September 2016

GuideStone releases Ministers’ Tax Guide

February 6 2019 by Holly Taylor, GuideStone Financial Resources

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

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

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



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

February 6 2019 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

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

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

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

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



Nat’l CP 0.18% under YTD budget projection

February 6 2019 by Baptist Press Staff

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

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

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



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

February 5 2019 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

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

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

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

Strategy evaluation

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

Church Planting and Missions Partnerships

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

Evangelism and Discipleship

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

Financial update

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

‘Morality’ policy

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

Caswell construction

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

Executive Committee additions

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

Business Services at-large members

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

Nominating committee additions

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

New board secretary

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

Next meeting

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

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



Rebuilding communities, planting the gospel in Puerto Rico

February 5 2019 by Brandon Elrod, NAMB

When Jorge Santiago left Puerto Rico as a young man, he never thought he would return. His family sent him to the U.S. mainland in a last-ditch effort to shake him loose from a lifestyle of doing and dealing drugs.
 

NAMB photo by Casey Jones
During a Vacation Bible School, Jorge Santiago speaks with some of his volunteers. Santiago is an Annie Armstrong Easter Offering 2019 Week of Prayer missionary. One Church Comerío launched after Santiago and his family responded to the desperate needs of the community following Hurricane Maria in 2017. The long road to physical and spiritual recovery continues, and Santiago continues to serve and preach the gospel.

“I never thought that I was going to come back to Comerío,” recalled Santiago of his home town, “and I didn’t want to come back.”
 
In 2007, Santiago left behind a community that was struggling economically, whose people wrestled with hopelessness. Santiago did not know then that God was authoring a much larger story than he could possibly imagine.
 
Fast forward 12 years – Santiago is a 2019 Week of Prayer missionary for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering who is ministering in his hometown. He lives and serves among men and women who endured one of the worst natural disasters to hit Puerto Rico and continue to experience the same desperation Santiago attempted to overcome through substance abuse.
 
Before Santiago became a missionary, however, God had to lead him through his own personal storm. When he first moved to the United States, the new scenery in Washington, D.C., only gave him fresh opportunities to continue down the same, futile path.  

“I was still the same person with the same problem,” Santiago said, “but I was able to cover my addiction by working. I met the same type of people that I used to hang around in Puerto Rico, and I started doing wrong things.”
 
One of Santiago’s new friends got him into selling contraband, and one of their buyers turned out to be undercover police. The threat of a 30-year prison sentence loomed over his head. “I was smoking a cigarette in front of my apartment after that situation,” Santiago recounted, “and I remember I was meditating over my life, and thinking, ‘How did I get here?’”
 
His family had raised him with good values, but drugs dragged him down a lonely path to a destination he never intended to go. As he replayed his life that day, God started working.
 

NAMB photo by Casey Jones
A mission team with Send Relief, the compassion ministry of the North American Mission Board, and Jorge Santiago, white shirt, pray over a family after helping them repair their homes from storm damage. Santiago is an Annie Armstrong Easter Offering 2019 Week of Prayer missionary who started One Church Comerío in Puerto Rico.

“I ran to my bedroom, got onto my knees and called out to God, ‘If you save my life from jail, I will give you my life forever, and I will serve you forever. I will never go back again,’” said Santiago. A few weeks later, he received the news that his case had miraculously been dismissed. Santiago gave his life to Christ at Primera Iglesia Bautista (First Baptist Church) of Groveton, Va., and things started to turn around. He met his wife Rebeca and answered a call to ministry.
 
Whenever he traveled back to see family in Comerío, he couldn’t help but notice how little had changed in his old neighborhood. The economic need and spiritual discouragement still permeated the town. As he remembered his past life on the island, Santiago could not recall ever hearing anyone tell him, “Jesus is the answer.”

Seeing and understanding that need led Santiago and his family to decide to start a new church. There are less than 80 Southern Baptist churches on the island that has a population of about 3.3 million people, which equates roughly one church for every 42,000 residents. As he was laying the groundwork for the new church, Santiago found himself back in his hometown, staring down one of the worst hurricanes ever to pound the Caribbean – Hurricane Maria.
 
