May 2018

Evangelism professor Alvin Reid resigns at Southeastern

May 25 2018 by Baptist Press staff

Alvin Reid has resigned from the faculty of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), citing “personal and spiritual issues.”
 
Reid, 59, SEBTS senior professor of evangelism and student ministry, stated on his website Monday, May 21, “I have resigned from teaching and public ministry to address personal and spiritual issues in my life. Please pray for me and my family. For now and the foreseeable future, to respect my family, I do not intend to say anything else publicly about this.”

Alvin Reid


Reid, who joined SEBTS’s faculty in 1995, resigned on May 18, according to a seminary spokesperson, who told Baptist Press, “Beyond that, our institutional policy dictates that all personnel matters are confidential.”
 
Reid held the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism at the seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., in the Raleigh-Durham area. He also has resigned as pastor of the young professionals ministry at Richland Creek Community Church in Wake Forest.
 
Reid’s website previously had stated he had spoken at more than 2,000 churches, colleges, conferences and events.
 
His involvement with The Gospel Coalition and the youth program Student Leadership University has been deleted from their websites. Reid’s involvement with the Desiring God ministry led by John Piper and Ligonier Ministries is still listed on those websites.
 
Before teaching at SEBTS, Reid taught at Houston Baptist University from 1992-1995 and had served as director of evangelism and stewardship for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana.
 
He is the author of more than 20 books, including Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out and As You Go: Creating a Missional Culture of Gospel-Centered Students.
 
Reid holds master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and an undergraduate degree from Samford University in Alabama.
 
Reid and his wife Michelle have two married children and one grandchild, according to a Google search.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by BP general assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler.)
 

5/25/2018 10:35:51 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Connect316 leader resigns over ‘reprehensible’ Facebook post

May 25 2018 by Baptist Press staff

Alabama pastor Rick Patrick has resigned as the leader of Connect316, an organization advocating a “traditionalist” view of salvation, due to a Facebook post he subsequently acknowledged as “reprehensible and completely unworthy of Christ.”

Rick Patrick


Patrick, in a public statement at Connect 316’s SBC Today website on May 23 titled “My Heartfelt Apology and Resignation,” said he wrote the Facebook post May 22 “when I was extremely upset” over trustee deliberations regarding Paige Patterson as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Patterson was removed as president after a 13-hour trustee meeting.
 
Patrick had written of “a donkey being gang raped” in “lashing out with sarcasm” May 22 over the timing of an alleged unreported student rape when Patterson was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary – published by The Washington Post on the day the trustees began their meeting.
 
Patrick named five individuals in his Facebook post: Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Ed Stetzer, executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center; Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson; writer Jonathan Merritt; and blogger Ben Cole.
 
Patrick, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sylacauga, Ala., said he removed the post from a private Facebook group “after about 90 seconds” but a screen shot had already been publicly posted. “My sin was thus exposed on social media,” he wrote.
 
The Connect316 board of directors, with whom Patrick has served as executive director for five years, issued a statement May 23 stating that “Connect 316 does not condone, endorse, or approve of Rick Patrick’s remarks. We find them reprehensible and unbecoming of Christian comportment.
 
“We have accepted the resignation of Rick Patrick from Connect 316 and have called upon him to apologize to each individual he insulted and ask for their forgiveness.
 
“Although Rick Patrick was not speaking on behalf of Connect 316 when he made those deplorable remarks, we understand how terribly hurtful they were and would like to extend our apologies to each individual who was maligned.
 
“Dr. Patrick’s comments do not reflect the character, heart, and purposes of C316.”
 
Patrick, in his statement at SBC Today, said, “I have reached out by telephone to two of the people and by email to the other three while I attempt to reach them by phone as well. The two I have spoken with have both been gracious.”
 
Moore, soon after Patrick’s post went public May 22, called it “unconscionable.” Stetzer told Baptist Press he had received a call from Patrick “and I accepted his apology.”
 
In light of the #MeToo movement, Patrick wrote in his May 23 statement, “some people felt I might be minimizing the pain of those who had gone through real hardship, abuse, and suffering. I would never do such a thing. I have a heart of compassion for all people who have endured any type of abuse.
 
