September 2017

Chitwood installed as IMB president

February 8 2019 by Ann Lovell, Baptist Press

Unity, fellowship and promises of mutual support characterized the installation of International Mission Board (IMB) President Paul Chitwood and the Sending Celebration of 19 newly appointed international missionaries on Feb. 6.

Photo by Roy Burroughs/IMB
Paul and Michelle Chitwood enjoy a moment with newly appointed International Mission Board missionaries at the IMB installation and sending celebration Feb. 6 at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond. Va.

Chitwood is the 13th president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s 173-year-old International Mission Board. The special service took place at Grove Avenue Baptist Church, in Richmond, Va.
Southern Baptist leaders from across the convention and a number of state conventions attended the event, which included worship led by The Summit Church from Raleigh-Durham N.C., remarks by SBC President J.D. Greear, a charge by former IMB President Tom Elliff, and a response by Chitwood. WMU Executive Director Sandy Wisdom-Martin and IMB President Emeritus Jerry Rankin also participated in the service, which featured testimonies from the 19 new missionaries.
Glenn and Kristie Ansley from North Wake Church in Wake Forest, N.C., were two of the 19 missionaries recognized in the service.
Andy and Kesiah Morris were also among the group. The couple, sent from Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, will serve in South Korea.
“As an international couple, it always seemed like we were caught between two different worlds,” Andy Morris said. “While our marriage was strong and our lives filled with reasons to be content, there was something deeper happening inside our relationship. It was pushing us to go out into the world and live in multicultural ‘in-between’ spaces.”

Photo by Roy Burroughs/IMB
Paul Chitwood, center, 13th president of the Southern Baptist’s International Mission Board, poses with Tom Elliff, left, 11th IMB president who served from 2011-2014, and Jerry Rankin, 10th IMB president who served from 1993-2010.

“One day last summer, we finally recognized this and made peace with the idea of uprooting ourselves and moving overseas,” Kesiah Morris said. “A few days later, through a divine appointment, God placed a clear and unexpected call upon our lives to go as missionaries.”
The calling to go to the nations is one that Southern Baptists have sought to support since the SBC’s beginnings. Unity around the Great Commission is core to Southern Baptist identity, Tom Elliff said in his charge to Chitwood and the new missionaries.
“I sat there and cried thinking about how wonderful it is that we have the privilege of joining in this incredible mission of God of sending these people around the world,” Elliff said. “That’s happened thousands and thousands of times [since the IMB’s inception] by the grace of God.”
Preaching from Philippians 2, Elliff reminded those gathered that Southern Baptists share a sacred mission, a solemn mandate which should not be taken lightly, and a specific manner in which we are to live our lives.

Photo by Roy Burroughs/IMB
Andy and Kesiah Morris, sent by Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, share the story of their calling at the IMB installation and Sending Celebration Feb. 6 at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. The couple will serve in South Korea.

Reminding the new appointees that the earliest Southern Baptist missionaries packed their belongings in caskets knowing they would never return, Elliff stressed the importance of the word, “together.”
“From the outset, there were people who realized that we can do better together than we can apart,” Elliff said.
In 1925, Southern Baptists came together again to form the Cooperative Program, Elliff said.
“That’s when we realized if we really wanted to exponentially multiply the ability to send people around the globe this would be the best way to do it,” Elliff said. “The best way is to do things together.”
Chitwood, with his wife Michelle by his side, responded to Elliff’s charge by asking the newly appointed missionaries and members of the home office staff to stand. He also acknowledged the more than 3,600 IMB missionaries serving around the world. 
Reading from 2 Corinthians 7:2, Chitwood said, “Make room for us in your hearts. That was Paul’s request. Make room for us in your hearts.”
Chitwood acknowledged that new missionaries, IMB home office staff, missionaries serving around the world, Southern Baptist churches, and state and denominational leaders have “made room” for him “in their hearts.”

Photo by Roy Burroughs/IMB
"We can do more together than we can apart," former IMB President Tom Elliff reminds new IMB missionaries during their Sending Celebration Feb. 6 at Grove Avenue Baptist Church.

He encouraged those present to “keep making room for us” in their prayers and in both family and church budgets. He urged individuals and churches to look for ways to partner with the IMB “in this great task of sharing Christ with the nations.”
Chitwood stressed that he was not just asking for support on behalf of the newly appointed missionaries, the home office staff, or those missionaries serving around the world. Instead, he said he was asking on behalf of lost people around the world “who most of us will never know until and unless we see them around the throne. Thank you for making room for them in your hearts, your prayers, your giving, going and sending.”
“Together,” Chitwood concluded, “we will strive in all business to carry out that work, to lead in a way that honors those who made room for us and (to honor) the Lord whose ambassadors we all are.” 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ann Lovell is a writer in Richmond, Va.)

