September 2017

Two schools merge with Piedmont International University

September 25 2017 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

A High Point university and a Birmingham, Alabama Bible college are merging with Piedmont International University (PIU) according to two separate announcements from Charles Petitt, president of PIU.

A September 19 press release said the trustee boards of John Wesley University (JWU) in High Point, NC, and PIU in Winston-Salem, approved a merger “to connect the rich heritages of two historic Christian universities located only twenty miles from each other.”
JWU is a non-denominational, evangelical university. The merger will officially take effect on June 1, 2018, pending the approval of the Transnational Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits PIU.
The leaders of both universities believe the consolidated school will have far greater influence than either could have realized alone.
JWU’s President Steven Condon said, “There has never been a better time for this partnership. Both universities enjoy a vibrant student body, dynamic evolving curriculums, great campus locations, a historic legacy of service, over 175 years of combined Bible-based instruction, and a passion and love for the Lord.
“Piedmont enjoys a history of high quality curriculum and the momentum in recent years that comes from large enrollment increases. They also bring to the table a well-developed set of on-line programs, a global footprint and emerging dynamic athletic programs.”
Petitt said, “Both universities have enjoyed recent growth and are the two largest evangelical universities in the Triad area. We could continue on separately as we are for the foreseeable future and be pretty much the same ten years from now, but it would be far better to pool our resources and all the great attributes of each school to create something truly special.”
Piedmont will be the surviving entity in the merger, but the JWU heritage and name will be featured in a future building. JWU brings a school of business management, a nursing partnership and complementary athletic programs to PIU.
Petitt will continue as president and Condon will serve as chancellor, managing the day-to-day operations of the university and preparing for SACS accreditation application. PIU and JWU have been nationally accredited for decades, and both universities have been strategically planning to seek regional accreditation.
Condon said, “The strength of a merged university will poise PIU to take this step sooner, rather than later, and regional accreditation will open more doors for our students and advance their future opportunities.
“John Wesley was a strong Christian leader who is deeply admired by both schools. He was not only a man of God and a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he was also a champion for the downtrodden and a man who stood up against slavery across the British Empire. His last letter, written just days before his death, was to encourage William Wilberforce to use his influence as a force against slavery in the British Empire. We are happy to know that Piedmont’s leaders are eager to honor this great man and JWU in a number of ways including the naming of a building, an academic school, an endowment, and a special scholarship.”
The leaders of both universities believe the merger is an example of the strengths of collaboration.
“This alliance between Piedmont International and John Wesley universities is an example of two very good schools joining into one great Bible-based entity in the Triad,” Petitt said.
“Previously, we were competing for the same students, faculty, and resources and had almost endless duplication. Now we will share all of those things and have zero duplication, and the combined enrollment will form the largest biblical university in the state and likely the fastest growing one in the country. With similar missions, parallel passions, and shared goals, this is a great time for this merger.”

Southeastern Bible College to join PIU

Within the same week, a Sept. 22 press release announced a second merger. Trustee boards of Southeastern Bible College (SEBC) in Birmingham, Alabama, and PIU voted to approve a merger of the two schools that will become official October 31, pending the approval of the Transnational Association of Colleges and Schools.
A key part of the plan is to reopen SEBC in a new location in Birmingham as a collaborative campus of PIU. SEBC suspended operations on May 31 due to decreased enrollment and increased operational costs. The current campus will be sold, and proceeds will be used to create a streamlined, technology-based campus, said Petitt. Multiple degree options will be available through a blend of on campus and online courses.
By combining resources, cutting duplication, sharing academic and business infrastructure, and utilizing technology, Petitt said students will have access to “quality, accredited, private, Christian higher education with ultimate flexibility and truly affordable tuition.”
Piedmont will service the Birmingham campus through the PIU offices in Winston-Salem, eliminating the duplication of personnel, including the provost, CFO, academic deans, development staff, registrar, human resources and information technology personnel.
Petitt said, “This merger feels like a marriage made in heaven, because it pulls two wonderful families together and accomplishes significant goals set by each university. Piedmont has a culture of collaboration with a goal of expanded influence through strategic partnerships. ... This merger accomplishes the goals of both schools, and we couldn’t be happier with the partnership.”
SEBC president Alexander Granados said, “The Lord has joined two historic institutions to make a lasting contribution for the cause of Christ (James 2:14-18). We are honored to journey as one (Ephesians 4:4-6). We are united by our Lord, our biblical heritage and our unwavering mission to provide Bible-centered higher education. We look forward to equipping students for a life of enduring commitment to Christ and instruct them to think like Christ, value like Christ, and serve as Christ has called them to serve in the home, church, academy, community and marketplace. To God be the glory!”
Granados will move to North Carolina and become associate provost at PIU.
Petitt said about half of the PIU board members are Southern Baptists, including Rick Speas who serves as vice-chairman. Speas is pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and a former president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
“We feel like we are as close to the Southern Baptist family as you can be without being owned and operated by the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Petitt. “Southeastern has also enjoyed a great relationship with Baptists in Alabama.”
JWU, SEBC and PIU were founded in 1903, 1935 and 1945 respectively. The endowments of the three schools will be blended into PIU’s resources.

