November 2011

Charitable giving up slightly but still ailing

November 30 2011 by Melanie Eversley, USA Today

(RNS) Charitable giving is trickling back up as the economy heals, but it could take years to return to pre-recession levels, nonprofit leaders say.
 
Giving totaled $291 billion in 2010, according to the 2011 annual report by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. That’s up 3.8 percent from 2009 and follows two consecutive years of declines.
 
This year shows little change. Charity Navigator, a Glen Rock, N.J., organization that evaluates nonprofits, anticipates donations will be flat during the holiday season.
 
About 35 percent of nonprofit contributions come from state, federal and local government grants and contracts, and those gifts are declining, CEO Ken Berger said. Only 15 percent is from individuals.
 
“Staying the same is generally not a great place to be when you’ve got increases in demand and operational costs because of inflation and so on,” said Patrick Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy.
 
If the recuperation continues at its current rate, it will take U.S. charities six years to return to where they were financially in 2007, Rooney warns. “We are not out of the recession, and we are not recovered from the recession,” he said.
 
Some leaders in the nonprofit world see the glass as half-full. An American Red Cross survey of 1,020 adults this fall found that although 80 percent of respondents said their finances were the same or worse than the same time last year, 57 percent plan to give to a charity during the holidays. Almost seven in 10 say that because of the economy, it is important to give to charity.
 
“Despite the difficult economy, Americans want to give to help others in need,” said Gail McGovern, Red Cross president and CEO.
 
The Center on Philanthropy report said Americans contribute 2 percent of their disposable income, a figure that has remained constant for decades.
 
Nonprofit leaders agree that charitable organizations must think innovatively to keep the cash coming in.
 
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Berger of Charity Navigator said organizations should avoid duplicating services. He said nonprofits should adjust to meeting the public’s need for openness about finances and organization.
 
Some organizations try to grow by making sure potential donors feel engaged, while others have been reaching out to young people to stay viable.
 
The Jewish Communal Fund, a New York group that allows people to donate to various causes through investment funds, began its outreach to adults 35 and under just as the economy began to slide.
 
The group has actively recruited younger adults onto its board and lowered minimum contributions from $5,000 to $1,800.
 
“We didn’t want to be struggling like some organizations are with an aging membership,” said Ellen Israelson, vice president of marketing and donor relations.
 
There are other innovations for charities to consider, such as making sure they use social media for outreach and technology for accepting donations, Rooney said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Melanie Eversley writes for USA Today.)
11/30/2011 2:56:51 PM by Melanie Eversley, USA Today | with 0 comments



Missionaries help Japan’s homeless find hope

November 30 2011 by Tess Rivers

(EDITOR’S NOTE –  This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention will be Dec. 4-11 with the theme of “His heart, His hands, His voice – I am Southern Baptist missions” from Acts 1:8. Each year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supplements Cooperative Program giving to support Southern Baptists’ 5,000 international missionaries’ initiatives in sharing the gospel. This year’s offering goal is $175 million. To find resources about the offering, go to imb.org/offering.)

TOKYO (BP) – As the sun rises over Japan, millions rise early to head to work. An intricate system of commuter trains and subways moves countless men and women from the comfort of their homes to a skyscraper in Tokyo or a factory in neighboring Nagoya. Together, the two cities represent the business and manufacturing facets of the country’s economy.

Hisaya Kazu, 62, also rises early from his cardboard cocoon to go to work. By 3 a.m., Kazu is picking up aluminum cans and other debris in Sakae Park in Nagoya. He cashes in the aluminum for enough yen to buy his meals for the day. As day breaks and the city wakes, Kazu, who is homeless, finds a place to hide, away from public view.
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A homeless man waits for food to be distributed in a park in Nagoya, Japan. The ministry to Nagoya’s homeless population is led by IMB missionaries Wang and Rose Lee.


“The police don’t bother me, and the city [officials] know who I am,” he says. “They know I keep the park clean so it is OK for me to sleep here at night. They just don’t want to see me during the day.”
Like many affluent nations, Japan isn’t quite sure what to do about its homeless population. The Japanese government usually does not publish statistics on homelessness. However, local Christian workers familiar with the situation estimate that more than 1,000 of Nagoya’s 2.2 million people are homeless. In Tokyo, with more than 12 million people, more than 4,000 people live under bridges and in parks.

In the United States, a 2008 report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors cites substance abuse, lack of affordable housing and mental illness as the primary causes of homelessness. In Japan, however, employment practices are a primary cause of Japanese homelessness, explains Wendy Hoshizaki, an International Mission Board missionary. Most Japanese factories and some businesses house their employees in company-owned dormitories, so those who lose their jobs often lose their homes as well.

