September 2011

Convention makes plans for November meeting

September 9 2011 by BSC Communications

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) announces a two-day meeting schedule and special highlights for the 181st Annual Meeting to be held Nov. 7-8 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The meeting will include powerful exhortations from God’s Word, worship and fellowship, and practical information from various break out sessions.

Highlights of this year’s Annual Meeting include:


For the first time since 1994, the annual meeting will be held over a two-day period instead of a three-day period. Brian Davis, executive leader for administration and Convention relations, said the shorter schedule will be a benefit to all involved. “The Convention is glad the messengers approved the new schedule, as it will eliminate expenses involved with the third-day of a convention meeting, while still allowing appropriate time for all aspects of the annual meeting,” he said. “We hope this schedule will allow more North Carolina Baptists to join us in Greensboro.”

This year’s meeting will begin Monday, Nov. 7, at 6 p.m. and will end Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 8:30 p.m. Registration opens Monday at 2 p.m. and will close 30 minutes after the general session that evening. On Tuesday, registration opens at 8 a.m. and will close once the business session concludes that evening.

All In

This year’s annual meeting theme, based on 1 Timothy 2:3-6, is “All In.” The theme encourages all North Carolina Baptist churches to be compelled by the same vision that compelled Jesus Christ: that all people may know Him as Savior and Lord.

“The Committee on Convention Meetings has worked hard and prayed over this year’s theme and message,” Davis said. “It is our prayer that this theme will exhort North Carolina Baptists to do more, to do whatever it takes, to get the gospel to those who need to hear it.”

Times of theme interpretation will be held throughout the annual meeting to allow messengers time to pray over and consider how God is calling them to be involved in helping fulfill His Great Commission.

Special highlights

Monday evening messengers will hear a special report from the Baptist State Convention. The Convention will introduce the third phase in a three-year initiative designed to encourage North Carolina Baptists in evangelism, discipleship and missions mobilization.

The 2012 emphasis, “Expanding the Kingdom,” is focused on challenging North Carolina Baptists to live “on mission” in their community, state, nation and world with the gospel of Christ. For more information visit

Darryl Craft, pastor of Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, will bring the Convention Sermon during the Tuesday evening session. Craft has served as pastor at Green Street Baptist Church since 2007. He previously served churches in Oklahoma, Alabama and Tennessee. Craft earned his doctor of ministry and master of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Attendees will also hear messages from Milton A. Hollifield Jr. and Ed Yount. Hollifield will give the executive director-treasurer’s address Monday evening, and Yount will bring his president’s address Tuesday morning.

Each year the annual meeting features special events, presentations and related meetings. One such event this year is the Great Commission Partnership Missions breakfast.

The breakfast will give messengers an opportunity to explore mission opportunities from the BSC, North American Mission Board and International Mission Board, as well as networking opportunities with other pastors and leaders. George Russ, executive director of the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, will be the keynote speaker.

The breakfast will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and is open to all pastors, church staff, mission leaders and spouses.

The breakfast is free but registration is required and space is limited.

Visit here.

The Pastor’s Conference will also be held at the Koury Convention Center. The event is free and registration is not required.

The Sunday, Nov. 6, session begins at 6 p.m. and features Logan Carson, distinguished professor of Christian theology (Ret.), The College at Southeastern, Wake Forest; and Greg Mathis, senior pastor, Mud Creek Baptist Church, Hendersonville.

The Monday, Nov. 7, session begins at 9 a.m. and features Clayton King, founder and president of Crossroads Worldwide, Shelby; Larry Wynn, vice president of evangelism, NAMB; and John Bisagno, pastor emeritus, First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas.

The Monday afternoon session features David Dykes, senior pastor, Green Acres Baptist Church, Tyler, Texas. Visit here.

Break out sessions

On Tuesday afternoon messengers can attend one of 19 break out sessions. The sessions are designed to focus on biblical topics and practical information that can be applied to everyday life. The sessions feature topics such as “Church Renewal,” “The Minister’s Juggling Act,” “Evangelism Crash Course,” and “Web Empowered Church.”

Exhibit hall

The exhibit hall includes more than 100 exhibits featuring BSC ministry groups, institutions and agencies, as well as exhibits offering various resources to churches such as insurance, church building and planning, and website development.

