November 2009

Red Bank rallies around hurting family

November 3 2009 by Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder

Angie Doub pauses; words hard to capture from her jumble of thoughts.

Her and husband Reggie’s son, Austin, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) at age four. Ten years later, Austin is in the eighth grade at Northwest Middle School in Mocksville.

Every step of the way, members of Red Bank Missionary Baptist Church in Germanton have walked alongside the Doub family, which also includes Austin’s sister Casie, a 17-year-old senior at Forsyth Tech Middle College.

Contributed photo

Austin Doub's struggle with Muscular Dystrophy has inspired his church in Germanton to rally around the Doub family.

This isn’t a case where a handful of members threw together a one-time fundraiser and were done with it. At Red Bank, it’s much, much more than that. Helping Austin has become a way of life for the congregation. In addition to an annual Austin Doub Fun Day fundraiser, members have taken significant steps to make their church building “Austin friendly.”

They added a ramp entrance and a lift-chair to the basement, widened hallways, took out steps to classrooms and replaced long pews in back of the church with shorter ones to accommodate the young man, who is now wheel-chair bound.

It is a case study for how a church can rally around a hurting family to ease their pain. To explain the joy of such an all-encompassing church family is hard for Angie to put into words.

“They have just reached out to us and done so much,” says Angie, the emotion thick in her voice. “Words can’t even express how you feel … it’s just overwhelming to know that these people love us that much, that they have just reached out and said, ‘This is our family. We’re not going to stop at just praying. We’re going to do something.’”

Frankie Poindexter, president of Red Bank’s Women on Mission group, took several seconds to come up with an answer to the question, “What does it say about the church that it would go to such lengths to help one of its own?” Ultimately, she simply said isn’t that what a church should do? How can it be that a church wouldn’t do such a thing?

“It just comes sort of natural,” Poindexter says. “We’re just trying to follow what we should do as a church and as a Christian, and that’s to help each other. When one of us in trouble, we’re kind of all in trouble. We pitch in. Our church is like a family. We’re not so big that we don’t all know each other. When something happens, here we are.”

According to Wikipedia, DMD is a severe form of muscular dystrophy that generally afflicts only males. The most common form of the disease, DMD impacts one in every 3,500 males. The average life expectancy is the mid-30s, although some have lived past the ages of 40 and 50.

As a church, Red Bank has put together several Austin Doub Fun Days to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

The event has grown from raising $500-$600 in its infancy to now more than $2,000 in its most recent event held Oct. 18. The event includes a car show, putt-putt golf, yard sale led by the church’s youth group, games for children, bingo and silent auction. Expenses are paid by church members, allowing every cent to go to the MDA.

“Austin loves it,” says Angie, a third-grade teacher’s assistant at Rural Hall Elementary School. “His favorite thing is bingo. It’s just overwhelming. He knows that this is his church family.

“This has been a learning event for us, along with our church family. And it has been a church family. It’s not like we’ve been treated any different. (It’s like the church says) ‘This is our family, and we’ve got to take care of him.’”

Angie Doub has been a staunch advocate for her son and to find a cure for the disease that afflicts him. That’s what mommas do, after all. The things that members of Red Bank have done, that’s just what churches do.

“Stress how much we appreciate our church and how much we love our church family,” Angie tells a writer. “I don’t understand how people can get through things like this without a church family and knowing you’re loved that much. We’ve all been there together and held each other’s hands. Words can never express how much this means to us as a family.”

11/3/2009 11:12:00 AM by Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder | with 0 comments

WorldCrafts changes distraught lives

November 3 2009 by Baptist Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Lives are being turned from darkness to light in more than 30 countries through WorldCrafts, an ongoing artisan ministry coordinated by Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU).

As the Christmas gift-giving season approaches, WMU encourages Southern Baptists to consider WorldCrafts, to support a ministry that has helped thousands of neglected women embrace fulfilling careers as artisans.

Photo courtesy of WorldCrafts

Victims of Nepal’s sex trade industry have sought refuge at a ministry called Higher Ground, where they now have salaried jobs making jewelry available for purchase from WorldCrafts.

“WorldCrafts is about more than social good. WorldCrafts is concerned with transformed lives, homes and communities,” said Andrea Mullins, director of WorldCrafts. “With each and every gift purchase, you are helping artisans across the world escape poverty and discover a living hope.”

