most parents (95 percent) say VBS was a positive experience for their child. A similar number say VBS helped their child better understand the Bible (94 percent) and influenced their child’s spiritual growth (95 percent). Most (95 percent) also say that VBS is one of their child’s most meaningful church experiences.
 
Among the reasons parents didn’t send kids to VBS: The family didn’t go to church (29 percent), the family was too busy (14 percent) or the child was too busy (13 percent).
 
Still, parents who didn’t send their kids to VBS have a positive view of the program (83 percent) and say it would have helped their child better understand the Bible (69 percent) or grow spiritually (71 percent).
 
And this summer, Vacation Bible Schools may be packed again, according to LifeWay Research.


Two-thirds of parents (64 percent) say their child is likely to go to VBS this year – including about half who completely agree (29 percent) or mostly agree (18 percent). A third (36 percent) disagree.
 
More than half (58 percent) say their child may go to more than one VBS. Forty-two percent disagree. Most parents (60 percent) say they’ll encourage their kids to attend VBS even if it’s held at someone else’s church. More parents will encourage their child to attend VBS at another church if they get invited by a friend (69 percent).
 
“Two-thirds of American parents,” Magruder noted, “are eager to send their children to a church activity where they will have fun experiences centered on what churches care about most: Bible stories, the gospel and worship.”
 
“People still believe Vacation Bible School is good for kids,” McConnell said “Even parents who don’t go to church want their kids to go to VBS.”
 

Methodology

A demographically balanced online panel was used for interviewing American adults. LifeWay Kids sponsored the study. The survey was conducted March 7-10, 2018. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, ethnicity, education and region. The completed sample is 1,200 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error from the online panel does not exceed plus or minus 3 percentage points. (This margin of error accounts for the effect of weighting.) Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
 
LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends, a magazine and website of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
 

5/30/2018 9:20:40 AM by Bob Smietana, Facts & Trends | with 0 comments



Hollifield calls N.C. Baptists to prayer, humility

May 30 2018 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. challenged North Carolina Baptists to live lives that are marked by humility and free from hypocrisy in an address to the state convention’s board of directors on Tuesday, May 22.
 
“If we claim to be Christ-followers, we should live with behaviors and attitudes that remind people of Christ,” Hollifield said, drawing from several passages in the New Testament. His remarks came at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro as part of his report during a regularly scheduled meeting of the BSC’s board of directors.
 
Hollifield called on North Carolina Baptists to pray for upcoming ministry activities and meetings on both the state and national levels. These include annual summer children’s and youth ministry events that begin in June at state convention camps and conference centers, as well as the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting scheduled for June 12-13 in Dallas, Texas.
 
Each year thousands of middle and high school students attend one of seven weeklong camps sponsored by the state convention at Fort Caswell. Since 2014, more than 1,400 students have trusted Christ as Savior during youth weeks, which includes more than 300 last year alone, Hollifield said. Many others surrender to a call to vocational ministry at youth weeks. Likewise, both Camp Caraway and Truett Camp share the call to follow Christ with hundreds of children and teens each summer, while encouraging those making salvation decisions to become true disciples of the living Lord.
 
“Let’s pray that God would do another great work this year,” Hollifield said.
 
Hollifield called on N.C. Baptists to pray for the ministry and outreach events being held in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting, as well as this year’s SBC presidential election. Both of the announced SBC presidential candidates have North Carolina ties. They are J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, and Ken Hemphill, a North Carolina native and current administrator at North Greenville University in Greenville, S.C.
 
Hollifield also requested prayer for wisdom for search committees seeking to fill leadership vacancies with the International Mission Board (IMB) and the SBC Executive Committee.
 
During Hollifield’s report, Chuck Register, BSC executive leader for Church Planting and Missions Partnerships, introduced Greg Queen, a former IMB missionary who now serves as a church mobilization specialist with the IMB for several southern states, including North Carolina. Queen’s role is to help churches embrace and engage in mission partnerships and opportunities. Queen may be reached by email at gqueen@imb.org.
 
In other business, the board heard several other ministry reports and took action on one financial item.
 

Financial updates

The board authorized the transfer of $381,097 in surplus operations funds from 2017 into the state convention’s contingency reserve fund.
 
Additionally, Beverly Volz, director of accounting services, reported that through the end of April, Cooperative Program giving from N.C. Baptist churches totaled more than $8.65 million.
 

Appointees announced

Board President Marc Francis announced the appointment of several individuals to serve on various convention and board committees. Appointments included:

  • Kelton Hinton of Princeton Baptist Church; Don Goforth of Great Marsh Baptist Church in Saint Paul’s; and Gregory Shaver of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe to the Articles and Bylaws Special Committee.
  • Terry Stockman of Meherrin Baptist Church in Murfreesboro and Barbara Bowen of Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh to the Budget Special Committee.
  • Lee Davis of Crosslink Community Church in Mebane; Ben Francis of Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia; and Josh Hayes of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Marion to the Christian Life and Public Affairs Special Committee.
  • BSC Executive Committee members Lawrence Clapp, Ken Jones and Matt Ledbetter to the Fruitland Baptist Bible College Nominating Committee.

