November 2013

Sanders and McGill Respond to the Biblical Recorder

November 5 2013 by BR staff

Next week at the annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, officers will be elected to serve us for the next year. Two men are expected to be nominated for the office of president: Bobby Blanton, pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, and C.J. Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, have announced their candidacy. The Biblical Recorder produced a video with these two candidates’ responses to questions related to their leadership. The video is posted on for your viewing.

The office of first vice-president is uncontested at this time. Timmy Blair, pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Angier is the lone candidate. He is currently serving as the convention’s second vice president.

Two men have also announced their intentions to be nominated for the office of second vice president. Marc Sanders, pastor of Sandy Branch Baptist Church in Bear Creek, and Cameron McGill, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dublin, are seeking the office. We asked these men to answer three questions in order to give N.C. Baptists a better introduction into their lives and ministries.

Please take a few minutes to learn about each candidate as you prepare to cast your vote next Tuesday, November 12 in Greensboro.

Marc Sanders

  1. Do you believe in the vision of the Baptist State Convention of N.C.?
Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with the stated vision of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) to become the greatest force in the history of our convention to reach people with the life-saving gospel of the Lord Jesus. I am excited about the potential of our new strategy to impact lostness across North Carolina.

However, I am concerned about the implementation of this new strategy in some very important areas. First, I fear that church planting will overshadow the even more pressing need of church revitalization. Our churches are dying at rates many are frightened to admit. Thom Rainer stated last year that he would not be surprised if 8,000 to 10,000 churches closed in America this year alone. Where can we find the continuing support to plant new churches if our existing churches are actively dying in overwhelming numbers? Hence, the great need for serious church revitalization.

Now, my concern should not be seen as opposition to church planting, Sandy Branch is very active in church planting, particularly among the Montagnard community in North Carolina. I realize that much like the federal debt, eventually things are going to catch up to us if we do not take corrective actions immediately.

Secondly, I believe that it is essential to the success of reaching these eight areas of increased lostness that the creation and expansion of compassion ministries as stressed by Jesus in Matthew 25 as well as in James 2 are emphasized. Unfortunately, I have yet to see such an emphasis presented in the strategy.

North Carolina’s increased urban populations are placing heavy strains on government to meet basic needs, especially within the immigrant community. Who better to fill this vacuum and share the visible manifestation of God’s love than the church? Such ministries would promote the work of ethnic church plants, which is where the majority of our church planting should be focused while emphasizing discipleship through service in existing churches.

Additionally, these ministries would allow younger Christians – which studies suggest are most concerned with being Christ to the world than simply pew sitting – a place to serve as well as being an attractive starting point in reaching others in the Millennial generation.
  1. How can you help N.C. Baptists as second vice president?
I believe I can help strengthen our convention by being a voice first for those issues I raised in question one, as stronger churches make for a stronger convention.

Secondly, so many pastors I talk to sense a growing separation within the convention between large and small congregations with the smaller congregations being left behind. I serve a small church and know full well the joys and trials of serving in such an environment. I want to be a voice for those smaller churches across our state that love the Lord and simply want to be enabled to do greater Kingdom service. I fear the needs and concerns of the small church are getting lost in too much of our convention work.

Also, I want to be a champion of the Cooperative Program (CP). I am proud to serve a church that sends 12% of our undesignated gifts to the CP and have honestly grown weary of the fact that so many of our leaders do not lead the way in CP giving. It is a travesty that across North Carolina we have small churches that consistently give more to CP than their larger counterparts.

Now, I certainly understand that many churches are doing wonderful ministry with the funds that they could be sending to CP and I applaud their efforts. However, if CP is to remain the primary vehicle by which we fund Southern Baptist missions and ministries then we should either expect our leaders to fully do their part or scrap the whole program.

Let us not be ignorant of the fact that increased CP giving means more foreign missionaries, more church plants, stronger seminaries and most importantly, the potential to reach even more with the awesome gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I desperately want to see God’s Kingdom expanded and I believe a stronger convention enables stronger churches and that’s why I am running.
  1. How is your church involved in BSC/SBC and other kingdom work?
Sandy Branch is very active in Baptist life. We are blessed to contribute 22% of our budget to missions including 12% to the Cooperative Program and 6% to the Sandy Creek Baptist Association. We participate in the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings.

Our 5/52 Campaign has generated over $20,000 to church planting over the last three years. We are active supporters of church planting in the Montagnard community in North Carolina. North Carolina’s Montagnard population is second only to their native Vietnam.

We also work with a church plant in Euclid, Ohio through NAMB’s SEND Cleveland initiative. Our Kentucky Hope Box project is coordinated through NAMB’s Appalachian Regional Ministry and next year will expand to seven schools and gospel presentations to over 2,200 elementary and middle school students.

Our HOPE (Help Out Public Education) Project feeds 47 hungry elementary school children each weekend, provides supplies to teachers and students both locally and in Kentucky, created a prom dress ministry in poverty stricken Coeburn, Virginia, and has opened multiple doors to share the gospel to the next generation. We have recently begun ministries to assist in curable disease eradication and increased education initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa as well ending human trafficking in North Carolina. We are a small church with a big heart and vision for winning the world for Jesus.

Cameron L. McGill

  1. Do you believe in the vision of the Baptist State Convention of N.C.?
I love the work of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) and am excited about the direction we are heading. The emphasis on Great Commission partnerships and Milton Hollifield’s strategy for impacting lostness in N.C. are sending out the message across the state, the nation and the world that North Carolina Baptists are serious about passionately pursuing the core biblical principles for evangelism and discipleship. The benefits of these new strategies are sure to be far reaching and will impact our generation with the gospel of Christ.

