October 2013

Rainbow of refugees sheltered in her home

October 18 2013 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

WILLINGBORO, N.J. – Gerard Pierre named his second son Max in honor of Maxine Robinson, the woman who gave him refuge from Haiti 20 years ago in her home and encouraged him as if he were her son.

Pierre had fled Haiti in 1993 fearing for his life, a political organizer forced out with the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s first presidential term. Pierre said God led him to the Willingboro, N.J., home of Robinson, an African American Southern Baptist who has taken in more than 100 refugees from more than 10 countries over the past 30 years.

“For me, when I was leaving Haiti, I prayed to God so God can lead me to somebody who knows Him,” Pierre told Baptist Press. “I prayed to God, please don’t let me fall into a place where I would fight to serve Him, because temptation is for real – if you’re already weak, and then you’re in a place where you don’t have no strength.”

Naming his second son Max will help him remember Robinson, who gave him shelter six years and with whom he still maintains a friendship. She introduced him to Delaware Valley Baptist Church, where he is now a deacon.

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Submitted photo
Maxine Robinson, left, who has sheltered more than 100 refugees over the past 30 years in her New Jersey home, attends a missions celebration in which participants, dressed in South Asian attire, prayed for the region’s unreached people. Lena Plunk, a state Baptist convention ministry evangelism consultant, serves Robinson a sampling of food prepared for the occasion.

“I call him after Maxine, just exactly for me not to ... forget what Maxine has done for me. Even after she [is] long gone, every time I see my son Max I will remember when I first came to this country,” Pierre said. “I didn’t really have nothing. I didn’t have more than 10 U.S. dollars, and she met me for the first time. And since then she was like a mother for me.

“When I didn’t have food I could eat her food. I appreciate that. When I didn’t have a job, she really didn’t put me to shame. She helped me get a job.”

Sheltering and helping others is common for Robinson, who at 73 teaches Sunday School and is an education ministry consultant at Delaware Valley Baptist Church. She joined in 1973 when it was mainly Anglo but continued to serve as the membership transitioned to mostly African American. Robinson is a training consultant and treasurer for the South Jersey Baptist Association, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a U.S. Postal Service retiree.

“I guess the bottom line in serving in the association and the convention is being interested and being available. I don’t recall actually volunteering for much, but the Lord has kept me busy,” she said. “I have just recently started learning how to say ‘no.’”

From the killing fields

Robinson’s outreach to refugees began in 1980 when she saw a documentary on the killing fields of Cambodia, chronicling the Khmer Rouge regime’s genocide of an estimated 2.2 million people and the subsequent starvation of scores of others.

A young Filipino man, accompanied by the local Baptist association’s director of missions, showed the film at church and made an appeal for someone to become a refugee sponsor.

“Here I sat and listened and I just knew that some of the fine Christians would step up and help the refugees. When no one did, I was so surprised. So the director said, ‘We will not be able to have this program here at this time.’

“Then I heard myself say, ‘Wait, you can’t not have the program. The people of God need to help,’” Robinson recounted. “I didn’t really feel as though I was qualified since I was a divorced mother of two young children. But God gave me the burden for those people.”

Robinson has hosted in her modest home refugees from such countries as North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Poland, Ethiopia, Libya and Haiti.

When communication became more challenging, she organized and taught English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at church.

“Our ESL ministry grew out of the need to help the people to assimilate. Although in our town, the community offered ESL classes, we thought it would be good to have some classes in church. So we started using the Frank C. Laubach books on the story of Jesus,” Robinson said.

“The need to be able to communicate in English was so important that people came together to learn wherever it was being taught. The children, of course, learned it in the public schools.”

Vital diversity

Ethnic diversity, Robinson believes, not only is vital to the strength of the Southern Baptist Convention, but to the work of the Christian church.

“I believe that when we demonstrate the love of Christ [we] see others as Jesus sees them,” she said. “I believe one of the most important lessons is that we must build relationships with people right where they are and not try to make everyone the same.”

Robinson sees a biblical foundation for church members worshiping the Lord in their individual cultural styles.

“I just think that ... if we look in the Scripture ... we don’t see the order of worship that we use, necessarily. But people did it according to their culture. They broke bread together according to their culture,” Robinson said.

“[Scripture] tells you, even when Paul and those guys were going around sharing Christ, where did they go? They went, as was accustomed for them to do, to the synagogue. That’s where they went first. So people did things according to their culture. And everybody that comes here has a cultural background,” she said.

“We need to be accepting, and not only that, if we’re going to reach out to people, we have to be able to build relationships with them, and their culture is their heart. That’s where they’ve learned good and bad, right or wrong, or learned about their concept of God, or whatever they’ve learned, but that’s their heart. That’s where they’re from. And so, relationship has to be able to embrace those differences, not try to make them like the rest of us.”

An appreciation for differences has enabled Robinson to build many lifelong friendships transcending cultural lines, hosting some individuals and families in her home for months or even years.

Among them is a Vietnamese family she first sheltered when Hoa Thi Kim, now a mother, was 8 years old and her mother, now deceased, needed medical care for a broken arm that had gone untreated in the refugee camps. Kim, now grown with two children of her own, calls Robinson mom.

“And after her mom died … they lost the house and moved in here and they’ve been here ... about 12 years,” Robinson said. “She asked me if I would help her and watch her kids while she went out to work and do some stuff, and of course I agreed. ... Basically, I raised the kids.”

Pierre found shelter in Robinson’s home until he established a household of his own.

“Gerard is ... close to my heart,” Robinson said. “He often told of the troubles that he had in Haiti and how the Lord had bought him through beatings and imprisonment. His life was always in danger.”

After six years in the U.S., Pierre returned briefly to Haiti to marry and brought his wife to the States.

“He ... bought himself a house in a nearby [New Jersey] town and that is where he lives today along with his lovely wife [Odanie] and three children,” Robinson said. “But the most important thing that I wanted to say is that Gerard has really grown in his devotion and commitment to our Lord. Every other word from his mouth is ‘Glory to God and praise Him.’”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer.)
10/18/2013 10:43:24 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



State judges, legislators weigh gay marriage

October 18 2013 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Judges and legislators are preparing to determine the definition of legal marriage in a variety of states.