The exhibit hall is open Monday 2 p.m.-9 p.m. and Tuesday 8 a.m.-9 p.m. A complete listing of exhibitors is available on the annual meeting website,

Information will continue to be added to the annual meeting site as it becomes available.

Details about business sessions and the budget presentation will be posted in early October. 
9/9/2011 7:30:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Lee’s downpours heighten crisis left by Irene

September 9 2011 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Remnants of Tropical Storm Lee are dealing a setback to residents in Pennsylvania, upstate New York and New Jersey still suffering from Hurricane Irene, with organizations such as Southern Baptist Disaster Relief scrambling to meet the escalating needs in the region.

Historic, or near-historic, flooding from the Susquehanna River is increasing the need for disaster relief in northeast Pennsylvania and central New York state where forced evacuations are underway.

“The rains have not stopped now and the rivers are still rising,” Karlene Campbell, disaster relief director for the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey, said Sept. 8. “Right now, we’re just in the middle of the flood. It’s really affecting a lot of communities along the way.

“It’s hard to get a grasp on things at the moment, with the flooding that’s taking place.” The Susquehanna, expected to crest as high as 41 feet, has prompted the evacuation of some 100,000 residents in the Wyoming Valley, Pa., area, and the evacuation of more than 10,000 in and around Binghamton, N.Y., where both the Susquehanna and the Chenango rivers are flooding.

The Baptist Convention of New York (BCNY) is mounting efforts to meet the Red Cross’ new request for an additional 16,000 meals a day from the feeding unit stationed at Trinity Baptist Church in the Schenectady, N.Y., area, said Terry Robertson, BCNY executive director. The unit from the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) had been preparing 5,000-6,000 meals a day since Sunday.

The unit was preparing 16,000 meals for delivery earlier today to Binghamton, said Karen Smith, KBC disaster relief director.

Robertson, meanwhile, is helping meet the need for additional relief workers by canceling this week’s scheduled meeting of the convention’s executive board and asking its members to instead report to the feeding unit if they can maneuver the flooded landscape to get there.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, where 43,000 homes already were damaged by Irene, another 2-6 inches of rain is forecast from Lee. The BCNY’s call for at least six mud-out units still was waiting to be filled Thursday, witgh disaster relief units hard-pressed to meet the growing need across the Northeast, BCNY leaders say.

“We are quite concerned that so many states are having so many disaster needs at this time. We’re not optimistic that we’re going to get those (mud-out) units,” Robertson said. “I think at this point it’s pretty clear we’ve got our hands full.”

Floodwaters that had not fully receded from Irene now are rising again from Lee, Robertson emphasized.

“We’re going to be in need of those mud-out units,” he said. “Right now, we’re faced with the crisis of having enough manpower to provide the meals that are being asked for.” The Red Cross Thursday also increased its earlier request of 2,000 meals a day from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief feeding unit in Washingtonville, N.Y., where the need had not been as great before Lee.

James Hundley, BCNY president and pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Cortland, N.Y., spoke to Baptist Press from Upstate Medical Center in nearby Syracuse, where two Emmanuel members were recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning. The couple, in their mid-60s, inhaled carbon monoxide from a poorly ventilated water pump they were using to get water out of their flooded basement in Marathon, N.Y.

“There was just a steady downpour of water, so there wasn’t the ventilation there would have been,” Hundley said. “There’s just so much rain. The aftermath of the water is just devastating.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Chandler is a freelance writer in New Orleans.)
9/9/2011 7:26:00 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Retreat lets campers ‘imagine what it can be’

September 9 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

Every year during Happiness Retreat one of the most popular items on the program is the talent show. Michael Ayers and his wife attended the show this year to see their daughter Ashley perform.

Ashley, 34, is a resident of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH). Ayers said his daughter tends to be more on the quiet, introverted side, but since coming to live at BCH four years ago she has learned how to better interact with people and has opened up more.

Living at BCH has helped her do more things on her own, like making her bed and doing her laundry. “Everyone needs their wings,” Ayers said.

Happiness Retreat is one way youth and adults with developmental disabilities like Ashley are able to just be themselves. “They don’t have the same outlets a lot of others do, and Happiness Retreat gives them that,” Ayers said.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) began Happiness Retreat in 1974. This year four three-day retreats were held at Caraway Conference Center in Asheboro and one three-day retreat was held at Truett Camp. The retreats look much like a mini-Vacation Bible School and include worship, Bible study, arts and crafts, and games. More than 850 campers and chaperones attended retreats this year.

