November 2013

Executive Committee hears ministry updates

November 12 2013 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

The Executive Committee (EC) of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) met Nov. 11 in conjunction with the 2013 BSC Annual Meeting in Greensboro.

First on the agenda were committee reports. Phil Addison, chair of the evangelization committee, shared that N.C. Baptists across the state participated in the “My Hope America” outreach through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and saw God at work. Addison and other EC members shared testimonies of how their friends and neighbors joined them in their homes for “My Hope” and as a result, lives were changed through the gospel presentation. Resources are still available.

The evangelization committee, as well as the congregational services committee, is in a time of transition as the BSC moves toward beginning implementation of the new five-year strategy, “Impacting lostness through disciple-making.”

Wanda Dellinger, chair of the Christian social services committee, reported that the annual Thanksgiving Offering for Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina is underway. This year’s goal is $1,475,000 and the offering theme is “Blessed,” based on Mark 10:16. The week of prayer is Nov. 17-24 and free promotional resources are available.

Dellinger also reported that through a partnership with the Office of State Fire Marshal, the North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) makes it possible for churches to receive free, 10-year smoke detectors for installation in the homes of aging adults. Through a grant from the National Fire Protection Association, all NCBAM staff are trained to teach an evidence-based fall and fire prevention workshop to aging adults.

All members of the BSC Board of Directors will have opportunity to participate in a free fall prevention and fire prevention for seniors training session during the January board meeting.

At the request of administration and human resources, the EC approved updates to the Convention employee handbook.
Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions development, reported that the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) is seven percent ahead as compared to the same time last year. This year’s NCMO theme is “Compelled by Christ: Proclaiming release, relief & redemption,” based on Luke 4:18. The goal is $2 million. NCMO helps support the work of N.C. Baptist Men or Baptists on Mission, as well as church planting, mission camps and associational ministry efforts. 

Beverly Volz, director of accounting services, reported that Cooperative Program receipts through Oct. 31 totaled $23,778,639.31, which represents a decrease of 2.3 percent as compared to the same time last year.  

No old or new business was brought before the committee. 

The next scheduled EC meeting is Jan. 28, 2014, at Caraway Conference Center.
11/12/2013 9:19:16 PM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Pastors challenged to remain faithful to the end

November 12 2013 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

The annual North Carolina Baptist Pastors’ Conference, held Nov. 10-11 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro prior to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Annual Meeting, focused on the theme “A Lasting Legacy,” based on 1 Corinthians 1:6.
Speakers included Lee Pigg, pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe; evangelist Junior Hill of Hartselle, Ala.; Ken Trivette, president and director of Native American Missions; David Gallamore, pastor of Rock Springs Baptist Church in Easley, S.C.; Mike Whitson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Indian Trail; Jeff Laborg, east campus pastor of First Baptist Church of Indian Trail; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. 

BSC photo by Buddy Overman
“Ministry is not a cakewalk,” said Lee Pigg to pastors at the annual Pastors’ Conference at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro.

Pigg opened the 80th conference with a message from 1 Timothy 6:11-16. “All of us have a desire to be remembered well, and for leaving a lasting legacy; this passage gives us clear instruction,” he said.
Pigg reminded pastors that the call to minister is a call to remain faithful to Jesus, even when they must make unpopular decisions.
“Ministry is not a cakewalk,” Pigg said. “Jesus told His disciples He was sending them out as sheep among wolves.” 
Although ministry can be difficult, pastors should never lose heart. Rather, Pigg encouraged pastors to rest in the power of their calling.
“If God has called you He will equip you. He is the one who has saved you, and He’s the one who will see you through,” he said.
Above all, Pigg told pastors to finish well while they keep in mind the reason for their service. 
“We are running for the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not running for ourselves,” Pigg said. “Many start off well, but the finish line is really important. We have to run for the finish line until Jesus appears.”
Speaking from Psalm 37:1-4, Hill urged pastors to avoid the temptation to fret over the troubling cultural and spiritual condition of modern society, which often leads to despair and spoils a Christian’s witness to a watching world.
“We are on our way to heaven. We ought to have a testimony that radiates for all to see,” Hill said. “Somebody is watching you. That’s why God’s Word says not to fret.” 
He told pastors to rely on God’s faithfulness and to be content where they serve. Contentment is made easier when pastors find their delight in God.
“You pastors sometimes wish you had a better church,” Hill said. “Learn to be satisfied with what you have. God sustains us by His grace.”
Whitson preached from Ecclesiastes 8:1-8, from which he encouraged pastors to lead their churches according to God’s design and wisdom, rather than relying on worldly wisdom. “You are either pastoring your church as God wants you to lead or as the world says you ought to lead,” he said.
Whitson asked pastors to seek the wisdom of God through regular meditation and reflection upon the Word of God, combined with purposeful rest.
“You get [the wisdom of God] when you stop and get away from the busyness of ministry,” he said. “Get alone with God and His Word and contemplate God’s Word away from the noise of ministry.”
Regular time in God’s Word and away from the stress of ministry is essential for pastors, who are susceptible to losing their joy to serve. “There are many instances in ministry that will steal a pastor’s joy,” Whitson said. “The wisdom of God insures our inward and outward joy.” 
As part of their calling to lead, pastors have a duty to model a joyful spirit to their congregations.
“If anybody needs to have the joy of the Lord on Sunday morning it is the man of God,” Whitson said.
“You will never lead your people beyond where you are yourself.” 
Reavis closed the conference with a sermon from Revelation 1, reminding pastors of their duty to challenge Christians to be fully committed followers of Christ.
“We have a generation of consumers that are shopping for churches, and people are hopping from place to place asking what your church has to offer,” Reavis said. “The early church Christians were committed to Jesus Christ. They put their hands to the plow and never looked back. That’s the kind of Christian we need in the church today.”
Reavis also challenged pastors to remain faithful where God has placed them to serve. He urged pastors to be mindful that their success in ministry will be judged by how faithful they are to God and His Word.
“The success of your ministry has nothing to do with the size of the crowd. It has everything to do with the integrity of your character,” Reavis said. “It has everything to do with your faithfulness to do what God has called you to do where God has called you to do it.”