I believe in, and desire to come along side of Brother Milton that, “By God’s grace, we will become the strongest force in the history of this Convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I am also very involved in the work of the Bladen Baptist Association. Led by our director of missions, Rev. Bruce Cannon, our association is setting the standard, I believe, for impacting our local community through hands on ministry and evangelism. I see the work of the local association as not only vital, but paramount in the days ahead. I believe associations must become the link connecting pastors, churches and the work of the BSC as a whole. Fulfilling Brother Milton’s vision will take cooperation between the local church, association and the state convention.

I would never have imagined 20 years ago when I attended my first annual meeting that one day I would be so involved in the work of the convention. I am so thankful for the godly leadership he has assembled for such a time as this – leaders who affirm the inerrancy of scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit to accomplish all we could ask for or even imagined! What we have witnessed in the past two decades is nothing short of a revival, both within our state convention and the Biblical Recorder as well.

My favorite catch phrase over the past few years concerning the work of the BSC has been and will continue to be: “The best days of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina are still ahead.”

       2.  How can you help N.C. Baptists as second vice president?

After much prayer and discernment, I made the decision to allow my name to be placed in nomination for second vice president of the BSC. At age 39, I consider myself to be a “next generation pastor” with a heart for traditional pastoral ministry and a vision to reach the world with the gospel of Christ using contemporary methodology. I believe this is at the very heart of our convention leadership as well.

When I was elected to the Board of Directors of the BSC six years ago, little did I know what a transforming experience it would be. At each meeting, my eyes were opened to and my heart touched by the work of the many agencies, institutions and departments of the convention. I realized that never before were there so many opportunities for churches to “plug into” areas of missions and ministry as there are today. Now, I want every pastor and church to get more involved in the BSC.

I have come to understand that “the more we know, the more we go.” The more involved I have become in the BSC, the more kingdom work my church has been a part of. Our church is more involved than ever before in the BSC and I believe this is due to my time spent serving our convention in the various capacities where God has allowed me to serve (Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Christian Social Services Committee, NCBAM, NC Baptist Children’s Homes, etc.).

I believe that serving as an officer of the convention would afford me the opportunity to share the work of our convention with pastors and churches of all shapes and sizes and encourage them to get personally involved. We are a rural church in a town of 250 residents. However, we are involved in kingdom work on a very large scale. I want to encourage pastors to look beyond their (perceived) limitations and realize that these are days of boundless opportunities for all North Carolina Baptists to fulfill the Great Commission as we do missions “here, there and everywhere.”

I would count it a great honor to serve as an ambassador taking the message of the BSC across the state. I believe that more churches will get involved if they are made aware of all of the possibilities available to them through the BSC.

Ultimately, my decision to run for second vice president was one based on my deep love for the Lord and for the BSC, as well as my faith that God has a great plan for N.C. Baptists. I want to be a part of the kingdom work that is ahead for the BSC.
       3.   How is your church involved in the BSC/SBC and other kingdom work?

It has been my privilege to pastor the First Baptist Church of Dublin for the past 13 years. In our time here, we have seen the Lord lead us to embrace a vision for ministry and missions – “here, there, and everywhere” (Acts 1:8). We are involved in local missions through “Operation 19K” reaching the 19,000 un-churched citizens of Bladen County with the gospel of Christ. We are also participating in missions throughout N.C., America and internationally. Our challenge for 2013 at Dublin First Baptist was for each member to take part in a mission "experience" across town, across the state, across the nation or across the world. Our people accepted this challenge and have truly become a people on mission for the Lord in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.

Thanks to the informative work of the office of Great Commission Partnerships – under the leadership of Chuck Register and Mike Sowers – Dublin First Baptist adopted two churches in the past two years – one in Queens, N.Y. and the other in Vadul Lui Isac, Moldova. These partnerships have changed my life, my family and our church in ways that can only be described by saying “Ephesians 3:20.” God has done so much more, abundantly more than anything we could have ever imagined.

God has blessed Dublin FBC with 468 additions in the past 13 years. In a town of only 250 residents, this has been a true miracle of God. We have taken many bold steps of faith in our tenure here to begin new ministries to reach our community, the latest of which will be the launching of a second campus 15 miles away in White Lake, N.C. next Easter.

I see myself as a conservative pastor with a passion to reach the lost and teach the saved. I believe it's not enough to just believe in the inerrancy of the Word, but we must live out what we believe if we're going to radically impact this world for Christ.

I believe that the Cooperative Program is the single most effective plan of giving and support the work of the Southern Baptist Convention in every way. In my tenure as the pastor of Dublin First Baptist, we have increased our missions giving by over 400%. In addition, we financially support our partner churches in New York and Moldova. Dublin First Baptist participates in the annual offerings of our convention (Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, North Carolina Missions Offering [NCMO], & N.C. Baptist Children’s Homes). We also fund numerous mission trips throughout the year as we want our people not only to be a “giving church,” but a “going church” as well.
11/5/2013 6:00:53 PM by BR staff | with 5 comments

Creation Museum exhibits Bible truth

November 5 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

If you are interested in seeing real bones from one of the oldest dinosaurs on earth, looking at extensive mineral or insect collections, or listening to an animatronic Methuselah or Noah talk about God’s judgment in the flood, then the Creation Museum would get your attention.
The Petersburg, Ky., museum has seen almost two million visitors come through its doors in the six years since it opened. Only around 600 visitors are in the sprawling facility on a slow day, but up to 4,000 people will be on the grounds on a busy summer day or during the Christmas season.
Founded by Ken Ham and Mark Looy, the popular Creation Museum is part of the growing Answers in Genesis (AIG) ministry. Ham now serves as president and CEO, while Looy is Chief Communications Officer.