2/8/2019 12:42:40 PM by Ann Lovell, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Trump promotes life, prayer at breakfast

February 8 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

President Donald Trump reaffirmed the sanctity of every human life and encouraged Americans to pray for the pursuit of justice during the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 7.

Screen capture from YouTube
President Trump reaffirmed the sanctity of every human life and encouraged Americans to pray for the pursuit of justice during the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 7.

The president also defended religious liberty and the work of faith-based adoption agencies in a 20-minute address at the annual event in a Washington, D.C., hotel.
In calling for prayer for the United States, Trump said, “Let us pray for the courage to pursue justice and the wisdom to forge peace. Let us pray for a future where every child has a warm, safe and loving home.
“Let us come together for the good of our people, for the strength of our families, for the safety of our citizens, for the fulfillment of our deepest hopes and our highest potential,” he said. “And let us always give thanks for the miracle of life, the majesty of creation and the grace of almighty God.”
At the breakfast, Trump repeated a line from his State of the Union speech Feb. 5, saying, “All children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God.”
He also told the audience, “As part of our commitment to building a just and loving society, we must build a culture that cherishes the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life.
“Every life is sacred, and every soul is a precious gift from heaven,” he said. “As the Lord says in Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart,’” which is from Jeremiah 1:5.
On the growing struggle for some religious foster care and adoption organizations, Trump said his administration “is working to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs.”
Foster care and adoption entities in some states have halted their services rather than violate their religious beliefs by placing children with same-sex couples.
“As president, I will always cherish, honor and protect the believers who uplift our communities and sustain our nation to ensure that people of faith can always contribute to our society,” Trump said.
The president also cited his administration’s work to combat religious persecution overseas and human trafficking, as well as the imprisonment of American citizens by foreign countries. He introduced Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who was freed in October after two years in a Turkish prison.
Trump also introduced Elan Carr, the newly named special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.
The president said many of the great movements in American history “have been led by people of faith and started in prayer. When we open our hearts to faith, we fill our hearts with love.”
He named America’s independence and the extension of voting rights to women as examples but seemed to conflate mistakenly the abolitionist and civil rights movements when he said “abolition of civil rights.”
Gary Haugen, chief executive officer of International Justice Mission (IJM), offered encouragement to an audience that included many evangelical Christian leaders during his keynote speech.
“I believe it is the holy faithfulness of God that should keep us from growing weary in doing good, but we do grow weary, don’t we?” Haugen said. “For our American family, I do sense that we are in a national moment of perilously mounting discouragement.
“We can be so discouraged by all that is going wrong, that we are tempted to give up on seeking what is right. 
“We should not grow weary in doing the good we know to do, because in the end an all-good and almighty God has the final say,” he said. “But at the same time, we should not grow weary in humbly seeking what is right, for you and I are not all good and we are surely missing what is right if we do not pause to tremble.”
IJM is a leader in the effort to end human trafficking, and Feb. 7 was Shine a Light on Slavery Day.
The efforts of the United States and other governments mean “[we] could see this ancient sin end for good,” Haugen said. “If we just do the good we can all agree needs to be done, we can see the God of Exodus sweep slavery into His dustbin of history.”
In introducing Trump, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a Southern Baptist, read I Timothy 2:1-2, where the apostle Paul calls for prayers for those in authority.
Lankford and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., served as co-chairmen of this year’s prayer breakfast.
The National Prayer Breakfast, which is sponsored by an evangelical Christian organization, began in 1953 during President Eisenhower’s first administration, and every president since has spoken at the event.

2/8/2019 12:42:23 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

EC search committee ‘actively pursued’ resumes from non-Anglos

February 7 2019 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Responding to “recent online stories and related social media activity,” the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s presidential search committee says it has “actively pursued resumes from non-Anglo candidates.”

BP file photo
The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (EC) seven-member presidential search committee comprises: (first row, left to right) Stephen Rummage, Mike Stone; (middle row, left to right) Adron Robinson, Carol Yarber, Joe Knott; (back row left to right) Stephen Swofford and Rolland Slade.

