November 2009

Bessemer City pastor faces sexual battery charges

November 30 2009 by From press reports

A Bessemer City pastor charged with sexual battery heads to court Dec. 7.

Harley Michael Keough, 72, pastor of King James Baptist Church in Bessemer City, was charged Nov. 13 with five counts of sexual battery and held on a $50,000 secured bond.

Against Keough’s advice, church members posted his bond.

He has been leading the church since 1999. He receives no salary, and, with Social Security as his only income, asked for a public defender.

Keough is accused of fondling women who came to the church’s food bank in need of help. The incidents allegedly happened between September 2006 and October 2009.

“I think anyone who would go into a food bank or a church facility or any other institution of trust and have something like this occur would be surprised and horrified,” said Gaston County Police Capt. Joe Ramey in the Shelby Star. “The potential is there that there are more victims we are not aware of.”

The women Keogh is accused of groping range in age from 23 to 46.

Sexual battery is a Class A1 misdemeanor and is defined as engaging in sexual contact “by force and against the will of the other person” or when that person is incapacitated or mentally disabled. The charge usually involves unwelcome touching.

A military veteran and retired sous chef, Keough said he feared for the future of the church’s food ministry program now that money has been used to pay his bond.

If the power bill goes unpaid, the ministry’s 20 freezers could shut off and spoil what is meant for the hungry, he said. In a Gaston Gazette story, Keough said he had pastored in the county for 35 years and never drawn a salary.

The district attorney said the case is still forming and indicated there might be other charges at a later date.

“They’ve already killed me, crucified me, buried me. They’ve already got me tried,” Keough said of the media in a Gaston Gazette story. He said he is being set up.
11/30/2009 6:37:00 AM by From press reports | with 0 comments

Am. Samoa disaster relief response far from over

November 30 2009 by Mickey Noah, North American Mission Board

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) work continues on American Samoa, weeks after an earthquake — measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale — struck the South Pacific island, triggering a deadly tsunami that killed 31 people, including six Southern Baptists. But SBDR volunteers say Southern Baptist church members have yet to respond to the needs created by the disaster.

Water purification has emerged as SBDR’s key ministry operation in American Samoa since the Sept. 29 tsunami, according to Bruce Poss, disaster relief coordinator for the SBC’s North American Mission Board (NAMB). As of mid-November, water purification volunteers have purified more than 4,000 gallons of water in 17 villages throughout the island, located about six hours south of Hawaii.

While natural but tainted water is available in most locations on the island, authorities have urged Samoans to boil the water, said Poss. But villagers are unwilling to do so because they choose to spend their limited money on propane fuel to cook food for their families rather than boil water – making water purification vital. 

Contributed photo

Ronda Corn, right, a Mission Service Corps missionary from North Carolina, befriended Susi who survived the waves of the September tsunami in the outhouse behind them. Susi had no warning of the tsunami but saw the sky had darkened. She looked out a window and saw  a large wave heading for her. She retreated to the outhouse behind her house. Most of her home has been destroyed but she and about 10 other people are living in the condemned portion.

“We’re using the great analogy between the dirty water, which represents man as a sinner, and the clean water that represents Jesus Christ and the forgiven man saved by grace through faith,” says NAMB Mission Service Corps missionary (MSC) Randy Corn. “We use that at the beginning as we start the purification process to let the Samoan people know why we’re there.”

Corn and Ronda — his wife of 28 years — are NAMB MSC missionaries who live in Horse Shoe, N.C., and serve in conjunction with NAMB’s adult volunteer mobilization team in the areas of disaster relief, Baptist Builders, Campers on Mission and Families on Mission. Following the earthquake and tsunami, the couple volunteered to spend time in American Samoa to minister to victims and spread the gospel.

The Corns left American Samoa before Thanksgiving, replaced by yet another missionary couple, Leon and Sara White from Alabaster, Ala.

While Corn has been overseeing water purification on the island, wife Ronda has been involved with prayerwalking and Bible study with members of the local Chinese Baptist Church. The Chinese are one of many people groups represented in American Samoa.

