May 2018

SBC ends relationship with DC convention

May 23 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

After nearly a year and a half of discussions concerning a Washington church with lesbian co-pastors, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has notified the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC) that “the formal relationship between the SBC and the DCBC has come to an end,” according to a statement by interim Executive Committee (EC) president D. August Boto.

Photo by Jim Veneman

At its Feb. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, the EC adopted a recommendation granting the DCBC 90 days to “secure” the “removal of any churches from its fellowship that have demonstrated a faith or practice affirming, approving or endorsing homosexual behavior.” If such churches remained in friendly cooperation with the DCBC after May 20, the EC stated, the DCBC would lose its authorization “to receive and disburse Cooperative Program and other SBC contributions.”
At issue was Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, which cooperates with the DCBC and voted in January 2017 to call a legally-married lesbian couple as co-pastors. Calvary voted in 2012 to cease cooperation with the SBC.
Boto told Baptist Press (BP) he received a letter May 21 from DCBC executive director Robert Cochran “indicating that the DCBC has not taken action the Executive Committee hoped it would when it issued its Feb. 20 decision. In his letter, Cochran divulged that he anticipated an end to our relationship.”
Boto added, “I issued a letter [May 21], to the DCBC on behalf of the EC, and copying it to all EC members. I will soon send another letter to each of eight churches we know of in DC that are supporting SBC work through financial gifts directed through the DCBC. The letters will inform each group that the formal relationship between the SBC and the DCBC has come to an end and that, beginning [May 21], the SBC no longer recognizes the District of Columbia Baptist Convention as a Baptist body authorized to receive and disburse Cooperative Program and other SBC contributions.”
Cochran contacted Boto in early April inviting EC representatives to meet with him and another DCBC representative May 7 for what Cochran termed “negotiations” about the EC’s February decision, Boto said. Despite the EC’s offer to send representatives to Washington for such a meeting, the gathering did not materialize and Cochran offered to meet via conference call instead.
“In my reply,” Boto said, “I indicated that the long window (almost one and one-half years) during which the DCBC had failed to address our concerns ... gave me little hope that a conference call at this late date would be helpful if it did not include those with authority to exclude the errant church from the DCBC’s fellowship by May 20.
“I encouraged him rather to work with his leaders to show [the DCBC’s] doctrinal kinship with the SBC by calling the church to repent or face removal from the DCBC fellowship, something we would find as an affirmation of the convention’s commitment to biblical truth.”
At its February meeting, the EC “expressed deep regret over the need to take this action, but felt compelled to affirm biblical truth over organizational relationships,” Boto said. The EC also indicated its “willingness to consider resuming its relationship with the DCBC in the future” if Calvary repents of its actions or the DCBC removes the church from its fellowship.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

5/23/2018 8:51:21 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Kelley to NOBTS grads: ‘Jesus changes everything’

May 23 2018 by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS

As the world watched the royal wedding festivities at Great Britain’s Windsor Castle May 19, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) graduate candidates waited patiently inside Leavell Chapel to receive their diplomas.
Chuck Kelley, NOBTS president, reminded the chapel audience that while a media frenzy that morning surrounded Prince Harry and his new bride Meghan Markle, no reporters waited outside to talk to them.

Photo by Chandler McCall
Graduates and families gather at the Leavell Chapel Quad at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary during the school’s commencement service May 19.

“So, why does this day matter?” Kelley asked the crowd. “The occasion we are here for today is far, far more significant than that gathering that has the eyes of the whole world.”
Every graduate is important, Kelley explained, but the ministries and positions of service each would soon occupy did not depend on them.
“Your life matters,” Kelley said. “But, it’s not about you. It’s about Jesus. He holds the key.”
Kelley explained that he carries in his pocket a key once used to unlock cell doors at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La. Worn past its usefulness, the key now is “retired,” Kelley said.
“I carry it with me always as a reminder that Jesus changes everything,” Kelley said.
Once known as the “bloodiest prison in America,” the Angola prison today is home to more than 325 graduates of the NOBTS baccalaureate program, with inmates leading 25 cell block congregations and baptizing about 100 per year using a child’s wading pool.
The change to the maximum security prison started 22 years ago when then-warden Burl Cain asked if the seminary would begin a theological training program for inmates, Kelley noted. Of the prison’s 5,000 inmates, many are serving life terms.
Kelley related that at the first Angola graduation 20 years ago, Cain told him that each of the graduates “had killed at least one person,” but that the joy on their faces upon graduating was unforgettable.
“The effect on the prison has been profound,” Kelley said. “The difference is the gospel.”
Kelley said some graduates at Angola have transferred to other prisons where they serve as “missionaries” sharing the gospel and starting congregations. Once, an inmate at another NOBTS prison extension center asked for Kelley’s help in transferring out of his medium security prison to Angola. Kelley explained that the man had taken every course NOBTS offered at his prison and wanted to go to Angola where more NOBTS courses were offered.
Each graduate matters, Kelley said, though they would not be the lead story on the evening news. Kelley urged them to remember that “no lives are too broken; no hatreds and hostilities too deep.”
“This is your life. This is your calling,” Kelley said. “To bring the balm of Gilead, to bring the life-transforming power of the gospel to bear on every form of human need, every kind of life in every kind of circumstance. Jesus changes everything.”
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary conferred 106 masters degrees and 34 doctoral degrees including 11 doctor of philosophy degrees, 20 doctor of ministry degrees, and three doctor of educational ministry degrees. Forty-two master of divinity degrees, 28 with specializations, were conferred.
During commencement services held May 18, NOBTS’ Leavell College granted 61 bachelor degrees, including the bachelor of arts degree in Christian Ministry to five at the Angola prison, and 13 to the Mississippi State Penitentiary, Parchman, Miss.
The Lockman Foundation presented each graduate with a copy of the New American Standard Bible.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marilyn Stewart is assistant director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)

