May 2019

SBC EC may revise sex abuse prevention proposal

May 31 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) will consider in June revising its proposed constitutional amendment on sex abuse and racism, and may recommend a new standing committee to assess claims of misconduct against churches.
 

Photo by Jim Veneman

In a cooperative effort, the SBC Bylaws Workgroup drafted the revisions, EC officers provided input and various leaders reviewed them, expressly SBC President J.D. Greear, EC President and CEO Ronnie Floyd, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, and Sexual Abuse Advisory Study participant Rachael Denhollander.
 
Bylaw changes would entail renaming and repurposing the current Credentials Committee into a Registration Committee, and naming a new standing Credentials Committee to assess claims of church misconduct brought at annual meetings and at other times during the year for alleged departures from Southern Baptist polity, doctrine or practice, and make recommendations to the EC.
 
“Over the last year,” Greear said, “it has become clear the SBC needs a clearer process for responding to abuse, as well as qualified individuals speaking into the process who ensure that we are a convention of churches who adhere to the legal standards of reporting abuse.
 
“This standing credentials committee is an important step in that direction,” Greear told Baptist Press. “This committee would be charged with handling any issues that may arise as to whether a church is in cooperation with the SBC, including (but not limited to) complaints of sexual abuse.
 
“This committee should inquire whether a church has cooperated fully with civil authorities as prescribed in Romans 13 and that it has fulfilled its Matthew 18 pastoral responsibilities,” Greear continued. “We must ensure that this committee contain qualified individual(s) who have experience in responding to abuse and caring for survivors.”
 
At its June 10 meeting in Birmingham preceding the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting, the EC will consider revising a proposed constitutional amendment the group unanimously adopted in February to define a cooperating church.
 
To establish a new standing Credentials Committee to assess misconduct claims, the EC would recommend to messengers revisions to SBC Bylaw 8 regarding Messenger Credentials and Registration, SBC Bylaw 15 governing the Committee on Nominations, and SBC Bylaw 29 on Participation in Convention Affairs.
 
Floyd has been working with other SBC leaders to build unity in addressing sexual abuse since before his April 2 election as EC president, he told Baptist Press (BP).
 
“The Southern Baptist Convention must get this right,” Floyd told BP. “Unquestionably, we must make a clear, compassionate, convictional, and compelling statement about this issue in every way we can. Every church must be a safe zone for our children. I am grateful President J. D. Greear, joined by Russell Moore and the ERLC staff and the individuals who have advised them, has made this a defining issue of his presidency.”
 
Under the new constitutional revision before the EC in June to be recommended to messengers at the annual meeting, according to documents provided to BP, “The Convention will only deem a church to be in friendly cooperation with the Convention, and sympathetic with its purposes and work (i.e., a ‘cooperating’ church as that term is used in the Convention’s governing documents) which: … – (4) Does not act in a manner inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse,” and “(5) Does not act to affirm, approve or endorse discriminatory behavior on the basis of ethnicity.”
 
Establishing the new committee would be an “excellent step in addressing issues related to church sexual abuse,” Moore told BP.
 
“No one policy in a church or in a denomination is enough, but this is a monumental advance, as part of a larger, concerted effort at education, equipping, and response. As Baptists, we cooperate together on the basis of shared doctrine and a shared mission,” Moore said. “Having a better process for helping us to know when a church is or is not in friendly cooperation is positive and healthy. That’s especially true when it comes to churches that are negligent, or complicit, in the abuse of vulnerable people.
 
“This is not a one-year issue, but an ongoing project requiring constant vigilance and reform,” Moore said, expressing gratitude in working with Greear, Floyd and others. “I am thankful for this great move in such a direction, and I support it wholeheartedly.”
 
Any constitutional amendment the EC proposes would require a two-thirds approval of messengers at both the 2019 and 2020 SBC annual meetings. But the creation of the new Credentials Committee would only require messenger approval in 2019. Both proposed recommendations were emailed to the full EC May 30.
 
“The Executive Committee’s role,” Floyd said, “is to craft the language of our governing documents for the convention’s consideration, which is only part of a comprehensive approach of defining who we are and where we stand on the horrible evil of sexual abuse.
 
“I applaud the tireless efforts of our EC officers, staff, and bylaws workgroup for everything they have done to get us to this moment of consensus,” Floyd said. “I gladly stand with J. D. Greear, Russell Moore, and EC Chairman Mike Stone in affirming these changes to our constitution and bylaws.”
 
Stone also affirmed progress made to date in addressing sexual abuse.
 
“On March 4, I wrote in Baptist Press that the issue of sexual abuse presented an ‘all hands-on-deck’ and ‘all family members on their knees’ moment for the Southern Baptist Convention. In the last 3½ months, we have worked diligently to help lead Southern Baptists on a clear and unified path forward. Like Dr. Floyd, I am especially grateful for the tireless efforts of the staff, officers, and bylaws workgroup of the Executive Committee.
 
“My prayer is that Southern Baptists will gather in Birmingham with an unshakable spirit of unity, resolve, and humility,” Stone said. “As we take decisive action to help protect children, resource churches and keep the gospel above all, I am confident these proposals are ones around which virtually all Southern Baptists can unite to the glory of God.”
 
Denhollander, an attorney and advocate, expressed encouragement in response to the proposals the EC will consider in Birmingham.
 
“I am encouraged by this action as an important first step for Southern Baptists to begin creating a transparent process for responding to issues of sexual abuse,” said Denhollander, an abuse survivor who was the first gymnast to go public with charges against Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor convicted of serial abuse. “The test of conviction and commitment will be, of course, not just establishing an accountable process but the carrying out of that process in protecting people and standing clearly on abuse. I urge Southern Baptists to ensure a good process is carried out by qualified individuals.”
 
Floyd expressed gratitude for Denhollander’s work.
 
“I am pleased that Rachael Denhollander, who has provided such leadership and input to the presidential sexual abuse study initiative, sees this as an important part of the convention’s continuing work to address this matter,” Floyd told BP.
 
The proposed constitutional amendment stems from Greear’s release in February of the findings and recommendations of a Sexual Abuse Presidential Advisory Study he initiated in 2018. Greear announced 10 calls to action, including amending SBC governing documents to define the mishandling of abuse as a basis for disfellowshiping a church, and conducting background checks on all SBC trustees and standing committee members.
 
