October 2015

Greear: 10 ‘key areas’ for addressing sex abuse

February 18 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., gave an address to the SBC Executive Committee this evening (Feb. 18) that outlined initial recommendations and resources from the presidential study group on sexual abuse.

Baptist Press photo

The Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group was launched in July 2018 through partnerships with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and SBC Executive Committee.
Greear’s address focused on 10 key areas:

1) A call to “repent for decades of inaction;”

2) The announcement of a series of 12 training videos called, “Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused;”

3) The announcement that all six Southern Baptist seminaries, officers of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders and all Baptist state conventions have adopted three respective “Statement of Principles on Abuse” documents;

4) A call for Southern Baptist churches, associations, conventions and entities to take immediate action to review policies and procedures relating to abuse;

5) A call for the SBC Executive Committee to make background checks a minimum requirement for Southern Baptist committees and trustee boards;

6) A call for Southern Baptists to review local church ordination practices to ensure proper vetting;

7) A call for state conventions and LifeWay to identify questions related to abuse that can be added to the Annual Church Profile;

8) The announcement of programming at the SBC annual meeting that will address abuse among Southern Baptists, including a time of lament and an event hosted by the ERLC;

9) The announcement that the Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group is evaluating the possibility of creating a database of offenders, but Greear acknowledged the development of such a resource is “complicated” and “will take time to evaluate;”

10) A statement that the study group “strongly believes” the governing documents of the SBC should be reviewed and amended regarding the definition of a cooperating church, so that churches demonstrating “wanton disregard for sexual abuse … are not in good fellowship with this convention.”

Greear said the Executive Committee had affirmed a proposed constitutional amendment and would exercise existing authority to review churches that “may well have already demonstrated a lack of good standing on this issue.”
He called the bylaws workgroup of the administrative committee to do due diligence in reviewing the standing of the following churches mentioned in recent media reports on sexual abuse to determine whether they have a “faith and practice which closely identifies” with the Baptist Faith & Message:
• Arapaho Baptist Church, Garland, Texas
• Bolivar Baptist Church, Sanger, Texas
• Brentwood Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
• Cathedral of Faith, Houston, Texas
• Eastside Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga.
• First Baptist Church, Bedford, Texas
• Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
• Sovereign Grace Church, Louisville, Ky.
• Trinity Baptist Church, Ashburn, Ga.
• Turner Street Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.
Greear emphasized the goal of such action is “never disfellowship, but correction.” He also expressed gratitude for the Houston Chronicle’s investigative report for “shining a light on the magnitude of this horrific sin.”
He said to Southern Baptists, “We need to regard any exposure, any shining of light on abuse, as our friend, even if it makes us ask some uncomfortable questions about ourselves, publicly. Our job is to love and serve people, especially those who have suffered abuse. Our job is not to protect our reputation.”

2/18/2019 8:49:18 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 2 comments

Greenway announced as candidate to lead Southwestern

February 18 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

Adam Greenway has been announced as the preferred candidate for president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, according to an email sent to trustees from the search committee today (Feb. 18). Trustees are set to vote on the nomination at a special called meeting Feb. 26-27.

Baptist Press photo
Adam Greenway has been announced as the preferred candidate to lead Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Greenway is dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Ky., where he is also the William Walker Brookes Associate Professor of Evangelism and Apologetics.
Greenway also serves as chairman of the Committee on Order of Business for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). He has also served as assistant parliamentarian for the SBC and parliamentarian for the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC). Greenway is also a past president of the KBC and former trustee and chairman of the board for LifeWay Christian Resources.
He previously served as pastor and interim pastor of churches in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and Florida, according to his SBTS faculty page. Greenway received a bachelor of arts degree from Samford University, master of divinity from SWBTS, master of nonprofit administration from the University of Notre Dame and doctor of philosophy degree from SBTS.
A nine-member search committee began seeking candidates for the position last August after former president Paige Patterson was terminated in May for mishandling sexual assault allegations. D. Jeffrey Bingham, dean of the School of Theology at SWBTS, currently serves as interim president.

2/18/2019 7:56:55 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 5 comments

Border crisis offers ‘two-fold’ opportunity

February 18 2019 by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer

No one fits the Matthew 25:35 description of a stranger better than migrants seeking asylum at the United States border, John Faison, executive director of the Council on Immigrant Relations, recently told the Biblical Recorder.

Photo by John Faison
A volunteer offers a drink to a young migrant at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico.

