November 2014

Pilgrims & Baptists: the little known connection

November 26 2014 by David Roach, Baptist Press

If not for a Baptist church split, the Pilgrims might never have come to America.
Sort of.
John Smyth, who often is credited with being the first Baptist, pastored a church where many of the Christians who later came to be known as Pilgrims were members. But when Smyth began to argue with the future Pilgrims over church government, they formed another church under the leadership of John Robinson. In 1620, a portion of Robinson’s congregation sailed to Plymouth, Mass., aboard the Mayflower.
Following the split, Smyth became convinced that the Bible teaches believer’s baptism and launched the Baptist movement.
“Most people don’t realize how closely the Pilgrims and the first Baptists were related. John Smyth and [Plymouth Colony governor] William Bradford knew each other, and in fact Smyth pastored the church where many of the Pilgrims were members before they left England for Holland and then sailed to America,” Jason Duesing, provost at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press in written comments. “The world of English Separatism was very intertwined. Those that became Baptists were a formative part of the story that led to the first Thanksgiving.”
Smyth and the Pilgrims both emerged from a movement in England known as Separatism.
In the late 1500s and early 1600s, the Church of England, which was controlled by the British monarch, was Protestant in its doctrine but largely followed Catholic worship practice. A group of Christians known as Puritans objected to Catholic rituals and thought worship should only include elements taught in the Bible. Many Puritans tried to reform the Church of England without leaving its membership, but some radical Puritans separated from the state church altogether and formed what historians call Separatist congregations.
Being a Separatist could be trying. Many were imprisoned and some were even executed for their beliefs.
A forthcoming Baptist history textbook from B&H Academic titled The Baptist Story explains, “In an effort to curb the growth of Separatists, a law was passed in April 1593 requiring everyone over the age of 16 to attend the church of their local parish, which comprised all who lived within a certain geographic boundary.”
Failure to obey the law “for an entire month meant imprisonment,” B&H authors Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn and Michael Haykin wrote. “If, three months following an individual’s release from prison, he or she still refused to conform, the person was to be given a choice of exile or death. In other words, the established church and the state were hoping to be rid of the Separatist problem by sending those who were recalcitrant into exile.”
Faced with the choice of exile or death, most Separatists opted for exile, including about 40 who ended up in Amsterdam with their pastor, Francis Johnson.
In 1608 a second Separatist church traveled to Amsterdam pastored by Smyth. At first the two congregations fellowshipped with each other. Their pastors had known each other since Johnson served as one of Smyth’s tutors at the University of Cambridge, according to The Baptist Story.
But conflict emerged when Smyth took issue with the Johnson congregation’s distinction between pastors, teachers and ruling elders among its leadership. Smyth believed scripture combined the three positions into one office, the pastor/elder, and he said every church should have multiple elders or pastors. This and other differences led to a break of fellowship between the two churches.
The doctrinal conflict also contributed to a split in the church led by Smyth – though historians disagree about whether the church split occurred in England or the Netherlands.
John Robinson led a faction of about 100 members from the Smyth church who eventually relocated to the city of Leiden and became known as Pilgrims, famously moving to America and landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620. Smyth soon came to believe that only followers of Jesus should be baptized and administered baptism to himself and his congregation by pouring. Later Thomas Helwys assumed leadership of the congregation, which some regard as the first English Baptist church, when Smyth sought to join a Mennonite church in the Netherlands.
Years later, when Bradford recounted the Pilgrims’ journey to America as well as their celebration of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, he noted their interaction with the Baptists.
Among the members of an early Separatist church, Bradford wrote in “Of Plymouth Plantation,” was “Mr. John Smyth, a man of able gifts and a good preacher, who afterwards was chosen their pastor. But these afterwards falling into some errors in the Low Countries” – a reference to the congregation’s adoption of Baptist views in the Netherlands – “there (for the most part) buried themselves and their names.”
Despite the Pilgrims’ unfavorable view of Baptists, Duesing said they should be remembered with thankfulness this Thanksgiving.
“This congregation of ‘pilgrims’ had already endured the arduous journey of leaving England due to ... persecution from the established church, yet, a section of them desired still to travel further,” Duesing said. “Life in Holland was difficult for English expatriates, and for some a prosperous future both for the church and in terms of economic and social survival, seemed dim. The Mayflower group determined to leave ... for New England, then, in part to continue to have the freedom to establish their church separate from the state, but also to do so in an environment that gave more potential for long-term survival. The idea of America seemed worth another arduous and costly journey for these reasons.”
As Bradford wrote, the Pilgrims also hoped to be a part of “propagating and advancing the gospel of the Kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world.”
In another connection to Baptists, many of the Pilgrims’ descendants – the New England Congregationalists – became Baptists during the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 40s.
All Christians, including Baptists, should study the Pilgrims, Duesing said, because they were “a heroic group who sought a better life for their children and grandchildren centered around a church faithful to the New Testament and positioned for seeking the advance of the gospel.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE - David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

11/26/2014 12:03:22 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Southern Baptists & racial healing

November 26 2014 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Southern Baptists have a unique role to play in America’s race relations following a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an 18-year-old African American in Ferguson, Mo.
A key reason: Southern Baptists have firsthand experience of the only lasting solution to racial tension: the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Of course, many other groups believe and preach the gospel as well, and it has the same reconciling power among all Christian denominations. But Southern Baptists have witnessed a unique transformation – from a convention that began out of a desire to defend slavery and later was known for upholding legalized racial segregation to what church growth expert C. Peter Wagner called in a 1970 book the most diverse religious denomination in America.
The gospel’s transformative work in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) lends credence to Christians’ claim that believing and obeying the message of Jesus can bring healing in communities where racial minorities feel oppressed by police, where certain ethnic groups feel they cannot receive justice and where blacks are incarcerated at alarmingly high rates compared with whites.


BP Photo
In 1995 the SBC adopted a resolution apologizing for its racist past, asking African Americans for forgiveness. SBC second vice president Gary Frost (left), Resolutions Committee chairman Charles Carter (center) and Christian Life Commission executive director Richard Land discuss the resolution at a press conference.