Tennessee Temple University merged into PIU two years ago and closed its campus in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Visit for more information.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Allan Blume serves as an advisory member of PIU's board.)

9/25/2017 12:23:35 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments

Nashville church shooting draws calls for prayer

September 25 2017 by David Roach, Baptist Press

One person is dead and eight injured following what police have called a “mass casualty” church shooting in Nashville Sunday morning.

Screen capture from CBS News
One person is dead and eight injured following what police have called a “mass casualty” church shooting in Nashville Sunday morning.

Government officials and Southern Baptist leaders reacted with expressions of sadness and sympathy.
The gunman, identified by media reports as 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson, allegedly shot and killed a woman in the parking lot of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in the southeast Nashville neighborhood of Antioch shortly after the morning service had ended. With his car still running, he then entered the church’s rear doors and began “indiscriminately” shooting, according to Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper.
Pastor Joey Spann, 60, and his wife Peggy, 65, were among the injured, according to a Facebook post by Nashville Christian School, where Joey Spann teaches Bible and coaches basketball.
A church usher confronted Samson inside the church, according to media reports, and Samson suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound during the struggle. It was unclear whether the self-inflicted wound was intentional. The usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, then retrieved a gun from his car and held Samson at gunpoint until police arrived. Engle has a valid carry permit, Nashville’s WKRN news reported.
Police called Engle a “hero,” according to the Tennessean.
Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank S. Page told Baptist Press (BP) in written comments, “Our prayers go out to the victims of the mass shooting in Antioch, Tenn. People should be able to attend the church of their choice and do so in safety.
“Sadly, the violence that is rampant in our society has manifested its ugly head once again and, once again, this violence is combined with cowardice by targeting innocent people. Our prayers go out to this pastor, his wife and their congregation,” Page said.
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore tweeted, “Mass church shooting today just outside of Nashville. Please pray for this church and for my city.”
Nashville mayor Megan Barry called the shooting “a terrible tragedy for our city.”
“My heart aches for the family and friends of the deceased as well as for the wounded victims and their loved ones. Their lives have been forever changed, as has the life of their faith community at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ. My administration, especially the Metro Nashville Police Department, will continue to work with community members to stop crime before it starts, encourage peaceful conflict resolution, and promote non-violence.”
Five of the shooting victims and the gunman were being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Pastor Spann was in critical condition as of Sunday afternoon, and all others were listed as stable, according to WKRN.
Samson is to be taken into police custody upon his release from the hospital, WKRN reported.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

9/25/2017 10:30:26 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Congregational singing alive and well at ‘Sing!’ conference

September 25 2017 by Bob Smietana, LifeWay Christian Resources

The first time Keith Getty sat down to write the melody for a new hymn, he penned the now-classic tune for “In Christ Alone.”

Photo by Katie Shull
More than 4,000 pastors, music leaders and musicians attended a three-day celebration of congregational singing hosted by Getty Music at Brentwood Baptist Church near Nashville.