“Even preachers make mistakes, and Tuesday I made a big one. I am truly, truly sorry. I am grieved beyond words. I will learn from this. And it will never happen again. If you can find it in your heart to do so, please forgive me.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by BP general assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler.)
 

5/25/2018 10:29:22 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Karen Swallow Prior hit by bus while walking in Nashville

May 25 2018 by Baptist Press staff

Noted author and speaker Karen Swallow Prior was hospitalized in surgery May 24 after being hit by a bus while walking in downtown Nashville May 23.
 
“I’ve been in a serious accident in Nashville. Being admitted to the hospital,” she tweeted at 9:45 a.m. May 23. “I will be OK but am unable to respond to messages. Prayers appreciated.”

Karen Swallow Prior


The Liberty University English professor is a research fellow for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), but was in Nashville for work unrelated to the commission. Many details of the accident were not available, but according to tweets by friends and family, she suffered multiple fractures and a collapsed lung.
 
Trillia Newbell, ERLC director of community outreach, told Baptist Press that Prior was in good spirits during a hospital visit on the day of the accident.
 
“She’s in good spirits and the Lord is caring for her,” Newbell said. “She was able to talk and she was totally conscious. We are all praying for her, praying for a quick recovery. It has been encouraging to see the outpouring of love and support for a dear sister, whom we hope recovers quickly.”
 
Prior’s husband tweeted of her surgery this morning.
 
“She is marginally better this (a.m.) and headed to surgery,” he wrote. “Thanks to all for prayers and support. Karen has asked me to respond to many of you with her thanks.”
 
ERLC President Russell Moore also requested prayers for Prior.
 
“Maria just got home from all day at the hospital with @KSPrior,” Moore wrote of his wife Maria last night. “We are grateful to God that Karen was not killed. Please keep praying for her!”
 
Noted Bible teacher Beth Moore tweeted hours after the accident: “We could have lost one of our fiercest, most loving, most articulate warriors today. Thank God for protecting @KSPrior.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by BP general assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler.)
 

5/25/2018 10:25:16 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments



Trustees: Patterson move aims for ‘benefit’ of SWBTS

May 24 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) trustees say their decision to “move in the direction of new leadership” by making Paige Patterson president emeritus effective immediately was intended “for the benefit of the future mission of the seminary.” Patterson’s new role will come “with compensation” and was approved by a “majority vote.”

Photo by Adam Covington, SWBTS
SWBTS trustees meet for a special called meeting May 22 on the Fort Worth campus.


Patterson released a statement May 23 to Baptist Press (BP) in response to the trustee’s decision.
 
“‘The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord,’” he said quoting from Job 1:20. “I am grateful for our Southern Baptist churches, their love and their prayers. The future of Southwestern Seminary is bright. The best days lie ahead. God is gracious to the Pattersons. We will exit this world someday still witnessing to the lost about our amazing Savior.”
 
The trustees’ statement – released online around 4 a.m. May 23 following a 13-hour special-called meeting in executive session – expressed gratefulness for Patterson’s contributions to the seminary as president since 2003 and affirmed a previous decision to allow Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, to continue to live at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus as “theologians in residence at the Baptist Heritage Center.”
 
As the executive session stretched past 3 a.m., about two dozen people – including seminary administrators, media and friends and family of the Pattersons – awaited trustees’ decision outside the meeting room in SWBTS’s Riley Center. At midnight, the lights automatically dimmed in the waiting area but trustees exiting the room for breaks indicated they didn’t know how much longer the meeting would last.
 
Patterson appeared to join trustees for just over two and a half hours of the executive session, which was convened to discuss controversy surrounding statements Patterson has made on domestic abuse and the physical appearance of women.
 
The trustees did not release vote totals for any of their decisions in the executive decision, but brief business items transacted in open session May 22 seemed to suggest some tension among the board.
 