Consider some of the ways God has worked among Southern Baptists:

  • In 1995 the SBC adopted a resolution apologizing for its racist past, asking African Americans for forgiveness. The resolution “lament[ed] and repudiate[d] historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest.” It went on to say, “We apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

Some black Baptists expressed “a sense of surprise at the frankness of the verbiage in the resolution,” Baptist Press reported in 1995.

  • In 2011 the convention adopted a 10-part recommendation from an Ethnic Study Committee that sought to help ethnic churches and leaders better partner with fellow Southern Baptists in missions and ministry.

Convention messengers asked entities annually to provide “a descriptive report of participation of ethnic churches and church leaders in the life and ministry of the respective SBC entity;” the SBC president to “give special attention to appointing individuals who represent the diversity within the Convention” to committees under his purview; and a subcommittee of the SBC Executive Committee to provide a report each year in February with an update on how each of the recommendations has been addressed.

  • In 2012 the convention elected by acclamation Fred Luter of New Orleans as its first black president to a standing ovation.

  • As of November 2014, at least 24 state Baptist conventions that cooperate with the SBC had elected non-Anglos as their presidents.

  • More than 10,000 of the SBC’s 50,500 churches and church-type missions are non-Anglo, comprised of a broad diversity of racial and ethnic members. About 15 percent of presidential appointments to committees were from non-Anglo ethnic and racial groups over the past two years, and nearly 100 members of racial and ethnic minority groups have served in SBC leadership positions as elected officers, entity trustees and staff members and seminary faculty, according to data compiled by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

About 400 North American Mission Board missionaries identify themselves as non-Anglo. Approximately half of SBC church plants are classified as non-Anglo, and nearly 15 percent of churches registered to assist in the Send North America church planting emphasis are from various racial and ethnic subsets of American culture.

  • SBC presidents like W.A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, and Owen Cooper, a layman from Mississippi, experienced remarkable episodes of personal repentance from racist beliefs during the latter half of the 20th century.

  • All six SBC seminaries accepted black students before doing so was required by law. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, both admitted black students in the 1940s, with Garland Offutt becoming the first black graduate of any SBC seminary in 1944 when Southern awarded him a master of theology degree.

Martin Luther King Jr. preached in Southern Seminary chapel in 1961 to a warm reception by faculty and students – despite objections from some Southern Baptists that elicited an apology from trustees at the time for “any offense caused by the visit of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., to the campus of the Seminary.”
In 1965, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary students and faculty donated funds to help a student travel from the seminary’s California campus to a civil rights march in Selma, Ala. The student body also sent pro-civil rights telegrams to King and Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
There have been missteps along the way, as when an SBC president in the 1980s said without accompanying theological clarification that God does not hear the prayers of Jews and when a convention leader apologized for comments that harmed “specific individuals, the cause of racial reconciliation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ” following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.
Still, Southern Baptists’ record of repentance, change and inclusion over the past several decades is undeniable evidence that “through the cross,” Jesus Christ has killed “the hostility” between races and “broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14-16). With this record buttressing their preaching, Southern Baptists are in a unique position to tell hurting Americans in Ferguson and elsewhere that trusting Christ as Lord and Savior will allow them to be reconciled not only to God but to one another as well.
(EDITOR’S NOTE - David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. BP editor Art Toalston contributed to this article.)

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11/26/2014 11:44:45 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Church food ministries serve thousands

November 26 2014 by Bonnie Pritchett, Southern Baptist TEXAN/Baptist Press

It was never his plan, never his desire, but for six years Ellis Johnson called the streets of Austin home.
"Six years on the street humbled me a lot," Johnson said in a telephone interview from his new home in Austin.
Johnson, like many of his peers living on the street, made bad choices, burned bridges and alienated anyone who might have been willing to lend a hand. Alcohol and drug abuse led to a two-year prison term in the 1990s and another "mistake" landed him on the streets in 2008. But the persistent compassion of Christians serving Austin's homeless reminded Johnson someone cared. He knew there was hope.
For Johnson, help came to him through Austin's Mobile Loaves and Fishes (MLF) ministry, which takes food and basic personal care items to the homeless. Beginning in 1998 with five St. John Neumann Catholic Church parishioners who set out to meet the needs of Austin's homeless, the ministry is now duplicated in five cities in four states. In Austin, 11 catering trucks make daily runs to one of the 150 "places of need" as designated by MLF staff.
Eight years ago, Lake Hills Church saw no need to reinvent the wheel by creating their own hunger relief ministry, so they partnered with the MLF network of churches and local businesses feeding Austin's homeless.


Volunteers from Lake Hills Church in Austin are part of the citywide Mobile Loaves and Fishes ministry to feed the hungry.