“They don’t have any food … these people have the clothes on their back that they walked in … on the U.S. side, they are in prison. On the Mexico side, they’re sort of imprisoned – they’re on a compound,” he said.
During a trip last month to Tijuana, Mexico, Faison saw both the need for people to serve asylum seekers and the open opportunities for volunteers to do so. He stayed with Juvenal Gonzales, a church planter who built dormitory-style facilities in his own home to host volunteers and students from the U.S.
The opportunity is “two-fold,” Faison said.
“When you get people to go to the border and meet with these people … holding their children, watching the tears flow down their eyes, as a Christian, you can’t sit there and go, ‘Oh, deport them all,’” he said. “You can’t do it. The Holy Spirit lives in us [and] doesn’t let us do that. And then that allows us to start asking questions. And if somebody can provide us with the theological understanding of God’s image and of justice, then that will transform our fear into compassion.”
It was a piece of bread and a cup of coffee that reminded Faison of the power of serving “in the name of the Lord, in remembrance of Him.”
In Tijuana, he met a young mother who was previously in a U.S. detention center with her children. She said officials woke them up at 5 a.m. for breakfast; if they missed the meal, they had to wait until 4 p.m. She told Faison they were scolded for asking for food or to use the bathroom.
When he served her family breakfast at a temporary shelter in Tijuana, a thought came to Faison’s mind. He asked himself what the difference was between the breakfast he helped distribute and breakfast at the detention center.
“I was overwhelmed with the fact that doing it in Jesus’ name was not about me. It was about Him,” he said. “The Bible says, ‘when you give a cup of cold water in My name, you’ve done it unto Me.’”
Faison returned to Mexico Feb. 13 to connect Mexican and American pastors and churches on both sides of the border in hopes of establishing outreach to migrants.
He and Alan Cross, missional strategist for the Montgomery (Ala.) Baptist Association, created a resource page and plan for engaging migrants, which is available on cirnc.org.
North Carolina Baptists are specifically “positioned by God in a way that can make a fantastic difference in all of the U.S.,” Faison said. A new Immigrant Hospitality Center in Lincolnton, N.C., opened in January. Baptist State Convention of North Carolina leaders plan to open more centers across the state (see story).
Faison said N.C. Baptists can get involved with local ministries like the new Lincolnton center, financially support volunteers serving at the border or consider going themselves.
“When you look at ‘welcoming’ the stranger, that word means ‘to bring in,’ ‘to make into family,’ ‘to embrace,’” he said. “We have so many opportunities to do that.”

2/18/2019 7:55:32 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR Staff Writer | with 0 comments

Mohler apologizes for supporting C.J. Mahaney

February 18 2019 by Biblical Recorder Staff

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, Ky., released a statement Feb. 15 apologizing for his support of C.J. Mahaney amid allegations that Mahaney had mishandled sexual and domestic abuse claims.
Mahaney formerly led a church net-work called Sovereign Grace Ministries (since renamed as Sovereign Grace Churches) before stepping down in 2013.
Mohler also said he had been dismissive of the allegations, denouncing remarks he made while introducing Mahaney as a speaker at the 2014 Together for the Gospel conference.
He called those remarks a “serious error” that “caused hurt to the victims and survivors who felt that their suffering had been trivialized and dismissed. I deeply regret this.
“I frankly was not equipped to sift through the allegations and did not grasp the situation, and I am responsible for that and for not seeking the counsel of those who were.”
Mohler outlined multiple factors that led him to reconsider his position, including the counsel of Rachael and Jacob Denhollander.
Rachael became widely recognized as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault during the highly publicized trial of a former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar. She was the first to publicly accuse Nassar of sexually abusing her when she was a 15-year-old gymnast. Rachael, now a lawyer, had also raised concerns about Mahaney and Sovereign Grace. Jacob Denhollander is currently a doctoral student at SBTS.
“I was deeply affected by the documentation offered by Rachael Denhollander,” Mohler wrote. “I met with Jacob and Rachael soon after she released the documentation and I have deeply appreciated her counsel. That first conversation fundamentally changed my understanding of this issue.”
Mohler, along with Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, also expressed regret for supporting Mahaney in comments to the Houston Chronicle.
“Do I think Sovereign Grace handled the accusations brought against them well?” Akin said in a statement to the Chronicle. “No, I don’t. I think they could have been far more transparent. … Even to this day, there’s still a lack of clarity.”
The Chronicle recently published an investigative report that outlined hundreds of cases of sexual misconduct and the mishandling of sexual abuse allegations in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Read the full statement by Mohler here.
2/18/2019 7:55:11 PM by Biblical Recorder Staff | with 0 comments

Baptist communicators honor Blume

February 18 2019 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

More than two dozen news and communications experts from across the Southern Baptist Convention honored K. Allan Blume, editor-president for the Biblical Recorder, during the Feb. 11-14 annual meeting of the Association of State Baptist Publications in Charleston, S.C.

