November 2011

Ga. Baptists adopt GCR report, pare budget

November 20 2011 by Joe Westbury, The Christian Index

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (BP) – For the first time in a decade, two candidates ran for president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, with Statesboro pastor John Waters garnering 749 votes over Tifton pastor Fred Evers’ 656.

In other business, messengers affirmed the state convention’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, welcomed 65 new churches and missions, and approved an amended Cooperative Program budget that cut spending again – for the fifth consecutive year – by 6 percent. The state convention will now be operating at a budget level not seen since 1999.

In an interview with The Index, the convention’s newsjournal, after the election, Waters talked about the lostness of Georgia and the pressing need to reach the state for Christ.

“With the growing lostness of our state, we need all of our pastors, churches and associations to work together as never before,” Waters, of First Baptist Church in Statesboro. “We need to be transparent in our relationship with one another and be committed to a passionate pursuit of the Great Commission wherever we find ourselves.”

Waters said pastors “need to love one another as brothers in Christ and we need to celebrate directors of missions as heroes and champions of cooperation. We also need to link our churches together in a common bond of unity for missions and evangelism.”

The south Georgia pastor talked about the need to be sure Georgia is not overlooked in the broader call to reach North America and the world.

“If we are to obey Scripture, we must first start with reaching Georgia with the gospel,” Waters said. “Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8 points us to our Jerusalem first and then to the ends of the earth.”

Waters said he is grateful “for this great opportunity to serve Georgia Baptists and to be an encourager for every pastor, church, and association.”

The Louisiana native, who considers First Baptist Church in Warner Robbins his home church, just observed his sixth year as pastor at First Baptist Statesboro. On Nov. 6, the 3,000-member congregation moved into a new sanctuary at their current location. The project, which cost $11 million and doubled the size of the former 600-seat sanctuary, will host multiple worship services. Waters and his wife Cynthia have two adult daughters, Trisha and Bethany.

The first vote in the presidential election was recalled within minutes after ballots were collected because messengers were not properly punching out the chads. Clearer instruction resolved the problem and the election proceeded.

In commenting in a Tweet after the election, GBC parliamentarian Barry McCarty said, “We overcame the potentially defective paper ballots. Out of 1,408 votes cast for president, only 3 were rejected.”

Both Waters and Evers campaigned heavily on the platform of reaching the lost in Georgia and enlarging the Baptist tent when it came to greater representation on state convention committees – especially the key Executive and Administration committees. But Waters went a step further and said in print that he would work to place term limits on committee members and work to eliminate cronyism that allowed members of former committee members’ churches and immediate family members from serving on the committees.

Waters was the first candidate to announce when Valdosta pastor Wayne Robertson of Morningside Church endorsed him on Dec. 30, 2010 – barely six weeks after Dan Spencer was elected to his second term. No other candidate was announced until July 28 when Lawrenceville pastor Frank Cox of North Metro First Baptist Church announced his intentions to nominate Evers, pastor of Tifton’s Northside Baptist Church.

The campaigns created websites touting each candidate’s vision and listing individuals – primarily pastors – who were lining up behind each candidate.

Also elected as convention officers were John Darsey, first vice president, pastor of Centennial Baptist Church in Rutledge; GBC state missionary Ray Newman, second vice president, of Macedonia Community Church in Braselton; Chris Hall, third vice president, pastor of Whitewater Baptist Church in Oglethorpe; Terry Trivette, fourth vice president, pastor of White Oak Baptist Church in Trenton; and Danny Henson, recording secretary, pastor of New Liberty Baptist Church in Ringgold.

Messengers overwhelmingly affirmed the GBC Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report. Two years in the making, the report urges Georgia Baptists to embrace “a specific, effective, and strategic approach to engaging the whole of the Georgia Baptist Convention in reaching the soon-to-be 8.1 million lost people in the state.”

Five emphases set forth in the report are a greater emphasis on spiritual renewal, Kingdom generosity, church revitalization, church planting and authentic evangelism.

In his part of the report, task force chairman Frank Cox, host pastor for this year’s convention, urged fellow pastors to follow his lead by “giving up to $30,000 a year over the next three years to help a new church plant” become established. Cox said he would lead his church to make the nearly $100,000 commitment beginning in the 2013 budget year since the church’s 2012 budget had already been approved.

In addition to Cox, task force members were Larry Wynn, evangelism vice president of the North American Mission Board and former pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula; outgoing GBC President Dan Spencer, pastor of First Baptist Church in Thomasville; Brian Stowe, pastor of Maysville Baptist Church, Evers; Bucky Kennedy, pastor of First Baptist Church in Vidalia; Tom Moore, a layman from First Vidalia; and Jeremy Morton, pastor of Cross Point Church in Perry.

Messengers approved a $42.3 million budget for 2012, a 6 percent decrease from the previous year. Budget committee members trimmed $2.7 million from the budget to bring it in line with projected income.

Messengers were told the budget had been revised downward by an additional $1.7 million from the original $1 million decrease approved by the GBC Executive Committee and as reported in The Index on Sept. 22. That 2012 budget was originally set at $44 million.

The now-approved $42.3 million budget is down more than 19 percent since the convention began cutting costs at the outset of the recession in 2008. That year’s budget, the last one before the slump, came in at $52.3 million.

