October 2015

Rainer gives final presidential address

February 7 2019 by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources

LifeWay Christian Resources trustees gathered for their first meeting of 2019 with their sights set on a season of transition and hopeful prayer for the future.

Photo by Aaron Earls
In his final trustee meeting as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Thom S. Rainer thanked trustees and employees for the honor of serving of alongside them the past 13 years and shared his hope for the future of the organization.

Even on the heels of recent news that LifeWay will close a number of stores and shift toward a more dynamic digital strategy driven by online commerce, President and CEO Thom S. Rainer expressed confidence in the weeks, months and years ahead.
“The greatest days for LifeWay are yet ahead,” said Rainer in what was his final presidential address to the trustees during their Feb. 4-5 meeting. Rainer announced his pending retirement at the August 2018 trustee meeting.
“In a short time, there will be a new leader and a new season here,” he said. “It will be a great opportunity and a great future for LifeWay.”
In his address, Rainer recalled “some of the most powerful memories” from his 13-year tenure as president. He thanked trustees and employees for the honor of serving alongside them.
He also walked trustees through the disruptions and transitions LifeWay has faced during its history and is facing today. Rainer explained that LifeWay finished 2018 squarely in the digital era.
From 2001 to 2018, said Rainer, “we began to move significantly into the era of digital growth. We began to say there are other channels and means from which we can distribute and provide resources. It was also during this time we began to see more people move from walking into a brick-and-mortar store to buying things online.”
Rainer reminded trustees that as the entity makes changes in retail that brick-and-mortar is only one channel. “LifeWay has so many channels through which our resources can be made available to churches and individuals,” Rainer said. “LifeWay will still have all of its resources and so much to offer the evangelical world, churches and individual Christians.

“Our ministry, regardless of this channel shift,” Rainer said, “will not go away.”
Trustees heard updates on the future of LifeWay’s retail channels and the presidential search, as well as a financial report on the entity during executive session.

Presidential search update

The presidential search committee met during the two-day trustee meeting as they continue their search for LifeWay’s 10th president. Chairman of the search committee Kent Dacus reported on their progress to the full board during executive session.

In a statement following the meeting, the search committee thanked everyone who has been praying for the committee and for the future leader of LifeWay.
“Throughout the process, the members of this committee have been in one accord about the type of leader LifeWay needs and have consulted the Lord’s counsel for who He wants in this position,” said search committee chairman Kent Dacus. “It’s clear LifeWay needs a president who will carry on the organization’s 128-year legacy of providing trustworthy resources, while leading with innovation as we face a strategic point in LifeWay’s ministry. We are confident God is already preparing the person who will lead LifeWay into the future.”
The committee asked that churches and individuals “join with us as we pray for God’s guidance and clear direction as we begin the next phase of this process.”

Updates to trustees

LifeWay continues to focus on providing biblical solutions for life, leaders said. Trustees heard updates from LifeWay’s Earl Roberson and Michael Kelley regarding progress and plans for ministry.
Global ministry through ongoing curriculum

Photo by Aaron Earls
LifeWay Christian Resources trustees and employees gathered in small groups to pray for the organization and its future during a time of guided prayer at the conclusion of the Feb. 5 trustee meeting.

Ongoing curriculum – Bible study tools designed for Sunday morning group experiences – is still going strong, said Earl Roberson, acting senior vice president and chief business officer, giving an update on the global reach of LifeWay curriculum.

He said LifeWay’s three primary curriculum brands – Explore the Bible, The Gospel Project and Bible Studies for Life – have shown steady growth for six consecutive years, particularly around the globe.
Ongoing curriculum, Roberson reported, presently serves people in 57 countries, with more than 50,000 churches using at least one of the brands.
“We’re trying to come alongside churches in their discipleship strategy,” Roberson said. “Ongoing curriculum is one of the primary instruments for us to serve and love the church.”
Bible Studies for Life
One of those instruments, Bible Studies for Life, will be a key focus in 2019 for serving churches, “not just for education, but for transformation,” said Michael Kelley, LifeWay’s director of groups.
“The name itself strikes close to the heart of what we do here at LifeWay,” Kelley said. “Our aim is to equip churches in a holistic way, not to help people know the right answers, but help people think differently with a renewed mind.”
Launched 60 years ago, Bible Studies for Life has touched countless lives, according to Kelley.
He said LifeWay has a goal to see 300,000 more people using Bible Studies for Life this fall. “We have a real chance here to make a dent in the darkness, to play our part in pushing back the darkness and bringing to light the Kingdom of God.”

Other business

During the meeting, trustees heard that LifeWay received a clean audit report. Trustees also nominated three people to fill vacancies on the board. These three individuals will serve until the Southern Baptist Convention elects directors to fill the unexpired terms. They include Scott Hanberry, pastor of Hardy Street Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss.; Sabrina Patterson, a member of Eastgate Baptist Church in Burton, Mich.; and Judith “Judy” Sonich, a member of Bellewood Baptist Church in North Syracuse, N.Y.
The board also recognized three trustees who are ending their board service in June. They are Harry Forester of Shreveport, La.; Steve McNeil of Martinsville, Ind.; and Michael Steven of Austin, Texas.