WorldCrafts pays artisans a fair price that covers not only their costs but also ensures sustainable production, Mullins, said. WMU encourages artisans to set prices that allow them to invest in the growth of their business.

“We provide partial advance on payments to the artisans that allows them to hire more people and purchase the raw materials needed,” Mullins said. “We are committed to our artisans for the long term to maintain certain levels of product orders, investing in product development for long-term planning as well as sustainable production practices. These standards guarantee impoverished families hope for a better life.”

In three vignettes this fall, WMU has featured three women whose lives that were changed through WorldCrafts, providing snapshots of the success of the artisan endeavors. WorldCrafts’ Set1Free campaign highlights various artisan groups working to end sexual exploitation and human trafficking among the world’s poor.

In India, women and children who live in poverty are at risk of being trapped in the country’s sex trade industry, facing lives where they are denied some of the most basic freedoms.

WMU featured Menaka, a woman who 30 years ago was a 13-year-old girl in a refugee camp, a victim of the Bangladesh Liberation War. Disgusted by the conditions of the camp, Menaka sought a better life by escaping to Calcutta, where she thought she could get a job as a housemaid.

Instead of landing the job she expected, Menaka found herself sold to a brothel for $20. Her first customer drugged her and raped her as she tried again to escape.

In 2001, after years in bondage, Menaka became one of the original 20 employees of an artisan business called Freeset, which is a WMU partner. Now Menaka sews high-quality jute bags, available for purchase through WorldCrafts.

Freeset employs women on the basis of their need for freedom rather than the skills they have to offer. A woman must be in the sex trade or be the daughter of a woman in the trade to qualify for a job at the business, which is located in a red-light district.

The women are trained, paid a fair wage, taught to read and write, and signed up for health insurance and a pension fund. WMU said a milestone for each employee is reached when she is able to sign her own name for her paycheck. A few years ago, Menaka journeyed home to find her mother, and the two were reunited. Now she wants to see as many women as possible set free from the bondage of prostitution, WMU said.

Another story comes from Nepal, where Sara and Cara were teenagers working in a dance bar, being sexually exploited by the customers. Bimala, founder of an artisan business called Higher Ground, approached them two years ago and offered them the opportunity to trade that lifestyle in for training and salaried jobs making jewelry.

Cara accepted the offer two weeks later and now follows Christ as a 19-year-old high school-educated artisan. Sara opted to remain at the dance bar and try to raise her infant son on the minimal wages she received. But recently she contacted Cara about joining her as an artisan, WMU said.

Now 21, Sara is working at Higher Ground with a good salary and a scholarship for her son. She also is learning how to manage her time and money and care for her child.

Her story, though, does include a period when she considered going back to the dance bar for more money. Higher Ground counseled her against that option but allowed her to choose whether to remain an artisan or return to her previous lifestyle. She decided to stay and has renounced her previous job.

WMU also highlighted Jo, a woman in Thailand who recounted her story firsthand. She had a husband and children but sought a house in order to gain approval from her friends. She and her husband ran into overwhelming debt as they tried to construct the house, and he left to work abroad for three years.

The geographical distance between the couple caused their marriage to deteriorate, and infidelity eventually wrecked both of their lives. Jo found herself in Thailand’s sex industry, living with people who were hooked on drugs. She recounted walking along the beach looking for a Buddha idol to pray with because she had no hope left in life.

As she was working in a bar in Bangkok, some people from an artisan business named The Well came in to tell her about the opportunities available to her. She quit her job at the bar and now makes traditional Thai textiles and jewelry.

“I started following Jesus and repented from my past,” Jo said. “God has changed me. The world forgot me, but now I have a new life with Jesus. I love to work with Him, study His words and pray to Him. Old Jo has died. I’m a new person. Thank God for His cleansing love. I would like to go back to my village and share Jesus with them.”

In order to support women like these, WMU encourages American women to help in four specific ways. First, host a WorldCrafts party featuring samples of artisans’ goods as instructed on the WorldCrafts web site,

Also, pray for the artisans and consider donating to the endowment that helps make the ministry possible. Obviously, a fourth way to help is to shop. WMU recommends browsing through the items on the web site or in the catalog (available by calling 800-968-7301) and remembering WorldCrafts for gift-giving occasions.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.)