When the agenda was presented, South Carolina trustee Wayne Dickard raised a point of order, stating the trustee executive committee had “acted in an illegitimate way” by continuing to meet after announcing the special-called meeting of the full board. Trustee policies, Dickard said, prohibit such meetings.
 
Board chairman Kevin Ueckert responded, “Even after the meeting was announced, we felt like that there were items associated with preparation for this meeting and also dealing with the current circumstances that necessitated our further meetings.” Ueckert then ruled the point of order not well taken.
 
The board sustained Ueckert’s ruling on a voice vote with what appeared to be two dissents.
 
Among the board’s other decisions in executive session:

  • Jeffrey Bingham, dean of SWBTS’s School of Theology, was named interim president, pending his acceptance.
  • A special committee of the trustees was “formed to work out all the details of leadership transition for Drs. Patterson and Bingham,” the trustees’ statement said. The number of trustees on that committee and their names were not stated.
  • Trustees affirmed a motion stating “1) evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse, 2) the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse and 3) the board has not found evidence of misconduct in Nathan Montgomery’s employment file.” Montgomery is a SWBTS student fired from his job with campus dining services earlier this month after he tweeted an article critical of Patterson. It is not yet clear whether Montgomery will resume working at the seminary.

 
Following the meeting, Ueckert, pastor of First Baptist Church in Georgetown, Texas, told BP the printed statement said all that the trustees desired to communicate, and he declined to be interviewed.

Photo by Adam Covington, SWBTS
Paige Patterson reads a statement to SWBTS trustees at a special called meeting May 22. At the meeting, trustees removed Patterson as president and named him president emeritus at the Fort Worth seminary.


Patterson is scheduled to deliver the convention sermon next month at the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting in Dallas. SBC President Steve Gaines has noted the only two ways that can be changed are if Patterson voluntarily withdraws from preaching or if messengers vote to replace him with alternate convention preacher Kie Bowman, a SWBTS trustee who was present at the May 22-23 meeting.
 
SWBTS’s trustees convened their meeting in response to controversy surrounding Patterson since late April over statements he made years ago about the proper response to domestic violence and about a teenage girl’s physical appearance.
 
In an audio clip from 2000, Patterson expressed his views regarding domestic violence, stating the proper response of a wife to domestic abuse “depends on the level of abuse to some degree.” In an online video of a 2014 sermon, he illustrated the Hebrew word used to describe Eve’s being “built” from Adam’s rib in Genesis 2:22 by quoting a teenage boy’s assessment that a teen girl was “built.” Patterson added that the girl’s appearance was “nice.”
 
Patterson issued a statement May 10, in which he apologized for a “failure to be as thoughtful ... as I should have been” in describing domestic violence and the physical attractiveness of women in sermon illustrations.
 
Since the years-old video and audio clips surfaced, thousands of Southern Baptists have signed open letters both supporting and opposing Patterson.
 
As the trustees met, The Washington Post published a report claiming Patterson told a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in 2003 not to report an alleged rape to the police. He was SEBTS’s president at the time, moving to SWBTS later that year.
 
Current SEBTS President Danny Akin sent an email to SEBTS students May 22 stating he was “only recently made aware of” the alleged rape, has “consulted with law enforcement” and is committed to “a zero-tolerance policy on campus regarding rape.”
 
SWBTS’s trustees concluded their statement, “As we begin the process of ushering in a new season of leadership, SWBTS remains steadfast in its calling to assist the churches of the SBC by biblically educating God-called men and women for ministries that fulfill the Great Commission and glorify God.”
 
The full text of the SWBTS trustees’ statement is printed below.
 
**********
 
Statement Regarding Dr. Paige Patterson
 
May 23, 2018
 
The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) board of trustees is grateful for the contributions Dr. and Mrs. Paige Patterson have made since his presidency began in 2003. Further, we honor his longstanding dedication and commitment to serving the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in its mission to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations by leading the way for the conservative resurgence.
 
A special meeting of the SWBTS Board was held on May 22 to discuss our seminary, its future and our responsibility as trustees to ensure SWBTS is in the best position possible to fulfill our mission to biblically educate God-called men and women.
 
