November 2016

Platt to N.C. Baptists: Missions involves sacrifice

November 22 2016 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

“We’re fooling ourselves if we think we can live our lives and lead our churches to go and reach the lost in the highways and hedges and continue with business as usual,” said David Platt, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), as he delivered the flagship sermon of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) annual meeting Nov. 15 in Greensboro, N.C.

Photo by Steve Cooke
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, delivers the flagship sermon of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting Nov. 15 in Greensboro, N.C.

As he taught on multiple themes from 1 Corinthians 15, Platt addressed a central concern for Christians. “Compelling the lost to come to life is costly,” he said. “It involves sacrifice.”
A single question framed the sermon: Why must Christians go into dangerous places for the spread of the gospel?
Platt answered with three points. First, he said death is coming.
“None of us in this room is guaranteed tomorrow, so let us not waste today,” said Platt. “We don’t invest our lives in temporary trinkets. We invest our lives in eternal treasure. We don’t spend our lives on fleeting pleasures and foolish pursuits. We spend our lives on what’s going to matter forever.”
Platt shifted his attention to non-Christians as he continued, “They’re not guaranteed tomorrow either. … What lies ahead in eternity for those who don’t know Christ?”
Briefly touching on a notorious debate about the nature of hell, Platt repeated a common question about whether the Bible’s wording on the doctrine is metaphorical.
“Is that language literal, like literal fire and sulfur, or are those just symbols?” he asked before continuing. “Well, let’s assume for a moment that maybe they’re symbols. I’m not saying they are, but what if they were? What are they symbols for – a winter retreat, summer vacation? … These are not symbols for a nice place to be. … The whole point of a symbols is to express in words that which cannot be expressed in words – a terrifying place to be!”
The second point in Platt’s sermon emphasized the importance of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Drawing directly from the passage, he said, “If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, brother or sister, you’ve staked your entire life for eternity on the decomposed corpse of a Jewish carpenter from 2,000 years ago. …
“Biblical Christianity is not a nice, decent, cozy Christian spin on the American dream as we wait for heaven. Biblical Christianity is about laying down your life and your rights for the spread of the gospel. It’s about embracing suffering. It’s about going to hard places, needy places – dangerous, difficult places. It’s about forsaking possessions and pleasures. It’s about sacrificing comforts. It’s about taking risks in faith, and all off that only makes sense if Christianity is true.”
Concluding with the third point, Platt called attention to the trajectory of history as it moves toward Christ’s ultimate reign.
“Here is the beauty: Every time you or I go to somebody in the community around us, proclaim this gospel and people bow the knee to King Jesus, His kingdom is coming. …
“We know where all history is headed. It’s headed toward the day when every nation, tribe, tongue and people will gather around the throne of our King and give Him glory. We want our lives, our ministries, to count. So let’s live to see more people bowed around the throne on that day.”
In Platt’s introductory remarks to the message, he thanked messengers for the generosity of their churches. North Carolina Baptists gave more than $14.6 million to international missions the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for 2016, leading the 42 state conventions in missions giving.
“Thank you for the way you lead your churches and the way you personally give to the Cooperative Program and to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” Platt said. “Thank you specifically for the way you have given over the last year as we’ve walked through some challenging days in the IMB.
“It’s in light of your giving that I’m happy to announce to you tonight that after years of spending millions more dollars than we have received, the IMB just last week approved a balanced budget for 2017, and I’m pleased to announce to you that … next year we’ll not only have a balanced budget but we will increase the number of Southern Baptist missionaries spreading the gospel around the world,” he said as the crowd applauded.
“Thank you for clapping,” Platt said, “but I’m the one clapping for you.”

11/22/2016 9:17:48 AM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Baptists on Mission help ‘prepare the way’

November 22 2016 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Long term rebuilding and disaster recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Matthew in eastern North Carolina will take two to three years or more, but N.C. Baptist Men, also known as Baptists on Mission (NCBM), will be there for the long haul to serve, minister and offer hope in Jesus’ name.

Photo by Steve Cooke
Richard Brunson, executive director of NCBM, gives his report at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Annual Meeting on Nov. 15 in Greensboro.

“Life won’t be back to normal for many people for a long time,” Richard Brunson, executive director of NCBM, said in his report to messengers at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Annual Meeting on Nov. 15 in Greensboro. Brunson’s report also touched on several of the 17 different ministries of NCBM, which is auxiliary of the Baptist state convention.
While Brunson said no one predicted the devastation that Hurricane Matthew would bring when it hit North Carolina in early October, he said NCBM volunteers were on hand in the immediate aftermath of the storm providing hot meals, clean water, chaplains, showers, laundry services and childcare. Brunson said at one point following the storm, volunteers at six mobile kitchens served meals in six different locations throughout the region.
Following the initial response, chainsaw, mud-out and tear-out teams began the process of helping people put their lives back together. That work is ongoing, Brunson said.
“There’s no better way to get to know someone and minister to them than to go into their home and help them with mud-out and tear-out and help them rebuild their homes and their lives,” Brunson said.
Prior to Annual Meeting, Robert Simons, president of NCBM, said more than 60 individuals had responded to the gospel through the disaster relief efforts.
On the opening night of Annual Meeting, Mike Sprayberry, director of North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, spoke to messengers and expressed appreciation to the many N.C. Baptist volunteers who have served during the Hurricane Matthew relief efforts.
“I can’t really overestimate how much we value your partnership,” Sprayberry said. “We could not do our job successfully without the North Carolina Baptist men and women.”
Brunson also thanked the Hurricane Matthew volunteers, as well as all N.C. Baptists for praying for, giving to and going with Baptists on Mission, whose goal is to help churches involve their members in missions.
Brunson noted that each year numerous medical professionals volunteer their time and expertise on board NCBM’s two medical/dental buses and the new health screening bus. The patients served by these ministries not only receive care for their physical needs, they also receive spiritual care, resulting in many decisions for Christ, Brunson said.
Brunson’s report also highlighted NCBM’s numerous international mission’s partnerships. Through these partnerships, NCBM sends teams of people to places like Armenia, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Kenya, Romania, South Africa and Ukraine each year, Brunson said.
Andie Faircloth, an NCBM volunteer who recently returned from her first international missions trip to Honduras, shared her experience with messengers. During the trip, the team helped a missionary family build a house and held a weeklong Vacation Bible School for children. The team was comprised of 15 individuals of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, but God brought them together for a common purpose.
“There is simply no good explanation of how we came together except that it was God’s divine will,” Faircloth said. “He used us to prepare the way for His work in Honduras.”
“Prepare the way” is the theme for the 2016 North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), which supports the 17 different ministers of Baptists on Mission. The theme was derived from Luke 10:1 in which Jesus sends out 70 individuals in pairs to minister and serve in the places He was about to go.
Citing the example of Peter and John healing the lame man outside the temple gate in Acts 3, Brunson said preparing the way for Jesus is marked by four characteristics: seeing people around you; being sensitive to the Holy Spirit; ministering with the gifts and abilities you have; and speaking and acting in humility and love.
“Do we really see hurting people, and do we really love them?” Brunson asked. “Are we sensitive to the Holy Spirit?
“In short, are we willing to prepare the way for Jesus?”
To learn more about N.C. Baptist Men/Baptists on Mission, visit To learn more about the North Carolina Missions Offering, visit

