October 2009

Team surveys tsunami damage on Samoa

October 23 2009 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — A Baptist disaster relief team has traveled to American Samoa to assess needs stemming from the recent earthquake and tsunami.

“While the tsunami did extensive damage, the team was surprised to see how quickly the people of American Samoa began cleaning up the devastation,” reported Terry Henderson, operations consultant for disaster relief for the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

Henderson, three disaster relief volunteers from the Honolulu-based Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention — Patrick Underwood, David Whitehead and Chris Martin — and Don Gann, DR consultant from the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board traveled to Pago Pago, American Samoa, for a tour of the battered island by Elise Tafao, director of Baptist Missions for American Samoa and pastor of Happy Valley Baptist Church in Pago Pago.

Photo by Terry Henderson

Wearing their trademark yellow caps, two Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers from Hawaii, Patrick Underwood, left, and David Whitehead, show American Samoan islanders in the village of Masefau how to purify their water following the recent tsunami. 

Following the Oct. 16 tour, the Baptist relief team met with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and ASVOAD (American Samoan Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) to determine the focus of the government and non-government agencies’ planned response. ASVOAD has identified five of the neediest communities; FEMA has provided two-person dome tents for the homeless; and the American Red Cross is distributing disaster relief supplies.

Because counseling for affected children has been designated as a priority, NAMB’s Henderson said disaster relief chaplains with the ability to relate to children are needed. Children who experienced the tsunami continue to show signs of post-traumatic stress, the team was told.

Clean drinking water also is a top need, Henderson said, because while water is available in most locations, Samoans are reticent to boil the water because “they have precious little money and can’t afford to use their propane fuel just for boiling water.”

Henderson reported that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers purified water in the village of Masefau on Oct. 19.

“Pastor Tafao is interested in transporting water purification units into the hard-hit areas,” Henderson said. “Where and while the water is being purified, Baptist church members and disaster relief workers can minister to the people.”

Tafao said there is an ongoing need for cooking and eating utensils, pots and pans for cooking and children’s clothes since many Samoan residents lost all their belongings in the tsunami.

Tafao said six of the 31 tsunami victims were members of three churches in the South Pacific Baptist Association.

The Seafarers’ Ministry Center, an SBC ministry located in Pago Pago’s harbor district, was destroyed by the tsunami. All that remains of the center is its concrete shell. As a result, NAMB Mission Service Corps missionaries Joeli and Tupe Sovea lost not only their workplace but their home at the center.

Tafao said negotiations on a replacement facility for the Seafarers’ Ministry Center — located near the original one — are complete and that the Soveas and their three children have already moved in. Through the center, the Soveas minister to sailors — especially those on Chinese and Russian fishing vessels — docked in the Pago Pago harbor. Pago Pago is home to the largest tuna canneries in the world.

The Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention has established a fund for individuals and organizations wanting to support relief efforts in American Samoa. Donations may be mailed to the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, Samoa Disaster Relief Fund, 2042 Vancouver Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822. Donations also can be made through NAMB’s disaster relief web site, www.namb.net/dr.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)

10/23/2009 8:11:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Home again, astronaut encourages missions

October 23 2009 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

HOUSTON — Patrick Forrester, the space shuttle astronaut who carried a piece of missions aviation history into space with him on a recent Discovery flight, encourages people to get personally involved in sharing the Gospel outside their comfort zones.

 “I really encourage everybody that has not done it to go on at least a short-term mission trip, whether it’s across town or around the world, because I think it’s life-changing to see the need out there and the way that we can impact people,” Forrester told Baptist Press.

A deacon at University Baptist Church in Houston, Forrester carried with him a piece of the battery box from martyred missionary pilot Nate Saint’s Piper PA-14 airplane when the space shuttle Discovery docked at the international space station in late August.

The plane part was provided by Mission Aviation Fellowship, an organization that transports missionaries, medical personnel, medicines and relief supplies into remote areas. Forrester plans to return the item to the fellowship along with a certificate confirming its presence on Discovery’s flight.

“I’m looking forward to an opportunity to go up to Idaho and return it in person and hopefully talk to the employees and their families up there about space flight,” he said, referring to the fellowship’s headquarters in Nampa, Idaho.

Forrester described the piece of the battery box as roughly four by six inches. Saint was among five missionaries to Ecuador who were murdered on a sandbar in 1956 by a tribe of Waodani Indians.

“We’re allowed to fly up to 10 things for organizations in what’s called the official flight kit,” Forrester said. “When I was looking at organizations that I felt were having an impact in the world and that had an impact on my life, this was just one of the ones that I wanted to honor.”

In addition to the plane part, Forrester took a flag honoring a battalion of wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a memento from the military honor guard that handled his father’s funeral this year.

This was the third space shuttle flight for Forrester, 52, a retired Army colonel and aviator who has been an astronaut since 1996. He performed spacewalks on the first two missions, in 2001 and 2007, and this time one of his primary roles was to operate the robotic arm that checks for damage on the shuttle.

