October 2016

Pastors to share church planting insights at Annual Meeting

October 31 2016 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Reaching the estimated 5.8 million lost people in North Carolina will require churches planting other churches all across the state.

Mark Gray

“New churches reach new people,” said Mark Gray, church planting team leader for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). “If we want to impact lostness among the people in our state, multiplication of church plants will be key.”
To help pastors and churches catch a vision about how their church can become a church that plants and multiplies other churches, Gray and his team have planned a series of interviews with eight different pastors who are currently engaged in multiplying church plants in a variety of ministry contexts and locations across North Carolina.
The interviews will take place at the church planting booth inside the Guilford exhibit hall during the BSC Annual Meeting, scheduled for Nov. 14-15 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. Each interview will last 20 minutes, and pastors, messengers and attendees are invited to attend the interviews to learn more about how their church can be involved in church planting.
Pastors scheduled to participate in the interviews on Monday, Nov. 14, include: Quinn Rodgers of GeneratiONE Church in Charlotte (3:30 p.m.); Cameron McGill, pastor of First Baptist Dublin and the Lake Church at White Lake (4 p.m.); and Ramon Vielza of Calvary Southside in Winston-Salem (4:30 p.m.).
Pastors scheduled to be interviewed on Tuesday, Nov. 15 include: Noel De Asis of Lifezone Fellowship in Apex (8:30 a.m.); Andrew Hopper of Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro, J.D. Greear of The Summit Church in Durham and Spence Shelton of Mercy Church in Charlotte (11:30 a.m.); and Chris Hankins, pastor of The Point Church in the Triangle (1:15 p.m.).
The panel discussion with Hopper, Greear and Shelton will be live streamed via Facebook Live through the BSC Facebook page at facebook.com/ncbaptist.
“These pastors are all engaged in multiplying churches in different ways and in different contexts,” Gray said. “Through these interviews, we want to promote and help other pastors embrace the concept of multiplication.”
Gray said he is praying that God would use these interviews to speak to individuals and pastors about planting churches that, in turn, plant other churches.
“I pray that God would use these interviews to help others catch a vision for church planting and that God would grow that vision and desire in their hearts.” Gray said.
Church planting interviews
Mon., Nov. 14:
3:30 p.m. – Quinn Rodgers, GeneratiONE Church, Charlotte
4:00 p.m. – Cameron McGill, Dublin First Baptist/Lake Church, White Lake
4:30 p.m. – Ramon Vielza, Calvary Southside, Winston-Salem
Tues., Nov. 15:
8:30 a.m. – Noel De Asis, Lifezone Fellowship, Apex
11:30 a.m. – Panel discussion interview: Andrew Hopper, Mercy Hill, Greensboro; J.D. Greear, The Summit Church, Durham; and Spence Shelton, Mercy Charlotte
1:15 p.m. – Chris Hankins, The Point Church, Triangle

10/31/2016 2:25:25 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Small church, big mission

October 31 2016 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Reaching the nations for Christ is a colossal task. There are 6,700 unreached people groups (UPGs) across the globe, according to The Joshua Project, but a small church in central North Carolina is leveraging its gifts and resources to make an oversized impact on UPGs in Colombia, South America.
Four years ago, Moncure Baptist Church (MBC) in Moncure, N.C., began to feel a burden for reaching unreached peoples. Today, they are engaging at least three UPGs with the gospel and looking forward to their second church plant among rural, Colombian natives.
As John Howard, one of MBC’s two co-pastors, explains how the congregation of around 30 adults manages to support extensive missions involvement with a modest $50,000 annual budget, it’s hard not to compare the church to the undersized giant-slayer of the Old Testament.
“We just take what He gives us and do the best that we can with it,” said Howard in a phone interview with the Biblical Recorder.
Fifty percent of the church budget goes directly to missions. To help achieve that goal, neither Howard nor Matt Garrett, MBC’s other co-pastor, take a salary.
The congregation allocates $500 per member each year to help alleviate the missions cost on individuals, but the church has never needed to utilize that portion of their funds. Teams have been able to cover the cost of each trip as the needs arise.
“Somehow when they volunteer to go, God provides,” said Howard. “And it isn’t just our church. We’ll get checks from people out of the blue, saying ‘I feel like God was telling me to send this to you. Use it for your UPG project or something.’
“It’s amazing. … When you say, ‘Here we are, send us,’ God doesn’t ask you to come with money in your hand. He just says, ‘I need you to be hands and feet, and I’ll do what I want with you.’”
Approximately 30 percent of the congregation is actively involved in international missions. MBC teams partner with other small churches in North Carolina and Virginia to take four short-term trips per year to Colombia.
When MBC first began to look for ways to engage the international mission field, they were unsure how to proceed. Through its Embrace initiative, the International Mission Board (IMB) connected the church with a missionary in Colombia, who helped them develop a plan to do the one thing they were sure about – reaching unreached people with the gospel.
Howard said, “That was the burden on our heart.”
After sending a team to Colombia to discover more about mission efforts in the country, they prayed for two months, asking God how they could reach Colombian UPGs, such as the Katio-Embera and Zenu peoples. Before long they received a message from the local missionary: “I’ve figured it out! God showed me what you can do that will help us a lot. Teach English to school teachers in rural communities where these indigenous people live. It would open doors for us.”
Howard said the news was exciting, but he admitted, “We don’t know how to do that.”
MBC had never organized English-as-a-second-language (ESL) missions before, but the church continued to pray and expressed willingness to learn. The IMB coordinated a team from Washington, D.C. to train MBC and model how to do ESL missions in Colombia.
Caleb Bridges, a missions consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, said, “Because of [MBC’s] partnership, there are now believers worshiping our God in the Zenu, Katio-Embera and Tule languages. Prior to the Spirit of God leading them to this work, there were no believers among these groups and no churches in any of their villages.
“If a church of this size can do what God is empowering them to do, then any church of any size can in the same way be obedient to partner with Christ through the Holy Spirit for the spread of the gospel among the unreached peoples of the world.”
MBC also partners with their local association to help support missions and church planting efforts in Maryland through the North American Mission Board’s SEND Baltimore initiative.
In addition, the church is facing the global task of sharing the gospel with all nations in places closer to home. MBC is currently exploring ways to engage the Hispanic population in Chatham County.
Census and immigration data shows more than 11,000 Colombian natives live in the state. Howard said it presents MBC with a new opportunity because a handful of members speak Spanish.
“If God is bringing those kinds of people together, what are we going to do with them?” he asked. “What is He doing by bringing those people in our way? We have to be attentive to that.
“It may mean [God’s] got something for us in the local Hispanic community.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Moncure Baptist Church co-pastors John Howard and Matthew Garrett will be joining a panel discussion hosted by Zac Lyons on Nov. 15 during a breakout session of the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). The session is titled “Becoming a Missional Church.” Lyons serves as the BSC Great Commission Partnerships Consultant. Visit ncannualmeeting.org for more details.)