 

Facilities named

John Butler, executive leader for Business Services, reported that the Business Services Committee approved the renaming of the existing recreation pavilion at Camp Caraway in honor of the late Raiford Troutman, who was instrumental in starting the camp at Caraway. Additionally, the new gymnasium at Camp Caraway will be named in honor of former camp director Charles Harris.
 
One of Caraway’s conference rooms will also be renamed the Higher Education Dining Room in appreciation of gifts made to Caraway’s capital fund by the five educational institutions historically affiliated with the state convention.
 
In addition, the gym floor at Fort Caswell will be named for the Farmer family, who has maintained the floor for the past two decades.
 

Statement on designated giving

Francis made the following announcement based on work of the Executive Committee in recent months related to designated giving to the convention by some North Carolina churches.
 
“During the Executive Committee’s March 2018 meeting, the Executive Director-Treasurer made the Committee aware that in 2017 ten churches added a special designation on their Baptist State Convention remittance forms for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). The staff forwarded these designated funds to CBF consistent with accounting practices to forward funds to those organizations/entities that have previously been in the Baptist State Convention’s budget. In 2017, the funds designated to CBF totaled approximately $36,000. These same 10 churches also gave in excess of $413,000 to the Cooperative Program and all special offerings supporting Baptist State Convention and Southern Baptist Convention causes.
 
“Because the national CBF had changed its hiring policy in February 2018, the Executive Committee voted to direct Convention staff to cease forwarding designated funds from churches to CBF.
 
The Executive Committee also asked the Executive Director-Treasurer to contact each of the churches that made such designations in 2017 and inform them that the Baptist State Convention would no longer receive funds designated for CBF. The Executive Director-Treasurer has reported to the Executive Committee that he has successfully contacted all of the churches in question and received confirmation that the churches would cease sending funds designated to CBF to the Baptist State Convention.”
 
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board of directors is set for September 24-25 at Caraway.
 

5/30/2018 9:17:35 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



SCOTUS abortion order celebrated by Arkansas Baptists

May 30 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal May 29 to hear Planned Parenthood’s challenge of an Arkansas abortion law could allow the Natural State to become the first state to effectively outlaw medication-induced abortions.
 
“I am thankful for the discernment used by the U.S. Supreme Court to not address this issue,” Sonny Tucker, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, told Baptist Press (BP) via email. “The regulation in question is a common sense regulation to protect people from an industry that wants unfettered access to abortion at will, without the normal medical protocol in which other medical professions must abide.”
 
A 2015 Arkansas law – which requires doctors who provide medication abortions to contract with a specialist with hospital admitting privileges to handle complications – was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in 2016. But a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling last year, stating the district judge erred by not determining how many women would be unduly burdened by the law, according to media reports.
 
The Supreme Court’s denial of an appeal by Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma means the law will take effect in mid-July if no other legal challenges are filed, CNN reported.
 
In 2016, the Supreme Court overturned a similar law in Texas by a 5-3 majority. In today’s order, however, not even the court’s liberal judges published a dissent.
 
Planned Parenthood said it has offered pills to terminate pregnancies in Fayetteville and Little Rock but cannot find any Arkansas obstetricians willing to handle hospital admissions for women with complications, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The nation’s largest abortion provider will stop providing medication abortions in Arkansas at least temporarily, Planned Parenthood told media outlets, and seek emergency relief from the 8th Circuit ruling in a lower court.
 
“Arkansas is now shamefully responsible for being the first state to ban medication abortion,” Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “This dangerous law immediately ends access to safe, legal abortion at all but one health center in the state. If that’s not an undue burden, what is? This law cannot and must not stand. We will not stop fighting for every person’s right to safe, legal abortion.”
 
The medication abortions referenced in Arkansas’ law employ two drugs to kill an unborn child early in pregnancy: Mifepristone makes it difficult for the child to attach to the uterine wall, and misoprostol causes the mother’s body to expel the baby.
 
According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, medication abortions accounted for nearly a third (31 percent) of all nonhospital abortions in the U.S. in 2014 and 45 percent of all abortions before nine weeks’ gestation.
 
Arkansas Baptist State Convention President Greg Sykes told BP, “Arkansas has enough challenges without failing to protect the most vulnerable – the unborn. I’m grateful that we are finally crafting laws that protect our children, and I know Southern Baptists are going to continue to seek ways to protect all children and help them to experience one of God’s most precious gifts: life.
 
“Legal wins in our generation are rare, but we’ll gladly rejoice at this one,” Sykes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Russellville, said in an email.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

5/30/2018 9:17:14 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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