November 2008

N.C. Baptist Foundation launches church loan program

November 7 2008 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

The North Carolina Baptist Foundation (NCBF) will start offering loans next spring to churches in what NCBF Executive Director Clay Warf called a "win-win" for churches and investors.

Warf said NCBF will announce the program during its report to the Baptist State Convention (BSC) annual meeting Nov. 12. The loans will be administered through a subsidiary wholly owned by NCBF.

NCBF is "constantly getting calls" from churches looking for loans, Warf said.

"When we looked around we didn't see anybody in denominational life doing church loans," he said.

NCBF hopes to offer loans at better rates than churches can get through banks, according to Warf.

The loans will be funded through investments from N.C. Baptist churches and individuals.

"The beauty of it is, you can invest in it, get something we hope will be a little better than a (Certificate of Deposit) and at the same time know the money is going to church growth," he said.

Those who invest will get what Warf called a "Certificate of Participation." In Florida, where a similar program is offered, there has been only one default in 10 to 15 years, he said.

"You're betting on Baptist churches to be good stewards and the track record is really good on that," he said. "Very rarely will a church not follow through on its commitment."

NCBF hopes the program will be self-sustaining but doesn't look at it as a profit-making venture.

"We're just trying to respond to a need," Warf said.

Initially, the effort will be funded by money from NCBF and the BSC. Investors can start contributing early next year. NCBF hopes to start making loans by early April.

Warf hopes the effort will also open opportunities for churches to learn how NCBF can help them establish endowment and trusts to contribute future resources.
 
11/7/2008 7:53:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Three minute testimony leads 1,600 to Christ

November 7 2008 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas — More than 1,600 people have indicated online that they prayed to receive Christ for salvation after watching a three-minute video of evangelist Ronnie Hill's testimony, which starts by recounting his birth to a 17-year-old rape victim who decided against abortion.

Since January, Hill and others have been directing people to www.threeminutestory.com where they can watch his three-minute testimony and then register to win a new car or truck in a Dec. 12 drawing. The winner will choose between a Dodge Ram, a Jeep Wrangler or a Chrysler 300.

At the end of October, nearly 28,000 visits to the web site had been logged and more than 6,300 people had registered to win the vehicle, Hill told Baptist Press.

BP photo

Evangelist Ronnie Hill voices his testimony at www.threeminutetestimony.com. Those who listen can enter a drawing for a new car or truck.

In addition to those numbers, countless other individuals have prayed to receive Christ after watching a DVD of Hill's three-minute testimony at county fairs, festivals, parks, ball games, block parties and other places where churches have sought to spread the gospel in partnership with Hill's ministry.

"The Baptist Convention of New Mexico used it at the New Mexico State Fair," Hill said. "They set up two DVD players with just my testimony playing, and people could come and sign up if they just listened to my story for a couple of minutes. They had 433 saved just at the state fair in New Mexico."

During the testimony, Hill emphasizes that God changed his life and gave him peace and purpose, and he offers hope to others who need to realize their sin, turn from it and ask Jesus into their lives.

"You give people a reason to listen to you," Hill said of the drawing. "They see all these preachers on TV all the time, always asking them for money. So when we come at it where I'm giving them an opportunity to win something, then the tables are turned and they're kind of caught off guard by that.

"We're not charging them any money for the sign-up, it's free," he said. "Their guard is let down then, and they're not thinking we're just some con artist trying to get something from them."

Hill said he has received a considerable amount of criticism from people who don't think his approach is exactly biblical, but he has an answer.

"My whole point is that I don't care why they come, why they listen, just so they hear the gospel," he told BP. "People came to Jesus in the New Testament for the wrong reasons all the time. They came to be healed. They came for free food. They came to be entertained. They wanted to see Jesus perform miracles. Even though they came for all the wrong reasons, He still loved them and still told them the truth."

In Hawaii, Hill said an ice cream truck driver distributed cards to people along his route as he sold treats. The evangelist received news that a man had come to Christ just by purchasing ice cream and then following the offer on the card to watch the video to register to win an automobile.

If people who receive Christ online also request a contact, an e-mail is sent to the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board for follow-up. And if Hill knows of a pastor in close proximity to a person who has committed his life to Christ, he forwards that information to the pastor such as Wiles so that a local church can make contact.
 

