November 2012

N.C. Baptist Men seeks college students for Sandy effort

November 30 2012 by Laura M. Reid, BR Editorial Aide

North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) is seeking students who can volunteer during their Christmas break to help with disaster relief efforts in the Northeast Dec. 15-21.
 
The assignment will focus on relief efforts among homeowners in New Jersey who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. NCBM has provided relief to impacted residents since the last day of the storm.
 
“We need college students to assist homeowners with recovery from this devastating event,” said Gaylon Moss, NCBM’s disaster relief coordinator
 
Since May, the Campus Ministry Office for the Baptist State Convention of N.C. (BSC) has been working with Baptist Men to increase collegiate involvement with disaster relief efforts, said Rick Trexler, campus ministry leader for BSC.
 
“Of course, students are welcome anytime, “ Trexler said, “but we have set a special week …  for them to begin getting their feet wet with disaster relief, N.C. style.”
 
“This is open to college students from all churches,” he added.  “We want this to help us begin to train another generation for sharing the gospel as we assist a hurting world through disaster relief.”
 
Students will help with various tear-out work such as the removal of furniture, floors, wall coverings and doors.  Students also will be encouraged to share their faith with other volunteers and homeowners.
Students will be responsible for transportation to the site, but training, housing, meals and coordination of the relief work will be provided. Students should bring their own bedding such as sleeping bags.
 
Students do not have to serve for the entire week, and a list of items for them to bring will be sent out to them once they commit to the project.
 
Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) groups and other student groups are encouraged to form teams and travel to New Jersey together.
 
Teams should have their team leader register at ncmissions.org/sandy. In order for NCBM to recognize teams as college teams, team leaders are advised to include the school’s BCM name or the school’s name in the “Association” space of the online registration form. NCBM staff will communicate additional instructions to the team leaders.
 
BCM related questions may be directed to Rick Trexler at rtrexler@ncbaptist.org or (800) 395-5102, ext. 5560. For questions about the trip, contact Sharon Chilton Moser at sharonchiltonmoser@gmail.com or (336) 688-5254. For registration help, contact Mary Mountz at mmountz@ncbaptist.org or (800) 395-5102, ext. 5602.
 
Visit baptistsonmission.org or namb.net/dr for more information about Southern Baptist disaster relief.
11/30/2012 3:26:08 PM by Laura M. Reid, BR Editorial Aide | with 0 comments



Charitable deduction cap would be ‘devastating’

November 30 2012 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

 WASHINGTON – A proposal to limit charitable deductions would be devastating for churches, religious organizations and other nonprofits if adopted by the federal government, says a Southern Baptist church-state expert.

Leaders in both political parties have suggested further restricting charitable deductions for at least some Americans who itemize on their tax returns as a way of helping avert the “fiscal cliff” facing the country Jan. 1. Without congressional action, the tax cuts implemented under President George W. Bush will expire on that date, producing about $7 trillion in tax increases. At the same time, inaction will result in sequestration – automatic cuts to defense and non-defense spending of $55 billion each.

The idea of capping the charitable deduction “is as serious a threat to religious organizations as anything the federal government has done in recent decades,” said Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

“This would be catastrophic in its impact, particularly on those large gifts that many religious organizations, colleges, universities and ministries, as well as churches, depend upon for continuing operations,” Land told Baptist Press Thursday (Nov. 29). “Everything we know from past experience tells us if they cap deductions it will seriously erode charitable giving.”
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In a Nov. 28 email alert, Land urged Southern Baptists and others to ask their members of Congress to oppose further limits on charitable deductions.

Enacting such restrictions would not only reduce giving to churches and charities but would harm services such organizations provide to the needy, said Land and other foes of capping such deductions.

“At a time of severe economic dislocation, when the people’s demand for the services of charitable institutions is particularly high, it would be extremely counterproductive and illogical to implement tax policies which would result in crippling cuts to the budgets of charitable institutions, rendering them far less able to help the most vulnerable in our society,” Land said in a Nov. 29 Baptist Press column.