10/31/2016 2:15:17 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Shiloh Baptist marked as North Carolina’s oldest church

October 31 2016 by Liz Tablazon, BR staff writer

Shiloh Baptist Church in Shiloh, N.C., celebrated the dedication of a historical marker designating it as the oldest organized Baptist church in the state Oct. 15, in conjunction with the church’s fall festival.

Contributed photo
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is working with the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program to mark historical Baptist sites, including Shiloh Baptist Church in Shiloh. Shiloh is the oldest, organized Baptist church in North Carolina.

The public was invited to the celebration, where Don Wright, chairman of the Historical Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), presented a summary of the church’s history. Members of other nearby churches, people from the community and local government leaders also attended the dedication.
“It has been very significant for the church to be recognized for its legacy of where we have been and leading up into the future,” Billy Royal, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, said in an interview with the Biblical Recorder.
“It means a lot to our church but also to many of the other churches that are in the area and the churches that have come out of us as church plants.”
The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program approved the marker in May earlier this year. It states the church was officially organized on Sept. 5, 1729 by Paul Palmer.
According to church records, Palmer came from Delaware in 1720 with a mission to travel around the northeastern part of the state, preaching and establishing new churches.
Palmer and local Baptist William Burges first organized a meeting in 1727. They met in Burges’ home and became known as the Burges’ Meeting House.
Members of the Burges’ Meeting House filed a petition to be recognized as a church on Sept. 5, 1729.
They sought the petition under the Toleration Act of 1689, Wright said, which granted freedom of worship to Nonconformists, or Protestant groups dissenting from the Church of England. However, they still needed to pay taxes that supported the Church of England, a requirement that did not change until the American Revolution.
Burges later built a small church beside his home in 1736. The chapel that currently exists was built in 1849.
According to Royal, though last names have changed slightly, there are still families active in Shiloh Baptist today whose roots trace back to the church’s founding. Anne Burgess Jennings, assistant historian at Shiloh Baptist, is a descendant of the original Burges family.
The BSC historical committee works with the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program to mark Baptist sites with histories starting in the 1700s, but only historic churches that remain vibrant, said Wright.
Shiloh Baptist has existed and served the community for almost 300 years.
Similar to Shiloh is Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Liberty, N.C., which historians consider the most significant landmark of North Carolina Baptist history. It is called the mother church from which Baptist churches grew and multiplied in the South.
Messengers to the BSC annual meeting have an opportunity to tour the Sandy Creek site Nov. 14 at 2 p.m., at no cost.
Contact Penny Cozadd at pcozadd@ncbaptist.org to reserve a tour seat or for more information about Baptist and local church history.

10/31/2016 2:08:24 PM by Liz Tablazon, BR staff writer | with 0 comments

N.C. anticipates weeks of continued Matthew recovery

October 31 2016 by Joe Conway, NAMB & BR staff

Scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of 1999’s Hurricane Floyd are playing out across a 250-mile stretch of North Carolina. Already North Carolina Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers, and those from seven other states, have served Hurricane Matthew survivors by preparing more than 400,000 meals from six SBDR kitchens.

Photo by Casey Jones, NAMB
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer Lou Mulsand, left, a member of First Baptist Concord, in Knoxville, Tenn., talks with homeowner Kevin Kinsella of Savannah, Ga. Mulsand’s team helped Kinsella, a Hurricane Matthew survivor, clear downed trees from his home.