11/7/2008 5:04:00 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Evangelical groups say they aren't going anywhere

November 7 2008 by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Faced with a Barack Obama presidency and Democratic gains in Congress, evangelicals are planning their next steps in a transformed political landscape, with hopes for some common ground and plans to continue fighting for social issues that had mixed results at the ballot box.

"Where we agree, such as standing against genocide in Darfur and protecting basic human rights around the world, we're going to support him," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of Obama.
"On issues on which we disagree, we'll do our best to persuade him."

Photo by Joni B. Hannigan/Florida Baptist Witness

President-elect Barack Obama rallies supporters Nov. 3 in Jacksonville, Fla. Evangelicals vow to support the candidate on issues where they agree but say they will try to persuade him on other issues.

Wasting little time, conservative Christian groups have already drafted open letters to Obama stressing their opposition to abortion, and are taking steps to reassure supporters that they will fight any attempt to give the new administration a blank check — especially on social issues.

"Barack Obama can clearly claim a mandate from the American people on the economy, maybe even our standing in the eyes of the rest of the world, but he cannot claim a mandate to impose or to advance a liberal social agenda," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

While exit polls indicate Obama gained ground among Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Hispanic voters, he won only one in four evangelical votes, and less than half (43 percent) of weekly church-goers.

Though conservative Christians won't have "the same type of relationship we had with the Bush administration," Perkins said the passage of amendments in three states that banned same-sex marriage shows their values have staying power.

"This was, I think, more of a referendum on the Republican Party than conservative values," he said. "We focused upon the marriage amendments in the three states. ... They passed in two states (California and Florida), which Barack Obama carried handily."

None of the state referenda on abortion — including one on parental consent in California and a "personhood" amendment in Colorado — passed on Election Day, but Land said conservative Christians will be undeterred by those losses at the polls.

"Pro-life Catholics and pro-life evangelicals aren't going anywhere," he said.

Charisma magazine publisher Steve Strang, who endorsed Republican presidential nominee John McCain in part because of his anti-abortion stance, voiced concern about the political future because of Obama's win.

"The scary thing for those of us who believe the Bible and want conservative values is that the change may move the country too far to the left politically and morally," he said in his Strang Report. "You and I may not influence the halls of Congress, but we do influence people in our families, our workplaces and our churches."

Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said he hopes evangelicals can find common ground with Obama on the volatile issue of abortion.

"If we happen to disagree about abortion, for example, might not we agree to find strategies to reduce the numbers of abortion in America?" he said. "I think that is a good idea. Moreover, it's consistent with playing politics a little different than has been played in the past."

Cizik was one of the religious leaders who met with Obama in June in Chicago. He came away thinking the now-president-elect understood evangelicals better than any Democrat since former President Jimmy Carter.

"It would behoove us to find mutual areas of concern," he said.

Sojourners President Jim Wallis said the election results indicate a wide range of evangelicals may be ready to broaden the issues they address with Congress and the White House.

"The leadership of African-American and Latino evangelicals, along with a new generation of Christians in white America, is ending an age of narrow and divisive religion," he said. "This new faith coalition voted for a broad new moral agenda for faith in public life. Racial and economic justice, creation care, peacemaking, and a more consistent ethic of life will be the keystones of this growing shift."

Land said younger evangelicals, who have indicated a broader interest in issues beyond abortion, will likely become the center of attention as new conservative political leaders begin the long preparations for the next presidential election.

"I do think ... in this long-term, extended beauty contest, they're going to be pushing for expansion of the agenda," he said. "But they're not going to accept a pro-choice candidate."

11/7/2008 4:59:00 AM by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



S. Baptists in Congress return to D.C.

November 7 2008 by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON —No Southern Baptist members of Congress lost their seats in voting Nov. 4.

Both senators and all 23 representatives who are members of Southern Baptist churches and were on the general-election ballot gained victories.

Six Southern Baptists who are in the current Congress will not return to office, however.

Four members of the House of Representatives — Republicans Terry Everett of Alabama, Duncan Hunter of California, Ron Lewis of Kentucky and Chip Pickering of Mississippi — decided not to run for re-election. Hunter will leave after 14 terms in the House, Everett and Lewis both after eight terms, and Pickering after six.