It’s been all downhill from there, Getty said with a wry smile at the recent “Sing!” conference in Nashville.
A few of his friends may disagree.
More than 4,000 pastors, music leaders and musicians attended a three-day celebration of congregational singing, highlighted by a standing-room-only hymn sing at the Grand Ole Opry House. The Getty Music-led event was part theological reflection, part how-to training and part feast of hymn singing. Many of the hymns were composed by Getty, recently named an “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” by Queen Elizabeth II.
Getty urged attendees to enjoy being in God’s presence during the conference, seeing it as a time of celebration as well as training.
“We want creativity, we want joy and laughter,” said Getty as the “Sing!” conference kicked off Monday, Sept. 18, at Brentwood Baptist Church, just south of Nashville. “Sing!” is also the name of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s latest book from B&H Publishing, available at
The conference was inspired in part by meetings the Gettys had with pastors across the United States. Those meetings left them concerned about the state of congregational singing in churches.
After Sunday services, he said, few pastors were asking, “How did the congregation sing?”
That’s a concern, he said, as singing plays a vital role in passing on the Christian faith from generation to generation.
“God’s people have learned their faith in significant part by what they sing,” Getty said.
More than half of conference attendees were pastors. Getty urged them and the musicians present to see themselves as partners in mission – building up “deep believers,” grounded in theology and devotion to God.
For the first of what they hope will be annual events, the Gettys invited speakers such as pastor Alistair Begg, International Mission Board President David Platt, theologian D.A. Carson and radio host Joni Eareckson Tada. Musical guests included violinist David Kim, the concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs.

Missions and music

On Tuesday morning, Platt drew a direct connection between congregational singing and missions.
“Worship is the why of missions,” he said. “If we are going to be serious about the mission of God, we must be serious about the glory of God.”
Platt described congregational singing as both a delight and a duty. In worship, he said, we enjoy God’s presence – which puts mundane pleasures like wealth and power to shame.
“This is our delightful duty,” he said. “... Our deepest joy, pleasure and satisfaction is not found in the pleasures of this world but in the worship of our God.”
He urged pastors, music leaders and musicians to see singing and worship as a group activity – not a spectator sport. When Christians take part in worship, they join with the church throughout history in praising God.
“Participation establishes our continuity with the people of God throughout history,” he said. “... When we sing we are dedicating ourselves to the mission of God.”

Trust and relationship are key

Getting people to sing isn’t easy, said conference speakers. It’s not something you can persuade people to do by cheerleading or making them feel guilty.
One way to start is by reminding people of God’s goodness and grace in their lives, said Begg, senior pastor of Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio.
Reminding people to set down their cellphones for a few minutes would help as well, said D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
It’s hard to worship or to sing God’s praise when you are constantly distracted, he said.
“What this means on the practical level is making the Bible more important than the iPhone,” Carson said. “Reading the Bible is more important than checking email.”
Musicians have to walk a fine line when leading congregational singing – pursuing musical excellence without intimidating ordinary people in the congregation. It’s a tricky balance, Begg said.
Trust is also key, said Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship and a longtime music minister. Speaking on a panel about how to improve congregational singing, Harland said a song leader has to earn people’s trust.
That takes time, he said. If the song leader doesn’t know the congregation well, the leader won’t know what songs will work. If people in the congregation don’t know the leader, they won’t follow the leader in singing.
“You’re earning the right to lead them,” Harland said.
Leading well also means seeing yourself as an ordinary church member, said Jonathan Rea, creative director of New Irish Arts and longtime choral leader. Leading singing is just another form of Christian service.
Panelists also urged music leaders to search high and low for songs that span the breadth of Christian life.
Churches need songs that teach theology as well as songs that make an emotional connection, Rea said. The idea is to create a balanced spiritual diet of music.
Next year’s “Sing!” conference will be Sept. 10-12, 2018, at Nashville’s Music City Center. Registration is already open at
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bob Smietana is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.)

9/25/2017 10:15:03 AM by Bob Smietana, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments

SBDR preparing major Puerto Rico response

September 25 2017 by Brandon Elrod, NAMB

After Hurricane Maria knocked power out for nearly the entire population of Puerto Rico, the island’s infrastructure is devastated and initial reports estimate that it will take months before services can be completely restored.