11/3/2009 11:08:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Abortion clinic director sees ultrasound, quits

November 3 2009 by Baptist Press

BRYAN, Texas — The director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in southeast Texas quit her job and is supporting a pro-life organization after watching an ultrasound of an abortion.

Abby Johnson, 29, worked at the abortion clinic for eight years and told she had been “extremely pro-choice” during that time. That all changed in September when she watched an ultrasound of an unborn baby being vacuumed out of a woman’s uterus. She quit in early October.

BP photo

Abby Johnson

 “I just thought I can’t do this anymore, and it was just like a flash that hit me, and I thought, ‘That’s it,’” she told KBTX-TV in Bryan.

Johnson added in the interview with, “I would say there was a definite conversion in my heart ... a spiritual conversion.”

The clinic had been the location of a peaceful pro-life prayer vigil by those associated with the nationwide 40 Days for Life initiative. Some participants also fasted.

Johnson, who became the clinic’s director two years ago, also said she became disgruntled with Planned Parenthood when officials began pressuring her to get more abortions for the facility to generate more revenue.

 “Every meeting that we had was, ‘We don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough money — we’ve got to keep these abortions coming,’“ Johnson told “It’s a very lucrative business and that’s why they want to increase numbers.”

Johnson is thankful she left and has no regrets.

 “I feel so pure in heart (since leaving),” she told KBTX. “I don’t have this guilt, I don’t have this burden on me anymore — that’s how I know this conversion was a spiritual conversion.”

Johnson now is working to prevent abortions and has prayed on the sidewalk with members of the pro-life group Coalition for Life, which has an office just a short walk from the Planned Parenthood building. Some of those members once prayed for Johnson to have a change of heart. A statement from the organization called Johnson’s conversion “by far the most amazing thing that has happened to the Coalition for Life throughout its entire history.” Coalition for Life members have participated in the 40 Days for Life campaign.

After Johnson quit, Planned Parenthood asked for and received a temporary restraining order against Johnson and the Coalition for Life. A hearing is set for Nov. 10. Planned Parenthood issued the following statement to KBTX: “We regret being forced to turn to the courts to protect the safety and confidentiality of our clients and staff, however, in this instance it is absolutely necessary.”

A press release from 40 Days for Life says Johnson is one of eight workers from various clinics who have left their jobs during 40 Days for Life campaigns. Johnson is the highest ranking of the eight.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press. For further information, visit or 

11/3/2009 11:04:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 1 comments

Church sees CP as ‘tried and true’ in missions

November 2 2009 by Marilyn Stewart, Baptist Press

GRANITE FALLS — Dudley Shoals Baptist Church goes with the “tried and true.” This is true in Sunday School and in its Cooperative Program giving.

Seeing the need to reach the families in two local trailer parks, each a mile from the church in Granite Falls, church members took Sunday School “on the road.”

The church built small “children’s chapels” in each trailer park and brought Sunday School to the children. On Sundays, adult teachers lead the Bible Study for up to 50 children before bringing them to the main church campus for “big church.” The church has baptized 30 children through the outreach.

Using Sunday School as an outreach tool is a time-tested strategy, pastor Ronald Winkler said. “It still works.”

Contributed photo

Dudley Shoals Baptist Church's chapel services at local mobile home parks has been a successful way to minister to the church’s community.

Going with what works also is why Dudley Shoals Baptist Church gives 25 percent of its undesignated receipts to missions through the Cooperative Program.

“The Cooperative Program is the lifeblood of our church,” Winkler said of the way state conventions in the Southern Baptist Convention work together the Acts 1:8 way — supporting local, regional, national and international missions and ministries.

Winkler credits a strong missions education program as the driving force behind their missions giving and their mission service. The church has an active Woman’s Missionary Union as well as Acteens, Royal Ambassadors (RAs) and Girls in Action (GAs) programs.

Winkler also credits the 32-year pastoral leadership of his predecessor — Donald Ingle — for building the church’s steady commitment to missions. Winkler stepped into the senior pastor position five years ago after serving as the church’s associate pastor.

A decade of children’s chapel Sunday School has produced tangible results. The parents of the children are invited to participate and have been touched with the gospel as well, Winkler said.

A Wednesday evening Bible study also takes place at the children’s chapels.