Photo by Caleb Yarbrough, Arkansas Baptist News
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., left, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, expresses thanks to Allan Blume, right, editor of the Biblical Recorder, seen here with his wife Pam, center. The Association of State Baptist Publications passed a resolution honoring Blume’s service.

Blume announced last year that he would retire May 31, 2019, after serving eight years with the news journal for North Carolina Baptists.
A resolution was presented to commemorate Blume’s service to Southern Baptists. Shawn Hendricks, editor for Baptist Press, made the motion. The resolution passed unanimously with standing applause.
Hendricks, who previously worked as managing editor for the Recorder, said, “Allan is a true professional and he taught me a lot about leadership. … He always seems to have his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in Southern Baptist life.”
Blume’s wife, Pam, and Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, were in attendance. Hollifield offered a public prayer for the Blumes and made comments about their legacy of ministry among N.C. Baptists.

Read the resolution below:


WHEREAS, K. Allan Blume is a noted North Carolina Baptist minister, statesman and journalist with a long history of serving Southern Baptist churches; and
WHEREAS, he received an undergraduate education from Wingate College and Carson-Newman College, along with a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and
WHEREAS, he devoted more than 35 years of his ministry to Southern Baptist churches in Texas, Oklahoma and North Carolina, leaving each church with the admiration and love of those he pastored; and
WHEREAS, his pastoral tenure was marked by fervent devotion to promoting the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations and supporting Southern Baptist missions and ministries; and
WHEREAS, he served a three-year term as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s board of directors, one term as president of the North Carolina Pastors’ Conference and participated in multiple committees and trustee boards of the Southern Baptist Convention; and
WHEREAS, he led the Biblical Recorder, news journal for North Carolina Baptists, to be one of the nation’s most respected Southern Baptist news agencies, recognized by the accolades of many church leaders and numerous awards from the Baptist Communicators Association; and
WHEREAS, during his tenure at the Biblical Recorder, he successfully fulfilled his vision to lead the organization toward an unwavering commitment to the Bible, the Great Commission and God’s glory; and
WHEREAS, he will retire May 31, 2019, after serving eight years as editor-president of the historic newspaper;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the grateful members of the Association of State Baptist Publications, gathering for their annual meeting in Charleston, S.C., do convey their deep appreciation for the contribution of K. Allan Blume to Southern Baptist life and cooperation on this date, February 14, 2019;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that members of the Association of State Baptist Publications do commit to pray for him and his wife, Pam, as they enter a new season of ministry, for the good of their souls and the glory of God.

2/18/2019 7:54:42 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Immigrant hospitality center opens in Lincolnton

February 18 2019 by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications

Baptists have opened a new Immigrant Hospitality Center in Lincolnton that will provide legal counsel and other help to immigrants.
The center is not just a building, but rather is “a community effort to show love to our neighbors,” said center director Bobby Farmer.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) is a major supporter of the new ministry, but has partnered with a long list of other organizations, churches and individuals to get the new center set up and staffed. Convention leaders plan to gradually open similar centers across the state.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Bobby Farmer, from left, director of the Immigrant Hospitality Center; Amaury Santos, Baptist State Convention (BSC) staff member assigned to immigrant ministries; Larry Phillips, BSC contract worker assigned to immigrant ministries; and John Faison, executive director of the Council on Immigrant Relations in Raleigh, attend the dedication of the facility in Lincolnton. 

A dedication service and reception were held the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 27, in the new center at 415 East Main Street in downtown Lincolnton.
Farmer is ministry consultant for Hull’s Grove Baptist Church in Vale, where he has served for 12 years. The church is allowing him to commit two days a week to the center as part of his staff work.

Workers being trained

Hull’s Grove is supporting Farmer’s Department of Justice training that will enable him to become an accredited representative on immigration issues. He also spent time in an immigration center in Atlanta to see first-hand how an immigrant hospitality center functions.
Miriam Acevedo is also completing the 40 hours of training required for accreditation by the Department of Justice and will become a volunteer in the center’s ministries. She is the wife of Ponciano Acevedo, pastor of Calvary Hispanic Church in Lincolnton.
While Lincolnton is not a large city, the Immigrant Hospitality Center is strategically placed. Farmer said about 10,000 immigrants live within 10 miles of the Lincoln County Courthouse, according to census reports.
Although Hispanics are by far the largest segment of immigrants, Farmer said he has met people from countries in Europe, Africa and other regions now living in the area. “We are beginning to see Hispanics in the area from nations other than Mexico – from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras,” said Miriam Acevedo.
The Acevedos joined with two other Hispanic churches last fall to provide English lessons to Hispanic immigrants: They registered 86 adults.
While parents learned English, their children were given help with their homework.
English classes will again be offered starting in March at both the Immigrant Hospitality Center and at Punto Victoria Church in town.
The English classes are coordinated by Janice Hager, a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Alexis.