Screen capture from

On Sept. 21, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials sought to organize a response in Puerto Rico with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) as well as American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Sam Porter, the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) national director for disaster relief, worked with state SBDR leaders to mobilize their response.
“At 3 p.m. Sept. 21, FEMA asked us to get a plan together to send teams to Puerto Rico to start serving 200,000 meals daily,” Porter said. “By 6 p.m., we had kitchens capable of feeding 100,000 meals a day committed to be driven to Florida, packed onto boats and shipped to Puerto Rico.”
NAMB and SBDR coordinated to send the necessary teams to Puerto Rico. The goal was to have feeding units in transit to Puerto Rico from Florida on Sept. 25.
When Irma smashed through the Atlantic and the Caribbean, the damage sustained in Puerto Rico was severe, but the island avoided a direct hit.
An SBDR kitchen from Alabama had been diverted from Puerto Rico to the U.S. Virgin Islands at the request of officials because of the damage sustained there. That unit (along with another) will be serving 5,000 meals a day in the Virgin Islands.
“The whole world is watching what’s happening with these historic storms,” Porter said. “Our response will tell Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that Southern Baptists care about you.”
The goal, Porter said, is to have between six and 10 kitchens sent to Puerto Rico and it will take between 200 and 300 volunteers to operate the kitchens and serve the needed meals.
Porter said volunteer fatigue is a significant concern right now.
“This is week five of responding since Harvey made landfall,” Porter noted. “A lot of our teams are tired and weary. We really need more Southern Baptists to step up in a big way in the next month.”
Porter urged volunteers to go and serve, especially if they have disaster relief training. Those without training are also welcome.
“If you don’t have training, that’s a big part of what [NAMB’s] Send Relief is for,” he said. “Southern Baptists have ways for everyone to get involved in this huge response.”
NAMB’s vice president of Send Relief, David Melber, also added, “Another part of our approach is to provide support packages to our Baptist churches in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We will also be putting together support packages for their pastors.”
Those support packages will include: generators, food, water, financial resources and other items as needs continue to be made known.
“Our desire is to affirm the position of the local church in all the response areas,” Melber said. “Our goal is to get the local church positioned to be the pillar in the community. We also want to make sure local pastors are supported and empowered to lead their churches.”
Southern Baptists have been striving to get as many resources as possible into areas affected by these disasters.
In their Sept. 18-19 meeting in Nashville, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee voted to send the first $1.25 million in overages to the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget to NAMB’s Send Relief ministry. In addition, the SBC Executive Committee will send its income overages toward International Mission Board disaster relief initiatives.

Harvey efforts moving toward rebuild

Photo from NAMB
Nathan Lino, left, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church, shares with Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, how his church has been ministering since the Houston flooding. Even though the church’s Farrington Mission, located in Houston’s Fifth Ward, was flooded, they have served thousands of people, giving away more than $200,000 in baby supplies, food, etc. and sharing the gospel more than 3,000 times.

SBDR units in Texas and Louisiana have started moving from the recovery phase to the rebuilding phase. A lot still needs to be accomplished, but several churches have come alongside SBDR to minister. More than 1,000 volunteers from Southern Baptist churches are signed up to serve in Houston through NAMB’s Send Relief ministry between now and the end of October.
NAMB president Kevin Ezell was in Houston on Sep. 21 to visit with and encourage pastors.
“It is great to see the Southern Baptist family responding in such a big way,” Ezell said. “I heard story after story of churches and individuals that have made unexpected donations or just shown up and asked, How can we help?’ Houston will need this kind of assistance for months and even years to come, but it is incredibly encouraging to see how God is already at work.”
As of Sept. 21, SBDR had served over 1.3 million meals and completed over 2,200 jobs in their response to Hurricane Harvey. Volunteers have seen at least 230 people come to faith in Christ.

Hurricane Irma response in Florida

In Florida, eight SBDR feeding units are on site throughout the state, serving between 38,000 and 60,000 total meals each day, for a total eclipsing 310,000 served by the end of the day on Sept. 21 during the response to date. SBDR volunteers have completed 507 clean-up and recovery jobs and seen 26 professions of faith in their response to Irma.
Less than five percent of the state was without power as of Wednesday evening and that was mostly in the Florida Keys. Even as power gets restored, many residents still need meals provided by Southern Baptists since they have been unable to work in the aftermath of the storm to put food on their own tables.
For more information, visit or your state Baptist convention’s disaster relief web site:
Watch a video of Tim Tebow thanking N.C. Baptists for their disaster relief efforts:

Watch videos about what Southern Baptists are doing to help hurricane victims:

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.)
Related story:
Tebow thanks N.C. Baptist DR

9/25/2017 10:00:00 AM by Brandon Elrod, NAMB | with 0 comments

‘Remarkable’ number of women reported at SBC seminaries

September 25 2017 by David Roach, Baptist Press

“A remarkable number of young women” are enrolling at Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminaries, according to a report delivered this week to the SBC Executive Committee (EC).

