September 2017

Baptist feeding units aid shelters & search teams

September 1 2017 by Southern Baptist TEXAN & NAMB staff

Kevin McKenzie, owner of McKenzie’s Barbeque and Burgers, and other restaurant owners were meeting with area church representatives at First Baptist Church in Madisonville, Texas, to discuss how to assist Hurricane Harvey evacuees making their way to their small town of 4,400, located 40 miles northeast of Bryan-College Station

NAMB Photo
The Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief team set up a mass feeding unit at the George R. Brown Convention Center, where thousands of evacuees are being housed.

As they met Aug. 30, someone called the church about the plight in Port Neches, 176 miles away, of at least 200 people who had sought refuge from rising waters at the town’s First Baptist Church but had few provisions.
In less than an hour, McKenzie had cold cuts, chicken salad, chips, bread, buns, apples, bananas and protein drinks loaded in his truck.
He headed to Trinity over an hour away where he met pastor Jonathan Davidson of Trinity Pines Baptist Church and church member Tom Foucha who took the food the final water-logged leg of the trip.
Davidson told the Southern Baptist TEXAN that he and Foucha drove through 12-18 inches of water in places to reach First Baptist in Port Neches. By the time they arrived, the number of evacuees had risen to 400, with some taking shelter in the junior high across the street.
Everyone received dinner, but breakfast this morning was served with some bitter news – city officials had determined the church could no longer serve as a shelter.

“When we told them they had to pack up and leave, it was hard,” Davidson said.
Buses ferried evacuees to a local airport where they loaded Chinook helicopters headed for Galveston. From there they would board buses for a shelter in Dallas.

Contributed photo
Some 400 evacuees from Hurricane Harvey’s onslaught shelter at First Baptist Church in Port Neches, Texas – fed by food from McKenzie’s Barbeque and Burgers 176 miles away.

Davidson and Foucha, both former Marines, stayed behind, joining forces with the Coast Guard personnel as they searched the as-yet-unreached area of Groves, Texas.
For Southern Baptists and so many others, such relief initiatives are just the beginning.
Several days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, authorities say many of the hardest-hit areas remain in the search and rescue phase – a “life-saving, life-sustaining mode,” as Brock Long, a Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, put it Aug. 30.
As state and local officials ask aid and relief teams to stay out of many areas until they complete rescue operations, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) is taking action where it is allowed.
One SBDR team – a Texas Baptist Men (TBM) rapid response feeding unit – has been traveling with Task Force 1, a Texas first responders search and rescue squad.
Ray Gann, who was on the TBM team, said they received a call to deploy at 10:30 a.m. Saturday when Hurricane Harvey had just been downgraded to a tropical storm. They bought groceries, made the six-hour drive to Robstown and then embedded with the search and rescue unit, even sleeping in the same quarters.
From Robstown, the team moved with Task Force 1 to Rosenburg where they spent two days, then on to Orange, east of Beaumont. The TBM team will continue serving with the task force until search and rescue operations have completed.
“The feeding unit has been working well. They see us as heroes over there,” Gann said of the gratitude the first responders showed the kitchen unit volunteers.

Photo courtesy of Sonny Hathaway
LaBelle Baptist Church pastor Sonny Hathaway and his son Mitch leave from a home visit of one of their flooded church members amid Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath in south Texas.

Gann has now transferred off the team and is on a SBDR kitchen unit that is feeding 11,000 evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
While Houston and the surrounding areas have sustained extensive damage, Harvey has also created problems in Louisiana. SBDR units there are serving at evacuation shelters and will expand services as needed.
For relief teams with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), providing food has been the priority thus far, with SBTC Disaster Relief (DR) teams supporting evacuation centers in several locations.
Additional kitchen, shower and laundry units with teams of volunteers are standing by to begin serving when called upon. SBDR teams from Oklahoma and Arkansas are currently serving in Texas as well.
“Southern Baptists are anxious to help Texans in any way they can,” said David Melber, vice president of Send Relief at the North American Mission Board (NAMB). “This will be a long-term response and we will get people serving as quickly as possible.”
NAMB has begun collecting names at of churches and individuals that want to serve once flood waters have dissipated and opportunities are available. Disaster relief training is not a requirement, although those wishing to attend disaster relief training can contact their state Baptist convention office.
Wednesday, as the sun shone over Houston, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey gave Texas one last punch, inundating the Beaumont-Port Arthur region with 26 inches of rain in 24 hours before lurching into Louisiana. Southeast Texas churches that did not take on water took in evacuees.
Not until the rain began to dissipate Wednesday could pastors, church members and SBTC field ministry strategists (FMS) begin to assess the damage in communities west of Houston and east to the Sabine River. But with hundreds of roads still partially submerged, getting eyes on some entire neighborhoods has been impossible. Phone contact, when possible, had to suffice and began painting an initial picture of incomparable devastation.