Whether same-sex unions should be recognized as marriages soon will be weighed by government officials in New Jersey, New Mexico, Hawaii and Michigan. The fate of the latest efforts to expand gay marriage beyond 13 states and the District of Columbia will be determined in those states either in the next few weeks or next year. Among the latest developments:
  • The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed Oct. 11 to review a state judge’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. The justices scheduled oral arguments in the appeal for Jan. 6-7.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Oct. 23 on whether judicial decisions legalizing gay marriage in two counties should be extended throughout the state.
  • Hawaii’s attorney general issued a legal opinion Oct. 15 saying the legislature has the authority to legalize same-sex marriage without the state constitution being amended. The ruling came as the Hawaii legislature prepares for a special session that will begin Oct. 28 to consider legalizing gay marriage.
  • A federal judge in Michigan disappointed same-sex marriage advocates Oct. 16 by delaying a decision on the state’s ban on such unions, saying he would rule after a trial scheduled to begin Feb. 25.
Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore pointed to the responsibility of Christians to defend the biblical view of marriage amidst cultural change and legal challenges.

“We have known for some time now that we’re in the midst of a major cultural redefinition of marriage,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

“At the end of all of this, though, will be a basic human longing to know whether marriage is rooted in something more permanent than court decrees or culture shifts,” he said in a statement to Baptist Press. “We must stand here with a witness to the marriage of man and woman as more than a state creation, but instead as an icon of the gospel of Christ and his church, bride and Groom.”

In its Oct. 11 action, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted Gov. Chris Christie’s request that they consider a lower court’s ruling without an appeals court first considering it.

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled Sept. 27 the state’s refusal to recognize gay marriage violated the equal protection clause of the New Jersey Constitution. She ordered the state government to begin permitting same-sex marriages Oct. 21. On Oct. 10, Jacobson refused a request to block enforcement of her order while the decision was being appealed. In issuing its order a day later, the state Supreme Court did not rule on whether Jacobson’s order would take effect Oct. 21.

Christie vetoed a same-sex marriage bill approved by the legislature last year and continues to say the issue should be decided by voters in a ballot initiative.

The New Mexico high court, which already has issued an opinion favoring advocates for same-sex unions, will hear oral arguments Oct. 23 in response to a request from the state’s 33 country clerks, according to Reuters News Service. After judges ruled gay marriages should be permitted in two counties, the clerks asked the justices to determine whether same-sex marriage should be legal statewide.

In August, the New Mexico Supreme Court rejected the religious free exercise arguments of Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin, a Christian couple who operate a photography business. The justices ruled the Huguenins violated the state’s ban on sexual orientation discrimination by refusing to photograph a same-sex ceremony.

Hawaii’s legislators will determine whether to recognize gay marriage during a special session called for by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a proponent of its legalization. In his Oct. 15 opinion, Attorney General Dave Louie said the legislature “unquestionably has the constitutional authority” to pass such a bill. A legislator had asked Louie to rule whether legislators could legalize same-sex marriage since the Hawaii Constitution says, “The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

In Detroit, federal judge Bernard Friedman surprised gay marriage proponents by postponing an opinion on the constitutionality of Michigan’s restriction on marriage. Dozens of same-sex couples were waiting at clerks’ offices in the state to receive marriage licenses had Friedman invalidated the ban, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Friedman acknowledged in court his uncertainty. “I’m a little nervous,” he said, according to the Free Press. “I’ve never had a case like this before.”

The expanding legalization of gay marriage has resulted in the loss of freedom to exercise religious beliefs by business owners, including the Huguenins. The ERLC has endorsed new federal legislation to address an aspect of this growing problem. The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, H.R. 3133, would prevent the federal government from denying tax exemption to, or withdrawing it from, individuals and institutions that define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

The 13 states in which same-sex marriage is legal are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington Bureau chief.)
10/18/2013 10:37:09 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘Blind Side’ son, now 20, is baptized

October 18 2013 by Tim Tune, Baptist Press

OXFORD, Miss. – When he was 7 or 8, Sean Tuohy Jr. was sidelined by chickenpox on the day he was scheduled to be baptized. Now 20, Tuohy – the young son portrayed in “The Blind Side” movie – was baptized in mid-August by family friend Hugh Freeze, the University of Mississippi’s head football coach.

Freeze has “been a family friend since as young as I can remember,” said Tuohy, who goes by “SJ.”

“His wife and my mom [Leigh Anne Tuohy] are good friends. I’ve looked up to him as a role model in faith,” said SJ, who was baptized at North Oxford (Miss.) Baptist Church where Freeze is a member.

The Tuohy family of Memphis also includes husband and father Sean and daughter Collins – as well as adoptive son Michael Oher, an offensive lineman with the 2013 NFL champion Baltimore Ravens. Oher’s adoption into the family and his rise to one of college football’s top recruits is told in The Blind Side, a 2006 book and 2009 movie. Freeze was Oher’s football coach at Briarcrest Christian School and is mentioned frequently in the book, while the movie includes a character named Coach Cotton based on Freeze.
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Submitted photo
Sean Tuohy


SJ, a basketball player, also was a sought-after athlete out of Briarcrest. He’s starting his second year at Loyola University Maryland where he’ll play as a redshirt freshman in the Greyhounds’ upcoming season, their first in the Patriot League. Basketball skills run in the Tuohy family. Sean, a restaurateur and broadcast analyst for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, played guard at Ole Miss and holds the all-time record for assists in the Southeastern Conference.

SJ said Loyola Maryland was the best college that offered him a scholarship. And it didn’t hurt that “it was close to Mike,” SJ said, referring to Oher, who lives in the Baltimore area. 

Leigh Anne said, “I personally don’t believe in coincidences. That SJ looked at so many colleges and so many looked at him..., this has to be 100 percent God-driven. For him to have landed there was a miracle.”

It was in Baltimore earlier this year, Leigh Anne said, that SJ determined he’d waited long enough to be baptized.

During a visit, Leigh Anne attended church with SJ and Oher. After the sermon, she said the pastor “called on people who wanted to get baptized to come on up.” Leigh Anne said SJ turned to her and said, “Mom, I’ve never been baptized.” For a moment he considered walking forward, she said. 

“He had always been a superstrong Christian,” Leigh Anne said, “and he’s really felt convicted that he hadn’t” been baptized.

Nevertheless, Leigh Anne said she told him, “I hate to stifle this, but your dad will be so mad if you get baptized and he’s not here.