“[Usually] it’s the typical blue-collar guys who get most of the crunch,” says Hoshizaki, a New Jersey native who works among Tokyo’s homeless. “When the stock market crashed [in 2007], we [also] saw some young [business] men who had been kicked out of the company dorms.”

Cultural factors also play a major role in Japanese homelessness. For most Japanese, unemployment and homelessness are a disgrace to the family’s honor, says Richard Oue, an IMB strategist in Tokyo.

“Many times, if somebody loses their job, they are too embarrassed to go home,” says Oue, whose home state is Georgia. “They’d rather become homeless than tell their family.”

In Japan’s male-dominated society, a man’s identity centers around his work. Companies reward loyalty. Through hard work and heavy after-hours socializing with clients and co-workers, a Japanese worker gains what they consider “life everlasting” – a healthy financial portfolio and a comfortable retirement. Losing that position, falling from grace, leads to shame.

The economic downturn that began in 2007 made it impossible for some companies to reward loyalty and remain solvent. Financial analysts estimate that nearly one million Japanese people lost their jobs between 2008 and 2009. After the March 11 tsunami, close to 158,000 people lost their jobs when water destroyed entire villages and the fishing industry along the Northeastern coast of Japan, which is 10 hours north of Tokyo. For many, losing their job means a loss of identity.

Japanese men with homes and families who are laid off often pretend to go to work each day to avoid the humiliation. They prefer spending their days in the park rather than sharing the truth with their families and friends. The facade is easy to carry out, depending on how deep their savings accounts are. Many Asian banks only allow the primary account holder – the male – the ability to withdraw money and gain access to account records. Some men bring money from savings or investment accounts home to their wives as if they were still receiving a paycheck. Others who face large amounts of debt leave town. Still others contemplate and often commit suicide.

In the wake of the massive downturn, Christian workers note a new spiritual interest among the Japanese. Among the homeless, in particular, a significant number in Tokyo and Nagoya are responding to the Gospel as IMB missionaries partner with other Christians to distribute food, share the gospel and start Bible study groups.

“[The homeless] are beginning to ask, ‘What is important? What is real? Isn’t there some hope?’“ says Mark Hoshizaki, an IMB missionary with ties to Texas who now works with the homeless in Tokyo.

Still, more than 99 percent of Japanese do not know Christ. In a society built on pride, Oue admits a significant crisis is what it will probably take to pull the majority of Japanese from their self-sufficiency to reach out to God.

Kazu is one example. Four years ago, he lost his job as a construction worker in Nagoya. Separated from his wife and son for years, he lives in Sakae Park, where Wang and Rose Lee, IMB workers with ties to California, hold an outreach and food distribution for the homeless each Saturday. He doesn’t like this kind of life but he has no other choice. In a few years when he is 65, he will be eligible for government assistance and housing. Until then, he must be patient.

Kazu sits quietly behind a fountain wall, surrounded by his meager possessions and out of sight of Christian workers preparing to distribute food and lead the group in worship. He did not take a number to receive one of the 70 box lunches. He claims he isn’t hungry.

Although Kazu is homeless, he still maintains his “Japanese pride,” refusing assistance even in the face of dire need. He can take care of himself.

“I had a big lunch,” Kazu says. “I don’t need a box today.”

Southern Baptists’ gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program help Southern Baptist missionaries around the world share the gospel. Give to the offering through your local Southern Baptist church or online at imb.org/offering, where there are resources for church leaders to promote the offering. Download related videos at imb.org/entirechurchvideo.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tess Rivers is an International Mission Board writer in Southeast Asia.)

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Formerly homeless couple seeks next steps in ministry
Japanese businessman goes from high finance to homeless
11/30/2011 2:44:09 PM by Tess Rivers | with 0 comments



‘Yellow shirts’ give Japan’s quake/tsunami survivors hope

November 30 2011 by Susie Rain

TOHOKU, Japan (BP) – Everything changed on March 11 for Eiko Tanno. It was the day a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the northeastern coast of Japan – the day she lost hope.

Tanno was working in her home office when the ground started shaking and shimmying. She ran outside and huddled with her neighbors.

Then came the tsunami warning.

They rushed to higher ground and watched as powerful walls of water took out entire neighborhoods and anyone in its path. Some houses dislodged from their foundation and floated away. Others simply splintered into scraps from the force of the waves. Tanno’s house, however, remained intact. The water overtook the first floor but didn’t climb higher.