5/23/2018 8:41:53 AM by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS | with 0 comments

Gateway grads challenged to share gospel ‘aroma’

May 23 2018 by Kathie Chute, Gateway Seminary

President Jeff Iorg charged spring graduates of Gateway Seminary to share the gospel with everyone they encounter as the sweet aroma of a triumphant Lord.
Some aromas evoke positive emotions, Iorg said, recalling playing baseball as a boy in the shadow of huge commercial bakery. “Baseball and the smell of fresh bread go together and bring back many happy memories,” he said.

Photo by Caleb Stallings
Gateway graduate Christian Lopez, in a commencement testimony May 18, enjoyed “the diversity of the students, where a senior pastor sits on my left and a missionary off the field is on my right.”

“Our sense of smell is profound. That’s why God used it as an analogy to communicate something powerful about our role in sharing the gospel,” Iorg said.
Speaking from 2 Corinthians 2, Iorg charged the graduates, “Tonight, we commission you as the sweet aroma of Jesus Christ sharing the Good News of our triumphant Lord. Like a generous diffuser, you must share the gospel indiscriminately with as many people as possible.”
Sharing the gospel “is not about you getting accolades,” Iorg said. “It’s about being faithful to the Lord and His gospel. It’s not about you. It’s about the message – and getting it to as many people as possible, no matter who gets the credit.”
Ninety graduates received diplomas and degrees at the spring commencement May 18 at Friendship Baptist Church in Yorba Linda, Calif. The service was the third of five for Gateway Seminary students including the Pacific Northwest Campus in Vancouver, Wash., on May 11; the Rocky Mountain Campus in Centennial, Colo., on May 12; the San Francisco Campus in Fremont, Calif., on May 19. The final ceremony will be at the Arizona Campus in Scottsdale on May 26. In all, Iorg will have conferred 194 diplomas and degrees during those services.
In a student testimony, Christian Lopez of California, who received a master of divinity degree, testified to being an atheist as a senior in high school. He connected with a church youth group and youth pastor who patiently answered his questions about religion and faith. Lopez later accepted the challenge to read the Bible – and read it all the way through. That experience led him to faith in Jesus. When he continued to ask many questions about faith and the Bible, his pastor encouraged him to consider seminary.
“I didn’t know what seminary was, but the pastor paid for me to visit Gateway,” Lopez said. “I eventually enrolled, and I’ve loved my experience here. I have enjoyed the diversity of the students, where a senior pastor sits on my left and a missionary off the field is on my right. I also am grateful you can become real friends with the professors.”
Another student, Carola Manriquez of Chile, received a master of arts in intercultural studies. As a child, she was on Gateway’s former Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary campus in Mill Valley, Calif., as her dad attended classes. Being raised in a minister’s home, she has come full circle and discovered her own calling through Gateway.
“There are plenty of labels placed on me: Latina, minority, woman, student. At Gateway, I learned the label of God for my life: cultural mediator. I am a third culture kid who sits in the middle. My role is helping people in other cultures understand things, to be a resource to do what God has called them to do, to help them find beauty in their birthplace, and to redeem their culture. That is my heart song.”
Iorg presented the William O. Crews Presidential Leadership Award to Wuttichai Victor Chayasirisobhon, senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Anaheim, chief administrator of the Discovery Christian School and first vice president of the California Southern Baptist Convention. The Crews award recognizes a graduate who has significant leadership potential, particularly for pastoral or denominational service. Chayasirisobhon received both the master of intercultural studies and doctor of ministry degrees. He has now earned 10 academic degrees having first trained as a physician before committing himself to pastoral leadership.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kathie Chute is director of communications for Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

5/23/2018 8:39:01 AM by Kathie Chute, Gateway Seminary | with 0 comments

Mission:Dignity affirms couple’s trust in God’s care

May 23 2018 by Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources

No matter how little they appeared to have, Roy and Janice Southern understood one undeniable truth: You can’t out-give the Lord.
Whether it was selling his gun to help a fellow seminary student at Criswell College pay for his textbooks or giving $100 from their Mission:Dignity gift to a widow they knew couldn’t afford her medicine, the Southerns have been faithful throughout their lives to share what they had with others.

GuideStone photo
For Roy Southern and his wife Janice, assistance from Mission:Dignity “relieved a lot on our mind” in their retirement years after a life of generosity in the small churches they served.