As approved in February, the original proposed constitutional amendment would have defined a cooperating church as one that, “has not been determined by the Executive Committee to have evidenced indifference in addressing sexual abuse that targets minors and other vulnerable persons and in caring for persons who have suffered because of sexual abuse.”
 
“Indifference,” according to the February proposal, “can be evidenced by, among other things, (a) employing a convicted sex offender, (b) allowing a convicted sex offender to work as a volunteer in contact with minors, (c) continuing to employ a person who unlawfully concealed from law enforcement information regarding the sexual abuse of any person by an employee or volunteer of the church, or (d) willfully disregarding compliance with mandatory child abuse reporting laws.”
 
Regarding a constitutional amendment on racism, the proposal the EC adopted in February would only deem a church in friendly cooperation that “has not acted to affirm, approve, or endorse discriminatory behavior on the basis of ethnicity.”
 

Proposed Credentials Committee

 
Nine members would comprise the Credentials Committee including the SBC registration secretary, the EC chair, three people nominated by the EC, and four people nominated by the SBC Committee on Nominations. Members excluding the registration secretary and EC chair would serve three year terms in a staggered rotation, according to the recommendation given to Baptist Press, and the committee would select its own chair.
 
The amendment as proposed would establish operating guidelines for the committee to inquire about claims made during annual meetings and at other times during the year, including guidelines for presenting its findings to the EC or messengers.
 
When charges are brought at annual meetings challenging a church’s cooperation and subsequent right to seat messengers, the messengers in question would be seated while the EC considers the Credential Committee’s findings and messengers weigh in, according to the proposal.
 
“When debate is concluded, the Convention may decide whether the church is a cooperating church or refer the matter to the Executive Committee for further review and a decision,” the proposal reads. “Unless the Convention decides that the church is not a cooperating church, messengers from the church shall be registered and seated in accordance with the Convention’s rules.”
 
Churches deemed not in cooperation may appeal their status to the convention, according to the proposal. Additionally, churches that take corrective actions regarding claims against them may apply to the Credentials Committee for a reconsideration of their status.
 
The EC would provide “appropriate staff and legal assistance” for the Credentials Committee to conduct its duties.
 
The full bylaw recommendation before the EC is included hereafter as written.
 
**********
 
“Upon adoption of the above recommendation, SBC Bylaw 8. Messenger Credentials and Registration; SBC Bylaw 15. Committee on Nominations (Section B); and SBC Bylaw 29. Participation in Convention Affairs would read as follows:
 
8. Messenger Credentials, Registration Committee, and Credentials Committee:
 

A. Messenger Credentials: Each person elected by a church cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention as messenger to the Southern Baptist Convention shall be registered as a messenger to the Convention upon presentation of proper credentials. Credentials shall be presented by each messenger, in person, at the Convention registration desk and shall be in the following form:

 
(1) A completed, properly authorized, official Southern Baptist Convention registration document, certifying the messenger’s election in accordance with Article III. Composition, of the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention; but if the messenger does not have the messenger registration document,
 
(2) A letter from the messenger’s church, signed by the pastor, clerk or moderator of the church, certifying the messenger’s election in accordance with Article III. Composition, of the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention; or
 
(3) Some other document (which may include a fax, e-mail, or other physical or electronically transmitted document) from the messenger’s church which is deemed reliable by the Registration Committee or qualifies under guidelines approved by the registration secretary and the Registration Committee.
 
Messengers registered in accordance with this section shall constitute the Convention.
 
B. Registration Committee: The president of the Convention, in consultation with the vice presidents, shall appoint, at least thirty (30) days before the annual session, a Registration Committee to serve at the forthcoming sessions of the Convention. The registration secretary shall convene the Registration Committee at least one day prior to the annual meeting to supervise the registration of messengers, to oversee the operations of the registration desk, and to rule upon any questions which may arise in registration concerning the credentials of messengers.
 
C. Credentials Committee: The Credentials Committee, a standing committee, shall be composed of the registration secretary, the chair of the Executive Committee, three members nominated by the Executive Committee, and four members nominated by the Committee on Nominations. Committee members may serve simultaneously on another board, institution, commission, or committee of the Convention or as a member of the Executive Committee. The names of the Executive Committee chair and the members nominated by the Executive Committee shall appear in the Committee on Nomination’s report to the annual meeting, along with the names of members being nominated by the Committee on Nominations, for election by the Convention. Members other than the registration secretary and the Executive Committee chair shall serve a term of three (3) years.  The committee shall elect its own chair. Members of the Credentials Committee shall be divided into three groups of three persons each with the registration secretary and the Executive Committee chair assigned to different groups.  The term of office of one of the three groups shall expire each year.  A member’s term of office shall begin and expire at the conclusion of the Convention’s annual meeting. Members having served one full term of three (3) years shall not be eligible for re-election until as much as one (1) year has elapsed after the last term of service has concluded.  Vacancies occurring on the committee between annual meetings shall be filled by the Executive Committee, provided that any vacancy shall be filled only until the next annual meeting.
 
(1) The Credentials Committee shall meet on the call of its chair or of any two of its members after reasonable notice of the time and place for the meeting. Meetings and reports of the committee may be private or public in order to maintain the degree of confidentiality which is appropriate under the circumstances to serve the best interests of the Convention and individual churches. When practical, meetings shall be held in conjunction with meetings of the Executive Committee or electronically. The committee may meet by teleconference, videoconference, or any other lawful means. Appropriate staff and legal assistance shall be provided for the Credentials Committee by the Executive Committee.
 
(2) When, during an annual meeting, an issue arises whether a church is in cooperation with the Convention, the Credentials Committee shall consider the matter and review any information available to it. The committee shall either: (a) consider the question in the manner described in section (3)a below and, when prepared, recommend any action to the Executive Committee, in which case messengers from the church shall be seated pending any action by the Executive Committee; or (b) at the earliest opportunity, recommend to the Convention whether the church should be considered a cooperating church. The Convention shall immediately consider the committee’s recommendation.  One representative of the church under consideration and one representative of the Credentials Committee shall be permitted to speak to the question, subject to the normal rules of debate. When debate is concluded, the Convention may decide whether the church is a cooperating church or refer the matter to the Executive Committee for further review and a decision. Unless the Convention decides that the church is not a cooperating church, messengers from the church shall be registered and seated in accordance with the Convention’s rules.
 