A coalition of nonprofit organizations included the following in a Nov. 14 letter asking President Obama to maintain the current charitable deduction:
  • The American public gains about $3 in benefit for each dollar a donor receives in tax relief for a contribution.
  • Americans gave nearly $300 billion to charities in 2011, according to Giving USA, with much of that total deducted from taxes.
  • Taxpayers who had an adjusted gross income of at least $100,000 in 2008 contributed about 58 percent of all charitable donations, the Congressional Budget Office recently reported.
  • One-third of donors surveyed would reduce their giving without the charitable deduction, according to a 2012 study.
  • Nonprofit organizations produce $1.1 trillion a year in jobs and services and provide 13.5 million jobs, about 10 percent of the United States workforce.
The 32-member Charitable Giving Coalition, which sent the letter, includes the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, The Salvation Army and American Red Cross.

In his budgets, Obama has proposed capping the itemized deduction at 28 percent for couples whose incomes are at least $250,000 and individuals who make at least $200,000 a year. High-income earners now can deduct at least 33 percent in charitable gifts.

The proposal could reduce charitable donations by as much as $7 billion a year, according to an estimate cited by Independent Sector, which leads a network of about 600 nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

The federal tax system needs an overhaul, but the suggestion to limit charitable deductions further “is a threat aimed like a dagger at the heart of America’s charitable nonprofit entities, secular and religious,” Land said in his column. “It will weaken most, kill many, and harm all.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)

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Guest Column: Capping charitable deductions would hurt charities, society
Year-end givers choose organizations they can ‘trust'
11/30/2012 3:13:43 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



Year-end givers choose organizations they can ‘trust'

November 30 2012 by ECFA release

WINCHESTER, Va. – With a sluggish U.S. economy and fears of an impending “fiscal cliff,” donors identify “trust” as a top priority in selecting Christian ministries and nonprofit endeavors for their year-end giving.
 
With no shortage of organizations seeking donations, particularly at year-end, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) is providing potential donors essential tools to help determine the most reputable non-profits and specific projects for their gifts. 
 
“Now more than ever, Christ-centered organizations must earn the trust of their donors by consistent adherence to the highest standards of financial integrity and accountability,” said Dan Busby, ECFA president.
 
Churches and Christian nonprofits entitled to bear the ECFA seal have willingly opened their records to the utmost level of scrutiny and are held to the highest standards of accountability with respect to governance, financial management, stewardship and fundraising. ECFA-accredited organizations operate by the Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™ drawn from scripture. To ensure continued compliance, each member organization must complete an annual accreditation review. 
 
Beyond ECFA’s enhancement of trust in accredited member organizations, tools are available at www.ecfa.org to assist donors in making critical year-end giving decisions. 
Six Things Every Giver Should Know” recommends that donors educate themselves on aspects such as specific details about the project to which they are giving and the level of accountability of the charity.
 
Donors should make informed giving decisions. Knowing that an organization is accredited by ECFA provides sufficient confidence for some givers. Others may want to see information about financial matters and additional activities. Donors should evaluate the charity’s response or lack of response in making wise giving decisions. Simply put, according to ECFA, “Know the organizations you support.”
 
ECFA’s ServantMatch® allows donors to search participating ECFA-accredited organizations by category, keyword, geographic location or ministry interest as specific as a safe home for pregnant girls in Kenya, relief aid for victims of Super Storm Sandy, sewing machines for Guatemalan women and many more.
 
Good Charities Willingly Answer Tough Questions” empowers donors to ask hard questions that trustworthy organizations should be eager to answer. Donors have the right to know if the organization has a strong, clear commitment to a defined mission objective, according to Busby. ECFA-accredited members willingly offer financial and other information about any project to which a person has donated.
 
To find a trusted ECFA-accredited organization for year-end giving, visit www.ecfa.org/MemberSearch.aspx.


 
ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance. To learn more about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit www.ecfa.org or call (800) 323-9473.

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Charitable deduction cap would be ‘devastating’
Guest Column: Capping charitable deductions would hurt charities, society
11/30/2012 3:07:12 PM by ECFA release | with 0 comments



Ziglar, ‘America’s motivator,’ conveyed hope, joy

November 30 2012 by Jerry Pierce, Baptist Press

PLANO, Texas – For the past seven years, Jay Hellwig would accompany Zig Ziglar to business meetings and speaking engagements worldwide – often sharing platforms with world leaders in business, politics and entertainment. Sometimes, he would sit across from Ziglar at his kitchen table as he finished up his Bible reading or his daily newspaper.