Crime had been a problem in the trailer parks prior to the opening of the children’s chapels. The high rate of resident turnover and the number of broken homes in the trailer parks made them an unstable environment. A drop in crime after the children’s program began prompted the local sheriff’s office to thank the church for its contribution in stabilizing the community.

Other Dudley Shoals mission projects include the distribution of Bibles and ministries at a women’s shelter and a local prison. The church’s successful children’s chapels, local mission projects, national and international mission trips have fueled its passion for missions, Winkler said. Nearly 40 percent of the church budget is dedicated to missions giving and missions service.

“We try always to keep missions before our people,” Winkler said. “We are growing up a generation to be involved in missions.”

Four young men in the church are preparing for the ministry, three of whom are enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, where tuition is supported in part by Cooperative Program funds.

Randy Smith, who recently joined the church staff as director of ministries, and his wife Debbie served as career International Mission Board missionaries. Winkler said the church is anticipating Smith’s leadership in involving more members in short-term international mission trips.

International mission service projects under consideration by the church are designed to appeal to, and involve, a broad range of membership, including retirees and farmers. Winkler said mission trips help members understand the importance of giving through the Cooperative Program as well as giving them an opportunity to see the work that Cooperative Program dollars accomplish.

“Letting people see the results of what we give is motivating,” Winkler said.

The church’s many years of commitment to the Cooperative Program have not always been easy.

“In spite of difficulties, we still gave to the Cooperative Program,” Winkler said. “Supporting missions is what we are commanded to do.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Stewart is a freelance writer and member of Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans.)

A legacy spanning generations

Grandfather Mountain forms the horizon at Mt. Zion Baptist in Hudson.

The name stirs a sense of legacy.

The century-old church’s evangelism and missions education programs have forged a legacy generations deep. God has called from its membership three International Mission Board missionaries and several full-time pastors, youth and music ministers.

“We give through the Cooperative Program because of missions,” pastor John Green said.

“It hasn’t always been easy, but we made that commitment a long time ago.”

Mt. Zion’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,065; baptisms, 11; primary worship service attendance, 300; undesignated receipts, $393,724; Cooperative Program, $82,229; CP percent, 20.9; total missions expenditures, $124,167.

Connected to the world

Pastor Rit Varriale calls it “a beautiful picture of the body of Christ,” noting how “God-called and God-equipped” individuals in the church challenged and led fellow members of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, to strengthen their commitment to reaching people through the Cooperative Program.

Church members now see themselves as part of a larger picture of missions. So strong is the church’s commitment to mission service that the work of their Baptist Men’s Handy-Man Ministry was featured on a local television station.

“The beauty of the Cooperative Program is that it connects the body of Christ here in Elizabeth with the larger body of Christ around the world,” Varriale said.

Elizabeth Baptist Church’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 849; baptisms, 14; primary worship service attendance, 456; undesignated receipts, $1,015,996; Cooperative Program, $170,256; CP percent, 16.8; total missions expenditures, $314,209.

11/2/2009 10:31:00 AM by Marilyn Stewart, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Teenagers Collide with missions in Savannah

November 2 2009 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

Vicky Cornett already is planning a trip to Albuquerque, N.M., in June 2010. She hopes to take a group from Dudley Shoals Baptist Church in Granite Falls to Collide, an annual hands-on coed missions opportunity for students sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). The first Collide was in 2008 in Hawaii.

Cornett, with six youth and two other adults from Dudley Shoals, joined nearly 170 volunteers from 10 states in Collide in Savannah, Ga., in July.

Contributed photo

Dudley Shoals Baptist Church members Jessi Miller, from left, Kindley Scott, and Kaitlyn Williams volunteer in Savannah, Ga., with Collide.

During the week, students hosted block parties, backyard Bible clubs with churches, and Vacation Bible School at an international church; worked in a pregnancy crisis center, homeless shelters, the Second Harvest Food Bank, the Savannah Baptist Center, and the Savannah Baptist Center Church; and assisted in area schools, prayer walked, fed the homeless, and painted.

Cornett, said the prayer walking experience was a highlight for her group who were participating in Collide for the first time.

“It was a rainy day when we did our prayer walking,” said Cornett in a WMU article, “but there was a peacefulness as we walked around our block and read the scriptures that were provided and prayed for the people of Savannah. 