“The tsunami took away my livelihood,” the middle-aged Tanno says seven months after Japan’s historic triple disaster that included an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. “My business was downstairs, and it was ruined. My house was not totally destroyed so I was not given access to temporary housing. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

For months, Tanno traipsed through the mud and toxins in her home. She climbed the stairs to a bedroom where she and her family had begun living and working. She always closed the door, trying to shut out the constant reminder of her fate. No matter what she did, though, she couldn’t escape the rotten smell of dead fish or the piles of rubble outside her windows.

It was a depressing living situation until a group of strangers knocked on her door.

“The day the yellow shirts came to my neighborhood, my life changed and I felt hope again,” Tanno says, pointing to a group of workers wearing yellow shirts, hats and vests. Month by month, the yellow shirts slowly help transform her neighborhood.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams, known in this part of Japan by the yellow clothing they wear, cleaned out the mud and toxins caked over Tanno’s bottom floor as well as every house left standing on her block. A few weeks later, another team pulled out rotten boards.
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Darrell Barrett of McConnell Memorial Baptist Church in Hiawassee, Ga., places a tea cup he found in a pile for a Japanese homeowner as part of a Georgia Baptist disaster relief team’s work in sifting through debris left by the March 11 tsunami. View photo gallery.


Today’s team – “yellow shirts” from Missouri – installs insulation and hammers in flooring. They laugh and tease as they work. They stop to bow in respect to neighbors coming in to inspect the progress and soon have their new Japanese friends laughing.

David Price of Calvary Baptist Church in Neosho, Mo., marvels over the fact that disaster relief teams from different states have come to Japan during the past six months with the same purpose – to share Christ’s love through service. Just a few hours farther up the coast, another team from Georgia conveys the same message by clearing debris and sifting through rubble for personal items that can be salvaged. A different Georgia team sets up shop in a parking lot, building benches for the temporary housing units scattered throughout the region.

“It’s overwhelming to think that each of our teams has been a tiny piece of God’s plan to reach out to the Japanese,” Price says, noting that teams from Canada, Texas, California, Alabama and every state in between have been part of the International Mission Board’s Tohoku Care disaster relief project. “Each team has a different skill in helping a community recover and it just builds on each other.”

Rebuilding the muddy wastelands of the northeastern Tohoku region is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars and take up to a decade. The Japan Fire Department estimates more than 111,000 buildings and homes were destroyed with around 656,920 damaged.

Darrell Barrett of McConnell Memorial Baptist Church in Hiawassee, Ga., says it is easy to get caught up in the vast destruction that stretches for hundreds of miles. Where his team cleans there are no markers to know location. Gone are the street signs, landmarks, parks and homes. It’s just a field of foundations. Volunteer cleanup crews – American and Japanese – know the area only by the ship that rests unnaturally across the road.

“It’s easy to desensitize in situations like this so we can get the work done,” Barrett says, bending down and placing a perfect teacup he recovered onto a pile of salvageable household items. He picks up a framed picture of a 10-year-old girl and adds, “Then you find something like this and it all of a sudden becomes personal. You start wondering about the family who lived in this house – if they are alive ... if they are in heaven.”

Barrett knows the chances of meeting this family in heaven are slim. Missionaries say the Tohoku area has been closed to the gospel for hundreds of years. Less than 1 percent claimed to be evangelical Christians prior to the tsunami. The yellow shirts try to make inroads through their hard work and service, preparing the way for others to come and share.

“I don’t have the gift of speaking,” Tim Beck of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Toccoa, Ga., says, “but God has given me other gifts to use. He gave me abilities in construction. He uses this avenue to reach people in need. That’s my witness.”

These simple acts of service and respect for Japanese culture are slowly moving hearts. Tanno acknowledges that from the very first knock on her door, she knew the yellow shirts were different. They didn’t ask for anything and their help came with “no strings attached.” She was skeptical at first, as were her neighbors. But they soon realized these teams were different from other volunteers working in their area.

“In our neighborhood, we love the yellow shirts,” she says enthusiastically. “They help us without asking for anything in return. They listen to how we need things done. They are kind and care about us.”

She shyly admits her favorite part of the day is when the yellow shirts pack up their tools and ask her to join them for prayer. She doesn’t understand why, but it gives her a peaceful feeling. Somehow, she knows everything is going to be OK.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Rain is a writer/editor in Southeast Asia. For more information on the disaster-zone Tohoku Care disaster relief project of the International Mission Board, email info@tohokucare.com. Additional information about ongoing relief work in Japan can be accessed at Baptist Global Response, www.gobgr.com.)

Related stories
11/30/2011 2:19:29 PM by Susie Rain | with 0 comments



Bivocational pastors needed for church planting

November 29 2011 by Mickey Noah

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – If the North American Mission Board’s Send North America evangelistic church planting initiative is to succeed, it must include thousands of bivocational pastors who are willing to plant churches.