BSC photo

Participants at Happiness Retreats create projects for Vacation Bible School. Retreats like this one through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina are designed to help youth and adults with developmental disabilities.

Every year volunteers from North Carolina Baptist churches across the state come to Happiness Retreat to help lead in all aspects of the program. Donnie Wiltshire, BSC consultant for special ministries, said the retreats wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers.

Wiltshire said volunteers do what they do because of the campers. “No doubt about it, it’s the campers. An opportunity to have an experience like this, and to be with so many people who really love them, is very rare in the disability community,” he said.

For all the fun and games, the priority remains teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. “We want to create an environment where the campers can experience the love of Christ and respond,” Wiltshire said.

Wiltshire encourages people to remember that those with disabilities “are people created in the image of God and worth the cost of the life of Christ.”

“We’re all different,” he said. “This is just a difference that surprises us and we’ve learned by our society that people who are so different should be marginalized or hidden. Not only do we have a lot to give them, we have a lot to learn from them.”

Wiltshire said the main barrier that stands between the church and those with disabilities is attitude. “Don’t be afraid. Just reach out and love them. As our attitudes change, they will receive a warmer welcome in our churches,” he said.

Lindsey Jackson is also a resident of BCH and a three-year Happiness Retreat participant. “Happiness Retreat lets me be myself and do different things with different people,” she said. Jackson enjoys the talent show and making new friends each year.

She also enjoys Happiness Retreat because she doesn’t feel judged. “People judge people with disabilities, and they don’t give us the full credit for what we can do,” she said.

Jackson works a few hours each day as a dietary aid and also volunteers in the Alzheimer’s unit at a nearby nursing home. She is grateful for her time with the senior adults and takes opportunities to encourage them and help them have fun.

Happiness Retreat volunteer Ron Huber has a 43-year-old daughter who is developmentally disabled. For nearly 30 years Huber and his daughter have been coming to Happiness Retreat. “We grew together with Happiness Retreat,” he said. “The minute she left she was talking about next year.”

Raising a child with a disability has taught Huber the importance of focusing on the positive. “You need to focus on what the child’s strengths are and how they can be part of the world. It’s more important to imagine what it can be than what it could have been,” he said.

Although not always easy, Huber has learned to trust God. “You’ve got to trust that there’s a power in control, and you’re not that power. Let Christ be central in your home. You’ve got to let God do the developing and molding and shaping,” Huber said.

Happiness Retreat is a family event for many volunteers. Courtney Smith, 22, along with her sister, mom and dad, all volunteer. Smith graduated earlier this year from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and is planning to attend seminary in preparation to answer God’s call to vocational, full-time missions. With a degree in community and youth sports development, Smith wants to work with underserved people groups and integrate physical activity into her ministry.

This year Smith brought with her to Happiness Retreat the 8-year-old autistic boy she has been working with for the last four years. Watching him grow, Smith knows that “the Lord has put me there for a reason.”

Happiness Retreat is a time for the campers to try new things — and a time for volunteers to be patient and to let them try. “Let them do what they’re capable of,” Smith said. “This is a time for us to be a friend.” For more information about special ministries visit
9/9/2011 7:17:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Coweeta Baptist makes CP a priority

September 9 2011 by Mike Creswell, BSC

Pastor Davis Hooper was clearly happy the evening of July 12 as several hundred Baptists from churches around Macon County gathered at his Coweeta Baptist Church for Macon Baptist Association’s summer meeting.

The visitors nodded in approval at the just-completed, sparkling new fellowship hall/sanctuary which cost nearly $1.5 million, a huge project by any definition in Otto, a community laid across the rolling hills south of Franklin.

It was also a big project for Coweeta, a lively congregation of just under 400 members. But here’s the good news about that building: Coweeta members managed to pay down $500,000 in cash and finance the rest of the construction cost in a six-year project — all without reducing their missions giving through the Cooperative Program.