The budget downsizing at the GBC Missions and Ministry Center, which includes staffing levels, continues the reductions first set in place when the effects of the recession began to be felt. Since then, 39 staff positions have been eliminated as the state convention works to bring expenses in line with income levels.

The reduction in the 2012 budget now returns the state convention to $300,000 below 1999 funding levels.

The largest section of the budget cut came from eliminating the CIEP program that had provided capital improvement, scholarships and endowment funds for Georgia Baptist institutions such as colleges and retirement ministries.

The program began in 1955 when the economy was much stronger and extra funds were budgeted from Cooperative Program receipts. But the program is no longer viable since funding has become more difficult in recent years.

Since the program began, $73 million has been allocated from CP funds and more than $53 million from matching funds, resulting in more than $126 million to strengthen those institutions.

Institutions will have access to the funds until they are depleted. In 2007, the year before the current recession, the funds totaled $1.2 million but are currently at $700,000, explained Mike Williams, GBC assistant executive director and vice president for operations.

“The CIEP had simply been suffering a slow decline due to the economy and the repeated budget reductions for the past several years,” Williams added.

The institutions’ standard line item allocations will not be eliminated by the loss of the program and their relationship to the state convention has not changed, Williams emphasized.

Williams said the amended budget was based on declining fourth-quarter income. Cooperative Program receipts from churches, through Nov. 10, were down 5.41 percent. That meant the state convention expected to end the year with about $42 million and is what drove the last-minute move to amend the budget downward.

The 2012 budget also added a new line item, capital debt service identified as Division 5, which at $1,692,300 represents 4 percent of the budget.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index (, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.)
11/20/2011 2:24:11 PM by Joe Westbury, The Christian Index | with 0 comments

Ky. Baptists welcome new exec. director

November 20 2011 by Todd Deaton, Baptist Press

FLORENCE, Ky. – “More for Christ” was the theme for Kentucky Baptists’ 174th annual meeting at Florence Baptist Church at Mt. Zion in Florence Nov. 15.

In the first year of a three-year spiritual renewal emphasis, messengers were encouraged to take up the words of John the Baptist – “He must increase ... I must decrease” (John 3:30).

In addition to commissioning Paul Chitwood as the convention’s new executive director, the 865 registered messengers approved a new ministry partnership, elected a seminary faculty member as president and adopted a $23.5 million budget for 2012-13.

In a signing ceremony during his first report to the convention, Chitwood formalized a missions partnership agreement with Baptists in St. Louis. Convention President Floyd Paris and Jim Breeden, director of missions for St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, joined Chitwood in signing the document.

Launched in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s newly adopted church-planting strategy, “Send North America,” the goal of the three-to-five-year partnership will be to help start 125 churches in the St. Louis area by 2020. St. Louis is one of 27 cities selected by NAMB leaders for coordinated efforts in evangelism and church planting.

The Greater St. Louis area’s 2.8 million residents “need a faithful witness of the gospel,” Chitwood said. “There are churches and an association there struggling to give that witness that need help. Kentucky Baptists are answering that call to help them.”

Adam Greenway, a professor and associate dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, was elected as KBC president. He served as first vice president in 2009-10.

Greenway received 73 percent of the 644 votes cast over Derek Coleman, a Lexington pastor. With his election, four of the last seven KBC presidents now have had ties to Southern’s faculty.

Alan Dodson, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lexington, was elected first vice president, and T.J. Francis, pastor at First Baptist Church in Walton, second vice president, both by acclamation.

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, issued a challenge for unity as the convention’s keynote speaker, leading up to the commissioning of Chitwood as executive director. Pointing to Jesus’ prayer request in John 17:21, Page appealed for unity among Southern Baptists and Kentucky Baptists.

“Unity is more than just a nice, fuzzy feeling,” Page said. “It is a testimony to the lost. I believe our unity affects our evangelism.”

Increased unity could have unprecedented results in the world and leave an eternal mark on the Kingdom of God, Page said.

“I believe the 21st century could see a turnaround such as we’ve never seen before, that we could do more for Christ,” he said. But that will only happen when there is an attitude and a perspective of Christ-like selflessness and a cooperative spirit among Southern Baptists and Kentucky Baptists, Page said.

“It’s time to light the beacons,” Chitwood told Kentucky Baptists, after a commissioning prayer by Paris. Using a scene from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” Chitwood called messengers to ready, rally and respond.

“Lighted only in the worst of circumstances, those beacons were a signal to the people of the land that they were directly in the path of the enemy. They were the worst of news,” he said.

“And yet, to those who were in the path, the beacons also represented hope,” Chitwood added, explaining that they called out the armies to defend those in imminent danger.

Urging Kentucky Baptists to stand together against their spiritual enemy, Chitwood said, “Might we hear the bad news that we are directly in the path of the enemy – and be not deceived, he comes with full assault. And might we then count it as good news because it allows us to ready, to rally together and to respond.”

Kentucky Baptists adopted a $23.5 million budget for 2012-13 that calls for 52.46 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to be distributed to Kentucky Baptist causes and 43.54 percent to go to Southern Baptist missions and ministries, with 4 percent being considered shared expenses.

The 23.5 million budget, which is identical to last year’s goal, includes a “More for Christ” challenge goal that assumes a 3 percent growth in Cooperative Program receipts, for an additional $705,000. Including the “More for Christ” target, the total CP goal for 2012-13 is $24,205,000.