Hellwig would be the one to insist that they hurry along at airports as Ziglar engaged strangers wanting their books signed or a nugget of advice from a man widely known as “America’s motivator.”

But as Ziglar’s personal assistant, what sticks with Hellwig above all is Ziglar’s practice of reserving meal appointments very selectively. Ziglar could have his pick of interesting and entertaining people for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Those sought-after appointments, however, were held for people who didn’t have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, Hellwig said.
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Zig Ziglar’s friendly smile and attentive eyes were a regular part of Sunday mornings at the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church. Ziglar, known as “America’s motivator,” died Nov. 28 at age 86.


Ziglar, known worldwide for his folksy and often anecdotal motivational talks on success through serving others, died Nov. 28 in Plano, Texas, of complications from pneumonia at age 86.

His pastor, Jack Graham, said Ziglar saw himself foremost as a “minister of encouragement.”

“He was a dispenser of hope and joy and a whole lot of love,” said Graham, of Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, during a news conference hours after Ziglar’s death.

Ziglar’s deep, soothing Mississippi drawl and speeches and books often sprinkled with mentions of his Christian faith endeared him to millions. Ziglar was arguably the best-known motivational speaker of his day, having conducted hundreds of corporate seminars and giving motivational speeches to hundreds of thousands of people over a 42-year speaking career.

A longtime Southern Baptist, Ziglar served as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in 1984-85 during Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley’s tenure as SBC president.

His 30-plus books include best-sellers “See You at The Top!” and “Confessions of a Happy Christian.” Another book, “Confessions of a Grieving Christian” (B&H Publishing Group, LifeWay Christian Resources) followed the death of daughter Suzan Ziglar Witmeyer from pulmonary fibrosis in 1995.

Ziglar taught an “Encouragers” Bible study class for 18 years on Sunday mornings at Prestonwood until several years ago, Graham said.

“His ability to communicate and motivate came from deep within,” Graham said. “He had an incredible faith and what motivated the ‘motivator’ was his personal faith in Christ.”

Graham said one of his favorite “Zigisms” – those wise turns-of-phrases Ziglar was known for – was along the lines of, “‘You can get everything you want in life as long as you are willing to help others get what they want in life.’”

“So many of the principles and teachings that Zig gave were right out of the Bible and he would tell you that,” Graham said, noting that Ziglar rarely missed church despite a demanding travel schedule. The last year, Ziglar’s declining health caused him and his wife Jean to watch the services online.

Graham said Ziglar’s definition of success included a high ethical and moral code and “a greater picture of using what you have, your success, to encourage or bless others” and to honor God.

Ziglar often talked about “stinkin’ thinkin’,” expressing a firm belief that attitude deeply affects all areas of life.

“We all need a daily check up from the neck up to avoid stinkin’ thinkin’ which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes,” Ziglar is cited as saying in a collection of his quotations provided by his company, Ziglar Inc.

Among an array of his observations: “Many marriages would be better if the husband and wife clearly understood that they’re on the same side” – and “Kids go where there is excitement. They stay where there is love.”

And this quote appears in a memorial entry on Ziglar’s Facebook page: “Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.”

Ziglar’s conversion in 1972 by the testimony of “Sister Jessie,” an African American woman who visited the Ziglar family over the 4th of July weekend that year, heightened his appreciation for people from all walks of life, Hellwig said, noting the Wall of Appreciation in Ziglar’s office commemorating the influence of 27 men and women whom Ziglar considered his major influences. Sister Jessie shares that wall with a diverse group of men and women, Hellwig said.

Hellwig said Ziglar’s affection for his wife Jean – whom he often called “the redhead” and frequently referred to in his speeches – was evident to all who knew the couple.

Donald Wildmon, founder of the Mississippi-based American Family Association, who worked with Ziglar in the 1980s to get pornography removed from the shelves of the 7-11 convenience store chain, said that while Ziglar was a “giant in the business community,” he was also a “wonderful Christian gentleman who served God in many ways” and “believed in our cause of returning decency and morality to the public square.”

“An amazing, amazing man whose legacy will live on” through his family and his church, Graham told reporters.

The 10th of 12 children, Ziglar was born in Coffee County, Ala., as Hilary Hinton Ziglar but the nickname “Zig” stuck with him as he grew up in Yazoo City, Miss. Ziglar was a World War II Navy veteran and attended Milsaps College in Jackson, Miss., and the University of South Carolina before beginning his career as a salesman and later a public speaker.