11/22/2016 9:11:00 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Trinity discussion focus of ETS meeting

November 22 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

The Trinity theme of last week’s Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) annual meeting spurred the continuation of an online debate and provided a venue for application of the Trinity to a variety of disciplines.
According to a count by Baptist Press, some 175 of the Nov. 15-17 meeting’s approximately 600 presentations were offered by scholars with ties to Southern Baptist churches, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminaries and colleges that partner with Baptist state conventions.
In a presentation characterized as “highly anticipated” by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary news release, Southern Seminary theology professor Bruce Ware defended his view that there is “an eternal relation of authority and submission between God the Father and God the Son.”
Ware’s view, which is shared by Phoenix Seminary’s Wayne Grudem among others, has been the subject of an online debate that generated more than 140 blog posts between June 3 and July 11, according to a count by Jack Jeffrey of
Ware, Coleman Professor of Christian Theology at Southern, argued in his ETS paper that the three co-equal persons of the Trinity “carry out their activities within an eternal relation of authority and submission, reflecting who each is as eternal Father, Son, and Spirit.”
The relationship of authority and submission, Ware wrote, is not merely a matter of function, but reflects something of the eternal personhood of the persons of the Trinity.
Ware acknowledged that some points of the present Trinity debate “are approaching the point of sheer mystery in which we are seeking to know what has not been revealed.”
Still, he cited a “mountain of biblical evidence of the Father’s role in planning, designing, [and] sending, to be accomplished through the Son and Spirit, all of which takes place long before the incarnation, indeed long before creation, in what might be called eternity past.”
Ware added, "I'm ... inclined to think [that] what God has shown us of Himself" -- the Son's submission to the Father from eternity past -- "is truly an outward and economic expression" of the eternal personhood of the persons of the Trinity.

The Trinity & feminist theology

Candi Finch, assistant professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, argued in a paper that feminist theologians have committed a serious error by “renaming and reimagining the Trinity” in feminine terms.
One common error of feminist theologians is to use the Greek word “sophia” – which means wisdom and possesses feminine grammatical gender – to reference a supposedly feminine side of the Father, Son or Holy Spirit, Finch wrote.
While God’s wisdom is referenced in the Bible, Finch wrote, and while “feminine and masculine metaphors and similes are used for God in Scripture,” God “is never referred to by the name or title of ‘Mother’ or ‘Sophia’ or by feminine pronouns.”
Feminist theologians rightly attempt to correct the false teachings “that God favors men, that women are inferior, [and] that women cannot be useful in the Kingdom of God,” Finch wrote. But by “remaking God in their own image,” feminist theologians “have essentially committed idolatry.”
“Considering how gender itself is being redefined in our own culture today, there is no end to the remaking of God to reflect a person’s own self-understanding,” Finch wrote.

How is God unchanging?

Adam Harwood, associate professor of theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, argued in a paper that all three persons of the Trinity participated in the incarnation of Jesus and thus “all the members of the Triune Godhead can sympathize with the human condition.”
The main question considered in Harwood’s paper was whether Jesus’ assumption of humanity “resulted in the triune God sharing in experiences of change not previously possible for an incorporeal God.”
In response, Harwood affirmed the traditional belief that God “is unchanging in His nature and He cannot be moved emotionally to act contrary to His plans.”
At the same time, Harwood agreed with a line of evangelical and conservative Catholic theologians who have argued, “Because the death of Christ was experienced by the unified person of Christ, it seems reasonable to say that the divine nature experienced to some degree the death of Christ” – an experience of change.
“And because that incarnate, eternal Son is the same eternal Son who has existed from eternity with the other persons of the Godhead, then any experience of the Son would also be shared in a sympathetic way by the Father and the Spirit due to their shared being and personal life,” Harwood wrote.

A historical Trinity debate

John Mark Yeats, professor of church history at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented a paper recounting an 18th-century theological debate between Unitarian scholar Joseph Priestley and Jewish scholar David Levi.
Priestley rejected the virgin birth of Jesus, the divinity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity, inviting Jews to convert to his supposedly more “logical” version of Christianity, Yeats wrote. Levi rejected Priestley’s religious beliefs as lacking biblical warrant.
Among noteworthy observers of the debate was Thomas Jefferson, who said he read Priestley’s works “over and over again” and “rest[ed] on them ... as the basis of my own faith.”
Yeats also described the contribution to the debate of Anglican Anselm Bayly, noting orthodox Christians of the day were “concerned about the theology being propounded” by both Jews and Unitarians.