After much prayer and a more than 13-hour discussion regarding challenges facing the Institution, including those of enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity, the Board determined to move in the direction of new leadership for the benefit of the future mission of the Seminary.
 
The board passed a motion through a majority vote to appoint Dr. Patterson as President Emeritus with compensation, effective immediately, which he accepted. In addition, the board passed a motion to affirm the trustees’ September 2017 offer for Dr. and Mrs. Patterson to live on campus as the first theologians-in-residence at the Baptist Heritage Center, scheduled to be completed in July 2018.
 
The board also voted to appoint Dr. D. Jeffrey Bingham, dean of the School of Theology, to the position of interim president, pending his acceptance. Further, a special committee of the trustees was formed to work out all the details of leadership transition for Drs. Patterson and Bingham.
 
Additionally, the board affirmed a motion stating 1) evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse, 2) the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse and 3) the board has not found evidence of misconduct in Nathan Montgomery’s employment file.
 
As we begin the process of ushering in a new season of leadership, SWBTS remains steadfast in its calling to assist the churches of the SBC by biblically educating God-called men and women for ministries that fulfill the Great Commission and glorify God.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

5/24/2018 12:51:03 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



How one advocate for justice found her place at Southeastern

May 24 2018 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

Brianna Copeland is not just learning about global justice; she is actively participating in it. Her passion for justice in high school is what led her to The College at Southeastern.
 
Copeland, who is from Winston-Salem, N.C., is one of the founders of Save Our Sisters (SOS), an organization that advocates for social justice specifically in the area of sex trafficking.

SEBTS photo
Brianna Copeland, active in justice issues since high school, receives her degree from The College at Southeastern on May 11.


“The gospel isn’t just an idea. It has to affect your whole life,” said Copeland, who sees Jesus’ life and ministry as an inspiration to participate in justice on any level, which can open a door for the gospel that would otherwise be closed.
 
As a ninth grader in 2010, Copeland, her sister and four of her friends were burdened about injustice and wanted to make efforts to rescue girls caught in the evils of sex trafficking. Starting with a sleepover, it grew into a reality with the birth of SOS. The six of them were regularly asked to speak at churches to promote and fund their organization. In 2011, SOS partnered with Moldova Mission to support a safe house for girls coming out of sex trafficking as well as a separate space for orphans, which both opened in 2017.
 
“That was one of the most shaping things still to this day of who I am and who the Lord is making me to be,” Copeland said.
 
Copeland has seen how caring for people in their need can lead to helping others better understand the love of Christ. Natalia* is one example of this. A believer in Christ, Natalia was trafficked from her home country of Moldova to Russia. Natalia and another woman who had been trafficked tried to escape. While Natalia made it out, her friend was killed.

Even after coming out of something so traumatic, the Lord has redeemed Natalia’s situation. After escaping her captors, she found a local church through Moldova Mission and began going through personal counseling and discipleship with the organization to help heal the wounds of her past. Having experienced the healing love of Christ, she now plays a major role in counseling women who come out of sex trafficking through Moldova Mission.
 
“She doesn’t run from her past experience but instead engages others who have and are experiencing the same injustices,” Copeland said of Natalia.
 
When Copeland and her friends went their separate ways for college, SOS looked very different than it had in high school. Soon, Copeland realized that the organization that she had spent much of her life pursuing was only a part of what the Lord was teaching her in His greater plan for her life.
 
Copeland is learning that the Lord wants to broaden her experience with social justice even further by giving her other avenues to serve. Currently, Copeland and her husband Travis serve on the advisory board for Refugee Hope Partners, an organization that aids in refugee ministry at Cedar Point apartments in Raleigh, N.C.
 
“Things like that have been huge parts of my story since coming to college. It doesn’t just look like doing this one thing. It looks like being faithful in a lot of different areas,” Copeland said.
 
As she pursued a major in English and minor in justice and social ethics at Southeastern, she learned how to think more deeply about the problems facing society today.
 
“That’s hard work, and it’s really hard to teach something so intangible,” said Copeland, explaining that she appreciated the way her professors at Southeastern helped her learn how to form her own informed opinions on issues.
 