“What if we let Hugh [Freeze] baptize you,” Leigh Anne suggested. 

“Mom, coach wouldn’t do that,” SJ replied.

Leigh Anne then said, “What if I make Coach Freeze baptize you?”

Leigh Anne contacted Freeze last spring and he agreed to work out the details with North Oxford pastor Gary Richardson.

The Tuohys have strong ties to Ole Miss and attend North Oxford when they’re in town, SJ said. His mom and dad met as Ole Miss students in the late ’70s. Sean was a star basketball player, Leigh Anne was a cheerleader. Their daughter Collins, also an Ole Miss graduate, also was a cheerleader.

SJ said having Freeze baptize him was “an obvious choice. I grew up with his daughters as sort-of sisters. He was such a good influence on me growing up.”

Just before the baptism, SJ said he and Freeze “talked about the journeys that Christ had led us on” and “just that he was proud of me as a brother in Christ.”

Freeze also baptized his three daughters, the Ole Miss coach said during a news conference on Sept. 23.

“I’m thankful that my parents were people of faith,” said Freeze, who came to Christ and was baptized when he was 7. “My faith is everything to me. I’m pretty clear and open about that. I was grateful to have a great family that introduced me to that.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Tune is a writer in Fort Worth, Texas.)
10/18/2013 10:22:42 AM by Tim Tune, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SEBTS hires Art Rainer as new VP

October 17 2013 by SEBTS Communications

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) recently announced Art Rainer as its new vice president for institutional advancement.
 
Before moving to Wake Forest, Rainer served as the administrative pastor of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Fla. Rainer has co-authored two books, Raising Dad and Simple Life.
 
“My wife and I are excited to join the Southeastern family,” said Rainer. “It is such a great honor and privilege to serve this great institution. I look forward to coming alongside the Southeastern team as we train and equip students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission.”
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SEBTS photo
The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees recently approved Art Rainer as the school’s vice president for institutional advancement. He began work in August.

 
“I have known Art Rainer since he was a teenager,” said Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern. “I have watched him grow into the godly and gifted man that he is today. His addition to Southeastern is a welcomed gift from our Lord. The future is bright and hopeful with Art joining our team.”
 
Rainer is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a master of business administration and is a candidate for a doctorate in business administration. Both degrees have a special focus on the area of marketing.
 
Furthermore, Rainer has extensive experience both personally and professionally in the context of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) giving him an ability to understand how to operate among the SBC constituency groups.
 
At First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Rainer was heavily involved in fundraising efforts. When he started the position, the church was in serious financial trouble, and efforts had to be undertaken through fundraising to save the church financially. These efforts proved successful, and have given Rainer extensive experience in the area of building relationships for financial support.
 
Rainer has spent a significant amount of time researching the Millennials generation, those born between 1982 and 2002. This generation of individuals represents the pool of prospective students among whom SEBTS is recruiting. Understanding this group helps Rainer to lead the SEBTS team effectively to recruit new students.
 
Currently, he is also working toward a master of arts in biblical studies at SEBTS. Rainer and his wife, Sarah, have a three-year-old son and a newborn boy.
 
Rainer joined SEBTS as the acting vice president for institutional advancement in August and was elected Oct. 15 by the Board of Trustees. Rainer oversees admissions, alumni development, communication, financial development and planned giving within the division of institutional development.
 
“I am excited to have Art Rainer join the SEBTS team as VP for institutional advancement,” said Ryan Hutchinson, executive vice president for operations at SEBTS. “Both his educational background and demeanor will help us to grow our school both numerically and financially. He desires to serve God with his whole heart and mind, and I look forward to see how God uses him in the coming years.”
10/17/2013 2:08:59 PM by SEBTS Communications | with 1 comments



Mohler honored for 20 years as SBTS president

October 17 2013 by James A. Smith Sr., Baptist Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Twenty years to the day after his inauguration as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SBTS) ninth president, the school’s trustees honored R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his leadership in recovering the founders’ vision for the seminary and for its progress since 1993.

During an Oct. 15 chapel service, trustee chairman E. Todd Fisher read a resolution of “thanksgiving and appreciation,” unanimously adopted during the trustees’ Oct. 14-15 semiannual meeting, tracing Mohler’s stewardship of Southern Seminary through two decades.

The statement expresses “profound gratefulness” for Mohler’s “faithfulness” to restore the seminary, which was a key concern of grassroots Southern Baptists resulting in the “Conservative Resurgence” in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination during the 1980s and 1990s.

Fisher, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, Okla., read from 2 Timothy 4:1-5, a passage he said is “very fitting” for the occasion. Addressing Mohler, Fisher said, “Thank you so much for all you’ve done for this seminary and the Kingdom of God.”

A framed copy of the resolution was presented to Mohler and his wife Mary, who were greeted by a lengthy standing ovation by the filled-to-capacity audience in Alumni Memorial Chapel.

In response, Mohler told the seminary community the recognition is “humbling” for himself and Mary. “And what an incredibly moving day,” he said.
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SBTS photo
R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Mary Mohler receive from trustee chairman E. Todd Fisher, right, a resolution of “thanksgiving and appreciation” unanimously adopted by Southern Seminary’s trustees during their Oct. 14-15 semiannual meeting marking Mohler’s 20th anniversary as president of the Louisville, Ky., school.


Saying he did not want to “linger” on the matter, but reflecting on his inauguration ceremony in the same building 20 years earlier, Mohler said, “We had no assurance that we would be here 20 years thereafter. Matter of fact, we had no assurance that this seminary would be here 20 years thereafter.”

Mohler also reflected, “This is the seminary that God has built and what a joy it is to be able to reflect upon that.”

Noting 20 years is a “significant period of life,” Mohler said, “I think in many ways those were the most strategically invested years of my life and I want you to know that I would do nothing other with them if ever I were asked or given the alternative. There is no alternative history I would choose here. This is it. And for that I am unspeakably grateful.”

Mohler then preached on the theology of gratitude in a sermon titled, “What Do You Have That You Did Not Receive? Gratitude and Christian Discipleship,” from 1 Corinthians 4:1-7.
Following chapel, a reception for the president and his family, attended by students, faculty and staff, was held in the seminary’s Duke K. McCall Sesquicentennial Pavilion.