Ziglar was preceded in death by his 11 siblings and his daughter Suzan. In addition to his wife Jean, he is survived by one son, John Thomas (Tom) Ziglar of Plano; two daughters, Cindy Ziglar Oates, of Southlake, Texas, and Julie Ziglar Norman of Alvord, Texas; seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Ziglar’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday (Dec. 1) at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

Related story

Zig Ziglar, renowned layman & speaker, dies
11/30/2012 2:58:16 PM by Jerry Pierce, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Appeals court rules against abortion mandate

November 30 2012 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

ST. LOUIS – For the first time a federal appeals court has issued an order against the Obama administration’s abortion/contraceptive mandate.

The one-page order Nov. 28 from a three-judge Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals panel prevents the government from forcing a Missouri business – O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC – to cover contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs in its employee health care plans as the appeals process is completed. The panel’s temporary injunction came two months after a lower court tossed out the lawsuit.

It marks the fourth time this year that a federal court has issued an order or ruling against the mandate, which applies to businesses and religious organizations. There are about 40 cases nationwide seeking to overturn the mandate, which was implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services after President Obama signed the landmark health care bill into law.

The lawsuit by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) says the mandate would force Frank O’Brien – the business owner – to violate his "religious beliefs and company policy." The mandate violates two federal laws as well as the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom and free speech, the suit states. If the court does not intervene and O’Brien does not follow the mandate, he would face steep fines. O’Brien’s company and its subsidiaries employ about 85 people.

"O’Brien is a Catholic who has the religious duty to conduct himself and his business in a manner consistent with the Catholic faith," ACLJ stated in an appeal to the Eighth Circuit. "Pursuant to these beliefs, O’Brien has ‘established as company policy that [it] cannot pay for and provide coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, abortion or related education and counseling.’"

O’Brien’s business operates a number of businesses that explore, mine and process refractory and ceramic raw materials, according to ACLJ.

"The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government," said ACLJ attorney Francis Manion. "We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O’Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government. We look forward to this case moving forward and securing the constitutional rights of our client."

The ACLJ suit involves a private business, but many of the 40 suits against the mandate involve religious organizations. Tyndale House Publishers, which publishes Bibles and Christian books, won in federal court in November when a judge issued a temporary injunction preventing it from being forced to follow the mandate.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
11/30/2012 2:52:50 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Jesus-Centered Church’ is new book’s focus

November 30 2012 by Russ Rankin, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – A desire to see churches infused with greater gospel awareness – from the pulpit to the parking lot – prompted Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger and Josh Patterson to coauthor “Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church,” released by B&H Publishing Group.

Chandler, lead pastor of teaching at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, said the idea for Creature of the Word grew from questions he received from other pastors and church leaders “about how being Jesus-centered really fleshed itself out on a day-in, day-out basis in the life of a church.”
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Chandler and his coauthors – Eric Geiger, vice president of the church resources division of LifeWay Christian Resources, and Josh Patterson, pastor of ministry leadership at The Village Church – set out to examine the scripture-based aspects of a Jesus-centered church and provide practical steps toward forming a church that lives in this reality.

Chandler said the ideas conveyed in the book are “about how the gospel should infuse everything from the parking lot to the preschool to the pulpit. It’s about how you take the gospel and make it much more than a doctrinal statement, but see it practically worked out on a day-to-day basis in how a church is organized and how a church functions.

“Martin Luther famously described the church as being ‘a creature of the Word,’” said Geiger, explaining the title of the book. “Essentially, the church is not the one who births the Word, but she is born of the Word of God. Thus, she is a creature of the Word.”

The authors write that their intention is to foster churches that view the gospel as not one component among many others in the life of the church, but rather the very basis of their existence which informs their theology, culture and practice.

“The gospel isn’t something that should be compartmentalized or relegated to one aspect of the church,” Patterson said. “It’s something that infuses to become a living, breathing part of the culture of the church.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Russ Rankin is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
11/30/2012 2:49:36 PM by Russ Rankin, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Zig Ziglar, renowned layman & speaker, dies

November 29 2012 by Jerry Pierce, Baptist Press

PLANO, Texas – Zig Ziglar, known worldwide for his folksy and often anecdotal motivational talks on success through serving others, died Nov. 28 at a Plano, Texas, hospital of complications from pneumonia. He was 86.