Whitney Wiseman, missions director for Lake Hills, a church in the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, manages two of the catering trucks and 750 church volunteers who serve monthly. Each day 10-20 volunteers meet at the church in far west Austin to make sandwiches for 100 sack lunch meals and load them into the trucks, which are then driven to various locations.
The hungry on Austin's streets know that the white trucks with their silver catering bays mean more than a meal and a new pair of socks. Like so many feeding ministries across the state, MLF transformed itself to meet needs that lingered long after a person's hunger was sated. During one distribution, Johnson met MLF co-founder Alan Graham, and his life was changed.
"I told him I needed to get off the street," Johnson said.
With Graham's assistance, Johnson got a landscaping job with MLF and Lake Hills Church, where he now attends. MLF also paid the deposit for his site at a trailer park where Johnson has lived since January in an MLF-owned fifth-wheel trailer. Johnson pays the rent.
While the annual Southern Baptist Convention Global Hunger Relief campaign provides an opportunity for churches across the nation to address the issue of worldwide hunger, churches in Texas and elsewhere daily strive to meet the endless needs of the poor and marginalized in their communities. Church food pantries operated from spare rooms where basic staples were meted out have morphed into cooperative efforts among likeminded faith groups, business leaders and community members to feed the needy.
When, for example, 74-year-old Gisela Lenz agreed to lead a food ministry at her Baptist church in Del Rio, Texas, in 2009, she quickly realized the needs of the community far surpassed the 35 families served each month. She asked the congregation for more support, and they gave it wholeheartedly.
Within 18 months, the ministry was serving 648 families a month – and in need of a new distribution site.
Asking for assistance does not faze Lenz, who is not one to take "no" for an answer. She found new housing in an unused school building that the district rents to the Val Verde County Loaves and Fishes for a penny a month.
The needs of the community have never outpaced God's provision, Lenz said. Overwhelming needs have been met in ways that left the German immigrant stunned, thrilled and grateful.
"It happens all the time. All the time," she said repeatedly.
Lenz and her husband Gary are now members of Esperanza Community Church of Del Rio, one of 10 local churches invested in Val Verde County Loaves and Fishes. Support also comes from individuals, local businesses and nearby Laughlin Air Force Base.
With neighbors helping neighbors, Lenz said, "It was time for the city to step up."
She presented her request to the mayor of Del Rio, and the ministry received a $10,000-per-year aid commitment, while cash donations help pay for supplies from the Val Verde County Food Bank.
Of the 31,626 individuals served by Val Verde County Loaves and Fishes last year, 80 percent were age 60 or older, many who thought Social Security would see them through their senior years. Hispanic workers earning low wages also comprise a large portion of the nearly 32,000 who benefit from the ministry.
"We want the needy to know God is in [this ministry]. It is so obvious He is in it," Lenz said.
Four hours north of Del Rio, First Baptist Church in Odessa operates another faith-based cooperative to feed those living on the streets.
Like the other ministries, Hope for the Homeless takes a holistic approach to caring for the homeless, said Earl Claypool, First Baptist’s pastor of missions. The ministry, which provides a hot meal once a month, outgrew its original site – a house behind a local Catholic church – and now meets in Odessa’s three city community centers. Claypool said the sites allow volunteers to feed the 125-200 guests and to operate venues that provide clothing, haircuts and glasses.
Because of the transient nature of the homeless population, Claypool said it is difficult to establish relationships that lead to greater accountability and assistance. But, he said, the church also works closely with clients at the Permian Basin Mission Center, another broad-based cooperative. Most of its clients are families struggling to make ends meet, some because of job loss and others because of the struggle to feed large families.
Regardless of whom they serve, Claypool said each guest has the opportunity to have their souls fed as well as their stomachs. No one leaves without having heard the gospel message.
Because his soul has been satisfied, Johnson has no desire to experience the starvation of homelessness again.
"There's a lot of people caring for me," Johnson told the Southern Baptist TEXAN. "If I ruined it, that would hurt a lot of people. I already did that at the beginning."
Since getting off the streets, Johnson, 49, has reconciled with family members he had not seen since he was 10 years old. He said he may spend Christmas with them in their West Texas home.
In the meantime, Johnson works, attends Bible studies and will lead a Street Retreat – a program created by MLF to give people an opportunity to experience life on the streets for a few nights. It will be Johnson's first opportunity to lead. Although he questioned his abilities, he was grateful for the opportunity.
"Through God all things are possible," he said. "My weeks are busy. It's good to be busy."
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Bonnie Pritchett is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN (, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, where this article first appeared.)

11/26/2014 11:35:15 AM by Bonnie Pritchett, Southern Baptist TEXAN/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Church’s backpacks nourish schoolchildren

November 26 2014 by Carolyn Nichols, Florida Baptist Witness/Baptist Press

Every weekend, 830 children in Dade County have food to eat because Christ Fellowship in Miami sent it home with them from school.
The 830 students, who receive easy-to-prepare food in backpacks stuffed by concerned volunteers, are only a fraction of the estimated 30,000 hungry children in South Florida, according to Christ Fellowship ministry leaders.
The seven campuses of the 9,000-member church contribute funds and volunteer staffing to keep children fed when their schools do not offer free breakfasts and free or reduced-cost lunches. The smallest of the church’s campuses, Redlands, stuffs 50 backpacks. The largest campus, Palmetto Bay, prepares 310. Volunteers from the campuses deliver bags of food to schools near their church site.
The outreach began a year ago when Christ Fellowship provided 450 backpacks for students. By the end of the 2014-15 term, ministry leaders estimate the number will grow to 1,200.


“When we started this, we did not imagine how big it would get,” said Jorge Molina, the former missions pastor who headed the program until he became the church’s small groups pastor.
“This takes a lot of energy, but the huge need creates the energy you need,” Molina said. “This is a beautiful thing that God is doing. Our folks love this program.”


Volunteers at Christ Fellowship's seven campuses in Miami pack gallon bags with food for students to take home in backpacks each weekend.