(3) When an issue arises between annual meetings whether a church is in cooperation with the Convention, the Credentials Committee shall consider the matter and review any information available to it.
 
a. If the committee forms the opinion that a church is not in friendly cooperation with the Convention as described in Article III, Composition, of the Constitution, the committee shall submit to the Executive Committee a report stating that opinion and the committee’s reasons for its opinion. The Executive Committee shall, at its next meeting, consider the report of the Credentials Committee and determine whether the church is in cooperation with the Convention. The Executive Committee’s decision shall be final unless the church appeals the decision to the Convention during the next annual meeting.
 
b. A church which has been found not to be in cooperation may appeal the decision to the Convention by submitting a written appeal to the chair of the Credentials Committee at least 30 days prior to the Convention’s annual meeting. The Credentials Committee chair shall immediately notify the Credentials Committee, the chair of the Committee on Order of Business, and the President that an appeal to the Convention has been lodged.
 
c. The registration secretary shall notify the Convention of the appeal in the initial registration report to the Convention.
 
d. The Convention shall consider the appeal during a time established for miscellaneous business on the afternoon of the first day of the Convention. The question before the messengers will be “Shall the decision of the Credentials Committee and the Executive Committee that [name of the church in question]; is not in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention be sustained?” One representative of the church under consideration and one representative of the Credentials Committee or Executive Committee shall be permitted to speak to the question, subject to the normal rules of debate. When debate is concluded, the Convention shall vote whether to sustain the Executive Committee’s ruling. If the ruling of the Executive Committee is reversed, messengers from the church shall immediately be registered and seated in accordance with the Convention’s rules.
 
(4) If a church which has been found not to be in cooperation with the Convention addresses the issues which led to that finding, it may apply to the Credentials Committee for a reconsideration of its status. If the circumstances warrant, the Credentials Committee may recommend to the Executive Committee that the church be once again considered a cooperating church.
 
(5)  The committee may make inquiries of a church, but shall never attempt to exercise any authority over a church through an investigation or other process that would violate Article IV of the Constitution.
 
15. Committee on Nominations:

 
B. The Committee on Nominations thus elected shall prepare its report through the year, carefully following the provisions of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Convention and the documents of the respective Convention entities, and shall recommend to the next Convention the following:
 
(1) Members of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
(2) Directors/trustees of the boards of the Convention
(3) Trustees of the institutions of the Convention
(4) Trustees of the commissions of the Convention
(5) Members of any standing committees, except certain members of the Credentials Committee as expressly provided by Bylaw 8.

 
29. Participation in Convention Affairs. To promote broad participation in the affairs of the Convention, a person need not be a registered messenger to serve as a Convention committee member or volunteer (such as an usher or teller), but must be a member of a church cooperating with the Convention.

5/31/2019 1:19:45 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Missouri enacts abortion ban; Louisiana next

May 31 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Missouri has joined the list of states that have acted in 2019 to protect unborn children early in their development, and Louisiana has now done the same.
 

Photo by Don Hinkle, The Pathway

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Southern Baptist, signed into law May 24 a bill that prohibits abortion after eight weeks of gestation, while Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards – rejecting the abortion-rights allegiance of his Democratic Party – signed legislation on May 30 to ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six to eight weeks.
 
Five states already had enacted laws this year to bar abortion early in pregnancy. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed May 15 a ban on abortion throughout pregnancy with an exception solely “to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted heartbeat laws similar to Louisiana’s measure.
 
Southern Baptist leaders offered thanksgiving for the Missouri law.
 
“We continue to be grateful for the momentum moving through state legislatures to protect the unborn,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments for Baptist Press. “Legislation like the recent bill signed into law in Missouri is written to uphold the dignity of the most vulnerable among us.
 
“Scripture calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves,” Moore said. “This means we must advocate for policies that protect and promote the dignity and worth of both women and their unborn little girls and boys. Those of us in the pro-life community will continue to press on toward the day when abortion is unimaginable – because the humanity of the child is undeniable.”
 
John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), said May 17 after final legislative action that his state’s measure “was important – not for legislators, not for the governor, not for Missouri economics – but for yet-to-be-born children.”
 
Yeats told The Pathway, the MBC’s news journal, his family and he are grateful “for the fortitude of our pro-life Senators and our pro-life Governor to place Missouri among those states that are known for making a safe haven for little girls and boys living in their mother’s womb.”
 
Upon signing the bill, Parson, a member of First Baptist Church in Bolivar, said in a written statement, [W]e are sending a strong signal to the nation that, in Missouri, we stand for life, protect women’s health, and advocate for the unborn. All life has value and is worth protecting.”
 
The number of abortions in Missouri has declined from more than 20,000 about four decades ago to 3,903 in 2017, the most recent year for which state statistics are available online.
 
Missouri’s new law, which includes an exception for medical emergencies, also consists of several other provisions, such as a ban on abortions on the basis of ethnicity, sex or Down syndrome diagnosis. The Senate approved the legislation in a 24-10 vote, while the House of Representatives passed it by 110-44.
 
Missouri is on the cusp of possibly being the only state in the country without an abortion clinic. The license of the lone remaining clinic – a Planned Parenthood center in St. Louis – will expire May 31 if it fails to comply with a state investigation or a court fails to intervene.
 
Louisiana’s House approved its heartbeat bill introduced by a Democrat in a 79-23 vote May 29. The Senate voted 31-5 for the measure.
 
Later May 29, Edwards released a statement saying he had been “true to my word and my beliefs on this issue,” after being a pro-life legislator for eight years and running for governor as a pro-life candidate.
 
“As I prepare to sign this bill,” Edwards said, “I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for it to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone.”
 
The actions in Missouri and Louisiana are the latest in a legislative year marked by a flurry of state measures that range from several states outlawing abortion early in pregnancy or regulating the procedure to New York’s expansion of abortion rights.
 
The activity in the states comes as abortion rights advocates issue warnings about a U.S. Supreme Court that has apparently become more conservative with the confirmation of two nominees by President Trump. They fear the current court could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion, which struck down all state abortion bans and legalized the procedure throughout the country. Meanwhile, pro-life legislators are seeking to enact further protections for unborn children and the women considering abortion that will be found acceptable by the high court and possibly lead to the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
 
Among the many pro-life measures enacted, Arkansas and Utah have adopted abortion bans after 18 weeks.
 