The trustee resolution notes that Southern is now one of the largest seminaries in the world, with the largest enrollment of master of divinity students in any seminary. According to the Association of Theological Schools, in 2012-13, Southern had a total enrollment of 4,366, compared to 2,858 in 1993, making it the second-largest ATS-accredited school.

The resolution also notes academic, financial and campus facilities improvements during Mohler’s tenure, and expresses “unqualified support” for the president’s recent reaffirmations of his vision for the school during the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and his August convocation address, “Don’t Just Do Something – Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble.”

Noting Mary Mohler “modeled grace, humility and steadfast allegiance ... during times of severe opposition” and “personal attacks,” trustees also offered “profound gratitude to Mary Mohler, Katie Mohler Barnes and Christopher Mohler for their irreplaceable devotion and incomparable assistance to Dr. Mohler as he has led Southern Seminary for the last 20 years.”

Trustees requested copies of the resolution be sent to SBC President Fred Luter and Executive Committee President Frank Page “with encouragement that it be shared with the wider Southern Baptist family so that all may join us in celebrating this important milestone in the ministry of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. and history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”

(The full text of the resolution follows this story.)

During an Oct. 15 banquet for trustees, faculty and friends of the seminary, Fisher presented to Mohler a trustee-approved “12-month study leave” to be “allocated and used at his discretion by Dec. 31, 2018.”

In other actions during the trustee meeting, the board received reports from its committees and unanimously:
  • approved sabbatical leaves for Heath Lambert, associate professor of biblical counseling, and Mark A. Seifrid, Earnest and Mildred Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation.
  • amended the trustee bylaws in two sections: (1) to reduce the number of standing school committees to three, reflecting the April trustee-approved merger of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism with the former School of Church Ministries, resulting in the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry; and (2) to allow flexibility in scheduling of the semiannual meetings of the board of trustees.
  • moved the spring trustee meeting to April 14-16, 2014, in light of the date of Easter.
  • approved a policy for the Faculty and Staff Handbook and Student Handbook on “Sex, Sexuality and Gender Identity” stating the seminary’s biblically based positions on these matters.
  • approved a response to a motion made at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting concerning mental health, summarizing the seminary’s role in training pastors and counselors on the matter, while deferring to a prospective recommendation from the Executive Committee for further reporting.
The board also received a report from its executive committee on the election of seven members of the Southern Seminary Foundation Board.

In recognition of Mohler’s anniversary milestone, the seminary released, Oct. 15, several resources.

A special fall edition of the Southern Seminary Magazine, the quarterly publication of the school, includes articles reporting on the seminary’s progress since 1993; Mohler’s role as a denominational statesman and innovative communicator; and Mary Mohler’s leadership of the Seminary Wives Institute.

A special October edition of Towers, the campus news magazine, includes a profile of Mohler, based on an extensive interview with him, and a photo essay of a day in the life of Mohler on Aug. 20, 2013.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor and chief spokesman at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

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Following is the full text of the resolution marking R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s 20th anniversary as president of Southern Seminary unanimously adopted by the school’s board of trustees in its Oct. 14-15 semi-annual meeting.

Resolution of Thanksgiving and Appreciation for R. Albert Mohler Jr. on the Occasion of His Twentieth Anniversary as President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Whereas, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. was elected ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by the Board of Trustees on March 26, 1993; and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler was inaugurated as president of Southern Seminary on October 15, 1993; and

Whereas, before his election as president, Dr. Mohler had previously served as an administrator and was a distinguished Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy graduate of Southern Seminary; and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler’s profound affection for Southern Seminary is evidenced by his deep knowledge of the history of the institution and his stewardship of the school as president for the last 20 years; and

Whereas, upon taking office, Dr. Mohler immediately commenced the implementation of his vision to restore Southern Seminary to the Founders’ commitment of a confessional school based on fidelity to Scripture and The Abstract of Principles, grounded in a steadfast allegiance to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and its confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message; and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler eloquently expressed his vision to restore Southern Seminary in his first Convocation Address, “Don’t Just Do Something: Stand There!”, delivered to the seminary community on August 31, 1993; and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler unwaveringly withstood vehement opposition and sometimes deeply personal attacks upon himself and family by elements of the faculty, alumni and others in the Southern Baptist Convention determined to see his vision unfulfilled; and

Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler was able to recruit faculty with both the highest academic credentials and deepest Gospel ministry commitments, resulting in the finest collection of evangelical scholars in the world; and

Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler’s convictional leadership has attracted outstanding students from across the nation and around the world seeking Gospel ministry training, resulting in one of the world’s largest seminary student bodies and the largest number of Master of Divinity students in any seminary; and

Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler’s management has resulted in a financially sound institution with a budget more than twice as large, an endowment more than thirty million dollars larger, and campus facilities that are well-maintained, improving and expanding; and

Whereas consistent with his commitment to restoring a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler has led in the development of new academic programs – including the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry and Boyce College – to better equip ministers to serve more faithfully the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention; and

Whereas, even while leading the recovery of Southern Seminary, Dr. Mohler has played a strategic role of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention as longtime president of the Council of Seminary Presidents; by service on key SBC task forces and committees, including the Presidential Theological Study Committee (1994), Program and Structure Study Committee (1995), Baptist Faith and Message study committees (1998, 2000), the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (2010), and the Calvinism Advisory Committee (2013); and by delivering the Convention Sermon in 1995; and

Whereas, in addition to his seminary and denominational leadership, Dr. Mohler is widely admired as an innovative communicator of evangelical convictions to the broader American society through his extensive writing ministry; multi-media platforms; as a frequent commentator on theological, moral and social issues in the nation’s most prominent newspapers, magazines, network and cable television news programs; and in many other venues; and

Whereas, because of Dr. Mohler’s personal investment in students, faculty and administrators, key leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and the broader evangelical world have been drawn from among those most closely associated with Dr. Mohler during his 20-year tenure at Southern Seminary; and

Whereas, Mary Mohler, Dr. Mohler’s wife and ministry partner since 1983, has made an incalculable investment in Southern Seminary through her founding in 1997 of the Seminary Wives Institute, training nearly 2,500 wives of students to better equip women for their unique roles as ministry partners to their husbands; and

Whereas, Mary Mohler modeled grace, humility and steadfast allegiance, standing by and supporting Dr. Mohler during times of severe opposition, even sometimes when she and their children, Katie and Christopher, were the subjects of personal attacks; and

Whereas, the seminary community has watched as Katie and Christopher have grown from young children to young adults, and the Mohlers have been blessed this year with the marriage of Katie to Riley Barnes, while Christopher continues his studies at Boyce College; and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler reaffirmed his vision for the seminary in a report to messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston this year: “I want to stand before you now twenty years later and say that those commitments are not fulfilled; they are here reaffirmed, as we move forward in an age unprecedented to do what the Lord Jesus Christ would have us to do;” and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler cast his vision for the coming decade at Southern Seminary in his twentieth anniversary Convocation Address, “Don’t Just Stand There – Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble,” delivered on August 20, 2013.