Backpack program director Panos Kourtesis now oversees logistics for purchasing, storing, packing and distributing food to 20 public schools in all corners of the city. The church also covers cost, an estimated $200 per child per year, said Aimee Artiles of the church’s arts and communication team.
“We do thousands of what we call ‘Reach Beyonds’ every year, but for this, everybody has come to the table to help. It has been a blessing to us and to the children,” she said.
Christ Fellowship’s annual Night of Worship became a fundraiser for the backpack program. The August celebration had been free to all in the past, but $10 admission tickets were sold this year to benefit the feeding program. Church members and guests sold out the 1,500-seat worship center on the Palmetto Bay campus. Many worshippers watched a video about the backpack program through tears, Artiles said.
“Their generosity was abundant,” she said.
The ministry has distribution centers at the downtown campus that serve church campuses in the north of the county and at the Palmetto Bay campus that serve locations in the south. Food items are moved to church campuses prior to “packing parties” during which volunteers pack gallon-size Ziploc bags to be placed in the backpacks. In each bag are items for two breakfasts (breakfast bars), two lunches (Vienna sausage, canned ravioli, etc.) and two dinners (ramen noodles, canned soup, etc.), two snacks and two boxed drinks.
The packing parties are places for the church’s children and youth to be involved in the feeding program. Molina said his 4- and 5-year-old children “love to do this.”
Kourtesis, who began as a volunteer packing food a year ago at the Miami Springs campus, said the ministry experienced “a learning process” in purchasing appropriate food items. Every food item has to have a long shelf life because a six-week supply of packed bags is always on hand. Also, food has to be “peel and open” and “add water” because many children “are taking care of themselves” on the weekend, he said. One family meal, usually pre-packaged fortified macaroni and cheese, also is included.
“What we found heartbreaking is that many of the kids are homeless or live in hotels. They do not have access to microwaves or milk,” Kourtesis said.
He said a needy family will spend its funds on fixed expenses first – rent, utilities, gas and car insurance so they can get to work. Any leftover money may be spent on food.
Kourtesis identifies with the children and families that the ministry serves. He and his siblings watched their single mother struggle to provide for the family after a house fire destroyed everything they owned.
“As a child, I would have been in this program,” Kourtesis said. “It would have been extremely helpful.”
The students’ confidentiality is protected at every step in the process, since they “don’t want the other kids to know they are getting food,” Kourtesis said. Each child is recommended to the feeding program by a school counselor. The children pick up backpacks as they leave on Friday afternoon and return the bags on Monday or Thursday.
The church does not know the names of those receiving backpacks unless a child’s parents sign up for Thanksgiving and Easter meals that church volunteers deliver to their homes. A toy collection at church and a $1 sale of the items let parents have the dignity of saying, “I bought this for you.”
“At these occasions we can pray with the families and let them know that we are here to support and love them because Christ loved us first,” Kourtesis said. “We are doing all this because we are trying to change our broken city.”
The church also offers families meals during the summer months. Families may pick up meals on Friday afternoons at their schools, Artiles said.
The backpack program grew out of longstanding relationships between the church and public schools located near the church’s campuses. Molina said church leadership became aware of need in the schools about nine years ago when news outlets reported that the county’s public schools were operating in the red.
“They asked the students to bring in copy paper for the offices to use, and we thought, ‘Are things that bad?’ That was our first gift to schools. We bought copy paper for the schools around our campuses,” he said.
Casual contact with school administrators gave chances to ask what else the schools needed. Along the way, Christ Fellowship members mulched flower beds, painted walls, picked up trash and cleaned bathrooms.
“We had to go to them without an agenda – just to ask ‘How can we serve?’ We could not be presumptuous,” Molina said.
Volunteers began hearing from administrators and teachers that students arrived at schools on Monday mornings ravenously hungry. The backpack program subsequently was born out of the church’s and pastor Rick Blackwood’s concern, Artiles said.
With the explosive growth of the backpack ministry, Molina said ministry leaders are now looking beyond the church for help from businesses, other Miami churches and other organizations. Florida International University has adopted Christ Fellowship’s backpack program to benefit from its gate receipts for football games.
“This is a need that even non-Christians can recognize,” Molina said.
Churches of any size in any city can become involved in feeding children in their own local schools, just by packing food for 10 kids, he said.
“This is the gospel in action. We always want to present the gospel because that is what will change their lives. It’s as simple as it gets,” Molina said. “The children know that a church loves them.”
For more information about the program, visit

To start a backpack ministry

  • Understand the need. Find out how many Title I schools are in your community. Title I schools have at least 75 percent of their students receiving free or reduced lunches. In some Miami-Dade schools, 99 percent receive free meals, Molina said.

  • Visit your local public schools. Ask, “What do you need help with?” Ask if hunger is a problem for students.

  • Get to know the members of your county or city school board. “School board members can open doors for you in the schools,” Molina said.

  • Purchase backpacks and price food items. Backpacks may be purchased for about $5, Molina said.

  • Present the need to church leadership and members. The beginning step may as simple as providing families a list of “extra” items to purchase on a trip to the grocery store, Molina said.

  • If the church adopts the ministry, enlist volunteers, including children and youth who can be involved in the packing process.

(EDITOR’S NOTE - Carolyn Nicols is a reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness (, newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention, where this article first appeared.)

11/26/2014 11:18:47 AM by Carolyn Nichols, Florida Baptist Witness/Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Ferguson reaction: ‘how far we have to go’

November 25 2014 by Art Toalston & Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Philadelphia pastor K. Marshall Williams, in the hours prior to the grand jury report declining to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an 18-year-old black, observed:
“When it comes to issues of racial justice, this verdict will show us how far as a nation that we have come and how far we have to go,” said Williams, president of the National African American Fellowship within the Southern Baptist Convention.
The entire tragedy in Ferguson, Mo. – from the Aug. 20 shooting to the grand jury report and a subsequent night of arson, violence and arrests in the St. Louis suburb – underscored the significance of Williams’ statement to Baptist Press.
For Williams, however, a Christian view directs his outlook and advocacy.
“I continue to implore all in the body of Christ to radical obedience to the Greatest Commandment, which will be a catalyst for unprecedented revival and spiritual awakening in our land,” the senior pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa., said, citing 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew 22:37-40.
“We need to practice and proclaim the gospel, standing up and crying out against sin and injustice, ‘for our God is a God of love but He is also a God of justice,’” Williams said, citing Micah 6:8.
Russell D. Moore, president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, issued a statement shortly after the 8 p.m. Central announcement that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for killing the 18-year-old unarmed black, Michael Brown, in an intense scuffle.
The country hasn’t yet “sorted through all the evidence the grand jury saw [to know] precisely what happened in this nightmarish incident,” Moore said. The Ferguson crisis, he said, “is one of several in just the past couple of years where white and black Americans have viewed a situation in starkly different terms.”
“In the public arena, we ought to recognize that it is empirically true that African-American men are more likely, by virtually every measure, to be arrested, sentenced, executed, or murdered than their white peers,” Moore said. “We cannot shrug that off with apathy” but must have “consciences that are sensitive to the problem.”
“But how can we get there when white people do not face the same experiences as do black people?” Moore asked in his statement. “… [W]e will need churches that are not divided up along carnal patterns of division – by skin color or ethnicity or economic status. We will need churches that reflect the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10) in the joining together of those who may have nothing else in common but the image of God, the blood of Christ, and the unity of the Spirit. When we know one another as brothers and sisters, we will start to stand up and speak up for one another.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. Diana Chandler is BP's general assignment writer/editor.)