Two members of the same Southern Baptist church faced off to fill Everett’s seat. Democrat Bobby Bright edged Republican Jay Love by less than 1,800 votes out of more than 286,000 ballots cast. Bright and Love are members of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

Another Southern Baptist — Republican Steve Pearce of New Mexico — ran for the Senate but lost after three terms in the House.

First-term House member David Davis of Tennessee lost in the GOP primary earlier this year.

In the Senate, Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi defeated a fellow Southern Baptist, Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, to win a special election for the seat formerly occupied by Sen. Trent Lott. Wicker is a member of First Baptist Church in Tupelo, Miss., while Musgrove is a member of First Baptist Church in Jackson. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to the seat last December after Lott retired.

Following is a list, as obtained by Baptist Press, of the ballot results for members of Southern Baptist churches who sought re-election to Congress. (The vote totals are from CNN’s web site as of the morning of Nov. 6. The number of precincts reporting varied from 95 to 100 percent. Some races had more than two candidates on the ballot, but CNN only included the top two finishers.)

Senate
Mississippi —
Sen. Roger Wicker, Republican, First Baptist Church, Tupelo, defeated Ronnie Musgrove, Democrat, 646,394-522,419, 55-45 percent.

South Carolina — Lindsey Graham, R., seeking second term, Corinth B.C., Seneca, defeated Bob Conley, D., 1,051,002-773,940, 58-42 percent.

House of Representatives
Alabama —
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R., Sixth District, seeking ninth term, Hunter Street B.C., Hoover, was unopposed.

Arizona — Rep. Trent Franks, R., Second District, seeking fourth term, North Phoenix B.C., Phoenix, defeated John Thrasher, D., 165,967-104,047, 60-37 percent.

Arkansas — Rep. John Boozman, R., Third District, seeking fifth term, First B.C., Rogers, was unopposed, according to CNN.

Florida — Vern Buchanan, R., 13th District, seeking second term, First B.C., Sarasota, defeated Christine Jennings, D., 201,440-136,233, 55-38 percent.

Georgia — Lynn Westmoreland, R., Third District, seeking third term, SouthCrest Church, Newman, defeated Stephen Camp, D., 224,856-117,380, 66-34 percent. Nathan Deal, R., Ninth District, seeking ninth term, First B.C., Gainesville, defeated Jeff Scott, D., 216,824-70,353, 76-24 percent. Paul Broun, R. 10th District, seeking second term, Prince Avenue B.C., Bogart, defeated Bobby Saxon, D., 177,109-114,463, 61-39 percent.

Kentucky — Rep. Harold Rogers, R., Fifth District, seeking 15th term, First B.C., Somerset, was unopposed, according to CNN.

Louisiana — Rep. Rodney Alexander, R., Fifth District, seeking fourth term, Sweetwater B.C., Quitman, was unopposed.

Maryland — Rep. Steny Hoyer, D., Fifth District, seeking 15th term, Broadview B.C., Temple Hills, defeated Collins Bailey, R., 210,628-72,213, 73-25 percent.

Missouri — Rep. Sam Graves, R., Sixth District, seeking fifth term, First B.C., Tarkio, defeated Kay Barnes, D., 196,309-121,729, 59-37 percent. Rep. Roy Blunt, R., Seventh District, seeking seventh term, First B.C., Branson, defeated Richard Monroe, D., 218,662-90,761, 68-28 percent.

North Carolina —
Heath Shuler, D., 11th District, seeking second term, Biltmore B.C., Arden, defeated Carl Mumpower, R., 210,690-121,885, 62-36 percent.

Oklahoma —
Rep. Frank Lucas, R., Third District, seeking ninth term, First B.C., Cheyenne, defeated Frankie Robbins, D., 184,246-62,278, 70-23 percent.

South Carolina — Rep. Henry Brown, R., First District, seeking fifth term, Cooper River B.C., North Charleston, defeated Linda Ketner, D., 175,768-162,341, 52-48 percent. Rep. Gresham Barrett, R., Third District, seeking fourth term, Westminster B.C., Westminster, defeated Jane Dyer, D., 186,004-101,121, 65-35 percent.