A place of welcome

Farmer said the new center will be a place where people will be welcome and made to feel at home, a place to trust, a place for people to talk about things important to them, a place to maintain their status in the country and maintain their employment.
It will help churches to know their neighbors and provide services needed, he said.
BSC workers Larry Phillips and Amaury Santos, who lead the convention’s ministry to immigrants, have completed Department of Justice training.
An important partner in the immigrant ministry is the Raleigh-based Council on Immigrant Relations.
John Faison, the council’s executive director, has worked closely with convention workers in establishing the new ministry.
He will provide help through the center until more local workers are trained.
Santos told those present that the BSC passed a resolution in 2015 calling for Baptists to deal more effectively with the immigration issue. The resolution affirmed the dignity of every human being.

Christians called to help all neighbors

“It was a call to action, how to share the gospel and serve the community. We celebrate today the accomplishment of that vision … a first step in the vision of God for the community,” Santos said during the dedication service.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity to be with you. This will go down as one of the best days of my life!” said Phillips as he blinked back tears.
Phillips told how he has had a long career as a Southern Baptist missionary to Peru, a pastor and several ministry assignments as a BSC staffer. “This is one of the best moments. This is a special day,” he declared.
Lincolnton is an important town in North Carolina, Phillips said, “but it’s just a small black dot on the world map.” God is going to use this small community called Lincolnton in North Carolina to change the way the world views immigrants, he said.
Phillips said he prays the center will be “a safe place, a transformational place and a launching place, a birthing center for transformation in the lives of local Christians and transformation in the lives of those God will bring to walk among you.”
He urged those present to follow Paul’s instructions in Romans 15:7, “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Ponciano Acevedo, a native of Mexico, spoke in Spanish during the dedication while his wife, Miriam, translated into English.
He said America is the promised land for most Hispanics who come, hoping to become rich. But some, like him, find the gospel as he did. Calvary, the Hispanic church Acevedo leads, is an active partner with the BSC.
The congregation is renovating a building in Cherryville.
The center is not just a building, but rather is “a community effort to show love to our neighbors.”

Baptist convention helping

Keith Hollar presented Farmer with a check for $8,000, representing the funds from the BSC for the center.
Hollar is the associational mission strategist for the South Fork Baptist Association, whose 70 local churches are spread in and around the Lincolnton area. South Fork is an active partner in the center ministry.
Hollar recalled how locals in Mexico and Costa Rica welcomed him when he visited on missions trips and how that made him feel.
“We are concerned not just about American citizenship but heavenly citizenship,” Hollar said.
The Immigrant Hospitality Center has been needed for years, said Anita McCall, one of five Lincoln County commissioners and a Baptist.
She told how her neighbors near her home in Lincolnton are from Costa Rica – the husband is a U.S. citizen but his wife is not and must complete paperwork periodically to remain legally in the country.
When they sought help with completing the forms from one local agency, the cost was going to be $500.
“It takes only five or seven minutes to complete that form. People need to be able to go someplace that is safe and they won’t be taken advantage of,” she said.

Local churches, individuals give support

John O. Gilleland Jr. is a local real estate agent and member of nearby Freedom Church, started several years ago with support from the BSC’s Church Planting Team. Gilleland and his business partner own the building being used as the center.
Gilleland told how he showed a number of buildings to Bobby Farmer and tried not to show him the one finally selected – the building was in bad shape and needed a roof, new floors and much other work.
But Farmer’s prayer team had been all over town praying about a building, and they heard God telling them this was the one.
Upon hearing that, Gilleland said, “I’ll write the contract up.” He and his business partner paid to have the building completely renovated, heating and air conditioning installed, new floors added and other improvements.
“I just can’t wait to see what God is going to do in this ministry,” Gilleland said during the dedication. He agreed with other speakers that the ministry is greatly needed and will help immigrants as well as local businesses looking to hire them.

Pastor rallies local business support

Another strategic partner in the center opening is Marcus Redding, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Lincolnton who also serves with the North American Mission Board and works with the BSC.
Through LifeSong, a non-profit organization he established, local businessmen have contributed more than $20,000 for the center, including six months of rent in 2018, all the rent for 2019 and furnishings for the building.
Redding established LifeSong in honor of his daughter, who died in a car crash 12 years ago.
Redding led in prayer opening the dedication, asking that the Lord would show His love through the center’s ministry.
The Immigrant Hospitality Center is open by appointment only for now until trained volunteers are available. For more information, visit the center’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ihclincolnton or call (980) 284-2011.