In adopting the report of their Great Commission Task Force at last year’s annual meeting in Lexington, Kentucky Baptists embarked on a 10-year course that eventually will lead to a 50/50 division of Cooperative Program funds between state and Southern Baptist causes.

Though the percentage allocations will remain unchanged in this year’s budget, KBC officials assured messengers that the intent is still to advance toward the 50/50 mark within the time frame, but they also noted that the convention had fallen short of its previous Cooperative Program budget goal by more than $1 million.

In a resolution adopted unanimously by messengers, convention and church leaders were urged to call on state and local government officials to “restrain exorbitant interest” rates charged by payday lenders and to promote “any other protections necessary to protect individuals from lending abuse.”

According to the resolution, payday loans are offered at interest rates as high as 391 percent and are “designed to entrap households in debt through a combination of high fees and short repayment periods.”

Next year’s annual meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention will be Nov. 13 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Todd Deaton is editor of the Western Recorder (, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

11/20/2011 2:19:30 PM by Todd Deaton, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Baptists in Texas (SBTC) ‘embrace’ unreached

November 20 2011 by Tammi Reed Ledbetter & Jerry Pierce, Baptist Press

IRVING, Texas – Messengers to the 14th session of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention annual meeting approved a $26.2 million budget; passed resolutions ranging from the personhood of the unborn to biblical gender roles; and elected Mesquite pastor Terry Turner as president.

Also, 126 church leaders signaled their intent to lead their churches to “embrace” an unreached, unengaged people group (UUPG) – part of an SBTC challenge to Texas Southern Baptists to work toward engaging with the gospel 1,000 of the estimated 3,800 UUPGs worldwide.

Turner, the first African American elected as SBTC president, was unopposed. He is a trustee of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and was described by his nominator, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, as a commendable servant, a courageous supporter of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement “and in the continuing history of great and godly presidents of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.”

Patterson said Turner, with an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism, “is ready to broadcast the gospel to the world” and with two master’s degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary, “he knows what to talk about.”

Patterson also praised Turner, a Guthrie, Okla., native, as a missions advocate, having spread the gospel in Zambia and Belize, and a church planter who has led Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite to grow from five families when it began in 1991 to a membership exceeding 2,100. The church also has helped plant five other congregations.

Loui Canchola, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, an eight-year-old congregation in McAllen, was unopposed for a second term as SBTC vice president, while James Nickell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Quitman, was unopposed as recording secretary.

The first convention to be held at the new Irving Convention Center drew 901 messengers and 875 registered guests – an all-time high for total attendance. The annual meeting included a focus on “Praying and Going” based on Acts 13:2-3.

Embracing People Groups

The closing session of the Nov. 14-15 meeting included a missionary challenge for Southern Baptist churches in Texas to embrace 1,000 unreached, unengaged people groups (UUPGs) as part of an International Mission Board strategy. Hearing from retired and current missionaries as well as IMB President Tom Elliff via videotape, the audience offered a clear response.

In all, 126 leaders from Texas churches responded to the appeal to lead their members to embrace at least one UUPG. Prior to the meeting, about 75 churches had agreed to engage a people group, said John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless and outgoing SBTC Executive Board chairman.

“Why 1,000? Because to whom much is given, much is required. God has given us incredible favor, harmony and focus, providing resources for us,” Meador said in behalf of the SBTC goal. “If we don’t lead the way, who will?”

Meador added, “I’m thrilled to be part of the army of God of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and I want to answer my commanding officer who says, ‘Go,’ with a resounding, ‘Yes, we’re going. Yes, I will lead my church to go ... to the ends of the earth, reaching unengaged unreached people groups with the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.’”

While much of the focus of the convention’s closing session was placed on India, Embrace is a global effort. Churches are encouraged to seek God’s leadership as to whom they will embrace, SBTC missions director Terry Coy said.

Existing SBTC international partnerships and the new Embrace strategy are “separate but not totally distinct strategies,” he said.


The 2012 budget of $26,274,704 is a 3.16 percent increase over 2011. On behalf of the Executive Board, Meador said, “God has blessed us in great ways. This budget is a prudent approach to take advantage of the opportunities and be wise with the resources God has provided for us for the year 2012.

“We are called to walk by faith, but also walk in such a way that when we look back we could say we were wise,” Meador added, expressing appreciation for the convention’s generosity in giving $1 million in reserve funds through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions earlier this year.

Of the 45 percent of undesignated receipts retained for in-state ministry, about 36 percent is earmarked for missions and evangelism; 9.94 percent for facilitating ministries; 13.03 percent for church ministries; 10.64 percent for operational and financial line items; 9.94 percent for facilitating ministries; 9.5 percent for communications; 7.94 percent for minister/church relations; and 7 percent for multi-ethnic ministries. The Minister’s Outside Retirement and Protection Benefits special allocation amounts to 5.97 percent.

The SBTC forwards 55 percent of Cooperative Program funds to Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministry worldwide.

Executive Director’s Report

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told messengers the convention would continue to adapt to the churches’ needs. He recounted the insights gleaned from a series of “Praying & Listening” sessions in the first half of 2011, noting recurring requests for help in such areas as leadership development, discipleship and technology.

