September 2015

Dads use Gospel Project to disciple their sons

September 30 2015 by Bob Smietana, LifeWay Christian Resources

About once a month, a group of fathers and sons gather for barbecue, basketball and the Bible at the Charlotte-area Denver Baptist Church in North Carolina.

 
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Photo by Bob Leverone
Pastor Chris Griggs and his son Elijah read a Scripture passage during a Boys2Men father-son session at their North Carolina church.

The concerned fathers wanted to spend time helping their sons learn how to better follow Jesus, so they started meeting a few years ago.
 
They call themselves “Boys2Men.”
 
Their pastor Chris Griggs smiles at the name, as it brings back memories of the popular 1990s R&B group Boyz II Men. “I don’t think they know about the singing group,” he says.
 
The father-son gathering started at a time when the church didn’t have a full-time youth pastor. Some of the dads had volunteered to lead a youth weekend and came back realizing they wanted to be more involved in intentional discipleship.
 
Griggs, who attends the group with his 10-year-old son Elijah, says the dads who started the group felt their sons were learning Bible stories but not the overall story of the Bible. And they were looking for a way to talk about how the gospel interacts with everyday life.

 
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Photo by Bob Leverone
Scott Bisson (standing) leads the father-son discipleship group Boys2Men in Bible study discussion drawn from The Gospel Project curriculum.

To help them do that, Boys2Men leaders decided to have the group study lessons from The Gospel Project, a Bible study curriculum from LifeWay Christian Resources centered on how all of scripture gives testimony to Jesus Christ.
 
Each Boys2Men meeting, usually held on a Saturday, starts with a social time. The sons play football and basketball while the dads sit together and talk about the challenges of raising young men.
 
Then one father gives his testimony, followed by a discussion drawing from The Gospel Project as a springboard to get the conversation going.
 
“It’s not so much a lecture as it is, ‘Here’s the gospel – how does it apply to your situation in life?’“ Griggs says.
 
Kemp England, a police officer and one of the founders of Boys2Men, says the group has helped both the men and their sons grow.
 
“We want to help as many men as we can feel comfortable proclaiming the gospel,” England says.

 
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Photo by Bob Leverone
Christian Brown plays basketball with youth minister Michael Salanik as part of a Boys2Men session for fathers and sons.

During the meeting, each father and son has a chance to discuss how that week’s lesson applies in his own life.
 
For Griggs’ son, it’s about trying to apply the gospel at school, understanding his place in the world and learning how to make and keep good friends.
 
“For each kid it’s different,” Griggs says. “The struggles you face at 10 are much different from the ones you face at 15.”
 
Because of the success of Boys2Men, Denver Baptist is starting a fathers and daughters group – also using The Gospel Project.
 
“These dads,” Griggs says, “really want to invest in the lives of their kids.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is former senior writer for Facts & Trends, where this article first appeared. Facts & Trends is published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

9/30/2015 11:48:23 AM by Bob Smietana, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



Requirements loosened for Virginia abortion facilities

September 30 2015 by Courtney Crandell, WORLD News Service

Virginia’s State Board of Health voted Sept. 17 to weaken abortion facility regulations instituted four years ago. The move sends the state on a trajectory opposite that of others that are responding to allegations of illegal activity in undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress.
 
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe promised to be a “brick wall” for abortion rights during his campaign and has systematically replaced members of the Virginia board with abortion supporters. Eight of the 15 board members are McAuliffe appointees.

 
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Gov. Terry McAuliffe

The pro-abortion amendments to the regulations passed by a 9-6 vote. Pro-life board members introduced amendments that would have strengthened the regulations, but none passed.
 
“Today’s vote is an enormous step forward in the fight to get extreme politics out of decisions that should be between women and their doctors,” McAuliffe said about the Sept. 17 vote. “I applaud the Board of Health for ending this disturbing chapter in our history and for heeding the advice of experts, medical professionals, and Virginia women about the best way to provide safe access to health care.”
 
The amendment exempts 17 abortion facilities from the hospital building standards requirement. State Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion earlier this year stating the standards didn’t apply to facilities that existed when the regulation passed. The regulations addressed building and equipment standards, sanitation, and staff training.
 
Other weakened regulations included guidelines on anesthesia, a post-abortion counseling requirement, sexually transmitted disease screenings and emergency transfer agreements with hospitals.
 
Two of Virginia’s abortion facilities closed after the regulations passed in 2011, leaving the current 17 facilities. Abortion advocates claim the regulations were intended to shut down facilities, but pro-lifers maintain the rules protect women.
 
“The nearly $2 million given to Gov. McAuliffe’s campaign by the abortion industry bought the majority vote of the Virginia Board of Health,” said Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation. “This board eliminated very critical components to protecting the women of Virginia.”
 
While Virginia is rolling back abortion facility regulations, other states are taking a closer look at abortion facility practices in response to the Center for Medical Progress’s undercover videos.
 
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott initiated an investigation into the state’s Planned Parenthood facilities in July. Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered three abortion facilities to stop performing second-trimester abortions after a July investigation found they lacked the proper licenses. In September, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control suspended the licenses of two facilities for a variety of violations including improper disposal of fetal remains. Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and New Hampshire have revoked Planned Parenthood funding.
 
Virginia’s deregulation amendments won’t take effect immediately. They will undergo another public comment period, review by McAuliffe and Herring, and a final board vote, a process that could take months.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Courtney Crandell writes for WORLD News Service, an affiliate of WORLD Magazine at worldmag.com. Used by permission.)

9/30/2015 11:42:48 AM by Courtney Crandell, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



WMU trains job corps leaders, issues awards

September 30 2015 by WMU staff

The National Woman’s Missionary Union in Birmingham, Ala., hosted 2015 training for more than 160 coordinators and leaders of its Christian job corps ministry sites.
 
The Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) and Christian Men’s Job Corps (CMJC) national training offered sessions on topics including leadership styles, workforce development, conflict resolution and working with those in poverty.
 
Seminars and round-table discussion focused on fund-raising basics, nonprofit issues, participant recruitment, volunteer training, curriculum evaluation, effective mentoring, leadership essentials and other specific issues related to the job corps ministry.
 
Seasoned coordinators and leaders lent their expertise by teaching practical skills lessons. Eva De La Rosa, executive director of California WMU and founder of California’s first CWJC site, reminded attendees of their usefulness as she taught a skill development session.
 