Copeland crossed the stage on May 11, received her diploma and will continue to fight for social justice while in Wake Forest just as she did from a young age.
 
During the graduation ceremony, Southeastern President Danny Akin quoted missionary John Keith Falconer saying, “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light.”
 
“It all boils down to what Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” said Copeland.
 
*Name changed.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lauren Pratt is Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s news and information specialist.)
 

5/24/2018 12:48:44 PM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments



‘100 Houses’ evangelism effort in New Orleans

May 24 2018 by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS

Don’t tell seminary professor Preston Nix that door-to-door evangelism in New Orleans does not work. Time and again, he has found that loving gospel conversations, even during door-to-door evangelism, can and do lead to decisions for Christ.
 
“It does not work ... if you do not work it,” said Nix, professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS). “But if you work it with a smile on your face, the love of Christ in your heart, and the Good News of the gospel on your lips shared with kindness and conviction, you will be amazed at how many people will listen to you and respond to the message of the gospel.”

Photo by Chandler McCall
Students and faculty members from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary visited more than 100 houses in the Edgewood Park neighborhood (lower right section of photograph) for a servanthood evangelism effort. As a result, which took place a few short blocks from campus, six people made professions of faith.


During a recent servanthood evangelism effort in the Edgewood Park/Gentilly neighborhood near New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, six people trusted Christ as their Savior and 16 prospects were identified.
 
Gentilly Baptist Church began providing follow-up visits to each new believer and each prospect just days after the initial evangelism effort.
 
Nix planned the servanthood evangelism project for April 26. Called “100 houses – 100 minutes,” the goal was to visit 100 houses in Gentilly with teams of three or four offering smoke alarm batteries, a 100th anniversary pen from NOBTS, and a gospel conversation to all who would listen. Nix felt confident it was possible to do all of this in an hour and a half if enough students and faculty members participated.
 
While most of the seminary’s centennial celebration is taking place on campus and at NOBTS extension centers, Nix wanted to celebrate the anniversary in a way that harkened back to the purpose the school was planted in New Orleans.
 
“This school was founded as a training ground for getting the gospel out to the nations,” Nix said, “so I wanted us to be true to our roots and get outside the gates of the seminary during this special season with the life-changing message of Jesus to our community.”
 
In Nix’s faculty carpool on the way to campus April 26, Jeff Griffin, dean of libraries at NOBTS, prayed that five people would place their faith in Christ through the outreach efforts later that afternoon.
 
When the event rolled around, 17 volunteers – nine professors and eight students – went in the neighborhoods near the seminary campus to share their faith. With a few more teams the goal of visiting 100 houses would have been completed; however, the teams were able to visit 81 houses and engage in 38 gospel conversations that day.
 
During this initial afternoon effort, four people made decisions for Christ. But when Ken Taylor and David Sneed of Gentilly Baptist Church began the follow-up process April 28, they encountered Zachary at one of the houses on their list.
 
Sneed began by sharing his testimony and then presented the Gospel to Zachary, who had a Gospel conversation during the outreach effort on April 26. Zachary would become the fifth individual reached, in part, by the original outreach effort – the very number of people Griffin prayed for the morning of April 26.
 
“As David shared, Zachary was intent and he said, ‘I need what you are sharing,’” said Taylor, professor of urban missions at NOBTS and pastor of Gentilly Baptist Church. “Zachary started shedding tears even before he prayed. David led him in the sinner’s prayer and he seemed overjoyed.”
 
Though excited about the results from April 26 and 28, Nix wanted NOBTS teams to visit at least 100 houses before considering the project complete. Nix scheduled two additional outreach efforts on May 3 and 10 in order to meet the original goal.
 
On May 3, a small group of volunteers visited 10 houses and had five gospel conversions. Through their efforts that day, one individual accepted Christ. The following week, a group of nine students and professors visited 15 more houses to bring the total to 106 houses.
 
Nix was overwhelmed by the high percentage of gospel conversations and the number of people who trusted Christ. Reaching 100 houses took longer than 100 minutes, but Nix attributed the increased time to the fact that half of the visits resulted in a gospel conversation. The visits take much longer when people are open to the gospel, Nix said.
 