“Through an interpreter, the Chinese people are telling us ‘you don’t know how much we appreciate your helping us,’” said Ronda. “They ask us how long we’re going to be here and ask us if we’re coming back.”

‘We see Jesus’
“They tell us that ‘we don’t understand your language, but we see Jesus in you. We’ve been praying for someone to come and teach us,’” Ronda says of the Chinese women she has ministered to.

Many of the American Samoan villagers fortunate enough to survive the tsunami lost everything they owned when four devastating waves — each 15-20 feet high — blanketed the island early on the morning of Sept. 29, washing people, structures, personal belongings and vehicles out to sea.

Ronda loves to tell the story of “Susi” — a 64-year-old Samoan woman, her long gray hair neatly knotted in a bun — who lives in the village of Asili on the western tip of American Samoa.

“Susi told me the amazing story of how the tsunami gutted her home and how God spared her life,” recounts Ronda.

“Susi was in her home about 50 yards from the beach doing some morning chores. She had no warning and no way of knowing that 135 miles away, a tsunami was brewing which would level her house within 15 minutes.”

According to Ronda, Susi’s house suddenly became very dark and as she looked out her front window, a huge tsunami wave was heading right for her home. Susi ran out the back door to the only other shelter she knew — an outside toilet made of cinder blocks.

“Just as she ran into the outhouse, the tsunami wave hit, filling the interior with water and lifting Susi up to the top of the tiny block building. Her head was lodged in an open space of only 12 inches between the top of the blocks and the exposed rafters. Wave after wave smashed against the concrete outhouse. All became quiet again and as the seawater receded, Susi found herself back on the floor — without a scratch.”

Now, seven weeks later, most of her home is gone and what’s left has been condemned. But the cinderblock outhouse remains. Because of the tsunami, Susi now has 10 adults and children living with her in her condemned house, only because it’s better than what they have — nothing.

“Susi was very emotional and wept as she talked about how God spared her life,” Ronda recalls. “I had the tremendous honor of praying with Susi for the peace that passes all understanding, for comfort and for the Lord to provide for all of her needs.”

Off the radar
Randy and Ronda Corn worry that American Samoa has fallen off the radar screen, and that Southern Baptists have forgotten about the significant material and spiritual needs on the 76-square-mile island.

NAMB’s Poss believes that Southern Baptists still have a challenging mission in American Samoa which — with a population of 69,000 — is a United States territory. Because of the island’s relationship to the U.S., some American Samoans will qualify for recovery grants from FEMA.

“But American Samoa is made up of many different nationalities,” Ronda explains. “There are the Samoan people, and there are the expatriates. Fifty percent of the island’s current population are expatriates, who do not qualify for any FEMA assistance.”

What can Southern Baptists do for the American Samoans devastated by the tsunami? According to the Corns, the best thing to do is give a monetary donation toward recovery efforts.

“The yellow shirts are becoming well known,” said Ronda Corn. “(The Samoans) are absolutely some of the most beautiful people in the world.”

The Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention has established a fund for individuals and organizations wanting to support relief efforts in American Samoa. Donations may be mailed to the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, Samoa Disaster Relief Fund, 2042 Vancouver Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822.

Donations can also be made through NAMB’s disaster relief web site,

North Carolina Baptist Men has a partnership with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention and has projects planned for 2010. Contact Mark Abernathy at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5607, or

Contributions to that work and to relief also can be made through N.C. Baptist Men.

Southern Baptist state conventions train their own disaster relief volunteers, purchase their own disaster relief units, and respond to disasters occurring in their own states. NAMB coordinates national Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts when a disaster requires response from multiple state conventions.

NAMB maintains agreements with national entities such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other state and local entities. Together, Southern Baptists have more than 85,000 volunteers trained for disaster relief response.  
11/30/2009 6:29:00 AM by Mickey Noah, North American Mission Board | with 0 comments

Wingate PA director promotes human touch

November 30 2009 by Jennifer Gaskins, Wingate Communications

Air Force lieutenant Gary Uremovich, with a freshly minted master’s degree in counseling from Vanderbilt University, was feeling quite confident on his clinical rounds one day while stationed in England.