Photo from Facebook
Texas Baptist Men disaster relief had a crew embedded with the Task Force 1 search and rescue team of first responders. They mobilized on Aug. 26 and began feeding the next day. From Robstown, they moved to Rosenburg and then on to Orange. The team will continue feeding the task force until the operations are complete.

“They have measured life by [2008’s Hurricane] Ike, and now that’s been entirely eclipsed,” said Sonny Hathaway, pastor of LaBelle Baptist Church, 10 miles south of Beaumont. The church began taking in evacuees around 4 a.m. Wednesday as water poured into homes. About one-third were church members. By noon about 120 people had taken shelter there.
“This place just became a place of refuge,” said Hathaway, noting that 80 percent of the church members lost homes during Hurricane Ike.
Hathaway said as a pastor his role is to dispel the tension that wells up with the water and threatens to overwhelm those trying to help, many of whom have losses of their own. “They are tired, exhausted and concerned about their families,” he said of church volunteers caring for evacuees. “They have been on the phone with family who are evacuating while trying to serve lunch.”
Dennis Parish, FMS for the greater Houston area, could not reach his church, Needham Road Baptist, to assess damage until Wednesday. The building sustained little damage from the storm but a human intruder had broken into the office and stolen cash and the church’s debit card.
“I’m trying to contact several churches, and no one is answering. There are neighborhoods I can’t get into,” Parish said. “I have a big truck, and I’m hesitant to go [certain places].”
Bill Collier, FMS for the region east and northeast of Houston, is in the same predicament. Of the churches he has been able to contact, four took on water. First Baptist Church of Fannett had taken in evacuees before floodwaters forced everyone to the second floor, Collier said.
In total 764 SBTC churches – more than one-fourth of the total churches in the convention – are in the 54 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Mickey Caison, NAMB’s disaster relief director, told the TEXAN the mission board is assessing how best to utilize the limited volunteer and financial resources for what is, admittedly, an overwhelming situation.
NAMB disaster relief strategists will coordinate with leadership at Houston’s First Baptist Church, using the church’s four campuses as staging areas for DR team deployments. The campuses are providentially located in some of the regions hardest hit by Harvey’s rainfall.
NAMB leaders hope to facilitate a culture of “churches helping churches,” Caison said, noting that Texas congregations ministering within the disaster area will need encouraging. The long-term work of hurricane disaster relief can carry on most effectively, he said, when churches from outside the disaster area partner with those toiling within to meet their needs so they can continue to minister to the community.
Donations for disaster relief efforts can be sent to the SBTC at and to other state Baptist convention offices or by visiting
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by Bonnie Pritchett of the Southern Baptist TEXAN and Brandon Elrod of the North American Mission Board.)