“We actually have increased our Cooperative Program giving,” said Hooper. Coweeta contributed 10.7 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program in 2010.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell

Davis Hooper, pastor of Coweeta Baptist Church in Otto, with the new $1.5-million sanctuary/fellowship hall complex behind him. Even while building, Coweeta members continued to give strongly to the Cooperative Program.

“Our church believes in being cooperative with the Cooperative Program because we have a mind for missions and evangelism,” said Hooper.

“We love to go on mission trips. We love to do evangelism,” he said. In 2008 Hooper led a Coweeta team to Scranton, Pa., to renovate a building for a new Baptist church plant, for example, and they plan to work on tornado damage in Georgia this year.

“But we realize that since we’re a small church, we have our limitations. We cannot go and help a child in Thomasville who is without a sufficient home life. We cannot help with so many of the inner-city churches that need to be started,” he said.

“However, we can give of our means through the Cooperative Program and in doing that, not only can we help hurting children and families through the Baptist Children’s Homes, we can also help start churches across our state. We can help start churches all across North America through the North American Mission Board, and through partnerships with different conventions,” he explained.

“We’re helping start churches in North Africa and in Muslim countries where we would never have an opportunity to go. We feel it’s important to go when we can; it’s also important to give of our financial resources to help send people to those places we cannot go ourselves.

“We can pool our resources with people from all over our state and all over the Southern Baptist Convention to do these things through the Cooperative Program.

“It’s one of the greatest tools we have to fulfill the Great Commission in taking the gospel both at home and to the ends of the world,” Hooper said.
9/9/2011 7:09:00 AM by Mike Creswell, BSC | with 0 comments

Volunteer Dies in Haiti

September 8 2011 by BSC Communications

A member of a North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) medical missions team died Sept. 7 while serving in Haiti.

Denise Clemmer of Forest City was in Haiti with other members from her church, Florence Baptist Church in Forest City, as part of NCBM’s continued ministry following the devastating earthquake of January 2010.  The exact cause of death has yet to be determined by health officials in Haiti, but it does not appear that her death was related to the activities of the mission team.

“N.C. Baptist Men express deep sorrow for the passing of Denise, and we ask North Carolina Baptists to pray for her family, the other members of the team, and their congregation as they grieve the loss of their loved one,” said Gaylon Moss, volunteerism coordinator for NCBM.
9/8/2011 8:45:00 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments

All SBC annuals now searchable online

September 8 2011 by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – SBC annuals dating to 1845 now are available online in a searchable PDF format following a joint digitization project by the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives and Baylor University Central Libraries.

The 154 volumes represent a valuable resource for both scholarly research and personal information, said Bill Sumners, director of the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives.

“The SBC annual is a basic document for Southern Baptist history. All the major events that have happened within the convention are documented in the annuals,” Sumners said.

The annuals are a key source for students engaged in dissertation research as well as people who, for example, might want to learn about an ancestor who was a Baptist minister years ago.

Sumners said the annuals also might be accessed in looking for an answer to questions like, “How have Southern Baptists addressed issues like the social gospel?” or “What kind of work was the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) doing in Appalachia or among immigrants?”

Not only are the SBC annuals valuable as a record of the history and actions of the Southern Baptist Convention, but the early years contain the texts of speeches and sermons as well as useful statistics, said Kathy Robinson Hillman, director of special collections for Baylor University Central Libraries.

“Some of the earlier issues, particularly those from the 1800s, have limited availability even in the United States,” Hillman said. “Reports by boards, agencies and seminaries document shifts in focus and expansion of missions and education in the convention. Certainly, anyone studying American religion or Baptists in the United States will be able to utilize these documents in their research.”

The annual publication records business actions taken during convention gatherings, including entity reports, pertinent statistics, state convention information, and lists of staff, trustees and committees, according to the SBHLA website. A minister list appearing at the end of certain annuals includes pastors, ministers of education, ministers of youth, associate ministers, mission pastors, ordained ministers, chaplains, and evangelists.

The partnership project with Baylor began in June 2010, after the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives concluded a two-year project of scanning archived Baptist Press articles dating between 1948 and 1996, Sumners said. The actual scanning of the annuals, funded by Baylor, started in August 2010. The Executive Committee provided funding to make the results searchable and to post them on the Internet in July 2011.

Conducting the project in partnership with Baylor was crucial because scanning the 75,366 pages of material would have been “a bit overwhelming” for an organization with a small staff like his, Sumners said.