Photo courtesy of NASA

Astronaut Patrick Forrester, a mission specialist on a recent Discovery Space Shuttle flight, uses a communication system on the flight deck of the Earth-orbiting shuttle during flight day two activities Aug. 29. 

“Ever since the Columbia accident we do that to make sure there was no damage on launch and make sure there was no damage once we were docked to the space station before we come home,” he said.

Forrester described what it’s like to have an expanded view of God’s creation firsthand.

“It’s always a beautiful view that we have when we’re up there looking back at earth and looking out toward the stars and moon, out toward the heavens,” he said. “I’m just always amazed at what I see.

“Sometimes people will expect it to be almost a religious experience when you go up there, and I guess knowing God as Creator and the miracles that I see all around me on earth, it’s less of that for me and sometimes more what He’s taught me just through my experiences of being an astronaut.”

Forrester doesn’t expect to travel to space again, given that there are only six remaining shuttle missions before the scheduled end of the space shuttle program. Those six flights have been assigned.

With a strong interest in missions, Forrester has hopes of returning to the mission field on short-term and possibly long-term trips.

“I don’t have any mission trips planned right now, mainly because of just returning from this flight. I’ve had quite a bit of post-flight travel and presentations that we do,” he said. “I look forward to my next mission trip. I’ve missed it the past two years because of flying in space and training.

“Where it will be, I’m not really sure. I do have a desire to go back to Africa. We’ve been in Uganda a couple of times and South Africa, and I have a feeling it may be that direction,” Forrester said.

He has a good friend who worked as a physician for NASA and then became a missionary to
Uganda with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. The man, who flies missions daily with Mission Aviation Fellowship, recently transferred to Lesotho, a landlocked country in South Africa.

“I’m hoping to get down there to see him in Lesotho,” Forrester said.

As he encourages people to go on at least one mission trip, Forrester said the simple answer for why people must go is that it’s the mandate of the Great Commission.

“I think we’re all given certain talents and passions and gifts, and it’s a matter of finding where those intersect with God’s work, which is going on all around us. We have to figure out where we’re supposed to have an impact on the world,” he said.

“Once my eyes were opened to people giving their lives to God’s work and how little it takes from us to do some of the same things, I think it’s important, and whatever I can do to bring attention to that or support it with my own life and my own resources, that’s what I want to do.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.)

10/23/2009 8:06:00 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Evangelicals look to nonpolitical future

October 23 2009 by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service

SOUTH HAMILTON, Mass. — Repentant for having spent a generation bowing at the altars of church growth and political power, concerned evangelicals gathered Oct. 13-15 to search the soul of their movement and find a new way forward.

That evangelicals, who compose a quarter of the American population, must refocus on shaping authentic disciples of Jesus Christ has always garnered wide support. But how to do that in a consumerist society with little appetite for self-denial is fueling internal debate.

The state of evangelicalism drew the scrutiny of intellectuals as 500 people attended a conference at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary on “renewing the evangelical mission.” Leading thinkers called fellow believers to repent for a host of sins, from reducing the gospel to a right-wing political agenda to rendering God as a lenient father who merely wants “cuddle time with his kids.”

“We are seeing the very serious weakening of American faith, even among people who profess to be believers,” said Os Guinness, senior fellow of the EastWest Institute in New York and author of The Case for Civility. “Yet an awful lot of people haven’t really faced up to the true challenge and still think they can turn it around with things like political action.”

Speakers earned applause for highlighting where evangelicalism, which began as a Protestant renewal movement, has ironically come to need its own renewing. At one point, participants sang a new hymn that’s setting the tone for a new era: “We spurned God’s way and sought our own,” they sang, “and so have become worthless.”

“The church in a sense has lost its mission to go out and love the people,” said Steven Mayo, pastor of Elm Street Congregational Church in Fitchburg, Mass. “We’ve become useless in a society that desperately needs us.”

How to become useful again, however, is a matter without consensus. Calvin Theological Seminary President Cornelius Plantinga urged pastors to talk less about fulfilling personal potential and offer more from the likes of Old Testament prophet Joel, who warns God’s people to wail and repent before the Lord scorches the earth. But church leaders responded to Plantinga’s prescription with a reality check.

“For pastors, it’s very easy to lose (a) job by taking your advice,” said Rachel Stahle, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, a Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation in Carteret, N.J., after Plantinga’s 45-minute lecture. “It’s even harder to find another one by taking your advice. So what wisdom do you share with us to take what you’ve said back to the churches?”

Some evangelicals are taking little comfort these days in successes of the past two decades, which included hundreds of mushrooming megachurches and the advancement of a socially conservative agenda under former President George W. Bush. Too often, they say, Christians came to display un-Christian behavior in the public square and did their disciple-making cause a disservice.

“Beware the escalation of extremism,” Guinness said. “Christian sayings such as, `love your enemies’ — they’re forgotten. People are attacking their enemies, (but) they’re certainly not on the side of Jesus in this.”