“God promised us that He would take care of us if we were obedient to Him,” Janice said.
The Southerns are like most Mission:Dignity recipients: They served in out-of-the-way places, never worrying about their paycheck, always trusting in the Lord’s provision. It was a ministry that took them to South Dakota, Utah, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
“When [we were serving] in South Dakota, they had promised us $50 a month to come out there,” Roy recalled. “Of course, we had tried to put the pencil to it and figure it out, and we couldn’t figure out how we were going to get by, but God already had plans.
“We felt God leading us to the church and went ahead and moved with a promise of $50. It wound up that they only could pay us $20, but God provided a job for us. We became school bus drivers and made enough money driving the school bus to supplement our income that we were getting by.”
A second church nearby needed a pastor and so Roy became pastor of two churches at the same time; that second church had a parsonage where the Southerns could live.
Another time, while serving in Utah among the Ute American Indian tribes, Roy recalled another way the Lord provided.
“We had a deacon that would come by, drink coffee on Monday morning after the church service,” Roy said. “When Janice would pick up the cup to wash it, there would be a $20 bill underneath the cup. So, God has His ways. We just simply trust, and that’s all I can say. We just trusted.”
A move to pastoring in Mississippi and Louisiana eventually allowed the Southerns to save for retirement through GuideStone Financial Resources, though it wasn’t much. Ultimately that money helped them buy the home where they reside. Concern for how they would pay their medical insurance coverage ultimately led them to GuideStone’s Mission:Dignity. The $350 monthly premium on their insurance supplement weighed heavy on their hearts.
“When we got that first check [from Mission:Dignity], it just about covered all of [the premium cost],” Roy said. “That was a tremendous blessing to us. That relieved a lot on our mind about how we were going to pay for this, and how we were going to have enough for groceries and buy our medications, too.”
Through GuideStone, which is marking 100 years of ministry in 2018, Mission:Dignity provides financial support to retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows in financial need. Individuals can receive $225 per month and couples can receive $300. The neediest recipients with at least 25 years of paid Southern Baptist ministerial service can receive double. No Cooperative Program gifts undergird Mission:Dignity. Churches, Sunday School classes and individuals provide all the financial support. One hundred percent of all gifts given to Mission:Dignity go to support a retired servant in need. Administrative costs are covered by an established endowment. Last year, more than $7 million was raised and paid out for these workers.
“We just praise the Lord for people who contribute to Mission:Dignity,” Roy said.
Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 24 across the Southern Baptist Convention. Churches can order free materials from GuideStone for use in June or any other time of their choosing to promote the ministry with church members. Visit or call 1-877-888-9409 to order the materials. A video featuring the Southerns can also be viewed on the website.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 24 across the Southern Baptist Convention. Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

5/23/2018 8:32:38 AM by Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources | with 0 comments

Moss accepts Missouri Baptist disaster relief position

May 22 2018 by Biblical Recorder staff

North Carolina’s Baptists on Mission, also known as North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), announced today (May 22) that Gaylon Moss, disaster relief director, has accepted a similar position with the Missouri Baptist Convention. Moss will make the transition July 1, after serving in his current role for nearly 20 years.

N.C. Baptist photo
Gaylon Moss

“Gaylon has been a tremendous disaster relief director for North Carolina and he will be greatly missed,” Richard Brunson, director of NCBM, said in a press release. “I told Gaylon that it will be very hard to replace him, but I am so excited that God has led him to this opportunity and Gaylon has been willing to go where God has led him. Gaylon has done so much for us. He is a person of great ability, vision and integrity. I am so thankful and proud of him. My main thought since Gaylon told me that he would be leaving has been, ‘the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord’ (Job 1:21). Please pray for Gaylon and his family in their move and for us as we seek the Lord’s leading in finding the new NC Disaster Relief Director.”
Moss said, “I am very thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord and others through NCBM/Baptists on Mission as the Disaster Relief Director. The NCBM Disaster Relief volunteers are a terrific team to work with and have some of their best days ahead of them.”
The NCBM announcement said a search committee would be established to fill the vacancy.

5/22/2018 2:37:59 PM by Biblical Recorder staff | with 0 comments

‘Broken and hurting’ Santa Fe seeks hope, healing

May 22 2018 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Associate pastor Joey Tombrella had a personal story to tell in his graduate recognition sermon days after the Santa Fe High School mass murder.

ABC13 screengrab
Mourners pray while lighting candles for the 10 victims of the May 18 Santa Fe High School mass murder.