Ham is the visionary behind the project. Looy explained Ham’s background. “He began as a teacher in Australia who noticed the large number of young people leaving the faith because the Bible was under attack – usually the book of Genesis.” His class instruction included taking his students to science museums where evolution was presented as fact. Ham was not pleased with the unbalanced views of evolutionists.

Creation Museum photo
Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis (AIG) ministry, poses with a dinosaur at the Creation Museum, one of AIG’s ministries.

“That’s what really grieved him – to see young people leaving the church. Eventually Ken co-authored a book called Already Gone, on why so many young people were leaving the church,” Looy said.
“If you get to know Ken’s heart, one of the reasons he’s in ministry is because of young people who have been ‘evolutionized.’ That’s why this museum is so child-friendly. It’s from Ken’s background as a public school science teacher.”
Throughout the museum animatronic dinosaurs and life-like, animatronic humans are operating around you, emitting sounds and talking to you. Every age level connects with the impressive, Disney-like animations, biblical presentations and scientific information on display.
There is a video-driven planetarium where you lean back in reclining chairs and look at the ceiling. State-of-the-art, digital images of the universe are impressively projected on a domed ceiling. Four high-tech, digital planetarium programs are shown, including the signature program, “Created Cosmos” and another on comets.
Ham calls the facilities “first class and professional. Our attitude is, why should the secularists always do things in a first class way and not the Christians? Christians should do everything in a first class way.” His goal is noticeably accomplished as visitors walk in fascination through the museum.
Looy added, “Even our detractors say that our artistic team hit a home run on this. This is not a stodgy or stuffy museum. ... The evolutionists who don’t care for us, even they will say this is the slickest museum they have ever seen.”
The museum covers 75,000 square feet. It takes about 8 hours to see everything.
Ham said, “Last year after listening to our supporters, we changed the tickets. They said, ‘We can’t see it all in one day. I want to come back here a second day.’” Now every ticket is good for two days.
“Christians more and more are realizing that a lot of the secular places you go to are blatantly evolutionary and blatantly pagan in what they do. Here, we want to have a high quality Christian facility for people,” Ham said.
AIG conducts about 200 seminars and workshops in a 220-seat auditorium, along with unique programs in the special effects theater.
The building also houses the AIG offices for about 300 staff, radio and television studios, an observatory and a restaurant. On the 49-acre property guests enjoy a rain forest, petting zoo, koi ponds, waterfalls, camel rides and even ziplines.
Ham was excited to talk about the ziplines. A company that supports their ministry is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest ziplines.
“They came here and said, ‘we want to help you attract a broader range of people and continue to increase this as a Christian facility,’” he explained. They installed 27 ziplines, including two that Ham described as, “super-mega ziplines that are 1,800 feet long.” There are 12 skybridges and a kids’ zipline, also.
“Actually it is the biggest and best zipline in the Midwest,” he said, “and there’s nothing else like it close to here, so it’s just absolutely incredible. We’re now seeing a broader range of people coming [to the museum].”
New material is regularly added to the museum.
“We were just donated an Allosaurus skeleton,” Ham said. “It’s like a T-rex, (Tyrannosaurus rex) but smaller. It is one of the best preserved skulls ever found.” The large predatory dinosaur gives evidence of the Old Testament global flood. The fossil is believed to be one of the four best-preserved Allosaurus skulls ever discovered. It was unearthed in South Dakota and donated by a Christian foundation.
Affectionately called Ebenezer, the dinosaur probably stood 10-feet high and 30-feet long. Its teeth averaged over four inches in length. Fifty-three of those teeth are still in place in the fossil.
Ham hopes skeptics will come to the museum and see the witness of truth through quality presentations and factual information. The facility is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
The plan is to take each visitor through the seven “C’s” of history: Creation, Corruption (the fall of Adam and Eve), Catastrophe (the flood of Noah’s time), Confusion (the tower of Babel), Christ, the Cross, and Consummation (end times).
“As you enter the museum, you are going to take a walk through history according to the Bible – Genesis to Revelation,” Looy said.
“Most of what you see is from the book of Genesis, because that is where the Bible is most under attack. But there is a section on the New Testament, including a film on the life of Christ. What we are doing here is overcoming censorship.
“Some of the initial rooms make you think. What do you really know about the Bible? How do you know if it was translated correctly? What do you really know about creation and evolution? This gets people to thinking about those things, then they start their walk through history.” Looy said the bottom line for everyone is, “Man’s word or God’s Word?  What is our authority?”
A tour of the museum demonstrates that, “Creationists and evolutionists have the same evidence. We have the same dinosaur bones. It has everything to do with interpretation,” according to Looy.
“Bones don’t speak for themselves. These bones don’t tell you how old they are. You have to interpret the evidence according to your worldview. So, creationists and evolutions rarely disagree over facts – it’s how they are presented in the worldview that makes all the difference.”
The staff includes master craftsmen, horticulturalists, a PhD biologist, a PhD geologist, and a PhD astronomer. Ham points out that “all are Bible-believing Christians. Every one of them signs a statement of faith [including] six literal days, a young earth ... We have about 300 staff – some of the most talented people you will ever find.”
AIG has another ambitious project on the table. A theme park will be built around a full reproduction of Noah’s ark on 800 acres off Interstate 75. Ark Encounter will be built in 4 phases, the first scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.