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, October 14-15, 2013, express our thanks to God for His kind providence in leading our predecessor trustees to elect Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. as ninth president of this institution; and

Resolved, that we give our thanks to God for blessing Dr. Mohler uniquely with the requisite spiritual gifts, insight, intelligence and character to provide the convictional leadership that was necessary to restore Southern Seminary to its Founders’ vision; and

Resolved, that we congratulate Dr. Mohler on his twentieth anniversary as president of Southern Seminary, with great hopefulness that God will continue to grant him health and perseverance to lead the school for many more years; and

Resolved, that we express our profound gratitude to Dr. Mohler for his faithfulness to his vision to restore The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as a school committed to the total truthfulness of God’s Word and fidelity to the institution’s founding confession of faith, The Abstract of Principles, and the Southern Baptist Convention’s confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message; and

Resolved, that we express our unqualified support for Dr. Mohler’s reaffirmation of his vision for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as an institution committed to the total truthfulness of God’s Word and fidelity to its confessional statements, The Abstract of Principles and The Baptist Faith and Message; and

Resolved, that we give thanks to God for trustees, faculty, students, administrators, friends of the seminary and others who played key roles throughout the last 20 years in providing support to Dr. Mohler as he led the restoration of Southern Seminary to the Founders’ vision; and

Resolved, that we extend our profound gratitude to Mary Mohler, Katie Mohler Barnes, and Christopher Mohler for their irreplaceable devotion and incomparable assistance to Dr. Mohler as he has led Southern Seminary for the last 20 years; and

Resolved, that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees send a copy of this resolution to Dr. Fred Luter Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Dr. Frank Page, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, with greetings from this Board and with encouragement that it be shared with the wider Southern Baptist family so that all may join us in celebrating this important milestone in the ministry of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. and history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
10/17/2013 1:53:25 PM by James A. Smith Sr., Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Southern president summarizes his tenure as ‘gratitude’

October 17 2013 by Aaron Cline Hanbury, Baptist Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Reflecting on his tenure as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), R. Albert Mohler Jr. said his only response is gratitude.

Twenty years ago, on Oct. 15, 1993, Southern Seminary inaugurated Mohler as its ninth president in ceremonies that included evangelist Billy Graham and theologian Carl F.H. Henry. Twenty years later, Mohler preached about the place of gratitude in Christian life and theology in a special chapel service Oct. 15 as a part of the seminary’s annual Heritage Week activities.

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SBTS photo
R. Albert Mohler Jr. preaches on the importance of gratitude in the Christian life, reflecting on his 20th anniversary as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“A bit more than 20 years ago, I was given the unspeakable opportunity to serve this sacred school as president and professor,” said Mohler, who, at the time was only 33. “Let me ask the question that others were clearly asking at the time: ‘What were they thinking?’ It has been 20 years that can only be summarized in one word: ‘gratitude.’”

Mohler based his sermon, “What Do You Have That You Did Not Receive? Gratitude and Christian Discipleship,” on 1 Corinthians 4:1-7, where the apostle Paul establishes the proper relationship between God and His servants.

Mohler emphasized the relevance of Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church, noting, “To one extent or another, every one of our congregations is a Corinthian congregation; every one of our congregations has, at the very least, its Corinthian moments and is perpetually afflicted by the Corinthian temptations.”

One of the problems in the Corinthian church, Mohler said, was “the perpetual sense of spiritual superiority that was lorded over by some believers over others because of their spiritual gifts.” Paul’s answer, Mohler said, is to remind the Corinthians that all they have is from God.

“We are all tremendously shaped ... by the simple declarative sentences of Scripture, those sentences which establish the truth of the Gospel, the reality of the one true and living God, the substantial and accessible, forcible, eternal truth of God’s revelation to us,” Mohler said. “We live on those.

“But I am sometimes, I must admit, more attracted to the questions asked in Scripture. Some of these haunting questions sometimes seem to reveal even more than those declarative sentences.”

Referencing verse 7 of the passage, Mohler said, “Here is one of those questions I think should frame our thinking as believers: ‘What do you have that you did not receive?’”

The correct answer to this “incredible question” frames Christian theology, and should define the believer’s life, Mohler said.

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing” is the answer, he said.

“We know that God is Himself the giver of all good and perfect gifts, the source of all that is good, including life itself. And thus we understand that thanksgiving and gratitude are the Christian’s portion. This is our natural and rightful response, not only to who God is, but to what He has done for us. Understood rightly, there is no more inherently theological act than thanksgiving.”

Mohler, expressing his thanksgiving to the seminary community, said, “When I look out at this room, I see what I had no right to expect to see 20 years later: you,” looking back to early days of his presidency, many of which brought struggle and difficulty. “And beyond you, so many who have gone out; and beyond you so many who are now coming. This is God’s doing, and it is marvelous in His sight.

“And what’s our response to that? Mine, first of all? Gratitude. Gratitude for all. Gratitude at the beginning, gratitude at the end, gratitude at the top, gratitude at the bottom, gratitude at every point, gratitude at every moment.”

He continued: “The Christian life and all true theology begins and ends with the right answer to that one question – and the right last word to this sermon. What do we have that we did not receive? Nothing.”

At the beginning of his sermon, Mohler noted how “special” the seminary’s Alumni Memorial Chapel is to him. He catalogued his experiences in the building as a prospective student, student, employee, graduate and then as president – his daughter, Katie Mohler Barnes, was married in the chapel this summer.

Also during the service, trustee chairman E. Todd Fisher read a resolution of “thanksgiving and appreciation,” unanimously adopted during the Oct. 14-15 semiannual meeting, that traces Mohler’s stewardship of the seminary through two decades. The seminary presented Mohler with a framed copy of the resolution. In response, Mohler told the seminary community the recognition is “humbling” for himself and Mary. “And what an incredibly moving day.”