“We must leverage the laity to plant churches,” said Aaron Coe, NAMB’s vice president of mobilization, “and we need to do it through a bivocational church movement.

“There are thousands of men sitting in church pews listening to their pastors each week who more than meet the qualifications for being pastors and church planters. We need to mobilize them to be involved in church planting if we’re serious about the Great Commission,” Coe said.

NAMB church planting leaders and members of the SBC-wide Bivocational and Small Church Leadership Network (BSCLN) have begun to explore ways for bivocational pastors to become involved.
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Ray Gilder, the BSCLN’s national coordinator from McMinnville, Tenn., and a retired bivocational pastor himself, describes a bivocational as a pastor who has another source of income over and above his church. Gilder says an SBC church running a weekly attendance of 100 or less probably has a bivocational pastor – and 75 percent of SBC churches run 75 or less. Most of them are in rural areas.

“Until Send North America, bivocational pastors have not had church planting on their radar,” Gilder said regarding the NAMB/BSCLN meeting this fall. “They haven’t thought of starting another church because they’ve worried more about the struggles of surviving as a small church and part-time pastor.”

William L. Gray, director of missions for Judson, Stewart and Truett Baptist associations in Tennessee for 25 years, says Southern Baptists must kindle a passion for rural church planting.

“In rural America, only 10-20 percent of the population goes to church regularly,” Gray noted. “In the counties I serve, an estimated 85 percent are unchurched.

“I’ve discovered in a rural community, laypeople make great church planters,” Gray said. “They have the passion and burden for their neighbors and they already have contact with, and knowledge of, their communities.”

Bivocational church planting expert George Garner, a NAMB retiree who now lives in Colorado, added, “From an expedient and economic viewpoint, bivocational pastors are critical to NAMB’s new Send North America church planting strategy – especially in rural areas.”

“The birth of new life can do wonderful things for us,” Gilder said of the need for more bivocational pastors in church planting. “If we can cast the vision of bivocational pastors leaving their churches to plant other churches, it could bring life to the mother church and to the new church plant – expanding the Kingdom and fulfilling the Great Commission. We have to get beyond ourselves.”

Send North America is NAMB’s evangelistic church planting strategy to involve more churches and individuals in direct church planting activity. For more information or to become involved, visit www.namb.net and click “Mobilize Me.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.)
11/29/2011 2:35:33 PM by Mickey Noah | with 0 comments



Gypsies in Macedonia find roots in Christ

November 29 2011 by Ava Thomas

(EDITOR’S NOTE – This year’s Week of Prayer for International Missions in the Southern Baptist Convention will be Dec. 4-11 with the theme of “His heart, His hands, His voice – I am Southern Baptist missions” from Acts 1:8. Each year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering supplements Cooperative Program giving to support Southern Baptists’ 5,000 international missionaries’ initiatives in sharing the gospel. This year’s offering goal is $175 million. To find resources about the offering, go to imb.org/offering.)

SKOPJE, Macedonia (BP) – The tattered blanket hanging loosely in the doorway of the cinderblock house does little to keep the shouting inside from drifting out into the dusty streets of Dame Gruev.

The set of lungs belongs to a grandmother who sits in the bare, one-room house that only has one chair – the one in front of the computer.

She’s video Skyping with family members elsewhere. Romania. England. Could be anywhere – they move a lot. A neighbor is courting a girl in Germany over the Internet –he’s only met her via video, but it’s getting serious. She might move soon and marry him.

Welcome to gypsy life in the technology age.
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IMB Photo

IMB missionary Abbey Hammond (right) talks with Roma gypsies gathered in the streets of the Dame Gruev neighborhood of Skopje, Macedonia. Hammond and others spend time there walking the streets, building relationships and sharing the gospel in the hopes of planting churches.


Abbey Hammond and Jessica Burke sit on cushions on the floor of the grandmother’s house, sipping juice while she explains to the men on the video call why there are Americans in the background.

It’s intriguing to them. Puzzling, even.

Roma gypsies – about 200,000 strong in Macedonia – tend to be a castoff people in every European country they alight in. In fact, in Bulgaria ethnic tension is so great right now that 14 towns in that nation including the capital of Sofia held anti-Roma protests at the end of September and beginning of October. Protestors pinned accusations of corruption and organized crime on the people group. Others just said they wanted their gypsy neighborhoods dismantled.

In Macedonia, Roma are known in the bustling capital city of Skopje for driving horse or pedal carts in traffic and rummaging through trash bins for plastic, metal and cardboard to sell.