His sister Rachel Blundell, the school’s principal, and her daughter, 18-year-old niece Faith, were among those seeking safety when a teenager walked into the school, killed 10 and injured another 10.
“Prom was last week, and to hear gunshots behind you as you run in a grassy field with your heart racing,” Tombrella said of his niece, “it is not a surprise why this generation is being labeled the anxious generation.”
Faith told her story at Tombrella’s kitchen table in League City, Texas, the night before his sermon at Nassau Bay Baptist Church about 25 miles from the school. She heard the shots when they began around 7:30 a.m. May 18.
“She could see down the hallway one of her teachers, in her words, freaking out,” Tombrella told Baptist Press of Faith. “As she was leaving, she could hear the gunshots going from the high school. The fire alarm possibly could have even saved my sister’s life; I think she could have gone [back] inside, but the doors were looked because of the fire alarm.”
Both survived the ordeal uninjured, but eight students and two teachers were killed in the attack.
Area pastors met in Santa Fe today, May 21, to plan a community-wide service of hope and healing, First Baptist Church of Alta Loma pastor John Newton told BP. A service in a community venue, perhaps the Santa Fe High School stadium, may be of particular benefit to the unchurched and unreached in the town of 12,000 people.
“We are broken and we are hurting,” Newton told BP. “The wounds are very deep, they are very fresh. We are a small community. We have one high school and we know the kids. We’re not a metropolitan area with large schools. We live here.”
About 200 attend Alta Loma church in Santa Fe on Sundays, and attendance at all churches combined in the community would be about 2,500 on a “good Sunday,” Newton said. None of the dead or wounded attend his church that draws about 35 or 50 students to Wednesday evening youth events.
“We’re trying to reach out to our community to offer them some hope,” Newton said. “We find people that are without Jesus a lot. It’s not like we can say there’s no place else to go because everybody’s saved here. That’s not the situation in Santa Fe.”
The meeting is still being planned but might occur as early as May 23, Newton speculated. Newton cancelled his vacation to remain in town to minister.
The town is accustomed to hurricanes, he said, but not mass shootings.
“We do hurricanes. We’re resilient. Neighbors help neighbors,” he said. “This [shooting] is hopefully something that is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and nobody will ever have to go through that again, because it is loss of life.
“It is a loss of security, a feeling of hopelessness, and personally, as a pastor,” Newton said, “I found myself not really even knowing how to feel, knowing what to do, and reaching out to some chaplains.” The Billy Graham Rapid Response team is onsite, Newton said.
Southern Baptists of Texas and the Baptist General Convention of Texas chaplains are on standby to help as needed, leaders of both groups have said.
Police have arrested Dimitrios Pagourtzis as a suspect in the shooting. The 17-year-old used a shotgun, revolver and handmade explosive devices in the rampage. Some of the explosive devices were operational, police said in news reports May 20, although none of them were successfully detonated on the day of the crime.

5/22/2018 10:30:18 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Mohler points SBTS grads to sources of strength

May 22 2018 by Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS

Graduates of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary can draw strength for ministry from the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and their obedience to His call, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said in his commencement address to the seminary’s 2018 graduates.

SBTS photo
The gospel of Christ and obedience to His call are key sources of strength for ministry, R. Albert Mohler Jr. tells 2018 graduates of Southern Seminary.

During the 220th commencement exercises on the seminary lawn May 18, 284 master’s and doctoral students were present to receive degrees as part of a graduating class of 320. The 320-person class is the largest during Mohler’s 25-year tenure as Southern’s president.
“As much as we glorify God in this [commencement], we glorify God for redeeming a church by the blood of His Son and gifting that church with ministers who have served since the time of the apostles until now,” Mohler said in his address.
Preaching from Romans 16:25-27, Mohler noted that the apostle Paul concluded his watershed epistle with a fanfare to God’s glory in Christ. The book of Romans is the titanic center of the New Testament, he said, describing in comprehensive terms the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The conclusion to the letter praises the God “who is able to strengthen,” assuming that all Christians – including ministers of the gospel – need strengthening, Mohler said. Seminary graduation, though a significant accomplishment, should be a testament to every student’s absolute dependence on God in both life and ministry, he said.
“I want to tell you graduates, as I look at you, you look very strong. You look good. You look healthy. You look ready. But you are not strong and you are not ready,” Mohler said. “You are not up to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ – not one of the ministers of the gospel of Christ is sufficient. Every single one of us at every single moment is dependent on another’s strength. We are never weaker than when we think we are stronger, and we are perhaps never stronger than when we sense that we are weaker.”
As they enter their various ministries, the graduates need to remember Christ’s individual, solitary ability to rule over the universe and control all things, Mohler said. That power is utilized on behalf of believers, and that power is the only thing that can strengthen Christian ministry.
This strengthening occurs in three ways, Mohler said: the preaching of the gospel; the Word of God; and the command of God on the lives of believers.
In the preaching of the gospel, Paul makes it clear that all ministers preach the same gospel that transformed Paul’s life. This transformation is the only thing that equips faithful Christian ministry, Mohler said, and inspires believers to teach and proclaim the saving message to the ends of the earth.
Only the Word of God can provide the content of that faithful preaching, Mohler continued, saying that the seminary curriculum was designed to cultivate a biblical reflex in all its graduates.
“What has been inculcated in you through hours and months and years of study of Scripture is the instinct to turn to Scripture,” Mohler said. “When we are ready to preach, when we are about to teach, when we need our own souls fed and as we prepare to feed the souls of others, our right instinct is to turn to the Word of God.”
And ministers are strengthened by the call of God that they obeyed when they attended seminary, Mohler said. The call to repent and believe in the gospel is a command that must be obeyed, he said, and so is the call to ministry.
“What you see here, brothers and sisters, in these graduates is the answer to a command,” Mohler said. “We refer to it as a call, and it is not a call that was offered to these graduates for their consideration. It’s a call that came as a command, and the only rightful response is obedience. That is what we are celebrating here today: obedience.”
During graduation, Mohler presented the annual Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence to Michael A.G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Seminary who has taught at Southern since 2008. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and author of the 2011 book “Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church,” among many others. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.
The recipient of the 2018 Josephine S. and James L. Baggott Outstanding Graduate Award was Jason E. Milton, a master of divinity graduate from Berea, Ohio.
Mohler’s commencement address will be available in audio and video format at