For some, the solution lies in re-emphasizing Reformation doctrines. This approach resonates with the growing ranks of “New Calvinists,” who profess such teachings as man’s total depravity, God’s complete sovereignty and predestination of souls to heaven and hell. Some church leaders feel the drift away from traditional teachings has led evangelicals to neglect such biblical mandates as ecumenism and organize around lesser principles, such as political preferences.

“We (evangelicals) have moved from a church grounded in solid theology to a church grounded in personal relationships,” said Neil Gastonguay, pastor of Bath United Methodist Church in Bath, Maine. “We don’t have a message anymore.”

But others say evangelicals have worried too much about doctrinal differences when they’ve needed to be joining forces on larger issues. Richard Alberta, senior pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brighton, Mich., said preoccupations with doctrinal purity help explain why he struggles to round up fellow evangelicals to join him at anti-abortion events.

“When you get evangelicals among themselves, instead of addressing the social and moral issues, they get backwatered into some debate about dispensationalism or Calvin or Charismatic Renewal,” Alberta said. “There’s lots of suspicion, and those (worries) seem to act as filters that keep evangelicals from getting together.”

Similar frustrations beleaguer Travis Hutchinson, pastor of Highlands Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in Lafayette, Ga. He routinely gets a cool response from fellow evangelicals, he said, when he asks them to show courage and join his efforts to minister among undocumented immigrants. The problem, as he sees it, is that the doctrine-obsessed have lost touch with the heart of Jesus Christ.

“The missing ingredient is not the primacy of the mind and doctrine,” Hutchinson said. “It’s the willingness to suffer.”

Though renewal strategies may vary in the years ahead, evangelicals agree their calling is to be found in their bedrock source: scripture. Theologian John Jefferson Davis of Gordon-Conwell, for instance, said today’s Christians “need a high-intensity experience of God” and should seek it through meditative readings of scripture. Still, he conceded, even Bible-based worship will need to be “more attractive and more enjoyable than a trip to the shopping mall.”

“Unless we can experience God (in a way) that is as real and as appealing as what we see on a 60-inch, high-definition plasma home theater screen,” Davis said, “we are in trouble.”

10/23/2009 8:05:00 AM by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Religion News Service | with 5 comments

Couple follows calling as foster parents

October 22 2009 by Steve DeVane, Special to the Biblical Recorder

Dave and Adell McHugh may not have the title, but they effectively serve as ministers to children.

The McHughs, who live in Harmony and are members at Western Avenue Baptist Church in Statesville, have been foster parents for more than 20 years. They started keeping foster children in 1969 in Ohio until they moved to North Carolina 17 years later.

The couple started again more than four years ago in Iredell County.

“It is a distinct calling that the Lord has laid on our hearts to minister to children,” said Adell McHugh, who works part-time as church secretary at Jerusalem Baptist Church in Mocksville.

The McHughs feel so strongly about foster parenting that they organized a visit to Western Avenue by a social worker to speak with anyone interested in the issue.

The McHughs became foster parents when they initially believed they wouldn’t have children born to them.

Later their two sons, David, 36, and Josh, 31, were born.

“They were two children we were told we’d never have,” Adell McHugh said.

Contributed photo

After serving many years as foster and adoptive parents, Adell and David Hughes adopted sisters Lena and Megan.

The McHughs continued as foster parents, keeping mostly boys in Ohio. After they’d kept a baby girl for a while, a social worker asked if they’d be interested in adopting her.

“It had been something we’d been praying about,” Adell McHugh said.

Sarah McHugh, 26, now works for a manufacturer in Statesville.

She served in Iraq for a year with the Army Reserves as a backup driver for a large vehicle with a crane on the back.

The McHughs were licensed as foster parents in North Carolina in February 2005 and recently adopted two children they first served as foster parents — four-year-old twin girls.

The McHughs said their sons, who also live in the area, think of the girls as their little sisters.

Foster parenting is a good fit for the McHughs. Dave McHugh works nights at a Lowe’s Home Improvement distribution center near Statesville.

“I don’t have a problem getting up in the middle of the night,” Adell McHugh said.

Separating difficult
Dave McHugh said foster parents have to realize that there are sad times when a baby they may have kept for two years has to leave.

“It’s difficult to let them go after you’ve gotten so attached to them,” he said.

“You’re never ready for that,” Adell McHugh said.

But, she said, foster parents know that another child is going to come to them.

That recently happened to the McHughs when a newborn they had been keeping was adopted.

Adell McHugh said she was happy that the child was going to a “forever home” but it was still difficult.

“It was crying over who’s leaving and crying over who’s coming at the same time,” she said.

In Ohio, the McHughs kept a little boy for about three years, starting when he was two years old. The boy looked like Muhammad Ali and learned to talk like the famous boxer.

“He was a child that everywhere he went people were touched,” Adell McHugh said. “He was a blast, an absolute blast.”

The McHughs are heartened when such kids who have gone through “horrific” things go on to college, and live for the Lord.

Dave McHugh said that in addition to helping kids, foster parents also many times give birth parents an opportunity to get their lives together.