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11/25/2014 12:33:42 PM by Art Toalston & Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 3 comments

Famous marriages ‘breathe life’ for couples

November 25 2014 by David Roach, Baptist Press

In 1523, Martin Luther found himself the matchmaker for 12 nuns who had escaped in pickle barrels from a Roman Catholic nunnery near Wittenberg, Germany. He secured husbands for 11, but the 12th, Katharina von Bora, rebuffed two potential husbands.
Her heart was set on the great Reformer.
Finally Luther married her in 1525 for strikingly unromantic reasons: to provide his father with grandchildren and to spite the pope by breaking the vow of celibacy he had taken as a Catholic monk. Though it didn’t seem like the makings of a storybook romance, Luther’s marriage to Katie, as he called her, blossomed into one of church history’s most tender unions.
Learning about famous Christian marriages, like Martin and Katie Luther’s, can “breathe life” into the marriages of believers today and “give some guys and their wives courage to get real and be honest,” radio host and marriage expert Dennis Rainey told Baptist Press.
Good marriages demonstrate how a spouse’s love can lift a Christian “out of doubt and discouragement and perhaps even losing heart,” Rainey, president and co-founder of Family Life, said. Stories of more challenging marriages can encourage believers to persevere through their own marriage struggles, he said.
“There was only one who was perfect, and He wasn’t married,” Rainey said. Being part of God’s Kingdom requires “humbling ourselves and admitting our humanity and sharing the stories of our humanity in some of its stench and ... coming clean and getting real – because that’s where everybody is.”
In contrast with the joyful marriages of Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon and others, Methodist movement founder John Wesley and revivalist George Whitefield struggled in their marriages. Wesley made his wife agree that she would not ask him to lighten his schedule of itinerant preaching. The couple eventually separated and she was dead for three days before he found out.
Whitefield once left his wife Elizabeth in America while he returned to England by boat without telling her. One of Whitefield’s protégés said the great revivalist viewed his marriage as a “distraction” and when Elizabeth died, “his mind was put at great liberty.”

“Uncommon unions”

The Luthers’ home was “joyful” and “playful,” Michael Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told BP.
“Luther had a deep sense of the joyfulness of the Christian life, and marriage simply exacerbated that,” said Haykin, who has compiled “The Christian Lover,” a book of love letters written by famous Christians.
Though Luther refused to back down in arguments with the pope and fellow Protestant Reformer Ulrich Zwingli, he often yielded to Katie’s opinions and preferences, Haykin said. Among the ways he deferred to her was changing his custom of bathing only once a year – a common practice in the 1500s – because “she would not have it so,” according to one of Luther’s letters.
Since the Luthers raised pigs, Martin playfully referred to Katie by such titles as “high mistress of the Wittenberg pig sty,” Haykin said.
Fellow Reformer John Calvin “epitomizes the Protestant rediscovery of marriage,” Haykin said, referencing the Reformation critique of Roman Catholic celibacy vows.
At age 29, Calvin was driven out of Geneva, Switzerland, and settled in Strasbourg, on the border of modern-day Germany and France, where Protestant leader Martin Bucer attempted to find a wife for him. Bucer and other early Protestants believed that a pastor like Calvin should be an expert on family, and ideally be married himself.
The first three or four potential wives proved unsuitable, including one who spoke only German – a poor match for Calvin who spoke French and didn’t know German. Calvin wrote that he would never marry her “unless the Lord had entirely bereft me of my wits.” Eventually he met and married on his own Idelette de Bure, the widow of an Anabaptist he had known in Geneva.
They were married only eight and a half years before her death; they had experienced two or three pregnancies, though none of their children lived to be more than three days old. Calvin didn’t mention Idelette much in correspondence or sermons, but several surviving letters reveal the depth of their love.
In 1541 a plague raged through Strasbourg, so Calvin sent his wife away for her safety. He wrote to a friend that “day and night my wife has been constantly in my thoughts, in need of advice now that she is separated from her husband.”
When Idelette died in 1549, Calvin wrote, “Mine is no common source of grief. I have been bereaved of the best companion of my life, of one who, had it been so ordered, would not only have been the willing sharer of my indigence, but even of my death. During her life she was the faithful helper of my ministry. From her I never experienced the slightest hindrance. She was never troublesome to me throughout the entire course of her illness; she was more anxious about her children [from her first marriage] than about herself.”
The marriage of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards was “a passionate love story,” Haykin said, noting that Edwards was among the Puritans in England and North America who, among other notable practices, broke from the longstanding tradition of arranged marriages.
“The whole idea of falling in love and then getting married is very much rooted in the Puritans,” Haykin said.
Edwards met Sarah when he was 20 and she was 13. She was six feet tall and “striking in terms of her physical beauty,” Haykin said, but “what caught his eye was her spirituality” and love for God. They married in 1727 with Sarah wearing green, which Edwards believed was God’s favorite color.
The mother of 11 children, Sarah was a “fabulous home economist” and Edwards “relied upon her enormously,” Haykin said. On one occasion when Sarah was away from home to attend a funeral, Edwards wrote a letter asking her to “please come home” because “things are falling apart here.”
When Whitefield stayed in the Edwards’ home for five days in 1740, he wrote that he had not seen a “sweeter couple” and began praying that God would provide him with a wife like Sarah.
Among Edwards’ last acts before he died was to give his daughter Lucy a message for Sarah: “Give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature as I trust is spiritual and therefore will continue forever.”
Charles and Susannah Spurgeon represent another strong marriage from church history, though she had a “very poor first impression” of the great Baptist preacher, Haykin said. The Spurgeons met when he preached for the first time at the London church that came to be known as the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
“He was sweating profusely ... and he pulled out this huge handkerchief with polka dots on it,” Haykin said. “And she thought, ‘What kind of country yokel have the deacons brought in to preach?’“ But soon they were married.
Among other strong marriages in church history were Martyn and Bethan Lloyd-Jones, B.B. and Annie Warfield and Francis and Edith Schaeffer.