The monster storm struck a few months after Santiago moved to Puerto Rico with his family, and a disaster many might have predicted would derail Santiago’s ministry actually accelerated the process. With electricity knocked out, simple, day-to-day tasks, such as washing clothes, became extremely difficult. Santiago and his family had the desire to reach out and aid their neighbors.
 
After help arrived from families on the U.S. mainland and Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), Santiago and his wife received funds to purchase washing machines and a generator that enabled them to start a makeshift laundromat to offer for free.
 

NAMB photo by Casey Jones
Jorge Santiago and his wife Rebeca moved to Puerto Rico in 2017 with their two children, Sebastian and Sofia.

After a couple months, Santiago read Mark 1 where Christ goes to another village to preach the gospel after healing the sick. He realized that, while the physical aid was a good thing, he also needed to start preaching the Good News.
 
“God spoke to me through His Word, saying that, ‘It’s good to serve the people … but the reason you are here is for the gospel,” Santiago said.
 
On Nov. 12, 2017, Santiago preached the gospel after serving a hot meal with his neighbors, and he never stopped. One Church Comerío was born.
 
In March of 2018, Santiago held the church’s first baptism service.
 
God has continued to move through One Church, allowing them to secure a building of their own and become a fixture in the community because of the church’s service to their neighbors and faithful preaching of the gospel.
 
To support Jorge and other international missionaries, visit anniearmstrong.com.
 
See more of Jorge's story here:
 

2/5/2019 11:12:46 AM by Brandon Elrod, NAMB | with 0 comments



Sky Pratt of Georgia to chair Committee on Committees

February 5 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Georgia missions pastor Sky Pratt has been named chairman of the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Committees, SBC President J.D. Greear announced Feb. 4.
 

Photo submitted
Sky Pratt

Greear also announced his appointment of Ashlyn Portero, a leader at City Church in Tallahassee, Fla., as vice chair.
 
The Committee on Committees will assemble in Birmingham, Ala., just prior to the SBC’s June 11-12 sessions to nominate members of the Committee on Nominations who, in turn, will nominate trustees for the boards of SBC entities in 2020.
 
Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area, told Baptist Press, “I have known Sky Pratt for many years as one of the greatest mobilizers of missionaries to the International Mission Board in our convention. Sky’s leadership abilities as [a] pastor, his love for the church and white-hot passion for the nations makes him an ideal chair for this important committee.
 
“Coupled with Ashlyn Portero, who combines a keen insight on Baptist mission with proven organizational leadership and tireless energy, I have great confidence they will lead the Committee on Committees to keep the gospel above all,” Greear said.
 
Since 2001, Pratt has served on staff at Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Athens, Ga. After leading college ministry there, Pratt expanded his role to become Prince Avenue’s associate pastor for mobilization, leading the congregation’s efforts to mobilize for local, national and international missions.
 
Pratt holds a master of theological studies degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and served previously as student pastor at Central Baptist Church in Americus, Ga.
 
“I am excited to chair the Committee on Committees for the Southern Baptist Convention this year,” Pratt said. “The opportunity to chair a diverse representation of all Southern Baptists who desire to put the gospel above all is of utmost importance. God has blessed Southern Baptists with the members and resources to reach all peoples to the ends of the earth.”
 

Photo submitted
Ashlyn Portero

Portero is an executive director at City Church, overseeing daily operations and an array of ministries, including missions sending efforts. She has served on the church’s staff since 2011 and is a past member of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s leadership council. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and has attended Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
 
“I am very grateful for this opportunity to serve the Committee on Committees alongside Pastor Sky Pratt,” Portero said. “I am prayerful that as we join with men and women across the country to call on God’s wisdom and seek out Southern Baptists who will serve faithfully in our convention, we will continue to see the gospel go forward through our churches.”
 
Greear praised both Committee on Committees leaders for their commitment to SBC missions and ministries, especially the Cooperative Program (CP). Both Prince Avenue and City Church reported giving 9 percent of their undesignated receipts through CP last year.
 
“Both leaders are not only active partners with the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board,” Greear said, “but their generosity to the Cooperative Program speaks for itself.”
 
Greear plans to announce the remainder of his appointments to the Committee on Committees next week. SBC Bylaw 19 calls for providing notice to Southern Baptists of the appointees at least 45 days in advance of each year’s annual meeting.