The man who now directs Wingate University’s new physician assistant’s program picked up a folder for his next patient. The woman was pregnant and disheveled. She started relating her marital problems and her feelings of isolation from her family back home. She felt overwhelmed by financial and other troubles. 

“When she saw the look on my face and saw that I didn’t know what to do she looked at me and said ‘You really don’t care’ and left,” said Uremovich.

Shocked and unprepared for such an encounter, Uremovich saw that moment as a turning point early in his career. “It really woke me up and inspired me to write an article in the USAF Digest about my lack of communication skills that day,” he said.

Wingate University photo

Physician assistant students, from left, Tamim Alsaedi, Kristin Teague and Angie Shepherd get some feedback from Assistant Professor Rosalind Becker.

More importantly, the event inspired him to become a competent and compassionate healthcare provider. 

Today, Uremovich teaches relationship-centered care as director of Wingate University’s Physician Assistant’s (PA) program. Part of the reason he came to Wingate was the university’s motto: faith, knowledge and service.

“It resonated with my values,” he said, values crystallized through his hard lessons in England.

Students learn the importance of human communication from the moment they step into class. They spend eight hours a month during their first two semesters serving in homeless shelters, free clinics and outreach activities. 

“They learn early on how to connect with people, whether it’s helping a drug addict or a homeless mother,” he said.

At Wingate, Uremovich intentionally designed the PA program to be team-based and highly interactive. The 40 students currently enrolled start out in classrooms on the main campus then quickly move into practice at 120 clinical sites in the area.

What makes Uremovich rare in his field is his theological background. The Chicago native came to Christ at age 12 during a Billy Graham crusade, and he recently earned a DMin degree in church administration.

“After the events of 9/11, I felt a call to be more involved in ministry and transferred to the Trinity Theological Seminary in Indiana,” said Uremovich.

He accepted a position as the Protestant Religious Education Coordinator for Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the second largest in the U.S. From 2001 to 2005 he coordinated religious education activities for five chapels while also teaching in a Physician Assistant Program in Kettering, Ohio and practicing in otolaryngology at the Springfield ENT clinic. The combination of healthcare and ministry work makes sense for Uremovich, who firmly believes “all real healing comes from the ‘Great Physician.’” 

Now in its second year, the PA program at Wingate University is only one of five in the state and145 in the U.S.

Campbell University will begin a PA program in 2011.

While physician assistants have served patients since 1963, only recently did the profession surge to the top of the list of hot careers. With 750 applicants vying for 20 seats in the next class at Wingate University, Uremovich sees great opportunity ahead. The university recently announced plans to build a College of Health Sciences in 2010 on the main campus to accommodate more students. Since he came to Wingate University in 2007 to launch the PA program, Uremovich has dreamed of expanding the program globally.

“I would like to eventually develop clinical extension hubs all over the U.S. and abroad where PA students can participate in educational rotations in medical practices while being nurtured and housed within faith communities,” he said. 

Students may someday have an opportunity to reach out to others across the seas as Uremovich did years ago in England and practice relationship-centered healthcare.

More information about Wingate University’s Master of Physician Assistant Studies program may be found at
11/30/2009 6:22:00 AM by Jennifer Gaskins, Wingate Communications | with 0 comments

Pastor calls for ‘un-blending’ of traditions

November 30 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

LEAWOOD, Kan. — A Baptist pastor thinks he has a solution to the dilemma about whether it’s more appropriate to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” in secular settings like department stores. 
Mike McKinney submits that tensions that flare between Christians and secularists this time of year aren’t about “taking Christ out of Christmas,” as some religious observers believe, but rather because Christians have allowed their holiday to become too secularized by blending the celebration of Christ’s birth with non-religious symbols like Santa Claus. 

McKinney, pastor of Leawood Baptist Church in suburban Kansas City, is calling for a “reformation” of Christmas by separating secular and sacred aspects of the holiday. 