The Trinity & bioethics

Daniel Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, argued in a paper that because God has ordered the world to reflect His Trinitarian nature, there is naturally a three-faceted method for evaluating bioethical dilemmas.
Scripture contains numerous examples of “ethical reality” that reflect the Trinity, Heimbach wrote. For instance, there are “three virtues essential to living the Christian life” – faith, hope and love – and “three stages of salvation” – justification, sanctification and glorification.
In the realm of bioethics, “all we are and do must conform to the holiness of God ... express the love of God, and ... be for the glory of God,” Heimbach wrote.
To illustrate his Trinitarian proposal for evaluating bioethical dilemmas, Heimbach considered a hypothetical scenario in which a woman becomes a surrogate mother for her sister and brother-in-law because her sister is biologically unable to bear children.
Heimbach argued the surrogate mother’s actions ultimately are unethical because they violate “something holy to God” and the glory of God by “gestating life outside the marital union.” At the same time, the actions exhibit commendable love for the infertile sister.

Hosea & marriage

In one of many ETS presentations not on the Trinity, Debbie Steele and Rick Durst of Gateway Seminary of the SBC presented a paper citing the Old Testament book of Hosea as a model for reenergizing broken relationships.
In Hosea 1-2, Hosea and his wife Gomer felt increasingly insecure in their relationship and consequently withdrew from one another emotionally and physically, wrote Steele and Durst.
Steele is associate professor of Christian counseling, and Durst serves as director of Gateway’s San Francisco campus.
Using the case study of a modern-day couple facing marriage challenges, Steele and Durst explained how Hosea and Gomer’s reconciliation mirrors insights from the field of emotionally focused counseling.
A spouse who feels emotionally detached from the marriage “can only be quieted by a loving partner moving closer to soothe and reassure,” Steele and Durst wrote. “Nothing else will do.
Once the partners regain confidence in knowing they can count on each other to be there emotionally, they will feel more secure in the relationship, allowing the emotional bond to fortify.”
The 2017 ETS annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 15-17 in Providence, R.I., with the theme “the heritage of the Reformation.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)


11/22/2016 9:04:30 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

West Virginia Baptists set goals for 2020

November 22 2016 by Cleve Persinger, WVCSB

Gathering around the theme “a new day,” West Virginia Southern Baptists were introduced to three new convention strategists and presented with four-year goals for church planting and baptisms.

WVCSB photo
Tommy Green, center, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, closed the WVCSB annual meeting by calling pastors to prayer.

Meeting Nov. 3-4 at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Wheeling Triadelphia at The Highlands in Triadelphia, W.Va., 155 messengers and 48 guests marked a 120 percent increase in total attendance over last year’s West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists (WVCSB) annual meeting.
WVCSB executive director-treasurer Bill Henard presented three strategists hired by the convention during the past year: Cleve Persinger, who oversees partnerships and communication; Danny Rumple, who oversees missions and church planting; and Tim Turner, who oversees evangelism and discipleship.
Together, Henard and the strategists presented a series of goals adopted by the convention’s executive board to “strengthen and send” West Virginia Southern Baptists leading up to the convention’s 50th anniversary in 2020. Among the “2020 goals”:
– Involve 25 percent of the state’s congregations in church planting.
– Achieve a 90-percent “success rate” among church plants, with success defined as experiencing incremental growth and baptizing a sufficient number of new believers to be self-sustaining after five years.
– Form additional “Acts 1:8 partnerships” linking West Virginia Southern Baptists in missions partnerships with believers in the state, in other states and across the world.
– Increase baptisms 5 percent per year among reporting churches.
– Initiate a revitalization process in at least one church in every West Virginia association.
The “a new day” theme has been the convention’s emphasis for the entire fall season and is drawn from Amos 5:4-6. According to a WVCSB news release, the theme “reminds us that [God’s] saving acts are not simply a thing of the past. We should seek them in the present.”
Henard told messengers, “West Virginia Southern Baptists celebrate God’s past faithfulness, but believe the state’s best days are ahead. The unity among our associational DOMs, pastors and the state convention is unprecedented. There is nothing more beautiful than when a convention of God’s people work together. It truly is a new day.”
The convention unanimously adopted the 2017 budget of $2,504,244, an increase of 6 percent from the current year.
Included in the 2017 budget: $1,197,833 in anticipated Cooperative Program giving from WVCSB churches; a continued 60/40 split between WVCSB and Southern Baptist Convention causes; $1,141,000 in anticipated funding from the North American Mission Board; and $55,000 anticipated from LifeWay Christian Resources.
All four convention officers were re-elected: president, Ron McCoy, associational missionary for the Upper Ohio Valley Baptist Association in Moundsville, W.Va.; first vice president, Todd Hill, pastor of Grace Baptist in Parkersburg, W.Va.; second vice president, Paul Harris, pastor of Abundant Hope Church in Barboursville, W.Va.; and recording secretary Jim Messenger, pastor of Faith Baptist in West Union, W.Va.
In his president’s message, McCoy said, “We need a spirit of cooperation to take this state for the gospel. There’s no reason West Virginia cannot be the epicenter of revival in our nation.”
C.J. Adkins, pastor of Westmoreland Baptist Church in Huntington, W.Va., delivered the convention message, stating, “We have a resource in difficult times. The Almighty God is our strength.”
Messengers approved the only presented resolution, which thanked the city of Wheeling and the Upper Ohio Valley Association for their hospitality in hosting the annual meeting.
Guest speakers included Mark Dance, director of LifeWay Pastors, who charged pastors to “stop and rest,” and Tommy Green, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention.
Green closed the annual meeting by calling WVCSB pastors to pray for one another, forgive the past and seek God.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is what brings us together,” Green said. “If we’re going to reach West Virginia for Christ, we must be together.” Pastors knelt at the altar in response.
Music was led by the worship team from Open Door Baptist Church in Colliers, W.Va.
The Pastors’ and Ministers’ Wives’ Conferences were held prior to the annual meeting.
The WVCSB 2017 annual meeting will be held Nov. 2-3 at First Baptist Church of Fairlea, in Lewisburg, W.Va.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Cleve Persinger oversees partnerships and communications for the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.)