Noting that the mandate from SBTC churches has been to keep church planting a priority, which is reflected in the annual CP budget, Richards said accordingly, “We will keep it a centerpiece of our efforts and energies.”

Richards encouraged churches to continue reaching Texas while also engaging the world. Noting the challenge from the convention for churches to engage unengaged, unreached people groups, Richards said the Apostle Peter’s vision in the book of Acts that led to his engagement of Gentiles with the gospel required overcoming some obstacles. Yet Peter obeyed God, leading to his witness with Cornelius.

There are Corneliuses everywhere responding to the light of natural revelation, and “God is touching your heart to answer the call” to offer the gospel, Richards said. “The question is who? Who will go for us?”

Messengers approved five resolutions “On the Personhood of the Unborn,” “On Israel,” “On Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” “On Financial Stewardship” and “On Appreciation for President Byron McWilliams.”

The personhood resolution came after Mississippi voters defeated a referendum that would have legally recognized the personhood of the unborn beginning at conception. The SBTC resolution noted, “we affirm that all human life in the womb should have the protection rights of personhood under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” The resolution also affirmed states with personhood amendments under consideration, and “we encourage our elected Texas legislators to adopt an amendment that would affirm the personhood of the unborn.”

The Israel resolution affirmed that “one of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant concerns the land of modern-day Israel” and that the state of Israel has a right to exist in its current location. Also, “we call on both the Jewish and Palestinian people to pursue and adopt policies that cultivate genuine peace between themselves and their neighbors.”

A resolution on biblical manhood and womanhood affirmed the “equal worth and value” of men and woman in creation and in Christ while noting distinctly biblical roles “in the life and function of the church” and in the home. The resolution affirms “the call of women to many ministries in the church,” but recognizes “that the office of pastor is limited to men.”

Financial stewardship was addressed by a resolution calling the tithe “the biblical model” and lamenting personal debt and statistics showing the median giving for American Christians is “slightly over one-half of one percent of after-tax income.”

The resolutions may be read online at

Other Business

SBTC President Byron McWilliams, pastor of First Baptist Church in Odessa, urged the convention to follow John the Baptist’s lead in seeing that “He must increase but I must decrease.” Jesus’ cousin was fulfilled with his subservient role to the Christ, McWilliams said.

“May we as the SBTC always properly handle the glory of God because He must increase and we must decrease.... We are the little servants of an illustrious Savior,” McWilliams added.

Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church of Humble, delivered the convention sermon from Psalm 95. Warning against the unfaithfulness of the ancient Israelites in the wilderness, Lino pled in light of the challenge to engage unreached peoples, “All we are saying today is, if you hear the voice of God about the mission of the church, will you harden your heart or will you trust and obey?”

Messengers offered no motions made from the floor and all reports were approved without discussion.

In addition to SBTC missions and ministries challenges, messengers and guests heard from Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page (by video), LifeWay Christian Resources consultant Pat Ford, GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins, North American Mission Board Associate Vice President Shawn Powers, and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Phil Roberts on behalf of all six SBC seminaries.

Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., preached a guest sermon during the closing session, underscoring the theological significance of the biblical account of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

“This story is not about the power of David, the little guy, it’s not a story about the underdog who won.... This is a story about the God in whom David trusted,” Dever reminded. He warned preachers not to brag on themselves or their institutions but in the God who blesses.

Two SBTC area coordinators were honored during the annual meeting with the H. Paul Pressler Award – T.C. Melton of Abilene, who covers West Texas, and Casey Perry of Malakoff, who covers East Texas. They were recognized for their extensive service pastoring and in mentoring church leaders statewide.

As a pastor, Melton mentored numerous younger men, including Golden Gate Seminary President Jeff Iorg and B&H Publishing Group President Brad Waggoner, both of whom served under him.

Perry, a leader among Southern Baptists for many years, was involved in the SBTC’s formation. He has served on numerous denominational boards, most recently as a trustee at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The SBTC’s 2012 meeting is scheduled for Nov. 12-13, returning to Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist Texan; Jerry Pierce is the paper’s managing editor. The Texan ( is the newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)
11/20/2011 2:12:55 PM by Tammi Reed Ledbetter & Jerry Pierce, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Pastor shares ‘OneCry’ for N.C. Baptists

November 18 2011 by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor

While pushing his way through the cobwebs as he entered the balcony of Moriah Chapel in Wales, Darryl Craft felt chills. During a 10-day trip to the United Kingdom, he stood there looking across the site of the legendary Welsh revival that took place in 1904.
Standing where hundreds of thousands of people once put their trust in Jesus Christ, Craft, senior pastor of Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, asked his guide how many people now attend the chapel each week.
“My imagination was filled with all of the crammed crowds that came when the spirit of God fell, the people cried out to God and thousands were saved … the place was packed to capacity,” Craft told North Carolina Baptists Nov. 8 during the final evening of their annual meeting.
“He showed this incredible look of sadness and he said, ‘There’s usually about 15 people here on Sunday,’” Craft said.
“Today, Wales is a very dark country spiritually.”
Craft said he couldn’t help but wonder, “God, is this where we’re headed where I live?”
‘We need spiritual awakening’
We live in troubled times, Craft contended.
“Our land is in a state of moral and spiritual devastation,” he said. “It is out of devastation that we must unite with one voice … we need revival. We need spiritual awakening.”
Craft described churches today becoming more like “Divorce Court” or “Judge Judy” than a place where people worship and cry out to God.