Optimism for the future

“There is a LifeWay on the other side of this [current] disruption that is strong, vibrant, ministry-minded and that is going to make the biggest difference, I believe, of LifeWay’s entire history since 1891,” Rainer said.
Before adjourning the last plenary session trustee chairman Jimmy Scroggins led a time of corporate prayer for LifeWay’s future president, LifeWay employees and the churches LifeWay serves.
Scroggins, pastor of the Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., closed the meeting by thanking Rainer for his service to LifeWay. “I think I can speak for everyone in the room that you are loved and respected and your legacy will be honored. Thank you for serving, Thom. We are very grateful.”

2/7/2019 11:58:49 AM by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments

Mississippi latest state to consider heartbeat abortion ban

February 7 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Mississippi is the latest state this legislative season to consider banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, possibly establishing legal challenges to reach a U.S. Supreme Court considered more conservative.
Mississippi House and Senate bills passed legislative committees Feb. 5 and are headed to the chamber floors for consideration, the Associated Press (AP) reported, with court challenges predicted if the measures pass. Both bills have Baptist Republicans as principal authors, namely Rep. Chris Brown and Sen. Angela Burks Hill.
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves praised the measures “to stop the barbaric practice of ending life in the womb even though a heartbeat is plainly detected,” WLBT-TV reported. “I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Reeves said.
Mississippi’s bills, identically titled, would allow abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat only “when a medical emergency necessitates,” and would allow the State Board of Health to specify how heartbeats are detected, according to the Mississippi Legislature website. Mothers would be required to sign statements indicating they’ve been made aware of the heartbeat, according to the text of the House bill.
“Fetal heartbeat ... has become a key, medical predictor that an unborn human individual will reach viability and live birth,” the House bill reads.
“The pregnant woman shall sign a form acknowledging that she has received information from the person intending to perform the abortion that the unborn human individual that she is carrying has a fetal heartbeat,” the bill reads, “and that she is aware of the statistical probability of bringing the unborn human individual that she is carrying to term.”
Fetal heartbeats can be heard with special medical equipment as early as eight to 10 weeks after conception, according to medical websites WedMD.com and Livestrong.com, while ultrasounds can detect hearts beating around four or five weeks after conception. Physicians in violation of the proposed standard could lose their medical licenses or face other discipline.
Tennessee is considering a fetal heartbeat bill for the third consecutive year, and newly elected Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine supports such a measure the previous administration twice vetoed, AP has reported. An Iowa state judge struck down a fetal heartbeat abortion bill there in January, and federal courts in Arkansas and North Dakota also have killed such measures.
On Jan. 22 , New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed what is considered the most permissive abortion bill in the U.S. to date, allowing abortions until birth to protect the mother’s health. A similar Virginia House of Delegates bill, which removes certain restrictions on third trimester abortions, is in committee, according to the Virginia’s Legislative Information System.
Nationwide, Mississippi is among 19 states that limit abortion to 20 weeks of gestation, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Abortions are limited to 24 weeks of gestation in six states, and at the fetus’ “viability” in 16 states, according to Guttmacher, with exceptions made for the mother’s life or health in all 43 states with gestational limitations.

2/7/2019 11:58:36 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NAMB: Evangelism, leadership pipeline on display

February 7 2019 by Mike Ebert, NAMB

North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees meeting in South Florida this week saw first-hand the remarkable impact a sending church can have on its community. They also heard a challenge to be personally involved in NAMB’s new “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative.

NAMB photo by Kalie Drake
On their South Florida vision tour, NAMB trustees heard the story of how a dying church – Jog Road Baptist – partnered with Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., to transition their building to a Spanish-speaking congregation that is now thriving and strongly rooted in its surrounding neighborhood. At right is Keith Albert, former pastor of Jog Road Baptist and now missions pastor for Family Church in West Palm Beach. Also pictured is Jose Dasilva, pastor of Iglesia Familiar Green Acres.  

“Could I ask each one of you as pastors and church members to start praying right now about your one?” Johnny Hunt asked at dinner Monday evening. “If we are going to turn around evangelism trends in the SBC, I believe it is going to happen one person at a time.”
Hunt serves as NAMB’s senior vice president of evangelism and leadership. The trustee gathering took place Feb. 4-5 in West Palm Beach, Fla., with an emphasis on the gospel need and ministry that is taking place across South Florida.
After dinner, trustees loaded onto buses and traveled to Family Church to hear how the congregation is identifying and training leaders to plant and pastor new churches throughout South Florida.
South Florida’s diversity, unceasing growth, great wealth and extreme poverty can all be a challenge for churches trying to connect with the more than 6 million residents in the region. Dozens of legacy churches are struggling or have shut their doors.


Family Church has confronted this challenge with a goal of planting 100 neighborhood-focused churches in South Florida. To do that they have partnered with NAMB to start a leadership pipeline residency program that began with seven students in 2014 and has now seen 105 graduates complete the two-year program.