“In the midst of the darkness, the presence of the Holy Spirit was felt all around us.”

Cornett asserted that Collide is especially good for groups who may be new to missions work because everything is planned. 

“There are many worship opportunities to participate in as a group,” she said in the article.

“It is not only a time to serve others, but it is also a time for groups to become closer in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

She said her girls “became closer as a group” on the trip and were able to share a servant heart to those they helped while in Savannah.

“I was so very proud of our girls,” said Cornett.

“They were probably one of the hardest working groups I have ever been on a mission trip with.” 

The trip has triggered ideas for Cornett since the group returned.

“Although we live in a small, rural community, there are shelters and soup kitchens in neighboring towns where we can do the same types of work that we did in Savannah,” said Cornett.

“Prayer walking can be done anywhere.”

Other North Carolina groups also made the trip to Savannah. Several ladies shared experiences about the co-ed trip on the Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina web site (

Mary Caitlin Clark, a national Acteens panelist and an N.C. Acteens panelist from Galeed Baptist in Bladenboro:

“God had a huge blessing in store for us in Savannah, and we could feel His presence everywhere. “We were able to paint faces and perform puppet shows for the kids in the housing projects and even got to share the gospel.

“It didn’t take long for us to realize, however, that no matter how prepared we thought we were, it was very hard to keep the attention of a large group of children, and the best Plan B was to just show them how much we loved them.

“Most people never realize the amount of poverty in America until they experience it themselves.”

• Linda Lowery went to Savannah with a group from Beulah Baptist Association:

“We opened our hearts to Savannah and saw our own lives changed as a result.”

• Ruby Benge, a Youth on Mission leader from Philadelphia Baptist Church in Stanfield:

“One inspiring thing for me was watching God use the young people and seeing them grow and mature during the week.”

Collide will be held June 19–25, 2010, in Albuquerque.


11/2/2009 10:22:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Thousands of acts memorialize Maggie Lee

November 2 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

SHREVEPORT, La. — On Oct. 29 lawyers took cases pro bono, a man installed a water heater for a disabled man who previously showered on his back porch, and a man stopping to give a stranded motorist a jump wound up replacing her battery. All were acts of kindness to mark what would have been the 13th birthday of a girl killed this summer by injuries received in a church-bus accident.

Maggie Lee Henson blushed on her 12th birthday last Oct. 29, when a cute waiter sang to her at an Olive Garden restaurant.

Maggie Lee for Good Day started early for Jinny Henson, with a TV interview about the event. It grew out of an Internet community that formed to pray for Hinson’s daughter during her three-week struggle for life, mostly in an induced coma, that ended when doctors declared Maggie Lee Henson brain dead Aug. 2. 

The day ended with a Maggie Lee for Good party at the family’s church, First Baptist Church of Shreveport, La., which had to be moved to a basement due to tornado warnings. Local flooding stranded people at the church until a break in the weather after 10 p.m. 

In between, Jinny Henson visited one school that held a food-and-clothing drive benefiting a downtown homeless ministry, another collecting used tennis shoes to recycle into a playground and a childhood-education center where Maggie Lee’s seventh-grade classmates at First Baptist Church School made and donated crafts. 

She passed through a drive-through snack stand benefiting brain-injury patients in northwest Louisiana, and watched her son, Jack, who just turned 11, as his class acted out his older sister’s favorite books for younger students as their Maggie Lee for Good project.

 Those good deeds were multiplied in communities across the United States and around the world, with nearly 18,000 people pledging to participate through a Facebook group and web site.

After Maggie Lee’s death, an Arkansas woman who had started a Facebook group to pray for the Hensons after the July 12 crash suggested keeping the youngster’s memory alive by soliciting 1,300 people to perform an act of kindness on her birthday. That goal was reached quickly, and Maggie Lee’s mother decided to shoot for 13,000. That goal was surpassed by mid-October, and by the time Oct. 29 rolled around the number had grown to some 17,800 individuals. 

Many participants reported their acts of kindness on the Maggie Lee for Good Facebook page. 

One man got off work at 2 a.m. and a co-worker’s car battery was dead. As he helped someone else, he said, he thought of Maggie Lee.

A woman who packs boxes each year with her daughter to send to Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child this year packed an extra one in honor of Maggie Lee. They plan to continue the practice every year. 