McKinney says Christians and non-Christians alike would benefit from recognizing they are in fact celebrating two different holidays — one a religious commemoration of Christ’s birth and the other a winter festival marked by hustle and bustle with secular roots. 

McKinney wrote the booklet titled Fixing Christmas for Everyone: A Plea for the Reformation of the Christmas Season proposing an un-blending of the “winter holiday” and “birth of Christ” traditions. 

“It is simply not right to sing ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ as if they belong to the same holiday,” McKinney says. “It is not right to honor the birth of Christ the Lord and to celebrate the arrival of Santa Claus the jolly old elf within the context of the same holiday.” 

McKinney says there is nothing wrong with singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “Frosty the Snowman” in December — in fact he enjoys much about the season — but they simply don’t have anything do to with Jesus Christ. 

He says he is alarmed at how comfortable that both Christians and non-Christians have become with how Christmas is observed in America. 

“Lots of folks are comfortable with blending Jesus with Santa, the Nativity with the North Pole, Angels with Elves, and Shepherds with Reindeer,” McKinney says. “I am not!” 

He says the mingling of secular and sacred is behind the conflict that arises every year over holiday greetings in the marketplace. The word “Christmas” is technically a religious title associated with the Christian faith, he reasons, so non-Christians can rightfully ask what winter shopping has to do with Christianity. 

McKinney says for centuries Christians have commemorated the birth of Jesus Christ in their homes and churches with traditions, carols and Bible stories. Until fairly recently, he says, many Christians began their holiday on Christmas Day and followed it with 12 days of festivities ending with Epiphany on Jan. 6. 

Many of the images now associated with the Christmas season didn’t come along until the last century. The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer appeared as part of a Christmas promotion in 1939 by Montgomery Ward and became even more popular when Gene Autry released it in song in 1949. Frosty the Snowman joined the Christmas lexicon in a song written and performed in 1950.

A 1957 book by Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas introduced another character now affixed to the holiday. 

In fact, he says, the phrase “Merry Christmas” no longer carries religious connotations in the public marketplace, but rather refers to a massive winter holiday season celebrated by people of all kinds. 

“We truthfully have two separate and distinct holidays,” he writes. “We should admit it and do something about it!” 

“I suggest we separate the ‘Winter Christmas’ traditions from the ‘Christian Christmas’ traditions,” he suggests.

“I believe the two traditions can be ‘unblended’ without harming either. They can exist side-by-side in ways that can affirm both.”  

McKinney says people of all faiths would benefit from a clear distinction between a non-religious winter holiday and a highly religious Christian Christmas. He proposes the term “Christmas” be used only by Christians in a religious sense, while the secular celebration be renamed a “Winter Holiday.” 

The Winter Holiday would continue to begin many weeks before Dec. 25, enjoy the non-religious elements now associated with Christmas and end with post-Christmas sales on Dec. 26. 

The Christian Christmas would follow preparation through Advent, begin Christmas Day, and continue into the New Year.

McKinney said Leawood Baptist Church is learning to think of Dec. 25 as the beginning of the Twelve days of Christmas. 

The church brings out decorations on Christmas Eve and leaves them up through Epiphany. Many small groups and Sunday school classes have their Christmas parties after Dec. 25. 

“We strive to think of Dec. 25 as the beginning of our sacred holiday and with the idea of spiritual renewal carrying the spirit of Christmas (Christ) into the New Year,” McKinney said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)
11/30/2009 6:18:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 6 comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25 2009 by BR staff

The Biblical Recorder would like to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.

The office is closed Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26) and Friday, Nov. 27 for the holiday.

Please be careful as you travel this holiday weekend, and may God bless you.
11/25/2009 5:43:00 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Watch out for holiday scams

November 25 2009 by Press release

The atmosphere of generosity during the holidays creates golden opportunity for scam artists to siphon that goodwill for their own benefit.

stock.xchng photo by nosheep

Beware for scams during the holiday season.