File photo by Adam Covington, SWBTS

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) President Paige Patterson, in reporting to the EC Sept. 18, said female SBC seminary graduates are helping to fulfill a need in churches for “strong female Bible teachers.” He attributed the increased number of female students in part to the publication of high-quality theological resources for women by LifeWay Christian Resources.
“One of the things we have all been convinced of at the seminaries,” Patterson said, “is that one of the things we greatly need is a generation of female Bible teachers who really have their act together, who really understand the Word of God.
“... Coming through our programs are a remarkable number of young women who are going all the way [to terminal degrees] and doing the finest job they could possibly do in education,” Patterson said.
According to data submitted to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), SBC seminaries saw a 12 percent increase from 2012-16 in female students enrolled in graduate-level degree programs. Last fall, nearly 1,900 women were pursuing graduate degrees at SBC seminaries.
Though undergraduate data is not reflected on ATS reports, at least some seminaries have experienced female student increases in their undergraduate programs, according to reports received by Baptist Press.
Rhonda Kelley, wife of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley, attributed the increase in female seminary enrollment both to “student wives taking seminary courses” and women “receiving theological training to equip them for vocational or lay ministry in a variety of different fields, including women’s ministry, psychology and counseling, music, Christian education, preschool and children’s ministry.”
“The variety of degree programs and the introduction of certificate programs with fewer courses focused in a particular area of specialization are more realistic for women who have careers or others who have children at home,” Kelley, who chaired EC President Frank S. Page’s Women’s Advisory Council, told Baptist Press (BP) in written comments. “The different delivery models such as extension centers and online courses are more accessible to women. Our experience is that older ladies tend to characterize our certificate programs while more students in undergraduate and graduate degrees are younger.”
SWBTS, the focus of Patterson’s report, has seen a 35 percent increase since 2012 in female students pursuing graduate degrees, according to ATS data. The female undergraduate population at SWBTS has increased by 30 percent since 2012, according to data provided to BP by the seminary.
During the spring of 2017, 766 women were enrolled in certificate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral classes, Southwestern reported.
Patterson told the EC that Southwestern has four women on its faculty with doctor of philosophy degrees in theology. The seminary told BP 13 percent of its faculty are women, and degree programs at the master’s and doctoral levels allow for focus on women’s ministry and women’s studies.
Southwestern has both an endowed chair focused on women’s studies and a dean of women’s programs.
Other SBC seminaries also offer women’s ministry programs and emphases.
Dorothy Patterson, wife of Paige Patterson and a theology professor at Southwestern, told BP, “Woman-to-woman teaching is the New Testament method as presented by God through the apostle Paul in the New Testament (Titus 2:3-5). Women indeed learn from men, and men receive godly wisdom from women as did the learned Apollos from Priscilla. However, the creation order guides both women and men in how each helps and edifies the other.
“More than four decades ago I asked the Lord to bring to me in theological education a ‘few good women’ with whom I could work to change the world! He has been more than faithful, and I rejoice to see the nurturing sensitivities of a myriad of women pouring out their giftedness and wisdom within the boundaries of scripture,” Dorothy Patterson said in written comments.
The Baptist Faith and Message, Article VI, states that “both women and men are gifted for service in the church,” adding “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by scripture.”
Katie McCoy, assistant professor of theology in women’s studies at SWBTS, told BP women studying at SBC seminaries “are stewarding their minds for God’s glory by investing in theological education – and women are worthy of the investment.
“They are preparing themselves to make valuable and enduring contributions to the church in their generation,” McCoy said in written comments. “And, they are serving in harmony with, and under the authority of, scripture’s pattern for women in ministry.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

9/25/2017 8:41:32 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Couple fights to limit videos to biblical marriage

September 25 2017 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Christian filmmakers Carl and Angel Larsen are asking a district court to reinstate their challenge to a Minnesota law that could force them to produce media supporting same-sex marriage.