North Carolina Baptist Men Disaster Relief director Gaylon Moss said some of the same areas affected by Floyd were hard hit again by Matthew. Moss said volunteer days served in North Carolina have already surpassed 7,000.
“The extensive nature of the response, the scale and scope, are larger,” Moss said. “From the northeast corner of the state, to the southwest, we are serving across 200-plus miles. We have 10 clean up and recovery sites working and will open another today. The Baptist General [Association] of Virginia is coordinating another clean-up site for us.”
In addition to volunteers from North Carolina and Virginia, Moss said SBDR volunteers from Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania-South Jersey, Southern Baptists of Texas and Texas Baptist Men are also serving there. Kansas-Nebraska also sent a laundry unit that is in use in the state.

“At the height of the need for hot meals, we had six kitchens operating,” Moss said. “That is down to two now. We surpassed 400,000 meals prepared [Oct. 27].”
In the overall SBDR response to Matthew, volunteers from 15 states have served. More than 575,000 meals have been prepared. More than 4,000 chaplain contacts have been made.
There also have been 284 gospel presentations reported and 88 decisions for faith in Christ. To date, 815 chainsaw jobs have been completed, along with 104 heavy debris removal jobs.
David Melber, North American Mission Board (NAMB) vice president for Send Relief, expressed gratitude for the work volunteers have already accomplished in the response.
“We are thankful that the heart of Southern Baptists for service is demonstrated in the action of thousands of volunteers and church members assisting their neighbors in the wake of Hurricane Matthew,” Melber said. “As with the response to Louisiana flooding, the needs related to Matthew will be long-term. We are confident and thankful Southern Baptists will continue to serve until all of those needs are met.”

Arran Lake Baptist Church

Jeff Isenhour, pastor of Arran Lake Baptist Church in Fayetteville said the lake that is the church’s namesake is gone.
The dam broke at Arran Lake and washed out a main road, some smaller roads and many utility lines.
“We don’t know how long the main road will be closed – probably for months, maybe a year, but it’s going to be a while,” he said.

Photo by Geoff L Johnson, NAMB
Hurricane Matthew flooded scores of churches from Florida to the Carolinas. Piney Grove Baptist Church in Gresham, S.C., was one of them.

The week before Hurricane Matthew hit the area Isenhour began a Sunday sermon series called “Rescued.” He said, “The theme is about how Jesus spiritually rescues people us out of a life of sin. But I had no idea we would literally be rescuing people from floods a few days later.”
At least seven church members’ homes flooded immediately when the Arran Lake dam broke. “A young couple was just getting ready to get on the roof of their house when rescue boats arrived, so they evacuated,” Isenhour recalled. “One elderly couple lost everything.”
Isenhour said his home was not flooded, even though he lives less than a quarter of a mile from homes where the water reached the roof. “Some were affected in Fayetteville, many were not – it depends on where you lived.” His home became a safe place for some families to stay.
“None of us were expecting this to come to Fayetteville. We’ve never had anything like this. We just weren’t ready for it,” he said.
Some members of Arran Lake Baptist were in survival mode after the storm. Others wanted to serve but did not know where to start. Through social media and personal contacts, church members were asked to assess the needs in their neighborhoods so recovery could begin.
“The first few days we were just trying to help each other,” Isenhour said.
“Some church members pulled out carpet and moved furniture. Then North Carolina Baptist Men came in and started doing what they do so well. It was like the cavalry arriving.”
Apex Baptist Church delivered several thousand bottles of water. “So we passed out water in our community, then we took some water and supplies to Lumberton, where the need was so great,” Isenhour added.
Matthew opened a door for Arran Lake Baptist’s Sunday School classes to apply some principles the church has been emphasizing.
“I believe a Sunday School class doesn’t exist just to teach the Bible,” Isenhour said. “They exist to minister to people and develop relationships, also. We tried to encourage our classes to be mobilized – to take care of the people in their class, then meet the needs of others outside the class as they learn about them.
“We’ve always tried to tell our small groups that certainly they want to teach the Bible first, but if the end result is to get together and talk about the Bible but not apply the Bible and actually put it to work, then what good is it?”  
The floods underscored the principles of ministry through small groups and prompts the church to prepare for future opportunities, he said.

Magnolia Baptist Church

Many in the Stedman community had no electricity after Matthew, but Magnolia Baptist Church in Stedman saw their power restored the day after the storm. Members of the church came together to prepare a community meal on Oct. 12 for many still did not have power after several days.
Fran Harris, Magnolia’s secretary, said more than 200 people came. When asked by the Biblical Recorder how word spread, Harris said the church and local fire department put a sign on their marquee advertising the meal. They also used word-of-mouth throughout the community and a local grocery store.
“They all seemed to be very, very appreciative,” Harris said. About 25 members came together to help with the meal; all but four did not have power at their homes. When those people who had helped returned home, they all had electricity.
Harris said she heard one member say, “God turned on more than our electricity that night.”
The church sustained some water damage to the roof. The worst case in their church was a woman whose basement flooded. She is getting some FEMA relief.
By press time, the church was planning to take a special offering for Baptists on Mission to help with disaster relief.