Challenging marriages

Not all famous Christians, however, enjoyed vibrant marriages. C.T. Studd, a legendary missionary and author of the poem “Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Past,” went to China for some 15 years without his wife Priscilla, Haykin said. Then he returned home only briefly before going to the Congo without her.
Studd “is often held up as a model of total commitment to Christ,” Haykin said. “I have problems with him in my mind because of his marriage.”
Foreshadowing his own marriage troubles, John Wesley once tried to convince his brother Charles that marriage interfered with commitment to Christ. The week before Charles was to be married with John officiating, the brothers began a journey to the wedding site that should have taken two days. But John scheduled so many preaching engagements along the way that they barely arrived in time for the wedding.
“Charles, in his diary, was absolutely furious at his brother,” Haykin said. John “was giving his brother an object lesson ... that preaching the gospel is more important than marriage.”
When John married two years later, he made sure his wife Molly never interfered with his preaching – with disastrous results. Molly travelled with him for a year. But after “tramping around the British countryside, sleeping under hedgerows, eating half-cooked meals, she told him she was settling down in London,” Haykin said. “Their marriage then began to disintegrate.”
John and Molly experienced ongoing tension over letters he exchanged with other women. She publicly accused him of infidelity at least once, though no evidence exists to substantiate the charges, and monitored his mail before they separated.
Although Whitefield prayed for a wife like Sarah Edwards, when he married, he was far less considerate as a husband than Jonathan Edwards. Whitefield once wrote that he was “not one of those lovers who is swooning for love at his beloved.”
Haykin said Whitefield demonstrated a consistent “lack of husbandly care of his wife.”


Though some may overlook the marriage difficulties of well-known Christians because of their spiritual impact, Haykin sees the matter differently.
“If their marriages would have been solid, I think of how much better their ministries might have been,” he said.
With Wesley, for example, “we don’t see” the impact of his marriage failures “at this distance, and people may not have seen it even in his own day,” Haykin said. “But inevitably it would have had a kickback on ministry. How can he go out to preach the love of God to a crowd and he’s just had a row with his wife? Surely it had some sort of spiritual impact.”
On a positive note, Rainey of Family Life said ministers like Wesley and Whitefield illustrate that God still uses people who don’t “have it all together.”
“I think one of the big fallacies of being in ministry is the lie ... that you have to have it all together in order to preach the gospel,” Rainey said. People are “desperate” for “authentic human beings who are like them, who fail and then get back up and ask for forgiveness from God and their spouse, or their child, and make things right and keep going.”
But Rainey and Haykin agreed that preachers must have godly marriages.
“Marriage is a reflection of the love of God for His people and for His church,” Haykin said. “... Therefore, a Christian pastor who is representing God, speaking God’s Word to His people, if he is married, needs to have a solid marriage.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE - David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

11/25/2014 12:29:12 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Survey: Food ministries aided 1 in 4 families

November 25 2014 by Bob Smietana, Baptist Press

As the holidays approach, food pantries across the country will collect donations to help those in need.
Chances are some of the folks who donate also know what it's like to go to bed hungry.
Nearly one in four Americans (22 percent) say their family has turned to a church-run food pantry in the past for help, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research.
"Churches may have the reputation for serving donuts, coffee and potluck dinners to their members," said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. "But they also are supplying food for many people in need."
The online survey of 1,158 Americans was conducted in September. They were asked to respond to the statement: "My family has received food from a church-run food pantry in the past."
Americans from a wide range of backgrounds said yes.
That includes one in four churchgoers (26 percent) along with one in five (18 percent) of those who never attend services.
One in three African Americans (37 percent) and evangelicals (35 percent) say their family has received help. So do nearly three in 10 (28 percent) of those without a college degree.
About one in four Hispanic Americans (25 percent) and one in five (19 percent) of whites say they had turned to a church-run food pantry.
Those in the West (28 percent) were more likely to say they'd received help than those in the Northeast (17 percent) or South (20 percent).
Older Americans (11 percent) and those with college degrees (13 percent) were among the least likely to say yes.
Some 50 million Americans have trouble putting food on the table, according to Feeding America, a national network of food banks. A similar number of people received food stamps in 2013, according to the USDA.
"There is an abundance of food in the U.S. but plenty of people still go hungry," McConnell said. "Many churches respond by faithfully following the biblical principle of being open-handed to the poor and needy by maintaining well-stocked food pantries to share."
Methodology: The online survey of adult Americans was conducted September 17-18. A sample of an online panel reflecting the adult population of the U.S. was invited to participate. Responses were weighted by region, age, ethnicity, gender and income to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,158 online surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error from this panel does not exceed +2.9 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.
LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect the church.
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine, published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

11/25/2014 12:25:57 PM by Bob Smietana, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Laser engineer connects with S. Asians

November 25 2014 by Don Graham, Baptist Press

Walt Tucker is an MIT grad who is as comfortable starting house churches as he is building lasers to protect aircraft from heat-seeking missiles.
Tucker, 52, spends much of his time sharing Christ and making disciples in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, known as “the Triangle.”
But he hasn’t quit his day job; his engineering career is his entree to a sizeable population of South Asian immigrants and expats who have come to work or study among the Triangle’s cluster of universities and high-tech firms.
Tucker moved to the Raleigh-Durham area in 2013 with his wife Katie, but not because of a job. Though he could have taken his engineering career anywhere, a mission trip to India in 2009 made it clear God was calling the couple to reach South Asians.


Walt and Katie Tucker use their jobs to live out the gospel among a large population of South Asian immigrants and expats in North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Walt works as an engineer; Katie is a clinical director at a chiropractic neurology center.