2/5/2019 11:12:32 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Jack Harwell, ‘controversial’ Baptist editor, dies

February 5 2019 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Jack Harwell, editor of The Christian Index for 21 years during his 30 years with Georgia Baptists’ news journal, died Jan. 18 at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
 

Jack Harwell

A family obituary described Harwell, 86, as “a respected editor, but a controversial one, serving during a time of division in Baptist life over both theological and social issues. Harwell was part of the moderate branch of Southern Baptists that would later break away and form the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.”
 
The family obituary also stated, “Perhaps his greatest editorial was written after the [1968] assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Harwell called him ‘a noble Baptist leader’ who ‘did more to help his race and to combat the evil oppression of racism and inequality than any other person in modern times.’ He called on Georgia Baptists to be in the forefront in seeking ‘human equality for all our citizens.’
 
“That editorial was reprinted on the front page of The Atlanta Constitution,” the family obituary recounted, “and while it seems rather mild in the light of today’s attitudes about racism, it was seen by some as rather controversial at the time, and Harwell received obscene phone calls and death threats as a result.”
 
In December, Harwell resigned his 10-year staff position as minister of pastoral care at First Baptist Church in Morrow, Ga., due to failing health, The Index reported after his death.
 
Harwell’s theological views were challenged in 1976 – three years before the SBC’s Conservative Resurgence took root – by the late Christianity Today editor Harold Lindsell, author of The Battle for the Bible, who focused on Harwell in one of eight subsections in a chapter on Southern Baptists.
 
Lindsell cited 1974 correspondence in which Harwell stated he did not believe Adam and Eve were “one man and one woman” but represented “mankind and womankind.” Harwell wrote that he did not believe in the “verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible” because of “many, many instances where a literal, absolute, blind acceptance of the Bible without an understanding of human nature leads to all types of contradictions.”
 
Lindsell wrote that “once a denomination departs from a belief in biblical infallibility, it opens the floodgates to disbelief about other cardinal doctrines of the faith.” The theological drift of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) “will not get better if the disease now eating at the vitals of the Convention is not treated and the patient cured.”
 

BP file photo
Jack Harwell, center, was tapped as president-elect of the Southern Baptist Press Association, now Association of State Baptist Publications, during the editors' 1976 meeting in San Francisco. Hudson Baggett, left, of The Alabama Baptist was the association’s president; R.G. Puckett of the North Carolina Biblical Recorder, secretary-treasurer.

Theological controversy at the state level became “most evident in Georgia” after the election of the late Adrian Rogers as SBC president in 1979, wrote Jesse Fletcher in his book The Southern Baptist Convention: A Sesquicentennial History citing Harwell as a major point of controversy for conservatives.
 
At the Georgia Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in November 1979, Harwell received a vote of confidence from messengers, with Baptist Press reporting observers’ estimates of 2,500 standing to vote for a motion to “express our full confidence in the personal and professional integrity of the editor” and 500 voting against. The heated discussion included a statement by The Index board of directors chairman that Harwell had “repeatedly affirmed his loyalty” to Southern Baptists’ Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement.
 
In August 1986, The Index board of directors created an editorial review board to “reflect the spirit and theological position of Georgia and Southern Baptists” in response to a 32-page document of complaints after Harwell had editorialized against conservative nominees elected to the SBC’s boards, commissions and committees at that year’s SBC annual meeting.
 
But in October of the following year, Harwell announced his resignation, stating that he “could not continue with the restrictions or the pressures that have been created by the review board analyzing everything we do.” At that year’s annual meeting in November, Harwell’s supporters prevailed in a vote that he return to the paper. But the following month, the convention’s executive committee, vested with final hiring authority, narrowly voted that Harwell’s resignation remain in effect.
 
Harwell retired on Dec. 31, 1987, at age 55. Among tributes printed in The Index, Presnall Wood, president of the Southern Baptist Press Association and editor of the Texas Baptist Standard, wrote that Harwell “believed and practiced ‘trust the Lord and tell the people’ as he sounded a strong note for responsible editorial freedom in Baptist life.”
 