Tennessee —
Rep. Zach Wamp, R., Third District, seeking eighth term, Red Bank B.C., Chattanooga, defeated Doug Vandagriff, D., 184,787-73,030, 69-28 percent. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D., Fourth District, seeking fourth term, Byrdstown First B.C., Byrdstown, defeated Monty Lankford, R., 146,701-94,414, 59-38 percent.

Texas — Rep. Louie Gohmert, R., First District, seeking third term, Green Acres B.C., Tyler, was unopposed, according to CNN. Rep. Al Green, D., Ninth District, seeking third term, Cullen Missionary B.C., Houston, was unopposed, according to CNN. Rep. Mike Conaway, R., 11th District, seeking third term, First B.C., Midland, was unopposed, according to CNN. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R., 19th District, seeking fourth term, First B.C., Lubbock, defeated Dwight Fullingim, D., 168,126-57,852, 72-25 percent.

Virginia — Rep. Randy Forbes, R., Fourth District, seeking fifth term, Great Bridge B.C., Chesapeake, defeated Andrea Miller, D., 191,486-126,925, 60-40 percent.


11/7/2008 4:57:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Carmel members offer gift to Matthews

November 6 2008 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

When 300 expected volunteers grew to more than 1,100, Matthews was the recipient of an even more wonderful gift than imagined.

“I’ve never seen such a commitment of the time and monetary resources and people,” said Mayor R. Lee Myers, who has been mayor for 18 years. “It’s an absolute gift from above for people to come and give back to their community.”

In the beginning stages, Carmel Baptist Church planned to work on two or three projects but as the volunteer list grew so did the planning.

On Sept. 27, more than 1,100 Carmel members worked at eight parks and an elementary school on landscaping, installing playground equipment, painting shelters and installing benches.

Called Matthews Matters, the church members’ outpouring of support showed they believed it.

That “willingness to give back, willingness to partner” is what makes Matthews a great place, said Myers of the town of 25,000.

Don Bouldin, Carmel’s global outreach pastor, said the event was inspired by David Jeremiah’s church (Shadow Mountain Community Church) in California. What started as something the church wanted to do in the next month turned into seven-eight months of planning.

“It was really a mammoth deal,” Bouldin said. “It was a life-changing experience. It was one of those days that was a turning point for a lot of people.”

One key lesson from that day was proving to their church members that missions can be done at home.

When Myers first got a call from Bouldin he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“As he started to explain to me what their vision was I was speechless, which if you ask anybody is very unusual for me,” Myers said. “The only thing more unbelievable was on Saturday morning when I was there … topped by dinner that night.”

Carmel provided the supplies and volunteer labor. Members brought machinery and tools, and the church paid for most of the supplies, with the exception of the school project.

Bouldin said Myers asked him why the church would want to do this.

“We believe that when you love Jesus, that causes you to want to love others and to minister to them,” Bouldin remembers telling the mayor.

Another key was getting whole families involved. Bouldin said they wanted the mission to be family-friendly.

The day started with breakfast with the mayor and city council and concluded with a celebration dinner. The projects “made a tremendous impact on the city,” Bouldin said. “One of the councilman said he’d never seen anything like it or (heard of anything like it). They were particularly pleased.”

The church averages between 2,200 and 2,400 people on Sundays. Getting half of them to turn out for this outreach event was surprising to Carmel church staff and to the Town of Matthews.

Heart for missions
“Carmel is very good to respond to mission opportunities that they can visualize,” Bouldin said. “They got really excited that families could work together.”

Bouldin said they recruited throughout all classes in the church. The pastor, Wayne Poplin, preached a series of messages about service.

Bouldin’s Sunday School class of newlyweds worked together on a project. Children worked with their parents. At one point during the day, Bouldin found himself working with three people over the age of 70.

Carmel is a “very, very active church,” Bouldin said.

Members took 24 trips to the Gulf Coast this year to work with a partner church. They regularly work with about 20 organizations in the area to help the community. Another 24 trips were taken to places like Kenya, Ecuador, Ukraine, Caribbean and Europe.

This year the church donated $900,000 to missions, Bouldin said.