“It is important to make certain your generosity is received by those who need it most,” says Lawrence Loesch, vice president for AlliedBarton Security Services and former New York Police Department officer. He warns people to use their heads when their hearts are tugged by requests.

Some warnings include:

  • Look-alike charities — Watch out for charities with names similar to well-known organizations. Always investigate the organization before making a donation.  Look at their websites. Many non-profit web addresses end in .org instead of .com.  
  • Phone scams — Be cautious of charities that contact you over the phone. Ask the solicitor for the charity’s mailing address so you can send them a check directly. When in doubt, call the charity yourself and ask them if they’re aware of the solicitations being done in their name.
  • Know your charity — Many more organizations push for donations during the holidays. Research your charity before making the decision to donate. If they offer you very little information, they may not be legitimate. A legitimate charity will give you information describing its mission, how donations are distributed and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.
  • How is your donation used? How much of your money actually goes to the charitable cause? Most charities are required to register and file annual reports showing how donations are used. You can ask how to find this information at your state or local consumer protection agency.
  • Contribution collectors — Individuals who go door-to-door or position themselves in high traffic areas should be carrying proper credentials and identification.  These individuals should be knowledgeable about the organization and be able to provide you with informative materials about the charity. Ask for written information and the solicitor’s identification to validate the organization. For security and tax record purposes, it’s important to pay by check when giving a contribution and write the charity’s official name on the check.
  • Mail scams — Holiday greetings may not be the only thing crowding your mailbox. This time of year, watch for appeals for donations. If you do not recognize the name of a particular charity, you can check out their legitimacy as well as their efficiency with your money at the BBB Wise Giving Alliance web site,
  • E-mail scams — Be skeptical of e-mails seeking charitable contributions. Many unsolicited messages received through email are fraudulent. Additionally, a fraudulent charity e-mail may have an attachment, offering you more information. Be aware, as many times these attachments contain viruses. Avoid any charity e-mail or web site that requires you to enter you social security number.
  • Promised prizes — Be cautious of guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for your contribution. Fraudulent sweepstake mailers encourage consumers to return the apparent ‘winning’ entry along with a donation to the charity named in the promotion. Be skeptical if a solicitor thanks you for a contribution you don’t remember giving.
  • Adamant demands — Refuse any high-pressure requests for your contribution. Legitimate charities don’t require people to give at a moment’s notice. An established charity will still be willing to accept your donation, even if you take some time to research first.
11/25/2009 5:37:00 AM by Press release | with 0 comments

Naylor named BGR medical consultant

November 25 2009 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rebekah Naylor, an emeritus Southern Baptist missionary physician who served for 35 years at Bangalore Baptist Hospital in India, has joined the staff of Baptist Global Response (BGR) as a U.S.-based health care consultant.

Naylor will play a key role in connecting health care personnel with people in need around the world, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of the international relief and development organization.

“We are excited about Rebekah’s joining the Baptist Global Response team. She is a household name for anyone who has even the slightest familiarity with the past three decades of Southern Baptist international medical work,” Palmer said. “Thanks in great part to her leadership, Bangalore Baptist Hospital has been a shining example of living out the compassion of Christ among people in need and helping them discover the meaningful, purposeful life God created them to enjoy.”

BP photo

Rebecca Naylor

Naylor’s name recognition and credibility among health care professionals both in the United States and abroad make her a valuable partner for mobilizing medical workers to help people around the world who suffer with little or no access to medical care, Palmer added.

“Having a medical professional of Dr. Naylor’s caliber working with us creates instant access with medical/health care communities in the USA,” Palmer said. “Her history and standing with Southern Baptists give her immediate access and networks into the mainstream Southern Baptist health care communities.”

A 200-bed acute-care general hospital, Bangalore Baptist Hospital has treated hundreds of thousands of patients both at the hospital and in villages for more than three decades. The hospital’s educational programs have trained hundreds of doctors, nurses, allied health personnel and chaplains. The spiritual dimension of its ministry helped hundreds of people each year personally experience the love of God and learn how to share that abundant life with others.