Audio and video of Mohler’s sermon are both available at www.sbts.edu/resources.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Cline Hanbury is manager of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.)
 

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10/17/2013 1:43:36 PM by Aaron Cline Hanbury, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Southern installs VP, 2 deans

October 17 2013 by RuthAnne Irvin, Baptist Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Installation services have been held at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) for Randy Stinson as senior vice president for academic administration and provost; Gregory A. Wills as dean of the School of Theology; and Adam W. Greenway as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry.

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Randy Stinson

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary must prepare students not only in academics but also for hardships in future ministry, Stinson said in his installation address as senior vice president and provost at the Louisville, Ky., campus.

Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., who named Stinson to the post earlier this year, noted, “This is a responsibility of tremendous importance and a position that requires much stewardship of the entire seminary. As we think about how God has provided for us in the future we come with great gratitude.”

Stinson preached from 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 at the Aug. 29 service, noting the apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian church to commend themselves to God through endurance of trials.

In today’s world, Stinson noted, “We’re expecting that the students who come to us will have more personal challenges, not less.”

Stinson, who served eight years as dean of Southern Seminary’s School of Leadership and Christian Ministry and was the founding dean of the School of Church Ministries, talked about young ministers who leave churches because they think the congregation will not endure sound doctrine. He emphasized the importance of biblical expectations of pastoral leadership and how the people accept such leadership.

“It’s all about expectations,” Stinson said. “What do you expect? It’s easy to say that they wouldn’t endure sound doctrine, but it’s hard to look in the mirror and see that they won’t endure you.”

Exhorting students and pastors to endure the difficult ministry situations that make the temptation to run appealing, Stinson said pastors need to commend themselves to the people they serve.

“The thing that will commend you to the people you are serving is how you endure in Christ with patience, kindness and love,” he said.

Life isn’t only about academics or how many people fill the church pews each week, Stinson said. Rather, the Christian life is about people living according to what they know and believe, patiently and in a godly manner.

“You’re learning things here that are important that will serve you well if you live according to what you know,” Stinson told the seminary audience. “Patience ruled the day for Paul.”

Southern Seminary will always be vigilant about the content taught in the classroom, Stinson said, because administrators want students to be prepared for ministry in a sinful world.

“I want our students to be a certain way and have a certain ministry,” he said. “There’s a type of minister of the Gospel that we’re trying to create here to send out – a minister of great endurance and great expectation of trial and difficulty who will face those in God.”

Stinson called the patient endurance of trials “true grit,” but not the Hollywood, John Wayne kind. 

“True grit is rooted in the eternal God and His eternal reward,” Stinson said. “What commended Paul is his endurance.”

Stinson also called students to endure difficult circumstances by purity.

“There’s a way to walk through challenges and hardships and that’s by living a life that is above reproach,” he said.

Ministers, students and laymen will experience tests of faith and strength in life, but Stinson said God brings hardships because they are part of His plan to sanctify His people

“The will of God is your sanctification, or God making you more Christ-like, because there’s something on the other side of this hardship that you need to know about,” he said.


Gregory A. Wills

Faithful Christian scholars must be prepared to accept the scandal of the Gospel, even at the cost of academic reputation, Wills said in his installation service as dean of the School of Theology.

Mohler introduced Wills at the Sept. 3 service by noting, “It is right to step back and hear from the one who will take this office about what he sees in the future of the school and the reason it was established.”

Wills preached from 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 about the scandal of the gospel and its relation to Christian scholarship.

Wills, professor of church history and the author of several books, including “Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: 1859-2009,” called the seminary community to suffer the scandal of humility in the service of the Gospel.

“I want us to reflect upon this message and its role in our scholarship and in our study of scripture, the truth of scripture and all things that belong unto the study of scripture,” Wills said. “The scandal is inescapable. The scandal of the gospel is that we must repudiate our confidence in glorious human knowledge. We must acknowledge Christ’s righteousness and abandon our own. We must die if we would live.”

Wills applied this scandal to scholarship, specifically in seminary training, noting that no scholarly evidence can compel sinners to repent and trust in Christ, but only the gospel.

“It is crucifixion above all that scandalizes sinners. Christ crucified, Paul says, was ‘a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles’ (1 Corinthians 1:23). It is the cross itself that offends the heart and the conscience of man,” he said.

In 1879 Southern Seminary faced the “momentous” question of whether it would stand committed when professor Crawford Toy challenged the seminary’s commitment to divine truth, Wills said, recounting that Toy was dismissed as an “act of gospel fidelity and courage that has bolstered Southern Baptist commitment to scripture to this day.”

“Southern Baptist life rightly established this seminary for the promotion of divine truth,” Wills said. “And we must never relinquish this task, though at great cost of labor, at great inconvenience and great grief. We must never relent in our determination to promote and defend gospel truth. And so we repudiate tampering with the Word of God.”

Wills noted, however, that the gospel is not about scholarship, but about Jesus Christ.

“We are content that our scholarship is employed in the statement of open, divine truth,” he said. “This means, among other things, that we do not long for the recognition of the academy, but for the ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’ We are trophies of grace, not learning.”

Scholarship must serve the gospel, Wills said, and the purpose of God’s truth is to produce love, resulting in godly living and godly dying.

Wills, setting forth a vision for how Southern Seminary desires to train ministers, said, “We are seeking to produce theologians whose theology makes them evangelists.”

He charged seminarians to be relentless in their commitment to the task, citing Southern’s founders who, in the aftermath of the Civil War, resolved that they would die before they allowed the seminary to die.

“May we do our duty and change history. Until Christ returns we must attend zealously to theological scholarship for teaching biblically sound and courageous ministers of the gospel,” Wills said. “The church will always need such faithfully trained ministers who are trained in the scandalous scholarship of the gospel. We believe theological education is an obligation. As long as God sustains us, we will never give up.”


Adam W. Greenway

If not careful, even seminary students can hold a deficient understanding of the gospel, Greenway said during his Oct.1 installation address as the new dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Seminary.

Greenway, 35, is the first dean of the school since it expanded as the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, combining the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, established in 1994, and the School of Church Ministries, which began in 2009.

Mohler introduced Greenway, giving background to the Billy Graham School.