Lebanon Baptist Church

In Eastover, N.C., Lebanon Baptist Church canceled regular Wednesday night services Oct. 12. Instead they offered meals, showers and a time of fellowship to those in the community affected by Hurricane Matthew. They provided more than 275 meals, including meals delivered to local fire departments and people stranded in nearby stores. For some people who lost power during the storm, the dinner was the first hot meal they had in days, said Brian Charland, associate pastor of Lebanon Baptist.
Lebanon Baptist also canceled Sunday night Bible study Oct. 16 to pack double the amount of bags they normally fill for BackPack Buddies. The program provides bags of food for local students in need, usually sending bags home with families on Mondays. BackPack Buddies sent bags again on Friday, so families affected by the hurricane would have food over the weekend. Volunteers received and packed extra donations, sending about 800 bags of meals and snacks home with families.
“It’s been pretty cool to see people come together and work together to help those in need this week,” Charland said.
Long-term in North Carolina, Moss expects the needs to continue for the foreseeable future. “Recovery and clean up, mostly mud out, will be the biggest need for the next several weeks,” Moss said. “We need volunteers for mud-out, tear-out and clean-up [projects].”
Those wishing to donate to SBDR relief can contact the Baptist convention in their state or visit donations.namb.net/dr-donations. For phone donations, call (866) 407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained volunteers – including chaplains – and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation.

10/31/2016 7:52:58 AM by Joe Conway, NAMB & BR staff | with 0 comments

Columbine lead role helps actress grasp God’s love

October 31 2016 by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS

Masey McLain, daughter of a Georgia Baptist pastor, knew God intended her to play the true-to-life movie character Rachel Joy Scott, a Columbine victim, even when the part first went to someone else.

Submitted photo
Masey McLain, who plays Rachel Joy Scott in I'm Not Ashamed, says the movie about the 1999 Columbine High School shooting helped her grasp that Scott, one of the 12 students killed, “experienced more than anything the arms of God wrapping around her.”

Masey McLain, who plays Rachel Joy Scott in I’m Not Ashamed, says the movie about the 1999 Columbine High School shooting helped her grasp that Scott, one of the 12 students killed, “experienced more than anything the arms of God wrapping around her.”
I’m Not Ashamed, a PG-13 movie that opened nationwide Oct. 21, stars McLain in her first leading role. The PureFlix film, directed by Brian Baugh, co-stars actress Jennifer O’Neill, Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, singer Jaci Velasquez and Nancy Stafford from the TV series Matlock.
The story of Scott’s life unfolds in the final months leading up to the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999, an event noted as the deadliest high school shooting in the nation’s history. Twelve students and one teacher were killed.
Filming was intense, at times, McLain said. “I knew deep down that God had called me to this,” she said. “I really had to rely on Him and just trust every day that, ‘OK God, if You’ve called me to this, I know You’ll give me everything I need today.’”
McLain is the daughter of Marty and Stephanie McLain of Villa Rica, Ga., where her father serves as teaching pastor at West Hills Church. Marty McLain is a 2002 doctor of ministry graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rachel Scott’s “yes”

A survivor who was with Scott the day of the shooting told authorities that one of the two shooters approached Scott as she lay bleeding from three gunshot wounds and asked if she still believed in God. The fatal shot followed her answer of “yes.”
Scott’s faith and courage inspired the founding of the nonprofit organization Rachel’s Challenge and the publication of several books including Rachel’s Tears, a celebration of her life by her father, Darrell Scott, based on Rachel’s drawings and journals showing her hopes of impacting the world for Christ.
McLain said she learned the role had been given to someone else months into the year-long process but felt God telling her to “be still” and wait. Weeks later, McLain received the phone call informing her she had landed the leading role.
“It really was the Lord,” McLain said.

Portraying Rachel

As filming began, Beth Nimmo, Scott’s mother, presented McLain with a box of the original journals and writings penned by her daughter.
“Even before I got to set, [Nimmo] called me and told me how proud she was of me, before we even met,” McLain said. “She said she knew God had called me to do this.”
As McLain scoured the journals daily, she discovered she had much in common with Scott, including a love of acting. As Nimmo watched the filming, she complimented McLain on getting Scott’s persona correct, McLain said, adding, “She told me, ‘I think I’m looking at Rachel.’”
As a film more about how Scott lived than how she died, its impact is tangible, Marty McLain said. “People leave impacted by this movie. The testimonies that we are getting from this movie are unbelievable. We’ve had people whose children have struggled with suicide or cutting say they want to follow Jesus now.”
Reviews of Masey McLain’s acting are positive, though the Christian-themed movie, like many in this genre, has its critics. But an Oct. 21 review in The Guardian, a British publication, praised McLain saying, “She is undeniably a terrific, warm and engaging performer.”
While loss and tragedy are a part of Scott’s story, Masey McLain said God has brought good out of the pain and draws from it a lesson for believers.
“The hope that we do have is Jesus, so no matter what happens or how we die or when we die or what we go through, He is our constant hope,” McLain said. “In view of eternity, that’s everything.”