NAMB photo by Kalie Drake
Mark Clifton, national director for church replanting at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), shared a devotion at the beginning of NAMB’s trustee meeting Feb. 5 in West Palm Beach, Fla. “77 percent of churches in the SBC that close each year are located in cities with over 100,000 people,” Clifton reported. “We’re closing churches where we desperately need churches.”

Trustees met Sal Cavarretta, who planted in Boca Raton in November 2017, and Kostiantyn Goncharov, who is planting a Russian speaking church to reach the nearly 400,000 Russian speaking residents of the area.

At another stop, trustees heard the story of how a dying church—Jog Road Baptist—partnered with Family Church to transition their building to a Spanish-speaking congregation that is now thriving and strongly rooted in its surrounding neighborhood.
The next morning trustees heard more about church replanting efforts from Mark Clifton, NAMB’s national director for church replanting.
“77 percent of churches in the SBC that close each year are located in cities with over 100,000 people,” Clifton reported. “We’re closing churches where we desperately need churches.”
Clifton’s “Revitalize” podcast hosted with LifeWay president Thom Rainer has had more than 250,000 downloads. An upcoming NAMB replant certification workshop for Associational Mission Strategists is sold out with 250 attending, and an upcoming “Am I A Replanter?” workshop has 100 attending. Currently at least 200 SBC congregations are walking through the replanting process.

During their Feb. 5 plenary meeting, trustees heard several reports:

  • NAMB Chief Financial Officer Matt Smith reported that NAMB’s fiscal year spending to date is 7.7 percent below budget and that offering income from both the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® are at anticipated levels for this time of year.

  • Andy Addis, pastor of Cross Point Church in Hutchinson, Kan., and chairman of the Send Network committee, reported that Send Network’s Leadership Pipeline has grown from 237 churches in early 2018 to 750 today, with 216 of those churches actively implementing the process and 660 individuals participating.

  • Erin Bounds, chairwoman of NAMB’s Financial Services Committee, and a member of North Valley Baptist Church in Odenville, Ala., reported that NAMB’s annual end of year audit conducted by an outside auditing firm resulted in “a completely clean audit. The highest rating you can get,” Bounds said.

  • Trustees voted to defer a final recommendation on a motion from the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting until they have more time to finalize a response. The motion asked NAMB to alter its guidelines for representation on the NAMB Board of Trustees.

In his report to trustees NAMB president Kevin Ezell started by stating, “Everything we do at NAMB is about sending the hope of the gospel.”
On church planting, Ezell reminded trustees that NAMB is involved in church planting everywhere across North America.


NAMB photo by Kalie Drake
At the Feb. 5 North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustee meeting, NAMB president Kevin Ezell, right, spotlighted the entity’s recently renewed efforts in Pittsburgh. He introduced Rob Wilton, left, who now serves as Send Missionary to the city and will be starting a church this fall in its West Hills area.

“Over 60 percent of the churches we helped Southern Baptists plant in 2018 were non-Anglo,” Ezell reported. “We plant churches everywhere, for everyone.”
Ezell spotlighted NAMB’s recently renewed efforts in Pittsburgh. He introduced Rob Wilton who now serves as Send Missionary to the city and will be starting a church this fall in its West Hills area.
“Just last month his church sent a $30,000 check for the Cooperative Program to the Penn-South Jersey state convention,” Ezell said. “That makes his church one on of the top five Cooperative Program giving churches in his state convention. And he doesn’t launch until October.
“So often,” Ezell said, “people talk about church plants in terms of what they get, and they don’t realize what they are giving, and that’s what’s so exciting.”
Wilton shared a map showing one existing and four proposed Multiplying Churches that will each plant at least five churches in greater Pittsburgh over the next several years.

“We are dreaming big in Pittsburgh,” Wilton said. “I believe this is just the beginning.”
Ezell also highlighted the upcoming “Who’s Your One?” evangelism campaign NAMB is implementing with current SBC president J.D. Greear as well as the “GO2” initiative, which challenges college students to commit their first two years after school to getting a job near a church plant that they can help get established in North America or abroad.
Information on both initiatives and others can be found at https://www.gospelaboveall.com.
NAMB’s next trustee meeting is scheduled for May 21 in Alpharetta, Ga.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Ebert serves as NAMB’s executive director of public relations.)

2/7/2019 11:58:19 AM by Mike Ebert, NAMB | with 0 comments

Born-alive bill blocked in Senate

February 6 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

An effort in the U.S. Senate to require health care for a child born alive during an abortion fell victim to a Democratic member’s objection Feb. 4.