“It was a very cooperative endeavor. Baylor had excellent scanning equipment we did not have. They offered to do all the scanning and enter the metadata and get them ready to load onto the website,” Sumners said. “We provided some of the annuals from our collection and Baylor provided the others. We worked with the Executive Committee to get permissions to do the scanning and put them up on the website. Hopefully people who use it will be pleased.”

Hillman agreed: “The Baylor University Libraries are pleased to have cooperated in the SBC annuals digitization project. Partnering made possible what would have been a difficult process for either Baylor or the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives.”

To access the files, visit and click on Collections to find “SBC Annuals” on the list. The archives can be searched using names, keywords or phrases. The files are indexed through Google Search and can be located through that search utility as well.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark Kelly is senior writer and an assistant editor for Baptist Press.)
9/8/2011 8:40:00 AM by Mark Kelly, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Chinese church still defies Beijing

September 8 2011 by Sarah Page, Compass Direct News

BEIJING – On Aug. 28, five members of a house church in Fangshan, China, woke at 4 a.m. and traveled for two hours to a public square in Beijing in order to worship with members of the embattled Beijing Shouwang house church.

On their arrival at 7 a.m., waiting police sent the five back to their local police station, according to a report posted on Shouwang’s Facebook page. Officials then urged them to sign documents repenting of their decision to support the Shouwang church. All five refused but were eventually released.

The Fangshan five are part of a growing wave of house church Christians determined – despite the consequences – to support Shouwang Church in its five-month-long stand for greater religious freedom.

Shouwang members have attempted to meet in the outdoor venue every Sunday since April 11, after government officials repeatedly denied them access to a permanent worship place. Church leaders prayerfully decided on this course of action as a means of forcing the government to resolve their dilemma.

More than 600 arrests have been made over the last 22 weeks, including 15 on Aug. 28 and 12 arrests on Sept. 4. Police arrest the Christians before the service even starts and typically free them within 24 hours.

China’s Domestic Security Protection Squad maintains constant surveillance outside the homes of senior church leaders, while police camp outside the doors of other church members from Saturday night until noon Sunday, when service times are technically over, according to China Aid.

“If those national security staff who persecuted believers assume that they can force Christians to give up by increasing the level of persecution ... they are destined to be disappointed,” Shouwang’s leaders wrote in August. “Because our brothers and sisters, though have difficulties, are not overwhelmed by these persecutions.... (I)f it is God’s will for us to face such difficulties, many believers are willing to suffer for our Lord.”

On Aug. 14, police detained some 16 worshippers at the square. Among them was Wang Shuanyan of Beijing’s Xinshu house church.

In a letter written after her release on Aug. 16 and smuggled out of China, Wang described how police detained her at 7 a.m. and took her to the Zhongguancun Boulevard police station. The previous Sunday, a police officer had threatened to lock her up for 48 hours if she persisted in coming to the worship site; this time Wang came prepared with a sleeping bag.

Throughout her detention, Shouwang church members, including the wife of senior pastor Jin Tianming, took turns waiting outside the police station for her release.

Wang described how she wrestled with her natural inclination to obey orders and her conviction that “the things (the officers) have done are violations of the law.”

“I believe deeply that all things considered ... Shouwang’s outdoor worship, done (at) this time and this way, is right,” she wrote.

By the time fellow Xinshu church members convinced officers to allow Wang snacks and bottled water, Wang had decided to go on a hunger strike.

“Was I fasting or on a hunger strike?” she wrote. “To me it was both. To God I prayed earnestly. To the relevant authorities I was protesting against the repeatedly occurring violence.”

Some China watchers believe the government has shown relative toleration and restraint towards Shouwang’s outdoor worship. But “this can only be true in comparison to extreme violence,” Wang countered in her letter. “We are now used to unrighteous and illegal behavior.”

Wang was one of 17 house church leaders who signed and submitted a groundbreaking petition to the National People’s Congress (NPC) on May 10, calling for a complete overhaul of China’s religious policy.

Police on May 31 detained another signatory, Shi Enhao, pastor of Suqian house church in Jiangsu Province and deputy chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA), in a church raid. In late July he was sentenced – without trial – to two years in a labor camp for “illegal meetings and illegal organizing of venues for religious meetings.”