2/18/2019 7:53:11 PM by Mike Creswell, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Tim Tebow visits students for their Night to Shine

February 15 2019 by Prestonwood Baptist Church Staff

A group of students got the surprise of a lifetime when Tim Tebow showed up unexpectedly at Prestonwood Baptist Church. That evening the church was hosting one of his foundation’s Night to Shine prom events for special needs students.

Submitted photo
Tim Tebow visits special needs students prior to their Night to Shine at Prestonwood Baptist Church.

The students are enrolled in St. Timothy Christian Academy, a ministry partner of Prestonwood Christian Academy. The school for students with learning differences in grades 1 through 12 is housed at Prestonwood Baptist Church. The 26 students were gathered in an atrium area for a meeting when Tebow stepped out of the elevator.
“I was surprised it was him,” Noah Sullivan said of Tebow’s visit on Friday, Feb. 8. “It’s my first time meeting him. He’s great.”
Jacob Phegley, another student, said, “I think it’s very cool that he’s here. He’s very nice. I liked when he said we would all be crowned king and queen.” Tebow wasn’t kidding: later that night, Jacob would be crowned “King Jacob Phegley.”
Started by the Tim Tebow Foundation, Night to Shine is a prom night experience for people (ages 14 and older) with special needs. This past Friday, more than 650 churches in America and across the world held their own Night to Shine events, celebrating over 100,000 special needs students in their communities.
This was Prestonwood Baptist Church’s fourth year hosting Night to Shine. More than 600 participants from throughout North Texas attended the event, made possible with the help of 700-plus volunteers.
“When we named it Night to Shine we did it because we believe that on a night like tonight there’s a lot of things that shine,” Tebow said to the St. Timothy students. “Number one is you guys, that you get a night where you can shine; that it’s a night where the church can shine; it’s a night where all the volunteers can shine; but maybe most importantly, it’s a night where God gets to shine. Is that pretty cool?
“We hope you really enjoy it because it’s all about you, and it’s all for you. And guess what, at the end of the night all of you will be crowned king and queen of the prom.”
Kaylin Bowman, 14, said she wanted to be a princess, Cinderella, in fact.
When Tim introduced his fiancée, 23-year-old Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, he didn’t get to mention that she is indeed, like a princess. The South African model was crowned Miss Universe in 2017.
“You know how you said you wanted to be a princess,” he said to Kaylin, “Well ...,”
But he didn’t get to finish as he allowed Kaylin to continue talking about why she likes Cinderella – because she wears a blue dress and rides in a carriage and has a horse named Major. But Kaylin said she didn’t plan to wear glass slippers because they would hurt her heels. Kaylin showed Miss Universe how Cinderella wears her hair in a bun.
“You did your research!” Nel-Peters responded. “I love that!”
Jack Graham, who this year celebrates 30 years of pastoring Prestonwood, watched the encounter unfold and was grateful Tebow’s visit with St. Timothy students.
“The fact that Tim took time from his busy schedule today to spend time with the St. Timothy students speaks volumes about his heart and passion for the special needs community,” Graham said.
“This is our fourth year hosting Night to Shine, and I can tell you this is one of our favorite events at Prestonwood. We have a special place in our hearts for what we call our ‘Special Friends Ministry.’ What the Tim Tebow Foundation has done in creating Night to Shine is truly a blessing for people with special needs and all of us who are blessed to bless them on this special evening.”

Submitted photo
A Night to Shine crowd of 600 gathered at the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church for the fourth year of the outreach to special needs students.

Lisa McNair, St. Timothy Christian Academy’s head of school, also was present, taking note of how Tebow’s visit made the students feel special.
“As Tim and his fiancé talked with our students and took pictures and selfies, each one was made to feel significant, even our little ones who may not know who Tim Tebow is. It was indeed a blessing to see this humble champion give the gift of Christ’s joy. Our students have few moments as special as this one; we are so appreciative that Tim took time to make their day exceptional,” McNair said.
Tebow, who was visiting several other churches that also were holding Night to Shine events that evening, thanked Prestonwood for their support and for the work the church does with special needs students.
“Thank you so much for being a part of Night to Shine. You came in on year two, so you’ve been doing it for four years,” he said, “and you’re one of our biggest churches with about 600 guests you’ll have tonight. It’s so exciting. I want to thank Pastor Graham for his ministry and what he’s done for this city and all over the country – and also for kids with special needs.”

2/15/2019 11:37:25 AM by Prestonwood Baptist Church Staff | with 0 comments

Jerry Johnson resigns as NRB president

February 15 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) President Jerry Johnson has resigned, NRB announced Feb. 13.
Though neither NRB nor Johnson has stated a reason for the resignation, NRB board chair Michael Little said in a news release Johnson’s departure “leaves no question about his outstanding moral character.”