But several times a week, Hammond, Burke and other International Mission Board missionaries walk the dirt roads of Dame Gruev and two other Roma neighborhoods in Skopje. They greet the people there by name, have coffee in their homes, talk about life and talk about Jesus.

“They are excited about having Americans in their home, so that’s a great way to get to know them initially. But as I get to know them, I want them to get to the point where they see Jesus instead of me,” Hammond said. “I think they know how much I love them, but I want them to see that it’s not my love. It’s God’s love for them that He lets me show them.”

It’s not easy. Roma in Macedonia are, for the most part, nominally Muslim. In other countries, the people group has sometimes lined up its identity with the predominant faith of the land – Catholicism and Orthodoxy to Islam and animism. But to be Roma in Macedonia is to be Muslim, even if their religion doesn’t impact their lives at all.

“I’ll eventually figure it out. I’ll cover my head and go to the mosque and pray when I’m 40,” one Roma woman told Hammond and Burke as they talked with her in her home. She puffed on a cigarette and gave it a moment’s thought. “No, when I’m 50. Forty is too soon.”

They may not know much about their religion, but they do know Jesus Christ isn’t part of it. And they think that to turn to Jesus would make them Macedonian instead of Roma. Macedonian people are, for the most part, Eastern Orthodox.

But it happens sometimes.

In the summer when the small Roma homes get tight and sweltering, everyone congregates outside for a breeze, and Jessica’s husband B.T. said he can walk around and meet hundreds of people.

“Jesus is not something people are opposed to conversing about if you establish relationships with them, so I’ve tried to do that and have that conversation as much as I can,” he said.

He’s sat in their homes and visited them when family members were in the hospital, and once he labored alongside a Roma family to help build their house.

“I tried to deepen and build relationships and gain respect in the community, and as soon as I found someone interested in studying the Bible, I started a Bible study,” he said.

Slowly it grew into a church of Roma believers in Jesus Christ.

“They are bold in sharing their faith, and now they can do the talking among their people,” B.T. Burke said.

It surprises the Roma when they meet Roma who are Christians. It doesn’t add up with what they know.

But sometimes God is surprising like that, Hammond said.

Recently while visiting with a Roma family in their home, she gave them a Bible, but the father of the family made the women give it back to her.

“He said it was a bad book, and they are Roma, so they can’t have it in their house,” she said.

But when a family member was sick soon after, Hammond wrote a card to the wife saying she was praying for them and penned Scripture verses on the card.

“She was so touched she cried. She said it meant a lot to her, and she kept it,” Hammond said. “God got His Word into their home anyway, in a different way than I expected.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ava Thomas is an International Mission Board writer based in Europe.)
11/29/2011 2:21:24 PM by Ava Thomas | with 0 comments



W.Va. adopts plan for church planting, CP

November 29 2011 by

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (BP) – A six-point plan to streamline the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists and focus more sharply on church planting was adopted by a 60/40 margin during the WVCSB’s annual meeting Nov. 4-5.

Gathered at Westview Baptist Church in Martinsburg, 195 messengers from 66 churches also adopted a slightly decreased 2012 budget of $2.9 million that will send 38 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to national and international Southern Baptist mission causes. That budget anticipates Cooperative Program church receipts of $1.6 million in 2012.

The reorganization plan came to messengers from a 32-member Strategy Planning Group appointed in February by the state convention president, Seth Polk. The proposal included significant changes in church planting and associational missions strategies, as well as maintaining strong focus on prayer and cooperative missions.

Polk told Baptist Press the task force’s work provided an opportunity to ask important questions like “Why do we exist?” and “How are we going to add value in the coming years to the mission of the local church?.”

“We wanted to be proactive in trying to discern where God is leading us as a convention, to try to put ourselves in the best position possible to have a maximum impact and reach our state for Christ,” said Polk, pastor of Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes. “It was a long and challenging process, and a difficult one in that we had to make some hard decisions ... but we knew it was the direction we needed to go in as a convention.”

The decision opens the door to a greater potential for starting churches and reaching more people for Christ, Terry Harper, the state convention’s executive director, said.

“We had a great team. They worked really hard and made some tough decisions,” Harper told Baptist Press. “They were not easy decisions to make because it affected a lot of people – our 10 missionaries, our collegiate workers and our worker in resort missions. As painful as that has been, I still think it offers great opportunity for us in the days ahead. I think we’re going to see church planting like we’ve never seen before in West Virginia. That’s what it’s all about, and I believe we will see that.”

The proposal focused on priorities of strengthening, mobilizing and planting churches, and organized the state’s 10 associations into five regions, bringing it into alignment with a North American Mission Board plan to support five church planting catalysts in the state, rather than the previous 10 associational directors of mission, Harper explained.