At the BSC annual meeting, Darryl Craft, pastor of Green Street Baptist Church, High Point, shared about the initiative OneCry, a nationwide call for spiritual awakening set to launch February 2012.

“I’m tired of seeing the enemy overcome the saints of the Living God and watch them living in such terrible conditions of sin ... homes devastated … lives ruined, marriages forfeited,” he said.
Southern Baptists have incredible resources, and they have accomplished many things through the years. But more money, better strategies, resources and new programs aren’t enough, Craft said.
“Resolutions at a convention aren’t going to change anything,” he said. “The deeper issue is an issue of the heart.”
“We can legislate ‘In God we trust’ all we want,” he added. “I don’t care if it is impressed on a coin. What I want to see is the living power of God impressed on the hearts of the people of Christ.”
“We need one cry for God to invade our lives.”
During his message, Craft shared about the initiative OneCry, a nationwide call for spiritual awakening set to launch February 2012. The effort seeks to attract 50,000 prayer supporters who will pray for revival and share the OneCry vision. Byron Paulus, executive director of Life Action Ministries, began the initiative.
Revival is the country’s only hope, Craft said.
Reading from the book of Joel, Craft shared how the people of Israel faced drought, locust infestations and devastation. There also was hope, he added.
Craft read Joel 3:18. “In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. All the streams of Judah will flow with water, and a spring will issue from the Lord’s house, watering the Valley of Acacias.”
“Don’t you want that to happen here in our midst?” Craft asked.
“Don’t you want God to pour His spirit out on this nation … in your church, in your city, in your home and in your life?”
Craft stressed that as it is mentioned in the book of Joel, there is hope for us today.
“I believe God is still working, don’t you?” Craft asked. “The real answer is in Him. Revival is Jesus. We need Jesus.”
11/18/2011 2:52:40 PM by Shawn Hendricks, BR Managing Editor | with 2 comments

Minister’s wives encouraged to share one another’s burdens

November 18 2011 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

Laughter and tears seem to be key ingredients for a successful women’s meeting. That combination was demonstrated at the North Carolina Baptist Ministers’ Wives 56th annual meeting Nov. 7.
“You all are part of a really exclusive club,” said Allison Speer, a singer from Nashville, Tenn. Speer has performed with the Gaither Vocal Band and Gaither Trio as well as other Christian artists.
Raised in Kentucky, Speer shared stories of her mother and grandmother with the 50 ladies who were part of the event.
“We are called to bear another’s burden,” Speer said, sharing of her dad’s struggle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Speer stayed with her father and cared for him several months before he died. “I kept thinking, ‘God, why have you sent me off to war?’”
Speer spoke of faithful Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) ladies from a local church who brought food every day for nine months. At first, Speer’s father refused the food. He also didn’t want to see the pastor when he visited, but the pastor continued to come regularly.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Some of the new leadership of the North Carolina Ministers’ Wives posed for a photo Nov. 7 during their meeting prior to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. From left: Jennifer McClure, Susan Troutman, Harriett Lovett, Lisa Miller, Gina Powell, Chrissie Redding and Renea Henderson.

“That little country pastor led a dying man to Jesus,” said Speer, whose father accepted Christ about six weeks before he died. “Ya’ll don’t get weary in your doing good.”
Speer encouraged the women to “keep the faith,” even when they might not know how to pray.
During the meeting Deedee Whray, outgoing president of the group, presided. Whray, whose husband leads Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Bladenboro, said Speer’s songs and words “truly blessed” the ladies present.
The group is working on a master list of associations and churches to try to spread the reach of the organization.
Whray passed the gavel to new president, Renea Henderson, at the end of the meeting.
“We have a special calling,” said Henderson, who is a member of Cross Road Baptist Church in Asheboro. She asked the ladies present to share with other pastor’s wives in their area about the group.
Other officers (2011-’12)
Vice president: Vickie Parker, Baton Baptist Church, Granite Falls; president elect: Chrissie Redding, Hull’s Grove Baptist Church, Vale; vice president elect: Dakota Spurling, Freedom Biker Church, Hickory; secretary/treasurer: Gina Powell, Cross Road Baptist Church, Asheboro; publicity: Penny Church, Union Grove Baptist Church, Albemarle; retreat chairperson: Lisa Miller, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Marshville; vice retreat chairperson: Harriett Lovett, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant; 2013 retreat chairperson: Marlene Hampton, Calvary Baptist Church, Mocksville; 2013 vice retreat chairperson: Judy King, Emma’s Grove Baptist Church, Fletcher.
Regional representatives (2011-’12)
Western 1: Susan Troutman, Fallstown Baptist Church, Troutman
Western 2: Judy King, Emma’s Grove Baptist Church, Fletcher
Central 1: Jennifer McClure, New Home Baptist Church, Vass
Central 2: Amy Harmon, Pittsboro Baptist Church, Pittsboro
Eastern: Beverly Spears, Stedman Baptist Church, Stedman
11/18/2011 2:47:17 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

NOBTS trustees approve new housing

November 18 2011 by Gary D. Myers, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Trustees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary approved a new student housing project and voted to relocate the school’s South Georgia Extension center during an Oct. 12 meeting. The board also approved five new certificate-level training sites and reduced the number of required hours in the doctor of educational ministry degree.