11/22/2016 8:53:24 AM by Cleve Persinger, WVCSB | with 0 comments

Kentucky Baptists increase CP, denounce trafficking

November 22 2016 by Todd Deaton, Western Recorder

A report of increased giving through the Cooperative Program by Kentucky Baptist churches and a denunciation of human trafficking were among the highlights of the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) annual meeting Nov. 15 in Cincinnati-area Florence, Ky.

Photo by Robin Cornetet
KBC President Andrew Dyer (right) presents newly elected officers (left to right) Josh Landrum, Kenny Rager and Bill Langley.

Meeting at Florence Baptist Church, messengers also elected the pastor of the state’s oldest Baptist church as convention president and advocated foster care and adoption.
The 2017-18 budget of $22 million will divide Cooperative Program (CP) receipts equally between KBC missions and ministries and Southern Baptist Convention causes, with 7 percent shared expenses.
A $500,000 increase to the convention’s CP budget was approved after giving from churches exceeded projections for 2015-16 by more than $1 million. Kentucky Baptists gave more than $22.3 million through CP and an additional $8.9 million through special offerings for state, national and international missions work.
“Increasing the CP budget goal for a second straight year is a wonderful surprise,” said KBC executive director Paul Chitwood. “Knowing the challenges facing so many of our churches and yet to see them giving more, not less, to get the gospel to Kentucky, North America and the nations is inspiring and humbling. We thank God for every dollar that will be given and every person who will give it.”

New officers

Bill Langley, pastor of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., was elected KBC president by acclamation. He was nominated by Dan Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., and a past KBC president.
Langley served as president of this year’s Kentucky Baptist Pastors’ Conference, held at Florence Baptist immediately prior to the annual meeting.

Photo by Robin Cornetet
The KBC annual meeting was held Nov. 15 at Cincinnati-area Florence Baptist Church.

Langley’s “roots grow deep in Kentucky Baptist life,” Summerlin told the Western Recorder in stating his intent to nominate Langley. He noted that Langley’s profession of faith came as an 8-year-old at the church he now pastors.
In his nomination speech, Summerlin highlighted three reasons Kentucky Baptists should elect Langley: his character, his competence as a leader and his commitment to the Cooperative Program.
“Throughout the state, people respect him for modeling the Christian life,” Summerlin said. “He preaches on evangelism, and he backs it up with his lifestyle.”
Langley said his primary goal as president is to encourage Kentucky congregations to concentrate on evangelism and discipleship in a time of great challenges and great opportunities.
“This is not a time to ‘hold the fort,’” Langley said. “This is a time to advance and enlarge the Kingdom.”
During Langley’s seven years at Severns Valley, more than 500 new believers have been baptized and the church has given more than $2.1 million through CP. The congregation consistently is a state leader in CP giving, contributing more than $12 million since 1928.
“I am a strong advocate of the Cooperative Program for a very pragmatic reason: We can do much more together than we can do by ourselves,” Langley said.
Elected to serve with Langley were first vice president Kenny Rager, a church planter and pastor of Community Life Church in Owensboro, Ky.; and second vice president Josh Landrum, pastor of Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, Ky. Both ran unopposed.


Human trafficking was the focus of one resolution adopted by messengers. Trafficking is a $32 billion illegal industry that ensnares an estimated 27 million people worldwide, with the average girl trafficked for prostitution being 12-14 years old.
Kentucky Baptists called on law enforcement and prosecutors to do all in their power to end human trafficking, and for Kentucky Baptists to become educated on how to prevent it and how to minister to those victimized by it.
“This is a horrendous crime that must be addressed,” Chitwood said prior to the resolution’s adoption. “Human beings should not be treated as property and used in forced prostitution or involuntary labor.”
Another resolution promoted foster care and adoption.
Noting that the state of Kentucky has custody of nearly 8,000 children who have been removed from homes because of abuse or neglect, the resolution stated, “We understand we have a Christian responsibility to provide physical care to those in need and to adopt orphans as we have opportunity.”
The resolution urged Kentucky Baptists to support Sunrise Children’s Services, a ministry of the KBC that has taken care of orphans since 1869.

CP ‘gatekeepers’

In his annual report, Chitwood emphasized that pastors are “gatekeepers” for CP, playing a vital role in teaching their congregations how Southern Baptists work together to reach the state, nation and world for Christ.
Pastors “defend CP in budget committee meetings and during business meetings,” Chitwood said. “And they preach responsibility to the Great Commission for every church and every church member. Thank God for the men of God who still believe in evangelism and missions, still love the Lord and the lost and still want to see their neighbors and the nation reached for Christ.”
Chitwood highlighted the “sacrifice, the faithfulness and the conviction that causes churches to continue to give to reach Kentucky, North America and the nations with the gospel.”
In other actions:
– Messengers clarified that only members of cooperating Kentucky Baptist churches are eligible to be nominated for and to serve on convention committees.
Mark Maynard, chairman of the Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, explained, “While such an understanding has likely been assumed over the years,” a new guideline adopted by messengers “will remove any possible ambiguity.”
The guideline specifies: “Should at any time a committee member’s church membership cease to be in a cooperating affiliated church, the committee member will be considered as having resigned from the committee.”
– Princeton, Ky., newspaper publisher Chip Hutcheson received the Integrity Award for Coverage of Faith Issues, given by the KBC Communications Team.
Hutcheson, a 2012 Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, has served Princeton and its surrounding communities with news reporting since 1976. Editor of the Times Leader, Hutcheson is a former president of both the National Newspaper Association and the Kentucky Press Association.
Hutcheson was elected KBC president in 2013 and served as chairman of the SBC’s Committee on Nominations in 2014. A member of Southside Baptist Church in Princeton, he also has served on the boards of the Western Recorder and the Kentucky Ethics League.
– Prestonsburg, Ky., pastor Tommy Reed was chosen to preach the 2017 convention sermon when Kentucky Baptists gather Nov. 14 at Louisville’s Highview Baptist Church.
Reed has served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Fitzpatrick since 2003 and is a member of the KBC Mission Board and its Missions Mobilization Committee.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Todd Deaton is editor of the Western Recorder,, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