“It’s a real blessing,” Dave McHugh said. “It’s an opportunity to meet the needs of children and their parents.”

The McHughs now help train potential foster parents, serving on panels to share the joy it has been in their lives.

“It’s a wonderful way to serve little children, to provide a Christian, loving environment for a child,” Adell McHugh said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Foster parenting is done county by county. To investigate the possibility of becoming a foster parent, call your county department of social services. DeVane is the former Biblical Recorder managing editor.)

10/22/2009 4:34:00 AM by Steve DeVane, Special to the Biblical Recorder | with 3 comments

Former SBC leader Duke McCall: NAMB obsolete

October 22 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An elder statesman who led three Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entities for a total of 40 years says the denomination’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) is an obsolete bureaucracy that will likely have a diminished role or disappear altogether in the 21st century.

Duke McCall, 95, who retired from denominational work in 1982, says in a recently published essay that leadership missteps before 2006 add to NAMB’s vulnerability as a new generation of SBC leaders emerges in the first quarter of the 21st century. On the other hand, McCall says, NAMB’s successes have helped boost the growth of Baptist state conventions across the nation.

“These state conventions are a better alternative for domestic missions than a central organization,” McCall writes. “This has been obvious for at least 50 years in that most of the Cooperative Program funds sent to Atlanta for the North American Mission Board have actually been spent by the state conventions through various kinds of ‘partnership’ programs.”

McCall’s essay is a postscript chapter in Against the Wind: The Moderate Voice in Baptist Life written by Carl Kell.

McCall, who recently had a building named in his honor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., called the North American Mission Board a “wasteful funding mechanism” that “has served as a pressure device to keep state conventions in line with Southern Baptist Convention programs.” The board was established in a merger of three former SBC agencies in 1997,

“Thus the North American Mission Board continues to appeal to SBC leaders despite its clear obsolescence,” McCall says.

Southern Seminary photo

Southern Seminary President Al Mohler and wife, Mary, took Duke and Winona McCall on a tour of the newly finished Duke K. McCall Sesquicentennial Pavilion when the Southern Baptist Convention met in Louisville this June.

Kell said McCall originally submitted the essay and revisions in 2006-2007, before discussion that led to the appointment in June of an 18-member task force assigned to study how Southern Baptists can work “more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission.”

Meetings of the task force, appointed by SBC president Johnny Hunt, are not open to the press, but comments by individual members suggest looking at the role of NAMB is part of their thinking.

According to the North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder, Danny Akin, a task force member and president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, recently told visitors to campus that NAMB “is broke, and has been broke for a long time.”

Pastors quoted in a task force listening session at a North Carolina Baptist church described Southern Baptists’ church-planting method as “stupid” and said it involved “massive replication.” Al Gilbert, a member of the task force and former special assistant to the president of the SBC International Mission Board, said NAMB’s image is different in Old South states that essentially provide the agency’s funds than it is in northern and western states that depend on NAMB funding.

McCall says a few changes in the Cooperative Program — the SBC’s unified giving mechanism — would improve efficiency and greatly strengthen the Baptist state conventions. He said a major overhaul of the unified funding plan is overdue.

“Like the nation’s budget, it has been the victim of political changes until it reflects political power more than fiscal rationality or denominational strategy,” he says.

McCall says a revision of SBC strategy “looms in the near future, but the political stars are not yet in alignment.”

He says it would probably be about 2015, after at least three “new breed” SBC presidents have served their terms and made appointments to the convention’s committee on boards. Any effort before that, he says, “would come from impatience and result in little change, because the mindset at the end of the last century will still be in office.”

He suggests a target date for “a renewal of the Cooperative Program” for its centennial in 2025.

“Renewing the Cooperative Program with the new vision and emphases of the new generation of leaders will shape the life of Southern Baptists for the 21st century,” McCall writes. “This will be comparable to the birth of the Cooperative Program in 1925. It will not alter the theological focus, but it will determine whether Southern Baptists major on evangelism and missions (and how) or on theological education (which will affect theology) or on social work (which will maintain the present alliance with national politics.)”

Born in 1914 in Meridian, Miss., McCall played an influential role in Baptist life soon after he graduated as valedictorian at Furman University. Originally an aspiring lawyer, he surrendered to a call to the ministry age 21.

At 25 he served as pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and at age 28 became president of the Baptist Bible Institute, now New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In his early 30s McCall became executive secretary of the SBC Executive Committee. In 1951, at age 37, McCall became seventh president of Southern Seminary, the denomination’s oldest theological school. He retired in 1982 after serving longer than any other president in the school’s history.

From 1980 to 1985, McCall served as president of the Baptist World Alliance. In 1990 he and several others formed the Baptist Cooperative Missions Program, an alternative channel for funding Southern Baptist ministries, which soon transferred its resources to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. McCall’s memoirs were released in 2002 with the title, Duke McCall: An Oral History.

Against the Wind, published by the University of Tennessee Press, is third in a trilogy of books by Kell, professor of communication at Western Kentucky University, analyzing rhetoric of the conservative/moderate controversy that divided the Southern Baptist Convention beginning in the 1970s.