“The Billy Graham School will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. It was 20 years ago that Dr. Billy Graham was present here in Louisville for the announcement of the establishment of that school as a part of my inauguration,” Mohler said. “The Lord has greatly blessed this school over the years. This is the Lord’s timing that as the Billy Graham School enters into its 20th year and as it’s aimed toward the future, Adam Greenway would be its dean.”

Greenway, associate professor of evangelism and applied apologetics, preached from 2 Corinthians 5 about “A Full Gospel Ministry.” This era may be the “golden age” for theological uncertainty and gospel compromise, he said, so students must confidently profess their beliefs about the gospel.

“If ever there was a time that we need a recovery of the Gospel message mandate and mission, it is in our day,” said Greenway, who also is chairman of the trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Greenway cited four aspects of a “full gospel ministry,” emphasizing that students who will enter ministry need to comprehend the greatness of the gospel.

First, he said the gospel has a “divine origination”: Everything has its source in God, and He is the hero of the redemption story of scripture who delights in reconciling people to Himself.

The gospel also involves a “divine declaration,” Greenway said.

People are corrupted, and each time they sin, it is like swiping a credit card that needs to be paid, he said. God would be just to charge a person’s sins to his or her account. But, he said, if God did that, humans would be doomed.

Greenway said that because of the declaration, the gospel’s third aspect also is necessary: a “divine transaction.” People need someone to pay their debt of sin, and Jesus accomplished this on the cross. Citing 2 Corinthians 5:2, he encouraged students to contemplate what it means that Christ became sin in order to reconcile sinners to God.

Greenway’s final aspect of a full gospel ministry is its “divine mission,” reflecting the importance of obeying the Great Commission mandate of declaring the gospel.

Students disconnect theology from evangelism too often, he said, noting that the Billy Graham School exists to help students apply theology to life, resulting in a full ministry of the gospel.

“Theology never finds its full expression until it becomes the driving force and passion that leads us to proclaim to sinners that there is salvation in Jesus Christ,” Greenway said.

He concluded his address by expressing thankfulness for the seminary and its faculty who work together for the same goal in training students. 

“I believe at Southern Seminary in general and the Billy Graham School in particular, there’s never been a greater assembling of God-called individuals who are passionate about the full range of the Great Commission: worship, evangelism, discipleship, leadership and missions,” Greenway said. “We’ve got the family together in the Billy Graham School, and we believe it is at the very heartbeat of God that our mission and mandate is to see the nations come to worship Christ.”

Audio and video from the three installation services are available at sbts.edu/resources

 
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10/17/2013 1:27:55 PM by RuthAnne Irvin, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Matt Redman, TobyMac winners at Doves

October 17 2013 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE – English worship leader Matt Redman received top honors at the 44th annual Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Awards in Nashville Oct. 15, garnering the award for Songwriter of the Year and an impressive four awards for his song “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord),” which has quickly become a familiar anthem in churches around the world.

Redman’s recording of the song, co-written by Jonas Myrin, received the awards for Song of the Year, Contemporary Christian Performance of the Year, Pop Contemporary Song of the Year and Praise & Worship Song of the Year.

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Getty Images for Gospel Music Association
TobyMac was named Artist of the Year at the 44th Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. He also took awards for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year, Recorded Music Packaging of the Year and Short Form Video of the Year. 

Hip hop artist TobyMac was recognized as Artist of the Year for the second time, last winning the award in 2008. TobyMac also won Doves for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year, Recorded Music Packaging of the Year and Short Form Video of the Year.

Last year’s big winner Jason Crabb had another good night, taking home awards for Southern Gospel Performance of the Year, Inspirational Song of the Year, Southern Gospel Song of the Year and Inspirational Album of the Year.

Relative newcomer Tasha Cobbs was awarded the Dove for Gospel Performance of the Year for her breakout hit “Break Every Chain” and Australian band For King & Country was named New Artist of the Year.

Gospel Music stars Amy Grant and Kirk Franklin hosted the awards show, which was held for the first time at the Allen Arena on the campus of Nashville’s Lipscomb University. Touching moments from the event included a tribute to evangelist Billy Graham by Michael W. Smith and the Newsboys, a tribute to longtime singer and songwriter Bill Gaither by Karen Peck, the Isaacs, Dailey & Vincent and Signature Sound and the presentation of the “Uplift Someone” award to gospel artist Mandisa, whose song and music video “Overcomer” have received national attention.

“What an amazing night of music and honor,” said GMA Executive Director Jackie Patillo in a press release. “Tonight’s performances were all a testament to why we are all here. On behalf of membership of the GMA, we are proud to present this year’s Dove winners and congratulate each of them and the nominees on their achievements. We would also like to thank the city of Nashville for welcoming us back home and to the wonderful host for the evening, Lipscomb University.”

The show will be televised Monday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m. EST on UPtv (formerly the Gospel Music Channel).

For a complete list of winners, go to doveawards.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press operations coordinator Laura Erlanson.)
10/17/2013 1:16:24 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Senior saints help birth church plant

October 16 2013 by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press

NEW ORLEANS – The 16 or so remaining lay members of Lakeview Baptist Church in New Orleans didn’t fit the bill of a church planting core team. All senior saints, none younger than 70, they lacked youthful energy, but compensated with experience and vision.

When they met church planter James Welch (@harborjames) in 2008, they were still grieving Hurricane Katrina and the loss of their homes, community and what had been their church. The congregation dreamed of one last selfless act that would continue the church’s rich legacy long into the future.

“If we want to reach the world, we have to be willing to change,” said Phyllis Dixon, a member of Lakeview Baptist since 1960, when she joined with her husband Ed. “Those who aren’t willing to change won’t go anywhere.”

In the coming months these Lakeview members offered Welch their church building and merged with the young church he had been forming. To help Lakeview with this grieving process, Welch brought in a grief counselor to walk them through the next stages. Though merging a young church plant with an aging congregation wasn’t always easy, Welch said they’ve tried to do it in a healthy way.
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Photo courtesy of James Welch
James and Amy Welch moved to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery and cleanup and stayed to start a church. The couple considered planting a church in Vancouver, Wash., but after Katrina, they felt the Big Easy would afford Gospel renewal in an urban environment. They planted Harbor Community Church in 2010.