Screen capture from YouTube
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska asked the Senate for unanimous consent in support of the measure requiring health care for a baby born after a failed abortion

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington blocked approval of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 130) when the proposal’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, asked the Senate for unanimous consent in support of the measure. Defeat of a unanimous consent agreement requires an objection from only one senator.
Though Murray was the only Democrat to object, many others in a party dedicated to abortion rights likely would have been willing to do so.
Sasse’s effort to gain passage of his bill is not dead. He also has initiated the process to bring his bill to the Senate floor for a roll-call vote.
Sasse announced his dual-track approach Jan. 31, a day after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, expressed support for allowing babies to die if they survive abortion. Northam’s comments set off widespread protests from Sasse and many other pro-life advocates who charged the governor with defending infanticide.
Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore told Baptist Press, “If a baby is born alive after an attempted abortion, that precious child deserves legal protection and medical care, and the failure of the great deliberative body to say so unanimously is morally reprehensible.
“How seared must a conscience be to stand on the floor of the U.S. Senate and object to protecting living babies?” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments. “Children have intrinsic value that is defined not by their power nor by the whim of doctors, but by the image of God each one of them bears.
“I hope the Senate will move soon to take a roll-call vote on this bill in order for Americans to know where their elected officials stand on infanticide.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, decried Murray’s action, saying in a written release, “The Democratic Party’s agenda of abortion on demand through birth and even beyond is radically out of step with the standards of decency the overwhelming majority of Americans expect from their leaders.”
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act not only says a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion is a “legal person” deserving protection, but it mandates a health-care provider give the same degree of care offered “any other baby born alive at the same gestational age.” Under the proposal, an infant who survives an abortion must be admitted to a hospital after the initial treatment. A violation of the measure could result in a fine and/or a prison sentence of as many as five years.
In seeking unanimous consent Feb. 4, Sasse told the Senate he was giving all 100 members “an opportunity to condemn infanticide.”
“Frankly, this shouldn’t be hard,” Sasse said from the Senate floor. “We’re not talking about second-trimester abortion; we’re not having some big, complicated discussion about a mother’s reproductive freedom, as important as all those debates are. We’re actually talking about babies that have been born. The only debate on the floor tonight is about infanticide.”
Sasse appealed to Democrats near the close of his speech: “It’s my understanding that some of my Democratic colleagues are prepared to object tonight, and I humbly say that I don’t understand why. I beg you from the bottom of my heart not to do so.
“There are just two sides of the debate on the floor tonight – you’re either for babies or you’re defending infanticide.”
Murray said in immediately objecting, “We have laws against infanticide in this country. This is a gross misinterpretation of the actual language of the bill that is being asked to be considered.”
Sasse said in response, “This debate is about infanticide and infanticide only, and this is a sad day for this body. It shouldn’t be controversial.”
Northam’s controversial remarks came after Del. Kathy Tran, a Democrat, spoke Jan. 28 before a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on behalf of her legislation to repeal abortion restrictions. In response to questioning, Tran said her bill would allow an abortion for “mental health” reasons “all the way up to 40 weeks.” Her proposal would permit abortion when the woman’s cervix is dilating and she is preparing to give birth, she said.
In a radio interview Jan. 30, Northam said in commenting on the bill, “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
The Virginia-ignited uproar came a week after New York enacted a law that legalizes abortion until birth for the mother’s “health” – which is not defined and has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to include essentially any reason – and as other states seek to wipe out limitations on the procedure. At least in part, the effort is based on the concern expressed by abortion rights advocates that two Supreme Court justices nominated by President Trump will help overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion that legalized the procedure nationwide.
Democrats did not block similar legislation that gained approval in 2002. The Senate passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act by unanimous consent, and the House of Representatives approved it by voice vote.
The measure, signed into law by President George W. Bush, clarified a newborn child – “at any stage of development” and fully outside the womb – is a person to be protected under federal law. The legislation especially targeted what was known at the time as live-birth abortion. The method, practiced in at least one hospital in Chicago, resulted in surviving babies being left unattended to die.
The 2002 law does not adequately protect children who survive an abortion, Sasse said in reintroducing his bill in January. His proposal makes specific requirements of health-care providers and calls for penalties not in the 2002 measure.

2/6/2019 11:33:04 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

ERLC names largest Leadership Council

February 6 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The 2019 Leadership Council of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is its largest to date.

The ERLC – which announced Feb. 1 its latest yearly council that consists of 120 members – provides training to help participants and their churches apply the gospel of Jesus to all areas of life. The council consists of a diverse group of Southern Baptist pastors, ministry leaders and other church members.
Russell Moore said one of his “greatest joys” as ERLC president “is gathering with this group of leaders throughout the year.”
“Time that I spend with these men and women consistently makes me optimistic about our churches and shared mission,” Moore said in an ERLC release.
This year’s council members “are among the most gifted and godly I know,” he said. “It’s a privilege to serve alongside them for the sake of equipping churches to address cultural concerns with a gospel focus.”
Among the 2019 council members are:

  • Lauren Ashford, member of the leadership team for women’s discipleship at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

  • Christy Britton, orphan advocate for 127 Worldwide and member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C.

  • Seth Brown, lay pastor, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C., and content editor for the Biblical Recorder, news journal of North Carolina Baptists

  • Marshal Ausberry, senior pastor, Antioch Baptist Church, Fairfax Station, Va., and president, National African American Fellowship, Southern Baptist Convention.