File photo

Johnson stated in his Feb. 12 resignation letter according to NRB’s release, “With conviction that my work as president and CEO is concluded at NRB, I hereby submit my resignation, effective March 1, 2019. It has been a joy to serve the NRB family for over five years. I hope and pray for God to bless them in the days ahead.”
Based in Washington, NRB is an international association of Christian communicators whose organizations represent millions of viewers, listeners and readers worldwide via radio, television and the internet.
Johnson has served in numerous leadership roles in Southern Baptist life, including president of Criswell College twice and administrative posts at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Little said Johnson, who has served as NRB president since 2013, “has led NRB well and his tenure has been marked by significant growth for our association in a number of ways. ... Dr. Johnson’s departure from NRB leaves no question about his outstanding moral character. Given the days in which we live, I feel obligated to make this clear.”
Johnson, 54, was president of Criswell College from 2004-2008 before resigning amid controversy about the direction of the college and its relationship with First Baptist Church in Dallas. First Baptist founded the college and maintained ties through trustee selection. However, Criswell became independent of First Baptist, and Johnson returned as president from 2010-2013.
Between his two stints at Criswell, Johnson was Midwestern’s vice president of academic development. He served as dean of Southern’s Boyce College from 2002-2004. Prior to that, he pastored churches in Texas and Colorado.
Amid the Southern Baptist Convention’s Conservative Resurgence, Johnson was a trustee at Southern from 1989-1998, serving when R. Albert Mohler Jr. was elected president in 1993 and chairing the board from 1996-1998. Johnson chaired the SBC Committee on Order of Business in 2000 and 2001.
NRB’s board will meet during the NRB national convention in Anaheim, Calif., March 26-29 and “review plans for future leadership,” NRB stated.
NRB COO and executive vice president Troy Miller will assume senior administrative duties in the interim.

2/15/2019 11:32:22 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Louisiana College quits CCCU over LGBT policy

February 15 2019 by Will Hall, Baptist Message

Louisiana College President Rick Brewer has notified the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) that the Baptist-affiliated college has withdrawn its membership from the organization.
The issue involves a policy passed by the CCCU board of directors endorsing so-called “Fairness for All” (FFA) legislation to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally-protected classes while also articulating protections for churches and religious organizations.