“In our ministry, people are our focus,” De La Rosa said. “Why we’re drawn to this is because we love people. We’re moving people where they are to where God wants them to be.”
 
This event also targeted those with specific skill sets. Leaders of CMJC followed a special track of conferences focused on ministering to men, while CWJC/CMJC trainers were offered recertification courses.

 
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Xzondra Boyd of WMU’s Christian Women’s Job Corps of Middle Tennessee received the Sybil Bentley Dove Award, given annually to an outstanding CWJC participant and accompanied by a $2,000 grant.

Attendees work at the 174 CWJC/CMJC job sites in the U.S., which offer training in life skills, job skills, mentoring and Bible study in a missions context, with women helping women and men helping men.
 
Lena Plunk, CWJC/CMJC coordinator, said the job corps ministry addresses the participant’s whole self, including physical and spiritual components.
 
“Christ is the foundation of what CWJC/CMJC is. That makes it different than other job programs,” Plunk said. “Our goal is not just to prepare participants for jobs; we want them to see the freedom and wholeness they can have through Jesus Christ.”
 
The CWJC/CMJC sites have helped men and women improve their lives, National WMU Executive Director Wanda Lee said, adding that training events such as the Aug. 5-7 Birmingham gathering are essential.
 
“One of the joys of serving is seeing lives changed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the relationships that develop through ministries such as these to encourage and help those who are seeking to improve their lives,” Lee said. “But this kind of work requires an ongoing infusion of encouragement and learning as the needs of people, and the possibilities of assistance, change every day.”
 
For Letha Pidlaoan of CWJC of Greater Columbus, Ga., the national event afforded her an opportunity for certification in coaching techniques as a CWJC trainer. She also spent time collaborating with other site leaders from across the nation.
 
“We can reconnect, reflect, refresh and share experiences with one another,” Pidlaoan said. “It’s an opportunity to receive advice on areas that are challenging.”
 
One challenge many site coordinators face is how to minister to those coping with traumatic experiences. Specific seminars focused on the concepts of post-traumatic stress disorder and highlighted ministry tools and practical response ideas such as Bible storying.
 
Sara Hester, a board-certified chaplain at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, spoke at the general session about the issues victims of trauma face.
 
“Feeling that you have something to contribute, can contribute and are worthy to contribute are just some of the things that trauma victims may struggle with,” Hester said.
 
By pointing out the effects of trauma, Hester helped site coordinators and leaders identify ways to respond to their participants’ needs.
 
“Never underestimate the value of listening,” Hester said. “Listen to people’s stories. … Listen to people’s pain. … Listen to their hope.”
 
As site coordinators learned how to overcome obstacles, the WMU Foundation encouraged the leaders’ continued efforts and commended those who have made an exceptional impact in their site and community this year. David George, president of the WMU Foundation, recognized winners of the CWJC awards.
 

Sybil Bentley Dove Award

Xzondra Boyd of CWJC of Middle Tennessee received the Sybil Bentley Dove Award, given annually to an outstanding CWJC participant and accompanied by a $2,000 grant. Through her time at CWJC, Boyd has obtained a GED, graduated from CWJC’s computer and job skills training program, secured a full-time job and enrolled in college to earn a degree in social work.
 
Boyd said her life changed through CWJC.
 
“Now I go after my goals and know I will accomplish them. No matter what the circumstances are, I have the self-esteem that I can do it,” she said. “I have learned that you have to pray and trust God and have faith in Him. Before joining CWJC I didn’t even know how to pray. Now I pray every day. My children have also learned to pray and have learned about God.”
 
Tracey Gholson, program director of CWJC of Middle Tennessee, said throughout Boyd’s four years of involvement with CWJC she has developed as a student, mom and follower of Christ.
 
“Xzondra is a single mother of two children, one with autism, but she strives to keep a positive attitude through it all,” Gholson said. “One of her goals is to make her children proud. I can say she has already done that and will continue to do so as she moves forward.”
 

CWJC site award

The WMU Foundation recognized Hands UP Outreach of Rankin County, Miss., as the recipient of the CWJC site award and a $2,500 grant to help fund a project or special need.
 
The site will use the grant to provide access to a GED training program, allowing students to study for the test and increase their scores. Hands UP participants pass their GED tests around 75 percent of the time, and the grant makes it possible for participants to complete online study programs.
 
“Many of our participants are ex-offenders, so getting a GED is mandated by some judges,” said Mary Callahan, Hands UP site coordinator.
 
Hands UP also offers computer classes, parenting classes, life-skills training, support groups, Bible studies and mentoring.
 
Allen Stephens, Rankin County’s associational director of missions, stressed how important the ministry is in Mississippi.
 
“Many Mississippians need a diploma or GED to go on to college or to get a good job,” he said. “This ministry is committed to restoring the whole person.”
 

Dove scholarships

The WMU Foundation awarded $1,000 Dove education scholarships to Ashley Benningfield of New London, Texas and Christine Shaffer of Fort Smith, Ark.
 
While spending a year in a transitional shelter, Benningfield graduated from both the shelter’s program as well as the CWJC of Rusk County. Today she is an honor student in her sophomore year of college, with plans to complete a four-year degree with a double major in human resources and social science. Benningfield lives in New London, Texas, where she is active in London Baptist Church and is continuing her mentoring relationship with her CWJC mentor.
 
“As I look back on my life, it’s like I don’t even know that old person,” Benningfield said. “My heart’s desire is to spend the rest of my life focusing on parenting, becoming a godly woman, and giving back to the ministries that have given me so much. May mine be a story of hope!”
 
Shaffer is a graduate of the CWJC program at River Valley Christian Life Corps. Her road to success included many challenges, including an accident in which a dump truck destroyed part of her home, leaving her, her husband and four children living in a small hotel room for several months.
 
Shaffer is enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in marriage and family counseling, and mental health. She is already helping other women by volunteering as a mentor at the same CWJC site where she graduated.
 
“It is my hope that I will be able to give the same kind of love and friendship that I have gained from CWJC to other women,” Shaffer said. “Most of all I want them to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
 

New training program

The national event followed the July 1 launch of Develop, WMU’s online, on-demand leadership training program, which features an introductory course on CWJC/CMJC for future site coordinators. This course serves as an entryway for those desiring to take the next step of involvement.
 