International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin sees a natural transition in Naylor’s move from hands-on medical work overseas to mobilizing medical professionals for overseas service.

“Medical missions has been and continues to be a significant strategy for Southern Baptist mission work around the world. More than 200 overseas personnel use their medical skills as they minister to those in need and share about the Great Physician,” Rankin said. “In many places, the need is at a crisis level.

“Dr. Naylor’s work with medical missions groups like the Global Medical Alliance has laid a great foundation for this new role mobilizing health care professionals for overseas service,” Rankin said. “Baptist Global Response is a key 21st-century partner for IMB in ministering to human needs and suffering around the world, and this addition to their team will enhance work on both acute and chronic medical needs. Dr. Naylor understands how medicine can bring hope — now and for eternity — to people in need.”

BGR’s focus on relief and development work naturally gravitates toward medical work, Palmer added.

“From the very beginning, we have been thinking how best to incorporate the medical aspect we have needed into the work,” Palmer said. “Health care issues come up all the time. Out of 500-plus projects administered by BGR this past year, about a third had a significant health-care component. Having Rebekah come on board at this time in this role is a valuable strategic addition to what BGR is trying to do.”

For her part, Naylor is pleased to continue focusing on overseas medical needs after retiring Feb. 1, 2009, from a career at the Bangalore hospital that included serving as a surgeon, chief of medical staff, administrator and medical superintendent.

“God has clearly directed this step on all sides and affirmed the decision made,” Naylor said. “I feel so privileged to have an ongoing role in international missions and meeting human needs through medicine. Because God has asked me to do this, I am full of anticipation as I look ahead.

“I hope Southern Baptists can become more aware of what God is doing today through overseas medical projects. I hope that they will respond with investment of time and resources,” Naylor added. “I am delighted to have an opportunity to connect people here in the U.S. with needs overseas. Especially among people groups that have heard nothing about Christ’s love, I pray that more doors will be opened for meeting human needs and helping people discover the abundant life God wants them to enjoy.”

A native of Arkansas, Naylor is a graduate of Baylor University, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. During her tenure in Bangalore, she founded programs in allied health training and medical residency, a one-year diploma in pastoral healing ministry and a school of nursing that was named in her honor. She continues as a consultant with the Bangalore hospital, as an attending surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and as an active member of the staff at UT Southwestern University Hospital, also in Dallas.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Released by the communications staff of Baptist Global Response. Rebecca Naylor may be contacted at; postal address: Baptist Global Response, 402 BNA Drive Suite 411, Nashville, TN 37127.)

11/25/2009 5:32:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Poll: Americans pin poverty passage on Obama

November 25 2009 by Angela Abbamonte, Religion News Service

More Americans believe a statement about giving “justice to the poor and homeless” came from President Obama instead of its true source, the Bible.

A survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Bible Society found that 54 percent of U.S. adults polled believe the statement — “You must defend those who are helpless and have no hope.

Be fair and give justice to the poor and homeless” — came from a celebrity or politician, when the statement actually comes from Proverbs 31:8.

Of the 1,001 adults surveyed, 16 percent believed the statement came from Obama; 13 percent said it came from the Bible. Other popular answers included the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Oprah Winfrey.

Other questions in the survey also addressed poverty and the Bible. In a question about the teachings of the Bible, 40 percent said the Bible offers the most teaching on heaven, pride or adultery, even though poverty is actually mentioned more than any of these subjects.

The survey was developed to coincide with the release of the society’s new Poverty and Justice Bible, which highlights verses about poverty and justice and provides tips on helping people in need.
11/25/2009 5:31:00 AM by Angela Abbamonte, Religion News Service | with 1 comments

Antidepressant use doubles in U.S.

November 24 2009 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The use of antidepressant drugs in the United States has nearly doubled in recent history, according to a study released in the Archives of General Psychiatry in August.

“Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all sociodemographic groups examined, except African Americans,” Mark Olfson of Columbia University and Steven Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania wrote in the journal.