“It’s not the kind of thing where we just send money,” he said. “Carmel is really highly committed to the Cooperative Program. We do a ton of missions.”

11/6/2008 10:05:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments



Study finds link between faith, depression

November 6 2008 by Ashley Gipson, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — A study released by Temple University found that people who feel close to a higher power and pray often are more likely to be depressed, while people who attend religious services and feel that their lives have purpose are less likely to be depressed.

Lead researcher Joanna Maselko found that people who report being in a close relationship with a higher power are 1.5 times more likely to struggle with depression. She believes depressed people may use religion as a coping mechanism, and as a result, "they're more closely relating to God and praying more."

People who did not necessarily report being close to a higher power but did attend religious services regularly are 30 percent less likely to struggle with depression. Being involved in a faith-based community helps forge attachments to others, which prevents depression, the report said.

"People with high levels of existential well-being tend to have a good base, which makes them very centered emotionally," Maselko said in a news release. "People who don't have those things are at greater risk for depression, and those same people might also turn to religion to cope."

The study suggests that people who have a hard time forming close relationships may turn to God for a "stable and secure attachment figure."

"It's hard to disentangle these elements when treating mental illness," Maselko said. "You can't just ask a patient if they go to church to gauge their spirituality or coping behaviors. There are other components to consider when treating patients, and it's important information for doctors to have."

Stephen Gilman and Stephen Buka from the Department of Public Health at Harvard University and Brown University Medical School helped author the report.

11/6/2008 9:25:00 AM by Ashley Gipson, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



Rejection prompts Calvary to look locally

November 5 2008 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

A great idea dismissed by a local newspaper reporter woke Calvary Baptist Church to a wide-open mission field in Winston-Salem.

When Calvary was preparing to send young people on a World Changers mission trip to another city, they thought the local religion writer would be interested in covering that story. He wasn’t.

Calvary missions pastor Steve Hardy remembers the reporter telling him, “When you get ready to do this in Winston-Salem, we’ll talk.”

Hardy, associate pastor for missions at Calvary, which has sent teams overseas since 1968, called that conversation “a dagger in the heart.” It forced Calvary staff to seriously consider the focus of their mission outreach.

That consideration led the church two years ago to adopt a “Love Winston-Salem” emphasis, which has included for the past two summers “Mission Trip: Winston-Salem.”

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Alexandra Milner

Alexandra Milner, 26, grew up at Calvary and interned at the church while a student at Samford University. She now directs the local outreach efforts.

Milner did not start her job assuming no other church was doing anything locally. She surveyed the landscape, learned what was being done by whom, and figured out ways to involve the church in the gaps.

“Our desire is that God will reveal to each person within our church and larger community how God has gifted them and shaped them for service,” said Hardy.

It is taking hold as more than 1,000 people were involved in Mission Trip: Winston-Salem this summer.

Love Winston-Salem has established 10 community ministries, including those with students at two recreation centers and three schools. Milner finds a “champion” from the Calvary body who is drawn to a particular ministry and will drive it.

“He acts as heart, mind and soul for our connection with that organization,” said Milner. “For the most part they’ve been volunteering with that organization and have a passion for organizing our people.”
 
Digging in
Milner, who said mission trips as a youth stirred her heart for urban ministry, majored in psychology, human development and family studies at Samford.

Her first assignment was to learn the city from street level. She is a familiar face at recreation centers, schools, parks and the mayor’s office as she seeks new ways to engage communities.

“The reality is that a lot of Christian ministries are doing a great job meeting practical needs in our city,” Milner said. “We’ve focused our work on schools, rec centers and Christian ministries.”

She said rec centers are hubs for urban children, and “God has given us favor” in gaining audience and opportunity to serve there.

After-school programs include a meal, tutoring and Bible study. Milner said the children who frequent rec centers don’t have access to typical after-school activities, and “flock there for something to do.”

Presence at the rec centers leads to high levels of involvement by students in schools where Calvary offers tutoring and for sports camps involving basketball, cheerleading and arts and crafts which provide platforms for sharing the gospel.

Mission Trip: Winston-Salem focuses Calvary’s attention specifically on local missions. A thousand members permeating city schools, rec centers and community agencies form the basis for several dozen mission events at sites such as Habitat for Humanity construction, dental clinics, soup kitchens, landscaping a school, painting and sports camps.