Police have since ordered Shi’s church members to stop meeting and have confiscated musical instruments, choir robes and donations, according to China Aid.

Zhang Mingxuan, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, said he previously had taught church members to abide by the law and respect the government but in return had been deprived of many rights, including the right to a passport. Many others shared his fate, Zhang said, such as house church pastor Zhang Tieling of Fan County, Henan Province. Officials recently sealed Zhang Tieling’s house with bricks and knocked his wife to the floor, leaving her in the hospital with a brain injury.

“This is the so-called religious freedom and harmony of China,” Zhang Mingxuan declared.

In a letter to the Chinese president, Mingxuan concluded, “In the past 26 years I have been arrested, beaten and placed under house arrest 42 times just because I speak the truth. Even if you misunderstand me or even kill me or imprison me, I still have to tell you the truth in this letter.... As long as (it means) Christians can freely worship God, I don’t mind dying for this cause.”

It seems many other Chinese Christians are fast forming the same opinion.

While the Chinese government claims freedom of religion through approved bodies such as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, many Protestant and Catholic churches prefer to worship independently, rejecting government censorship and theological interference – and paying the price. House church pastor Zhang Rongliang – who has been detained five times and served a total of 12 years in prison – was released Aug. 31 from a Kaifeng prison after being detained since 2004. He was convicted on ambiguous charges in 2007 and has languished in prison while suffering chronic diseases and a stroke in 2007.

Experts estimate there are anywhere between 60 and 130 million people attending unregistered Protestant churches in China, compared with just 23 million attending Three-Self Patriotic Movement churches. During the past decade of relative openness, many of these unregistered churches have come “above ground” to meet in large numbers in public spaces – highlighting the inadequacy of current religious policies and creating a government backlash often targeting church leaders.

More than 160 people were arrested at the first outdoor meeting of Shouwang Church. The following shows the approximate arrests from the subsequent weeks: Week 2 (50 arrests), Week 3 (40), Week 4 (30), Week 5 (13), Week 6 (20), Week 7 (25), Week 8 (20), Week 9 (20), Week 10 (14), Week 11 (14), Week 12 (15), Week 13 (19), Week 14 (26), Week 15 (22), Week 16 (35), Week 17 (22), Week 18 (11), Week 19 (16), Week 20 (7), Week 21 (15), Week 22 (12).

(EDITOR’S NOTE – With reporting by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)
9/8/2011 8:30:00 AM by Sarah Page, Compass Direct News | with 0 comments

Labor Day no holiday for Baptist volunteers

September 7 2011 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Labor Day was no picnic or holiday for dozens of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers and leaders involved in responses to flooding along the East Coast and in North Dakota and to raging wildfires across Texas.

And these SBDR responses to floods and fires were afoot even before Tropical Storm Lee dumped up to a foot of rain along the Gulf Coast areas of Louisiana and Mississippi and then moved northeast where it spawned tornadoes in Alabama and Georgia – damaging dozens of homes and causing flash floods in the Atlanta metro area. At least two people died and 16,000 customers are without power as a result of Lee, according to the Associated Press.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, Mike Flannery, state disaster relief director for the New York Baptist Convention and a director of missions in Buffalo, reported recovery work will be a crucial need in upper-state New York and north New Jersey, where water levels are receding but are not yet low enough to insert mud-out units.

“We are desperate for mud-out units,” said Flannery, who cited a minimum need for six mud-out teams from other state Baptist conventions.

Flannery also is having to run an educational initiative to train inexperienced New York flood victims who don’t know they must gut their homes down to the framing and do mold and mildew removal before re-occupying their houses.

Flannery is coordinating three feeding operations – two in Washingtonville, N.Y., run by New York and Mississippi Baptists, and a second at Trinity Baptist Church (SBC) in Schenectady, run by 40 feeding volunteers from Kentucky. The Schenectady operation – currently preparing 6,500 daily meals – has the capacity to churn out 15,000 meals a day.

BSC photo by Mike Creswell

Mary Beth Buchanan, left, a member of Shady Grove Baptist Church in Cherryville, and Millard Brasington, right, a member of Peninsula Baptist Church in Mooresville, clean an insulated food container Aug. 31. Volunteers from several states worked Labor Day to help those in need.