Kell’s 1999 In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention, co-authored with North Carolina State University professor Raymond Camp, won a national book of the year award in 2000. The second book, Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War, came out in 2006.

In Against the Wind, Kell says that while there was no reason to label them “moderates” before the SBC controversy, there have always been men and women loyal to the Baptist ideal and rhetorical themes of freedom — Bible freedom, soul freedom, church freedom and religious freedom.

Kell argues that the men and women who came to be targeted for perceived “liberalism” and failure to conform to the prevailing fundamentalist perspective had roots in the post-World War II church culture, particularly in the youth-evangelism movement of the late 1940s and 1950s that helped swell the SBC’s membership. In later years a number of factors led many Southern Baptists away from the denomination of their youth, Kell says, and those factors continue to drive current and ongoing changes in the denominational drifts of the SBC.

McCall isn’t the only former SBC agency head questioning NAMB’s effectiveness. Larry Lewis, who was president of the Home Mission Board until it was combined with the SBC Radio and Television and Brotherhood commissions to form NAMB, called the merger “a step backwards” that “eliminated or marginalized some of our most productive entities.”

A newly released annual study of church giving conducted by empty tomb, inc., a Christian research and service organization based in Champaign, Ill., described the Southern Baptist Convention as having a clearly stated goal for engaging all of the world’s unreached people groups but lacking a strategy for raising new dollars to pay for additional missionaries.

The Great Commission Task Force is scheduled to meet Oct. 27 in Dallas with leaders of Baptist state conventions. Twenty-two of 42 invited state executive directors indicated they plan to attend. Bill Mackey of the Kentucky Baptist Convention will lead the executive directors in their presentation to the task force.
Two top SBC leaders — Jerry Rankin at the International Mission Board and Morris Chapman at the Executive Committee — have recently announced retirement dates. Ronnie Floyd, chairman of the Great Commission Task Force, issued a statement saying the task force’s assignment is not to pick their replacements, but that is up to each entity’s board of trustees.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)

10/22/2009 4:27:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 1 comments

Illinois pastor’s killer unfit to stand trial

October 22 2009 by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — A man accused of fatally shooting a Southern Baptist pastor inside an Illinois church in March has been found unfit to stand trial.

The decision handed down Oct. 20 followed a mental evaluation of Terry Sedlacek of Troy, Ill. He is accused of walking into First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., during a worship service March 8 and gunning down Pastor Fred Winters in the middle of his sermon.

According to local media, Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli signed an order agreeing with a court-ordered psychologist that Sedlacek, 27, is schizophrenic and unlikely to be able to understand the legal proceedings or assist in his defense.
Robert Heilbronner, a licensed clinical psychologist based at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., said the suspect “is likely to provide his attorneys with inaccurate or illogical explanations” for his behavior. He also said the defendant would have problems following the process in a courtroom setting and listening to or understanding explanations provided to him and be unable to respond in a relevant manner during pleading or testimony.

Madison County public defender John Rekowski told the Associated Press the judge made “obviously the correct ruling.”

Fred Winters, 45, died almost instantly after being shot in the heart while preaching at his pulpit in Maryville, Ill.

“Terry is a very sick individual,” Rekowski told St. Louis Public Radio. “He is not totally in touch with all the things he needs to be in touch with and doesn’t totally understand what’s going on.”
Sedlacek will be evaluated within 30 days to determine if treatment will allow him to stand trial within a year.

Madison County’s state’s attorney Bill Mudge said if Sedlacek responds to treatment and eventually is deemed fit to go on trial, “the people of the state of Illinois stand ready to prosecute this case and seek justice for the victims, their families” and the church.

If he is unable to stand trial, Sedlacek could be committed to a mental institution for life.
Committed = http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/sedlacek-32296-attorneys-heilbronner.html
First Baptist Church in Maryville released a statement supporting the legal process.

“One of the benefits and blessings to our country is our legal system, the foundations it was built upon, and the conviction that truth will prevail,” the statement said. “We leave decisions, like the one of today, in its hands. We are not in a position to make determinations like the court is able. Our responsibility is to pray for those who make these decisions and for God to bring to light any and everything pertaining to the truth of what happened.”

Still, the congregation’s statement continued, “Days like today can cause emotions to resurface reminding us of the unimaginable events that occurred on March 8.”

“That day can either divide us, or serve to unite our hearts with intentional purpose,” the congregation stated. “It is a reminder to us that many others have suffered similar tragedies and our desire for them is that we, the Church, would be able to bring them hope, grace, and encouragement, which we believe can only be fully discovered in a relationship with God.”

The church recently called an interim pastor to fill in while a permanent successor to Winters is sought. Tom Hufty, vice president for collegiate affairs at Hannibal-LaGrange College in nearby Hannibal, Mo., began duties Oct. 11.

Associate pastors have managed the church the last seven months. Guest preachers have included Southern Baptist Convention president Johnny Hunt, SBC International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin and Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.