Michael Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Church in Icard, was elected president of the Pastors’ Conference for 2015. Marty Jacumin, pastor of Bay Leaf Baptist in Raleigh, nominated Pardue.

Joe Smith, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Faith, was elected to serve as vice president of the conference for 2015. Marc Sanders, pastor of Sandy Branch Baptist Church in Bear Creek, nominated Smith.

Dale Robertson, pastor of North Main Baptist Church in Salisbury, was elected for a 22nd consecutive term as secretary-treasurer. Robertson served his first term in 1992 when Charles Page, then pastor of First Baptist in Charlotte, was elected president.

The president for next year’s conference is Josh Phillips, pastor of Cherry Grove Baptist Church in Cerro Gordo. He was elected last year.

All eight sermons from this year’s conference are available for download here.
11/12/2013 8:43:49 PM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Minister’s wife uses experience to encourage others

November 11 2013 by Emily Blake, BR Editorial Aide

The N.C. Baptist Minister’s Wives had its 58th annual meeting Nov. 11 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro. Women from all over North Carolina joined together for breakfast, worship and an encouraging message from Janice Drum of Conway, S.C.

“[Ministry] is what you make of it,” said Drum, whose husband Hampton serves as senior pastor of Langston Baptist Church in Conway.

The fellowship, with the name “The Master’s Hands, My Man’s Heart, gave around 80 pastor’s wives an opportunity to renew their relationships and to encourage one other in the Lord. The time was also used to review business reports, budgets and to announce upcoming officers.
Melissa Baker ministers with her husband John at Green Hill Baptist Church in Rutherfordton, and has been to several of these meetings. She enjoys the time to spend with other women who are in her same situation and who have had many of the same experiences. Pastor’s wives of less than a month were joined together with women who have been pastor’s wives for more than 40 years.

Drum spoke passionately about her 30 years spent in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Her main topic was a wife’s responsibility to support and love her husband as he obeys God’s calling on his life. Drum was adamant that pastor’s wives build up their ministers with respect, a response to his ministry and by seeking after their hearts.
Wives were instructed to ask themselves, “Is your man your minister?” and
“Are you building him up like you should?”
Barbara Watkins from Mount Zion Baptist Church in Bryson City was attending the meeting for her first time. She, like many others, was moved to tears during Drum’s message.
“An excellent speaker,” said Watkins. “She really challenged me to look at my position in a different light. It was such a blessing for me to be here.”
The meeting ended with all the women standing together holding hands in prayer – a fitting symbol of the unity and support meant to be fostered among the wives at the yearly meeting. Afterward they lifted their voices again in worship led by a youth worship team from Hull’s Grove Baptist Church in Vale. Beth and Mikala Qualls, Samuel Redding and Taylor Stamey used the Veteran’s Day holiday to serve as the worship leaders for the group.