A window into God’s love

Marty McLain was watching as the emotionally charged shooting scene was filmed when he realized his wife was nowhere in sight. He found her at the end of a hallway, alone.
“You’re glad that your daughter is able to do a role like that because of the impact and significance of the movie, but at the same time it’s hard to watch,” he said.
Before filming, Masey McLain worried about the final scene as well.
“I was really scared about that scene,” she said. “Everyone felt the weight of what we were doing that day.”
That morning, God brought the New Testament story of Stephen’s martyrdom to mind, McLain said. She read again how Stephen saw God’s glory and saw Jesus at the right hand of God, a Scripture passage that came to mind throughout the day.
“I’ll never forget that day. I feel like God kind of gave me a window into what happened that day. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” McLain said.
“It’s hard to explain, but I’ve never felt the love of God that strongly before in such a tangible way,” she said. “I just knew in those last moments that Rachel had to have known how much God loved her, and [like Stephen], Rachel saw the glory of God and experienced more than anything the arms of God wrapping around her.”
Scott was a typical teenager with struggles of her own but was committed to loving others as Christ loved, McLain said, noting that Scott’s example of being the “hands and feet of Jesus” is a lesson she intends to follow.
“[Scott’s life] makes me think about not wanting to just pass through life, but truly see people and to run to the broken,” McLain said.
McLain’s potential for a bright career was noted by the writer for The Guardian who wrote, “The sky is the limit for her.”
As McLain considers the future, she acknowledges her hope that God will continue to bring opportunity and determination to pursue a vocation in acting.
“I love film acting. I would love to continue in it,” McLain said, adding that new roles may soon appear. “Be on the lookout,” she said with a gentle laugh.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marilyn Stewart is assistant director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)

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10/31/2016 7:42:01 AM by Marilyn Stewart, NOBTS | with 0 comments

LifeWay pulls Hatmaker books over LGBT views

October 28 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

LifeWay Christian Resources has discontinued resources featuring bestselling Bible study author Jen Hatmaker just days after she voiced approval of gay marriage and the gay lifestyle.

Twitter photo
Jen Hatmaker

“In a recent interview, [Hatmaker] voiced significant changes in her theology of human sexuality and the meaning and definition of marriage – changes which contradict LifeWay’s doctrinal guidelines,” LifeWay spokesman Marty King told Baptist Press (BP) Oct. 27. “As a result, LifeWay has discontinued selling her resources.”
LifeWay, a Southern Baptist Convention entity, has published several resources by the popular speaker and reality television star, including the bestselling B&H Publishing book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.
In an Oct. 25 Religion News Service (RNS) article, Hatmaker said she affirms gay marriage from both civil and spiritual perspectives and advised the church to embrace members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who profess Christianity.
“Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ,” Hatmaker said in the RNS question and answer column. “They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family. We have to do better.”
The RNS interview focused on several popular topics, including gay marriage and Hatmaker’s perspective of the LGBT lifestyle.
“From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends,” Hatmaker said. “From a spiritual perspective, since gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, our communities have plenty of gay couples who, just like the rest of us, need marriage support and parenting help and Christian community. They are either going to find those resources in the church or they are not.”
Hatmaker would not hesitate to attend and drink celebratory champagne at a gay wedding, she told RNS, but spoke with less certainty when saying she believes an LGBT relationship can be holy.
“I do (believe an LGBT relationship can be holy). And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting,” she said. “I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here.”
The mother of five children said she would treat a child who professes homosexuality no different than a heterosexual child.
“I think we would parent that child exactly the same as the rest of them. Which is to say, we would always be on their side and in their corner and for them and with them,” Hatmaker said. “We want for all of our kids the same thing: faithful, committed marriage and a beautiful family that is committed to God and the church. I would have the same standard across the board, no matter what.”
Hatmaker gained national notoriety when her 2013 blogpost on the rigors of mothering school-age children went viral, landing her an interview on NBC’s Today Show. Her HGTV home renovation show, My Big Family Renovation, debuted in 2014, and she has been popular among many evangelical women.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

10/28/2016 10:57:46 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Alistair Begg delivers Spurgeon Lectures at MBTS

October 28 2016 by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS

Pastors must follow Charles H. Spurgeon’s example by living a life of conviction, humility, integrity and an intense “longing of his heart to see men and women come to Christ,” noted Alistair Begg during the fourth annual Spurgeon Lectures on Biblical Preaching at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS).

Screen capture from MBTS

Begg, a popular evangelical pastor of Cleveland-area Parkside Church, delivered his lectures at the seminary’s Kansas City, Mo., campus on Oct. 18-19. Begg was also inducted by MBTS President Jason Allen as the school’s fourth Spurgeon Fellow. The lectures were held about a year after the dedication of the seminary’s Spurgeon Library and Jenkins Hall.
“As we continue to train the next generation of pastors and ministry leaders for the church at Midwestern Seminary, it is imperative to host a lecture series each year that is dedicated to expositional preaching,” Allen said. “All who have attended these lectures will, prayerfully, leave with a deeper commitment to proclaiming God’s Word.
“Having Alistair Begg for these lectures is something we have worked on for several years, and it is an honor to host and learn from a man who stands for biblical, expositional preaching and who has a deep love and respect for Charles Spurgeon.”
Conferring Begg as a Spurgeon Fellow, Allen recognized him “for his ongoing leadership in equipping church leaders, for his commitment to the expository preaching of God’s Word, and for his service to the broader evangelical community.”