In addition, WMU is offering training for site coordinators seeking Level 1 and Level 2 certification. The training will be held at Mills Home Baptist Children’s Home in Thomasville, N.C., Sept. 28–Oct. 2.
 
For more information on how to become involved in CWJC/CMJC, visit wmu.com/jobcorps.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press general assignment writer/ editor, with reporting by WMU Corporate Communications Team Leader Julie Walters, WMU Adult Resource Team copy editor Cara Brown, and WMU Foundation marketing director Candice Lee.)

9/30/2015 11:36:25 AM by WMU staff | with 0 comments



Multicultural church plant grows in Lansing

September 30 2015 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

The American way of life has progressed in many ways over the years: from horseback to automobile; from outhouse to indoor plumbing; and from slavery to the election of a black president.
 
While unity between blacks and whites has proven to be successful at work, in schools, in restaurants and at drinking fountains, in most cases the local church has failed to demonstrate that kind of unity.
 
Kingdom Life Church in Lansing, Mich., gathers blacks and whites into one united congregation and exemplifies not only what can be done in race relations but also how it can be done.

 
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Kingdom Life Church Photo
Members of Kingdom Life Church gather at a local high school basketball game.

“We are attempting to practice here on earth what we will do for eternity in heaven, worshipping our God together,” said church planting pastor Coye Bouyer.
 
Kingdom Life Church’s story began in 2008, when Bouyer, 28, and his wife Keturah started a new church in their hometown of Lansing. The first person asked to join them was a childhood friend, Jason Baley, who happened to be white. Baley today is a pastoral intern at the church.
 
Further assistance for their church plant came from Bob Carpenter, pastor for 30 years of Cedar Street Church in Holt, Mich., a Lansing suburb. The two men had met at a fitness center.
 
“He was outgoing, personable, friendly and kind to everyone; he was immediately likable,” said Carpenter, who in time suggested Bouyer let Cedar Street assist in their church plant.
 
When the Kingdom Life Bible study outgrew the music room of the elementary school they were meeting in, Carpenter arranged for the group – including some Cedar Street members – to meet in the fellowship hall of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lansing.
 
Immanuel Baptist watched as the Kingdom Life congregation swelled to more than 60 over the next 12 months. At about the same rate, the Immanuel congregation deflated to the point that the then-interim pastor, Chuck Turner, suggested a merger with the new church.
 
Immanuel, started in the early 1960s, was about 90 percent white. The members’ average age was 60; they had lived in the community for 50-plus years.
 
“A couple of people wanted us to become Immanuel,” Bouyer said. “But the majority of these older people said, ‘Let’s do this; let’s become Kingdom Life.’”

 
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Kingdom Life Church Photo
Kingdom Life Church

Immanuel members paid off the church debt, had a debt-burning service, and then officially joined Kingdom Life – including one remaining charter member.
 
“They gave us the building and parsonage, both paid off, took on our name, and me as their pastor,” Bouyer said. “To show just how serious they were they came to our new members’ class. They were excited the church was growing again.”
 
Immanuel members did have to get used to sermons that lasted closer to an hour, rather than the 20 minutes they were accustomed to, the pastor added with a grin.
 
In order to help with this transition, Bouyer encouraged Turner to remain as the assistant pastor, which he did for two years. “If a church wants to remain diverse, its leadership must be diverse,” Bouyer said.
 
Part of the reason blacks and whites usually aren’t part of the same church is because the two groups worship differently, based on their group’s experiences in America, the pastor said.
 
“The white church often expresses how great God is, because they have a sense of accomplishment and victory in this life,” Bouyer explained. “In the black church, our experience is about how good God is because He has brought us through very difficult and challenging times.
 
“While the black experience in America may not have been as prosperous or as safe as the white experience, both experiences are true, and there is something we can learn about God from the others’ experience,” the pastor said. “This will not only help to benefit our individual relationships with the Lord, but it also helps to bring us into a better relationship with one another.”
 
About 140 people participate in Sunday morning worship at Kingdom Life: 50 to 60 who are black, 50 to 60 who are white, and 10 to 20 who are Hispanic. The members reach out locally with a variety of ministries, and globally through their giving through the Cooperative Program.
 
“We support the Cooperative Program because we want to, because with it we can reinvest what was invested in us, because it’s all about the Kingdom,” Bouyer said. “How do we branch out to all the places in our country and the world, since I can’t be in all those places, even with the Internet? ... Giving to the Cooperative Program is a tangible way for us to invest in the gospel so – praise God – I can focus on the sheep God has called me to undershepherd.”
 
His desire from day one was to pastor a truly multicultural church, the pastor said.
 
“The visual impact of seeing a church made up of both blacks and whites who are here for the same goal is awesome,” Bouyer said. “The experience of worshipping alongside a brother or sister who does not walk around earth in the same color suit as I, is amazing. It serves as a continual reminder of the Awesome God we serve and the Amazing Grace we all have received!”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for SBC LIFE and is a member of First Baptist Church of Pleasant Grove, Utah. This story first appeared in in the fall issue of SBC LIFE.)

9/30/2015 11:29:58 AM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Reformation distinctives addressed by scholars

September 30 2015 by Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS Communications

While Pope Francis visited the United States for the first time, leading evangelical scholars defended the “Five Solas,” central themes of the Reformation, at the 2015 Theology Conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).
 
With the approaching 500th anniversary in 2017 of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, the signature moment of the Protestant Reformation, speakers at the conference emphasized the distinctiveness of the Reformed tradition from the Roman Catholic tradition.
 
“[A] Reformation understanding of grace sees God’s presence to people as mediated through the Word of God – especially the Word of God preached,” said Carl Trueman, professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pa., during the Sept. 24-25 conference. “It’s the Word of God – not the sacraments, as in Medieval Catholicism – which was the primary means of God dealing graciously with His people.”

 
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SBTS photos by Emil Handke
Stephen J. Wellum, professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary, lectures during Southern Seminary's Theology Conference, held Sept. 24-25.

Trueman, a prolific church historian who has authored works on both Luther and the Reformation, including Reformation: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, also spoke at Southern Seminary chapel on Sept. 24.
 