11/22/2016 8:46:56 AM by Todd Deaton, Western Recorder | with 0 comments

Thousands protest same-sex marriage bills in Taiwan

November 22 2016 by Angela Lu, WORLD News Service

Thousands of demonstrators filled the streets in front of the Legislative Yuan on Nov. 17 to protest a set of bills that would make Taiwan the first Asian government to recognize same-sex marriage. By the end of the evening, the protesters had gained a victory: The legislature decided to allow two public hearings before voting on the law.
Wearing white shirts and carrying signs that read, “Let the people decide on marriage and family,” and, “Stand up for the happiness of the next generation,” the protesters – including families with young children – showed up at 7 a.m. to express their dismay that legislators were pushing the law through without a public hearing or allowing the people a chance to participate. The protest remained mostly peaceful, with demonstrators singing, giving impassioned speeches and praying. Yet at 3 p.m., as legislators still refused to hold a public hearing on the issue, protesters stormed the gate surrounding the Legislative Yuan. About 60 people were able to get in and hold a sit-in outside the assembly hall before police blocked off the gate.
Tens of thousands of people turned out in October for a gay-pride parade in the streets of Taipei. The legalization of same-sex marriage has been expected ever since the pro-LGBT Democratic Progress Party (DPP) took control of the parliament earlier this year. President Tsai Ing-wen has also been vocal in her support of gay marriage. In contrast, the previous ruling Kuomintang party held a more traditional Confucian view of the family, which clearly states marriage is between a man and a woman.
Led by DPP member Yu Mei-nu, legislators drafted three bills to legalize same-sex marriage and offer couples welfare benefits, joint property rights and shared custody of children, according to the Los Angeles Times. The proposed laws respond to complaints by same-sex couples who married and had children through surrogacy overseas, but cannot have legal custody of the children in Taiwan.
The rally, organized by the Alliance for the Happiness of Future Generations, included protesters from all over the island of Taiwan, most of them Christians and some Buddhists who oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons. Christians make up only about 5 percent of Taiwan’s population, yet in the past have come out in force to oppose same-sex marriage laws. In November 2013, tens of thousands of Christians protested a similar law revision that would have changed the terms “man and woman” to “two parties” and “father and mother” to “parents.”
Some protesters said they attended the event because they feared their children would be taught that homosexuality was normal in their schools. Others called for the removal of Yu, who drafted the bill, claiming she did not represent them. David Tseng, spokesman for the ally, said the group supports equal rights for same-sex partners, but not the redefinition of marriage.
“We are different from the West,” Tseng told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. “In Eastern culture, we place great importance on filial piety to one’s father and mother. This is a virtue we must keep.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Angela Lu writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine,, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission.)

11/22/2016 8:30:05 AM by Angela Lu, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

North Carolina Baptists lead the way in missions giving

November 21 2016 by BR and BSC staff

North Carolina Baptists gave more than $32 million dollars to Southern Baptist missions and ministries in the last fiscal year, leading the 42 state conventions in cooperative giving through both the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (more than $14.6 million) and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (more than $6 million).

Photo by Steve Cooke
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, celebrated the sacrificial giving of North Carolina Baptists in his annual report.

Messengers to the 2016 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting voted to approve a budget that increases the percentage of Cooperative Program funds forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention for the 2017 fiscal year to 40.5 percent (or $11,417,637), representing a half-percent increase over last year’s allotment. The total budget for 2017 comes to $30,375,000, which is up nearly 3 percent over 2016.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, celebrated the sacrificial giving of North Carolina Baptists in his annual report.
“Financial gifts from North Carolina Baptist churches enabled us to forward the largest contributions from North Carolina Baptists to Southern Baptist causes in our history! … To God be the glory! It is our hope that this level of support for North Carolina Baptist churches will continue to grow in the coming years as North Carolina Baptists continue to embrace the importance of cooperative giving,” said Hollifield.

Rising to the occasion

The positive financial report came after a year marked by the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and the International Mission Board’s implementation of austerity measures to counteract deficit spending in previous years.
Messengers approved a goal of $2.1 million for the 2017 North Carolina Missions Offering, which supports Southern Baptist disaster relief, and collected a special offering of $6,473.96 for Hurricane Matthew relief and recovery.
Mike Sprayberry, director of North Carolina Emergency Management, expressed appreciation to North Carolina Baptists for their partnership in disaster relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
David Platt, IMB president, thanked North Carolina Baptists for giving and supporting the IMB as it took steps to balance the budget.

Photo by Steve Cooke
At the 2016 BSC annual meeting, Cameron McGill (center), pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church was elected as president. Joel Stephens (left), pastor of Westfield Baptist Church, was elected first vice-president. J.D. Grant (right), pastor of Scotts Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, was elected second vice-president.