The board approved the construction of a new $1.7 million apartment building for student families. The new building will have eight two-bedroom apartments. News of the new housing comes on the heels of a strong fall enrollment. Seminary President Chuck Kelley said all current student housing units are occupied. Construction of the new building is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 1, 2012 – just in time for the 2012 fall semester.

The apartments will be built debt-free thanks to a donation from a private family foundation based in Louisiana. Kelley said the foundation sent $500,000 check to the seminary in early October. The remaining funds will be sent in early 2012.

Seminary officials have identified two potential locations for the new housing – one site near the back of campus and another on the west side, closer to the front of campus. Seminary officials favor the location closer to the front, but will need to conduct a few studies before settling on that site. Kelley said the final proposed location will be presented to the trustees’ executive committee meeting in December.

South Georgia Extension Center
The board also voted to move the South Georgia Extension Center from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., to Central Baptist Church in Warner Robins, Ga. Accessibility was the driving force behind the move. Warner Robins is more centrally located and has easy access from Interstate 16 and Interstate 75. Seminary officials believe the move will result in new growth for the center.

Steve Echols, regional associate dean for Alabama and Georgia centers, expressed his appreciation to Sherwood Baptist Church for hosting the center since 1999. He said Sherwood’s pastor, Michael Catt, and the congregation have been generous in providing space, equipment and support for the center.

“Now we are equally grateful to have the opportunity to work with Central Baptist Church in Warner Robins,” Echols said. “The purpose of the move is to provide a more accessible location for a larger number of potential students from the central and south Georgia regions. As has been the case with Sherwood Baptist, NOBTS students will be able to take classes at a church that models the qualities of a healthy congregation. We believe that such an atmosphere is an important dimension of their seminary training.”

Echols said that Central Baptist’s pastor, Owen Bozeman, has been especially helpful in facilitating the transition. The church is providing meeting space and resources to help with the move.

Certificate-Level Training Sites
Trustees approved five new certificate-level training sites – four in Georgia and one in Mississippi. These accredited certificate programs offer focused ministerial training in a specific area and are designed for ministers who have no formal training.

The Georgia sites are Central Baptist Church in Warner Robins, Peachtree Baptist Church in Atlanta, Decision Point Ministry in Atlanta, and Peace Baptist Church in Decatur. Central Baptist will offer the Bible teaching certificate; the other Georgia sites will offer the Bible teaching certificate and the church planting certificate.

Peter Kendrick, Leavell College coordinator at the seminary’s North Georgia Hub, said the sites at Peachtree, Decision Point and Peace are training ministers and lay leaders to reach Atlanta’s diverse and rapidly growing population. Initially, the site at Peachtree will focus on training Ghanaians and other African immigrants.

“Ask any pastor or church planter in metropolitan Atlanta to describe his greatest challenge, he will ask, ‘How do I equip my people to make disciples of all nations in thecity?’” Kendrick said. “Three new churches have partnered with the NOBTS as an integral partner in equipping their members to become disciple makers of all the nations that live within their community.”

The Mississippi training site will be located at the Benton-Tippah Baptist Association in Ripley, Miss. The site will offer the pastoral ministry certificate.

D.Ed.Min. Hours Reduced
The trustees also approved a reduction of hours in the doctor of educational ministry degree program.

New Orleans Seminary is one of only five seminaries in the U.S. to offer a doctor of educational ministry (D.Ed.Min.) degree. And the current 48-hour degree plan is the longest. Officials at New Orleans found a way to trim the degree to 44 hours without harming the academic integrity of the degree. Under the new plan, students will complete the same number of seminars and workshops and the project in ministry will remain the same. The reduction in hours will come in the professional development component, which will be reduced from six to two.

“The change in the total number of hours has several important benefits,” said Randy Stone, director of the D.Ed.Min. program at the seminary. “Students can concentrate their efforts on the required seminars, workshops and projects. At the same time this move will make our degree program more appealing to prospective students who often compare us with other institutions.”

The changes in the D.Ed.Min. program will be implemented pending approval from the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, the seminary’s accrediting agency.

President’s Report
The plenary session of the trustees’ meeting opened with an encouraging report from seminary President Chuck Kelley. He began with a brief look back over his first 15 years as president and concluded with a glimpse into the future.

Since Kelley became president in 1996, both the seminary’s enrollment and its endowment have doubled. Kelley said the school’s academic reputation also has grown during the past 15 years. In 2005, Kelley said, The Chronicle of Higher Education quoted a study by Academic Analytics which rated NOBTS 12th in scholarly output by faculty members.

Kelley also pointed to the recovery after Hurricane Katrina as a major milestone in his first 15 years leading the seminary. The seminary enrollment has rebounded to very near pre-Katrina levels.

“This is a great, great testimony to the grace of God,” Kelley said. “But, let’s look ahead, because I am more excited about what I see ahead than what I see behind us ... the best is yet to come.”

Kelley said the preliminary fall enrollment numbers are very encouraging. The number of students enrolled in the master of divinity program is the highest since Hurricane Katrina.