In his conference presentation on the Reformation maxim “Sola Gratia”(“Grace Alone”), Trueman said the Reformation was for Luther a “mighty battle” over the nature of grace and a reenactment of fifth-century doctrinal debates within the church. The church itself, Trueman argued, is evidence of God’s powerful grace working to create His people.
 
“I’m convinced that a lot of mistaken thinking about the church today derives from the fact that people think the church is a response to God’s grace rather than an act of God’s grace,” he said.
 
Christian preaching was a primary means of communicating the grace of God during the Reformation, Trueman said. He used a shift in church architecture during the Reformation as an illustration of a shift in theology. While one’s eyes are drawn to the altar in a Catholic cathedral – placing the focus upon the Eucharist – a Protestant cathedral is designed with the pulpit as its centerpiece.
 
Just as the preaching of the Word was the center of the Reformation, so modern churches need to champion the pulpit as the place where God meets His people, he said.
 
“Preachers need to understand that what they do is to perform a theological action which requires care and earnestness because they handle the Word of God. … They bring the most important message of all to people’s ears,” Trueman said. “Nothing kills churches, I think, quicker than preachers who do not seem to understand what they’re actually doing.”
 
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at SBTS, discussed “Sola Fide”(“Faith Alone”) and its central role in the Reformation’s continuing legacy, both in New Testament studies and the life of the Protestant church. Schreiner’s presentation was based on his forthcoming book, Faith Alone – the Doctrine of Justification, which is the first in Zondervan’s “Five Solas” series. Each speaker is also contributing a book in the series.
 
Theologians throughout church history have wrestled with the tension between the two poles of New Testament teaching on faith and works: the reality of justification by grace through faith on one hand and the necessity of good works for ultimate salvation on the other. Despite claims that the Protestant slogan of “faith alone” is explicitly contradicted by James 2:24, Schreiner contended a fully biblical view recognizes works as the fruit of true faith. “Faith alone” itself requires good works for ultimate salvation.

 
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SBTS photos by Emil Handke
Carl Trueman, professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, lectures during the Theology Conference at Southern Seminary.

“What James rejects,” Schreiner said, “is a ‘saying’ faith, a claiming faith, where works are absent. It is this kind of faith that doesn’t save, for it is a faith marked by intellectual assent only.”
 
Early categories for what later became the Protestant doctrine of justification were not foreign to the church fathers, Schreiner argued.
 
Throughout church history, various debates – from the disagreement between Richard Baxter and John Owen regarding the precise relationship between faith and righteousness to recent discussions on the New Perspective on Paul – have demonstrated the ongoing importance of justification and the appropriate balance between faith and works in Protestant theology.
 
“It isn’t our faith that saves us, but the object of our faith that saves us,” Schreiner said. “Justification by faith alone doesn’t call attention to our faith but to Christ as the redeemer, reconciler, and savior.”
 
Despite recent attempts among evangelicals to find common ground with Catholics, including finding agreement in Augustine, Schreiner said the Catholic Church has moved too far away from Augustine’s teaching about grace for that approach to be helpful. When he is asked to speak with Protestants considering leaving evangelicalism for the Roman Catholic Church, Schreiner has most recently emphasized the importance of imputed righteousness, which Catholic theology does not offer.
 
“Justification by faith alone is important doctrinally, but it is vital pastorally,” he said. “We all will stand before God on the day of judgement, and what will we plead before Him? Will we plead our own righteousness and goodness?”
 
“You have many secret sins,” Schreiner would tell such a person. “Are you going to plead your own righteousness on the day of judgement?”
 
Stephen J. Wellum, professor of Christian theology at SBTS, presented on “Solus Christus” (“Christ Alone”). The legacy of the Reformation is rooted in its teaching about the person and work of Christ, Wellum said, and its Christological emphasis is different from that of the Catholic Church.
 
“‘Christ alone’ functions to argue against the sacramental view of Rome,” he said, which divorces the believer from Christ by requiring church mediation.
 
Wellum argued “Christ Alone” is built upon a biblical-theological foundation and requires a reading of scripture as a unified whole.
 
Tracing various relevant themes throughout the biblical storyline – from how the doctrine of God applies to Christ’s identity as the Divine Son to how the Adamic covenant applies to Christ’s incarnation – Wellum asserted the entire Bible points to the centrality of Jesus Christ.
 
“If we trace out the Bible’s entire storyline through the biblical covenants, on the Bible’s own terms, in the Bible’s own content, structures, and categories, the entire Bible teaches that Jesus is God the Son incarnate,” Wellum said. “He is in a unique category all by Himself and He has done everything necessary for our salvation. We can’t save ourselves; only He can do it.”
 
Also presenting at the conference were Matthew Barrett on “Sola Scriptura” (“Scripture Alone”) and David VanDrunen on “Soli Deo Gloria” (“God’s Glory Alone”). Barrett, an SBTS graduate, is associate professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University and editor of Zondervan’s “Five Solas” series and Credo Magazine, and VanDrunen is professor of systematic theology and Christian ethics at Westminster Theological Seminary California.
 
The Theology Conference is a biennial event sponsored by the Gheens lectureship. Audio and video from the conference will soon be available at sbts.edu/resources.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Andrew J.W. Smith writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

9/30/2015 11:18:12 AM by Andrew J.W. Smith, SBTS Communications | with 0 comments



ERLC panel: Planned Parenthood videos have helped

September 29 2015 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The shocking, undercover videos providing evidence of Planned Parenthood’s trade in baby body parts have produced some positive effects, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore and other pro-life leaders said in a Capitol Hill panel discussion.
 
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and his fellow pro-lifers addressed the sanctity of human life issue in light of the Planned Parenthood videos during the ERLC’s second Capitol Conversations event Sept. 23 in Washington. The inaugural Capitol Conversations, which was held in July, focused on same-sex marriage and religious liberty.
 
The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which released in mid-July the first of what are now 10 videos, showed in its undercover investigation Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs from aborted children. The videos, recorded secretly by hidden camera, also featured Planned Parenthood executives acknowledging their willingness to manipulate the abortion procedure to preserve organs for sale and use. They also offered evidence of the dissection of a living child outside the womb to procure an organ.
 