5/22/2018 10:26:27 AM by Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS | with 0 comments

Jimmy Carter urges unity at Liberty graduation

May 22 2018 by Timothy Cockes, Liberty University

Former United States President Jimmy Carter challenged Liberty University graduates to “work as much as [they] can to unify Christians in the world,” and noted Baptists should “come together as friends and not be alienated one from another.”

Liberty University photo
Liberty University hosted former United States President Jimmy Carter as the keynote speaker for their 45th commencement ceremony on May 19.

Liberty hosted Carter as the keynote speaker for their 45th commencement ceremony on May 19. Carter, the nation’s 39th president, spoke to the crowd at Williams Stadium – made up of around 8,000 graduating students – about the God-given freedom and opportunity that they will now have.
“As new graduates, you’re blessed now with the maximum freedom that you will ever know, and every one of us decides, ‘this is the kind of person I choose to be,’” Carter said.
President Carter became the third president to deliver the commencement address at Liberty, joining George H. W. Bush in 1990 and Donald Trump in 2017 who both gave their address during their presidential term.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said he first met Carter and his wife Rosalynn last year at a private morning worship service on the day of President Trump’s inauguration.
Falwell noted he was impressed with the kindness, humility and warmth in which Carter carried himself. Lynchburg’s The News & Advance interviewed Falwell, who shared about his admiration for Carter.
“I have tremendous respect for him as a statesman and a true Christian,” Falwell said. “President Carter, both during his time in office and since, has followed the teachings of Christ by serving the poor and loving his neighbors. I am thrilled that he will be sharing the story of his life of faith in action to our graduates and their families.”
Falwell spoke of the courage with which Carter conducted his time in office and encouraged other men and women to aspire to political office with the same attitude of courage.
Carter has often been called “the world’s most famous Sunday school teacher.” The 93-year-old continues to teach an adult Bible study at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga. He has also been involved with many humanitarian efforts during and after his presidency such as his work with Habitat for Humanity and his leadership over The Carter Center in Atlanta.
In recognition of his lifetime of service, Liberty presented Carter with an honorary doctorate of humanities degree before his address to the crowd.
Unity among those in the faith community was one of the main themes of Carter’s message to the graduates.
Carter briefly mentioned a meeting he held in 1981 at The Carter Center with 40 of the nation’s top Southern Baptist leaders, seven of which would go on to become the president of the SBC, to discuss and try to resolve some disagreements between them.
Despite any differences with Southern Baptists on various social and theological issues and announcing his withdrawal from the SBC on multiple occasions, Carter emphasized the importance of unity in the body of Christ.
“Our common faith and worship of Jesus Christ is slowly bringing us back together,” Carter said. “We should work as much as we can to unify Christians in the world, and particularly Baptists ought to come together as friends and not be alienated one from another.”
Carter closed his speech by telling the graduates to lean into both prayer and following Christ’s example as foundations to build upon for the Christian life.
“Through prayer, we can have constant contact day or night with our Creator who knows everything and can do anything, and we have a perfect example to follow if we’re in doubt, we just have to remember the perfect life of Jesus Christ,” Carter said.
Liberty University is in partnership with the Southern Baptist Conservatives (SBC) of Virginia.

5/22/2018 10:21:04 AM by Timothy Cockes, Liberty University | with 0 comments

Texas shooting: Baptists mourn ‘lives snuffed out’

May 21 2018 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Grief counseling, prayer and offers to assist with funeral arrangements are among the ways local Southern Baptists sprang to action after a gunman killed 10 people at a Houston-area high school May 18.

Screen capture from KTRK
Ten people died and 10 more were wounded when a gunman opened fire May 18 at Santa Fe (Texas) High School.