Calvary has adopted Forest Park Elementary School where it sponsors “Citizen of the Month” parties throughout the year.

With thousands of children eating free or reduced cost lunch at school, weekends can be a hungry time. So Calvary builds weekend snack packs for 50 students.

“When they go home their pantries are empty,” Milner said. “If they’re not eating at school the likelihood of them not eating at home is high.”
 
Action as catalyst
A strong series of activities can be the catalyst to get members involved beyond the church site, Hardy said. If they will just go, many times they are hooked on continuous involvement.

“For many years of my Christian life I had the misconception that doing missions meant to go away,” Hardy said. “I went overseas and all over America and would love it and be deeply satisfied to see what God is doing around the world. I never connected in my head the same things we were doing in New York City or elsewhere could be done in Winston-Salem.”

Now Calvary is involved all over town, including partnerships with other churches, with Boys and Girls Club and Salvation Army.

Staff took a two-hour bus tour through town and learned of areas they never knew existed; areas that now are at the top of their prayer lists for future involvement.

To see list of activities Calvary is involved with in Love Winston-Salem, go to www.lovewinstonsalem.com.

11/5/2008 6:07:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 1 comments



Bowl of soup turns into ministry to thousands

November 5 2008 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

About 18 years ago Lee Flowe noticed the fair worker at Gate 6 had nothing to eat at meal time. Neither did he always have transportation to work.

So Lee asked his wife Carroll to make some extra food, and from time to time Lee picked the worker up at home, brought him to the fair and took him home at the end of the day. Wondering if other fair workers could use their help, Carroll began setting a crock-pot out on a table and refilling it every hour or so.

By word of mouth workers at the N.C. State Fair heard about a place they could get a warm meal. Now, 18 years later, one bowl of soup has turned into thousands of servings and thousands served. This year the Flowes estimate more than 12,000 servings helped fair workers.

BSC photo by Melissa Lilley

Mary Reagan prepares food for N.C. State Fair workers.

The Flowes coordinate the state fair ministry for North Carolina Campers on Mission, a national organization with state chapters of Christian campers who “proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as they go.”

From more meager beginnings, the fair ministry now includes lining up groups to perform at the Church of Yesteryear, leading morning devotions, making salvation bracelets, checking blood pressure, passing out hygiene kits and serving lunch and dinner every day to fair workers. This was the first year a clothing ministry was offered. Fair workers were given clothes and blankets. A kick-off barbeque meal drew 450 fair workers.

Carroll and Lee will step down as coordinators after this year, but the memories they made will always be sweet. Above the door in their RV is a sign that reads, “The best things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been, and the memories made along the way.”

Carroll tells of a worker she met this summer at the Appalachian Fair in Gary, Tenn. While giving the man a haircut she shared the gospel and prayed with him. Before the week ended the man came to faith in Jesus Christ. The man also worked this year at the N.C. State Fair and stopped by to visit Carroll. Year after year Campers on Mission volunteers say that fair workers remember them and come by to say how grateful they are for their kindness.

The Flowes serve with Campers on Mission all over the country, always with a missional purpose. They have served at fairs in other states and traveled to places such as Las Vegas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Orlando and Oklahoma to build churches, lead Vacation Bible Schools, and help with repair projects.

Pete Butler, Campers on Mission director and member of Union Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, has been with the state fair ministry since inception and said the ministry “really makes you think about how blessed we are.” Butler meets fair workers who are homeless, or sleep in the bed of their truck, or sleep underneath the ride they operate.

Like the Flowes and many other Campers on Mission volunteers, Butler serves on mission fields beyond the state fair. He serves alongside more than 150 families in outreaches such as street festivals, revivals, construction and disaster relief. Shortly after Hurricane Floyd hit the East Coast in 1999 Butler saw eight Campers on Mission RVs in his front yard.

Butler has been with Campers on Mission for nearly 27 years, when the group was nothing more than a family camping weekend with seven or eight families just having a good time. Now he gives testimony to lives changed during Campers on Mission outreaches.