The N.C. Baptist Minister’s Wives officers for 2013-2014 are Harriet Lovett as president, Lisa Miller as vice president, Gina Powell as secretary/treasurer; Susan Stamper, publicity. For the 2014 retreat, Becky Blakely is chairwoman and Donna Burnop and Talitha Gwaltney are vice retreat chairwomen. For the 2015 retreat Amy Harmon is chairwoman with Diane Smith and Kim Gates as vice chairwomen. Regional representatives include: Beverly Spears, eastern; Diane Smith, central #1; Amy Harmon, central #2; Julie Pierce, western #1; and Sylvia Murphey, western #2. The group has vacancies for president elect 2015, vice president elect 2015, secretary/treasurer elect 11/2014.
(EDITOR’S NOTE ­– Dianna L. Cagle, BR production editor, contributed to this story.)
11/11/2013 10:06:12 PM by Emily Blake, BR Editorial Aide | with 0 comments

Typhoon relief begins for Philippine islands

November 11 2013 by Caroline Anderson, Baptist Press

CEBU, Philippines -- Southern Baptist relief efforts are underway in various islands of the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the island nation Nov. 8, leaving thousands devastated and cut off from food, water and outside communication.

International Mission Board (IMB) personnel have met to discuss relief plans and will travel into disaster-stricken areas on several islands to assess needs and distribute food and water. Baptists on Mission or North Carolina Baptist Men has a team ready to respond if called upon by the experts in the field.

In the coming days, IMB personnel hope to travel to Tacloban City, the capital of Leyte province and the hardest-hit area. Currently, however, access to the eastern side of Leyte is not possible. IMB representative Stan Smith said Baptist Global Relief teams are ready to bring aid once travel into Tacloban City is possible.

Tacloban City’s airport suffered extensive damage, making access to the region extremely difficult. Roads and bridges are demolished in many areas and cell phone towers have been leveled. Many relief teams have been unable to access Tacloban City. On Nov. 10, CNN reported, roads were cleared enough to allow helicopters access.

The government in the Philippines has confirmed more than 150 deaths so far. The number is expected to be much higher – some sources say the death toll could be as high as 10,000.

On Nov. 10, IMB representative Mark Moses met with key Filipino leaders on the island of Panay and discussed relief plans there.

Food and clean water are urgent needs in many remote areas of Panay.

Moses purchased bags of rice and canned goods using relief funds donated by Southern Baptists. Moses and his team plan to pack the goods into family sized portions. On Monday (Nov. 11), he planned to travel north into the interior of Panay to areas where he has church partnerships. He will distribute the food and do an assessment of further needs.

On Tuesday, Moses will travel east along Panay’s coastline, assessing needs and passing out packets of food.

“Currently, we still have no communications with these areas; electrical lines and communication towers are still down,” Moses said. “Hopefully by tomorrow, some roads will be passable so we can reach them.”

Moses said after assessments are completed, relief funds will be used to help displaced Filipinos rebuild their homes. Funds also will be used to purchase basic medicine.

The Panay province of Antique is priority area for relief aid, Moses said. The center of the typhoon passed through the province and the only road leading into the area most likely is washed out. Moses said it will take him several days to reach the province.

“As I see pictures of the devastation in [the provinces of] Leyte and Samar, specifically Tacloban City, the destruction here [in Panay] is not as desperate as it is along the eastern coast of the Philippines,” Moses said.

“Still, for anyone who has a house that’s been destroyed, it’s serious.”

The destroyed houses Moses has seen in his area are made of lightweight materials like bamboo.

In Iloilo City, a major city in Panay, life is slowly starting to return to normal, but for many in the Philippines normalcy is nowhere in sight.

“In the interior, closer to where the center of the storm passed, families are struggling to recover from one of the worst natural disasters they have ever experienced,” Moses said.

In the Cebu province, downed trees litter the streets of Cebu City and many families are without roofs. Smith said the sun was shining today in Cebu City and people have started the recovery process.

Smith said he prayed for a softening of the impact of the typhoon. In the southern part of Cebu island, that prayer was answered.

“We are so thankful to God’s grace and in softening the impact here,” Smith said.

The damage is more extensive in northern Cebu. Smith said 90 percent of the homes in one of their ministry areas in northern Cebu were destroyed.

The island of Bohol in the Philippines has weathered two disasters, October’s deadly earthquake and now Typhoon Haiyan. Smith spoke Sunday morning with a ministry partner from Bohol about continued plans for rebuilding after the earthquake and how to meet needs from Friday’s typhoon.

In the coming days, “we will just stay tuned to what the Lord wants us to be uniquely doing,” Smith said.

Among prayer requests relayed by IMB workers:
  • for safety as they and Filipino believers travel to disaster areas.
  • for wisdom as they make plans for disaster relief.
  • for opportunities to share their faith.
  • for the thousands who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
Financial gifts to provide food, clean water and building materials for Filipinos can be made through

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Caroline Anderson writes for the International Mission Board Southeast Asia.)
11/11/2013 9:58:09 PM by Caroline Anderson, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Vietnam War chaplains helped soldiers through tumultuous era

November 11 2013 by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press

SUMTER, S.C. – Army chaplain Charlie Clanton had found it difficult to look at the severely burned young soldier at a makeshift medical evacuation station in Vietnam. The soldier’s face had been charred beyond recognition by a Viet Cong grenade launcher attack.