  • ​Curtis Cook, senior pastor, Hope Fellowship Church, Cambridge, Mass.

  • Erik Cummings, senior pastor, New Life Baptist Church of Carol City, Miami, Fla., and president, Florida Baptist Convention.

  • Clint Darst, founding pastor of King’s Cross church in Greensboro, N.C.

  • Donna Gaines, Bible teacher, author and president of ARISE2Read, a nonprofit focused on breaking the poverty cycle through the gospel and education, Memphis, Tenn.

  • Noe Garcia, senior pastor, North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz.

  • Mike Glenn, lead pastor, Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, Tenn.

  • Sara Beth Fentress, executive director of 127 Worldwide and member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C.

  • Christine Hoover, writer, speaker and podcast host, Charlottesville, Va.

  • Elicia Horton, rap artist and author, North Long Beach, Calif.

  • Jennifer Lyell, trade book publisher, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville.

  • Lauren Green McAfee, speaker, writer and corporate ambassador for Hobby Lobby, Oklahoma City.

  • Dave Miller, senior pastor, Southern Hills Baptist Church, Sioux City, Iowa, and editor, SBC Voices.

  • Lilly Park, assistant professor, biblical counseling, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

  • Ronnie Parrott, pastor of Christ Community Church in Huntersville, N.C.

  • Vance Pitman, senior pastor, Hope Church, Las Vegas, Nev.

  • Sarah Short, freelance writer, photographer and member of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

  • Kevin Smith, executive director, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

  • Ashley Unzicker, member of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

In the ERLC release, McAfee said she is “eager to be trained to have convictional kindness in the face of cultural opposition by Dr. Moore, the ERLC staff and this remarkable cohort of influencers.”
Council members serve an annual term and are equipped by the ERLC through conference calls and events, while providing input to the entity’s staff and occasional content for its website.
The entire list of council members is available at erlc.com/about/leadership-council.

2/6/2019 11:32:54 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

T. Vaughn Walker honored by SBTS with endowed chair

February 6 2019 by Aaron Hanbury, SBTS

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced a new endowed chair in honor of the school’s late professor T. Vaughn Walker.

T. Vaughn Walker

Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. made the announcement Feb. 2 as part of a funeral service for Walker in Alumni Memorial Chapel. The seminary, Mohler noted, will fund a teaching position as the T. Vaughn Walker Professor of Christian Ministry.
Walker, the first African-American elected to any Southern Baptist Convention seminary faculty and who taught at Southern Seminary for 33 years, died Jan. 26 at age 68. He also graduated from the seminary with a master of divinity degree in 1987.
As Mohler announced the establishment of the T. Vaughn Walker endowed chair, he addressed an auditorium filled with pastors and church leaders from around the United States and those who represent the wide influence of Walker’s life and ministry.
“We want to honor the man not only who was the first African-American to serve as a full professor at any Southern Baptist institution, but a man who served so faithfully and so well,” he said.
Mohler noted, “I also want to make clear: this is not a fundraising project of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” he said. The seminary will fund the chair out of its endowment.
The funeral, held on campus at Southern Seminary, was organized by the Walker family and the staff of the First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville, where Walker pastored from 1984 until his death. Walker began teaching at Southern Seminary in 1986 in the Carver School of Church Social Work and went on to serve in two other graduate schools of the seminary as WMU Professor of Christian Ministry until he retired in 2016. He continued to supervise doctoral students as a senior professor up through the current academic semester.
In his comments, Mohler highlighted the historical significance of the school’s naming a professorship for Walker. He pointed out that the first service held the Alumni Memorial Chapel, in November 1950, was for Ellis A. Fuller, the seminary’s sixth president. Mohler further recounted the seminary’s own founders, “who not only supported but who were themselves involved in slavery.”
“Imagine the history and imagine the rightness that a building that was first used for the funeral of a segregationist is now used for Dr. T. Vaughn Walker,” Mohler said. “And not here simply because of his stature in the community but here because he is a member of this family.”
Mohler added moments later that, “For so long as this institution exists, there will be a teacher who teaches as the T. Vaughn Walker Professor of Christian Ministry.”  
In addition to his announcement, Mohler spoke about his personal relationship with Walker. He said that every time he saw Walker, the late professor greeted him by asking, “How is my president today?” Mohler noted that Walker’s unique salutation was consistent throughout their relationship. 
“The moment that I had heard that [Walker] passed, I couldn’t help but hear, ‘My president’,” Mohler recalled. “So a part of my joy in this service is to say that Dr. T. Vaughn Walker was my professor and for that, I am very, very thankful.”
Mohler and the school’s administration plan to announce the professor who will hold the chair at a later date.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Cline Hanbury is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

2/6/2019 11:32:42 AM by Aaron Hanbury, SBTS | with 0 comments

GuideStone releases Ministers’ Tax Guide

February 6 2019 by Holly Taylor, GuideStone Financial Resources

GuideStone Financial Resources has released its 2019 Ministers’ Tax Guide for 2018 Returns, available now for GuideStone participants.