There are neighborhoods in the Triangle where as many as 80 percent of residents are South Asian, Tucker notes. The high population density, combined with the “technical camaraderie” he’d share with South Asians working in similar fields, made the Triangle a strategic place to live, work and play – on mission. Katie, in her work and witness, is a clinical director at a chiropractic neurology center.
For Tucker, there’s no divide between work life and spiritual life. He views the Great Commission in Matthew 28 as an all-encompassing command to make disciples through every aspect of a believer’s experience.
“I make my faith pretty obvious,” he says. “You preach the gospel by how you live as well as by what you say.
“What you don’t do is direct evangelism during work time,” Tucker cautions. Instead, he looks for the in-between opportunities: coffee breaks, around the water cooler, at lunch. Business trips are another prime opportunity.
“When you travel you get one-on-one with somebody and you have a lot of time, so you really can get into some good discussions,” he says. “I just try to use the time wisely and not be in anybody’s face. You know when someone is not interested so you go slower with them.”
Sometimes, spiritual conversations come when Tucker least expects them. Working late one night at a previous job in Florida, he remembers kneeling with a laser technician on the floor of their lab as the man prayed to receive Christ.
Excellence at work can be a witness unto itself, Tucker notes. For Christ-followers, he believes a job well done is an act of worship. “People wonder why you’re doing such a good job, and you tell them it’s because I’m doing it for the Lord,” he says.
“Also, when you do your work, you do it with excellence because now people know you’re a Christian; it’s like having a fish bumper sticker on the back of your car and driving like a maniac – it’s just not a good witness.”
When Tucker is off the clock, he spends most of his evenings discipling South Asian believers to become disciple-makers themselves.
“We’re trying to train them up to reach their neighbors and co-workers,” he says. “It’s not just about converting them, it’s about teaching them to make disciples.”
So far, the Tuckers have started several small Bible study groups in the Triangle with a vision of them growing house churches. But they know it won’t be easy – or quick.
“Of the South Asians we know who have come to Christ, it’s taken them a period of two to three years of seeing legitimate Christians who really live out their faith before they’ve made a decision,” Tucker says. “We’re in it for the long haul.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Don Graham writes for the International Mission Board. Learn more about using your job to make disciples overseas at

11/25/2014 12:17:21 PM by Don Graham, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Marriage draws cheers at SBC of Virginia

November 24 2014 by Brandon Pickett, Baptist Press

One of the loudest cheers of affirmation at the 2014 Southern Baptist Conservatives (SBC) of Virginia Annual Homecoming was heard after a resolution on biblical marriage was read to the messengers and guests.
Nearly 1,000 messengers and guests attended the Nov. 9-11 annual meeting at The Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights.
“We were challenged, encouraged and built up in the Lord,” said host pastor Randy Hahn said. “Oh, and we got some business done also. So grateful for the SBC of Virginia and its leadership that gives us opportunity to be so blessed in coming together for the work of the Lord. Annual Homecoming is a revival!”
This year’s theme, “Strong Churches with a Bold Commitment to the Great Commission,” was woven throughout the meeting, including sermons by keynote speakers Alistair Begg, Eric Geiger, Grant Ethridge and John Marshall.
Begg, drawing from 2 Timothy 3:14-17, noted that Timothy was not about magnifying himself. “He was like a styrofoam cup which has significance only in that which it contains. It is disposable. It will be gone in a moment,” Begg said. “It only has benefit on the strength of that which is in it.”
Begg also spoke to 128 church planters and sponsors during a special dinner where he reminded them of the importance of staying true to the Word of God. Later that evening to the entire convention, he reminded attendees that the task of pastors is one of a constant reminder, like parents do with their children. “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. We are people of The Book. People become convinced by the scriptures. Only God can soften hearts and give hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind.”
Brian Autry, SBC of Virginia’s executive director, gave a virtual missions tour around the Commonwealth in his Monday night report. He highlighted the efforts to reach Muslims in the Washington, D.C., metro area and in urban outreach in the Southeast, then called attendees to gather around church planters for a special time of prayer.
“Our Annual Homecoming was totally about the business of being boldly committed to the Great Commission,” Autry said. “From celebrating disaster relief volunteers, to praying over church planters and partner churches, to encouraging churches in the midst of revitalization, our focus is on honoring and proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord.”
Autry highlighted the story of pastor Don Paxton and how he and a mission team from Rosedale Baptist Church partnered with a church planter in northern Virginia to bring physical help along with the gospel at an Arab festival attended by some 10,000 people.
Four resolutions were approved unanimously by the messengers: Gratitude to the Lord and The Heights Baptist Church, Appreciation for Congressman J. Randy Forbes, Reaffirmation of Biblical Marriage, and Gratitude to the SBC of Virginia Disaster Relief Team. The text of the marriage and Forbes resolutions follow this story.
Mission Service Corps couple Matt and Susan Clonch were commissioned on Monday evening to reach hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Representatives from their sponsor church, Fincastle Baptist, and the Executive Board’s missions and communications committee prayed over them.
Messengers approved a 2015 Ministry Investment Plan of $9,000,000, the same amount as 2014. SBC of Virginia treasurer Eddie Urbine said the budget allocates 51 percent for SBC ministries and promotion and 49 percent for SBC of Virginia ministries. Since the inception of the SBC of Virginia, $116,374,396 has been given through the Cooperative Program.
Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, encouraged messengers in the work they are doing for the Lord through the local church and through the SBC of Virginia. But he also exhorted them to increase their missions giving to see even more Kingdom impact.
Messengers unanimously re-elected Grant Ethridge, senior pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, as convention president.
“The reports of what God is doing in church planting and church mobilization to reach different people groups in Virginia were nothing short of miraculous,” Ethridge said. “God is moving and I have never been more proud to be a part of the family called SBC of Virginia.
“But the annual pep rally is over. Now is the time to be bold in our praying and preaching. Now is the time to be bold in our living and giving. Now is the time to cry out to God for revival in the church and spiritual awakening in our nation.”
The convention’s other officers also were elected unanimously: First vice president Brad Russell, senior pastor of Old Powhatan Baptist Church in Powhatan; second vice president Brent Vickery, senior pastor of Ramoth Baptist Church in Stafford; and secretary Matthew Kirkland, senior pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Christiansburg.
On both Monday and Tuesday afternoon, hundreds attended special luncheons. Monday’s lunch celebrated disaster relief volunteers with guest speaker Congressman Randy Forbes. Tuesday’s lunch highlighted SBC of Virginia’s Acts 1:8 Network with missionary and author Nik Ripken.
Autry, thankful for the atmosphere of highlighting missions throughout the entire three days, said, “Seeing pastors and church leaders representing various nations and generations at our Annual Homecoming serves as a reminder that we are living in the midst of a harvest field. We must work together to bring in the harvest.”
The gathering also featured a hands-on mission opportunity. Nearly 1,500 backpacks from more than 40 churches were loaded into a North America Mission Board tractor-trailer to be delivered just in time for children in need at Christmas.
Jerry Daniel, Love Loud team leader for the North American Mission Board, spoke of the importance of local churches connecting to the mission project, noting, “It’s a way for people to express generosity and compassion. A lot of churches enjoy encouraging their children to be a part of packing the backpacks because they get to talk about sharing and be concerned for those who have needs.”
Scott Bullman and the Sounds of Liberty from Liberty University led worship throughout the meeting. On Sunday evening, The Heights praise team, orchestra and choir led worship. On Monday evening, recording artist TaRanda Green joined the Sounds of Liberty and a combined choir from multiple SBC of Virginia churches for a special time of worship.
Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton will host the 2015 SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming Nov. 8-10. Keynote speakers will include Ronnie Floyd, Vance Pittman, K. Marshall Williams and Dennis Swanberg.
Following are SBC of Virginia resolutions on marriage and Congressman Randy Forbes
WHEREAS, we the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and is the lens through which we see and understand God’s gracious and loving design for marriage, (Gen 2:24) and
WHEREAS the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and its affiliated Churches reaffirm the historic and biblical definition of marriage, and the need for it in our society; and
WHEREAS we affirm Article III section 1 of the Southern Baptist Convention Constitution which states, “Among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior” and
WHEREAS some within our current culture, and judicial system, promote and recognize alternate definitions of marriage in an increasing number of states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, Be it
RESOLVED that we affirm that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: marriage, as instituted by God, is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, permanent, exclusive union. (Genesis 1:27; 2:24-25; Matthew 19:4-6) God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other. God has commanded that no one engage in intimate sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. (1 Corinthians 7:1-9) Be it further
RESOLVED that we, affirm that declaring God’s Word and warning people of the consequences of their sins, including sexual sins, is an act of loving concern (James 5:19-20). God’s Word remains true and His prohibitions – including those on sexual sins – cannot be changed by any human government. (Acts 5:29) Be it finally
RESOLVED that we affirm God’s offer of redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:9-13) We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. (Ephesians 4:29-32; 1 John 4:20-21) Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual, including those involved in sexual sin, are not in accord with scripture nor the doctrines of the church and are to be repudiated. (Colossians 3:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8-12)
WHEREAS, Congressman J. Randy Forbes, since elected to Congress in 2001, has set his key priorities to protect and defend our nation; and
WHEREAS, Congressman J. Randy Forbes “founded and chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus and has led this group of bipartisan Members in national efforts to protect prayer and our nation’s spiritual history”; and
WHEREAS Congressman J. Randy Forbes has expressed public appreciation and recognition for the SBC of Virginia’s disaster relief volunteers and response efforts, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that we the SBC of Virginia express our love and gratitude to God for the life and work efforts of Congressman J. Randy Forbes; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the SBC of Virginia would pray the Lord’s blessing on Congressman J. Randy Forbes’ continued service in our nation’s Congress.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Pickett is director of communications & mobilization for the SBC of Virginia.)