New York’s law – enacted in January – not only legalizes abortion until the moment of birth, but it permits the death of babies who survive the procedure, according to Americans United for Life.
 
Illinois’ House passed May 28 an abortion rights bill that is more radical even than New York’s law, according to a spokeswoman for the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. If the Democratic-controlled Senate approves the measure, Democratic Gov. J.R. Pritzker is expected to sign it into law.
 
A Rhode Island Senate committee has put a hold on a New York-style bill.
 
The Supreme Court affirmed Roe v. Wade in a 1992 opinion but also ruled states may regulate abortion to protect the lives and health of women.

5/31/2019 1:16:26 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Record tornado outbreak draws Southern Baptist response

May 31 2019 by Tobin Perry, NAMB

Southern Baptists in Ohio and Kentucky are on the ground and serving Ohio residents impacted by devastating tornadoes. According to the National Weather Service, a record 17 tornadoes hit Ohio on the evening of May 27.
 

Photo submitted by Kentucky SBDR
A Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteer stands near a downed tree left behind by an EF-3 tornado May 27 in Beavercreek, Ohio. Three teams with a total of around 40 SBDR volunteers are serving around the Beavercreek community. The volunteers come from churches throughout Ohio and Kentucky.

Authorities have reported one death due to the tornadoes and about 90 injuries. The storms were among 56 tornadoes that touched down across eight states, stretching as far west as Idaho and Colorado. Monday’s damage comes in the midst of 13 straight days of tornadoes hitting the United States through May 29. More than 200 tornadoes struck the Midwest in that span.
 
The two weeks of tornadoes follows three months of heavy flooding throughout the Midwest. Along with their relief work following the tornadoes, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) is also involved in flood relief in eight states.
 
Sam Porter, the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) national director of SBDR, called it the most widespread impact of natural disasters he has seen since he got involved in SBDR in 1998. The widespread nature of the need, Porter says, underscores opportunities for more volunteers so Southern Baptists can continue to meet needs and share Christ in the midst of these disasters.

“There’s not enough trained volunteers to meet all those needs, which begs the question, ‘What can the person in the pew do?” Porter said. “Southern Baptists have had this vehicle called disaster relief for 52 years. It’s there if you want to be a part of it. It’s one of the most amazing ministries Southern Baptists have because it helps people when they’re at their very lowest, when they don’t know what to do and they’ve lost hope.”
 
Since September of 2017 through today, Porter noted, an average of one to two people a day give their lives to Christ through the ministry of SBDR.
 
In Ohio, SBDR has established a base of operations at Beavercreek Baptist Church of Beavercreek, Ohio. Currently, SBDR has three chainsaw teams deployed throughout the area. Beavercreek, the second-largest suburb of Dayton, was hit by an EF-3 tornado on Monday.
 

Photo submitted by Ohio SBD
Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers Roy Blair, Tom Miller, and Doug Dyer of Georgetown (Ohio) Baptist Church work together to clear debris from the yard of a Beavercreek, Ohio, homeowner. About 40 Baptist volunteers from Ohio and Kentucky are now serving in Beavercreek, based out of Beavercreek Baptist Church.

“We’re seeing multiple trees down in yards,” said Sam Kelley, the director of disaster relief for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. “We’re seeing roofs off and windows out, the types of things that come in a windstorm. It’s only in spots though. There are neighborhoods that are perfectly fine. And then, just down the road, there’s a block where there’s total devastation.”
 
About 40 SBDR volunteers, including two teams from Ohio and one from Kentucky, are currently serving in a variety of roles in Beavercreek. SBDR teams from Virginia, Alabama and Tennessee are on alert and prepared to deploy to Ohio if needed.
 
“This is one of the strengths of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, we’re a network of state conventions that can work together,” said Coy Webb, the disaster relief director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “There’s no doubt. It would be the same thing if it happened in Louisville, Ky.  There’s no way Ohio can handle everything that fits their needs right now. It’s great to have this large network that we can call upon in partnership. It makes a difference. It allows us to have those gold shirts out there and be witnesses for Christ.”
 
Southern Baptists who have an interest and availability to serve through SBDR can contact their state Baptist convention to find out how they can donate or volunteer.

“We truly, at this point in time, need thousands of more Southern Baptist people signing up to say, ‘Show me how I can make a difference in other people’s lives,’” Porter said. “You do that by going to your state convention disaster relief director.” 
 
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) is responsible for coordinating national responses by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, which is one of the three largest providers of disaster relief volunteers in the United States.
 
NAMB utilizes partnerships with Baptist conventions that operate in all 50 states to gather volunteers and respond to disasters, including: providing hot meals, chainsaw and mud-out relief work following natural disasters.
 
To volunteer or make a donation through the North Carolina Baptist Men Disaster Relief, click here. To contact Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, click here.

5/31/2019 1:11:29 PM by Tobin Perry, NAMB | with 0 comments



SBC 2019 hotel shuttles, parking options set

May 30 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Free hotel shuttles and park and ride services are among conveniences available to attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) 2019 Annual Meeting and related events June 9-12 in Birmingham, Ala.
 

BJCC Photo

Fifteen free shuttle routes will service hotels contracted for SBC attendees, and park and ride services with free parking will include three locations, convention manager Bill Townes told Baptist Press.
 
“Due to the number of anticipated attendees, local traffic construction, limited size of many of the hotels in Birmingham, the geographic spread of the 37 contracted hotels, and limited local transportation options, we will be offering hotel shuttles again in 2019 to assist attendees,” said Townes, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention finance. “We have been working with our local arrangements committee this year to come up with a number of unique solutions including hotel shuttles, local park and ride lots ... at several local churches, and some limited Lyft Event discounts to evaluate this type of service for future years.”
 
As an added convenience, food truck vendors will be available at Linn Park, which is approximately two blocks from the annual meeting site, the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC), June 11-12.
 