Photo from ADF
Angel and Carl Larsen

The U.S. District Court in Minnesota dismissed the couple’s lawsuit on Sept. 20 against the state over portions of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), which bans sexual orientation discrimination in public accommodations and contracting.
The St. Cloud, Minn., couple would like to expand their videography business, Telescope Media Group, to include wedding videos for public clients. But the business owners believe the law would prevent them from limiting their services to the expression of biblical marriage between a man and a woman, their attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) contend in the legal challenge launched in 2016. The Minnesota law violates the couple’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, including the freedoms of religious exercise and speech, the ADF said.
Though they were never charged with a crime under MHRA, the Larsens are pursuing a “pre-enforcement” lawsuit to ensure a clear legal route for their business pursuits, ADF senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco said in a video posted at
“The Larsens know that if they want to get into the wedding industry, they’re immediately going to be flouting the law. And so rather than taking the risk of violating the law, knowing that the state of Minnesota has emphatically declared that what they want to do violates the law, they’ve chosen the option of filing a pre-enforcement challenge to that law,” Tedesco said. The Larsens want to “have their rights declared before they even enter the industry, so they know whether they have the constitutional right to do what they want to do, or whether they do not.”
The district court dismissed the Larsens’ case at the request of Commissioner Kevin Lindsey of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, defendants in the case.
“The day is gone when [courts] use the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to strike down state laws, regulatory of business and industrial conditions, because they may be unwise, improvident or out of harmony with a particular school of thought,” the district court said in dismissing the suit. “Because the Larsens have failed to plead the violation of a fundamental right, and because their First Amendment arguments are not cognizable under the rubric of substantive due process, the Larsens’ substantive due process claim fails as a matter of law.”
In announcing the appeal, Tedesco said MHRA censors the Larsens and demands “that they tell stories in film that violate their deepest convictions.” MHRA violations are punishable by a civil penalty payable to the state, triple compensatory damages, punitive damages of up to $25,000, a criminal penalty of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.
“Tolerance is a two-way street,” Tedesco said. “Creative professionals who engage in the expression of ideas shouldn’t be threatened with fines and jail simply for having a particular point of view about marriage that the government may not favor.”
The Larsens created their business “to glorify God through top quality media production,” Carl Larsen said at “I want to tell stories about the glory of God in marriage, because not many people are.”
The Larsens have been married 14 years and parent eight children, including two adoptees and a foster child. Angel Larsen said she feels obligated to fight for the religious freedom of her children.
“I feel that Telescope Media Group was created for such a time as this, and I never anticipated it to come to this point,” she said, “but ... I want to help my children preserve their religious freedom. And if I don’t do something now, I’ll look back and totally regret it.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

9/25/2017 8:17:29 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Tebow thanks N.C. Baptist DR

September 22 2017 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

Professional athlete and sports analyst Tim Tebow thanked North Carolina Baptist churches in a Facebook video posted Thursday (Sept. 21) for their disaster relief efforts across Florida after Hurricane Irma.

“I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for what you’re doing,” said Tebow, a former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner who plays professional baseball for the New York Mets organization. “You’ve gone above and beyond, and we thank you so much.”

Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida’s southern tip Sept. 10, cutting a northward path through the state with devastating winds of up to 142 miles per hour and record amounts of rain. The storm left millions of Floridians without power and caused billions of dollars in damage. More than 70 people have been killed by Irma in the U.S. and Caribbean, according to the latest news reports.

North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), also known as Baptists on Mission, began transporting equipment and volunteer teams to Florida Sept. 13 at the request of Florida Baptist Disaster Relief leaders.

NCBM’s volunteer teams have prepared more than 57,000 meals for South Florida residents and completed 35 cleanup projects, logging nearly 6,000 volunteer hours in total.

Tebow visited NCBM’s site in Big Pine Key, where a feeding unit is currently serving approximately 9,000 meals per day, to express gratitude for the way N.C. Baptist volunteers represent the Christian faith.

“In a time like this, when storms hit and disaster comes ... you can really show what you’re all about, and what Jesus is all about,” he said. “I continue to ask that you support, and care and come because there are so many people that need your help.”

Gaylon Moss, NCBM disaster relief director, said the video was encouraging.

“We are very thankful for Mr. Tebow coming by to greet the volunteers and disaster survivors,” Moss told the Biblical Recorder. “We appreciate his support.”

Moss also praised the work of Florida Baptist Disaster Relief and said he was thankful they invited NCBM to help.

“Florida Baptists have moved very quickly,” he said. “We appreciate the relationship we have with them as we are meeting needs in South Florida.”

To donate online, go to or mail checks designated for Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief to NCBM, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512.

Gifts to the North Carolina Missions Offering ( make N.C. Baptist disaster relief possible.