11/24/2014 12:14:43 PM by Brandon Pickett, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Snowmelt flooding puts DR on alert

November 24 2014 by Joe Conway & Art Toalston, Baptist Press

“This is the first day of the digout in Erie County” from seven feet of snow, said Mike Flannery, disaster relief director for the Baptist Convention of New York.
Flannery was on the road to a meeting of the Erie County VOAD network (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) as he spoke briefly with Baptist Press about the record snowfall in Buffalo and nearby communities since Nov. 17. Flannery co-chairs the VOAD, which assists the Erie County Emergency Management Office.
“We’re working with churches to dig senior adults out of their houses,” Flannery reported of contacts with Baptist churches and those in other denominations.
And the VOAD is preparing for flooding as the snow melts, Flannery said, adding, “It looks like it’s going to be a long weekend.”
Yet such ministries may yield a starting point for church planting in the affected areas, Flannery noted.
When massive storms dump snow accumulations taller than the average person, all of that snowmelt has to go somewhere as cities across the Northeast face the prospect of flooding and even more snow. The polar blast, generated by a Pacific storm that spread a cold front as it curved north into the Arctic, brought freezing temperatures and/or snowfall to parts of all 48 contiguous states. The New York snowstorm has been responsible for 12 weather-related fatalities to date.
Fritz Wilson, executive director for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), expects state SBDR teams will be handling most of the flood recovery and mud-out work stemming from the storm. The SBDR team at NAMB is closely monitoring developments.
“The potential for flooding is high in the affected areas that have received from five to seven feet of snow,” Wilson said. “The strength of the disaster relief network and the preparation of state organizations like New York and others give us optimism that our state partners will be able to respond to possible flooding.” Wilson said depending on the nature of the event, New York could request assistance from states in the Northeast, but he does not anticipate that it will call for a national response.
The National Weather Service (NWS) had issued multiple lake-effect snow warnings in New York, all set to expire Nov. 21. The NWS issued a flood watch for the most heavily affected areas that will not expire until Nov. 26. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, snowmelt typically generates a 10:1 ratio in water accumulation. In the case of the area around Buffalo, seven feet of melting snow would produce almost a foot of water.
NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief ministries.
Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained volunteers – including chaplains – and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained Disaster Relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
Those wishing to donate to SBDR relief can contact the Baptist convention in their state or visit For phone donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board; Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

11/24/2014 11:01:10 AM by Joe Conway & Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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