The tax guide includes tax highlights for 2018 – including changes based on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 – along with step-by-step filing instructions for ministers’ personal taxes and comprehensive examples and sample forms.
Additionally, GuideStone participant churches and church administrators have access to the annual Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches. This publication is included in the full tax guide or as a separate electronic copy.
GuideStone participants can receive both free resources by visiting GuideStone.org/TaxGuide or can request a free printed copy of the tax guide by calling 888-98-GUIDE (888-984-8433). Printed copies are limited.
The guide was again written this year by Richard Hammar, a noted CPA, attorney and widely published author who specializes in legal and tax issues for ministers. Additionally, the material is edited by GuideStone to ensure that it addresses, in detail, the tax issues directly affecting Southern Baptist ministers.
“Each year, we hear from so many pastors and other ministers about the help the Ministers’ Tax Guide is for them and their families as they navigate tax filing, either on their own or alongside their tax preparer,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “This free guide is part of the ministry of GuideStone, and we are pleased to make it available to our participants.”

2/6/2019 11:32:22 AM by Holly Taylor, GuideStone Financial Resources | with 0 comments

Jim Henry: ‘No gripes with God’ over wife & mother

February 6 2019 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Jim Henry is “in the valley, but I’m not afraid in the valley” after the home going of his wife and his mother over the course of five days.

Photo from Facebook
Jim Henry, at Downtown Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., was able to continue preaching and care for his wife Jeanette as she battled Alzheimer's.

A former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and longtime pastor, Henry said the “double-barrel grief ... hit our family pretty hard.” His wife Jeanette, 79, died of Alzheimer’s on Monday, Feb. 4, following the passing of his 100-year-old mother Kathryn on Thursday, Jan. 31.
“But it didn’t surprise God,” Henry said, “and so we’re leaning on the grace that we’ve talked and preached about.
“I had Mom for a few extra years and Jeanette would have been 80 this month,” he said. He and his wife “had nearly 60 years together, so I have no gripes with God, just thanksgiving.”
In the valley, he wants to “honor Christ in it, to minister and be ministered to.” And he is “learning to grieve” while also realizing in a deepened way that “the outward man is perishing but the inward man is being renewed” by an everlasting faith in Christ as the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4.
In Jeanette’s seven-year struggle with Alzheimer’s, Henry said, “I’ve learned that the Word of God – memorized or taught or preached – and the hymns and praise songs that we’ve sung all our lives really come to the fore.”
In reading scripture and praying with Jeanette every night, he turned a few weeks ago to the 23rd Psalm, which begins with her favorite verse, “The Lord is my shepherd ...”
He asked Jeanette to fill in a word at various points, which she did throughout the psalm. The same occurred with John 3:16.
“We went to church ... and she would sing the songs all the way through. Whole hymns, she could still sing them word for word.”
Henry’s counsel: “Teach your children and your grandchildren the Word of God and to praise Him in song because that’s something even illness doesn’t seem to take away.”
The prayers and compassion “of so many people ... from all across the country has astounded us,” Henry, 80, said in a Feb. 4 interview from his home in Orlando, Fla.
“Your family and your brothers and sisters in Christ mean so much, and you don’t realize it until all those hands are reaching out and squeezing your heart. I’ve been overwhelmed by the touch of people, all walks of life, [such as those who were] teenagers when I was their pastor, sending me notes about Jeanette and her influence and about my mother and her life.
“The joy of the journey is worth everything when you see the impact of two beautiful lives like Jeanette’s and Mom’s,” Henry said. “And it continues on, their legacy of godliness.... People remember their lives and tell stories about them. So that’s brought joy to us.”
Jeanette had wisdom that came from her growth spiritually, Henry said, noting that her Bible study “gave her wisdom, because it was godly wisdom.”
“A lot of women would turn to her for counsel. She loved people as they were and had a tendency to love the underdog especially. A lot of people have told me already, and I knew that through the years, that ‘Jeanette said this to me’ or ‘I heard her say something to the class and never forgot it.’
“For my mother – Mom had some tough times in her life, but she was steadfast in her faith. She never wavered in her love for God and His church,” Henry said. “I watched her steadfastness in family challenges through the years.... She worked hard, paid her way after high school through business school so she could learn to be a church secretary. She raised two boys, cooked fresh meals, prayed for us, never tried to run over us, just kept us pointed to Jesus and His love for us.”
Henry said he had prayed years ago that his mother would have someone special with her at the time of her home going. He visited her in Nashville to voice his love several days before her death and his brother Joe “was there holding her hand when she went to heaven.”
Much the same happened with Jeanette. Henry had become pastor of Downtown Baptist Church in Orlando in 2015 on an interim basis but stepped away from the pulpit in November to devote more attention to Jeanette. It was the only interim pastorate he ever had in Orlando and the longest since he retired in 2006 as pastor of First Baptist Church in the city.
“She had given me up a lot of weekends to go places to preach and been here and had the home fires burning,” Henry said. But in serving at Downtown Baptist for four years, he was able to be with her “every day and every night.”
The night she suffered a heart attack, hospice workers at their home awakened Henry so he could “hold her hand for the last breaths of her life.”
Among the things he will miss, Henry said, “Every night she would reach over and touch me. They tell me with Alzheimer’s you become their biggest security. They feel like you’re the last one [with them on earth] because they spend more time with you. So she would shadow me a lot. [At night] she would reach over, and start touching my back, my head, my legs.
“Tell them you love them every day,” Henry counseled, “and cherish the moment and appreciate the gift of God’s grace and the gift of the body of Christ and the loved one that God puts in your life. Seize the day because you never know when those days will cease.”
Henry hopes his experience will “encourage other pilgrims in the faith, that Christ be exalted.... In the stormy water, the anchor holds.
“And if anybody is lost,” he hopes “they’ll come to Jesus and know what a great Savior that He is and a great Lord that He is,” evidenced by how “these two ladies lived the faith.”
The funeral service for Jeanette Henry will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, in the worship center of First Baptist Orlando, followed by a reception. Visitation will be from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at First Baptist’s Henry Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested gifts to the First Academy student scholarship fund at First Baptist; the Jeanette Henry Ministers Wives Endowment Fund care of the First Orlando Foundation; and the Henry-Sturgeon Presidential Scholarship at Gateway Seminary in Ontario, Calif.
The funeral service for Kathryn Henry will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. Visitation will be from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.
In lieu of flowers for Kathryn Henry, the family has requested gifts to the Henry-Sturgeon Presidential Scholarship at Gateway and the missions ministry at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville.