The videos have resulted in crystallization of the abortion issue, a “rejuvenated pro-life movement” and an opportunity for pro-lifers to discuss the controversial subject with those who disagree, Moore told the audience of about 110 people.
 
“I think what the videos have done is to put on the table what we are really talking about when we are talking about the issue of abortion,” he said. “We’re talking about not some amorphous, abstract question. We’re talking about something that harms vulnerable people, vulnerable women, vulnerable children.

 
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Photo by Latisha Willis
ERLC President Russell Moore (second from right) speaks about the Planned Parenthood videos during Capitol Conversations Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C. Also on the panel are (from left): Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life; Rep. Diane Black, R.-Tenn.; Mollie Hemingway, senior editor of The Federalist; Casey Mattox, senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom; and ERLC Executive Vice President Phillip Bethancourt.

“[E]ven more than ever, the pro-life movement is united and wanting to be actively engaged in these issues and to speak persuasively to people who don’t agree with us right now,” Moore said. Conversations among pro-life and pro-choice advocates are occurring on Facebook and at school bus stops as a result, he said.
 
Casey Mattox, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said the most encouraging result from the videos is “we have this middle group of people now who are at least open to the possibility that maybe there’s something” they need to know about Planned Parenthood.
 
“What these videos have done is soften the hearts of America, and people are able to hear that information anew and actually be interested in the truth,” he said.
 
As a result, the pro-life community has been able to “push out a lot of things that we’ve always known,” Maddox told the audience. Those newly learned truths that will last, he said, include: (1) Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms; and (2) hundreds of federally qualified health centers other than those affiliated with Planned Parenthood exist.
 
The reaction to the videos has been “really encouraging to me,” said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, “first to see that people have reacted in horror, but also I think it has been a tremendous moment for the pro-life movement,” producing unity and progress.
 
After more than 40 years of legalized abortion, “there has been a deadening of the American conscience,” she said. “And the only reason that abortion persists in our country is we willfully look away.”
 
Her longtime concern “has been the prospect of having something as horrific as the sale of human organs,” she said, adding “the only thing worse is the prospect of having Americans continue to look away from it.”
 
The release of the videos has encouraged Rep. Diane Black, R.-Tenn., as well.
 
When the videos began coming out, Black – a nurse for four decades – said she thought, “Finally, finally the American people are going to see the deception” foisted on young women for more than 40 years: “‘This is just a blob of tissue. This is not a baby.’ Well you don’t get a heart, a lung, a brain, a liver from a blob of tissue. That’s called a baby.
 
“This is our opportunity to finally have the American people to see the truth of what’s going on, and we can’t stop here,” Black told attendees. “We’ve got to continue to talk about this.”
 
Black is sponsor of the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, which the House of Representatives approved Sept. 18. Its chances in the Senate appear dim, and President Barack Obama has promised to veto it.
 
The Senate fell short in an attempt to approve a similar measure in August, when senators voted 53-46 to bring such a bill to the floor. While a majority of senators favored consideration of the proposal, the attempt to invoke cloture, as it is known, fell short of the 60 votes needed to begin debate on the legislation and establish a path to its passage.
 
The Defund Planned Parenthood Act would place a one-year moratorium on federal money for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates while Congress investigates the organization.
 
The Sept. 23 panel discussion took place one week before the end of the federal government’s fiscal year amid questions of whether there might be a government shutdown over funding Planned Parenthood.
 
“I don’t want to shut down the government. I want to shut down Planned Parenthood,” Black told the audience.
 
Eliminating Planned Parenthood from a continuing resolution would not be especially effective, Black said. The organization – the country’s leading abortion provider – only receives about 20 percent of its budget from discretionary funds, which is all a continuing resolution covers, she said.
 
“You’re not really defunding the organization by closing down the government over a continuing resolution,” Black said. Also, shutting down the government enables President Obama to decide what is necessary and what is unnecessary in spending, she said.
 
“I don’t think that helps our cause,” Black said.
 
She wants to get her bill to the president’s desk, she said, “because by putting it on the president’s desk, you show this president is in love with Planned Parenthood. He doesn’t care about life. He cares about Planned Parenthood.”
 
Four congressional committees are investigating Planned Parenthood. Among those is the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which will hear from Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards during a Sept. 29 hearing.
 
The mainstream news media “do not want to talk” about the Planned Parenthood video, said Mollie Hemingway, senior editor of The Federalist.
 
The media’s coverage has been marked by “reluctance, self-censorship, extreme delay,” as well as “wholesale adoption of Planned Parenthood’s talking points,” she told the audience. When Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina commented on the videos at the Sept. 16 debate, the media accused her of lying, Hemingway said.
 
The media see this as a story “that would make them question their own assumptions and their own biases,” she said.
 
It might require years for people to change their view on the abortion issue, Moore said. Pro-lifers need to provide a picture of what it will look like “to be in a world that is post-abortion,” he said. “What that is going to mean is not simply that we don’t have Planned Parenthood clinics but we have the sort of society that cares for vulnerable women, that cares for vulnerable children.”
 
Pro-life Christians can demonstrate that through adoption, foster care and welcoming pregnant women into their homes, Moore said. “Love is risky.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

Related Story:
Planned Parenthood by the numbers
 

9/29/2015 12:17:27 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Mississippi worship & dialogue bridge racial lines

September 29 2015 by William H. Perkins Jr., Mississippi Baptist Record

Baptists in Mississippi stepped to the fore in worship and dialogue across racial lines this summer.
 
First Baptist Church in Jackson hosted “Stronger Together – A Night of Unity” Aug. 25 to honor the witness of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., where a gunman killed the pastor and eight others at an evening Bible study in mid-June.

 
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Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.
Ronnie Floyd (left), president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, added their voices to the Stronger Together: A Night of Unity worship service in Jackson, Miss.

The Stronger Together service blended the voices of First Baptist’s Sanctuary Choir and the Mississippi Mass Choir and featured messages by Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and National Baptist Convention USA President Jerry Young.
 
In July, the first “Can We Talk?” Mississippi Black Church Leadership Conference was sponsored by the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board at the Jackson-area Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton.
 
The Stronger Together event in Jackson, which packed First Baptist’s auditorium, included an emphasis on Christian unity in Mississippi and America at a time of volatile racial tensions in many communities.
 