Gardendale First Baptist Church at 316 Mountain Crest Parkway in Gardendale, and NorthPark Baptist Church at 5700 Deerfoot Parkway in Trussville are serving as park and ride locations with free parking, in addition to the Bessemer Civic Center, 1130 9th Ave., S.W., in Bessemer. The park and ride lots are especially convenient for local attendees, Townes said, and Lyft Event credits will help offset costs for those unable to use shuttles.
 
The City of Birmingham and the Sheraton Hotel are assisting the EC in providing free shuttles, Townes said. Additionally, $10 parking is available at the BJCC.
 
Shuttle options and schedules are available at sbcannualmeeting.net under the transportation tab. Parking options are available under the parking tab. Shuttle and parking information, in addition to Lyft Event details, are also available on the SBC Mobile App under the Attendee Resources section.
 
SBC Mobile app resources for attendees include Birmingham restaurant and activity guides. Birmingham local traffic and road updates can be found at bjcc.org/know-before-you-go.php.

5/30/2019 11:25:39 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



WMU street ministry shines light in prostitution zone

May 30 2019 by Trennis Henderson, WMU

A small group of volunteers gathers two nights a month in south Richmond, Va., to walk a mile-long strip of the city and minister to prostitutes and others they cross paths with along the way.
 

Photo by Pam Henderson, WMU
Valerie Carter Smith, second from left, executive director of WMU of Virginia, leads a brief orientation and prayer time as ministry volunteers prepare to minister to prostitutes in Richmond.

The volunteers meet in the parking lot of a nearby fast-food restaurant about 11 p.m. for a brief time of orientation and prayer before heading out two by two along a street dotted with aging motels, used car lots and the occasional pawnshop or tattoo parlor. Some might say this isn’t your typical Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) ministry project.
 
Usually spending 90 minutes or so strolling along the route, team members pause frequently to pray specifically for the women and men on the streets and for the neighborhood in general.
 
On a recent night, one of the ministry volunteers noted that a shooting had been reported in the area earlier in the evening. A few blocks later, group members saw several police cars and an ambulance parked in front of one of the motels. Rather than deter the team, the situation sparked one of them to stop and pray for those involved, including praying for the motel manager by name.
 
Valerie Carter Smith, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union of Virginia, organized the street ministry more than a decade ago while she was serving on staff in a local congregation. Pat Eggleston joined the ministry effort a few years later, helping coordinate and lead the volunteer effort.
 
A soft-spoken, white-haired grandmother of eight, Eggleston doesn’t match the image of someone who would be walking the streets of Richmond’s prostitution zone at midnight or 1 a.m. But she sees that as an advantage.
 
“It’s obvious that I have a few years behind me. I would just say age is sometimes a wonderful opportunity,” she noted. “I’m obviously someone’s grandmother and I’m able to approach people in that manner. Often there are people who think I’m too old to do certain things, but we have to use the advantages we have. God has given old age a real advantage, and I believe we have to use that.”
 

Offering hope and resources

 
As the ministry volunteers strike up conversations with young women and young men they pass on the streets, “we just meet them where they are,” Eggleston noted. She said they seek to convey a sense of personal dignity and self-worth to those struggling amid difficult circumstances and choices.
 

Photo by Pam Henderson, WMU
Volunteer Pat Eggleston volunteers in ministering to prostitutes and others on the streets in south Richmond, Va.

“This is a very unscripted opportunity. Each person injects his or her own personality based on just how the Spirit leads us and the person we encounter,” she said. “My intro is usually, ‘Hi, how are you tonight? Are you safe? We’re from the church, and we’d just like to take a minute and speak with you. Is there something we can pray with you about?’”
 
While the volunteers watch for signs of individuals being trafficked, “most of the young people we meet here are substance abusers,” Eggleston said. “Most of them are here because of their drug addiction and they are prostituting to make the money.
 
“Our goal is to be salt and light to a dark world,” she said. “It’s a very dangerous lifestyle. We go there and just casually meet people, we talk to them, we offer prayer. Our goal is to just offer them hope, offer resources.”
 
“So many of these young people really want out,” Eggleston said, “They didn’t want in to begin with. Many are searching for a way out.
 
“We don’t go and chastise anyone. We’re not there to pass judgment or offer correction. We are there to just lift them in prayer and love them, take their hands, hug them, whatever opportunity comes to us.”
 

Serving in a dark, dangerous place

 
Recounting one painful memory of ministering in such a harsh setting, Eggleston described her final visit with a young man she had gotten to know. She said she pulled her car over, rolled down the window and asked, “Are you OK tonight?” His response was, “Just pray for me.” Two weeks later, Eggleston said, he was murdered.
 
“It’s a very dark place. It’s very dangerous,” she said. “But we love them, we love the folks we meet. They’re looking for hope.... I feel like our witness is through what they hear us pray. We’re not going to lecture them, but when they hear us pray for them and lift them to the Lord, we hope that puts hope in their heart and that they feel the grace of God and the grace and love that we offer them.”
 

Pursuing ‘divine appointments’

 
As sirens wailed in the background, Smith paused to greet a young woman on the street, “Hey, Sweetie, how you doing?” she asked. “Be careful, OK?”
 

Photo by Pam Henderson, WMU
Volunteer Pat Eggleston displays a pair of gloves and 3:16 bracelets that she and other volunteers distribute as part of WMU of Virginia's street ministry in Richmond.

As the woman continued on her way, Smith explained, “We pray for what we call divine appointments, asking, ‘God, who do you have us to share with?’ They don’t have to be those caught in prostitution. We talk to anyone that we pass.
 
“The significance rests in the parables in the gospels of the lost sheep, the lost son and the lost coin,” she noted. “Our purpose is to share Jesus with people who are caught. These girls make one bad decision or something happened to them that took them further than they wanted to go and getting back is a whole ‘nother story.”
 
Among their ministry tools, volunteers hand out gloves in the winter and bottles of water in the summer. They also distribute small brochures that pose the question: “Do you want out?” The discreet pamphlets provide hotline numbers for such resources as counseling, 12-step recovery programs, transitional housing and an emergency shelter as well as Smith’s personal contact information.
 
“If they call my number, I follow them all the way. I don’t let them go,” Smith said. Noting that she updates volunteers and other WMU members about the needs and victories along the way, she added, “I’ve seen girls recover from drugs and prostitution because WMU ladies prayed for them.”
 