Cooperative Mission

The plan also adopts a goal of moving to a 60/40 split in Cooperative Program funds in 2013 (at currently 38 percent), followed by a 1 percent increase each year for 10 years.

Polk said West Virginia Southern Baptists want to set an example of aggressively moving to increase the portion of mission dollars going to national and international causes.

“We believe that as people catch the vision for taking the Gospel to the nations, God also is going to bless right here where we are,” Polk said. “When we’re already working off of a streamlined state convention staff and budget, that’s a real faith step for us.... I think that’s a big statement about what the heart of West Virginia convention Southern Baptists is.”

The plan poses new challenges for the state’s 10 local associations, Harper noted, as they decide how to provide their own leadership and organize their work. The North American Mission Board and state convention had been providing full support for the directors of mission positions. NAMB announced in January that funding would cease and funds would be provided to support five church planting catalysts.

Six of the current directors of mission were offered retirement packages, and five accepted.

The change makes the associations autonomous, as Southern Baptist entities traditionally are, Polk noted.

“The intention was never to maintain perpetual funding for [an associational] missionary from the North American Mission Board. It was a vision to grow to the point that they could do it on their own,” Polk explained. “That’s been difficult in lower population areas and areas where we’ve not been as effective in church planting and multiplying the mission as we’ve wanted to. They’re going to have to regroup now, because they don’t have the financial resources to maintain a full-time missionary. They are going to have to discern what resources they have and where God is leading them as a group.”

Renewed Passion

Polk said he is praying the changes in West Virginia – and across the Southern Baptist Convention – will spark a renewed passion for missions.

“When everything settles, our people are going to come together and realize we’ve got a God-given responsibility to reach West Virginia and we’ve got to do that together. That’s just the bottom line,” Polk said. “Things have changed in the past, and things are going to change in the future, but the mission remains. I think that’s what will unite us across the board, not just in West Virginia. That’s what I’m praying happens across the country. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now and a lot of things have happened quickly, but I think people are going to get behind it and go with it.”

Gathered under a banner of “Reaching West Virginia in a Changing World,” messengers to the annual meeting also elected officers: Greg Varndell, pastor of Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg, president; Matt Shamblin, pastor of North Charleston Baptist Church, first vice president; and Don Knotts, pastor of Wayside Baptist Church in Buckhannon, second vice president.

Among the six resolutions passed by the convention were statements recognizing the invaluable work NAMB-supported missionaries had done in West Virginia – and calling upon NAMB to keep funding them – and a resolution affirming the need to start new churches and stay focused on evangelism.

The 218 churches of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists report about 27,000 total members. The 2012 annual meeting will be Nov. 2-3 at Fairlawn Baptist Church in Parkersburg.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press from information provided by WVCSB staff.)
11/29/2011 1:45:01 PM by | with 0 comments



Okla. Baptists increase CP giving

November 29 2011 by

MOORE, Okla. (BP) – A total of 764 messengers to the 105th annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma focused on the theme “Together” at First Baptist Church in Moore Nov. 14-15.

Doug Melton, convention president and pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, called on Oklahoma Baptists to rediscover the love of God, beginning in the home. “Husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the church – unconditionally,” he said.

Michael Williamson, associate pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Lawton, delivered the annual sermon, tying into the theme.

Messengers approved a three-tier financial plan for 2012, following a Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendation to move toward a 50/50 split of Cooperative Program receipts with the SBC after consideration of allocations for shared ministries.

The 2012 BGCO CP allocation goal of $24.9 million is based on actual 2010 receipts. The budget is up from $24.2 million in 2011. Of the new budget total, $3,106,813 is designated for shared ministry causes between the SBC and BGCO, with the remaining percentage divided 46 percent ($10,024,866) to the SBC and 54 percent ($11,768,321) to remain in Oklahoma. In 2011, the BGCO forwarded 40 percent to SBC causes.

“This actually allows us to send $65,000 more to the SBC,” Doug McClure, finance committee chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church in Hugo, said.

The plan passed without visible opposition as messengers voted by raising their ballots.

Melton was elected to a second term as president of the BGCO; Shane Hall, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lawton, was elected first vice president and Scott Hamilton, pastor of Silo Baptist Church in Duran, was elected second vice president, all by acclamation.

While cautioning that “nothing should rise above the gospel,” Anthony Jordan, the convention’s executive director, reminded messengers that it is their responsibility to serve their fellow man.

“We have a responsibility to be a neighbor to those who have nothing to offer to us,” Jordan, celebrating his 15th anniversary as executive director of the state’s largest evangelical denomination, said.

Touting several BGCO ministries which benefit from the annual state missions offering – including chaplaincy, disaster relief and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee – Jordan delivered a two-fold challenge to messengers.