Spurgeon & John the Baptist

In his first lecture, Begg gleaned from Mark 1 and John 1 in explaining the “measure of the man,” 19-century Baptist Pastor Charles Spurgeon, by making five comparisons to “another famous Baptist, namely, John himself.”
The first comparison, Begg noted, was the divine authority of the two men. Plainly both men were “sent by God.” This calling, he continued, is exactly what underpins the ministry of a servant of God.
Neither man ever received a formal education, nor was he formally ordained. Each began his teaching ministry at an early age and with a small group of disciples.
Like John the Baptist, Spurgeon “was so convinced about the authority that was his in the Word of God, that when he took the Word of God and proclaimed it … the hearts and minds of his listeners had a divine encounter with the living God, through the work of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Begg said.
Secondly, Spurgeon and John the Baptist held a sense of helpful humility. Begg explained each knew his place in the Kingdom of God – as “a voice.”
Each also recognized that the only reason he had a voice was because God had given him something to say.
The third comparison between Spurgeon and John the Baptist was in the area of integrity. Begg noted that in each man’s most difficult season, he was a man of character. This integrity enabled each to challenge political and church leaders of his day, to make a strong gospel stand, and to acknowledge his frailty as a man.
Next, Begg compared the two men’s bravery. Just as John was not fearful to call out Herod’s adultery, Spurgeon was unafraid to point out “sham and pretense.”
The final comparison drawn was that both men possessed a helpful simplicity and clarity, and had little tolerance for those who did not.
Neither man “clouded the issue” for those they interacted with. Begg said of Spurgeon, “He understood that the things which were central to the gospel could be articulated with clarity and simplicity. ...”

Lessons from Spurgeon to his students

Begg’s second address detailed two lessons from Spurgeon’s, Lectures to My Students, with the first being the call to live a devout and holy life, and the second being the urgent call to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Spurgeon’s deep desire was that neither his students nor congregation would fall into a cavalier attitude or casual approach in their spiritual relationship with Christ, Begg said. He said that should be modern-day Christians’ concern as well.
“Spiritual fitness takes precedence over physical fitness,” Begg noted. “And yet some of us have expended far more energy on the physical than the spiritual. The average young minister has an iPad, a laptop, and an exercise bag. ... None of these things are necessarily bad, but Paul says to Timothy, ‘You better pay attention to the vital importance of spiritual fitness. You better watch yourself in this regard.’”
Begg further explained that it is easy for pastors to preach a message and not conduct self-introspection as well.
“I fear that I am failing to take these matters as seriously as I should. Remember Spurgeon said, ‘Give the talk to yourself first, and then let others listen if they choose.’”
In his second point, Begg challenged the congregants, especially pastors, to question whether they intensely desire to see their hearers believe in the Lord Jesus.
“Did you read Spurgeon? Did you ever think about the tears he wept, the concern he had ... the longing of his heart to see men and women come to Christ? You see, how good we are at championing the little bits that allow us to stay in our comfort zone while avoiding the implications of that which unsettles us, confronts us and drives us to our knees. It makes us cry out for the infusion of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our ministries.”
Begg concluded the lectures saying, “As much as we love Spurgeon and revere his memory, the reason we actually do this is because he did exactly what he is urging us to do – to take seriously our own life, our doctrine and the issue of watching over our souls; and to commit ourselves fervently, passionately and consistently to proclaim the unsearchable riches of grace.”
To view the Spurgeon Lectures, visit mbts.edu/news-resources.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – T. Patrick Hudson is executive assistant to the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.)

10/28/2016 10:50:10 AM by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS | with 0 comments

Bivocational minister refuses to turn over sermons

October 28 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A bivocational lay minister and physician is refusing to give the state of Georgia copies of his past sermons in a legal suit alleging the state fired him as health director because of his religious beliefs.

Eric Walsh
Photo from First Liberty Institute

Eric Walsh will not comply with the district court’s request for his sermons and relevant notes because he believes the court has exceeded its authority in the request, he said in an Oct. 26 press release from his counsel, First Liberty Institute.
“No government has the right to require a pastor to turn over his sermons,” Walsh said. “I cannot and will not give up my sermons unless I am forced to do so.”
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) fired Walsh one day after he provided copies of his sermons to the state when he was hired as health director for northwest Atlanta in May 2014, according to Walsh’s attorneys, citing a copy of an email indicating the DPH asked several employees to review and critique Walsh’s sermons. He had only held his job one week.
First Liberty filed a lawsuit April 20, 2016, on Walsh’s behalf, contending the state fired him because of the content of sermons he delivered as an ordained lay minister.
Several groups have come to Walsh’s defense, including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the American Principles Project.
The order to provide the sermons is only evidence of Georgia’s guilt, First Liberty senior counsel Jeremy Dys said.
“The state insists that it did not fire Dr. Walsh over his religious beliefs or sermons,” Dys said. “If that’s true, why is it demanding copies of his sermons now? It’s clear the government fired Dr. Walsh over his religious beliefs, which is blatant religious discrimination.”
A noted physician who has directed the Pasadena, Calif., public health department and served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, Walsh is an ordained Seventh-day Adventist lay minister.
“I am a devout member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and, as a part of my sincerely-held religious beliefs, I believe in expressing my faith,” Walsh said in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission preceding the lawsuit. “My faith is important to me; I regularly speak about my faith at churches and religious conferences.”
His sermons focused on topics including following God, health, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science, creationism and compassion for the poor.
Walsh does not own audio or video recordings of his sermons, Dys said, but the state requested all the content of the sermons he has, including notes he made in preparation and transcripts made after the sermons were delivered.
“The first time [Walsh] submitted his sermons to the state, he lost his job,” Dys told Baptist Press (BP). “He’s deeply concerned to learn what would happen if he submits his sermons again.”
The Family Research Council (FRC) launched a petition Oct. 26 at FRC.org/Walsh urging Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to intervene and halt the sermon request.
“This demand for Dr. Eric Walsh’s sermons, sermons notes and ministerial documentation is an alarming display of government intrusion into the sanctity of the church, pastor’s study, and pulpit,” FRC president and ordained pastor Tony Perkins said. “This is something that I would have expected to see in a communist country, not America. The pulpit is to be governed only by the Word of God.”
In March, Deal vetoed a religious liberty bill less than two weeks after the Georgia legislature passed it. The Free Exercise Protection Act had combined elements of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a First Amendment Defense Act and a Pastor Protection Act.
The American Principles Project, a religious freedom advocacy group in Washington, D.C., urged Georgia to withdraw its court order and to compensate Walsh for any losses incurred.
“Anything else will suggest that people of faith need not apply for government jobs in Georgia,” American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins said. “The state of Georgia’s brazen discrimination against an individual on the basis of his religious beliefs violates everything we believe in as a nation. It is wrong, and it is illegal.”
Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), said in an Oct. 26 press release that Georgia is using “Gestapo-like” tactics in the case and pledged the support and resources of the “hundreds of thousands of members” of CWA in fighting “this injustice and intolerance.”
“The state of Georgia’s blatant attack on religious freedom … is indeed a threat to every American, whatever our religious beliefs,” Nance said. “Can there be a clearer violation of our First Amendment right to religious freedom than for the state to monitor, examine and retaliate against a person because of the sermons they share?”
Walsh had 33 days – which expire Oct. 30 – to comply with the Sept. 27 court order.
“First, we will object to the request for sermons. The other side can move to compel Dr. Walsh to submit the sermons, which would cause us to go before a court,” Dys told BP. “If the court orders Dr. Walsh to surrender the sermons and he does not comply, he could be held in contempt of court.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