“Thank you for the way you lead your churches and the way you personally give to the Cooperative Program and to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” Platt said. “Thank you specifically for the way you have given over the last year as we’ve walked through some challenging days in the IMB.
“It’s in light of your giving that I’m happy to announce to you tonight that after years of spending millions more dollars than we have received, the IMB just last week approved a balanced budget for 2017, and I’m pleased to announced to you that … next year we’ll not only have a balanced budget but we will increase the number of Southern Baptist missionaries spreading the gospel around the world,” he said as the crowd applauded.
“Thank you for clapping,” Platt said, “but I’m the one clapping for you.”
Messengers also approved a motion to designate any undesignated Cooperative Program receipts in excess of $30.375 million so that one-third goes to church planting, one-third to the Southern Baptist Convention and one-third to be divided equally among the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, the Biblical Recorder and Fruitland Baptist Bible College.

Making an impact

The annual event, which took place Nov. 14-15 in Greensboro, N.C., drew 1,538 messengers and 320 visitors. Its theme was taken from Luke 14:23, called “Impact: Compelling the lost to come to life.”
Frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the SBC’s Executive Committee, also brought a word to the messengers during this session. Page challenged those in attendance to turn their hearts toward collaborative missions and ministry, explaining that it is the only way to give all Southern Baptists a voice.
“Cooperative, collaborative ministry gives everybody a spot at the table and a place to do ministry,” he said, acknowledging the fact that the Southern Baptist Convention has grown increasingly diverse, which only furthers the need for unification within the convention.
Page encouraged messengers to embrace a spirit of unity, but not for the sake of unification itself. “We must understand always the why of what we do,” Page said. “It is because of the lordship of Jesus Christ.”
Three separate times during the sessions of the annual meeting, Chris Schofield shared from Joel 2.
“Revival doesn’t start with my brother or sister, does it?” asked Schofield, director of BSC’s office of prayer. “It starts with me.”
One video related the story of how a local association uses a block party trailer to reach communities in its area. Another shared the story of a former lesbian who found a “real family” with brothers and sisters in a local church.
Schofield led messengers in prayer that God would awaken His people to the reality of His judgment.
“Most people are bored in our Baptist churches,” said J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, during one of the theme interpretation times. “They are tired of always sitting around.”
Greear stressed that the church should not be a “country club for Christians” but instead “a hospital for sinners.”
“Many of us have demonstrated we care more about our tradition than the salvation of our grandchildren,” Greear said. Church leaders need to help their people turn outward, he continued, “empowering people to carry the gospel outside of the church.”
Schofield mentioned a couple of times that the church has a desperate need for God.
“We’re losing this culture of people to paganism,” he said. “The world is saying to your church, to us, ‘Where is your god?’”
Schofield also urged unity. “Never in recent history has there been a desperate need for the church to be revived than today,” he said. “Revival has got to start through the restoration of the spiritual life of God’s people through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. We need the Lord today. We need Him like we’ve never needed Him before. If we’re ever going to impact lostness in this culture, the church must be restored through revival and awakening.”
Schofield said His people need to be hard at work in the Great Commission.
‘There’s apathy and complacency, and churches aren’t concerned about what concerns the heart of God,” he said. “We must weep over the spiritual famine that is in the land.”

Remembering the past, looking to the future

Messengers approved a resolution of appreciation to Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library for maintaining the largest collection of historical documents related to the work and ministry of North Carolina Baptist churches. The resolution acknowledges the library’s effort to digitize thousands of documents, making them available to researchers online. Special recognition was given to the library’s director of special collections and archives, Tanya Zanish-Belcher, and a copy of the resolution will be presented to both the university’s president and the dean of the Z. Smith Reynold’s Library.
When convention president Timmy Blair opened the floor for miscellaneous business, Nicholas M. Muteti, senior pastor of Forestville Baptist Church in Wake Forest, asked that the board consider creating a better strategy to bring about diversity within the convention and the SBC.
“For the last 19 years, I’ve been attending this convention, and every year I look around and don’t see enough work done for the diversity of the local church,” Muteti said, expressing a desire for a new strategy for reaching minorities across the state.  
Muteti’s sentiments will be shared with the board during its next meeting.

Convention business

Cameron McGill, pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church was elected as BSC president. Mark Harris, a messenger from First Baptist Church Charlotte, nominated McGill. He ran unopposed.
Joel Stephens, pastor of Westfield Baptist Church, was elected first vice-president. Stephens ran unopposed and was nominated by Rick Speas, messenger from Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
J.D. Grant, pastor of Scotts Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, was elected second vice-president. Grant outpolled David Ethridge, minister to young adults at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh. In the vote, 654 ballots were cast and Grant received 61.2 percent of the vote (400 votes), Ethridge received 37 percent of the vote (244 votes) and 10 ballots did not go to either candidate due to improper casting. Grant was nominated by Perry Brindley, messenger from Pole Creek Baptist Church in Candler. Shannon Scott, messenger from Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh, nominated Ethridge.
Messengers approved four motions that amend portions of the convention’s bylaws. The approved changes provide greater flexibility in scheduling Board of Directors’ meetings; eliminate limitations on employees, trustees and directors of affiliated educational institutions from serving as members of committees and boards for the convention and related entities; clarify the roles of members elected to the Committee on Convention Meetings; and address sections of the bylaws to provide consistency, clarity and correction where needed.
The 2017 BSC annual meeting is scheduled for Nov. 6-7 in Greensboro, and will include a special prayer service as the convention sermon.

11/21/2016 12:40:15 PM by BR and BSC staff | with 0 comments

Bay Leaf Baptist brings Christmas joy to Southeastern students

November 21 2016 by Harper McKay, SEBTS

For the 23rd year in a row, Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., helped Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) students bring Christmas presents home to their families. On Nov. 12, Bay Leaf volunteers greeted students with cheers and applause as they eagerly entered the gymnasium to find presents for their children among tables stacked high with toys.