“We gave [the grieving process] about a year just to help Lakeview through it,” Welch said. “It’s been cool because it gave them a group of young people who love them. Many of them have gone home to be with Jesus, so we got to celebrate with them at their funerals. Some of them, once it was all complete, decided to be a part of churches like they were a part of in the [19]70s and ’80s. And there are four of them who have remained a part of our church and have gotten connected with community groups.”

Welch and a core team of leaders launched a new congregation, Harbor Community Church, in 2011. The new church has grown to more than 200 in attendance, most of whom have come to faith in Christ there, Welch says.

James and Amy Welch’s hearts broke, as did those of many Southern Baptists, as they learned about Hurricane Katrina’s damage to New Orleans in August 2005. After they expressed their intense call by God to help the beleaguered city, Sojourn Community Church and Crossings Community Church, both in Louisville, Ky., sent the couple to New Orleans in March 2006.

“We wanted to put our faith in action,” Welch said. “We really wanted to be a part of gospel renewal in an area, and New Orleans just seemed like a place where we could practically live out our faith.”

For the first few years, Welch simply focused on helping the city get back on its feet, doing everything from cleaning up damaged houses to rebuilding new ones. As the rebuilding work became more specialized, the couple switched gears and started an arts center in the community in partnership with some friends.

Through the arts center Welch continued building relationships with the diverse lot of artists who were returning to the city. As people came to faith in Christ, he formed small groups to help disciple them and continued to dream about starting a church once the city was back on its feet.

About three and a half years after Katrina, Welch realized he needed a physical building to begin consistent worship services. That’s when the New Orleans Baptist Association connected Welch with Lakeview. The partnership helped both churches. Lakeview members were able to once again invest their resources into a growing church. Welch and his team received a building and a team of New Orleans tutors.

“God gave them to us,” Welch said. “They coached us a lot in terms of what it means to live in New Orleans. Mr. Wheeler (one of the Lakeview members) knew how every neighborhood had changed in the city, literally, over 85 years – what the demographics were and what the psychographics were.”

The Dixons have remained an active part of Harbor throughout the changes. Dixon says she and her husband appreciate that Harbor’s younger people have treated them like family and have welcomed and appreciated their involvement. The Dixons have even been “stand-in” grandparents for the Welches children during “Grandparents Day” at school.

“It has been a thrill for my husband and I to see the church grow,” Dixon said. “All the young people and the children are there. It has been a great blessing to have joined with them and have them working with us now.”

As Harbor Community Church looks toward the future, Welch says the church plans to launch new church plants throughout New Orleans and North America. Giving to missions through the Cooperative Program and being a part of a Southern Baptist network of churches remains an important part of that future.

“I would say one reason we’re a part of the [Southern Baptist Convention] is because we can do more together than we can alone,” Welch said. “By uniting a portion of our individual resources, it allows us to make a big impact. From education to disaster relief, we are able to do things no one congregation could do. At Harbor our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Partnership with others across the convention allows us to do this around the globe.”


(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. For more information on Send North America: New Orleans, visit namb.net/neworleans.)  
10/16/2013 2:40:38 PM by Tobin Perry, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Kenya may see more strife

October 16 2013 by Ken Chitwood, Religion News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya – While the smoke that hung over the Westgate Shopping Mall has dissipated, a quiet tension still lingers in the air throughout the capital.
 
Last month’s attack by al-Shabab militants on a mall frequented by Westerners in the capital city, left at least 67 dead. But the burning of a Christian church in the majority-Muslim city Mombasa just two weeks later suggests the nation is on the precipice of more conflict between Christians and Muslims.
 
This is dispiriting for many in a country that for years enjoyed relative peace between the two monotheistic religions that dominate the region.
 
“I am afraid that now, Muslims will attack more and the Christians will arm themselves and fight back,” said Paul Komu, a truck driver and Christian who was driving near Westgate when the attacks occurred.
 
Kenya is predominantly Christian, with Muslims making up about 11 percent of its population, mostly along the Somali border, its coastal region, and in cities such as Mombasa.
 
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RNS photo by Ken Chitwood
A group prayer at the International Lutheran Church of Nairobi, as Christians and Muslims fear escalating religious violence.

John L. Allen Jr., author of The Global War on Christians, wrote that just as Africa is the pacesetter for Christian and Muslim growth, it has also become one of the primary fronts for Christian-Muslim conflict, though not always in Kenya. For years, Kenya has been a refuge for people fleeing strife in other parts of the continent.
 
But Christian mission agencies such as the Mission Network report incidents of persecution pouring over the Kenyan border with Somalia. Mombasa is a flashpoint for conflict and foreign militants and terror groups have wreaked havoc in the past — as was the case with the 1998 al-Qaida bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.
 
To a large extent, day-to-day relations between the Muslims and Christians have been amicable.
 
Jamal Faroole, a Somali Muslim living in Nairobi, said, “For a long time we have had peace with Christians in this country.”
 
Likewise, David Ongwaye, a Lutheran pastor in Kebirigo, Kenya, said that while there has been more political correctness than practical cooperation, “there was no thought that Muslims were plotting to cause mayhem.”
 
Now, sentiments have shifted.
 
“The human mind gets suspicious,” said Faroole. “People were already suspicious of Somali Muslims and now I fear it will only get worse.”
 
Ongwaye mentioned the targeting of non-Muslims in the mall attack as particularly unsettling. During the siege, the attackers demanded that Muslims identify themselves and leave the scene.
 
“The incident at Westgate has, in my opinion, rendered Christians more vulnerable to the Muslims and as such any future ‘ecumenism’ will be met with caution. It was very clear that those hostages who would recite the ‘shahada’ were saved from the bullet,” he said, referring to the Muslim profession of faith.
 
Newton Kahumbi Maina, an expert in Christian-Muslim relations at Kenyatta University, said competition for converts, education and politics have exacerbated and preserved a centuries-long conflict.
 
Notwithstanding history and the fact that suspicion and outright trepidation grip the country, the majority of Kenyans, on both sides, said they do not want to see escalating violence. Some even struck a hopeful tone.
 
Komu said he wants to see reconciliation. “Somali and Kenyan Muslims are still our cousins,” he said, “Borders can divide us, but we are still extended family.”
 
Ongwaye, who said he was going to visit a Muslim friend on the coast, said that from his Christian perspective the mandate of Jesus to “love thy neighbor,” which both Muslims and Christians can embrace, is more relevant than ever.
 

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10/16/2013 2:19:35 PM by Ken Chitwood, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



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