Sharing good news in the trenches

 
While such tangible results as professions of faith, rescuing underage girls from the streets or helping drug addicts get into treatment facilities have been limited over the years, Smith said, “God spoke and said, ‘Your call is to be in the trenches, to be light in darkness, to be obedient to that.’ This is my calling. I’m just here to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
 
Eggleston agreed that the motivation is not based on visible results.
 
“It’s a ministry where you have to be satisfied that you don’t know if you made a difference,” she said. “You have to be able to know that I may never see this person again, but I have two or three minutes, maybe, to love them, to put something in their heart encouraging.
 
“I believe we are planting a seed. We see ourselves as often the first responders,” she said. “We love them, we pray with them, we pray for them and pray that God puts another person in their path.
 
“We’re just part of a series of contacts because it’s such a brief encounter. That’s not comfortable for everybody,” she said. “We’re sort of results-oriented people so you have to be satisfied with that. You do your part and then God takes care of the rest.”

5/30/2019 11:20:49 AM by Trennis Henderson, WMU | with 0 comments



Gregory Wills, Travis Kerns to join Southwestern's faculty

May 30 2019 by SWBTS & Baptist Press Staff

Historian Gregory A. Wills and North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionary Travis S. Kerns have been named to the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas.
 
Wills, who has served 25 years at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., will be research professor of church history and Baptist heritage and founding director of the new B.H. Carroll Center for Baptist Heritage and Mission.
 
Kerns, a church planter who has served as NAMB’s Send City missionary in Salt Lake City, will be associate professor of apologetics and world religions. He is the author of The Saints of Zion: An Introduction to Mormon Theology.
 

Gregory A. Wills

 
Southwestern President Adam W. Greenway said Wills has “a demonstrated and distinguished track record of teaching and scholarship, and he is firmly committed to the primacy of the local church and to Baptist distinctives.”
 

Gregory A. Wills

“Both personally and professionally, Dr. Wills stands squarely in the Carroll tradition of ‘scholarship on fire,’ and I can think of no one in Southern Baptist life more capable to lead this new institutional initiative, fittingly named for our founder and first president, than he,” Greenway said.
 
Wills noted, “Since its founding in 1908 under the leadership of B.H. Carroll, Southwestern Seminary has played a critical role in equipping in scriptural conviction and zeal those called by God to serve His church as pastors, missionaries and teachers. I am grateful to God for the privilege of serving at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 25 years and will always treasure the many joys shared with wonderful students and colleagues there. With full confidence that God is now leading me and my family to become members of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary family, I look forward to joining the long tradition of vital Kingdom work there.”
 
Wills, who has specialized in Baptist life over the last two centuries, most recently was the David T. Porter Professor of Church History at Southern. He first came to the seminary in 1994 as archives and special collections librarian, then joined the faculty full-time in 1997. He later served as dean of the seminary’s school of theology from 2013-18.
 
“Greg Wills is a first-rate scholar, theologian and churchman,” Southwestern Seminary Provost Randy L. Stinson said. “What he brings to Southwestern in terms of Baptist heritage and scholarship is unparalleled in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
 
Wills holds a Ph.D. from Emory University, master of divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and master of theology and bachelor of science degrees from Duke University. His dissertation, Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785-1900, was published by Oxford University Press.
 
Wills is the author of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-2009, also published by Oxford. He is currently writing an updated history of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is scheduled to be released by B&H Publishing in 2020 during the convention’s 175th anniversary year.
 
The B.H. Carroll Center for Baptist Heritage and Mission will be housed in the building known during its construction as the Baptist Heritage Center. The name has now been modified to honor B.H. Carroll, Southwestern Seminary’s founder and first president. The Carroll Center will house significant Baptist archival collections; serve as a research hub for doctoral students in Baptist studies; and sponsor lectures and events to promote and perpetuate Baptist history and identity.
 
Wills and his wife Cathy have four children. He will officially begin at Southwestern in the fall semester.
 

Travis S. Kerns

 
Greenway said Kerns, with years of academic and ministry experience, especially in the area of Mormon studies, is “not only an extraordinarily gifted apologist, but he has demonstrated experience as a pastor and church planter.”
 

Travis S. Kerns

“He will help us more effectively equip our students to know what they believe, why they believe it and how to share their faith in an increasingly secular and pluralistic culture,” Greenway said.
 
Kerns said he is looking forward to becoming part of the seminary’s “big-tent vision” and “the emphasis on evangelism and missions that is across the campus. That is where my heart is.
 
“My hope is to train students in not only a love for the gospel, but a love for sharing the gospel with people from any other faith tradition, and to be able to defend their faith with any person who asks,” he said.
 
Kerns taught apologetics, world religions and philosophy at Southern Seminary for eight years before moving to Salt Lake City with his wife Staci and son Jeremiah in 2013. As a NAMB Send City missionary, Kerns has led and given oversight to missions and church-planting efforts in a largely unreached region dominated by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
 
From an early age, Kerns developed an interest in learning the beliefs and motivations of other religions and has studied Mormonism for more than 20 years, devoting much of his academic work, including the focus of his doctoral research, to LDS history and philosophy. His book on Mormon theology was published by B&H Academic in 2018.
 
Kerns holds Ph.D. and M.Div. degrees from Southern Seminary and an undergraduate degree from North Greenville University in South Carolina.
 
NAMB President Kevin Ezell said Kerns “has done a magnificent job connecting Southern Baptists to the needs of the West. We will miss him, but I am excited about the prospect of him investing in the next generation of missionaries and leaders. SWBTS and its students will be incredibly blessed by his ministry.”

5/30/2019 11:14:59 AM by SWBTS & Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



SBTS names Matt Boswell church music & worship assistant professor

May 30 2019 by SBTS and Baptist Press Staff

Matt Boswell, a widely respected hymn writer and worship leader, has been named to the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) as assistant professor of church music and worship.
 

Boswell, a graduate of Southern Seminary, currently is the founding pastor of the Trails Church in Prosper, Texas. He has released multiple albums and has authored or coauthored such acclaimed songs as “Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor” and “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery.” He is the founder of Doxology and Theology, a ministry for equipping and encouraging worship leaders in the practice of Gospel-centered worship.
 
SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Boswell is “one of the most thoughtful, biblical and faithful leaders of Christian worship, and one of the most important figures in modern Christian hymn writing.”
 