“We had 53 gospel conversations – exactly half of the contacts which is a very high percentage,” Nix said. “We discovered at least 16 prospects but the most important stat of all: we saw six precious souls give their hearts to Christ!”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gary D. Myers is director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)
 

5/24/2018 12:47:19 PM by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS | with 0 comments



Faith group’s advocacy speeds prison reform bill

May 24 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Years of prison reform advocacy is reaping fruit for Prison Fellowship with the passage of a bill termed a “first step” in rehabilitating federal prisoners and reducing recidivism.
 
Churches are also a crucial player in preventing incarceration, reforming prisoners and speeding their productivity upon release, Christian advocates said after the U.S. House passed the First Step Act on May 22.
 
The House’s overwhelming bipartisan approval will hopefully speed passage of the bill in the U.S. Senate, Craig DeRoche, Prison Fellowship senior vice president of advocacy and public policy said in a press conference today.
 
The House passed the bill just weeks after Second Chance Month, an annual April Prison Fellowship initiative for prison reform supported by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and 150 other groups.
 
“Congress put their values first over political party or maybe ideological leaning and came together to do something that was very good here for America,” DeRoche said, “and something that has been proven to work in the states to improve public safety. We’re hopeful that the (House) numbers, that 360 to 59, will give it momentum to get through the Senate this year.”
 
The act incorporates individualized risk assessments and expands in-prison programs designed to reduce recidivism, but fails to address sentencing guidelines. Currently, neither a majority of Congress nor U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions support sentencing guideline changes, DeRoche said.
 
“That is why the administration focused on prison reform right now,” DeRoche said, since bipartisan Congressional consensus is believed to exist. “Prison Fellowship has advocated for sentencing reform since our founding. ... We think it is very important that we change the federal sentencing guidelines.
 
“Prison Fellowship was very active in supporting the Charles Colson Task Force federal prison reform,” he said, which included sentencing reform recommendations. “We do think it’s critical. We think it’s important. But it’s also clear that there is not consensus, that a bill could not be passed through Congress this spring.”
 
The bill would bring relief to 180,000 men and women incarcerated today, DeRoche said.
 
“Because 95 percent of those currently incarcerated will be released and return to their communities,” he said, “this needed legislation will address safety concerns while helping these men and women become more productive and better citizens while fewer people return to crime.”
 
Tiheba Williams-Bain, a Christian advocate for decarceration who benefitted from Prison Fellowship during a 10-year prison term, encourages churches to be more active in addressing criminal justice concerns. People often look to faith groups for support within and outside prison walls, she said.
 
“The church is an intricate part of society,” Williams-Bain said. “When we come home from prison, we look to that faith group to give us the same solace we sought out from prison, because everyone seems to shun who we are and what we are trying to do, as far as reintegrate and redeem ourselves.”
 
Williams-Bain, a member of (Pentecostal) Calvary Temple Christian Center in Bridgeport, Conn., received certification as a religious educator from the Dorchester Bible Institute while imprisoned in Danbury, Conn., and Fort Worth, Texas. She advocates for prison reform through the group she founded, Women Against Mass Incarceration, and mentors women released from prison.
 
Churches can help by ministering to youth to discourage behavior leading to incarceration, opening their doors to people who were formerly incarcerated, and giving the former prison population a valuable voice in designing programs to help within and outside prison.
 
“When people are coming home from prison, I would suggest you open your doors and open your arms and your hearts and not be judgmental,” she said. “And listen to what they’re saying and help form some sort of alliance to help them have a place when they come home.”
 
Federally run programs are helpful, she said, but “rehabilitation doesn’t necessarily come from all those programs; it comes from the mindset of the person that utilizes the programs.”
 