As Clanton, a Southern Baptist chaplain during the Vietnam War, walked to the gurney and bumped it, the young solder opened his eyes.

“Sir, you were right the other night,” the soldier told Clanton.

“Right about what?” Clanton asked, not sure which worship service the young man had attended. Later he realized it had been a service two weeks earlier when he had taught on Psalm 23 in a quickly assembled worship service in the mess hall.

“The other night when you told us about ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’ I was there tonight, sir,” the young man said. “And God kept me going.”

Later that night the young man died on a helicopter en route to the hospital.


Submitted photo
Chaplain Charles Clanton leads a simple worship service near Bien Hoah, South Vietnam, in January 1970. Many Vietnam chaplains had to be prepared to hold worship services at any time and in any place, as soldiers had the time and opportunity to gather. Approximately 300 Southern Baptist chaplains served in the Vietnam War throughout the U.S. military.

“That statement to me, a young minister – ‘What you’re telling me is right; what God said He would do He did; He kept me going that night’ – that really helped me see that my ministry [in the Vietnam War] was worthwhile,” Clanton said.

Clanton would later win a Silver Star for his term in Vietnam for leading troops through hostile territory and back to base camp after an injury to a commanding officer.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Although U.S. involvement there began in the early 1950s, the U.S. first sent ground troops to the Southeast Asian country in 1965 to help the South Vietnamese push back communist aggression. U.S. troops officially left Vietnam in March 1973 after eight years of stateside social unrest over the war.

Clanton was one of an estimated 300 Southern Baptist chaplains in a 10-year period who served in the war. Southern Baptist chaplains played a key role in providing spiritual guidance and support for more than 530,000 American soldiers. The North American Mission Board (NAMB), then called the Home Mission Board, is the endorsing entity for Southern Baptist chaplains in both military and civilian roles.

Chaplain Steve Gantt, who served in Vietnam for a year in the late 1960s, said many soldiers told him they felt safer when the chaplain was around.

“I didn’t necessarily feel like that,” Gantt said with a laugh. “But I did have a chance to tell them that God cares for you – even in this hellish place. That was repeated time and time again.”

Worship services often were held in dangerous places, Gantt said. For Gantt’s safety, his commanding officer would send a vehicle with a 50-caliber machine gun with the chaplain when he left the base.

“I’ll occasionally open up a book and see a place where we held services. If you look carefully you’ll see a guy manning a post-mounted 50-caliber machine gun to keep the enemy off of us as we were taking time out of the middle of the day worshiping,” said Gantt, who was a member of the same ROTC chapter as Clanton at Furman University in the 1950s.

Both Gantt and Clanton gave a similar description of their ministries. Besides leading worship services wherever they found a place, chaplains counseled soldiers, officiated memorial services, visited the wounded and spent time getting to know their makeshift congregations.

Gantt said much of his counseling time was spent helping soldiers deal with the moral objections to the war, a discussion fueled by the growing antiwar movement in the U.S.

“My observation was that the choice usually came down to, ‘Well, I’m in this. That guy that’s on my right and on my left, he’s here and wants to get home and I’m here and want to get home,’” Gantt said. “I’m going to fight for my brother – not just myself. Our safety will largely depend upon how well we do what we do even in the intensity of combat. It’s a proposition that most soldiers shared once they were exposed to combat.”

American social unrest during the period – often centering around the war – made the troops’ return difficult, whether in 1973 or earlier. Clanton said he remembers being told to dress in civilian clothes as he traveled back to the U.S. through San Francisco on his way to a new assignment in 1968.

“I see such an improvement today,” Clanton said. “You see stories every day about troops coming home. You turn on CNN Headline News, and they do a salute to a soldier overseas. They do that during the morning news still. Now when we welcome troops home, we welcome them home well. I think our country learned a great lesson from Vietnam.”

Clanton said he has been “welcomed home” numerous times in the last few years along with Iraq veterans. Often, he said, churches and other organizations will add Vietnam veterans to their welcome because they know many weren’t treated well upon their return four decades earlier.

The improvement in the treatment of returning veterans has been seen throughout Southern Baptist life as well, Gantt said.

“Quite frankly, I think our denomination has done a much better job of bringing the needs of our troops overall and the ministry of our chaplains in particular in front of our churches,” he said.