In a Feb. 7 statement to the full EC, the search committee also said it “will not have a nomination to share” at the EC’s Feb. 18-19 meeting in Nashville. It is seeking a successor to Frank S. Page, who resigned in March 2018.
The committee’s statement came the week after North Carolina’s Biblical Recorder newsjournal claimed a letter from two former SBC presidents – James Merritt and Bryant Wright – and Las Vegas pastor Vance Pitman asked the search committee if it had “interviewed any minority candidates.” At least two blog posts this month have reported claims that the EC search committee has not interviewed any minority candidates. Religion News Service reported on the discussion Feb. 6.
In its statement, the seven-person EC search committee noted the diversity of its own members and said, “The search committee not only desired ethnic diversity in our process, we have actively pursued resumes from non-Anglo candidates.”
The committee includes two African Americans, a woman and members from California to North Carolina and Chicago to Texas.
“In a meeting of your search committee on February 4, 2019, the two African-American members you elected to the seven-member committee addressed the ethnic diversity in our process,” according to the statement. “Pastor Rolland Slade and Dr. Adron Robinson, Vice Chairman of the search committee, expressed a ‘100% confidence level’ that our process has been Christ-honoring regarding the question of ethnic diversity.
“Your search committee views every recommendation as a sacred trust from Southern Baptists and has given every candidate serious consideration,” the statement continued. “Every decision has been united and unanimous.”
“Expanded details” regarding the search will be provided Feb. 18 during the search committee’s report to the full EC, according to the statement. “While we will not have a nomination to share with you at that time, our goal of finding God’s man remains unchanged. We are grateful for your prayers for us.”
In a preface to the statement, EC chairman Mike Stone, who serves on the search committee, told EC members the search committee “unanimously asked me to forward” the statement to the full EC in light of “recent online stories and related social media activity.”
The letter by Merritt, Wright and Pitman stated according to the Recorder, “We are not saying that you should hire a minority candidate” nor “dictating to the committee any specific individuals that you should either interview or select.”
But they added, “We know ourselves of certain minority candidates that we believe would at least merit a conversation and consideration regardless of whether or not they would be chosen in the end. At the very least, simply an acknowledgment that minorities were considered and interviewed in a serious way would show a good faith effort on the part of this committee to exhibit a sensitivity to where we are and where we need to go as a convention in terms of racial diversity in our leadership. Not to do so, we believe would send an extremely negative message and unnecessarily put the committee and frankly, the entire convention, in a bad light.”
The EC presidential search committee comprises chairman Steve Swofford, Robinson as vice chairman, Joe Knott, Stephen Rummage, Slade, Stone and Carol Yarber.
The full statement is printed below.
Email to full SBC Executive Committee from EC chairman Mike Stone:
Members of the Executive Committee,
Due to some recent online stories and related social media activity, the members of your presidential search team unanimously asked me to forward the following statement to you regarding our commitment to ethnic diversity in our presidential search. We are thankful for the privilege of serving you as we all seek the Lord’s guidance in these days. We appreciate your prayers.
Mike Stone
Chairman, Executive Committee
Statement by the EC presidential search committee:
When our board met on April 17, 2018, under challenging circumstances, you elected a diverse presidential search team. The search committee not only desired ethnic diversity in our process, we have actively pursued resumes from non-Anglo candidates.
In a meeting of your search committee on February 4, 2019, the two African-American members you elected to the seven-member committee addressed the ethnic diversity in our process. Pastor Rolland Slade and Dr. Adron Robinson, Vice Chairman of the search committee, expressed a "100% confidence level" that our process has been Christ-honoring regarding the question of ethnic diversity.
Your search committee views every recommendation as a sacred trust from Southern Baptists and has given every candidate serious consideration. Every decision has been united and unanimous.
We look forward to providing expanded details in our full committee report to you on February 18th in Nashville. While we will not have a nomination to share with you at that time, our goal of finding God’s man remains unchanged. We are grateful for your prayers for us.
Steve Swofford, Chairman
Adron Robinson, Vice Chairman
Joe Knott
Stephen Rummage
Rolland Slade
Mike Stone
Carol Yarber

2/7/2019 2:39:54 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Unborn made in ‘image of God,’ Trump tells nation

February 7 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

President Donald Trump affirmed unborn children as image bearers of God and urged Congress to ban late-term abortions in his second State of the Union speech.

Screen capture from YouTube
President Trump, in his State of the Union address, asked asks Democrats and Republicans for unity "to build a culture that cherishes innocent life."