Among First Step’s measures, the bill:

  • directs the Department of Justice to develop and implement a success-proven risk and needs assessment system (RNAS) to determine prisoners’ individual needs;
  • directs the Bureau of Prisons to use RNAS data to place prisoners in such proven recidivism reduction programs as substance abuse treatment, job skills training, mental health treatment and GED programs;
  • incorporates incentives encouraging prisoners’ sincere efforts to improve, including prerelease credits which could allow prisoners to complete their sentences in a residential reentry center or home confinement.

 
Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) sponsored by the bill.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

5/24/2018 11:12:16 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Judge sides with transgender teen

May 24 2018 by Kiley Crossland, WORLD Digital

A federal judge on May 22 said a Virginia school board violated the rights of a transgender teen by requiring that all students use the restroom corresponding to their biological gender.
 
U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen declined to hear the Gloucester County School Board’s request to dismiss the case, arguing the board violated former student Gavin Grimm’s rights under the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the federal Title IX protections against gender-based discrimination.
 
Allen said the board’s policies “singled out and stigmatized Mr. Grimm,” and ordered lawyers for both sides to schedule a settlement conference in the next 30 days. Grimm, a biological female who identifies as male, first sued the school district in 2015 after the school board passed a policy requiring students use restrooms corresponding to their biological sex, or use single occupancy restrooms.
 
A federal judge initially sided with the school board, but an appeals court ruled in Grimm’s favor, citing a 2015 directive by the Barack Obama Administration allowing students to choose a restroom based on their gender identity.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court backed out of hearing the case in 2016 after the Donald Trump administration withdrew the directive, sending the case back to U.S. District Court. Grimm graduated from Gloucester High School in June 2017.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kiley Crossland writes for WORLD Digital, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission.)
 

5/24/2018 11:07:32 AM by Kiley Crossland, WORLD Digital | with 0 comments



SWBTS trustees transition Patterson to president emeritus

May 23 2018 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Updated May 23, 12:15 p.m.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's (SWBTS) board of trustees convened May 22 at 1:30 p.m. on the school's campus in Fort Worth, Texas, to discuss and deliberate controversy that has engulfed SWBTS President Paige Patterson. As the meeting extended into the early morning hours of May 23, more than 13 hours later, the trustees decided move Patterson out of his active role leading the school into a paid, honorary position as president emeritus.

They also decided to appoint a current dean, Jeffrey Bingham, as the interim president, and offer resolutions of support for Patterson regarding accusations about sexual abuse reporting practices and the firing of an employee, Nathan Montgomery, who shared an article on social media that was critical of Patterson.

The board released the following statement:
 

"The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) board of trustees is grateful for the contributions Dr. and Mrs. Paige Patterson have made since his presidency began in 2003. Further, we honor his longstanding dedication and commitment to serving the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in its mission to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations by leading the way for the conservative resurgence.
 

A special meeting of the SWBTS Board was held on May 22 to discuss our seminary, its future and our responsibility as trustees to ensure SWBTS is in the best position possible to fulfill our mission to biblically educate God-called men and women.
 

After much prayer and a more than 13-hour discussion regarding challenges facing the Institution, including those of enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity, the Board determined to move in the direction of new leadership for the benefit of the future mission of the Seminary.
 

The board passed a motion through a majority vote to appoint Dr. Patterson as President Emeritus with compensation, effective immediately, which he accepted. In addition, the board passed a motion to affirm the trustees’ September 2017 offer for Dr. and Mrs. Patterson to live on campus as the first theologians-in-residence at the Baptist Heritage Center, scheduled to be completed in July 2018.
 

The board also voted to appoint Dr. D. Jeffrey Bingham, Dean of the School of Theology, to the position of Interim President, pending his acceptance. Further, a special committee of the trustees was formed to work out all the details of leadership transition for Drs. Patterson and Bingham.
 

Additionally, the board affirmed a motion stating 1) evidence exists that Dr. Patterson has complied with reporting laws regarding assault and abuse, 2) the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse and 3) the board has not found evidence of misconduct in Nathan Montgomery’s employment file.
 

As we begin the process of ushering in a new season of leadership, SWBTS remains steadfast in its calling to assist the churches of the SBC by biblically educating God-called men and women for ministries that fulfill the Great Commission and glorify God."
 