“The park will show the evil world before the flood and Noah preaching to the people,” Ham said. “It will include live animals that will go up a ramp into the ark several times a day.” The Towel of Babel will be built in the park in a future phase.
The designer and master planner of the park is Patrick Marsh, who worked for Universal Studios and helped in the design of theme parks around the world, according to Looy.
“He knows how to create things that are attractive. He is a creative genius and has some wonderful, talented people working with him.”
Almost every media outlet in the world has come to the museum. “Even Al Jazeera has been here twice,” Looy said. A CNN reporter once asked Ham what the museum is all about. He said, “We are here to tell that the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation, and the gospel is also true.” 
The startled CNN reporter said, “You admit it? You admit that you are here to proclaim biblical truths?” When Ham said, “Yes,” the reporter replied, “That’s refreshing, because we talk to so many ministry leaders who don’t honestly say what they are all about.”
“The secular media often ask how we get the kind of [staff] we have and I say, ‘God brought the animals to Noah and He brought these people to us,’” Ham said.
11/5/2013 3:16:44 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 3 comments

Ross retires after decades of service to N.C. Baptists

November 5 2013 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

Effective Dec. 31, 2013, Johnny Ross will retire after 14 years as the GuideStone representative of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).

Ross has served Baptist leaders, employees and laity with their retirement, insurance plans, taxes and compensation planning.
GuideStone Financial Resources provides consultation to more than 4,000 churches affiliated with the BSC to offer wise counsel undergirded and empowered by spiritual insight.
“I’ve spent the past 14 years of my life emphasizing the importance of providing adequately for God-called servants,” Ross said. “Without question, I will miss the many meaningful relationships in the Baptist family, which have been very enriching to my family through the years.”
Even though Ross served more than a decade as the state representative, he was an adult consultant for the BSC Bible Reaching Team from 1979-1999, a tally of 34 years serving N.C. Baptists.
Ross received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and two more degrees – another master’s and a doctorate – from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
Ross and his wife, Rhea, have been members of Salem Baptist Church in Apex for three years. At Salem, he serves as a deacon and on the personnel committee.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve North Carolina Baptists all these years,” Ross said.
“I have loved serving as a state representative for those many years, and for me, retirement means being attentive to what else God has in store.”
11/5/2013 3:11:02 PM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Recorder restructures staff, hires editor

November 5 2013 by BR staff

The Biblical Recorder has restructured the editorial staff and added one new person to fill a vacancy. In October managing editor Shawn Hendricks resigned from the Recorder to become managing editor of Baptist Press in Nashville, Tenn.

Allan Blume, editor/president of the Recorder, said, “This is a good time to restructure our staff to meet the needs of the changing world of journalism. The changes will allow us to wisely use the talent we have and add new talent.” 
The positions of managing editor and assistant managing editor have been changed to content editor and production editor. Dianna Cagle’s title has been changed from assistant managing editor to production editor. She has served on the Recorder’s staff since 2006. The Birmingham, Ala., native has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from the University of Alabama and a master of divinity degree in biblical counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C.
Michael G. McEwen joined the Recorder in October as the content editor. He is a native of Trenton, Tenn. McEwen has a bachelor of arts degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He has earned both the master of divinity and master of theology degrees from SEBTS. He is enrolled in the seminary’s PhD program.
McEwen previously worked as the information and news specialist at SEBTS for two years.
“I am excited about the combination of skills we have in Dianna and Michael. I believe our readers will appreciate the value they bring to our ministry to N.C. Baptists,” Blume said.
11/5/2013 2:50:37 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments

Workplace religious rights set forth in ADF legal analysis

November 5 2013 by Gregory Tomlin, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – As the diversity of religious expression in the United States has grown, the number of complaints of religious discrimination in the workplace has grown as well.

A report in The Wall Street Journal in late October, for example, noted that claims of religious discrimination in the workplace have more than doubled in the past 15 years.

While a higher number of sex and race discrimination complaints are handled by the government annually, the growth rate among claims of religious discrimination is far faster, The Journal reported.

Religion News Service reported that a survey of more than 2,000 working Americans funded by the Tannenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding projected that more Americans and their employers are likely to face questions of religious accommodation at work, thereby “increasing the odds for uncomfortable moments around the water cooler.”

It is not solely religious speech (such as witnessing) that raises issues of accommodation, however. Accommodation of religious practices at work is of equal concern, a fact that prompted Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to issue a lengthy explanation of workers’ religious rights as workplace diversity increases.

The ADF guidelines, published in February 2013, come as numerous cases have been filed in the past decade over circumstances such as the wearing of hijabs by female Muslim employees and the firing of Christians who refused to work on Sunday.

The Wall Street Journal, in its report on Oct. 28, noted that companies of all sizes “are being affected by the complex intermixing of work and faith.”

“The trend toward a seven-day workweek sometimes treads on the Sabbath. Religious garb and grooming clash with dress codes. Job duties that intersect with changing public policies – for instance, issuing a marriage license to a gay couple – test some workers’ adherence to their religious beliefs,” according to The Journal.

These cases “expose the complexities of managing religion on the job,” especially as larger numbers of immigrants with non-Western beliefs join the workforce, the paper noted.

In 2012, according to The Journal, 3,811 religion-based complaints were filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). That number is second only to the number of cases reported in the previous year, 2011, when 4,151 EEOC complaints were lodged.