“The renaissance of great hymns in this generation is one of the most important signs of hope,” Mohler said. “I eagerly look forward to Matt Boswell providing leadership and inspiration for our students as we move into an exciting new era in providing stellar, inspiring and faithful worship leaders and church musicians in the coming generation. We are proud of Matt Boswell as one of our own and we are confident that his teaching and exemplary leadership will make a decisive difference in years to come.”
 
Boswell holds a master of arts in Christian ministry from Southern and will complete his Ph.D. in Christian worship and biblical spirituality at Southern this year. His dissertation is on Charles Spurgeon’s pastoral theology of singing.
 
Southern has “profoundly influenced my life and ministry,” Boswell said, “making it an incredible honor to share the wealth of wisdom I’ve received here with the next generation of church leaders.”
 
“Southern stands out for its relentless commitment to the truth, the local church, the world and the glory of God. While the seminary’s history is rich, I believe the future holds an even greater reward for the work Southern students and faculty will accomplish,” Boswell said.
 
Before founding the Trails Church in 2018, Boswell was a worship pastor at Providence Church in Frisco, Texas (2011-2018) and Fellowship of the Parks in Keller, Texas (2002-2011). He will continue to serve as pastor of the Trails Church while teaching at Southern.
 
Matthew J. Hall, Southern’s provost, said of Boswell, “Those who know him also know him to be a faithful pastor, a careful theologian and a devoted husband and father.”
 
Southern Seminary “has been at the center of the resurgence of biblical hymnody and worship in the past two decades,” Hall said. “Matt’s appointment to the faculty strengthens that commitment and vision. For students who want to rightly understand the inseparability of doxology and theology, there is no better place, nor a better time, to be than at Southern Seminary.”
 
Boswell and his wife Jamie have four children.

5/30/2019 11:12:23 AM by SBTS and Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



MBTS names historian Thomas S. Kidd as distinguished professor

May 30 2019 by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS and Baptist Press Staff

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) has named historian Thomas S. Kidd as distinguished professor of church history.
 

Kidd will continue as distinguished professor of history at Baylor University, commuting to Kansas City, Mo., from Waco, Texas, for doctoral seminars and to instruct graduate and doctoral students in the discipline of history both in classroom and in conference settings.
 
Midwestern President Jason Allen said the seminary has “a longstanding relationship with Dr. Kidd, and we look forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead. I’m thankful for the partnership with Baylor University that though Dr. Kidd will remain in residence there, he’ll be on our campus multiple times a year, leading doctoral seminars, teaching master of divinity intensives and supervising doctoral students. Students can come to Midwestern Seminary and anticipate to study with Dr. Tommy Kidd.
 
“Dr. Kidd is extensively published and widely respected throughout the Baptist and evangelical world and beyond,” Allen said. “Adding Dr. Kidd to the ranks of our other church historians and historical theologians is a tremendous step forward in those disciplines, putting us as a theological institution in an enviable position.”
 
Allen added that Kidd’s joining the faculty reflects “God’s blessing on Midwestern Seminary wherein in recent years He has been pleased to send us a new generation of accomplished scholars, dedicated churchmen and devoted Southern Baptists who are committed to Midwestern Seminary’s vision of existing for the church.”
 
Kidd said he looks forward to joining Midwestern “in its work to glorify the Lord and serve the church by training up a new generation of pastors and Christian scholars. Midwestern is one of the most exciting seminaries on the American church landscape today, and I am delighted and honored to contribute to the dynamic faculty that Midwestern is assembling.”
 
Kidd said he hopes “to bring students a strong sense for what the Lord has done in and through the church and for them to learn from the great ‘cloud of witnesses’ that we encounter in church history. Too often, American Christians act as if not much has happened between the time of Christ and this Sunday’s church service. Our failure to search out the lessons of church history deprives us of a trove of wisdom for ministry.”
 
Kidd added that his hope for students in his courses would be for them to realize Christians need not set aside their faith while they do serious, scholarly historical inquiry. Instead, they can serve the Kingdom with a deeper historical understanding of how the church came to be what it is today.
 
Kidd began his teaching career at Baylor in 2002 after completing a Ph.D. in history at the University of Notre Dame, where he worked with historian of religion George Marsden. He also holds master of arts and bachelor of arts degrees from Clemson University in South Carolina.
 
In addition to his professorship in history, Kidd is associate director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion. He has authored numerous books including American History, volumes 1 and 2 (B&H Academic, 2019), Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2017), American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths (Yale University Press, 2016), Baptists in America: A History (with Barry Hankins, Oxford University Press, 2015), George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2014), Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots (Basic Books, 2011), God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (Basic Books, 2010), American Christians and Islam (Princeton University Press, 2008) and The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (Yale University Press, 2007).
 
Kidd also blogs at The Gospel Coalition’s “Evangelical History” website.
 
He and his wife Ruby have two sons. They attend Highland Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, where Kidd teaches Sunday School.

5/30/2019 11:09:33 AM by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS and Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments



Kathy Litton to be SBC registration secretary nominee

May 29 2019 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Kathy Litton, director of planter spouse development for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), will be nominated as registration secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) during the SBC’s June 11-12 annual meeting, Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins has announced.
 

Photo submitted
Kathy Litton

Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., said in a May 28 statement to Baptist Press that Litton “has given a lifetime of service to Southern Baptists at all levels of our convention.”
 
“But what really sets her apart is her tireless encouragement and courageous friendship to so many spouses and families of pastors and planters,” Scroggins said. “She has established strong credibility with both men and women across the SBC, and she can speak with wisdom, strength and compassion to the issues at hand. With all of the conversations going on in our convention about integrity, sexual abuse and women in ministry, this is the right time, and Kathy is the right person for this vital role.”
 
Litton is the second nominee for SBC registration secretary during the SBC’s upcoming sessions in Birmingham, Ala. Current registration secretary Don Currence will be nominated for a third term, according to a May 13 announcement by his pastor, Phillip Burden of First Baptist Church in Ozark, Mo. Currence is the church’s administrative pastor.
 
Litton is a member of Redemption Church in Saraland, Ala. In 2018, the church reported $456,976 in Great Commission Giving to Southern Baptist causes, including $128,205 through the Cooperative Program, or 3.9 percent of $3,298,747 in undesignated receipts, for state convention and SBC national and international missions and ministries.
 