9/22/2017 11:13:21 AM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments

Young leaders, CP among Page’s topics at SEBTS

September 22 2017 by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS

Frank S. Page addressed a range of topics in chapel, a panel discussion and a video interview at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).

Contributed photo
Frank S. Page, right, president of the SBC Executive Committee, and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary, join in a panel discussion moderated by Jonathan Akin, director of young leader engagement at the North American Mission Board, on encouraging the younger demographic to be active in Southern Baptist life.

Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee, underscored the involvement of young leaders in the SBC and its Cooperative Program during his Sept. 7 visit to the Wake Forest, N.C. campus.
In chapel, Page drew from the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3 on the importance of a Christian facing reality in a godly way.
Three keys to this kind of living, he said, are humility, grace and growth.
Referencing Philippians 3:13, Page encouraged students to not let their past hinder their growth into Christlikeness.
“I’m not thinking that this means an absence of memory,” he said, “but it is a resolution of attempt” to move forward in God’s grace.
Page challenged the students to remember that God wants them to enjoy the process of transformation into Christ’s image.
“God is not a God who demands perfectionism in the sense that we know perfectionism,” Page said. “He wants us to enjoy the stages of the journey as we grow toward that total Christlikeness.”
Page and SEBTS President Danny Akin spoke after chapel during a lunchtime panel moderated by Jonathan Akin, director of young leader engagement at the North American Mission Board. The panel focused on encouraging and challenging the younger demographic to be active in Southern Baptist life.
“I’d encourage you to stay involved,” Page said, “so that you can make the changes needed because if you become an outsider, nobody is going to listen to you.”
Page also noted that Southeastern is working to educate students on the importance of the Cooperative Program’s key role in national and international missions and ministries. Such efforts include a new intro to seminary course which places a large emphasis on the Cooperative Program as well as clearly stating on students’ bills how much they saved on tuition costs through their involvement in a Southern Baptist church.
Akin added, “We have a responsibility at the seminary to help students understand what the Cooperative Program is and why it works so well and why it’s really smart to be a part of it.”
During the panel discussion, attendees were encouraged to ask questions of Akin and Page. One student asked how the convention is addressing the the decline in pastors under the age of 40.
“We’ve gone through a mindset change in that the idea of pastors calling out the called in their church has been greatly deemphasized,” said Akin, who also noted that another issue stems from a lack of pastoral discipleship.
Page encouraged prospective church planters to avoid the notion that “you’re going to go to a place with no problems.” Others may be wary because of pastoral issues they have seen in the past, fearing that God may call them to walk down the same road, he said.
“Please be open to the call of God,” Page said. “He may call you to a hard-hearted church. That may be your ministry is revitalize, replant in that place,” said Page.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lauren Pratt is Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s news and information specialist.)

9/22/2017 11:09:54 AM by Lauren Pratt, SEBTS | with 0 comments

Protestant unity is new confession’s focus

September 22 2017 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A confession of faith aimed at expressing “interdenominational unity” among Protestants on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation has drawn endorsement from professors at all six Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminaries and staff members at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