2/6/2019 11:32:05 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Nat’l CP 0.18% under YTD budget projection

February 6 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

With gifts received from 40 of 41 cooperating state Baptist conventions, contributions to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee in January were 0.18 percent below the projected budget for the first four months of the current fiscal year. And they were 3.03 percent below the amount received during the same period last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee Interim President and Executive Vice President D. August Boto.

As of Jan. 31, gifts received by the Executive Committee for distribution through the Cooperative Program (CP) Allocation Budget totaled $64,548,667.08, or $2,019,068.78, below the $66,567,735.86 received through the first four months of the 2017–2018 fiscal year. The fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. The January year-to-date total is $117,999.59 below the $64,666,666.67 year-to-date allocation budget projection to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America.
The CP is Southern Baptists channel of giving, begun in 1925, through which a local church can contribute to the ministries of its state convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC through a unified giving plan to support both sets of ministries. Monies include receipts from individuals, churches and state conventions for distribution according to the 2018-2019 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
Meanwhile, year-to-date designated giving of $32,780,006.83 was 10.66 percent, or $3,913,138.34, below gifts of $36,693,145.17 received in the first four months of last year’s fiscal year. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities. Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief, Disaster Relief and other special gifts.
CP allocation receipts for SBC work for the month of January totaled $18,233,412.37. Designated gifts received last month amounted to $22,547,898.38.
State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to SBC national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.
The convention-adopted budget for 2018-2019 is $194 million and is disbursed as follows: 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education through the six SBC seminaries and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The SBC Executive Committee distributes all CP and designated gifts it receives on a weekly basis to the SBC ministry entities.
Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the timing of when the cooperating state Baptist conventions forward the national portion of Cooperative Program contributions to the Executive Committee, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions, the number of Sundays in a given month, and the percentage of CP contributions forwarded to the SBC by the state conventions after shared ministry expenses are deducted.
CP allocation budget gifts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state convention offices, to the state Baptist papers and are posted online at cpmissions.net/CPReports.

2/6/2019 11:31:54 AM by Baptist Press Staff | with 0 comments

N.C. Baptists celebrate 2018, look ahead to 2019

February 5 2019 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Leaders of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) celebrated 2018’s successes and outlined ministry initiatives for the year ahead during the state convention’s first board of directors meeting of 2019.

Contributed photo
Harvey Brown, who serves on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Business Services Special Committee as well as the BSC Investment Committee, is turning 100 years young March 31. The committee celebrated Jan. 28.

The highlights came from BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. and other members of the state convention’s executive leadership team during the Jan. 28-29 meeting at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.

Strategy evaluation

Hollifield said a significant task in 2019 will involve evaluating the state convention’s strategy of “impacting lostness through disciple-making,” which was adopted in 2013 and implemented at the beginning of 2014. The strategy evaluation will include electronic surveys, personal interviews and a series of public forums to be held across the state.
More details about the strategy evaluation are forth-coming, said Brian Davis, BSC associate executive director-treasurer.