Litton has been a pastor’s wife in Missouri, Texas, Colorado and Alabama for more than 35 years, Scroggins said, and has participated in mission work both internationally and domestically, serving in Malawi, Cuba, Guatemala, Thailand, India and South Korea, disaster relief in New Orleans, migrant work in central Michigan and outreach in inner-city Chicago.
 
She has been a member of the SBC Committee on Nominations, the Committee on Resolutions and the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and has served on the staff at Cross Church Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, Ark.
 
Litton has been on NAMB’s staff for eight years. In her current role with the mission board’s Send Network team, she gives leadership in providing various avenues of care, coaching and training for planter spouses across North America “to enable them to be equipped and healthy to advance the gospel in areas of vast lostness,” Scroggins said, noting that she has gained “a strong and balanced perspective of the scope and richness of Southern Baptist work” in her travels across the country.
 
Litton has been actively involved Bible teaching and discipleship in the local church since she was 18 years old serving students, women and young married couples, Scroggins said.
 
Litton’s husband Ed is Redemption Church’s senior pastor. She was previously married to Rick Ferguson, former senior pastor of Riverside Church in Denver, who was killed in tragic auto accident in 2002 just before their 26th wedding anniversary. Her husband Ed’s former wife Tammy also was lost in an auto accident in 2007.
 
“God is writing a unique story with the Littons as together they share of the marvelous goodness of God in the midst of their devastating losses,” Scroggins said. The Littons share six children and 10 grandchildren.
 
Litton holds a bachelor of science in education from the University of Missouri in St. Louis.
 
Scroggins, in his statement to Baptist Press, relayed support for Litton from Johnny Hunt, a former SBC president, and other leaders.
 
Hunt, now senior vice president of evangelism and leadership at NAMB and former senior pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock, noted, “For over 25 years Kathy Litton has modeled leadership at its finest” and has been “tested and proven in character” through “the loss of a pastor/ husband, the marrying of a pastor who lost his wife tragically, the embracing of Christ-honoring service to two pastors” and now as a leader at NAMB to church planters wives and through the mission board’s Timothy+Barnabas discipleship ministry to pastors and their spouses.
 
Susie Hawkins, speaker, author and former pastor’s wife, said Litton’s “understanding of how our convention operates, her winsome leadership abilities and years of ministry experience uniquely qualify her for this position. She will bring her characteristic efficiency and considerable skills to this office and I look forward to her service.”
 
Micah Fries, senior pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., described Litton as “a passionate and faithful Southern Baptist who has served our family of churches well for years. She is an excellent leader who has served as a model to the rest of us in Southern Baptist life about how to live and serve Jesus and her family of churches with excellence.”

5/29/2019 11:41:26 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Floyd shepherds first full EC staff meeting

May 29 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Ronnie Floyd called Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) staff members to spiritual, professional and personal discipline May 28 in Nashville, pledging to give himself fully to his new calling as the SBC EC president and CEO.
 

Photo by Shawn Hendricks
Ronnie Floyd called SBC EC staff members to spiritual, professional and personal discipline May 28 in Nashville, pledging to give himself fully to his new calling as the SBC EC president and CEO.

“I came here to do more with the gospel and for the gospel than I’ve ever done in my life,” Floyd said in his first full meeting with staff since his arrival May 20. “I’m going to give the rest of my life in this capacity to advancing the gospel to every person in the world and making disciples of all the nations, and leading this opportunity, this group, this network of churches in doing that.”
 
Assisting pastors and churches is the staff’s priority, he said, noting the SBC’s national and international entities, state conventions, associations, 47,456 churches and more than 4,000 church-type missions.
 
“Here at the executive committee under my leadership, I just want to challenge you,” Floyd told staff members. “You prioritize your care, your love, your support and your encouragement for churches and pastors. That’s who we are, and all the rest helps us accomplish that, but that’s what we’re about.
 
The SBC is a family, he noted. “And we will remain and only remain united when we have and we share the common vision … of reaching the world for Christ.”
 
Involvement of both pastors and lay people from local churches, Floyd said, creates a healthy balance.
 
“We need a lay involvement in this convention in a brand new way,” he said. “It’s far overdue.”
 
Floyd challenged staff members to continue developing their daily prayer lives and Godly fellowship, to be Bible-based financial stewards, to embrace teamwork, to develop relationships shaped by Godly love, to be driven by a missional vision and to walk with Christ. He implored staff to help lead the way in developing a new convention culture based on the love that Jesus taught.
 
“We need a new culture, the kind of culture Jesus talked about. Just listen to what He said, ‘Love one another,’” Floyd said. “We have seen strategies die death after death after death in this convention, and the reason is because our culture is unhealthy.
 
“The culture of a denomination, the culture of a convention, the culture of a team, the culture of a business, if it’s not healthy and it doesn’t give life, then it will be incompatible,” Floyd said. “It doesn’t matter what the strategy is.”
 
Floyd introduced to the full staff Ed Upton, charged with forwarding and advancing to staff members and EC partners Floyd’s vision, value, culture and priorities. Upton is president of the Cross Church School of Ministry through the end of this week at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, where Floyd pastored nearly 33 years before accepting the EC presidency.
 
“I didn’t follow Ronnie Floyd to Nashville,” Upton said. “Eleanor (his wife) and I went through a process of God calling us here. And so as much as God has called him and Jeana here, we believe that God has called us here.”
 
At the SBC 2019 Annual Meeting June 11-12 in Birmingham, Ala., Floyd will unveil plans to shepherd the convention into the future, he told staff members.
 
“And upon the completion of that message, these things will become what I believe we need to value here at the Executive Committee, things that we live by, things that we’re willing to die for, things that are going to be our team colors here,” he said. “If we will do these things as an Executive Committee staff team and throughout our membership, we can lead this convention into unprecedented days in our generation.
 
“These things will become what we’re about, and what we believe in, and what we’re going to be about in our future,” Floyd said. “It’s amazing when we do those things we will also fulfill our ministry assignments in an over and above manner.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – See Ronnie Floyd’s interview with Baptist Press that ran May 24. SBC This Week also interviewed Floyd last week for their weekly podcast. Listen to Friday’s show at sbcthisweek.com/.)

5/29/2019 11:37:40 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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