Brewer, in a letter to CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra, strongly objected to the CCCU board’s action last October.
“Sometimes the answer to such matters is to agree to disagree,” Brewer wrote. “But the import and impact of the ‘Fairness for All’ initiative calls for Louisiana College to respectfully disagree with the CCCU’s stance.”
Describing what had been a “long and beneficial relationship” with CCCU, Brewer ended all ties, saying “by conviction I cannot endorse the ‘Fairness for All’ initiative nor be willfully associated with any entity that does.”
Louisiana College, with 1,250 students, is affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
The CCCU describes itself as “a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions around the world” and states its mission is “to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.”
According to CBN News, Shirley Mullen, vice chair of the CCCU board and president of Houghton College, explained the CCCU position on LGBT protections as one of practicality for Christian higher education.
“[W]e are increasingly persuaded that the most viable political strategy is for comprehensive religious freedom protections to be combined with explicit support for basic human rights for members of the LGBT community,” Mullen wrote in a position paper provided to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which has joined with CCCU in pushing for the controversial legislation.
However, Shapri D. LoMaglio, vice president for government and external relations for the CCCU, compiled an extensive justification for the CCCU position and appeared to suggest balance was the key issue, not necessarily the protection of religious rights.
“Fairness for All could preserve more freedom for more Americans into the future,” LoMaglio wrote in the online CCCU Magazine.
Moreover, she framed her position around what she called a need to “reestablish a positive perception of religious freedom,” which she claimed has been diminished “in large part because of the struggle around LGBT rights.”
“[W]e hope that by not just fighting for ourselves, but by also using our political power and privilege to stand up for the rights of our LGBTQ neighbors, loved ones, brothers, and sisters, we can help reclaim the gospel’s witness, reminding all citizens – including those holding views different from ours – that Christ and the Good News he brought are for everyone,” she summarized on behalf of the CCCU.
But some conservative Christians are calling the CCCU action “a solution looking for a problem.”
Dave Welch, president of the U.S. Pastor Council (USPC), called the FFA legislative initiative by CCCU and NAE “a dangerous situation that is at its core a hostile rejection of God’s created order of male, female, marriage, church, moral law and civil law.”
The USPC grew in national fame in 2015 when it helped lead the repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance that would have allowed biological males to violate the privacy of biological females in public bathrooms and showers.
Equating “race, religion and (biological) sex to sexual behavior and mental instability” would open up a legal “Pandora’s Box,” Welch wrote in the Christian Post, and in the end would result in “special rights for a few.”
“Christians who still actually believe and follow the authority of the entire canon of Holy Scripture” would be at risk of “civil and criminal punishment,” Welch said.
On Feb. 1, Greta Hays, CCCU director of communications and public affairs told the Christian Post no member institutions had dropped out of the CCCU because of its stance on “Fairness for All” legislation. However, Brewer shared with the Baptist Message that Louisiana College’s withdrawal notice was sent Jan. 9 and CCCU had responded that it would make the necessary changes to the organization’s various databases that list member schools.
On its website, Louisiana College, in its statement on the “Biblical Design for Human Sexuality” notes, “We believe that all people should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual beliefs,” in its statement on the “Biblical Design for Human Sexuality.”
Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, the college states, “is in the narrative of all scripture – from Genesis to Revelation. Marriage, gender and sexuality are not just appendages tacked onto scripture, but are icons of the gospel and human flourishing (Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33; Hebrews 13:4).”
The college also states: “We come alongside those experiencing same sex attractions who choose to honor Christ by not pursuing those attractions, just as we come alongside all individuals who seek to live in purity before the Lord (Col. 3:5; Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9- 10). We believe we are created by God in His image as two distinct sexes: male and female (Gen. 1:26-28; Matt. 19:4-5). We believe that each person glorifies God and affirms His infinite holiness and wisdom by living in alignment with his or her birth sex. While we acknowledge there may be confusion and brokenness for some individuals in this area, we do not affirm or support transgender identity or expression. Instead, we place our faith and trust in God’s redemptive plan.”
The full text of Louisiana College’s statement follows this story.
Louisiana College is not the first Baptist college to exit the CCCU. Union University did so in 2015 due to “the organization’s failure to respond appropriately to two member institutions that have endorsed same-sex marriage,” according to an August 2015 news release. At issue were Goshen College and Eastern Mennonite University.
Several other Baptist-affiliated colleges are not listed on CCCU’s webpage of member schools, including Shorter University and Truett-McConnell University in Georgia, William Carey University in Mississippi, Wayland University in Texas and Cedarville University in Ohio.
Louisiana College statement on Biblical Design for Human Sexuality:
We believe that all people should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual beliefs. Sexuality is one of the ways by which the marriage covenant between a husband and a wife is sealed and expressed. Marriage is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage in the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race. It is important to note that Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality is in the narrative of all scripture – from Genesis to Revelation. Marriage, gender and sexuality are not just appendages tacked onto scripture, but are icons of the gospel and human flourishing (Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33; Hebrews 13:4). Sex misses its purpose when treated as an end in itself or when cheapened by using another person to satisfy pornographic and sinful sexual interests. We view all forms of sexual intimacy that occur outside the covenant of heterosexual marriage, even when consensual, as distortions of the holiness and beauty God intended for it.
Therefore, we support the sanctity of marriage (Ephesians 5, Hebrews 13:4). We define marriage as being a covenant between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:21-24; Matt. 19:4-5). We believe in honoring the holy sexual union within the context of that covenant (Hebrews 13:4). Believing that God redeems and restores through life in Christ, we walk alongside those that are seeking to overcome sexual sin (Romans 6-8; Galatians 6:2). As followers of Christ, we turn from sexual immorality in its many forms including but not limited to: pornography, pre-marital sexual relations, adultery, and same sex romantic intimacy and/or sexual relations. We come alongside those experiencing same sex attractions who choose to honor Christ by not pursuing those attractions, just as we come alongside all individuals who seek to live in purity before the Lord (Col. 3:5; Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9- 10). We believe we are created by God in His image as two distinct sexes: male and female (Gen. 1:26-28; Matt. 19:4-5). We believe that each person glorifies God and affirms His infinite holiness and wisdom by living in alignment with his or her birth sex. While we acknowledge there may be confusion and brokenness for some individuals in this area, we do not affirm or support transgender identity or expression. Instead, we place our faith and trust in God’s redemptive plan.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Will Hall is editor of the Baptist Message, baptistmessage.com, news journal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston contributed to this report.)

2/15/2019 11:24:39 AM by Will Hall, Baptist Message | with 0 comments

Church with a food truck worships in parking lot

February 15 2019 by Grace Thornton, The Alabama Baptist

Jayson Albers, who grew up in a Baptist church, made a living for a long time as an opening shift supervisor for Ryan’s steakhouse.

Submitted photo
Keith Akins baptizes "Country" at The Church at Southside's Sunday gathering in a parking lot in downtown Birmingham, Ala. Country subsequently died of cancer. "I know without a doubt he is with Jesus," Akins says.