Ziglar’s deep, soothing Mississippi drawl and speeches and books often sprinkled with mentions of his Christian faith endeared him to millions. Ziglar was arguably the best-known motivational speaker of his day, having conducted hundreds of corporate seminars and given motivational speeches to hundreds of thousands of people over a 42-year speaking career.
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Zig Ziglar


An active Southern Baptist layman and a member at Prestonwood Baptist Church in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Ziglar served as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in 1984-85 during Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley’s tenure as SBC president.

He wrote more than 30 books, including best-sellers “See You at The Top!” and “Confessions of a Happy Christian.” Another book, “Confessions of a Grieving Christian,” followed the death in 1995 of daughter Suzan Ziglar Witmeyer from pulmonary fibrosis.

Ziglar’s pastor, Jack Graham, wrote in a message to the Prestonwood congregation on Wednesday, “It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know that Zig Ziglar went to heaven today. Although we mourn the loss of this incredible servant of God, we rejoice that Zig is celebrating in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Zig has left such an indelible mark on this church that we will forever remember his servant heart, his passion for teaching the Word of God, his love of people and, of course, his high-energy, motivational speaking.”

A message on Ziglar’s Facebook page stated, “Zig Ziglar passed from this world today after a short bout with pneumonia. Though his time on earth has ended, he is speaking with Jesus now in his heavenly home. The angels in heaven are rejoicing and his family is celebrating a life well lived.”

A flash graphic at Ziglar corporate website, Ziglar.com, stated “In Loving Memory of Zig Ziglar 1926-2012,” followed by “Speaking with Jesus Now – Romans 8:28.”

Ziglar was born in Coffee County, Ala., as Hilary Hinton Ziglar but the nickname “Zig” stuck with him as he grew up in Yazoo City, Miss. Ziglar was a World War II Navy veteran and attended Milsaps College in Jackson, Miss., and the University of South Carolina before beginning a full-time sales career that would catapult him to fame as “America’s motivator.”

Ziglar was preceded in death by his 11 siblings and his daughter Suzan. Survivors include his wife Jean; one son, John Thomas (Tom) Ziglar; two daughters, Cindy Ziglar Oates and Julie Ziglar Norman; seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

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Ziglar, ‘America’s motivator,’ conveyed hope, joy

11/29/2012 3:39:33 PM by Jerry Pierce, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



N.C. Baptist ministries, agencies excited about progress, 2013

November 29 2012 by BR Staff

As this year winds down, many of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) ministry efforts and agencies are quickly positioning for a busy and productive 2013.
 
Leaders shared reports Nov. 12-13 during the BSC’s annual meeting in Greensboro of how God has blessed their ministries and institutions this past year. Many highlighted future efforts to expand and further the gospel here and abroad.
 

Fruitland

Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in Hendersonville is gearing up for a special fundraising campaign set to officially begin January 2013. The campaign will help Fruitland pay off around $900,000 in debt for the expansion and renovations of the school’s Kenneth W. Ridings Chapel, which was dedicated in 2007.
 
“Fruitland is poised for a great future that builds upon a glorious past and a solid foundation,” President David Horton told messengers, noting the school has trained pastors and church leaders in N.C. since 1946. “And with 20 percent of the pastors in North Carolina being listed as graduates of Fruitland, the influence of the school is undeniable.”
 
The goal of the campaign, “One in a Million,” focuses on the idea of 1,000 donors, individuals and churches each giving $1,000 to the campaign over the next 18 months. In October 2013, Fruitland will ask N.C. Baptist churches to receive a special offering for the campaign.
 
“All of the leadership at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, including our Board of Directors, are very committed to repaying the loan that we have with the Baptist State Convention,” Horton said. “But we need your help in order to do so.
 
“Unlike many other educational institutions, we’re not sitting on top of a multi-million dollar endowment. We do not have the financial reserves from which to draw to be able to repay this loan. And so therefore we’re counting on you as North Carolina Baptists to help us do this.”
 