The EEOC evaluates the complaints and, in some cases, files lawsuits on behalf of workers who feel unjustly targeted for their religious beliefs, speech and expressions. The number of actual lawsuits has declined in recent years, though, chiefly because the EEOC has encouraged employers and employees to resolve complaints through mediation and education.

The high number of complaints about religious discrimination raises the question of attitudes toward religion in the workplace and the related question of how religion can be accommodated by employers and fellow employees.

In the Tannenbaum study, compiled for the New York-based organization by Public Religion Research LLC in the spring of 2013 and published in August, researchers reported that 49 percent of all non-Christians believe that employers are unconcerned with or ignorant of their religious needs in the workplace.

Fifty-nine percent of atheists, the survey found, believed employees with religious beliefs have a negative view of them because of their non-belief, but slightly more than 30 percent of non-Christian religious workers and white evangelical Protestants also felt they were viewed negatively on the job. Nearly half of all white evangelical Protestants said they had experienced or seen discrimination based on religion.

Atheists, according to the survey, are substantially more likely to report discrimination and are more likely to believe the rights of Muslims, gays and lesbians, Hispanics and women had been violated on religious grounds.

Much of the study centers on religious speech, which led researchers to make a shocking claim – that white evangelical Protestants (9 out of 10 who said they welcome religious discussions at work) may be a potential risk for increasing religious discrimination claims because of their belief that sharing the gospel is an essential act of obedience in the Christian faith.

“White evangelical Protestants report sharing their religious beliefs with coworkers much more often than workers with other religious backgrounds,” the study noted. “Half (50 percent) of all white evangelical Protestants say they share their religious beliefs with other coworkers occasionally. By contrast, only 19 percent of non-Christian religious workers, 17 percent of Catholics, 15 percent of atheists, and 12 percent of white mainline Protestants report sharing their religious beliefs with coworkers occasionally.”

The survey cites the increasing number of workers who claim no religious affiliation. These “Nones,” as the survey identifies them, include atheists and agnostics but also people who believe in God without participating in organized religion.

“From our benchmarking, we observe that people from this group are emerging in the public forum and are beginning to be heard. And, from the survey, we know that many atheists and agnostics/seculars feel uncomfortable when religion comes up as a subject at work. This suggests the potential for workplace clashes between atheists and evangelical Protestants, given that half of all evangelical Protestants report that they share their religious beliefs with coworkers occasionally,” the study said.

That notion is one that WORLD Magazine’s Sarah Padbury rejected in the days following the publication of the study.

Padbury, in a Sept. 6 column, wrote an equal number of workers of all faiths and non-faiths were reported by the study as having had conversations about religion while at work. When it comes to “sharing” personal religious viewpoints, however, evangelicals are, in fact, much more likely to understand a conversation about any number of topics as “religious” because of their Christian worldview.

“An atheist and his evangelical coworker discuss their teens’ science projects during a break. The atheist mentions a volcano project that shows how the layers of earth were formed over millions of years. The latter talks about a project showing the moon is young, proof of creation. To the atheist, only the evangelical has shared his religious beliefs. But to the evangelical, they both did,” Padbury wrote.

She added, “It is also possible the percentage of religious discussions is higher for evangelicals because they talk to other evangelicals about their faith, and the low percentages of other faiths represent a small number of aggressive coworkers who start conversations with many evangelicals.”

Padbury noted the Tannenbaum survey’s suggestion of diversity training for those who hold to evangelical Christian practices, but warned that Christians will be “hard pressed to comply” if diversity training means abandoning a verbal witness to the gospel.

The guidelines issued by the Alliance Defending Freedom pointed to an opinion set forth by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals describing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as plainly intending “to relieve individuals of the burden of choosing between their jobs and their religious convictions” as part of “our ‘happy tradition’ of avoiding unnecessary clashes with the dictates of conscience.”

Defining what that means, however, can be difficult amid a diversity of religious opinions. Can an employee be terminated by his atheist employer for refusing to work on Sunday? Can a Jew be denied a holiday for the observance of Yom Kippur while Christians are granted holidays for the observance of Christmas?

ADF answers that employers are required to make “reasonable accommodations” to allow employees freedom of religious practice, assuming that freedom does not harm the business or government entity.

ADF noted in its guidelines that there must be clear evidence that the employee’s practice is the result of a sincerely held belief. If so, the practice must be accommodated, ADF stated.

However, “failure to act on a religious belief consistently may be considered evidence that the belief is not sincerely held.”

“Where the asserted religious belief is found to be merely personal preference, the employee’s claim may fail,” ADF noted.

Once an employee demonstrates that his actions are based on a sincerely held religious belief, according to ADF’s interpretation of multiple legal cases, it is then the employer’s responsibility to accommodate religious practice.

The employer is required to accommodate an employee but does “not necessarily have to accommodate an employee’s religious practice in a way the employee would prefer.”

Even “aggressive proselytizing” may be acceptable behavior on the part of an employee, provided it does not prohibit the fulfillment of one’s duties, ADF noted in its guidelines. The sharing of a faith is not acceptable when religious speech becomes “so confrontational it inhibits the cooperation of other employees.”

Likewise, employers or supervisors are allowed to express their religious viewpoints as long as they are “careful to avoid giving employees the impression that advancement or continued employment is dependent upon acquiescence to the employer’s religious belief.”