9/1/2017 8:11:12 AM by Southern Baptist TEXAN & NAMB staff | with 0 comments

Financial tips for churches, ministries in wake of Harvey

September 1 2017 by Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources

To aid churches as they face the daunting tasks of rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, GuideStone Financial Resources is offering tips for churches and ministries faced with property damage and claims.
Gaelen Cole, senior manager of risk and compliance for the Southern Baptist entity’s Property and Casualty area says churches should consider four main steps:
First, promptly report the claim, even though the extent of the damage may not be fully known. Those insured through GuideStone’s Property and Casualty partner Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company should call them at (800)-333-3371.
Second, Cole noted nearly every policy requires that reasonable steps be taken to protect covered property to avoid further loss. The costs may be covered under the policy, so prompt reporting of the claim can allow for discussions of that coverage with your insurance carrier.
Third, he said, it’s important to have a thorough review of the property, looking for damage that may not be as evident.
“Some churches, especially those dealing with so many pressing needs, delegate this task and don’t give it the attention it deserves,” Cole said. “It’s important that this be done thoroughly, by a professional whenever possible.”
Fourth, providing proof of loss is also an important step, Cole said.
Most insurance companies require that this be provided within 60 days of the insurer’s request for it. Churches have to consider everything from audio/visual equipment to chairs to nursery gear to office furniture in their losses. Pictures, videos and inventories are useful for determining loss.
It’s important for churches to speak with their property and casualty insurance agents, Cole said. He noted there may be coverage for ministry interruption that can help churches who miss offerings as well as to be able to continue to meet in temporary facilities. This coverage is offered to churches using Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.
“We have seen evidence that most churches are able to maintain their giving during the weeks after a disaster,” Cole said, “but churches must consider the expense of renting temporary quarters while they rebuild.”
GuideStone is also standing by to assist churches and ministries with questions about their retirement or life and health benefits. Retirement questions can be directed to (888)-98-GUIDE (888-984-8433), and questions about life and health plans can be directed to the new dedicated line: (844)-INS-GUIDE (844-467-4843).
“We are reminded of and are clinging to the promise recorded in Isaiah that ‘when you pass through the waters, the Lord will be with you,’” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said.
“We have watched with prayer and thanksgiving the outpouring of love on the people of Rockport, Victoria, Houston, Beaumont, New Orleans and all of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and all who have served as Christ’s hand extended during these days,” he noted. “It is our hope and plan to continue in our role as a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security as our neighbors walk through these challenges brought on by Hurricane Harvey.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services at GuideStone Financial Resources.)

9/1/2017 8:09:53 AM by Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources | with 0 comments

Teach racial unity early, panelists say

September 1 2017 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Christian parents should start teaching early and model for their children consistently the Bible’s teaching on ethnic diversity, panelists said at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) national conference.

Photo by Kelly Hunter
Trillia Newbell speaks during a breakout session at the ERLC’s national conference on helping children develop the Bible’s view of ethnic diversity.

The guidance came from a diverse panel addressing the topic “All God’s Children: Growing Kids Who Embrace a Biblical View of Racial Unity” during an Aug. 25 breakout session of the ERLC’s conference on Christ-centered parenting. About 1,300 people attended the three-day conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.
Parents should not wait to discuss the issue, Rachel Metzger told the breakout audience, “because waiting seems like a secret or something you don’t want to talk about.”
“So as early as my kids could communicate, I started talking to them about our similarities and our differences, and I celebrated all of it because it’s all a part of God’s design,” said Metzger, a long-time educator, as well as the mother of multi-ethnic children.
Trillia Newbell said, “We have not waited because they know at a young age” there is a difference.
Celebration of diversity “is what’s missing in our culture,” said Newbell, an author and the ERLC’s director of community outreach. “We don’t celebrate our differences. We politicize them. [Diversity] is God’s good plan.”
“Start early,” she said. “Get that foundation early so that they can celebrate and so it’s not this strange thing.”
Byron Day, president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, told attendees it is “important that you model what you’re going to teach. ... Show respect to all people, all ethnicities in your daily life.”
Parents who have failed in this area can still be examples to their children when they recognize their sin, Newbell said.
“[I]f we exercise repentance in front of our children, it speaks volumes, it speaks volumes to them,” she said. “And so we can repent of our own bias and where we’ve struggled with racial pride. We can receive the grace of God and continue to walk in a manner that’s worthy of the gospel.”
The panel shared some truths they seek to teach their children regarding racial unity.
The root of racism is “sin of self at the end of the day,” said Afshin Ziafat, lead pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas. “So with our children I want to teach them that all are made in God’s image, but I also want to make sure I’m teaching them that life isn’t about you. ... Put others before yourself. ... [T]hat’s the foundation, I think, that wipes out racism.”
Metzger said she tries to talk about the subject in the context of “ethnicity, nationality and history, because I think bigotry really gets its fuel from sweeping generalizations. I try to explain to my kids we’re individuals first before we fit in this group or that group.”
Jason Paredes, lead pastor of Fielder Church in Arlington, Texas, said a multi-ethnic church – and, in Fielder’s case, multi-ethnic families within the church – can play an important role in helping children think biblically about ethnic diversity.
“What it does is it creates a space for there to be beautiful conversations that are natural and normal that didn’t seem like I’m trying to force us or shove it down your throat,” Paredes told the audience. “It’s just evident for everybody to see because that’s who the church is.
“It’s the opposite of color blindness; it’s color richness.”
Newbell – who has an interracial marriage and has written a book on ethnic diversity – said parents can help their children in some practical ways within the home.
“I think our dinner tables are essential for this,” including inviting neighbors for a meal, she said, additionally suggesting “getting to know those around you and asking God to give you eyes to see color, to see culture, to see diversity so that you can celebrate God’s creation and invite people in.”
She also recommended learning the history and culture of different groups, as well as attending various cultural events and art exhibits.
As an issue, racial unity belongs to the church, not just the culture, panelists strongly affirmed.
Racism is “an affront to God,” Ziafat said. “It’s an affront to the gospel.
“It’s an affront to heaven.”
Newbell said, “Is this a church issue? Yes, because of Genesis 3. It’s a church issue because we live in a fallen world. But it’s also a church issue because of Genesis 1. God has created us all in the image of God. It’s also a church issue because of Jesus. Jesus died for every tribe, tongue and nation. It’s a church issue because we have a multi-ethnic mission – to go and make disciples of all nations. And it’s a church issue because [of the vision of heaven in Revelation] – we’re all going to be worshiping together one day.”
The church “ought to be at the forefront of this matter, not the last people to realize what’s happening in our country,” said Day, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md. “The church ought to be leading the way. That’s what Christ intended us to do.
“The only real cure [to racism] is the gospel,” he said.
“And so what it’s going to take is for believers like us to have that patience, that perseverance and that grace.”
Steven Harris, a policy director for the ERLC, moderated the panel discussion.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