Winters, 45, had been pastor of the Maryville congregation for 21 years. A search for his successor is expected to take up to two years.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)

10/22/2009 4:21:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Filipino pastors look past their own needs

October 22 2009 by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press

MANILA, Philippines — “It took me four hours to swim home,” says Mac Reyes, youth pastor at International Baptist Church of Manila.

He and Derick Jacinto, the church administrator, were at a church meeting Sept. 26 when Typhoon Ketsana began pouring out its wrath on Metro Manila.

As news spread of widespread flooding throughout the Asian megacity, the group was advised to stay put. But a few hours later, Reyes received a frantic text message from his wife that the water was rising rapidly in their home. He set out for home — on foot.

The way home for him was down Marcos Highway, a four-lane expressway that runs through northeast Manila, where the flooding was at its worst. Along with hundreds of others, Reyes pushed toward home. As night fell, water was up to his chest.

“I became a sort of traffic cop on Marcos Highway,” Reyes said. “There was no electricity, and I used the light from my cell phone to help direct people to the safest path.”

IMB photo

Minister Mac Reyes prays with Rosalina De Guzman in the Nangka resettlement area, home to more than 2,000 people in Manila, Philippines. De Guzman stopped Reyes in the alley and asked, “Are you born again?” When Reyes said he was, the woman replied, “I knew you were. Will you pray with me?”

He reached his neighborhood but found he couldn’t reach his house. He was able to reach them by cell phone.

“My wife and son abandoned the house and moved to a Catholic church in our neighborhood,” Reyes said. “From there, they moved to another church where they waited out the storm.”

Reyes swam against the current to reach the church where his wife and son were waiting. Days passed before they could return home.

Mudding out
Jacinto chose to spend that Saturday night at the church after learning his family was safe on the second floor of his sister’s townhouse. He, his wife and three children live in the first floor of the townhouse. He headed out early Sunday and was reunited with his family members a few hours later. On Tuesday, with water still standing in the bottom level of his home, Jacinto found tire inner tubes and floated his family to safety.

“My kids thought it was fun,” Jacinto smiled. “They said, ‘Oh, Daddy, let’s go swimming!’“

Two weeks later, Jacinto and his family were still living in a classroom at their church. The floodwaters in the streets of their neighborhood were still knee-deep.

Local residents are transporting neighbors to their homes via canoes. Several Kentucky Baptist disaster relief volunteers reached Jacinto’s home that way and spent a day cleaning out the mud. The group from Kentucky was among 30 trained state convention disaster relief volunteers whose efforts were coordinated through Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization.

Dovie Smallwood, the only woman in the group of volunteers, took great care to salvage as many of the Jacinto family’s mementos as possible.

“I see the treasures that need to be saved,” Smallwood said. “That’s why I think women are a vital part of a disaster relief team.” Then she joked, “These men just want to go in and throw everything away. But you take them into a tool shed, and they’ll save every rusty old screwdriver.”

However, few of Jacinto’s possessions were salvageable, including an overstuffed couch and loveseat. With homeowner’s insurance a rare luxury in the Philippines, the family may not be able to easily replace the furniture. The team carefully explained the health dangers of keeping the pieces, which were covered in mold and mud.

Jacinto merely hung his head and nodded.

IMB photo

Manila’s Nangka resettlement area, located near a large river, was hit hard by flash flooding. The release of storm water from a nearby dam forced some families to seek refuge on the roof of three-story homes.

“We can’t tell him to throw them away,” said Coy Webb, state director for Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief. “It has to be his decision.”

Jacinto symbolizes countless Filipinos who lost most or all of their possessions in the flood.

Even in the midst of tragedy, however, glimmers of hope abound. Rosalina De Guzman, 70, lives among one of Metro Manila’s many neighborhood alleyways. As Reyes passed by her home two weeks after the storm, she sat on her front step, washing clothes in a plastic tub.

“Are you a pastor?” she called to him.

Reyes stopped to reply, “Yes, ma’am.”

“What is your religion?”

“I am a Southern Baptist.”

“Are you born again?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I knew you were born again when I first saw you here two weeks ago,” she smiled.

In the midst of trying to recover from their own personal disasters, both Reyes and Jacinto continue to assess their community’s needs and look for ways their church can best meet those needs in the name of Jesus.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rivers is a writer for the International Mission Board.)

Related stories
N.C. volunteers rush to aid victims
Vols mud out Manila, share God’s love
10/22/2009 4:11:00 AM by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Vols ‘mud out’ Manila, share God’s love

October 22 2009 by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press

MANILA, Philippines — Mud. Hunger. Garbage. Mud. Poverty. Sewage. Mud.

These were the sights and smells that greeted 30 disaster relief volunteers from Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas in mid-October when they arrived in an area of Manila, Philippines, hard-hit by two typhoons.

IMB photo

Neighborhood boys watch as disaster relief volunteers from Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas mud out the basement of a school in Manila, Philippines.