Caraway

To help Caraway Conference Center in Sophia expand and prepare itself for future ministry, Mark Harris, BSC president, challenged messengers to contribute to Caraway’s $7.5 million “New Beginnings Campaign.” Read more about the campaign at caraway.org/general/newbeginnings/.
 
Recalling experiences at Caraway that go back to when Harris was in the 7th grade, he shared how it has been part of many special times in his life – some that he referred to as “holy ground moments.”
 
“There is a generation coming behind us that I pray will have the same opportunities that we did,” said Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte. “That’s why we need to make decisions now. The value is eternal.”
 
Harris explained how if only 860 N.C. Baptist congregations – 20 percent of N.C.’s 4,300 Baptist churches – gave $8,720 to the campaign the goal would be reached. He added that over a three-year period that would break down to about $2,906 annually.
 
“It really can be done, even if 20 percent carry the load of 80 percent,” he said. “Because God has a way of doing His work in his way, in His time, by His will.“
 

NCBAM

On April 28, N.C. Baptists made history by building 327 wheelchair ramps in a single day in partnership with N.C. Baptist Men’s Operation Inasmuch. On that same day nearly 3,000 N.C. Baptists, more than 200 churches and 63 Baptist associations partnered together to help disabled individuals meet a physical need and hear the gospel.
 
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BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Mark Harris, president of the Baptist State Convention, encouraged messengers to the annual meeting to support Caraway Conference Center’s capital campaign.


N.C. Baptist Aging Ministry shared this report through video during the annual meeting.
 
Michael Ferguson, senior pastor of Greenwood Baptist Church in Thomasville, explained in the video how he helped lead James, an 85-year-old man, to Christ that day.
 
James asked Ferguson why people would sacrifice a Saturday to build a wheelchair ramp for a stranger.
 
“I said … the reason that they’re here is because they want to show you the love that God showed them in Christ,” Ferguson said.
 
James died about two months later after putting his trust in Jesus. Ferguson expressed his appreciation to the volunteers who helped build the ramp.
 
“They were the hands and feet … the avenue that opened up an opportunity for me just to come in and share the gospel.”
 

Embrace Women’s Ministry

Lives are also changing through women’s outreach and training, said Ashley Allen, director of BSC’s Embrace Women’s Ministry.
 
In recent months Embrace has hosted numerous events, such as leadership training, enrichment programs and missions trips.
 
“We have watched the Lord move in the lives of women across the state as they have come better to understand their role and responsibility in seeing the Great Commission being fulfilled and actively taken apart in the Lord’s command,” Allen told messengers. 
 
Embrace hosted two leadership trainings this year – in the spring and the fall. The theme of their leadership trainings was “Worthy of the Calling.”
 
Through these trainings, Allen explained, women were equipped with the tools to begin ministry and continue advancing the gospel through their churches and associations. Another leadership training event is scheduled for April 11-12 in Greensboro.
 
Embrace led two mission trips this year – one to Moldova in May and another to New York City in September. During the four-day mission trip to New York City, a women’s team ministered to women and children in three of the city’s five boroughs.
 
One of those outreach efforts included teaching Bible stories in a predominately South Asian neighborhood in Queens. Another included hosting a “Henna party” among a group of women. They used Henna – body art that is popular in South Asia – to paint pictures on women’s hands. The designs tell the story of creation to Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.
 
“All of our team members were able to share the Lord on subways, on buses, standing in lines of stores and a variety of other conversations,” Allen said. “Each lady shared uninhibited, undaunted and unashamed.”
 

Great Commission Partnerships

Next summer the Office of Great Commission Partnerships for BSC plans to partner with Metrolina Baptist Association in Charlotte, Piedmont Baptist Association in Greensboro, the BSC’s Church Planting Office and the Associational Partnership Office to launch a research initiative in Greensboro and Charlotte. During the next three years, N.C. Baptists will work to identify unreached people groups living in Greensboro and Charlotte.
 
“We’re asking North Carolina Baptists … to join us to be mobilized for a day, a weekend, a week, to come, to pray over our cities,” said Michael Sowers, senior consultant for BSC’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships, during his report, “to identify the people groups, and partner together to take the gospel right here in North America and around the world. “
 
In N.C. alone, there are more than 5.6 million people who do not follow Jesus Christ, Sowers said. 
 
“With urban populations exploding and rural populations getting less and less … God is bringing the nations right [here], right now to our state,” he said. “We do have to go across the world … but also reach the people right here.”
 