“That’s a very good sign,” Kelley said.” Total enrollment is on a pace to have us ahead of last year’s [enrollment].”

According to Kelley, the fall began with an encouraging faculty workshop. The workshop focused on developing skills for teaching Internet classes. Future workshops are planned to help faculty members learn new skills for teaching in the 21st century.

Kelley said the seminary will keep the course by making theological education accessible to as many God-called men and women as possible.

In conclusion, Kelley said the school is poised for additional enrollment growth over the next few years. He also expects to see increased giving from alumni and friends of the seminary.

“Our awesome God is doing an amazing work at NOBTS,” Kelley said. “Every fiber of my being, every instinct I have tells me that we are on the verge of something very special.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gary D. Myers is director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)
11/18/2011 2:37:08 PM by Gary D. Myers, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

White House flubs the Bible – along with everyone else

November 18 2011 by Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON – The White House proved itself Scripturally challenged Nov. 2 when Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “I believe the phrase from the Bible is, ‘The Lord helps those who help themselves.’”
Actually, no.
The phrase that’s often attributed to the Good Book most likely comes from Benjamin Franklin and possibly the ancient Greeks, and the White House felt obligated to add a note to the transcript of Carney’s briefing: “This common phrase does not appear in the Bible.”
Embarrassing perhaps, but not uncommon.
It may make Carney feel better to learn that he’s got company -- a lot of it -- with other Americans. Numerous surveys have shown that most Americans believe the phrase is straight from the Bible, if not straight out of the mouth of God.
Christian pollster George Barna has asked Americans repeatedly about the saying, and consistently found that a majority attributes it to the Bible. In 2000, 75 percent of Americans surveyed by Barna attributed the phrase to the Bible.
Comedian Jay Leno once challenged passersby to name one of the Ten Commandments for “The Tonight Show.” The most popular answer?  ”God helps those who help themselves.”
So he who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone. (That one’s actually in the Bible. John 8:7)
Carney was trying to back up his boss who had chided Congress for passing a resolution to reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the nation’s motto rather than passing his jobs bill.
“I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work,” President Obama said.
Carney “certainly deserves a bit of ribbing, because people attribute to the Bible all kinds of stuff,” said Dale Martin, professor of religious studies at Yale University. “They should be more careful.”
“But everybody does it,” he added, even Bible professors.
So where does the idea that “the Lord helps those who help themselves” really come from?
The earliest records of a similar phrase seem to go back to the ancient Greeks. Aeschylus wrote in his play The Persians: “Whenever a man makes haste, God too hastens with him.”
Over time, other traditions have enshrined the idea. In Islam, for example, the prophet Mohammad is believed to have said: “Trust in God but tie your camel.”
The most common attribution comes from Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac” in 1757.
11/18/2011 2:33:23 PM by Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

Ark. Baptists continue CP increases

November 18 2011 by Tim Yarbrough, Baptist Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Messengers to the 158th annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) retained a $21.5 million budget for 2012 and celebrated the theme “GO! Across the Street, Across Arkansas, Across the World.”

Messengers approved a 2012 budget of $21,496,500, which includes $9,194,053 (42.77 percent) for Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes and $12,302,447 (57.23 percent) for missions and ministries in Arkansas.

The SBC portion includes an increase of $42,993 (0.2 percent) above the 2011 allocation, which is the fifth such increase by the ABSC in a five-year plan to increase the SBC portion by 1 percentage point. The 2012 budget represents no increase over the 2011 budget.

Additionally, an ABSC Executive Board recommendation to revise its budget formula for 2013-17 was approved, calling for the convention to continue to increase the percentage of receipts forwarded to the SBC, to divide state budget surpluses with the SBC and to conduct a statewide emphasis every five years encouraging churches to increase their Cooperative Program (CP) percentages. The new budget formula continues the 0.2 percentage increase each year to SBC causes.

A total of 687 messengers gathered at First Baptist Church in Little Rock for the convention’s Nov. 1-2 sessions, down from last year’s attendance of 761.

Greg Addison, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cabot and president of this year’s ABSC Pastors’ Conference, was elected convention president; Ken Jerome, interim pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, first vice president; and Matt Pryor, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wooster, second vice president. All were unopposed.

Messengers approved resolutions on Christian citizenship, services to children at risk, marriage, alcohol and the sanctity of human life. Another resolution expressed appreciation to convention leaders, the host church and those involved in the planning and arrangements for the meeting.

The only miscellaneous business was a motion to dedicate the 2011 ABSC annual to Pete Petty, a longtime convention staff member, pastor and associational missionary who died of cancer earlier this year.

Jason Noel, pastor of East Side Baptist Church in Paragould, was reelected ABSC Executive Board president, and Stan Ballard, pastor of Nettleton Baptist Church in Jonesboro, was elected vice president.

Next year’s annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention will be Oct. 30-31 at First Baptist Church in Cabot.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News, newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.)
11/18/2011 1:19:16 PM by Tim Yarbrough, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Wyo. Baptists increase CP

November 18 2011 by

MILLS, Wyo. (BP) – Messengers to the 28th annual meeting of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention increased Cooperative Program giving to national and international causes by .25 percent of their CP budget for the coming year.

A total of 107 messengers and their guests gathered at the Casper-area Mountain View Baptist Church in Mills Nov. 10-11.