Nine students and one adult are among the dead at Santa Fe High School just south of Houston, according to media reports. At least 10 additional people at the school were wounded in the shooting, which occurred around 7:30 a.m.
A 17-year-old suspect is in custody, as is a second person of interest, though the person of interest may not be a suspect, according to media reports. Explosives were found at the school and off campus, and two weapons reportedly were used in the shooting.
“I’m not sure which is harder to take, this or [Hurricane] Harvey,” said Lee Balinas, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hitchcock, Texas, three miles away from the school. Damage from Harvey in August 2017 “was widespread. But this one, because of the suddenness and the shock and 10 young lives snuffed out – it’s different.
“You can replace stuff ... but these are lives and potential for the future that will be lost forever,” Balinas told Baptist Press.
Members of First Baptist Hitchcock have children who attend Santa Fe High, but all of them seem to be safe physically, Balinas said. He knows a female substitute teacher who is not a member of First Baptist and was shot in the leg.
First Baptist Hitchcock has offered the use of its facility free of charge for funerals of shooting victims. Balinas coordinated with other local pastors and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) to organize a community prayer vigil.
SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards tweeted, “Please pray for the people affected by the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. @_SBTC will seek to assist the pastors and churches as they minister.”
SBTC disaster relief chaplains are on alert to respond in Santa Fe if needed.
First Baptist Church of Alta Loma in Santa Fe will held a prayer service and made chaplains available to those wishing to talk or pray, according to a news release from the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), another state convention in Texas that partners with the Southern Baptist Convention. Some students from First Baptist Alta Loma attend the school, but none have been reported among the dead or wounded.
Sagemont Church, about 10 miles away in Houston, offered its facility for any funerals that will require a larger auditorium. Sagemont also offered to donate graves in the church’s section of local Forest Lawn Cemetery for shooting victims.
“We want to reach out to the community and reflect the love of God to those that are hurting,” Sagemont pastor John Morgan told BP. “When one of us hurts, we all hurt. We’re going to have a special time of prayer on Sunday morning in all of our services.”
The BGCT said its representative for the Houston area has been providing convention resources to local churches and the area’s Galveston Baptist Association in the shooting’s aftermath. The BGCT’s chaplaincy relations ministry is preparing to help in Santa Fe. An administrator and chaplain from First Baptist Church in Friendswood, Texas, some 17 miles away, was at Santa Fe High May 18 ministering to families, the BGCT said.
BGCT Executive Director David Hardage said in a statement, “Today’s shooting in Santa Fe is heartbreaking. Violence at school, the home and the workplace is a direct contradiction to God’s Word and way. We are earnestly praying for all those affected. Violence and abuse of any kind, particularly against women and children, is far too commonplace in our society. Texas Baptists will continue its efforts to ensure the respectful treatment of everyone.”

5/21/2018 3:02:24 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

SBC exhibits to feature dialogue & ministry

May 21 2018 by Baptist Press staff

Abuse, the future of the Southern Baptist Convention, racism and collegiate church planting are among trending topics the Cooperative Program booth will address at the 2018 SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas.

BP file photo by Bill Bangham
Donna Gaines, second from left, participates in a panel on women's discipleship in the exhibit hall at the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting. This year's exhibit hall will feature panels on a range of issues as well as information about national and international missions and ministry.