9/1/2017 8:08:57 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Transgender education in kindergarten stirs debate

September 1 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A months-long debate on parental consent for controversial education topics continues in California after a teacher introduced a kindergartener as transgender and read classmates two books on transgenderism.
The teacher told parents at an Aug. 22 board meeting of the Rocklin Academy Charter Schools in Rocklin, Calif., that she meant no harm by introducing the student as transgender, the Washington Times reported Aug. 23.
In a June 2017 class at Rocklin Academy Gateway, the teacher said, she told students the classmate they had previously known as a boy was now a girl. The teacher also defended her decision to read the students two books designed to explain transgenderism to children ages 4-8, I am Jazz and Red: A Crayon’s Story.
At least one parent told the school system her daughter was traumatized by the experience and became afraid that she might somehow turn into a boy.
The teacher, unnamed in news accounts, did not verify reports from students that she described the transgender child as having a boy’s body but a girl’s brain, nor reports that the student was allowed to change into girl’s clothing, the Washington Times reported.
The controversy gained national attention at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year when a first grade girl was called to the principal’s office after addressing the transgender girl as a boy, using the name she had previously learned for the student.
The issue has divided parents in the small Sacramento suburb, with one group circulating a petition for the school system to acquire parental consent before teaching students such controversial topics. Other parents at the meeting described the incident as helpful to their children’s education. The issue will be discussed at the Sept. 18 school board meeting, parents were told.
Two mothers whose daughters attend the school chose to conceal their identity when discussing the issue on the Aug. 28 edition of FOX News’ “The Story with Martha McCallum.” Speaking with her image obscured, the parent of the child taken to the principal’s office told her daughter’s perception of the incident.
“She ran up and said hi to him by the name she knows him as,” said the mother, identified only as Mary Ann. “And she was reprimanded on the spot. And then later that day she was actually pulled out of her class and sent to the principal’s office to discuss what had happened.” The school system has maintained that the visit to the principal’s office did not constitute a reprimand, only a discussion.
The second mother on the broadcast, identified as Mary, said her daughter developed anxiety after the kindergarten class, fearing she might turn into a boy. It was not clear whether she was the same mother who described a similar experience at the August school board meeting.
“It was watching her go through that that I realized, this lesson that was taught to my child was not a lesson about acceptance or love,” Mary said. “It was a lesson that caused her to have a lot of fear and confusion, and she was actually taught that she could turn into the opposite sex.
“And that is what really troubled me,” the mother said. “I really wished that I had had the opportunity to talk to her about this first, and even the opportunity to opt out, and maybe keep her home for the day if they had to discuss this.”
Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, told WORLD News Service that such reactions are predictable among children exposed to “gender-bending story books and cross-dressing demonstrations.”
“Teaching transgender ideology to children amounts to child abuse,” Cretella said in an Aug. 25 World News report. “When authority figures teach these youngsters the myth that a child can be trapped in the wrong body, they are potentially disrupting their normal cognitive development ... [and] will potentially lead to the fear that they aren’t the sex their bodies clearly indicate they are.”
The school has expressed a desire to protect all students, regardless of gender or gender identity and in accordance with California law, the local FOX affiliate reported.
“Rocklin Academy is dedicated to ensuring a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students,” principal Jillayne Antoon said in an undated letter published on FOX 40’s website. “We have a nondiscrimination policy included in our Annual Parent Notice that protects all our students, including on the basis of gender, gender identity and gender expression, and we fully support compliance with this policy.
“Additionally, California State Law specifies the school’s responsibility for protecting students’ rights to privacy and to be free from discrimination,” Antoon wrote.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