One person bought lunch for someone who recently finished college but hasn’t found a job. 

A busy mom said she had been wanting for a long time to volunteer at a local food pantry, but because of her hectic schedule she never tried it. She decided to do it Oct. 29. 

A woman in Cincinnati said she always passes the same homeless people on the same street corners as she drives downtown, so Oct. 29 she brought them sack lunches and told them “This is from me and Maggie Lee.” She said she made six lunches but wishes she had brought more and will continue doing it. 

Margie Williams Sanders posted a note saying she made a donation in Maggie Lee’s honor to a non-profit organization that helps children with special needs. “Knowing all too well what it feels like to have a life so tragically taken, my prayers are with you,” she consoled the family. “It will be a year on Dec 19 that my 14-year-old daughter tragically passed from a freak accident. In March she would have been 15, and it was one of the most difficult days. We don’t understand why these things happen, but I always say God has a plan. Maggie Lee, along with my daughter, is living it up in heaven right now. Happy Birthday, Maggie Lee!” 

Penny Jetton Golden was driving her son to school and talking about his plans to tell his class about the day and make sure everyone did something nice for someone else. As she pulled up to the drive-through at Starbucks, the cashier told her, “The car in front of you paid for yours. It’s Maggie Lee’s birthday.” The cashier went on to explain that it had been a chain reaction all morning — with customers paying for the orders of the people behind them. 

Trey Randal honored Maggie Lee by donating blood for his first time ever. “They even signed me up to be a regular donor every 60 days, which is something I never would have decided to do on my own,” he said. 

 Lorri Hester Williams and Meredith Bleasdell helped a friend decorate a huge space for an expected 100 guests for her husband’s 40th birthday party. “It doesn’t sound like much, but our friend has the flu, bronchitis and a kidney infection and honestly didn’t know how she and her Mom were going to get everything done,” she said. “We had to skip our Bible study to do this, but we know that God was honored on this day as we remember Maggie Lee and all that she did good for others.”

Jinny Henson said the stories amazed her family and made them grateful. “People have begun terming their good deeds, ‘Maggie Lee,’ as in, I did my ‘Maggie Lee,’ as a description of a good deed done in Christ’s love,” she said. 

Maggie Lee’s father, John Henson, an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Shreveport, used part of the day to travel to Tyler, Texas, to take a bright pink flower arrangement to her grave, along with some flowers for his mother’s grave as well.

“Today is a great day to let our good deeds show; to do things that make this world a better place; to help answer the prayer of Jesus for the Kingdom to come in this world as it is in Heaven,” he wrote Oct. 29 on his blog. “This is our way of joining up with God to bring good out of a horrible situation.”

“I cannot begin to imagine why the accident happened and why Maggie Lee died and I certainly don’t believe God caused it,” he wrote. “What I do know and can see is how God has been at work to bring good out of it. 17,800 people doing good things is great evidence of that.”

11/2/2009 10:15:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 2 comments

SBTC meeting buoyed by evangelism

November 2 2009 by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Baptist Press

LUBBOCK, Texas — From start to finish, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) annual meeting demonstrated the results of inviting people to faith in Christ.

The Oct. 26-27 sessions opened with the testimony of a teenager saved after a friend invited him to an SBTC-sponsored student evangelism conference last summer, and closed with 512 people, from youth to parents, professing faith in Christ and 68 others rededicating their lives stemming from the gospel preaching and feats of strength of the weightlifters group Team Impact.

Photo by Kyle Felts

A citywide crusade on the final night of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting prompted 512 professions of faith, including scores of young people and many of the parents who brought them. Jerry Pierce, managing editor of the SBTC’s TEXAN, prays with a local man who accepted Christ as his Savior, having brought his nephews to the youth-oriented outreach.  

Lubbock-area pastors and churches joined with the SBTC’s evangelism department to focus the convention meeting on a citywide crusade event on Oct. 27, inviting Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt to speak in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center theater while Team Impact amazed some 2,400 teenagers and children in the exhibit hall.

Adults leaving the theater after hearing Hunt challenge Southern Baptists “to get back on track in evangelism” began to spontaneously applaud as they grasped the magnitude of hundreds of lives changed by the power of the Gospel in the hall opposite theirs. New converts received Bibles and local churches will contact them for further discipleship.