ADF’s guidelines summarize: “Under Title VII and corresponding state statutes, employers must accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of their employees. ‘Religious belief’ is interpreted broadly and includes expression, refusing to work on the Sabbath, and refusing to perform tasks which are contrary to religious convictions. An employer can be excused from its affirmative duty to accommodate only if the employer can show that accommodation would result in undue hardship. Undue hardship must be provable, and not based on hypothetical situations.”

A federal Workplace Religious Freedom Act was introduced in the Senate by then-Sens. Rick Santorum, R.-Pa., and John Kerry, D.-Mass., in 2005. The bill was referred to committee and languished there after Santorum lost his re-election bid to the Senate. A slightly altered version of the bill was introduced again by Kerry in 2012.

That law, if passed, will clarify what accommodations employers must make in order to alleviate religious conflict in the workplace over religious clothing (including jewelry) and hairstyles and over situations such as time-off requests during religious seasons.

In the act, the accommodation is not considered “reasonable” unless it “removes conflict between employment requirements and the religious practice of the employee.” The act protects a religious employee from segregation and clarifies the standards employers must meet in order to demonstrate the “undue hardship” on their business created by an employee’s religious observances, speech or activities.

The most recent bill has not been taken up by another senator following Kerry’s confirmation as Secretary of State.

More than 20 states have instituted laws protecting religious freedom in the workplace. California’s law, which took effect in January 2013, lowers the bar for employees to sue over claims of religious discrimination.

For the Alliance Defending Freedom guide on religious rights in the workplace, go to:

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gregory Tomlin is a writer in Fort Worth, Texas.)
11/5/2013 2:34:48 PM by Gregory Tomlin, Baptist Press | with 2 comments

Celebrating those who serve: ‘Peace came over me’

November 4 2013 by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press

Chaplain Parker Thompson can recall the moment – more than 60 years ago – he knew he was where God wanted him as an Army chaplain in the Korean War. 
With the war’s end in sight in the summer of 1953, fighting grew furious as the two sides hammered out an agreement over the transfer of prisoners of war. 
On the backside of a blood-soaked hill near some of the deadliest fighting of the war, Thompson waited for 10 to 20 troops – whoever could make it – to join him for an impromptu worship service. In those moments, with life and death “tenuous” he would later say, the young Army chaplain stopped to ponder his calling. 
“A peace came over me,” said Thompson, a Southern Baptist chaplain who was then 27. “This is my place. I wouldn’t trade this hillside for any church or pulpit in America. That never left me.” 
Two years after graduation from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., Thompson was just beginning a distinguished chaplaincy career that would span nearly three decades marked by two major wars. He is one of an estimated 120 Southern Baptist chaplains who served during the Korean War. 

Parker Thompson, who is a Virginia Baptist pastor, was a Southern Baptist chaplain in Korea.

“Chaplain Parker Thompson is truly one of our nation’s heroes, one of our last remaining military chaplains who brought the presence of the Lord to our troops on the blood-soaked battlefields of the Korean War,” said Doug Carver, executive director of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) chaplaincy team and a former U.S. Army two-star general. 
Born into a family with a long and distinguished history of military service, Thompson wanted to be a soldier as long as he can remember. With no religious background in his family, Thompson first heard the gospel from famous evangelist Charles Fuller on the “Old Fashioned Revival Hour” radio broadcast in 1943. 
“I was surfing the radio and picked up the music and liked it and then the next week and the next week,” Thompson said. “After a while I thought, ‘Why don’t I listen to what he is saying?’ So I listened, and he talked about the need to be saved. I had never heard anything like that. I gave my life to Christ through that ministry.” 
As Thompson began to read his Bible and become active in Calvary Baptist Church in St. Louis, he sensed a growing call to ministry. One day, standing on the corner of Penrose Street and Gano Avenue in St. Louis, Thompson realized God wanted to use that calling in the military. 
“It just came over me: Do you want to spend your life as an Army officer or do you want to share what God has given you?” Thompson said. “I didn’t know any professed Christians in those days.” 
War broke out in Korea two years into his seminary preparation when 75,000 North Korean troops stormed across the historic 38th parallel that separated the Soviet-backed People’s Republic of Korea and the pro-western Republic of Korea. That June 1950 action launched not only war in Korea but a four-decade Cold War pitting America and its allies against the Soviet Union-led communist world. 
Just four days after his May 1951 seminary graduation, Thompson began his paperwork for entrance into the Chaplain Corps. After a short stint in the reserves, he began serving on active duty as an endorsed chaplain of the Southern Baptist Convention. He arrived in Korea in November 1952. 
Besides the obvious dangers and encumbrances of war – he was wounded five times during combat – ministry during much of the Korean War wasn’t much different than a civilian pastorate, Thompson said. He spent much of his time planning worship services, counseling soldiers and getting to know the troops. 
“Most of my sermons were evangelistic in nature,” Thompson said. “The soldiers were facing life-and-death situations.” 
Ministry changed significantly as the war neared its end and fighting intensified, Thompson said. When he first arrived in Korea, the combatants were in the midst of a prolonged stalemate with an emphasis on trench warfare. As the United Nations and their communist opponents negotiated exchanges of prisoners of war, fighting picked up. 
“I think it’s safe to say that morale picked up at that point,” Thompson said. “You felt like you were doing something again. Of course casualties were much higher, but you didn’t feel like you were just sitting there.” 
Heavier fighting didn’t just mean more dangers for the troops Thompson served. Because chaplains were expected to minister on the front lines of the war, they faced many of the same challenges fellow soldiers faced, but without the aid of firearms. According to the Geneva Conventions, the international law governing warfare, chaplains were declared non-combatants and, as such, couldn’t officially carry weapons. 
Often the pastoral temperament and role of chaplains led them into harm’s way to care for the men they served. Thompson remembers volunteering to help two other men carry five soldiers – one dead, another badly hurt and three unconscious – out of a completely dark minefield. 
“It was very dangerous and a very scary thing to do, obviously,” Thompson said. “But it had to be done. It was just understood that the chaplain would go with them.” 
In the six decades since the end of the Korean War, it has often gotten lost between World War II and Vietnam, but Thompson believes veterans of Korea have much to be proud of. 
“I’d like people to remember that this is when communists were trying to push and get Korea, which is like a dagger pointing at Japan,” Thompson said. “We began stopping the military aggression of international communism. It’s something that any Korean veteran can be proud of. We put in a stop and said, ‘This won’t be tolerated.’ And the chaplains were right there with the soldiers as they did it.” 
During the Vietnam War, Thompson served as a chaplain for two divisions, placing him on the ground in Vietnam from August 1967 to August 1968. Before retiring in 1980, he served in a variety of chaplaincy roles, including the staff and faculty at the U.S. Army Chaplain School in Hamilton, N.Y. 
Passionate about the Chaplaincy Corps, Thompson led the effort to put together a five-volume history on chaplaincy in the U.S. military. Thompson wrote the initial volume, From Its European Antecedents to 1791: The United States Army Chaplaincy.  
Thompson earned numerous awards during his three decades of military service, including a Legion of Merit award, the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart, among others. He was knighted by the order of St. John of Jerusalem, a European honor that dates back to the Middle Ages. 
For the 31 years since his military retirement, Thompson has served as a Southern Baptist pastor, the past 20 years at North Fork Baptist Church in North Fork, Va. 
“I can honestly say without reservation, if I knew then what I know now, I’d do it all over again,” Thompson said. “It was the greatest experience not only being a chaplain to our young men and women, but then to come back enriched from that experience and being able to serve as a pastor for 31 years in two different Baptist churches.” 
NAMB is the endorsing entity for Southern Baptist chaplains serving in the U.S. 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, visit
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.)
11/4/2013 3:05:51 PM by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Neal Jackson up for conference president-elect