Harwell subsequently served 10 years as editor of SBC Today, a publication of Baptist moderates subsequently named Baptists Today, and 10 years at First Baptist in Morrow where he was ordained to the ministry and his wife Teliea was serving as minister to senior adults.
 
Born Jack U. Harwell in Mobile, Ala., he made a profession of faith in Christ at age 13; earned an undergraduate journalism degree from Samford University in Birmingham; served as a public relations specialist for the U.S. Army from 1953-1956 and the Air Force in 1957; and was associate editor of The Index from 1957 until he was named editor in 1966 at age 34. He was the 1977 president of the Southern Baptist Press Association.
 
In addition to his wife, Harwell is survived by a son, Ron; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
 
His funeral was held Jan. 26 at First Baptist in Morrow, with one his successors at The Index, Bill Neal, officiating.

2/5/2019 11:12:23 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Todd Deaton to rejoin S.C. Baptist Courier staff

February 5 2019 by Baptist Courier Staff

Todd Deaton has been named managing editor of The Baptist Courier, newsmagazine of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, effective March 1, moving from the editor’s post at the Western Recorder, news journal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
 

Deaton, 55, a South Carolina native who formerly served 13 years as The Courier’s managing editor, will succeed Butch Blume, a 20-year Courier employee who succeeded Deaton in 2009 when Deaton became the Western Recorder’s editor.
 
Blume, who will retire in April, has served South Carolina Baptists for more than three decades, including 14 years at Anderson College (now Anderson University) before joining The Courier’s staff.
 
“We are beyond delighted that Todd will again be joining The Courier family,” editor Rudy Gray said. “He is an accomplished Christian journalist, a successful editor and a South Carolina native who certainly knows South Carolina Baptists.
 
“As we sought a managing editor to replace Butch Blume, it became evident that God was leading us to Todd. As both of us prayed about this possibility, we recognized that God was at work in our hearts. It has been a smooth process characterized by unity, and we praise God for His guidance.”
 
Gray credited Blume for having played a key role at The Courier in producing the magazine and web content and with the Courier Publishing book-publishing arm.
 
Deaton said he and his wife Michelle “have sensed for some time that God has been loosening our Kentucky ties in preparing us for new challenges in ministry. Little did we ever dream that we would be returning to serve the Baptists of my home state and to work with The Baptist Courier again. It is, indeed, a rare blessing to come home again, and I’m delighted that God is providing us with this opportunity to begin our ministry there anew. My wife and I also are looking forward to renewing great friendships among South Carolina Baptists.”
 
Chip Hutcheson, chairman of the Western Recorder’s board of trustees and a former Kentucky convention president, said the board and the newspaper’s subscribers “are thankful for Todd’s 10 years of dedicated service to Kentucky Baptists. We appreciate his dedication to telling the stories about how the Lord has been working through Kentucky Baptists. And I appreciate his desire to build bridges rather than cause discord.”
 
Hutcheson, who recently retired as publisher of the Times Leader in Princeton, Ky., said the newspaper world has changed dramatically during Deaton’s tenure, noting that he had weathered those challenges well. “In recent times he has continued to edit the newspaper with a much smaller staff than when he arrived here, and has done so without complaint,” he said.
 
Deaton stated, “Ministering with the Western Recorder staff and trustees on behalf of Kentucky Baptists truly has been a highlight of my career in Baptist journalism. I will treasure the friendships made while serving among Kentucky Baptists.”
 
Deaton is a recent president of the Association of State Baptist Publications and longtime member of Baptist Communicators Association and has won numerous journalism honors, including five first-place editorial awards from the Kentucky Press Association. He also previously served as associate editor of the Biblical Recorder, North Carolina's news journal.
 
Deaton holds a doctor of education degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.; a master of divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; and an undergraduate degree from Furman University in Greenville, S.C.
 
He and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Laura, a nurse in Louisville, and Caleb, an aviation major at Eastern Kentucky University.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by The Baptist Courier of South Carolina and Kentucky Today of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.)

2/5/2019 11:12:11 AM by Baptist Courier Staff | with 0 comments



BSC Board faces $3M budget shortfall

February 4 2019 by Chad Austin, BSC Communications

Despite experiencing a budget shortfall in 2018 that was called “significant,” Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) officials are optimistic about the long-term financial outlook for 2019 while cautioning that adjustments will need to be made to the budget that will be proposed for 2020.