The “Reforming Catholic Confession” also has been signed by professors from at least eight colleges affiliated with state Baptist conventions and by Southern Baptist pastors including Matt Chandler, J.D. Greear and James MacDonald. ERLC President Russell Moore was the only SBC entity president among some 930 signatories as of Sept. 18.
Malcolm Yarnell, one of two SBC seminary professors on the confession’s drafting committee, told Baptist Press (BP) in written comments, “Combining my voice with others who treasure our common history is a great way to remind ourselves of certain truths that were rediscovered during the 16th-century Reformation. These truths are in danger of being lost due to the rapidly changing context and short-term memory of our churches.”
Yarnell, research professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, added, “It should be noted that this confession explicitly does not supersede our Baptist Faith and Message. Just as I signed a statement recently regarding the biblical view of human sexuality and another regarding the problem of racism, so I felt it necessary to affirm publicly the Reformation, because it has so positively shaped our faith and we are in danger of forgetting what God has already given us (again).”
Released Sept. 12, the confession, according to an accompanying explanation, attempts to express “mere Protestantism” – the “interdenominational unity in the essentials of the faith” shared by all heirs of the Protestant Reformation. The term “catholic” in the title does not reference the Roman Catholic Church but conveys the framers’ intent to speak on behalf of “the whole church,” according to the explanation.
The confession addresses 12 main topics: the Trinity, scripture, human beings, fallenness, the person of Christ, the work of Christ, the gospel, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, holy living and last things.
On issues where major Protestant traditions have points of disagreement, like baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the confession attempts to express only points of commonality, highlighting the five “solas” of the Reformation – by scripture alone (sola scriptura), by faith alone (sola fide), by grace alone (sola gratia), through Christ alone (solo Christo) and glory to God alone (soli Deo gloria).
The confession’s published explanation states, “While it is tempting to focus on and exaggerate the differences, we want here to strengthen the Protestant cause by focusing on the doctrinal beliefs we have in common, not least for the sake of our common witness to the truth and power of the gospel.”
Gregg Allison, the other Southern Baptist drafting committee member and professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told BP via email, “On the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and to rebuff the ongoing charge that Protestantism is hopelessly divided, we constructed a Reforming Catholic Confession as a statement of beliefs that are shared in common by Protestants of many varieties: Anglicans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists and more.
“We are not divided over, but stand united on, these core beliefs! As one whose heart yearns for Protestant unity on the essentials, and for the sake of the church of Jesus Christ and its mission to the world, I consider this confession a fitting expression of mere Protestantism for our day,” Allison said.
The confession’s 12-member steering committee also includes individuals with Southern Baptist ties. Among them: co-chair Timothy George, dean of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School; David Dockery, president of Trinity International University; Robert Sloan, president of Houston Baptist University; and Ed Stetzer, executive director of Wheaton University’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.
The full confession, explanation and list of signatories and committee members is available at
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. This year, Baptist Press is publishing a series of stories leading up to the 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, Oct. 31, 1517.)

9/22/2017 11:07:08 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

California scraps abortion pill reversal class for nurses

September 22 2017 by Samantha Gobba, WORLD News Service

Nurses don’t need to learn about a procedure used to counteract the effects of an abortion-inducing drug, according to the California Board of Registered Nursing.
Just over a month after approving an “abortion pill reversal” class offered by the pro-life nonprofit organization Heartbeat International, the board issued a demand letter claiming the class isn’t “relevant to the practice of nursing” and calling for the group to “immediately cease and desist” offering the class.
Jay Hobbs, communications director at Heartbeat, said the board didn’t question the science behind the abortion pill reversal process. “They are questioning the relevance,” he said, “and that to us is extremely telling.”
Hobbs said the legal code cited in the letter mandates continued education units for nurses be about patient care and not self-help.
“So for them to cite that code in this is basically to tell us that this is a feel-good, kumbaya treatment,” he said. “It tells those women who have actually chosen life after taking that first pill, that they’re meaningless, that their children aren’t real. They are silencing not only us but those women who have made a courageous choice for life.”
Chemically induced abortions work with a duo of drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. The first drug blocks the effects of progesterone, which sustains the uterine lining during pregnancy, and thus ends the baby’s life. The second drug initiates contractions and expels the baby.
In 2006, family physician Matthew Harrison used progesterone injections to impede the effects of the mifepristone pill taken by a young woman. He said the idea came as “an answer to prayer,” and the woman’s baby lived.
Since then, he and fellow physician George Delgado formed the organization Abortion Pill Reversal, which includes 350 doctors across the nation in its network. About 300 mothers have successfully sought progesterone treatment after taking the first abortion pill, saving their babies, according to Heartbeat.
The Ohio-based network of pregnancy care centers trains nurses on the abortion pill reversal process and in 2012 became a licensed provider of continuing education units for California nurses. It currently offers 33 courses in addition to the now-suspended abortion pill reversal class.
The about-face from California followed pressure from Rewire, a pro-abortion online publication. Rewire called the abortion pill reversal class “medically questionable” in 2016, and the state launched a 17-month audit of every class Heartbeat offered. On July 28, the state gave Heartbeat permission to continue offering its courses, including its abortion pill reversal class.
But on Sept. 8, Rewire broke the news that California would demand that the organization stop offering the class or lose its license. Heartbeat received a letter from the state three days later.
Heartbeat has filed a public records request with the state to find out why it wants the class canceled, and is “fully prepared to go to court over this,” Hobbs said. “For us within the pro-life movement, I think this is a major strategic hill for us to take.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Samantha Gobba writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine,, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission.)

9/22/2017 11:05:01 AM by Samantha Gobba, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments

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