Background


Patterson came under fire last month when video and audio clips surfaced online that featured him recounting controversial advice he gave to a woman about domestic violence and making comments about a teenage girl’s physical attractiveness in a sermon.
 
Several Southern Baptist leaders responded with public statements at the time about domestic violence and the dignity of women, including SBC President Steve Gaines and well-known Bible teacher Beth Moore. An open letter from Southern Baptist women, which objected to Patterson being “allowed to continue in leadership,” garnered more than 3,000 signatures online. Patterson later apologized for his remarks, which he described as “obviously hurtful to women in several possible ways.”
 
New information came to light May 22 as trustees entered their meeting that Patterson had advised a female seminary student in 2003 not to report an alleged rape to law enforcement officials, according to The Washington Post. The instance took place while Patterson was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C., and involved SEBTS students. He became president of SWBTS later that year.
 
The Southern Baptist Texan reported earlier this year about SWBTS plans for Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, to live on campus in a presidential apartment upon his retirement. The residence is under construction as part of the school’s Baptist Heritage Center, where Patterson is expected to remain as scholar-in-residence until physically unable.

Patterson is scheduled to give the keynote sermon and a task force report at next month's annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). There is no word yet on whether Patterson plans to withdraw or keep those assignments. 
 
He was a key figure in the SBC’s “Conservative Resurgence,” a transitional period in the 1980s and ‘90s that featured widespread debate and institutional turmoil among Southern Baptist entities over theological topics such as divine revelation and gender roles in the church. Many Southern Baptists revere Patterson for his efforts in steering the denomination in a more conservative direction.
 

Reaction


Patterson said in an email to students seen by the Biblical Recorder that he was thankful for their support and encouraged them to focus on studying and ministry.

"As for the Pattersons," he added, "we are, of course, hurt. But we did not compromise and we still have our voice to witness. That we will attempt faithfully to do."

J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and candidate for SBC president, released a statement saying, "Dr. Patterson was very influential in my early ministry, which has made this whole situation heartbreaking for me. I am grateful that the trustees at Southwestern desired to respond with accountability.

"One thing must be clear, however: There can be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused and to be a safe place for the vulnerable. Abuse can never be tolerated, minimized, hidden, or 'handled internally.' Those in leadership who turn a blind eye toward abuse are complicit with it and must be held accountable. I hope that in the days to come, Southern Baptists will make that clear and act accordingly."

(EDITOR'S NOTE – More statements from Southern Baptist leaders will be added as they become available.)

5/23/2018 12:20:33 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 2 comments



Mac Brunson elected pastor of Valleydale Church

May 23 2018 by Baptist Press staff

Valleydale Church in Birmingham, Ala., called Mac Brunson as pastor May 20, just three weeks after he resigned the pastorate of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

Photo by Bill Bangham
Mac Brunson


“This is a God move,” Brunson said when Valleydale elected him in a business meeting following his in-view-of-a-call sermon, The Alabama Baptist reported. He’s slated to preach his first official pastoral sermon at the 1,000-member church July 22, according to the news journal of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
 
His election followed Valleydale’s 21-month pastoral search, capping a May 17 reception with church deacons and elders. Brunson’s wife Debbie spoke at a Valleydale women’s luncheon May 18.
 
Brunson announced his resignation to the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Jacksonville (FBC JAX) April 29, reported the Christian Index, the news journal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. At that time, Brunson said he had no future job in place, according to the Index.
 
Brunson’s departure from Florida signaled no scandal nor improper action, FBC JAX emphasized April 30th, saying he served with “moral and ministerial faithfulness” and that “no individual or group within our church asked him to leave. … On the contrary, we are grateful for the years of service rendered by Dr. Brunson and his wife Debbie.”
 
The 60-year-old Brunson pastored the First Baptist Church of Dallas for seven years before leading FBC JAX beginning in 2006, and earlier led churches in South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina. He is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
 
He holds doctor of ministry and master of divinity degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Debbie have three children and 10 grandchildren.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

5/23/2018 8:51:39 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 6 comments



Displaying results 21-30 (of 50)
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5  >  >|