Interviews with SBC presidential contenders J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Ken Hemphill, a North Greenville University administrator, also are scheduled during the June 11–13 sessions in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
C. Ashley Clayton, SBC Executive Committee vice president for CP and stewardship, called the lineup impressive and worthy of notice for visitors to the exhibit hall.
“Messengers and guests will have opportunities to hear directly from SBC leaders about topics and issues orbiting SBC life,” Clayton told Baptist Press. “The CP stage and platform will feature SBC entity leaders, seminary presidents and faculty, missionaries, church planters, pastors, authors, experts and ‘thought agents’ discussing important and high-leverage issues of top interest to Southern Baptists.”
In addition to the presidential candidates, speakers and panelists will include SBC President Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis, Tenn.; former SBC President Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans; D. August Boto, interim president of the Executive Committee; Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries.
Others are former National African American Fellowship President K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia; Vance Pitman, former SBC Pastors’ Conference president and pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas, and Matt Carter, pastor of Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas. Boyce College associate dean Kevin Jones and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary associate professor Jarvis Williams, coauthors of “Removing the Stain of Racism in the SBC,” will be featured, as will Jonathan Akin, North American Mission Board director of young leader engagement; Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response; and Jonathan Howe, managing editor of and co-host of the SBC This Week podcast.
The CP platform will be located between the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board exhibits.
A full schedule of the three-day events, which begin at 8:30 a.m. daily, is available at and the SBC mobile app and will be listed in the annual meeting’s daily bulletin.
Also slated for the exhibit hall:
The IMB interactive exhibit will provide space for pastors and church leaders to explore opportunities and resources that IMB has to offer to help equip and lead their churches in missions. Guests will find specific mission projects, mission trips, mission team opportunities and digital training materials – and plenty of IMB missionaries and staff ready to have a conversation about reaching the nations. Because every church plays a vital role in the gospel going to the nations, IMB offers guests a mosaic wall and video booth to tell their mission stories.
At the North American Mission Board’s exhibit, attendees will learn about NAMB’s two primary ministry areas, Send Relief and Send Network. Missionaries and leaders who serve throughout North America will be on hand to connect pastors and churches with missions opportunities. Attendees can learn about partnerships with missionaries and discover how their church can be on mission in North America.
“We always look forward to visiting with pastors and church members at our exhibit each year,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said. “This is a great opportunity for us to share how we can help them take the hope of the gospel to their community and beyond.”
Those who stop by NAMB’s exhibit also will have a chance to share the story of their latest gospel conversation by recording a GC60 message as part of the GC (Gospel Conversation) Challenge (, which is an evangelism initiative for pastors and their churches.
Many of NAMB’s leaders will also participate in conversations on the Cooperative Program stage that will take place throughout the annual meeting.
LifeWay’s 20,400-square-foot exhibit will offer a wide selection of books, Bibles, small group studies and other Christian products. Among the exhibit’s features:
– LifeWay Groups Ministry staff will help messengers plan and select appropriate materials for group Bible studies. Attendees can learn more about LifeWay’s ongoing studies The Gospel Project, Explore the Bible, Bible Studies for Life and, as well as short-term Bible studies.
– Messengers and guests will be able to obtain information about two free movie screenings: “Indivisible,” based on the story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather, and “Unbroken: Path to Redemption,” the sequel to the 2014 feature film “Unbroken.” The film picks up where the first ended and follows World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini’s life after the war, his struggle with alcoholism and PTSD, and his conversion at a Billy Graham crusade. Church leaders can learn more about opportunities to host movie screenings for their churches.
– Book signings are scheduled in the LifeWay store throughout the convention by numerous authors including Jeff Iorg, Beth Moore, Ronnie Floyd, Jerry Vines, Jarvis Williams and Kevin Jones.
Visitors to ERLC’s booth in the exhibit hall can pick up the latest issue of Light Magazine. The current issue features an interview with Russell Moore and Andy Crouch on technology and the family and an interview between Lindsay Nicolet and the founder of the popular YouVersion Bible app. The theme of the issue is how Christians should engage technology in this digital age in areas like artificial intelligence, communications, economics and the home.
Booth visitors also can register to win an ERLC resource gift pack featuring the most recent books from ERLC authors. Each pack will include a full set of Gospel for Life series, edited by Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker, as well as two complimentary registrations to the 2018 ERLC National Conference Oct. 11-13 in Dallas. This year’s conference theme is “The Cross-Shaped Family.”
GuideStone’s Wellness Center once again will offer free health checks, valued at up to $150, allowing messengers and family members to have their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose measured. Medical professionals will be on hand to answer any questions about the results. Fasting is not necessary for this year’s tests.
In the main booth, representatives will offer reviews of participants’ retirement accounts and answer questions about GuideStone’s life and health plans, property and casualty coverage, and other GuideStone services. Churches will be able to order free materials for Mission:Dignity Sunday, to be held June 24, to support GuideStone’s ministry to retired ministers and their widows in urgent financial need.
As part of GuideStone’s celebration of its 100th anniversary, Mission:Dignity will provide prayer cards for recipients where messengers can write a personal note to recipients, thanking them for their service to the Lord throughout their lives. Additionally, a large photo display will be available for families to take photographs and post them on social media.
Gateway Seminary’s exhibit booth will focus on the benefits of gospel-centered education offered at the seminary’s five urban campuses in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Phoenix and Portland areas as well as its Gateway Online program. Alumni and friends also may purchase tickets for the seminary’s luncheon at the booth, if they are still available. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved online by clicking here. Seating is limited. The event will be held on Wednesday, June 13, in Ballroom D4, Level 3, of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Gateway President Jeff Iorg will share about new programs at the seminary including the Chinese-English Bilingual Program, the Women’s Network and the Jonathan Edwards Center. In addition, the seminary’s distinguished alumni awards will be presented.
Guests visiting Midwestern Seminary’s exhibit booth will receive a “For the Church” mug with the state design of their choice. Additionally, in celebration of the renaming of Midwestern’s undergraduate program to Spurgeon College, each mug comes with a code to waive the application fee and a chance to win an iPad loaded with digital resources from Charles Spurgeon. Admissions team members will be ready to answer questions about Midwestern’s opportunities for training in ministry and missions. The new Timothy Track and Ph.D. residency programs, the 81-hour M.Div. and other undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and online degree programs will be featured. Purchase tickets to the For the Church Dallas Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 12 for $15 and tickets to Midwestern’s Alumni & Friends Luncheon at noon Wednesday, June 13 for $25. During the Tuesday luncheon, leaders such as J.D. Greear and Thom Rainer will discuss issues facing the denomination, while the Wednesday luncheon will highlight faculty at Midwestern as they discuss “Theology for the Church.” Early bird pricing for events is available through June 8; register online at