Submitted photo
Bay Leaf Toy Chest volunteers help parents select a bike for their child. Families can purchase one bike for $10.00 while they last.

The Bay Leaf Toy Chest is an annual event where the church offers new toys to students for a fraction the actual cost, enabling them to purchase Christmas presents that they might not have been able to otherwise. It is Bay Leaf’s way of being a blessing to students who are preparing to serve the Lord through ministry.
“It’s just a great way for a church that’s in close proximity to a school to show the love of Christ to students, many of whom have left good jobs, have left careers and now perhaps work part time,” said Marty Jacumin, senior pastor of Bay Leaf Baptist Church. “We live in an area that is not cheap. It’s just another way for us to be a blessing to people.”
Jacumin is a two-time graduate of SEBTS, with a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Philosophy from the school. He currently serves SEBTS as chairman of the Board of Trustees and as an adjunct professor.
“I love serving there any way I can, and I love the emphasis of the school,” said Jacumin. “That’s part of why we do the Toy Chest. We just feel like we have an opportunity to partner, in a small way, with people that just like us are called to take the gospel to the nations.”
The Bay Leaf Toy Chest is open to students from SEBTS and The College at Southeastern who take at least six credit hours per semester and to full time advanced degree students. Toys offered include gifts for preschool, elementary and youth ages and are priced at ten percent or less than retail prices. Families can spend up to $7.00 per child or purchase a total of four items for each child. The event also includes more expensive raffle items that are sold at $10.00. In addition to this, families can purchase up to one bicycle for $10.00 while they last. The Toy Chest also includes lightly used items that are additional purchases for only 25 cents each.
Each year, the members of Bay Leaf Baptist Church donate money to the Toy Chest, and a committee purchases items to sell. Sarah Bryant who is the chair of the committee enjoys being able to help families out in this way.
“We know what a big deal Christmas is for kids and parents,” she said. “It is a way for us to utilize our resources and gifts to help others.
Volunteers from Bay Leaf Baptist Church joyfully help assemble toys, set up the gymnasium for the event, provide coffee and breakfast and assist students as they shop. Jacumin said that volunteers across all generations turn out to help with the event each year.
Peggy Brooks, a member of Bay Leaf and Toy Chest volunteer, enjoys helping students who are studying for ministry. “We know they sacrifice so much to go to seminary and prepare for serving the Lord, and what’s better than that,” she said. “This is just one little way that we can give back to them.”
Lee James, another Bay Leaf member and Toy Chest volunteer, helps to assemble bicycles and assist students in loading toys into their vehicles after shopping. “I think it’s a great way to help out the seminary students,” he said. “They’re making a lot of sacrifices in order to proclaim Christ, and I think it’s the best thing we can do to try to help them out as much as possible.”
Southeastern students were overwhelmed by the generosity of Bay Leaf and so thankful to be able to provide things for their children that they did not expect.
“We are so thankful for the Toy Chest because we would not be able to do Christmas without it,” said Jennifer McCracken who is pursuing a master’s degree in Christian education and biblical counseling. “Money is tight this time of year, and our daughter was so thrilled on Christmas morning last year when she saw all the toys we were able to get from the Toy Chest.”
Brad Holloway, who is pursuing a Master of Divinity in Christian Ministry, has been to the Toy Chest for the past three years. He and his wife have been able to use the example of the Toy Chest to share the message of Christ with others.
“It has opened doors for us to share the gospel with our lost family members and friends,” he said. “They can’t believe a church that doesn’t know us would be so giving to us.”
The Holloway family has also been able to teach their children from the example of Bay Leaf. “It has helped us provide good gifts to our kids that we would have otherwise not been able to give, and in so doing we always relate it to the gift God gave us in Christ,” he said.
The Bay Leaf Toy Chest provides toys for around 350 children from Southeastern families each year.  Since the Toy Chest began, Bay Leaf has donated all proceeds to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to support international missions.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Harper McKay is the News and Information Specialist at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

11/21/2016 12:38:18 PM by Harper McKay, SEBTS | with 0 comments

S.C. Baptists urged to ‘launch out’ with gospel

November 21 2016 by Butch Blume, SCBC

Churches were urged to “launch out” and spread the gospel as messengers gathered for the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) annual meeting Nov. 15-16 at Riverland Hills Baptist Church outside Columbia.

Baptist Courier photo
Messengers and leaders at the South Carolina Baptist Convention 2016 annual meeting pray at the altar of Riverland Hills Baptist Church, event host.

“‘Launch Out’ is not a suggestion, it is a command from our Lord,” 2016 convention President Tom Tucker told messengers at the outset of the SCBC’s 196th annual meeting, taking his inspiration from Luke 5, where Jesus said to Peter, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a great catch.”
“We’re sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time,” Tucker said, invoking a popular song from the 1960s. “We’re told to launch out and tell someone that Jesus loves them. If you are saved, you’ve got a story.”
Tucker, pastor of Sisk Memorial Baptist Church in Fort Mill, and other speakers, including SCBC executives and team leaders, encouraged messengers to share with their churches the state convention’s vision of seeing “every life saturated and transformed by the hope of the gospel, beginning in South Carolina.”
Gary Hollingsworth, SCBC executive director-treasurer, reported that South Carolina is one of a few states poised to experience significant population growth over the next five years.
“We have both the opportunity and the obligation to reach people in South Carolina with the gospel,” Hollingsworth said, noting that South Carolina is projected to have the third-highest growth rate in ethnic population in the U.S. The state’s 2,131 Southern Baptist churches together have 598,005 members.
“The world is coming here,” he said, “and the vast majority of them will not know Jesus as Savior. The lost world is not pouring into our buildings to see what we are doing. We need to be out there together for the gospel.”
During business sessions, messengers elected officers, approved the 2017 budget and adopted resolutions on issues ranging from concern for pastoral health to expressing support for church-school partnerships. This year’s attendance of 756 messengers was down from last year’s 965.
The 2017 SCBC budget of $28.6 million remains unchanged from the last five years. The budget allocates 54.5 percent of revenues for in-state ministries, 41 percent to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) causes through the Cooperative Program, the same as the 2016 allocation, and 4.5 percent directly to the International Mission Board.