November 4 2013 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Robert Tenery announced his intention to nominate Neal Jackson as president-elect of the N.C. Baptist Pastors’ Conference, Nov. 10-11 at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro.
Jackson is pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Bennett, where he has served since 2009.
“I am nominating Neal Jackson because he has a pastor’s heart and considers his calling to the pastorate as the high calling of God in his life,” Tenery said.
“He still believes in going out into the highways and hedges and bringing them in.”  
According to Tenery, the Beulah church has experienced unusual growth and is now building a larger worship center to accommodate a rapidly growing congregation.
“He believes in outreach and the services of his church are now broadcast over 14 television stations,” Tenery said.
“They are strong supporters of North Carolina and Southern Baptist Convention mission causes. As I have heard him preach, I have always been impressed with his consuming desire to preach the Word of God and exalt our Savior. 
“I believe that a man of his commitment and passion for the gospel can be a great influence for good and for God in our State.”
Tenery is the retired pastor of Burkemont Baptist Church in Morganton and was an active leader in the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Jackson will run against Micheal Pardue, who announced his candidacy in June.

Pardue is pastor of First Baptist Church Icard and will be nominated by Marty Jacumin, pastor of Bay Leaf Baptist Church of Raleigh.
The Pastors’ Conference president is elected two years in advance. Last year Josh Phillips, pastor of Cherry Grove Baptist Church in Cerro Gordo, was elected for 2014.
This year’s winner will serve as president for the 2015 conference.

Related story

Joe Smith to be nominated as conference vice president 
11/4/2013 2:54:12 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Joe Smith to be nominated as conference vice president

November 4 2013 by BR staff

Joe Smith, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Faith, will be nominated for vice president of the N.C. Pastors’ Conference on Nov. 10-11. Marc Sanders, pastor of Sandy Branch Baptist Church in Bear Creek, and a candidate for second vice president of the Baptist State Convention of N.C. (BSC), intends to nominate Smith.
He is a graduate of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute and the Baptist College of Florida. Smith currently serves on the BSC Board of Directors and the Church Planting Missions Development Committee.

According to Sanders, Faith gives 10 percent of its undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program.
The church was recently recognized for their sacrificial contributions to the North Carolina Missions Offering, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions.
“Joe not only leads his people to give, but even more importantly, to go and be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Sanders said.
“Just this year, Faith has done missions work in Alabama, Turkey, Cuba and in New York City with the BSC partnership there. They have partnered with the Transformation India Movement to adopt a village in India where they have already dug eight new wells, bringing life-giving water to those without.”
Smith has been in ministry for 42 years. Sanders said, “He knows how to speak to not only the ongoing needs of seasoned pastors, but also serve as a role model for being a shepherd to those still growing in the pastorate.”
Smith will run against Robert Pochek who announced his candidacy in July. Pochek is pastor of Raleigh Road Baptist in Wilson and will be nominated by David Pierce, pastor of Belhaven Missionary Baptist in Belhaven.

Related story

Neal Jackson up for conference president-elect
11/4/2013 2:17:45 PM by BR staff | with 1 comments

Paul Mullen ‘retires’ to pastoral ministry

November 4 2013 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

Paul Mullen, who served as the Director of the Department of Church and Community Relations at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (BMC), retired into pastoral ministry at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
In his work at Wake Forest Baptist, Mullen helped provide mediation between the BMC and approximately 4,000 N.C. Baptist churches, especially those affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).