Sowers shared about N.C. churches committed to partnering with church planters in New York, Toronto, Moldova and Southeast Asia, where there is little evangelical work. Those churches included Dublin First Baptist Church in Dublin, Sunset Avenue Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, Rowan Southern Baptist Association in Salisbury and Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. All are actively partnering in one or more of these areas.
 
“Everyone, I believe, deserves to hear the gospel at least once in their lifetime,” he said.
 

Discipleship in 3D

Discipleship in 2013 is also a crucial and needed element to mobilizing N.C. churches, said Lynn Sasser, executive leader for BSC’s Congregational Services. He challenged messengers during his report to look at their church in “3D.” 3D is an initiative to help N.C. churches become more effective in disciple making. It helps congregations discover, develop and deliver a disciple-making culture among them, Sasser explained.
 
Sasser defined a disciple-making culture as one with an atmosphere or climate of reproducing followers of Christ who order their everyday lives around their call to love God. And that results in loving others.
 
“Culture is a big deal,” Sasser said. “We’re all about, as a Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, helping create a disciple-making culture in North Carolina Baptist churches through which lives are changed eternally by the power of God.”
 
For more information about these and other ministry efforts contact the BSC at (800) 395-5102 or go to http://www.ncbaptist.org/.

For more stories from the annual meeting, visit here.
11/29/2012 3:25:28 PM by BR Staff | with 0 comments



Supreme Court to decide Fri. on gay marriage

November 29 2012 by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors Friday, Nov. 30 to decide whether to take up several cases that could lead to the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states.

The public won’t find out what they decided for several days – as early as Monday – but Friday’s meeting is significant enough that both sides in the cultural debate are guessing what will happen. If the court takes up the cases, it could end up being the “Roe v. Wade” of gay marriage.

At issue are two laws: a federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and a California constitutional amendment known as Proposition 8.

Technically, only one section of DOMA is before the court – the section that defines marriage in federal law as being between one man and one woman. But the legal arguments the Obama administration’s Justice Department attorneys are using to oppose that section could be used to overturn the entire law, conservative attorneys say. That other section gives states the option of not recognizing gay marriage laws from other states. Courts have been split on DOMA, although the cases before the high court overturned the federal section at issue. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is defending DOMA in court.

California Prop 8 was approved by voters in 2008 and defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that struck it down. If the Supreme Court takes the Prop 8 case, it could do a number of things, including upholding Prop 8 or – in what would be a nightmare for Christian legal groups and evangelicals – reversing laws in any state that define marriage as between a man and a woman. The court also could choose not to take the Prop 8 case, a decision which would legalize gay marriage in California.

In August the attorneys general of 14 states urged the Supreme Court to consider the DOMA case and to uphold the law, saying that the appeals court decision reversing the law “casts doubt on all traditional definitions of marriage” in the states that don’t recognize gay marriage. The attorneys general said they were interested in “protecting their power to define marriage in the traditional manner.” They further gave a solid defense of traditional marriage.

“In short, traditional marriage protects civil society by encouraging couples to remain together to rear the children they conceive,” the attorneys general wrote in their brief. “It creates the norm that potentially procreative sexual activity should occur in a long-term, cohabitative relationship. It is the institution that provides the greatest likelihood that both biological parents will nurture and raise the children they beget, which is optimal for children and society at large.”

It is not known when during the current term the court would hear oral arguments in the cases, although – if they take the cases – a decision likely would be handed down in the spring or early summer.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
11/29/2012 3:14:39 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Global ‘harvest’ at hand, Elliff says

November 28 2012 by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Is the “unthinkable” about to happen?

Are Southern Baptists about to miss one of the greatest harvests for Christ the world has seen? International Mission Board (IMB) President Tom Elliff asked these questions in his report during IMB trustees’ Nov. 15-16 meeting in Springfield, Mo.

“This is harvest time, folks. … It is no time for us to be asleep in the harvest,” he said, drawing from John 4:35, which says “the fields are white unto harvest” and Proverbs 10:5, “He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully” (NASB).

The world “is filled with people who desperately need to hear the gospel,” Elliff continued, and IMB’s assignment is to assist fellow Southern Baptists to bring the gospel to the world.