“When they would start a new restaurant I would go in and train them on how to open the store,” he said.
Then life came crashing down – his wife and son died in an accident, something which he speaks little about. One thing led to another and Albers started living in a tent in 2000 near the railroad tracks in Birmingham, Ala.
He’s been there ever since.
“I pretty much know everybody on the streets, and everybody knows me,” Albers said.
But a few years back somebody different started showing up in the city’s homeless camps – Keith Akins, an Alabama native who felt God calling him to start something new.
“We looked into church planting, and we didn’t know exactly what that was going to look like, but we wanted to go into some of the dark and forgotten places in the city that people are leaving,” he said.

So Akins moved his family into Birmingham’s Southside neighborhood and started hanging out with Albers and others who called the city streets home. Akins and some of his friends would go to the homeless camps, cook on Coleman stoves and share a meal with the homeless. Sometimes they would gather up as many people as they could and take them to restaurants.
No matter where they ate one thing was sure – they had no lack of things to talk about.
“It was like reading the gospel,” Akins said. “Jesus loved to sit down and share a meal. We would just sit down, eat and just have normal conversations. We built some strong relationships.”
He talked to them a lot about Jesus over the course of three years – and a lot about church. By that time he had started one in his home – The Church at Southside – which had grown to need its own building. But more than anything Akins wanted it to be a place where anyone felt comfortable.

Submitted photo
The Church at Southside draws more than 100 people for its breakfast, Sunday worship and food distribution at a parking lot in downtown Birmingham, Ala.

He asked his homeless friends if they would come. And they said no.

“I was always met with stories about how they didn’t have the right clothes. I would tell them this is different, they could come just as they are, but they would say, ‘No, I’ve been to church before,’ and then tell me horrific stories,” Akins said. “It broke my heart.”
As The Church at Southside began meeting in a leased space in hopes of including the homeless, not one homeless person came through the doors.
“I remember asking God, ‘I know You’ve put them on my heart – what do You want me to do?’ and I felt the Spirit urging me – ‘Why don’t you go to them?’”
At that point, Akins said, the church was nearing the end of its lease, and the congregation of around 40 voted unanimously not to renew it.
“We didn’t know exactly what it would look like,” he said, “but we thought – what if we let the church be mobile?”
They got a food truck and started filling it with food and supplies, and they pulled up in a parking lot downtown and met there.
“For three weeks nobody showed up, and it was just us,” Akins said.
But he remembers vividly the first couple who came – Paul and Amanda.
“We had doughnuts and juice, and we gave them every doughnut we had and told them we’d be there again next week, to bring their friends,” Akins said.
That was the first Sunday of November 2016, and The Church at Southside hasn’t missed a Sunday since, rain or shine. Those first two people grew to six, then 10 as word “got around and got around and got around,” and now more than 100 show up every Sunday at the parking lot where they meet behind an ad agency.
Every Sunday morning they serve a hot meal prepared by people in the church, then eat together and have a worship service. In the past two years the church has served more than 10,000 meals.
After the service each person is given a bag of canned food and dry goods.
Albers is the one who unloads the van and packs up the food bags. “It’s not a snack bag,” Akins said. “We actually give a meal like a can of beef stew, pork, chicken or tuna fish – something that’s going to stick to your gut.”

Submitted photo
A food truck filled with food and supplies plays a key role in The Church at Southside's outreach to the homeless. Each week, members bring a variety of items for breakfast, with bags of canned food and dry goods distributed from the food truck after worship.

It’s “not your normal church,” he said, crediting the help of a couple, Keith and his wife Jamie, and a handful of others in addition to Albers.
Akins said the church wants to welcome everyone with open arms, no matter what their life looks like. If there’s sin, the love of Jesus will meet that once they meet Him.
“It’s people from all different walks of life,” Akins said. “Not all of the people who come are homeless – some are in lower-income housing and apartments around there.”
And not all of them are jobless. Albers, for instance, works with a landscaping company.
But all have deep needs, Akins said.
He remembers one Sunday after an uncharacteristic snowstorm that they pulled in to find a very hungry crowd waiting for them.
“The people they normally went to for meals had been snowed in for a couple of days, so they hadn’t been able to eat,” he said. “It broke my heart. The needs are great.”
Even so, the people there are an example of the widow’s mite in action, Akins said. Oftentimes churchgoers will bring money or food they’ve found during the week so that they can give it away to people who need it more.
“It’s a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God,” Akins said. “This whole thing, God’s been great in it. There’s buy-in and it’s beautiful. We don’t have it all figured out but God is at work.”
For more information, visit churchatsouthside.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Grace Thornton is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist, thealabamabaptist.org, news journal of the Alabama Baptist Convention.)

2/15/2019 11:10:45 AM by Grace Thornton, The Alabama Baptist | with 0 comments

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