Church Planting and Missions Partnerships

Church Planting, Collegiate Partnerships and Office of Great Commission Partnerships are three of the ministries under the umbrella of the Church Planting and Missions Partnerships (CPMP) group. Chuck Register, the executive leader for CPMP, said these strategic efforts will continue to be emphasized in 2019.
A new church planting initiative called the Sending Church Collective will bring together churches that desire to multiply by planting new churches. The collective will provide training, best practices and assistance in developing church planting strategies.
In the five years since the strategy’s implementation, the state convention has welcomed 488 new churches into its fellowship and increased ministry on college campuses, growing disciple-making efforts by going from nine campuses in 2014 to 51 currently thanks to a paradigm shift that encourages more local church involvement.
In 2018 alone, the convention welcomed 80 new churches into fellowship as church plants and new affiliate churches. Those churches collectively reported more than 7,000 professions of faith and more than $126,000 in Cooperative Program giving.
In 2019, the Collegiate Partnerships Team will focus on helping local churches develop a reproducing gospel presence on the state’s large number of community college campuses, Register said, while also working with churches who already engaging in ministry on one campus to expand to two or more campuses.
Register said the Office of Great Commission Partnerships will focus on continued gospel engagement with unreached people groups in the state, as well those who live in multifamily housing complexes across the state. The overwhelming majority of each of those populations are unchurched.

Evangelism and Discipleship

Lynn Sasser, executive leader for the convention’s Evangelism and Discipleship Group, said the ministries which comprise his group are working to reverse the trend of declining baptisms within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Part of that solution is encouraging and equipping others to engage in more gospel conversations.
“All of us need to do a better job of sharing the gospel,” Sasser said.
Several gospel conversations trainings are planned throughout the state in 2019, and the BSC will support the forthcoming initiative by SBC President J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham area, titled “Who’s Your One?
The “Who’s Your One?” initiative encourages every Southern Baptist to be intentional about sharing their faith while praying that God would allow them to lead at least one person to faith in Christ in the coming year.
Sasser said he is also working with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to bring a “Gospel Above All” tour featuring longtime pastor and current NAMB Senior Vice President for Evangelism and Leadership, Johnny Hunt, to the state.
Sasser also reported that 64 pastors are currently involved in a church revitalization cohort. Two more cohorts are scheduled to begin in the near future, bringing that total to 74.
Two local Baptist associations have expressed interest in developing additional cohorts.
Additionally, Asians are one of the fastest-growing populations in North Carolina, Sasser said, and many Asians are coming from the “10/40 Window” – the geographic area between 10 and 40 degrees latitude north of the equator that includes North Africa, the Middle East and Asia where the largest population of unreached people groups live. The BSC is currently engaged with 130 Asian churches representing 15 distinct language groups. Plans are in the works to expand that reach.

Financial update

Although the state convention finished 2018 more than $3.3 million or 10.85 percent below its $31 million budget, BSC Executive Leader for Business Services John Butler said the final financial report did include a few “bright spots.”
Giving to the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) exceeded the $2.1 million offering goal by nearly $26,000. Additionally, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the state convention received more than $6 million in designated giving for disaster relief through Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men.
Butler noted that giving has been strong through the first part of 2019, but warned that budget reductions would most likely be recommended as part of the proposed 2020 budget.

‘Morality’ policy

In other business, the board approved a motion requesting that the Executive Committee develop a policy that would permit the removal of a board member if circumstances warranted such a decision.
The motion was presented during time allotted for miscellaneous business by board member Curtis Williams, pastor of Brown Creek Baptist Church in Wadesboro. In his explanation of his motion, Williams noted that a process is necessary in light of moral failures among several ministry leaders across the county in recent years.
Currently, neither the state convention’s bylaws nor the policies of the board of directors include a formal process for removing individuals for what would be deemed disqualifying behavior, said BSC Associate Executive Director-Treasurer Brian Davis.
In the few previous instances where such actions had to be addressed, Davis said individuals resigned on their own. The board concluded that it would be wise to have a policy in place before ever having to address such an issue.
The Executive Committee will report on its progress on the motion at the May board meeting.

Caswell construction

The board also approved a motion by the Business Services Special Committee authorizing the construction of two new cottages at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell.

Executive Committee additions

The board elected four individuals to serve as at-large members of the BSC’s Executive Committee. They are:
Noah Crowe, member, First Baptist Church, Robbinsville; Troy Grant, lead pastor, Lakeview Baptist Church, Hickory; James Harrington, pastor, Fellowship Baptist Church, Moyock, and associational missions strategist, Chowan Baptist Association; and Keith Stephenson, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Rutherfordton.

Business Services at-large members

The board president informed the board of two individuals appointed to serve as at-large members of the Business Services Special Committee. They are: Ben Francis, Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia; and Delores Thomas, representing Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina.

Nominating committee additions

The board approved six individuals to serve on the BSC’s Committee on Nominations based on recommendations by the state convention officers. They are: David Duarte, Daystar Church, Greensboro; Amy Harrison, Trinity Baptist Church, Mooresville; Pao Ly, First Hmong Baptist Church, Morganton; Robin Fisher, Sunset Avenue Baptist Church, Rocky Mount; David Mace, Blackburn Baptist Church, Hickory; and Gene Roberts, Newfound Baptist Church, Leicester.
Fisher will serve as the committee chairman.

New board secretary

The board also elected Kathy Bennett, executive assistant to BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr., as board secretary. Former board secretary Ginger Brown retired in late December.

Next meeting

The next board meeting is scheduled for May 20-21 at Caraway Conference Center. 

2/5/2019 11:12:54 AM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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