During a street festival in Erwin, Butler met a young woman with two children, and as he did her blood pressure check, he shared about the blood of Jesus Christ that saves sinners. One hour later the woman returned to the booth to talk more with Butler, and she left that day as a sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

“I could go on and on with these stories,” Butler said. At this year’s state fair with four days left, 17 people had been saved. “These are witnessing people,” Butler said.

Whether it’s at the state fair or a street festival, Campers on Mission seeks to meet the needs of others and share the gospel. “You see this. This is what it’s all about,” Butler said pointing to fair workers sitting at tables behind the Church of Yesteryear, having a meal together and being served by hands that know the deep love of the Father.

11/5/2008 6:01:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Oldest N.C. Baptist church celebrates 281 years

November 5 2008 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

SHILOH — “I wish my father could be here. He left me the greatest legacy that could be left – the love of this church.” Brian Forehand’s father, Billie, spent nearly 40 years collecting documents and artifacts that tell the story of the oldest Baptist church in North Carolina — Shiloh Baptist in Camden County. When Billie Forehand died he left his son a historical collection including photos; years worth of bulletins with personal notes indicating Sunday attendance and special occasions such as weddings; hymn books; church records; and the will of Shiloh’s first pastor, William Burgess.

Shiloh Baptist Church in the Chowan Association celebrated its 281-year anniversary Sunday, Oct. 5, with special services and events. Forehand could not contain his excitement as he moved from one photo, one document to another, walking church members and visitors through Shiloh’s history — or rather, through his family history. Holding a photo of the congregation from the early 1930s, Forehand pointed out relative after relative: uncles, aunts, grandparents and great-grandparents. At age 94, Forehand’s aunt is the oldest church member at Shiloh. Forehand is like most of the Shiloh congregation in that he can look back to generations of family members who were members of Shiloh, and he now looks out into the congregation every Sunday and rejoices, knowing he is worshipping with family.
 
1727 Beginning
The first worship service in the Shiloh area was held in 1717 and at the time, the population in what would become North Carolina totaled about 30,000. According to Forehand and historical documents, Baptist missionary Paul Palmer organized the Shiloh church and William Burgess was its first pastor. The church began meeting monthly on a Saturday at Burgess’ home. In 1736 a meetinghouse was built on Burgess’ land and about 30 people attended the church. Though additions and renovations have been made, such as a fellowship hall in 1992, the sanctuary that stands today is the same one built back in the mid-1800s. After four name changes the church settled on “Shiloh” in 1812.

BSC photo by Melissa Lilley

Mike Perry, left, and Mike Holcomb participate in a historical skit about Shiloh Baptist Church, Shiloh.

Throughout the late 1700s and 1800s, Shiloh organized nine churches in areas such as Elizabeth City, Camden and Shady Grove in North Carolina and Princess Anne County in Virginia. Notable Shiloh pastors include Henry Abbott, who is credited with the authorship of Article 19 of the Bill of Rights, and Charles Bray Williams, who served as dean of Southwestern Seminary and president of Howard College.
 
Remembering the past
The anniversary celebration included a morning and afternoon worship service Sunday, Oct. 5, and a colonial festival Oct. 4. The festival featured exhibits with artifacts about life during colonial times, such as weapons and tools, children’s toys and everyday life; a display outlining the church history and a quilt display. Festival goers also enjoyed games, a puppet show, pony rides and a contest for the best colonial costume, as church members dressed in colonial attire for both the festival and the Sunday services. A church member carrying a “tithing pole” roamed throughout the congregation during the Sunday services. During colonial times a feather was tied to the end of the tithing pole and was used to tickle the noses of members nodding off to sleep.

Milton A. Hollifield Jr., Baptist State Convention of North Carolina executive director-treasurer, preached at the morning worship service. Hollifield used 2 Tim. 2:2 as his text and reminded Shiloh members that while they have a rich history, “you also have a bright future,” he said. Hollifield said the voices of the past, virtues of the present and future victories promised by the Lord Jesus Christ should motivate Shiloh members to continue telling the story of Jesus.

A Christian’s words and behavior tell a story to the world, Hollifield said, and he asked those present to consider if their lifestyle is such that those around them are imitating their words and behavior. Referring to research by the Barna Group, Hollifield said that 80 percent of Christians see no need to share their faith and tell the story of Jesus. “Someone shared that story with you,” he said. “Are you sharing it with others?”