Baptist Courier photo
South Carolina Baptist Convention 2017 officers are, from left, registration secretary Larry Zaky, recording secretary Adrianne Smith, second vice president Lisa Willard, president Keith Shorter, first vice president Bryant Sims, and 2018 president-elect Marshall Blalock.

Keith Shorter, pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley, at the close of the annual meeting began serving as the new president, having been chosen president-elect at the 2015 meeting. Elected to join him on the slate of 2016-2017 officers are First Vice President Bryant Sims, pastor of First Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Greenwood; Second Vice President Lisa Willard, wife of the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Darlington; Recording Secretary Adrianne Smith, a member of Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, and Registration Secretary Larry Zaky, pastor of Hemingway First Baptist Church in Hemingway.
Marshall Blalock, pastor of Charleston First Baptist Church, was chosen president-elect to serve in 2018.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke Nov. 16 on the imperative to combat the “scourge” of internet pornography, even among fellow Christians.
“Pornography does not kindle sexuality, it strips it away. It creates the illusion of anonymity,” Moore said. “It is destroying our witness, our spiritual power, [and is ruining] marriages within our churches.”
SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Frank S. Page noted the SBC’s growing diversity. One in five of the SBC’s more than 51,000 congregations identify as ethnic, he said. Other speakers included D.J. Horton, pastor of Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church in Moore; David Gallamore, pastor of Rock Springs Baptist Church in Easley; former SCBC president Jerry White, and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Messengers adopted resolutions on pastoral care, biblical sexuality and the freedom of conscience, biblical illiteracy and pastoral responsibility, church and school partnerships and evangelism to unreached people groups and places.
Full-text versions of the resolutions can be accessed here.
Music leaders included the South Carolina Singing Churchmen, the Anderson University Gospel Choir, the Sisk Memorial Praise Team and the Baptist Student Union Bluegrass Band from North Greenville University in Tigerville.
The 2017 annual meeting will be held Nov. 7-8 at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Butch Blume is managing editor of The Baptist Courier,, the news magazine of the churches of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.)

11/21/2016 12:37:20 PM by Butch Blume, SCBC | with 0 comments

Religious liberty of florist, bakers in courts’ hands

November 21 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A 71-year-old Washington florist and young Oregon bakers are among Christian small business owners awaiting court decisions on their right to refuse business violating their religious beliefs.

TVW screen capture
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristin Waggoner appeals to the Washington State Supreme Court on behalf of Washington Southern Baptist florist Barronelle Stutzman Nov. 15 in Bellevue, Wash.

Southern Baptist florist Barronelle Stutzman is awaiting a ruling from the Washington State Supreme Court on her appeal of a judgment against her for refusing to design a floral arrangement for a gay wedding.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, forced to close their Gresham, Ore., bakery after they refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony, have appealed their case to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
In the case of Stutzman, Washington’s highest court heard her appeal Nov. 15 at Bellevue College in Bellevue, the latest deliberation in Stutzman’s three-year battle to live out her Christian faith that affirms marriage as a commitment between one man and one woman.
Stutzman, owner of Arlene Flowers in Richmond, is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
“A Muslim graphics designer should not be compelled to create designs promoting a Jewish Friends of Israel group, a gay public relations manager shouldn’t be forced to promote the Westboro Baptist Church, and a Christian floral designer shouldn’t be forced to create custom wedding designs for a wedding that is not between one man and one woman,” ADF attorney Kristin Waggoner said proceedings posted on the court’s website.
Stutzman is appealing a lower court’s Feb. 18, 2015 ruling that she violated the U.S. and state civil rights of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed when she refused two years earlier to design floral arrangements for their wedding. She offered instead to provide floral stems and referred them to other florists to arrange the flowers.
The lower court held Stutzman personally liable for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and damages, putting her in danger of losing her business and personal holdings. Both the state of Washington and the couple sued Stutzman in the case stemming from the March 2013 incident.
“If the government can ruin Barronelle for peacefully living and working according to her faith, it can punish anyone else in Washington for expressing their beliefs,” Waggoner has said.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is among several groups that filed friend-of-the-court amicus briefs in support of Stutzman, the ADF reported.
The Kleins, who had operated SweetCakes by Melissa, refused in 2013 to design a custom cake for a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony, and were fined $135,000 in 2015 after being found guilty of violating the couple’s civil rights. First Liberty Institute is awaiting oral arguments in the case, and filed its latest brief in support of the couple Sept. 8 with the Oregon Court of Appeals.
First Liberty Institute is challenging the Bureau of Labor and Industries argument that the federal government can compel citizens to create art and engage in speech that goes against their beliefs. If the court allows the final order against the Kleins to stand, First Liberty said in a press release, the court will approve governmental authority to force artists to celebrate causes that violate their conscience.
“Should the government force Catholics to sculpt totems for Wiccan rituals, or feminists to photograph fraternity initiations, or pro-life videographers to film an abortion? Of course not,” Kelly Shackelford, First Liberty Institute president and CEO, said in the press release. “No one should be forced to contribute to the celebration of an idea that goes against his or her beliefs.”
The Kleins have faced public backlash for refusing to design the cake for the lesbian couple. Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, considered one of their detractors, was defeated in his 2016 bid to be secretary of state by Dennis Richardson, marking the first time a Republican has been elected to statewide office in Oregon since 2002, FOX News reported.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

11/21/2016 12:36:57 PM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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