BR photo
Wanda Dellinger, left, chairperson of the Christian Social Services Special Committee on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Board of Directors (BOD), presents Paul Mullen, center, with a plaque recognizing his services to the churches of North Carolina. Michael Barrett, right, BOD chairman, looks on during the presentation at the board’s September meeting.

The Board of Directors of BSC recognized Mullen’s service with a reception in his honor at their Caraway board meeting in September.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the BSC said, “Paul Mullen is both respected and appreciated by all N.C. Baptists who have had opportunity to work with him. We often hear Paul speak of the caring and compassionate people in our churches, but no one deserves that description more than Paul.”
N.C. Baptists have aided in considerable funding through cooperative missions by supporting ministries such as CareNet of North Carolina, the Center for Congregational Health and Chaplaincy and Pastoral Education.
After attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mullen served as an associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Kenova, W.Va. In 1978, he spent a year at Baptist Hospital working in the clinical pastor education program, and later transferred to Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem where he worked for 20 years as the manager of chaplaincy.
From 2000-2013, Mullen was the director of church and community relations at BMC. 
“We know his retirement will leave large shoes to fill, but I am confident that Dr. Gary Gunderson, vice president of Faith and Health Ministries for BMC, will make certain that Paul’s responsibilities will be carried on by someone equal to the task,” Hollifield said.
Mullen is married to Bonnie, a nurse at BMC. They have been members at Ardmore Baptist Church for 32 years.
After retiring from BMC in August, Mullen began serving as the congregational care minister at Ardmore.
“In this position, I work with a few different ministry teams, each of which provides care to our members, families of members and neighbors during all times of life,” Mullen said.
“I had a chance to see God at work in the director position at Baptist Medical Center, particularly in the tremendous partnership ministries between N.C. Baptists and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. I love nothing more than being with people and to see God move in their lives, and this is what I look forward to at Ardmore Baptist.”
11/4/2013 2:10:36 PM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Health care workers enhance global outreach

November 1 2013 by Baptist Press

ROCKVILLE, Va. – A 70-year-old nursing home patient’s failing health opened the door for International Mission Board (IMB) medical workers in Asia to see several dozen staff and patients turn to Christ and begin meeting for worship and discipleship.

In the Horn of Africa, meanwhile, simple medical attention paved the way for 500 gospel presentations over the course of a year, yielding 150 professions of faith.

In Europe, medical missionaries are training local believers to give eye exams while also distributing reading glasses and scripture portions.

Globally, medical professionals are playing crucial roles in taking the gospel to people in great physical and spiritual need, said John Brady, International Mission Board vice president for global strategy, speaking to a five-day gathering of health care workers at the IMB’s International Learning Center in Rockville, Va.

IMB photo
Michelle Wilkening, a volunteer doctor, examines a patient on clinic day at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana, in following God’s call to fuse her profession with a passion for sharing the Gospel.

“Health care is one of the best ways for the gospel to be present in places of need, especially among unengaged, unreached people groups,” Brady said. “God has incredibly gifted health care personnel in the North American church with medical skills. Even simple techniques can radically change life expectancy in places where most people live to be 41 or 42 years old.

“In the West, we have seen God increase medical knowledge to the point where we now have some of the best understanding of how God created the body and the environment in which we live, and we are able to apply that knowledge for His glory,” Brady said. “God didn’t just do that to bless the people in our own community. He wants us involved in His mission around the world as His disciples.”

To that end, IMB links health care professionals in North America with medical missionaries overseas, mobilizing them for key roles in church planting efforts that model Jesus’ command to “preach and heal,” said Rebekah Naylor, an emeritus medical missionary who now leads efforts to mobilize Southern Baptist medical professionals.

A total of 381 IMB personnel are engaged in health care missions overseas – all but 21 of them medical professionals, Naylor told the group. Health care strategy coaches are now in place across the world to help develop effective ways for health care ministries to enhance the global mission effort.

Health care workers at the gathering briefed IMB leadership on many situations where health care is helping people experience whole-life transformation. Among them:
  •  In one European country, 707 people made professions of faith in medical clinics during 2012, with churches strengthened and new groups started.
  • In South Asia, one health care strategy is demonstrating the love of God to women by providing disposable feminine hygiene products to take the place of the cloth, shredded newspaper, coconut husks, even ash from cooking fires used by women – if they use anything at all. Women’s ministry circles in North America are hand-making the supplies.
A growing number of Southern Baptist churches are engaging holistic approaches to evangelism and church planting overseas, many of them through health care, said Ken Winter, IMB vice president for church and partner services.

“They are meeting human needs, addressing social justice issues, meeting medical needs and not just saying, ‘Let’s go do this,’ but connecting the dots strategically,” Winter said.

Nothing connects proclamation and demonstration of the gospel together the way medical ministries do, he said. “This is one of the greatest ways I can see Southern Baptists cooperatively coming together in partnership in the task.”

Participants in the meeting also heard a presentation by Scott Holste, IMB vice president for global strategic mobilization, who described the new “Marketplace Advance” initiative.

Medical workers are a good example of the growing numbers of marketplace professionals who are getting strategically involved overseas, Holste said.

Skybridge Community, a new IMB initiative, helps the estimated 1 million North American adult Christians living overseas find ways to intentionally be on mission where they are. Learn more at

A major IMB conference for mobilizing North American health care professionals, titled MedAdvance, will be held July 17-19 of next year. Email for more information.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by International Mission Board staff.)
11/1/2013 12:45:17 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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