L. Lavon Gray, First Baptist’s minister of music, was a key organizer. “After the tragic church shootings in Charleston, the Lord impressed on my heart a desire for First Baptist Jackson to showcase the positive things taking place with race relations in the city of Jackson,” Gray said.
 
“Because of our longtime relationship with the Mississippi Mass Choir, I reached out to [choir executive director] Jerry Mannery about the possibility of conducting a joint night of worship featuring our combined choirs. As we began the collaborative process, we invited [Christian-based] Ballet Magnificat to join us in the presentation.”

 
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Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.

Christian leaders joined hands at the Can We Talk? Mississippi Black Church Leadership Conference in July.

Mannery agreed the timing was right for such an event.
 
“Amos 3:3 asks the rhetorical question, ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’” Mannery said. “As the body of Christ, the only thing we can absolutely agree upon is that Jesus is Lord. Stronger Together - A Night of Unity afforded us the opportunity to state and celebrate it loud and clear.”
 
Mannery said the worship service was “amazing on many levels – conceived and executed within four weeks with no budget, without rehearsals and with interdenominational approval. Indeed, nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
 
Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, declared in his message, “I say to Satan tonight, in the name of Jesus the Son of God, King of kings and Lord of lords, we stand against all racism in the United States and may Jesus put it to an end, to His honor and His glory, forever and ever … and I say enough is enough.”
 
Young, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, recounted reading a story about Mahatma Gandhi, who had attended church in South Africa. “After he left, there were a number of persons who asked him questions. Someone asked him, ‘Gandhi, why won’t you become a Christian?’ To which Gandhi replied, ‘I would become a Christian if I could just see one.’
 
“I would to God that Gandhi was here tonight,” Young said. “What a tremendous display of what it means to be a part of that ecclesia that called out crowds.”
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Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.
Baptists in Mississippi stepped to the fore in worship across racial lines this summer, filling the auditorium of First Baptist Church in Jackson for “Stronger Together – A Night of Unity.”

In attendance were Wayne Singleton, minister of music at Mother Emanuel Church, and his wife Myra who received a standing ovation when they came to the platform to speak.
 
“I am so overwhelmed of the love that has been shown to us since June 17,” Wayne Singleton said to the crowd. “There is no other place I would rather be than right here, right now. June 17 changed the lives of many, and we’re still working through it, but our faith has kept us strong. We have learned the power of forgiveness.”
 
Gray presented the Singletons with a mounted promotional poster of the event that had been signed by the members of the First Baptist choir and the Mississippi Mass Choir. They received another standing ovation as they returned to their seats.
 
Singleton told Mississippi Public Broadcasting after the service, “Right now, I’m just feeling really revived to know that this tragedy [in Charleston] has affected everyone across the nation. To see this community come together in unity says a lot. It sends a great message.”
 
Singleton, when he returned to Charleston, planned to “tell everybody what took place here, and let them know that everyone’s thinking about us and praying for us.”
 
(Streaming video of the two-hour event can be viewed at firstbaptistjackson.org/resources/media/media-library/stronger-together-a-night-of-unity.)

 
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Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.
Kevin Smith, teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., and assistant professor of preaching at Southern Seminary, was among the featured speakers at the Can We Talk? Conference sponsored by the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

The July 16-18 Can We Talk? conference drew 250 participants from across Mississippi and from Alabama and Tennessee.
 
“There were black and white, young adults and senior adults, Southern Baptists, National Baptists, United Methodists, Assembly of God and nondenominational participants,” said Chris McNairy, founder of Urban Fusion Network, who served as the conference’s facilitator.
 
Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB), noted, “For anyone who came to the conference, they left with their vision enlarged, their hearts uplifted and a better understanding of how much we need each other to reach our state and our world for Christ.”
 
David Michel, MBCB associate executive director for mission strategy who supervised planning for the conference, said, “Can We Talk? opened an often-neglected topic among church leaders regarding the racial segregation of Sunday morning worship times and suggested ways of collaborating together better in the future.
 
“One of the best results was the participation of influential black leaders from across Mississippi who are open to designing and implementing collaborative gospel initiatives in their communities,” Michel said.
 
“This was a first-time-ever conference of this type,” Futral said, “so in hindsight we see room for improvement. On the other hand, it would be virtually impossible to enlarge on the great efforts made by so many to make the conference successful, and I don’t know that it would be possible to have enlisted better conference speakers or leaders. The Lord used them and blessed all of us.”

 
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Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.
A panel at the Can We Talk? Conference discusses the status of race relations among Mississippi churches.

Among the featured speakers were T. Vaughn Walker, professor of Christian ministries and black church studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and senior pastor of First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville, and Kevin Smith, teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville and assistant professor of preaching at Southern Seminary.
 
The conference included 12 breakout sessions on topics ranging from cross-racial ministry and contextual evangelism to leadership development and stewardship.
 
McNairy said Can We Talk? encompassed “prayer, fellowship, new friendships, equipping, praise and worship and conversation around racial reconciliation, Gospel collaboration and missional disciple-making.
 
“It was the right thing to do – the God thing to do – at the right time to do it,” McNairy said.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – William H. Perkins Jr. is editor of The Baptist Record at mbcb.org/business-services/the-baptist-record, newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. Baptist Press editor Art Toalston contributed to this article.)

9/29/2015 11:56:48 AM by William H. Perkins Jr., Mississippi Baptist Record | with 0 comments



Dorothy Patterson women’s studies chair inaugurated

September 29 2015 by Southern Baptist TEXAN & Southwestern Seminary staff

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary inaugurated the Dorothy Kelley Patterson Chair of Women’s Studies during a Sept. 16 chapel service and installed assistant professor Candi Finch in the position.
 
The academic endowment was established to honor Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern’s president, Paige Patterson, and professor of theology in women’s studies at the seminary.
 
Southwestern Executive Vice President and Provost Craig Blaising described Dorothy Patterson’s most cherished roles as wife, mother and grandmother before recounting the contributions she has made toward recovering a biblical understanding of womanhood.

 
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Photo by Neil Williams
Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson installs Candi Finch as the Dorothy Kelley Patterson Chair of Women's Studies.

“As she was a supporting wife to Patterson and all he has done in theology, it became very apparent to her over the years that this issue of women’s studies, this issue of femininity and masculinity in our culture and society, is a critical issue in the churches and must be addressed. And the Lord put it upon her heart to do that,” Blaising said.
 