“Please tell Southern Baptists to keep us in prayer,” Flannery said. “In times of crisis, people point their eyes and ears to the Lord.” Flannery said the New York flooding is the worst, most pervasive disaster in his five years in disaster relief in the state.

SBDR volunteers from 25 of the 42 state conventions are assisting in many other disaster relief responses in the 11 states pounded by Hurricane Irene, including feeding units in North Carolina and Virginia.

In North Carolina – where Irene struck its eastern coast and 42 counties have been declared disaster areas – SBDR has fielded more than 1,200 job requests for mud-out and chainsaw work and completed about 600, reported Gaylon Moss, state DR director for the Baptist Convention of North Carolina.

“In North Carolina, four have accepted Jesus as Savior, more than 1,200 volunteer days have been recorded and about 88,000 hot meals have been prepared,” Moss said. SBDR units from seven state conventions have responded at 13 separate sites across North Carolina.

Mark Madison of the Baptist Convention of New England said the needs are widespread in that region.

“We’re focusing on four locations in southern Vermont and in Montpelier. We have 100 jobs assessed and ready to work. We really need 12 more mud-out teams as well as chaplain/assessment teams to make an impact,” Madison said.

In all, after Hurricane Irene, 375 chainsaw and mud-out jobs have been completed; 13 people have made decisions for Christ through 725 Gospel presentations and ministry/chaplain contacts; and nearly 2,800 showers and laundry loads have been provided. To date, SBDR units have prepared nearly 268,000 meals for Irene’s victims, volunteers and responders.

Bruce Poss, disaster relief coordinator for the North American Mission Board, supports Madison, Flannery and others in their desperate pleas for mud-out teams from other parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of needs and we are spread very thin,” Poss said. “We have opportunities and needs for more volunteers in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, North Carolina and Texas. We appreciate the many states that have sent teams but the needs are still there.”

Poss said mud-out and feeding continues in Minot, N.D., where 66 salvations have been documented and 123,000 meals delivered over the last eight weeks.

“We still need to show a strong presence in Minot, although a lot of that will start closing down in mid-September and all of it will be shut down by the end of the month.”

Not to be overshadowed by Hurricane Irene is an impending major disaster relief response by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Texas Baptist Men in drought-plagued Texas, where 60 wildfires across 100,000 acres throughout the state have destroyed 1,000 Texas homes.

“There are fires all over Texas – around Houston, Austin, Corsicana, Mineral Wells and other locations,” said Jim Richardson, SBTC disaster relief director in Grapevine, Texas. “We’ve served some 5,000 meals to firefighters at Palo Pinto near Mineral Wells and are waiting on word on where to go next.”

At least 5,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in Bastrop County near Austin, and 400 are in emergency shelters. About 500 homes were lost in Bastrop County alone, he said.

After feeding operations, Richardson said “ash-out” recovery operations will start in areas where homes have burned down, helping residents find any last belongings and cleaning off slabs where nothing else is left.

Dick Talley, executive director for TBM’s disaster relief team in Dallas, said 50 of TBM’s Tarrant County feeding volunteers are running a 24-hour-a-day feeding effort for firefighters in Bastrop and providing shower units at Bastrop High School.

“These fires have been going all year long because of the bad drought in Texas,” Talley said. “And we didn’t get a single drop of rain from last weekend’s tropical storm (Lee).”

Despite the wildfires in the Lone Star State, Talley said TBM is sending two more assessment teams to Vermont, teams to North Carolina and an incident commander to Vermont.

“Just because we have these fires in Texas, that doesn’t stop us from serving all over the country,” Talley said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.)

Related story
Vt. in ‘desperate need ’ of mud-out help
9/7/2011 8:59:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Vt. in ‘desperate need’ of mud-out help

September 7 2011 by John Evans, Baptist Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. – As Southern Baptists ramp up recovery efforts in flood-stricken Vermont, an avalanche of requests for assistance is overwhelming available resources.

“We’re in desperate need of some mud-out teams,” said Bruce James, evangelism and men’s ministry director of the Baptist Convention of New England (BCNE).

Said Jim Wideman, BCNE executive director, “There have been 600 requests for mud-out (work), and I don’t know that we’re going to be able to fulfill all of those. We just don’t have the personnel.”