“We are going to challenge Oklahoma Baptists to do two things ... to give $1 million next year to the state missions offering this coming September so we can present the gospel to every person in this state, and we are also going to challenge our churches to give 1 million pounds of food to feed hungry Oklahomans all over this state,” Jordan said.

During the final session, messengers passed 11 resolutions and approved revisions to the convention’s constitution.

The resolutions included three concerning pro-life issues, appreciation to the host church and to Baptist disaster relief, support of the U.S. military as well as others on human trafficking, Christian citizenship, hunger, marriage and family and family equipping and discipleship.

Tyson Wynn, a member of Welch Baptist Church in Welch and chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws Revision Committee, explained that the purpose of the revisions was to better organize and to eliminate redundancy.

Major changes include the reduction of the BGCO board of directors from 64 to 60 members and the terms of service on the board from four years to two consecutive terms of three years each. No longer elected by the convention are the editor of the Baptist Messenger and the historical secretary.

Four pastors spoke about the Mission Advance Team priority report regarding the convention’s future.

Hall, reporting on church planting, noted three focal points to improve attitudes toward church planting: legitimization, communication and participation.

Alton Fannin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ardmore, speaking on emerging generations, said the team arrived at few answers for how to reach younger people with the gospel and incorporate them into churches, but they were confident a solution could be found in Christ.

In reporting on the partnership phase of the report, Doyle Pryor, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sapulpa, said, “When God made the covenant with Abraham, He said, ‘All people of earth will be blessed through you.’ All people of earth can be blessed through us. We want to bless the world, and we have the greatest thing to bless them with: Jesus Christ.”

Hance Dilbeck, pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, reported on training pastors who are able to equip Oklahoma Baptist churches to impact lostness.

Next year’s annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma will be Nov. 12-13 at First Baptist Church in Moore.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by the staff of the Baptist Messenger (www.baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)
11/29/2011 1:41:17 PM by | with 0 comments



Kan.-Neb. Baptists leave budget unchanged

November 29 2011 by Tim Boyd

LENEXA, Kan. (BP) – Messengers to the annual meeting of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists celebrated the theme “Sharing the Gospel” at Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan.

A 2012 budget of $5,171,340 was adopted, reflecting no change from the current year. Kansas-Nebraska Baptists will continue to forward 32 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to national and international missions and ministries after shared expenses. The budget includes $2,904,000 in anticipated CP giving from Kansas and Nebraska churches.

John Shields, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Lexington, Neb., was elected president at the Oct. 17-18 meeting, and Andy Addis, pastor of Crosspoint Baptist Church in Hutchinson, Kan., was elected vice president, both by acclamation.

Next year’s annual meeting of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists will be Oct. 15-16 at Webster Conference Center in Salina, Kan.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Boyd writes for The Baptist Digest, newsjournal of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.)

11/29/2011 1:40:01 PM by Tim Boyd | with 0 comments



Modern Marvels features N.C. Baptist Men’s Manna One

November 28 2011 by BR Staff

The popular History Channel show Modern Marvels featured the North Carolina Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief unit “Manna One.”
 
In the segment, originally aired Nov. 14, the show highlights food trucks and how Manna One can transform from an 18-wheel truck into a fully operational kitchen in about three hours. At 40-feet long, more than 8 feet wide and 24,000 pounds, the unit was described on the show as “one of the biggest food trucks ever built.”
 
To see the full episode of Modern Marvels go to history.com/shows/modern-marvels/videos#modern-marvels-food-trucks. (Note: Manna One coverage begins at the 12:05 minute mark in the 45-minute video.)
 
N.C. Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief ministry began using Manna One in 2007. The unit is one of five other mobile kitchens and a total of 80 pieces of equipment used by the group. Those pieces of equipment don’t include recovery units owned by churches and associations in the state.
 
But those involved in the disaster relief ministry will tell you none quite match up to the efficiency of Manna One.
 
“We can pull this kitchen in if we have no water, no electricity or anything,” said John Gore, N.C. Baptist Men’s incident commander for the Williamston area, in the episode.
 
“We can set it up and run.”
 
In August, Manna One fed more than 46,000 people after Hurricane Irene struck the East Coast. The disaster left more than 1 million people in the state without power.
 
Similar, but smaller, relief units were also used to provide meals when a deadly tornado hit Davidson and Randolph counties Nov. 16.
 
“We’ve responded to more disasters this year than ever before,” Gaylon Moss, director of Disaster Relief, said. “I think we’re at 19 responses right now.”
 
When big disasters involving hurricanes and floods strike, Manna One is often the go-to unit.
 