The afternoon service featured special music, a historical skit and testimonies from church members about what the church has meant to them throughout the years. One after another they stood, eager to share how the Lord Jesus Christ changed their life at Shiloh and unashamed to tell of His grace and mercy. The first member to stand said she grew up in Shiloh Baptist, participating in youth group, and thanked the church for the “solid foundation” she now has in Christ, as well as a Christian marriage. One member shared that he was baptized at Shiloh, his three sisters were all married at Shiloh and “the gospel was preached every week.” Another member thanked all the saints — the grandparents and great-grandparents who still serve faithfully at Shiloh and who will see that “their legacy will last forever in other people.”
 
Moving forward
Mike Perry grew up about 20 miles from Shiloh, in South Mills, and for the last 20 years has called Shiloh his home. As much as Perry enjoys history and telling of Shiloh’s beginning, when asked about the church’s past he is quick to say the church must “not dwell on it” but “look to the future.” Perry wants the church to continue moving in a direction that will afford the present congregation opportunity to leave its own legacy.

Tommy Roach, 78, first sat in the Shiloh pews nearly 35 years ago. His wife of 47 years was raised in the area, and they live less than a mile from where she grew up. What Roach loves most about the church are the people. “A lot of love comes from this church,” he said. “You can feel the Spirit.” Roach spoke to every person who came by his lunch table and said, “I missed seeing you yesterday” to a friend who had to work during the festival.

Roach said the love of his church family has never wavered and in the future, that is what is needed to carry on with the proclaiming of the gospel and the discipling of church members.

Whatever the future holds for Shiloh Baptist Church, pastor Dave Combs said the church must “stand on the fundamentals of the gospel.”

11/5/2008 5:56:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Elevation Church baptizes 1,044 in two weeks

November 4 2008 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

A young N.C. Baptist church in Matthews baptized more than 1,000 people over two weeks in August to kick off “a season of awakening and revival.”

Worship services Aug. 3 and Aug. 10 featured what Elevation Church leaders called “spontaneous baptisms.”

Larry Brey, connections pastor at the church, said the 1,044 people “went off smiling” after they were baptized. He said the church baptized 629 people the first Sunday and 415 the next.

“It was a pretty crazy result,” he said.

Contributed photo

Steven Furtick, right, of Elevation Church baptizes Tony Combs. The spontaneous baptism effort is based on Acts 2:41. A similar emphasis in 2007 resulted in more than 400 baptisms.

Pastor Steven Furtick told the congregation at the beginning of a sermon Aug. 3 that those who had not been baptized would have a chance that day.

“Many of you are about to have the most significant day of your life today,” he said in the sermon, which is on the church’s web site at www.elevationchurch.org.
Furtick said the church had done a similar baptism emphasis in May 2007, when more than 400 were baptized.

“What better way to enter into a season of awakening and revival than to do it again,” he said.

Furtick said those who had not had the “opportunity or the courage” to be “biblically baptized” would have the chance that day.

“Not next month, not even next week. Before lunchtime today,” he said. “I pray that hundreds of you will take the biblical step and be baptized, and it is going to be one of the most significant occurrences in your life.”

Furtick said the spontaneous baptism effort was based on Acts 2:41, which shows that on the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 believed and were baptized, and on the story of the Ethiopian treasury official who stopped his chariot and was baptized by Philip in the nearest body of water.

Brey said those who wanted to be baptized at the end of each of the six services were taken to changing rooms, one for men and one for women. There they were asked their size and then given paper bags with shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops.

Those being baptized then changed clothes and went outside, where they walked up a set of steps then down steps into a tank of water, where they were baptized.

“From the time we started, we were basically baptizing all day,” Brey said. “It was pretty amazing.”

Although the church’s ministers took turns baptizing, Brey said he was “pretty sore” the next day.

The church has a “spontaneous baptism” kit on its web site for churches who want to replicate the effort.

Elevation held its first Sunday service in February 2006. The church was formed after eight families moved to Charlotte from the Shelby area to start a new church.

Some weeks, more than 4,000 attend services, now held at two high schools.

11/4/2008 5:30:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



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