Chaplains Clanton and Gantt continued their ministry on active duty with the Army until retirement in the early 1990s. Clanton now serves as pastor to senior adults at First Baptist Church in Sumter, S.C. Gantt serves as the transitional pastor of Sandy Level Baptist Church in Blythewood, S.C.

NAMB serves as the endorsing entity for Southern Baptist chaplains in the military. Southern Baptists have 1,355 endorsed military chaplains and a total of 3,547 endorsed chaplains, including those who serve in hospitals, prisons and other settings.

To view a video about NAMB chaplains, visit To learn more about how a church can support veterans, click here.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.)
11/11/2013 9:48:37 PM by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Billy Graham’s birthday all about ‘The Cross’

November 8 2013 by Trevor Freeze, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

A 95th birthday party sounded nice.

But when Billy Graham was asked about plans for such a landmark celebration, the world-renowned evangelist raised an eyebrow to his close friend and pastor.

“Would anyone want to come to my party?” Don Wilton shared Mr. Graham’s concern Thursday night. “And he said this from the bottom of his heart.”

“He’s afraid people have forgotten who he is,” Franklin Graham said.

Clearly, that was not the case on Thursday (Nov. 7) at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. More than 800 honored Graham’s 95 years of life, including Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch, with dozens of media members clamoring for just one more glimpse of the “Pastor to the Presidents.”

BGEA photo
Maj. Edward Graham steers his grandfather Billy Graham to his seat at the 95-year-old’s birthday celebration in Asheville. Franklin Graham, right, introduced his father who received a standing ovation from the more than 800 guests.

And on a day where all eyes were on his 95th birthday and his new message was airing in primetime on FOX News, Mr. Graham wanted his celebration focused on one thing: “The Cross.”

“He’s the most humble man you’ll ever know,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said. "He knows it’s not about him. It’s about the cross.”

The evening began with a showing of “The Cross,” a 30-minute My Hope America short film, featuring a gospel message that Mr. Graham has passionately wanted to preach for the past three years, along with life-changing stories from musicians Lecrae and Lacey Sturm.

Franklin Graham became the night’s “Matthew” host, giving a short testimony about how he waited 22 years before realizing he “was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” and extended the same invitation to accept Christ.

The evening program wrapped up with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin sharing about her mother making a decision to follow Jesus through a televised Billy Graham Crusade, which impacted her entire family for Christ.

“Billy Graham has been able to articulate this message more than anyone else,” Palin said. “He reminds us that Jesus is the only answer.”

FOX News host Greta Van Susteren finished off the night by leading a cupcake-and-candle-infused “Happy Birthday” group singing, bringing up Michael W. Smith, Lecrae, Lacey Sturm, Kathie Lee Gifford and Ricky Skaggs for musical harmony. She offered a personal gift to Mr. Graham “by not singing” herself.

Mr. Graham then addressed the crowd twice at the end of the program. First, to thank his ministry partner and dear friend, Cliff Barrows, “for all that you have meant to me through all these years.” The second, to recognize his grandson, Edward Graham, an Army Major. “We’re so proud of you,” he said.

Will Graham, vice president of BGEA, is proud of his grandfather, whose ministry is still active, long past the normal retirement age.

“He realizes the calling that God gave him is for his whole life,” Will Graham said. “It’s not just for 60 years.”

Very few know this better than Cliff Barrows, 90, who has been a ministry partner with Mr. Graham for more than 60 years, and took one more opportunity to thank his dear friend.

“I thank God for every remembrance of you,” said Mr. Barrows, his voice crackling. “And I praise God for the journey we’ve had ... With all my heart.”
Click here for local and national TV listings of “The Cross.”
11/8/2013 2:36:55 PM by Trevor Freeze, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association | with 0 comments

Southeastern seminary changes music degrees

November 8 2013 by SEBTS Communications

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) is dedicated to its commitment to a biblically sound worship ministry. In an effort to continue to best serve the 21st century church, SEBTS is adding some Bible and theology-based worship degrees and phasing out certain music-based degrees.

Earlier this fall, the SEBTS Board of Trustees voted to approve new Theology and Worship programs in the college and in the seminary. Starting in the spring of 2014, SEBTS and The College at Southeastern (CASE) will begin implementing these new programs into the curriculum.

SEBTS photo
Students pursuing a music degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary or The College at Southeastern may have to rethink their program come 2014. A decision to phase out the Master of Church Music and the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with a major in music has left some students wondering about their future plans.