A 2012 budget of $1,449,011 was approved, down from $1.54 million in 2011. Wyoming Baptists will forward 32.75 percent of an anticipated $142,527 in Cooperative Program giving from the convention’s churches.

Quin Williams, pastor of Boyd Avenue Baptist Church in Casper, was elected president; Mike Cooper, pastor of College Heights Baptist Church in Casper, first vice president; Clay Alexander, pastor of Big Horn Baptist Church in Buffalo, second vice president; and Hope Reynolds, a member of Heart of the Valley Baptist Church in Mountain View, recording secretary.

Mike Smith, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Riverton, delivered the annual sermon. Lynn Nikkel, the Wyoming convention’s executive director, and Buddy Hanson, president of the convention, also preached.

Dean Switzer, pastor of Wamsutter Baptist Church in Wamsutter, gave a testimony about God’s activity in his community. David Martin, director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on the University of Wyoming campus, told how God is moving among students, especially internationals. Marty Roark, pastor of Circle G Cowboy Church in Glendo, told messengers about their unique ministry opportunities and church planter Zach Edwards of Life Point Church in Cheyenne gave a progress report.

For many, fellowship and worship were the highlights of the meeting.

Next year’s annual meeting of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention will be Nov. 8-9 at Big Horn Baptist Church in Buffalo.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Based on a report by Lynn Nikkel of the Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention.)
11/18/2011 1:16:47 PM by | with 0 comments

Va. Baptists (BGAV) elect first black president

November 18 2011 by Robert Dilday

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) – Messengers to the Baptist General Association of Virginia elected the state association’s first black president, Mark Croston, during its Nov. 8-9 annual meeting in Richmond, Va.

They also restored ties with Averett University in Danville, Va., and adopted a reduced budget for 2012.

Croston, pastor of East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Va., has been active in BGAV life for years, serving as its second vice president in 2005 and as president of the Virginia Baptist Pastors Conference from 2006-08. He has been a trustee of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and for more than 15 years has been a board member of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, serving as its president from 2005-08.

Croston also has been involved in the Virginia Baptist State Convention, one of two historically black Baptist conventions in the state. He continues to serve as first vice president of that organization.

Other BGAV officers – all elected without opposition – are first vice president Carl Johnson of Richmond, a retired chief financial officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board; Allen Jessee, pastor of Community Heights Baptist Church in Cedar Bluff, Va., reelected as second vice president; and Fred Anderson, executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, elected to a 30th term as clerk.

The Averett University action heals a conflict that ended a 146-year-old relationship with the school in 2005 – a dispute largely centered on Averett’s response to what were seen as gay-friendly statements by the chair of its religion department and a student advocacy group.

The proposal, adopted by messengers at the meeting without discussion or apparent opposition, was initiated by Averett’s trustees and its president, Tiffany Franks, who was elected about three years after the separation.

Last month Franks told the Virginia Baptist Mission Board that changes had been made in Averett’s religion department and that the school is seeking a New Testament professor who will become the department’s head. She also reported that new policies regarding student organizations had been adopted. Both measures apparently persuaded a BGAV study committee and the Mission Board to recommend a renewal of ties.

“During our discussions we reviewed every core value of Virginia Baptists,” said Jeff Bloomer, a retired Culpeper, Va., school administrator who chaired the study committee – a clear reference to a 1993 BGAV resolution affirming “the biblical teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful and unacceptable to Christians.” That statement is now included in the BGAV’s “core values.”

The day before the vote, Franks also endorsed the proposal and said the breach wasn’t primarily about attitudes toward homosexuality.

“This process began in the summer of 2008 when I had the privilege of starting as president at Averett,” said Franks, a member of West Main Baptist Church in Danville. “I have been listening and learning to understand the university’s history and what led to the separation. I promise you that the separation was far more about how the relationship [with the BGAV] was managed, nurtured, cared for and valued, and far less about any [single] incident.”

The 2012 budget of $12.4 million, which was adopted unanimously, is about $1 million less than the current budget of $13,350,000. The budget is broadly based on anticipated receipts this year, budget committee chair Jim Slatton, a retired Richmond pastor, said.

Virginia mission causes are allocated $8,928,000 and world mission causes $3,472,000. The budget continues to offer churches three pre-set giving tracks and a fourth customized option, all of which divide funds between Virginia ministries and national and international ministries.

The percentage divisions in the pre-set giving tracks remain unchanged:
  • The World Missions 1 track provides 66 percent for Virginia ministries and 34 percent for Southern Baptist Convention ministries.
  • The World Missions 2 track provides 72 percent for Virginia ministries and 28 percent for a combination of Virginia, SBC, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and other ministries.
  • The World Missions 3 track provides 72 percent for Virginia ministries and 28 percent for CBF ministries.
The customized plan allows churches to select or delete any item in WM1, WM2 or WM3 and adjust percentages to reflect their own priorities.

About 845 messengers registered for this year’s BGAV meeting. Total registration, including guests, was 1,109.

Next year’s annual meeting of the Baptist General Association of Virginia will be Nov. 13-14 in Roanoke, Va.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Robert Dilday is managing editor of the Religious Herald (, newsjournal of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.)
11/18/2011 12:09:43 PM by Robert Dilday | with 0 comments

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