9/1/2017 8:05:05 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Ministry sues over ‘hate group’ label

September 1 2017 by Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD News Service

One Christian ministry has apparently had enough of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s disparaging “hate group” characterization. D. James Kennedy Ministries filed a lawsuit Aug. 23 in an Alabama federal court alleging the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “trafficked in false and misleading descriptions” of the ministry and that other entities also named in the suit perpetuated the libel.

Frank Wright, president of D. James Kennedy Ministries

Christian ministries that affirm the biblical view of marriage and human sexuality have earned the SPLC’s “hate group” designation, a designation repeated by many media outlets without question. Groups like D. James Kennedy Ministries, Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council have demanded retractions and apologies to no avail. With no apology and the ministry’s reputation sullied, D. James Kennedy Ministries now seeks restitution.
But Brad Dacus, president of Christian legal group Pacific Justice Institute, another organization on the hate group list, doesn’t hold much hope for the lawsuit. The SPLC “knows the law” and its “well-paid attorneys make sure what they say will hold up in a court of law,” he said.
Proving libel, slander and defamation in court is extremely difficult, and a jury would most likely define the hate group label as an opinion instead of a “factual misrepresentation,” as libel law demands, Dacus said.
Online charity clearinghouse GuideStar and internet retailer Amazon and its charitable giving arm AmazonSmile also are named in the lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial and financial damages.
“Those who knowingly label Christian ministries as hate groups, solely for subscribing to the historic Christian faith, are either woefully uninformed or willfully deceitful,” said Frank Wright, president of D. James Kennedy Ministries. “In the case of the Southern Poverty Law Center, our lawsuit alleges the latter.”
GuideStar added the hate group label to its description of the ministry earlier this year. AmazonSmile references GuideStar when determining which charitable groups it supports. Because of the designation, AmazonSmile refused to allow the ministry to register with its program.
The lawsuit contends Amazon violated Title II of the Civil Rights Act’s public accommodation statute by denying the ministry access to AmazonSmile.
The Family Research Council (FRC) applauded the lawsuit, calling any use of the hate group label against Christians or their ministries “reckless, irresponsible, and uninformed.” Floyd Lee Corkins, who in 2012 shot and wounded an FRC employee during a foiled mass shooting attack, said the SPLC’s hate group designation, in part, motivated his attack.
Despite violence targeting Christians, the SPLC refuses to change or address the complaint.
“The irony is SPLC is utilizing their First Amendment rights to the greatest extent possible – right up to the edge of libel, defamation – with the obvious aim of suppressing the rights of public discourse of those who work hard to protect First Amendment rights for everyone,” Dacus said.
Liberty Counsel, another Christian legal group that received the SPLC hate group designation, sued GuideStar in June over its use of the term. GuideStar dropped the designation but said the information would be available upon request.
David Gibbs, the Texas attorney representing D. James Kennedy Ministries, said his clients preach “love, respect and salvation for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.”
“To be defamed as a hate group is nothing more than an attempt to silence every Bible believer in our nation,” he said. “This type of bullying is wrong, immature and dangerous.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bonnie Pritchett writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine,, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission. She also is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN,, news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

9/1/2017 7:55:35 AM by Bonnie Pritchett, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

Displaying results 101-105 (of 105)
 |<  <  2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 >  >|