Pending approval from the Board of Trustees during the spring 2014 meeting, SEBTS and CASE will keep the music minor for students interested in this education. However, due to financial losses in this area, the school will begin phasing out the Master of Church Music and the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) with a major in music beginning in the fall of 2014.
“We are committed to helping all students finish the degree programs that they have already started,” said Bruce Ashford, provost of Southeastern.
“We are also confident that this change will not hinder any students who want to complete their degree from doing so. We are currently developing a teach-out plan that will allow students to finish the degrees they have started.”
As a part of this emphasis, SEBTS is also excited to announce the upcoming opportunity for students to earn a Ph.D. in Theology and Worship. The focus of the degree program will be to train worship pastors in theology of worship. 
A Ph.D. in Theology and Worship will be offered to serve music ministers and worship leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention. This Ph.D. track will complement a worship leader’s already-existing musical proficiency by providing them an opportunity to deepen and extend their understanding of personal and corporate worship.
Rather than being a music-based degree, it integrates multiple theological and ministerial disciplines such as Bible, theology, pastoral ministry and worship. This will prepare students for future roles in local church worship leadership, academic research, scholarship and higher educational classroom instruction.
Students will study the history of worship in the Christian church. They will learn to build a biblical theology of personal worship and of corporate local church worship. They will wrestle with questions of cultural context and learn to craft worship services that are appropriate for particular local church contexts.
Students will study under a total of nine professors in this degree track.
“We are excited about the new programs and direction they take us for training students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission,” Ashford said.
11/8/2013 2:25:59 PM by SEBTS Communications | with 0 comments

Housing missionaries stirs ‘exciting journey'

November 8 2013 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

North Carolina Baptists are helping add to the list of housing options for missionaries when they are on stateside assignment.
“It’s been a thrilling experience,” said Jimmy Johnson, pastor of Concord Baptist Church in Rose Hill. He has been leading the way for finishing a missionary house in Eastern Baptist Association (EBA).

While the years of recruiting volunteers as well as supplies has been stressful, Johnson said he’s taken “great pleasure” in the last 18 months leading up to the dedication Sept. 15 in Wallace. He knows the house will be a blessing to a missionary family.
“The Lord just popped things in so fast,” he said, referring to all those details near the completion of the house. “You know He can do it but when it’s happening … it’s scary.”
Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) in Birmingham, Ala., keeps a master list of short- and long-term housing available to missionaries. Recently they’ve seen a trend with churches adding the parsonage to the list. More pastors want to find their own home.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
The living room of the Eastern Baptist Association missionary house was used during the September dedication service as a place to visit and watch a slideshow of the progress of the house renovations that took about five years.

Around 530 homes are on the long-term housing list. North Carolina is the second largest contributor with 58 homes. Texas has 97 houses. On the short-term housing list, there are four states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas – that offer 10 homes each. Short-term housing refers to houses that are available maybe a weekend or a week or two, whereas long-term housing is available for six months or longer. Housing availability varies depending on the area, but some might charge a little rent while others charge only for utilities. Each option is different.
The EBA is in the process of submitting the paperwork to add its missionary house to the list. Dan and Faye Sellers bought the Wallace property next to their house about five years ago. The house had several tenants over the years but owners had not made needed repairs.
“I was going to tear the house down and clean up the place,” said Dan Sellers, pastor of Magnolia Baptist Church in Magnolia. But God had different plans. Sellers had been part of talks within EBA about having a missionary house. The association rented a house for a N.C. couple on stateside assignment from the International Mission Board. That experience planted a seed for the idea of having a house they could use to host missionaries.
Sellers oversaw the initial three years of renovation. Volunteers have given time, talent and supplies to help with the renovations, which involved gutting the house. Coordinating flood recovery efforts in the area prepared Sellers for this renovation, he said.
“It’s been quite an exciting journey,” Sellers said. “We’re real happy with what we’ve got.”
Paul Langston, EBA director of missions, praises Jimmy Johnson and Dan and Faye Sellers for their efforts with the missionary house. “[Jimmy] knows people far better than I ever will,” Langston said. “He can get a lot more done than I ever could.”
Johnson said that while it’s taken longer than anticipated to finish the project, he has been blessed to see the number of people involved in making it happen.
“We’re getting excited about putting it to work,” Johnson said.

A place to call home

“To me [there] couldn’t have been a better use,” said Kitty Judge Vaughan, who spent her childhood in the house. Her father built it during World War II. Vaughan says she remembers moving there when she was 3 years old.
“I’m overwhelmed that it has been restored,” she said. “Momma and Daddy would be very pleased.”

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Eastern Baptist Association hosted a house dedication in September to recognize the availability of the building above for missionaries on stateside assignment.

Vaughan said she has made a habit of driving by the old house when she comes to Wallace to visit the cemetery. She is thankful the Sellers bought the place and that the association will be allowing someone special, aka missionaries, to use the house.
“It was definitely in shambles when they took it over,” she said. “I’m tickled to death that it looks like a home.”
Vaughan said she believes her parents and sister are smiling from heaven at the restored house and the possibility of using the house for missionaries.
“I really appreciate all the labor and all that went into it,” she said. “This house was built with love. It holds a lot of memories.”