Antidepressants now are the most commonly prescribed class of medications in the United States. About 13 million people were prescribed antidepressants in 1996. By 2005, 27 million people — 9 percent of the population — were prescribed the drugs during the course of a year.

What might be surprising is that the majority weren’t being treated for depression. Half of the people taking antidepressants used them for back pain, nerve pain, fatigue, sleep difficulties or other problems, the study said.

Olfson attributes the increase partly to mental health treatment becoming more accepted socially, and he expressed concern that the medications are being prescribed casually, according to WebMD.

The study also revealed that fewer people who are using antidepressants also are taking part in psychotherapy. In 1996, 31.5 percent of those surveyed also did take therapy, but in 2005 that portion had dropped to 19.8 percent.

The study authors said the decline in office visits could be attributed to out-of-pocket costs for therapy and lower insurance coverage for such visits. It’s easier and less costly to fill a prescription and pop a pill each day than to see a therapist regularly, some commentators noted.

Some medical professionals warned against jumping on the antidepressant bandwagon.

“Who’s really taking these medications?” Eric Caine, chair of the department of psychiatry and co-director of the Center for the Study of Prevention of Suicide at the University of Rochester Medical Center, asked. “It’s not clear that it makes anyone healthier. That’s a fundamental issue that we don’t know. We don’t have any way of telling if this made people’s lives better.”

The Biblical Recorder did a three-story package about depression in October. See main story and follow links at bottom to view rest.
11/24/2009 7:11:00 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Johnny Hunt diagnosed with cancer

November 24 2009 by Baptist Press

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Johnny Hunt has announced that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo initial treatment in January.

Hunt, 57, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church of Woodstock, reported the diagnosis in a statement to Southern Baptists released through Baptist Press Nov. 23. Hunt was elected SBC president during the convention’s June 2008 annual meeting in Indianapolis and re-elected at this year’s meeting in Louisville, Ky., when he was instrumental in the formation of a 23-member Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. In October, Hunt and his wife Janet visited four countries in the Middle East and North Africa, accompanied by several other First Baptist staff members and pastors and missions leaders from churches in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina.

Hunt is the third SBC leader this year to disclose a prostate cancer diagnosis, following O.S. Hawkins in August and Jack Graham in June. Hawkins is president of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Graham, a former SBC president, is pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.
Hunt’s full statement to Southern Baptists follows:
“I wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I appreciate your prayers for me as I have attempted to lead you over the past year and a half. I have been having my issues in recent days with my PSA as doctors have monitored carefully my prostate. With that being said, I received word this past Thursday, Nov. 19th, of the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Let me say that I am very encouraged in my heart to believe that they were able to locate this cancer early and Janet and I are now praying for wisdom from Heaven to know exactly what procedure to choose to deal with this cancer, probably around the second week in January. We would appreciate your prayers on this journey.

“As a Pastor, one thing that comes to mind is that there are far more trials and illnesses in God’s family than we are aware of. My heart goes out to all who are challenged with cancer, or whatever the illness may be. My Mother suffered with cancer and went home to be with the Lord 25 years ago next February. My Mom taught me in her challenges that the Lord had moved her from ‘Why me?’ to ‘Why not me?’ I must confess that she really did pass that along to me; therefore, my attitude today is not ‘Why me?’ but ‘Why not me?’ If anyone has been blessed by God, it is this Pastor. The Lord has been so good to me. I believe that the Lord oftentimes allows things to come into our lives, and this, in particular, has been a great reminder of my mortality, and also of a genuine faith that has brought me through everything that I have ever faced; so, the Lord has been speaking encouraging words into my heart. I have the privilege to be the Pastor of such a precious, precious fellowship. First Baptist Church Woodstock has embraced Janet and me, along with our children and grandchildren, in such an encouraging way.

“I just wanted to make this known to you, as our Convention family, that I love you, it is a joy leading you, and I look forward to serving the Lord together in the days to come. We will try to keep you abreast of my surgery because we so desire to have your prayers and intercessions on our behalf. Know that each of you are loved.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.)
11/24/2009 2:02:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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