The group worked with local church members and Southern Baptist missionaries serving in the Philippines to help residents of metro Manila recover from the flooding that covered nearly 80 percent of the city when Typhoon Ketsana struck Sept. 26. Weeks later, parts of the area that weren’t still underwater were covered in mud.

“This is Katrina times four,” said Larry Shine, who directed the team’s efforts. Shine serves as the Southern Baptists of Texas task force director for cleanup and recovery.

According to reports, more rain fell in six hours than the city normally receives in the entire month of September. As the water began to rise at an alarming rate, residents began scrambling for safety.

At the height of the rains, floodwaters reached the top floor of a three-story building that houses Nangka High School. The building is situated in an area of squatter homes and shanties along the banks of the major river system in eastern Manila.

“We were not prepared for this disaster,” said Angie Tan, director of a vocational school for youth and adults that holds classes in the building’s basement. “Usually when the river overflows, it only rises to table level. My staff was working to move the small items in the baking classroom onto the big oven. But when the water reached their necks, they had to escape.”

In the week following the disaster, 42 families sought temporary shelter on the building’s third floor. As the water began to recede, the second and third floors were cleaned for some classes to resume. Meanwhile, the basement remained full of mud.

The Southern Baptist volunteers helped city workers clean up those basement classrooms after the volunteers mudded out the homes of two Filipino pastors and assisted with food distribution the week before.

“I am very glad to say thank you,” said Vilma Rollado, a Nangka community leader and staff member at the vocational school.

Rollado learned the Baptist disaster relief teams were available through Mac Reyes, youth pastor at International Baptist Church of Manila.

The Nangka community has no evangelical church presence. Just three days after the flood, Reyes worked with Southern Baptist missionary Shirley Seale to distribute food purchased with Southern Baptist world hunger funds to 300 people in a three-alley section of Nangka. Church members helped clean the vocational school and plan to provide medical clinics and post-traumatic counseling for flood victims.

“Our goal is to empower the local church to minister to the local people,” Shine said.

Because of the efforts of disaster relief volunteers, Luzon Baptist Convention is interested in starting its own disaster relief program, and International Baptist Church is leading the way. Shine and Reyes visited a basketball court serving as home to 500 people who lost their homes in the flooding. Shine helped Reyes assess additional needs that can be met by local churches and additional BGR volunteer teams over the coming weeks. International Baptist Church leadership also hosted a disaster relief training program for area churches.

IMB photo

Members of Metro Heights Community Church in Manila, Philippines, pack bags of relief food that include rice, noodles, milk, fish and cooking oil.

“We bring leadership, equipment and know-how,” said Miguel Tello, a Baptist Men’s disaster relief volunteer. “We want to leave the equipment and the knowledge with the nationals. If we just come and clean up, that’s not as effective.”

By training nationals to set up their own programs, Tello believes local churches will be better prepared to respond when the next disaster strikes.

But training programs are not the only positive results from the teams’ visit to Manila.

“The highlight of the trip for me was the six professions of faith in Pastor Rico’s church,” said Jimmie Eisenhower from Oklahoma’s disaster relief team. Eisenhower was part of the team that mudded out the home of Roger and Rosie Rico.

“Rosie had been praying for them for a while, and the disaster brought them to the church,” Eisenhower said. “It was just so good to see the Lord at work in the midst of adversity and to know that these six will be discipled by Roger and Rosie and will grow in their faith.”

Dovie Smallwood, a Kentucky disaster relief volunteer, had the opportunity to share Christ with one of her roommates.

“I rented bed space in the hotel, so there were about six others sharing the room,” Smallwood explained.

A Filipina who works in a Middle Eastern country was in the bed beside Smallwood. Although she claimed to be a believer, the woman said Christ could not accept her because of her lifestyle.

“I told her that God loved her and that He could release her from her bondage,” Smallwood said, “and I led her in a sinner’s prayer.”

Within days after Typhoon Ketsana struck, International Mission Board workers Greg and Jill Harvell and their house church had distributed 400 bags of food purchased with Southern Baptist world hunger funds. Four volunteers from Texas helped pack and distribute an additional 400 bags. In total, the house church has distributed 3,600 bags of food.

House church member Priscilla Divas received a text message from her cousin, a doctor who is providing medical services to people suffering from the flooding in the Bulacan community. She expressed appreciation for her pastor and the relief team, noting that seven people had accepted Jesus as an offshoot of their generosity.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rivers is a writer for the International Mission Board. Donations to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund help make relief efforts like this possible. For information about donating, visit worldhungerfund.com.)

Related stories
N.C. volunteers rush to aid victims
Filipino pastors look past their own needs

10/22/2009 4:06:00 AM by Tess Rivers, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Charlotte, Shelby churches ride for children

October 21 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Children riding bicycles in the cold damp weather Oct. 17 to raise money for Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) met a hero who is going to ride across the state for the same cause next year.

First Baptist Church, Charlotte, and Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby joined forces to “Bike for Change.” It was Elizabeth’s first time joining First Baptist, which has raised $88,940 in seven years, including a record $17,876 this year.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

From right, JR Parker and Logan Standish line up with others to begin their “Bike for Change.” See photo album.