Mission opportunity

More than 80 people attended the dedication service Sept. 15 and toured the home.
“This is a great day and a great opportunity for this association,” said Lynn Sasser, executive leader of congregational services for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

“What you have before you is a concrete example of what it means to be on mission.”
A missionary who was at the dedication service said having a place like the EBA missionary house will allow a missionary to rest spiritually and physically.

Another house

While EBA has completed its missionary house, it is not the only house available in its association. Another house is available through Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Clinton. The church added its parsonage to the WMU list in July.
Bonnie Calcutt, wife of the church’s pastor, W.H. Calcutt, has been working with her fellow church members to get the house ready.
When her husband began pastoring Hickory Grove the couple already lived five miles from the church so the parsonage was not being used.
“The deacons met and decided that our parsonage needed to be used for something important,” Calcutt said.
She said the house has been fully renovated, including new plumbing, wiring and flooring.
“It’s ready and available,” she said. “We will just be thrilled when we get a real live missionary.”
Calcutt and others have been busy picking out furniture and supplies for the house as well as preparing a welcome kit to help missionaries learn where things are when they arrive.
She said WMU helped the church understand what was needed and guided them through the application process.
Calcutt’s involvement with the associational missionary house helped inspire her to be part of making a missionary home at her church.
“I wanted it to look like you would say, ‘I want to sit down and stay awhile,’” she said. “It’s been a joy more than you can know preparing for it.”
For more information about providing a missionary house, contact WMU at (205) 991-8100 or
11/8/2013 12:58:01 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 0 comments

LifeWay apologizes for decade-old VBS curriculum

November 8 2013 by Bob Smietana, Baptist Press

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Ten years ago LifeWay Christian Resources published a Vacation Bible School (VBS) curriculum they believed would introduce kids to Jesus using an Asian culture theme. But “Far Out Rickshaw Rally – Racing Towards the Son” became a lesson in cross-cultural miscommunication. Critics of the material said it promoted racial stereotypes.

On Nov. 6, LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer apologized for Rickshaw Rally at the Mosaix conference, a gathering of about 1,000 multiethnic church leaders in Long Beach, Calif.

“Ten years ago LifeWay’s Vacation Bible School material used racial stereotypes that offended many in the Asian American community. I wasn’t part of LifeWay then, but I am now. And I’ve recently learned that decade-old offense is still a point of hurt for some,” Rainer said in a video apology played at the conference.

“As president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, I want to apologize. I am sincerely sorry stereotypes were used in our materials, and I apologize for the pain they caused.”

Several Asian-American leaders responded to the apology including Paul Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass.

“I want Dr. Rainer to know I accept his apology with deep gratitude on behalf of our Asian community and desire we move forward for the Kingdom’s service together,” Kim said. Kim and a group of Asian-American pastors will meet with LifeWay’s leadership in early 2014 to continue the conversation and discuss next steps.

Asian leaders who attended the conference included Ray Chang, pastor of Ambassador Church in Brea, Calif., who also is the Asian-American coordinator for the Evangelical Free Church. Chang agreed that “LifeWay’s apology was a step toward healing.”

The apology surprised Robyn Afrik, a speaker, consultant and coordinator for local missional engagement for the Reformed Church in America.

“Hearing the apology did something deep in my soul,” Afrik said. The apology opened the door to rebuilding trust and relationship with LifeWay, she said. “They admitted their shortcoming. You can’t reconcile what you don’t recognize.”

Soong-Chan Rah, a professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, told conference attendees the apology allows wounds caused by the VBS stereotypes to start healing.

“I am so thankful for LifeWay, in their words this morning, in a public setting, to say ‘we were wrong,’“ Rah said. “I am so thankful because now the healing can begin and the reconciliation we have not been able to have can begin.”

Several recent incidents have brought the issue of racial stereotypes of Asian-Americans in evangelical churches to the forefront.

An open letter from Asian-American church leaders at called for an end to those stereotypes. Rainer echoed that call in his apology.

“... I agree evangelical church and ministry leaders – particularly those of us who are white – need to commit to assuring, as best we can, these offenses stop,” Rainer said.

LifeWay also pledged to continue to train staff members in being culturally sensitive so that the publisher’s resources treat all people with respect.

“Finally,” Rainer said, “I will lead our executive leadership staff to engage in dialog and conversation with ethnic leaders that we might go forth together to strengthen believers and reach people in North America and around the world.”

DJ Chuang, a blogger who writes about multiethnic issues in the church, said he believes the apology could help restore some relationships with Asian-Americans after the Rickshaw controversy.