10/28/2016 10:44:42 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Rare hymnals get new life in NOBTS digital scanning

October 28 2016 by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS

The musty smell of antiquity fills the air as music professor Ed Steele positions an old leather-bound book on an odd-looking scanner.

Photo by Joe Fontenot
Leavell College professor Ed Steele positions a rare hymnal on the scanner in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary John T. Christian Library.

With the press of a button the scanner comes to life, a light passes over the page, and before long a scanned page appears on Steele’s computer screen.
Steele, a faculty member at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s (NOBTS) Leavell College, spent much of his recent sabbatical scanning and digitizing page after page from rare hymnals. To date, he has scanned and digitized nearly 30 of the seminary’s 400-plus rare hymnals and a few hymnbooks from private collections.
The digitized hymns are available in Adobe PDF format free of charge at the seminary’s online home for the new Center for Hymnological Research: nobts.edu/library/hymnological-research.
“Because of their condition and their age, although we have them, the rare hymnals are not usable, or available or accessible,” Steele said, pointing to a shelf full of rare hymnals. “Now the accessibility comes from this scanner.”
The Martin Music Library at NOBTS holds more 5,000 hymnals which were donated by Edmond Keith, a layman who loved hymnody. Most of the rare hymnals in the music library are a part of the Edmond Keith Collection – some dating to the early 1700s. Others were obtained through the efforts of Harry Eskew, who taught hymnology at the seminary for 36 years.
While many of the hymnals in the Keith Collection can be checked out and studied, access to the rare hymnals has been limited. The rare hymnals are stored in a climate and humidity controlled rare book room. Limited access is required to preserve the fragile physical copies, with meticulous care required when handling them.
The 1713 Hymns in Commemoration of the Sufferings of Our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, Compos’d for the Celebration of his Holy Supper by Joseph Stennett is among the oldest Steele has digitized so far. Another notable: A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the People called Methodists compiled by John Wesley from 1780. Throughout the collection of rare hymnals, the songs of Isaac Watts and John and Charles Wesley often appear. Digital copies of numerous early Baptist hymnals also are available on the center’s website.

Photo by Joe Fontenot
Leavell College professor Ed Steele prepares an early “tune book” for scanning. Tune books, which appeared in the 1830s, were among the first books to include music notes. Earlier hymnals included only the text of the hymn.

“We’ve had a few scholars who would fly in because they knew what we had … a treasure trove hidden from the world,” Steele said. “Because these are rare, they have not been available to the public. What we are doing is making them available.”
Without the proper equipment, scanning and digitizing a rare book can be a difficult challenge. A person can accomplish the task with a traditional flatbed scanner and basic software, but the process is inefficient, time-consuming and risks damaging the fragile book. New scanning technology provides automation which speeds up the process. Regardless of the innovation, scanning a book is still time-consuming – accomplished by scanning one two-page “spread” at a time.
The new NOBTS scanner, an Opus FreeFlow Bookeye 4 with specialized software, is designed to accommodate even the most fragile books. The high resolution scans preserve the text of the hymnals with stunning detail.
The adjustable scanning platform can be used flat to scan an open book lying flat or at a v-shaped angle to accommodate a book with a fragile spine which will not open completely. The scanning software automatically corrects skewed portions of the scan regardless of the position of the book at the time of scanning. After scanning each two-page spread, the software merges all the scanned files into one PDF document which is ready to be uploaded to a webpage.
With music so deeply entwined in most churches’ Sunday worship, it is hard to believe how recently hymns entered the church. According to Steele, reformers like John Calvin only allowed the singing of Psalms, and many congregations for nearly 100 years sang only from these “psalters.” Benjamin Keach, a Baptist pastor in England, first promoted hymn singing in 1675.
Watts, born in 1674, began writing hymns as a teenager. Young Watts faced bitter criticism when he began writing and promoting hymns. Steele believes that it was the quality of Watts’ writing that eventually led to wider acceptance of hymns in church. Hymns by Watts, and the Wesley brothers were among the first to be published. Later, George Whitfield brought the hymns of Watts to America during his “Great Awakening” revivals in the mid-1700s. The earliest hymn books did not include music, only the text.
As hymn singing spread in America, publishers began producing “tune books” like the Sacred Harp in the 1830s to teach singing in rural areas of the South, Steele said. Many of the songs used in the great revivals of the 1800s in Kentucky were from these collections. The tune books utilized many of the Watts hymns set to “shape notes.” The Southern and Western Pocket Harmonist and The Southern Harmony are among a number of rare shape-note tune books Steele has digitized. The tune books were among the first books to include music along with the text of hymns.
Scanning the seminary’s rare hymnal collection will be an ongoing, long-term effort, Steele said. Some might say a labor of love. In fact, Steele believes scanning the rare hymnals currently in the NOBTS library will stretch beyond his career into the next generation of music professors at NOBTS.
“One advantage of the scanner,” Steele added, “is the possibility of scanning other collections loaned from individual private collections. My desire is that the Center for Hymnological Research would become a resource for the collection of these rare hymnals and to provide an opportunity for others to make their collections available digitally to the research community.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Gary D. Myers is director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)