Meeting for the second time in West Texas since the formation of the state convention in 1998, the headcount of 889 messengers and 423 registered guests expanded to nearly 3,700 as local residents responded to the invitations from area Southern Baptists.

In his address to the convention, SBTC President Bob Pearle told the audience, “By standing firm and holding on to those distinctives that make Baptists who they are, we will continue to reach this world and not go the way of every other denomination.” The SBTC has grown from the 128 churches that formed the convention in 1998 to a current total of 2,176.

West Texans were elected to every SBTC office, including the new president, Byron McWilliams, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Odessa. Pat Anderson, a member of Keeler Baptist Church in Borger, was elected recording secretary by a vote of 132-108 over Becky Illingworth, a member of Community Baptist Church in Royse City. Kevin Ueckert, pastor of South Side Baptist Church in Abilene, was re-elected SBTC vice president.

Messengers approved a 1.18 percent increase for next year’s $24.8 million budget to be funded through the Cooperative Program contributions of local churches.

“God’s people have continued to give through the Cooperative Program so we can reach Texas and touch the world,” said Dale Perry, SBTC executive board chairman and pastor of Friendly Baptist Church in Tyler.

The unity SBTC churches find in “gospel ministry and voluntary cooperation” was underscored in a resolution affirming the Cooperative Program “as our unrestricted vehicle for funding missions.”

However, the convention stopped short of describing the Cooperative Program as “the distinctive that binds Southern Baptist churches,” language offered in an amendment by messenger James Salles, pastor of West End Baptist Church in Beaumont, but defeated on a 146-118 ballot vote. In an additional amendment, Salles contended that SBC leaders who had minimized their CP participation undermine the cooperation between churches of all sizes and financial ability, but only a dozen or so messengers favored adding that sentiment to the resolution.

The adopted resolution stated that the SBTC, since its inception, “has demonstrated a sacrificial commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission through commitment to the Cooperative Program.” The SBTC continues to forward to the SBC more of the undesignated receipts from local churches than it keeps for in-state ministry, advancing 55 percent to support SBC missions and ministry around the world and across the nation.

“In spite of the economic downturn, God has blessed and we have an abundance of resources for new church plants,” stated Joe Davis, the SBTC’s chief financial officer, who reported a new record of $1,146,497 for the Reach Texas State Mission Offering.

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards, in his report to the convention, described the missional methodology of Jesus as decisional, intentional and even confrontational. While contextualization is sometimes necessary, Richards reminded, “We should not lose our distinctives in Christ and begin to worship at the altar of relevance.”

In an apparent reference to the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force on which he serves, Richards said that whether structural changes occur in the SBC or not, “We must have a fresh movement of the Spirit of God in our personal lives and in our churches” before a Great Commission resurgence can occur.

When considering a resolution on the sufficiency of Scripture that affirmed “nothing as sin unless it is forbidden explicitly or implicitly” in the Bible, messengers agreed to the recommendation of Houston messenger Paul Pressler, clarifying that “the consumption of alcoholic beverages is intrinsically wrong.”

“I would like it understood that this committee’s recommendation will allow nobody to take this resolution and say this convention has in any way approved the consumption of alcoholic beverages,” Pressler stated.

While one messenger from Granbury spoke against the amendment, preferring “where Scripture speaks clearly, we’ll speak clearly,” all but a handful of messengers agreed to the change and the resolution passed as amended.

Other resolutions encouraged a gospel-centered ministry, discipleship in every area of Christian life, prayer for the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force appointed by Hunt at last year’s annual SBC annual meeting, and appreciation for the leadership and church of outgoing SBTC President Bob Pearle, pastor of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

The H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award was presented to Lamar Cooper, interim president of Criswell College, recognizing his long tenure with the Dallas-based school as provost and professor of Old Testament and Hebrew. In presenting the award, Pressler noted Cooper’s prior service to Southern Baptists as director of denominational relations at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, vice president for academic affairs at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and addressing the culture on moral issues.

A motion seeking the SBTC’s assistance for churches regarding changes to articles of incorporation was referred for consideration by the executive board. The effect on churches by the new Texas business organizational code is described on the SBTC website at

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 16-18 at the Corpus Christi Convention Center.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

11/2/2009 10:09:00 AM by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Baptist Press | with 3 comments

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