“It’s a very significant thing to have this sincere apology as well as a commitment to be sensitive to diversity in America and in the world,” Chuang said.

Ed Stetzer, vice president of LifeWay’s insights division, introduced the apology during his presentation at the Mosaix conference. Stetzer’s presentation focused on cross-cultural communication, which he said can often go awry.

“When that happens, the best thing to do is say you are sorry,” Stetzer said. “Apologize quickly. Trust Jesus.”

Stetzer said LifeWay is trying to live out that ideal in its apology. He was thankful for the gracious response the apology has received.

“I’m thankful Dr. Rainer wanted to share this apology. I’m also thankful it includes actions and next steps. We’re still learning.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. See video.)
The text of LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer’s apology follows:

LifeWay Apology
Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO
Nov. 6, 2013

Ten years ago LifeWay’s Vacation Bible School material used racial stereotypes that offended many in the Asian American community. I wasn’t part of LifeWay then, but I am now. And I’ve recently learned that decade-old offense is still a point of hurt for some.

As president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, I want to apologize. I am sincerely sorry stereotypes were used in our materials, and I apologize for the pain they caused.

I agree with those who have helped us understand the offensive nature of that material. And I agree evangelical church and ministry leaders – particularly those of us who are white – need to commit to assuring, as best we can, these offenses stop.

Although I believe LifeWay has made progress in this area over the years, I want to make that commitment today for LifeWay Christian Resources.

LifeWay will continue to train our staff to be aware of and sensitive to ethnic and cultural differences so that our materials continue to respectfully represent all people groups.

Finally, I will lead our executive leadership staff to engage in dialog and conversation with ethnic leaders that we might go forth together to strengthen believers and reach people in North America and around the world.
11/8/2013 12:39:10 PM by Bob Smietana, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘Church Rescue’ propels unlikely N.C. reality TV stars

November 8 2013 by Katherine Burgess, Religion News Service

They’ve rescued bars and restaurants and shabby houses, but this month reality television stars are set to rescue something new.
Church Rescue” will debut Monday (Nov. 11) on the National Geographic Channel, featuring the most unlikely of reality TV stars: church consultants.

The series will feature three “Church Hoppers”: Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas, a business analyst; Anthony “Gladamere” Lockhart, a marketing specialist; and Jerry “Doc” Bentley, a spiritual counselor.
“The Church Hoppers exist to build balance in church through systems, business and marketing,” said Lockhart, who like his fellow rescuers comes out of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Systems being people in the right places motivated to be as efficient as they can be for the work of the ministry; business being all of the ministry resources channeled in all the right directions, making sure everything is conducted with integrity; marketing is going out into the community.”
T Group Productions, courtesy National Geographic Channel
Jerry “Doc” Bentley, Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas, Anthony “Gladamere” Lockhart, Pastor Greg Spurling and Dakota Spurling celebrating at the Freedom Biker Church in Conover, N.C.
The trio travel across the United States to assist failing churches, using “the wisdom of scripture and a little Southern ingenuity” along with some red-faced shouting at obstinate pastors.
So far, six episodes are planned, although the Church Hoppers said they hope to film additional shows. Their targets include a Full Gospel church, a biker church, a cowboy church and even a synagogue.
In the first episode, “Country Salvation,” the Church Hoppers visit a four-hour-long service at a “Bapticostal” church in North Carolina that meets in a sweltering sanctuary with no air conditioning.
They have seven days to fix the decrepit building and to persuade Pastor Larry Roseboro to work with the church he has instead of dreaming of a new sanctuary.
“If I have to spend money on this old building, you might as well forget it!” Roseboro tells them. “First, I’m in charge here. Me and God. What are you going to do about it if I say no?”
The Church Hoppers quote scripture as they try to reconcile the pastor to both his current sanctuary and an estranged deacon.
The three ministers had run their North Carolina-based church consulting company for nearly three years when they pitched the idea to a production company. The show was a natural fit to air on the National Geographic Channel because it showcased an array of church cultures, Annas said.
The Church Hoppers said they believe the show will make a difference for good.
“One of the things we expressed to the producer and was ultimately carried through to National Geographic was that we cannot risk our reputation as Christian consultants for a television show,” Annas said. “We feel like God gave us the platform of ‘Church Rescue’ on the National Geographic Channel to let churches all over the planet know there is a consulting company that cares about … helping them to do best whatever the community needs.”
The Church Hoppers also said they hope the show will encourage the “unchurched” to seek out a spiritual home.
“Every time we would walk into any ministry, any church, we always saw something that’s been in every church, and that was God,” Bentley said. “Whatever was going on in those churches, we went in to embrace it.”
11/8/2013 12:23:25 PM by Katherine Burgess, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

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