The New Orleans Seminary exhibit booth will highlight main campus programs and distance learning options with a special emphasis on NOBTS’ ongoing centennial celebration. The booth will feature a centennial-themed wall to serve as a backdrop for alumni social media posts. On Monday, June 11, NOBTS President Chuck Kelley will host a Centennial Cake Reception at the booth from 4-5 p.m. Throughout the annual meeting, cartoonist Joe McKeever, an NOBTS alumnus, will provide complimentary sketches at the booth and visitors may stop by for seminary literature, pens, Louisiana hot sauce and to enter a drawing for three gift packages (each includes a laptop messenger bag with 11 books written by NOBTS alumni and faculty members). The seminary enlistment team will be on site to guide potential students as they seek to answer God’s call to ministry and prepare for service.
Southeastern Seminary’s exhibit is designed to connect with attendees about how every believer can serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. Learn about courses offered at the College at Southeastern and the seminary. Talk with admissions staff and faculty, including Danny Akin, SEBTS president, and Bruce Ashford, Chuck Lawless, Keith Whitfield, Jamie Dew, Jim Shaddix and Alvin Reid. The booth will feature book giveaways and the spring issue of the Southeastern magazine.
Throughout the annual meeting, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s exhibit booth will offer a variety of giveaways providing resources for pastors. One giveaway is a new resource by SBTS Press, “Essential Reading on Leadership,” featuring contributions by seminary R. Albert Mohler Jr., SBTS president, Hershael W. York, Matthew J. Hall and others. Along with promotions and interaction opportunities with faculty, the seminary will distribute the spring issue of Southern Seminary Magazine. Themed around evangelism, the magazine features articles by Mohler and Adam W. Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, and a profile of SBTS alumnus Bland Mason. Convention attendees can connect with alumni, professors, friends and prospective students at the exhibit’s seating area, as well as purchase tickets for the annual alumni luncheon on Wednesday, June 13. More information is available at
Southwestern Seminary’s exhibit booth will reflect its ongoing passion for preaching the Word and reaching the world. Visit the booth to receive free books – including one by Matt Queen, chair of evangelism, on how to mobilize churches for evangelism, and one containing 110 stories of Southwestern students, faculty and alumni sharing the gospel with the lost, with many coming to saving faith in Christ. T-shirts and a gift for Southwestern alumni also will be available. SWBTS representatives and faculty will be present to discuss seminary programs and answer questions. The booth will highlight Southwestern’s seven schools and share how each one equips students to make a global impact for the Kingdom of God.
WMU will feature three distinct ways to be involved in missions through interactive exhibits in the SBC exhibit hall:
Children’s missions: Experience Burkina Faso in this fun, interactive exhibit for children that will also engage adults. Learn how WMU nurtures children in missions discipleship as they hear stories of how God is at work around the world through Southern Baptist missionaries. Kids and adults alike will enjoy experiencing Burkina Faso through missionary stories, missions activities, games and more. Take a fresh look at the ways WMU involves children in grades 1–6 in missions through Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, and Children in Action.
Seeking refuge: A Refugee Simulation: The International Mission Board, Baptist Global Response, North American Mission Board, Send Relief and WMU will jointly present a refugee simulation to help Southern Baptists understand the refugee crisis and discover ways to actively respond with Christlike compassion. Through this interactive experience, participants will have an opportunity to develop a greater understanding about the issues refugees face, learn what the Bible teaches about our response to refugees and explore how to go from having knowledge about this issue to engaging in ways to make difference for the cause of Christ. Plan 45 minutes for this experience.
WorldCrafts: A division of WMU, WorldCrafts develops sustainable, fair-trade businesses among impoverished people around the world. Its vision is to offer an income with dignity and the hope of everlasting life. To accomplish this vision, WorldCrafts partners with artisans throughout the world to bring their products to market. Visitors to the WorldCrafts exhibit will learn how to join this fair-trade ministry in providing hope to those in need. In addition to highlighting one of its newest partners, Begin Anew Refugee Artisan Group in Nashville, WorldCrafts also will introduce two new initiatives to bring hope to at-risk children and their families and to students involved in job-readiness ministries. These new initiatives invite churches and individuals to host 30-day online benefits for their chosen Baptist Children and Family Ministries and Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps sites. Twenty percent of all sales generated by each benefit go directly to the host’s selected ministry. Visit WorldCrafts to learn how you can bring transformation to your community and around the world.
Seminary Extension offers theological education and ministry training that is biblical, accessible and affordable. Most of its work is done through local churches and associations. Independent study for individual students also is available when other options are not practical. For information about how Seminary Extension serves Southern Baptists or about Seminary Extension studies, stop by booth #925. Seminary Extension director Randal Williams and student services associate Carmen Parker will be at the booth each day to provide assistance and to greet friends of the Southern Baptist service.
Protect your loved ones and create your legacy, starting with information available at the Southern Baptist Foundation exhibit booth, relaying a wide range of investment and estate planning services. With just a little planning, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are taking care of your family and making an impact for Christ through charitable giving, which also offers opportunities for significant tax savings. Stop by the foundation’s booth to and discover innovative ways to support your favorite causes and advance the Kingdom or email
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is serving as a key partner for the Global Hunger Relief Run 2018, in addition to being one of the sponsors. Runners can register for the 5k and Fun Run on Monday and Tuesday mornings in the SBTC booth at the exhibit hall. In addition, packet pick-up for all participants will be from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesday at the SBTC booth. Runners will receive T-shirts, bibs and a swag bag for the race, slated for 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 13. After the race, all winners – individual and team – in the 5k will be recognized later Wednesday morning at the CP Stage at 11:20 a.m.
BAPTIST GLOBAL RESPONSE – Get to know more about BGR and its projects while sipping a cup of Kingdom Growers Coffee. BGR works with Kingdom Growers to train coffee entrepreneurs in developing countries, and at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention, you’ll get to taste the results of that partnership at the BGR booth. You can also learn how you and your church can join BGR to aid the most vulnerable, restore families in crisis and empower communities. Just follow the smell of coffee to the booth’s retro Volkswagen bus.

5/21/2018 2:59:07 PM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments

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