10/28/2016 10:35:33 AM by Gary D. Myers, NOBTS | with 0 comments

Missions ideas flow from Diana Davis & Autumn Wall

October 28 2016 by Leslie Peacock Caldwell, Baptist Press

Long before most people were aware of Diana Davis’ “fresh ideas,” her daughter witnessed her mom’s imagination and creative spark.

Submittied photo
Diana Davis, right, and daughter Autumn Wall, coauthors of the new missions book Across the Street and Around the World, head to the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention to help lead a retreat for pastors’ wives.

“Her creativity is what has always made life in our family so much fun!” Autumn Wall said, recalling how her mother was always starting something new or turning an ordinary day into something adventuresome.
“For our family, she constantly used her creative ideas to help us understand that serving God is an adventure,” Autumn said via email.
Davis, whose “Fresh Ideas” column is a regular feature in Baptist Press and state Baptist newspapers, said missional living was something she and her husband Steve, now a vice president with the North American Mission Board, built into parenting to set the example and involve the family in reaching out to others for Christ.
“We watched our kids – and now our grandkids – learn to delight in helping others in Jesus’ name,” Davis said.
“We included our children in a variety of simple projects and actions in Jesus’ name – local ministry as well as mission trips. And we had fun. Parenting affirmed the simplicity of a missional lifestyle.”
Davis, who had authored four books, was praying about her next project when New Hope Publishers approached her with the need for a book of practical mission action ideas. She knew this was her answer to prayer and she knew she wanted to write it with her daughter.
In Across the Street and Around the World: Ideas to Spark Missional Focus, Davis and Wall offer more than 1,000 missional living ideas. Challenging readers to live intentionally for Christ, they give practical suggestions, ideas and projects to fit into multiple timeframes and lifestyles.

“Autumn would have been a behind-the-scenes partner in my book project anyway,” Davis said. “Between Autumn and me, we’d been personally involved in the vast majority of mission ideas in the book over the years.”
Wall, who went on her first international mission trip at age 11, said the lessons she learned growing up are part of her current missions lifestyle in Indianapolis, where she and her husband Yale planted a church and are raising two foster children.
Having gone on dozens of local and international mission trips with many opportunities to share the gospel, Wall noted, “Just doing it over and over again gave me confidence that I’m now able to use here in Indy to share the gospel unashamed with people I know and people I don’t know.”
Davis said she feels that the empowerment of individuals is often a missing element in many churches. That’s one reason she and Wall made the book so practical. There is something for everyone.
“We hope that this book will take away all the excuses we make to not be on mission,” Wall said, “and help families, small groups and churches get up and get out to do something across the street and around the world from where they live.”
“This isn’t a reading book. It’s a going book,” they write in the book. “We’re praying that you’ll become so enthused you’ll hardly be able to finish a page before starting a project.
“Often, the church does a great job of caring for its own, but it seems we’re lacking in the going,” they write. “The harsh truth is, we are not reaching the rapidly growing population around us fast enough.”
Chapters of the book include one-hour, one-day, one-week and long-term mission ideas. Events like a Christian concert on church grounds might take some planning. Other suggestions, like an evangelistic message on the church’s sign, can be done quickly but will reach the community, Davis and Wall write.
Davis hopes the organization of the book into time commitments will emphasize that missions can be done simply and quickly, but that it’s important enough to make a lifelong habit.
The habit of living intentionally for Jesus is one Davis is glad to see families embracing. She said it’s exciting to watch parents make family plans to save for mission trips or do acts of service together in their communities.
The vast majority of the world, they remind in the book, is “without hope. Without peace. Without someone to cry out to in times of pain and confusion or to rejoice with in good times.
“The longer we live as believers the more difficult it can be to remember what life was like without Jesus,” Davis and Wall write, “but as we begin to recall the emptiness we felt before Christ we are reminded of the urgency of this mission to go make disciples of all nations.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Leslie Peacock Caldwell writes from New Kent, Va.)

10/28/2016 10:19:05 AM by Leslie Peacock Caldwell, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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