Elizabeth is the home church of Jay Westmoreland, the First Baptist member and BCH trustee who organizes the ride.

“I was particularly delighted to see the ‘multiplication effect’ as Elizabeth joined with us this year,” Westmoreland said.

He said Elizabeth Baptist is tentatively planning a similar event in Shelby next year and would invite other local churches to participate.

Children met Chris Boone, the man who holds the speed record for riding the entire 470 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in just 29 hours and 36 minutes.

To support BCH during its 125th anniversary year next September Boone will attempt to break the 564-mile Murphy to Manteo speed record of 41 hours.

As BCH development officer Lewis Smith says, “Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way.”

BCH will organize special events related to the anniversary and that ride, and Boone is going to begin a blog at www.biblicalrecorder.org so friends can track his training progress. Boone, 44, with his wife, Lisa and son Zach, are members of Rebels Creek Baptist Church in Bakersville.

Huddled with warm coffee and donuts, parents helped Westmoreland arrange children on the track by age group. After a couple laps on the wet track at Northside Baptist Church everyone’s jacket sported a broad wet stripe up the back.

Boone signed autographs and encouraged the riders. After riders had “dried off the track” Boone took a few laps with them. A triathlete, Boone owns a landscaping and a building stone company, and Lisa is director of nursing for the Mitchell County Hospice.

Other churches interested in holding a similar event can contact Westmoreland for helpful planning details.  


10/21/2009 5:24:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments

‘The nations came to us’

October 21 2009 by Marilyn Stewart, Baptist Press

Missions was a way of life at Friendly Avenue Baptist Church of Greensboro, where the service projects list fills a page. Then, a nation showed up at their doorstep.
Refugees from war-torn Burma, known as Myanmar, are being relocated to the Greensboro area. Known as the Karen people, the refugees fled first into Thailand to escape political persecution and a country ravaged by last year’s deadly cyclone.
“The nations came to us,” said pastor Pat Cronin.
The church’s ministry to the Karen began when it “adopted” one family a little over a year ago. Recently, four Karen young adults were baptized.
“We never thought we would see this happen,” Cronin said, thrilled by the commitments of faith.
Cronin said the Karen church plant is a daily reminder of the ministry of the Cooperative Program (CP) around the world and fits well with the church’s mission statement to bring “all people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Resources were in place to begin the growing ministry, thanks in part to the church’s commitment to putting love in action through the Cooperative Program.
Ron and Evelyn Hill, church members and retired International Mission Board missionaries trained in the Thai language, provided a first contact with the group. They received their linguistic abilities as part of their missionary training provided by CP gifts from the more than 44,000 Southern Baptist congregations.

BP photo by Kimberly Kossover

Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro ministers to Burmese Karen refugees — like these Karen children — in their community.

The Cooperative Program is the way state conventions in the Southern Baptist Convention work together the Acts 1:8 way — supporting local, regional, national and international missions and ministries.
Fulfilling the Great Commission is why the church supports missions through the Cooperative Program. Currently 15 percent of the church’s undesignated offerings are committed to reaching people through the Cooperative Program.
Giving makes sense, Cronin said.
“When you hear the name ‘Southern Baptist,’ you think missions,” Cronin said. “How can you not tap into the resources that make us effective?”
Volunteers greet newcomers at the airport with food and basic necessities and help them settle into their new homes and surroundings.
The Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and the church’s missions education programs provide baby gifts, Christmas gifts and other items. Proceeds from a church-organized golf tournament help cover the Karen’s financial, food and housing needs.
Early 19th century missionary Adoniram Judson served in Burma among the Karen people. Ethnic cleansings and a decades-long civil war have kept the country in turmoil.  
Brian Presson, church planter with the Karen mission, said that Buddhists and Animists — the predominant religions of the Karen — attend services.
“Acts of service open hearts,” Presson said. “Community draws people.”
Presson told of a woman who burst into tears when members greeted her at the airport, amazed that foreigners would care for her.
ESL (English as a Second Language) classes use Sunday School literature to teach the Karen. The church has contact with about 100 Karen. Services average 50.
Presson, with his wife, worked several years with the Karen overseas through another Christian organization.
“We went to the nations and then God brought us back home,” Presson said. “Then God brought the nations to us.”
Church members experience first-hand the impact of the Cooperative Program through mission trips to places such as the Sudan, Ecuador and Kenya and Vermont.
Youth work with World-Changers, a CP-supported endeavor of the North American Mission Board providing labor for community construction projects.
Cronin credits the church’s long history of mission service and giving through the Cooperative Program to a strong WMU and missions education program, and to being grounded on God’s Word.
“When you are biblically grounded, you have a Kingdom mindset, not just a local mindset,” Cronin said. “You are called to serve and give. Everyone wins.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Stewart is a writer with the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s communications office.)

10/21/2009 5:22:00 AM by Marilyn Stewart, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Displaying results 21-30 (of 50)
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5  >  >|