While receipts were more than $3.3 million or 10.85 percent below the $31 million Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2018, BSC Executive Leader for Business Services John Butler told the state convention’s board of directors Jan. 29 the overall financial picture includes a few “bright spots.”
 
One of those bright spots was giving to the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO), which exceeded its $2.1 million goal by nearly $26,000. NCMO supports a variety of ministries such as church planting, missions projects and the 18 different ministries of Baptists on Mission (also known as N.C. Baptist Men), which includes disaster relief.
 
Butler attributed the budget shortfall to several factors that included the impact of Hurricane Florence as well as some accounting guidelines that govern the state convention.
 

Impact of Florence


In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence that caused widespread damage in eastern North Carolina last September, the BSC received more than $6 million in designated giving for disaster relief.
 
Butler said it is not unusual for churches to reallocate some missions dollars to disaster relief following major storms like Florence.
 
“The reality is that churches often adjust their missions budgets following natural disasters, moving funds planned for Cooperative Program (CP) support to meet the immediate needs in their communities and our state, and that’s OK,” Butler said.
 
“Giving to disaster relief enables us to help churches and individuals in crisis, opening the door for gospel conversations that often result in decisions for Christ. That’s an eternal impact that cannot be measured in dollars and is in keeping with our strategy of impacting lostness all over North Carolina.”
 
Hurricane Florence also impacted CP giving because many churches were not able to gather for worship for, in some cases, stretches of several weeks due to damage to their facilities, Butler said. The budgets of hundreds of N.C. Baptist churches were devastated by the storm, and those churches must rightfully take care of their immediate needs, he added.
 
Additionally, the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell experienced more than a quarter of a million dollars in lost revenue due to closures and canceled events in the wake of Hurricane Florence. With the loss of revenue plus unplanned costs of extensive repairs, the facility ended 2018 with a slight operating loss.
 

Timing a factor


Butler said timing and a lack of an uptick in end-of-year giving also impacted the final 2018 balance sheet.
 
The convention began 2018 behind budget because BSC bylaws stipulate that income received for five business days following the last Sunday of the year must be credited to the previous year’s totals. Since Dec. 31, 2017, fell on Sunday, all income received until Mon., Jan. 8, 2018, was applied to 2017.
 
“We started the year behind and never really caught up as the year went on,” Butler said.
 
He believed some of the shortfall would be made up in December when end-of-year giving generally increases. However, the December giving bump did not come in 2018.
 
“I’ve never seen that in my 12-plus years at the convention,” Butler said.  “Fortunately, it was just a delayed bump, as those gifts we normally receive the last week of December ended up hitting our books the first week of January 2019. In fact, we had the largest first week of receipts in our history.”
 
The budget shortfall was softened somewhat by the fact that the state convention’s CP budget is allocated on a percentage basis, but Butler still described the budget deficits that BSC ministries had to absorb as “significant.”
 
When removing the operational expenses for the BSC’s camps and conference centers at Caraway, Caswell and Truett, the state convention’s operations budget finished slightly in the black for 2018, Butler said. He praised state convention staff members for being good stewards of CP receipts, adding that BSC ministries operated at 90 percent of their budget allocations for most of 2018.
 

Strong start to 2019


As Butler noted, giving is strong so far in 2019.
 
More than $1.4 million was received for CP the first full week of January, which is about two-and-a-half times the weekly budget requirements. In addition, the convention received nearly $2.8 million for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that ended 2018 more than $3 million below 2017 receipts.
 
“Obviously one week can make a huge difference,” Butler said. “Whether it was due to the early snows in December or delayed mail processing, it is obvious that much of the giving we normally experience at the end of the year didn’t make it to us before we closed the books on 2018. That certainly gives us some much needed breathing room as we begin 2019.”
 

Looking ahead


Despite the strong start to 2019, Butler said convention leaders must not ignore the giving trends of 2018 and previous years when planning a budget proposal for 2020.
 
“We can’t ignore what has taken place,” Butler said. “It would be foolish for us to plan a budget that disregards where we finished 2018.”
 
Members of the Budget Committee will be on hand at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the BSC board of directors in May to hear comments, answer any questions and receive other input or feedback that board members may have about the budget process and the working budget proposal for 2020.
 