Patterson, along with her husband, were instrumental in establishing women’s studies programs at Southwestern and at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Paige Patterson was president until his election at Southwestern in 2003.
 
Dorothy Patterson was the only woman in the founding of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and has authored, coauthored and/or edited more than a dozen books, including The Study Bible for Women, which received Christian Retailing’s top award in 2015 for devotional/study Bibles; the Old and New Testament volumes of the Women’s Evangelical Commentary; and The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook.
 
She holds a doctor of ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary; doctor of theology from the University of South Africa; and master of theology degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
 
Paige Patterson preached a sermon from 1 Corinthians 11 during the chapel service, explaining that the biblical model of womanhood is not demeaning to women, as some have suggested. Just as Jesus is one in essence with the Father yet has a different assignment within the Godhead, Patterson said, women are equal in essence with men yet have been given different roles.
 
“The Bible is the very first book ever written to openly and fully declare the full equality of women with men,” Patterson said. “Don’t you believe what the press says, that ‘You evangelical Christians believe that women are subordinate to men in essence and that they simply ought to sit still, be quiet and say nothing.’
 
“… You read the history of evangelical Christianity, and wherever you find the gospel preached, you’ll find great women serving the Lord magnificently” though their “assignment is not the same,” Patterson said. He praised his wife for her desire to fulfill “the highest calling of wife and mother” while also strengthening her academic skills to counter the impact of secular feminism on churches.
 
Patterson said this academic chair “is unheard of – a chair in the school of theology devoted to women’s studies, teaching women so that we meet one of the greatest needs in the church today, [which is] to stop the fluff being taught out there with virtually no scriptural content. And that’s exactly what we’re doing: We’re rearing up a generation of women here who can handle the Word of God and become teachers of women.”

 
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Dorothy Patterson

Two of the chair’s benefactors, James E. and Dorothy M. Merritt, were present at the inauguration. James Merritt is a retired vice president of the Steel Heddle Manufacturing Company, and Dorothy is a retired vice president of operations at BB&T Bank. The Merritts became friends of the Pattersons during their service at Southeastern Seminary in North Carolina. The Merritts also have endowed a women’s studies scholarship at Southwestern and established a fund at Southeastern for a student in women’s studies.
 
Funding for the endowed chair also was provided through the estate of Charles and Doris Kelley, parents of Dorothy Patterson. Doris, who died in 2013, played a key role in teaching Patterson the significance of hospitality as a ministry.
 
Candi Finch studied under Dorothy Patterson during her time at Southeastern and then completed both her master of divinity and doctoral degree in systematic theology at Southwestern. As assistant professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern, she teaches courses such as Biblical Theology of Womanhood, Feminist Theology, Intro to Women’s Studies, Communication for Women, Women in Church History and Girls Ministry. Finch also has contributed to several books, including the Old and New Testament volumes of the Women’s Evangelical Commentary and Adoniram Judson: A Bicentennial Appreciation of the Pioneer American Missionary.
 
During a luncheon following the chapel service, Finch shared about her dissertation, which refuted the hermeneutic of feminist theologian Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. Finch also expressed her excitement to serve alongside other women on faculty who “believe it’s important to equip women to have a biblical foundation for whatever sphere of ministry God has called them, to know how to not only handle the Bible correctly and apply it, but [also] help women to understand how to engage the culture for the things that we’re facing today.”
 
Janice Crouse, executive director of World Congress of Families and a friend of the Pattersons for nearly two decades, attended the inauguration.
 
“I’ve been so impressed with the way the vision for this women’s studies program has developed,” Crouse said, adding that she is thankful to link “arm-in-arm in this battle for women to have a clear vision of all the potential they have.”
 
Barbara O’Chester, who has led a retreat ministry for women for more than 45 years, was also in attendance.
 
“I’m so thankful for this chair and for what it’s going to mean for women’s ministry,” O’Chester said.
 
“I agree with [Dorothy] totally with regard to submission to authority and the whole nine yards – I’ve lived it; I’ve taught it – but I also know God uses women in a miraculous way,” she said. “To have a place where women can come and learn the biblical principles and see how God can work those out in their lives and their ministries is very exciting.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston from reporting by Keith Collier, managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and Alex Sibley, senior staff writer and copy editor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

9/29/2015 11:48:22 AM by Southern Baptist TEXAN & Southwestern Seminary staff | with 0 comments



Pro-life rally held to ‘do something’ to end abortion

September 29 2015 by Southern Baptist TEXAN

Hundreds gathered for a multi-church, community-wide pro-life rally after six women decided they had to “do something” tangible to stand for life. The event, organized by the group Locals for Life, was hosted at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas.
 
The group, led by Ella Bullock and Rachel Miller of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth, include stay-at-home moms, a first-grade teacher, a part-time political office employee and a writer. The women describe themselves as “average, everyday Americans” who want to put feet to their vocal stance for the sanctity of life.
 
The rally, held Sept. 23 in SWBTS’ MacGorman Chapel, prompted several local churches to cancel their mid-week services in order to attend. The event focused on praying for a revival in hearts that would lead to a nation of people willing to protect life at all stages.
 
Birchman Senior Pastor Bob Pearle, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Professor Evan Lenow and Wedgwood Baptist Church Pastor Emeritus Al Meredith led the crowd in directed prayer times.

 
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Photo by Adam Tarleton
More than 500 north Texans gathered in groups to pray during the Fort Worth Locals for Life rally held Sept. 23 on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Our Father, our hearts are broken over the callousness of our country,” Pearle prayed. “... Lord we pray for those in our elected offices. ... And where those officials have been cowardly and have not voted for life, Lord I pray that you would so convict them that they would not be able to rest until they get their hearts and lives right with you.”
 
Lenow, who teaches ethics at the seminary and serves as director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural engagement, directed the crowd to pray for expectant parents.
 
“Lord we pray for these mothers, these fathers, these families and extended families,” Lenow prayed. “We pray that their choices would be choices of life. We pray that you would direct their hearts to recognize your handiwork. And in places where they cannot provide for these children, may you bring others into their lives who can. We pray that ... our city be a city of life.”
 
Meredith asked the Lord to forgive the church for not fighting more diligently to protect life.
 