Flood damage in Wilmington, Vt., paralleling the challenge throughout the state, underscores the need for mud-out volunteers being voiced by the Baptist Convention of New England.

One hundred mud-out requests have already been assessed and approved for work, said James, who serves as the convention’s disaster relief director. Four mud-out teams from South Carolina and California are on their way, but James estimated they can only do about 25 jobs total. He said the need for relief work in other states is stretching Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) resources.

“We’re spread thin right now, Southern Baptists are, and we thank God for the help that’s coming, but that’s a lot of the reason (we haven’t had more teams coming),” he said.

In the meantime, James said, local churches are stepping up to the plate with their own volunteers, some of whom are working in mud-out teams led by SBDR crew leaders. Four chaplains are needed immediately to minister with mud-out teams as they work in communities, he said.

SBDR currently has two incident command centers in Vermont, one at Resurrection Baptist Church in Montpelier and another at Capstone Baptist Church in North Bennington. Assessors are still on the ground, and SBDR is working with area church planters to help with disaster recovery and improve the church planters’ contacts with people in their communities.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I’ve been up here,” James said, “New Englanders ... value things that add worth to their community and their way of life, and when they see a Southern Baptist team that’s come from a long ways off or the next state over, and they see them giving their time to help their community, they don’t forget that.”

Vermont will need longer-term recovery help, he said, with people needing to replace their furniture and have construction work done. Funds are being set aside for local churches and church planters to continue recovery in places where relief work is finished.

“It just keeps the process going,” James said. “So there will be lots of ministry opportunities for churches that want to follow up. There are some real relationships that get built out of this and can have a Kingdom impact.”

James asked for prayers that God will continue to open the hearts of people in Vermont to the Gospel, and that God will supply more workers for the effort.

“The fields up here are white unto harvest,” he said. “We just need laborers.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – John Evans is a writer based in Houston.)

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9/7/2011 8:53:00 AM by John Evans, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

‘All to Thee’ writer dies at 84

September 7 2011 by Benjamin Hawkins, SWBTS

FORT WORTH, Texas — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary honored distinguished alumnus and Southern Baptist hymn writer Richard D. “Dick” Baker during chapel, Sept. 7. Flags also flew at half-staff around the seminary campus in memory of Baker, 84, who passed away after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Sept. 5.

“Our sweet friend of many years and graduate of the school passed away this week,” Patterson told students. “We are so very grateful for the ministry of Dick Baker. He wrote an unbelievable number of songs. We have lost a great, great missionary and evangelist of song, and his songs always had such wonderful theological content.”

Patterson asked the seminary community to pray for Baker’s friends and family members as they mourn their loss. After Patterson spoke, the seminary family remembered Baker by singing his hymn, “All to Thee.” During this time of worship, H. Gerald Aultman, professor of music theory and Dick Baker Chair of Music Missions and Evangelism, played the organ.   The seminary inaugurated this chair in Baker’s honor in 2004.

Baker received his bachelor’s degree in sacred music from Southwestern Seminary in 1953. He met his wife Ann, who passed away in 2008, while he was a student at Southwestern.

They were married in 1951 and had two children, Paul and Lori. Before coming to Southwestern, Baker earned a degree from Baylor University in 1949, after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 2001 he received Southwestern Seminary’s L.R. Scarborough Award, and in 2005 the seminary named him a distinguished alumnus.

From 1978-1992, Baker served as minister of music at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and in years to follow traveled the globe as the church’s “Music Minister at Large.” In the early years of his ministry, Baker traveled around the world to lead concerts and crusades, often alongside his brother, the preacher B.O. Baker. In 1957, Billy Graham invited him to join his crusade in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

Baker published hundreds of hymns, including such classics as “All to Thee,” “Longing for Jesus,” “His Way Mine” and “Have you been to Calvary,” that Christians around the world have used in worship. Even in the last days of his life, Baker labored to share the gospel and write music, fulfilling his life verse:

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped. Joy rises in my heart and with my song I will praise Him” (Psalm 28:7).

A public celebration service will be held in Baker’s memory at Prestonwood Baptist Church at 2 p.m., Sept. 10.
9/7/2011 8:50:00 AM by Benjamin Hawkins, SWBTS | with 0 comments

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