The Budget Committee will meet following the May board meeting to receive budget requests from the institutions and agencies supported by the Cooperative Program budget.
 
The committee will send a final 2020 budget recommendation to the BSC’s Executive Committee for consideration this summer before board members consider the recommended budget at their regularly scheduled meeting in September.
 
Final approval of the 2020 budget proposal will be made by messengers attending this year’s BSC annual meeting in Greensboro on Nov. 11-12.
 

‘God will provide’


Butler said state convention ministries, institutions and agencies should expect a reduction to their CP budget allocations for 2020.
 
“Everyone will have to share in any cutback of the overall budget,” he said. “I don’t know what hurricanes may impact us this fall.
 
“I don’t know what our economy will do. I don’t know what cultural shifts are coming. What I do know is that we serve a God who is faithful, and He will provide.”

2/4/2019 2:10:46 PM by Chad Austin, BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Mike Pittman called as BSC church planting leader

February 4 2019 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

Mike Pittman, church planter and lead pastor of Vertical Church in Lumberton, was approved as the new Church Planting Team Leader for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) by the convention’s Executive Committee (EC) on January 29.
 

BSC’s Executive Leader for Church Planting and Missions Partnerships, Chuck Register, presented Pittman to the EC after conducting a nationwide search to replace Mark Gray, who recently retired.
 
“From a human perspective, church planting in North Carolina has been built on the shoulders of Mark Gray,” Register told the EC. “He’s provided outstanding leadership for our church planting team.”
 
On learning about Gray’s plan to retire, Register said he began looking for someone who has the “passion, knowledge and the administrative ability to lead our church planting team.”
 
He invited recommendations from his counterparts in other state conventions, staff at the North American Mission Board and those involved with church planting in North Carolina. Register said he interviewed candidates from various parts of the country including the Midwest, New England and several southern states.
 
“Through that process, it became obvious that Mike Pittman is the best man to lead our church planting efforts.”
 
Pittman has served Vertical Church since 2011. The multi-site church added locations in Bladen in 2013 and Pembroke in 2015. The church has celebrated more than 400 baptisms in seven years.
 
Pittman has served as a contract worker on the BSC’s church planting team since 2014, and is the primary coach in southeast North Carolina as well as a trainer for church planters in the state. He has been involved in helping develop the Sending Church Collective, a tool that helps multiply church planting in the state.
 
“This is a gentleman who understands the traditional, local church, which comprises a large segment of North Carolina Baptist life, having spent 11 years on staff of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Lumberton,” Register added. “He comes to us not only with a passion, knowledge and experience in church planting and church multiplication, he comes to us with an understanding of the established, traditional local church.”
 
“He is a proven church planter that advocates and practices both disciple-making – which is our strategy – and church multiplication.”
 
Pittman is a native of Maine. He told the EC he was not raised in church and dreamed of stardom in the music industry until his mid-20s.
 
At the age of 19, he attended Westside Baptist Church in Red Springs with his girlfriend who is now his wife.
 
“I heard the gospel for the first time in my life, … but my dreams for stardom were not over.”
 
At the age of 25, realizing he was married, had a child and did not have a record contract, Pittman said, “it’s time to grow up.” He returned to attending Westside Baptist. Four months later in a conversation with the pastor, he gave his life to Christ.
 
When presented to the EC as a candidate for the church planting position, Pittman said he often talks with other pastors about the need for a church planting movement in America.
 
“According to the traditional definition of a church planting movement, there isn’t one anywhere in North America,” he said.
 
He believes such a movement will help individual churches understand the call of God to reproduce the local church.
 
“I don’t know when we stopped understanding that God has called our church to reproduce,” said Pittman. 
 
A church planting movement does not depend heavily on a “visionary, entrepreneurial individual’s dream,” he added, but instead it will depend on “prayer-soaked, vision-fed seeds in churches all across North Carolina. Without a supernatural move of God, this is dead in the water. But I believe God is about to do something amazing in our state. I relish the opportunity to be part of that.”
 
Pittman announced his resignation from Vertical Church February 3. He and his wife, Keyna, have two children.

2/4/2019 9:21:38 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments



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