“What Manna One brought to us was an efficient mass-feeding platform that streamlined our ability to heat and serve food in a quick manner,” Moss said.
 
“Prior to Manna One, the system was to unload a truck, unload the trailer which is basically a warehouse on wheels, unload a trailer, we set up our stuff, and we cooked it.”
 
Though Manna One is a sophisticated piece of equipment, Moss pointed out the volunteers are the ones who make it run.
 
Setting up and tearing down usually involves a crew of 9 to 12 people.
 
“They’re the ones who scrub it, clean it, manage it, do all the heavy lifting,” Moss said. 
 
“They are the ones who really make it work.”
 
Other highlights from the 5-minute feature include:
  • At full capacity the unit can support 60 cooks and serve up to 30,000 meals a day.
  • Each side of the truck unfolds to form deck areas that help create a kitchen space almost 1,000 square feet in size.
  • The unit operates on a 45-kilowatt strong generator that can provide enough energy “to power up a small town.”
  • 1,296 patties of meat can be cooked at one time in less than 15 minutes.
  • Two automatic can openers are able to open 12 large cans of food a minute.
  • To learn more about the N.C. Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief ministry you can follow them on Facebook or contact them at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5605, or baptistsonmission.org
11/28/2011 2:17:49 PM by BR Staff | with 0 comments



Ill. Baptists take 1% CP challenge

November 27 2011 by Meredith Flynn

O’FALLON, Ill. (BP) – “Churches Cooperating” was the theme of the Illinois Baptist State Association’s 105th annual meeting, Nov. 2-3 at First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, Ill.

Throughout the two-day meeting, IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams interviewed seven pastors about their commitments to the Cooperative Program. During the Wednesday evening worship celebration, churches were challenged by Adams and Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, to consider taking the “1% Challenge” to give an additional one percent of their budgets through the Cooperative Program in the coming year.

Representatives from 117 IBSA churches handed in their commitment cards at the close of the worship service, agreeing to take the 1% Challenge back to their congregations.

More than 500 Illinois Baptists, including 457 registered messengers, gathered in O’Fallon for the meeting.

Messengers elected Jonathan Peters, pastor of First Baptist Church in Columbia and current IBSA vice president, as elected president; Odis Weaver, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Plainfield, vice president; and Nina Wilson, member of First Baptist Church in Machesney Park, recording secretary.

Messengers approved budgets from the IBSA, Baptist Foundation of Illinois, and Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services boards, including a Cooperative Program budget of $6.7 million, down from $6.85 million for the current year. Any Cooperative Program funds received above the budget will be distributed at a 50/50 ratio with the national Southern Baptist Convention. Illinois sends 43.25 percent of CP gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention for national and international missions, among the highest percentages of all state conventions.

Messengers also heard reports from each of IBSA’s seven committees. Business items included:

– Messengers welcomed 12 churches recommended by IBSA’s Credentials Committee for affiliation with the state association.

– Marvin Parker, senior pastor of Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in Broadview, was recommended by the Order of Business Committee to preach the annual sermon at the close of 2012’s annual meeting, and Dwight McDaniel, pastor of Highland Avenue Baptist Church in Robinson, to serve as alternate. The committee also recommended the 2014 IBSA annual meeting be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield Nov. 11-12. Both motions were approved.

– After a second reading of amendments proposed last year, messengers approved two relatively minor changes to the IBSA constitution and adopted five resolutions. The resolutions expressed appreciation for the church; support and appreciation for U.S. military and their families; affirmation of the effectiveness of the Cooperative Program and Illinois Mission Offering, and Illinois Baptists’ commitment to those giving channels; support for homeschooling parents; and reaffirmation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Wes Feltner, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur, brought the annual message from Acts 4-5, urging Illinois Baptists to cooperate as the early church did. Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, preached the president’s message from Nehemiah on God’s faithfulness in the midst of brokenness.

The IBSA Pastors’ Conference preceded the annual meeting and featured three messages each from Thomas Hammond, leader of the North American Mission Board’s personal evangelism team; Jim Putman, founder and senior pastor of Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho; and Larry Wynn, NAMB’s vice president for evangelization and leadership development.

Officers elected for next year’s Pastors’ Conference were Adam Cruse, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mt. Carmel, president; Chad Ozee, pastor of Journey Church in Bourbonnais, vice president; and Wes Feltner, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur, treasurer.

The 2012 IBSA annual meeting will be Nov. 14-15 at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Meredith Flynn is associate editor of the Illinois Baptist (ibsa.org/illinoisbaptist), newsjournal of the Illinois Baptist State Association.)
11/27/2011 2:54:58 PM by Meredith Flynn | with 0 comments



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