“Oh, Father, this is so egregious that it hurts to talk about,” Meredith prayed, “that we should snuff out the lives of millions of precious ones before they have a chance to take their first breath, and it happened on my watch. Father, forgive the silent Christians who stand by and say nothing while this holocaust of infants goes on. ... Change our hearts, we plead in Jesus’ name.”
 
In addition to the time of prayer, those gathered heard from Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville); State Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth); and The Village Church Fort Worth Pastor Anthony Moore, a SWBTS doctoral graduate.
 
Krause, a politician who comes from a family full of Southern Baptist pastors, recalled a recent experience in which he walked out of the Capitol after having voted for life and was met with protestors advocating for abortion rights.
 
“They were shouting, ‘Shame on you,’“ Krause said. “But I hope my heavenly father is looking down saying, ‘Well done.’

 

“It is never okay to end the life of an unborn baby on purpose. Am I right?” Krause asked. His comments were met with enthusiastic applause.

 
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Photo by Adam Tarleton
Thirteen local pregnancy resource centers, adoption agencies and pro-life organizations set up booths outside the rally to give attendees a chance to “do something” tangible to stand for life in their own community.

Moore, in a message from Genesis 4, reminded attendees that, yes, they “are their brothers’ keepers,” explaining that Christians must be willing to suffer with and help parents who cannot care well for the children they bear.
 
SWBTS President Paige Patterson shared his own testimony of choosing the life of his son in the face of what doctors told him was a hopeless situation. Choosing to give the child a chance despite the grim prognosis, the Pattersons’ prayers were answered affirmatively, and their baby was born completely normal. Yet, Patterson noted, so many children do not get that chance.
 
“Just stop to think about it for a moment,” Patterson said. “Can you believe that we have aborted in the wombs of mothers probably eight or 10 of the finest preachers who might ever have lived? ... We may well have aborted somebody who would have discovered the cure for cancer. And yet we have gone on and on with this program. God forgive us for what we have done.”
 
Bullock, a leader of Locals for Life, shared a personal testimony in a moment that many called the most moving portion of the entire rally, evidenced by a standing ovation and teary faces across the auditorium. Standing on the stage with two women – her biological mother and her adoptive mother – Bullock and her mothers shared about God’s perfect plan for their imperfect situation. What was an unplanned, crisis pregnancy for Bullock’s biological mother allowed Bullock’s adoptive parents’ desire to grow their family possible.
 
A visibly emotional Bullock told the crowd that in God’s economy, there is no such thing as an “unplanned” life.
 
“To be surrounded by 500 people ready to stand for life was just another fulfillment of the perfect plan [God] put in motion 28 years ago when a 17-year-old found herself pregnant and chose life,” Bullock said after the rally.
 
Rachel Miller, a co-leader of Locals for Life, reminded the audience of the reason for the gathering.
 
“Here we are tonight because our God is a God of life,” Miller said. “He cares about each life because he made every one of them. We join him when we say what he did is good and worth fighting for.”
 
Just before leaving, attendees were asked to look under their seats. Those who found paper hearts taped to the seats were asked to stand. More than half of the people in the room stood up and held their pink and blue paper hearts in the air. Those standing represented the number of children who were aborted during the time the rally took place.
 
High school junior Melissa Manning said the paper hearts challenged her to do more to stand for life after leaving the rally.
 
“I feel more confident,” said Manning, who volunteered at the rally along with about 60 others. “I feel like I can go out, reach more people, and be educated about it. I want to go do something. I don’t want to just stand back. I want to do something and reach out to those girls who are my age and show them how important life is.”
 
More than a dozen pro-life organizations from the area were on hand to provide attendees with information on how to support pregnancy help centers, how to become adoptive parents and how to affect legislative change that will protect life in America.
 
The Locals for Life team founded their group in such a way that it can be reproduced in cities around the nation. The group can provide artwork files and other support to help any interested communities and can be contacted at fwlocalsforlife@gmail.com or through www.localsforliferally.org.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article first appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN website.)

9/29/2015 11:37:33 AM by Southern Baptist TEXAN | with 0 comments



Online-designed T-shirts boost charitable causes

September 29 2015 by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Christian Resources

When she discovered her cousin Melanie had cancer, Kristi Parker wanted to help.
 
Using a new service named LifeWay Shares, Parker raised more than $1,700 to provide financial assistance – all by selling T-shirts online.
 
Melanie’s husband designed a butterfly for the T-shirt and they selected a favorite Bible verse. Through selling the shirts, Parker helped Melanie and her family with medical bills and other costs.

 
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“It’s a great program,” Parker said, “and a true blessing to my cousin during her fight with breast cancer.”
 
Those are the type of stories that drive Cathy Brown and others working on LifeWay Shares, a funding program from LifeWay Christian Resources. “It is an amazing feeling to offer a service that brings someone to tears because they were able to help their cousin with cancer,” Brown said.
 
In addition to campaigns to assist with medical costs, Brown said other individuals and groups have used LifeWay Shares to help with mission trips, adoptions, the purchasing of a church bus and building projects. Ministries also are using it to benefit women released from jail who are looking for jobs and to provide aid to refugees seeking an escape from ISIS in the Middle East.
 
As manager of LifeWay Shares, Brown said the service uses custom-designed T-shirts to garner both donations and attention to a cause. She said the only thing fundraisers need to do is promote their individual online site where supporters can purchase the shirts.
 
A commercial for sports fundraising sparked the idea for Brown. “It began as we were looking for new ways to help ministries and churches,” she said. After discussing the T-shirt idea with a screen printer, they were able to launch LifeWay Shares.
 
Those raising funds have no out-of-pocket costs. They can customize their T-shirt by choosing from LifeWay Share’s design collection or by uploading their own art. A website is created for each T-shirt with Facebook ads sent to help publicize the event. Anyone can go to the site, buy a shirt and have it mailed directly to their home.
 
At the end of the campaign, the fundraiser is mailed a check for the difference between the total amount raised and the minimal cost for each T-shirt.
 
While Brown is pleased with those features, the causes they have been able to help are the greatest part of the experience, she said, noting, “We are able to impact communities through these sites.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – For more information, visit LifeWayShares.com.

9/29/2015 11:28:23 AM by Aaron Earls, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments



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