Despite this crucial need, Southern Baptists no longer are giving through the Cooperative Program (CP) as they used to give, Elliff said. CP has been in decline for the past five years.

Elliff called this a “tragedy” because CP and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions are the two “lifelines” that support Southern Baptist missionaries.
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Photo by Paul W. Lee

IMB President Tom Elliff reminds 84 new missionaries of their task to “go as pioneers, constantly pressing forward to the ends of the earth” during an appointment service Nov. 15 at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo.


“We don’t determine how many missionaries [are sent] – Southern Baptists by their giving tell us how many people [they will] have on the field,” Elliff said. “Now that’s just the plain, unvarnished truth.

“I don’t want to be a son who acts shamefully. … Southern Baptists don’t want to be sons and daughters who act shamefully, but we will be if we sleep in the harvest,” Elliff continued. “You need to pray with me that God will stir among Southern Baptists.

“When we think about the way doors have opened … in corners of this world that have been so dark and so closed for so many years, it is unthinkable … that Southern Baptists would not provide more missionaries, more laborers for the harvest,” he said.

Annual statistical report & UUPGs

Evidence of the harvest work around the world was shown through highlights of the 2012 Annual Statistical Report (ASR) presented by Stuart Bell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Centerton, Ark., and IMB trustee chairman for the strategy committee. The ASR summarizes the work of Southern Baptist missionaries and their overseas ministry partners in 2011.

More than 1.4 million people heard a gospel witness; of those, more than 337,000 became believers. More than 266,000 people were baptized. Missionaries and local believers with whom they partner started 24,000 new churches.

Gordon Fort, vice president for IMB’s global strategy office, reported that there are currently 3,133 unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPGs) – those with an evangelical Christian population of less than 2 percent and with no evangelical church-planting methodology currently under way among them.

“We need to make up our mind that these last remaining unengaged, unreached people groups will have their witness before we die,” Fort said. “When we get to heaven one day, we can say, ‘Lord, we were there on that day when every language, every people, every tribe, every nation, were engaged with the Good News of Jesus Christ.’”


2013 budget

Trustees approved IMB’s 2013 budget of $323.8 million, of which $175 million is expected to come through this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Blake Withers and Bill Milewski, chairman and vice chairman for IMB trustees’ finance committee, presented details of the budget.

It was “painfully difficult” to balance, said Withers, a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif. Milewski, a member of First Baptist Church in Soldotna, Alaska, noted that the budget is down by a half million dollars from the past year and will become increasingly difficult to balance in the future.

“We know that we’re relying upon God to do this,” Milewski said, “and as our president explained, if the Cooperative Program [giving] would increase and also the Lottie Moon … that’s where it all lies. … We just ask that the Lord would move upon the heart of each and every individual.

“We as Southern Baptists have no excuse, in my humble opinion, that we should not have a tremendous footprint on the mission field.”


Other business

Trustees approved the election of Gordon Fort to the new position of senior vice president for prayer mobilization and training, effective immediately. A major part of Fort’s new role will be leading the School of Prayer for All Nations initiative Elliff announced during the September trustee meeting.

Fort was born in Sanyati, Zimbabwe, where his parents served as missionaries. He and his wife Leigh Ann were appointed missionaries to Botswana in 1985. He served in a leadership role for southern Africa from 1997 to 2004 when he joined the IMB home office staff as vice president of the office of overseas operations. In 2009, he became vice president of the office of global strategy.

Trustees also approved John Brady, current affinity global strategy leader for northern Africa and the Mideast (NAME) peoples, to become the new vice president of office of global strategy, effective Jan. 15.

Brady was born in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., and grew up in Guyana as the son of Southern Baptist missionaries. He and his wife Jenny were appointed by IMB in 1993 to serve in NAME. He served as strategy coordinator, strategy associate and regional leader before moving to his current position in 2009.

Trustees also appointed 84 missionaries in a service Nov. 15 at Springfield’s Second Baptist Church, raising the IMB missionary force to 4,908.

The next IMB trustee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26-27 in Las Vegas, with a missionary appointment Feb. 27 at Hope Baptist Church there.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Laura Fielding is a writer for IMB.)

Related story

84 new missionaries appointed by IMB
11/28/2012 3:02:41 PM by Laura Fielding, Baptist Press | with 1 comments



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