Trump called for both parties to work together for the good of the country in his address Feb. 5 to a joint session of Congress and a national television audience. He repeated his requirement, however, of a policy that had helped produce a partial 35-day government shutdown and had delayed the date of his State of the Union speech – a physical barrier along the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration.
Though Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided over abortion, the president asked for unity of effort “to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.”
“And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God,” he said.
Trump also endorsed legislation in that cause. “To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb,” he told senators and representatives.
Trump’s endorsement apparently was for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions on babies 20 weeks or more after fertilization based on scientific evidence that a child in the womb experiences pain by that point in gestation.
In addressing abortion, the president referred to recent events in New York and Virginia in which Democratic officeholders endorsed the procedure until birth or even the refusal of medical care for children who survive abortions, thereby allowing them to die. When the New York Senate passed a bill protecting abortion until birth, many observers in the gallery there cheered and gave the members a standing ovation.
The scene in New York and comments from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in support of what pro-lifers described as the infanticide of abortion survivors were “chilling displays” to America, Trump said. “These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and their dreams with the world.”
In his comments on children as image bearers, Trump affirmed “one of the most fundamental doctrines of scripture and definitional truths about humanity,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated in an article posted Feb. 6.
The president “made very clear that the grounds for human dignity and the protection of the unborn flow from a biblical worldview – that all humanity is made in the image of God,” Mohler wrote.
Other pro-life leaders also commended the president’s remarks about unborn children.
Trump “once again demonstrated the paramount importance of protecting mothers and their unborn children,” Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said in a written statement.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said in written comments Trump “showed why he may be the most pro-life president in American history.”
Mohler said Trump’s words emphasized the “great worldview divide” over the sanctity and dignity of human life.
“Abortion reigns as the only sacrament that remains amongst the political left,” Mohler wrote. “They treat it as a sacrament to cherish and defend at all costs – a worldview that presses them to pass legislation like the new law in New York State.”
The Democrats’ silence in response to Trump showed their opposition to his call for protection of the unborn, Mohler said.
“The worldview of the left, however, leaves them with no other choice,” he wrote. “This has had two horrific consequences. First, the logic of the pro-abortion movement, if honest, must point to the unrestricted access of abortion at any point in the pregnancy for any reason. Second, the pressure of the pro-abortion worldview has made pro-life Democrats an extinct species.”
Trump, in his call for cooperation across the aisle, told members of Congress, “Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one nation.
“We must choose whether we are defined by our differences – or whether we dare to transcend them.”
On immigration, Trump continued to call for the kind of security on the southern border that Democratic leaders have been unwilling to support. The federal government is again facing a partial shutdown if a solution is not found by Feb. 15.
The president said he has ordered another 3,750 troops to the border with Mexico and described illegal immigration as “a moral issue.”
“The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans,” he said. “We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California said in a written statement about Trump’s immigration comments, “Instead of fear-mongering and manufacturing a crisis at the border, President Trump should commit to signing the bipartisan conference committee’s bill to keep government open and provide strong, smart border security solutions.”
The president warned Pelosi and other Democrats about investigations they appear prepared to conduct of him.
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States – and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” he said. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”
Trump, Pelosi said, “threatened the United States Congress not to exercise its constitutional responsibility of oversight.”
The president pointed to several examples of bipartisan cooperation in the last session of Congress, including criminal justice reform in the enactment of the First Step Act, as well as measures to address the opioid crisis and Veterans Administration reform.
Trump’s proposals offered during the speech included lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, elimination of the HIV epidemic in a decade and school choice for families.
In a written statement, Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., a Southern Baptist, described the president’s speech as “a call for all of Washington to put productivity over personality, partnerships over parties and people over politics. Though there are many paths of opinion, if we choose to work together to solve the issues our nation faces, we can meet on the path of American greatness.”
Trump has said in the past he would sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, but Congress has yet to approve it. The House of Representatives passed the proposal in 2017, but the Senate rejected it in early 2018. Unlike 2017, Democrats – who almost unanimously opposed the bill – now control the House.

2/7/2019 11:58:58 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Rainer gives final presidential address

February 7 2019 by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources

LifeWay Christian Resources trustees gathered for their first meeting of 2019 with their sights set on a season of transition and hopeful prayer for the future.

Photo by Aaron Earls
In his final trustee meeting as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Thom S. Rainer thanked trustees and employees for the honor of serving of alongside them the past 13 years and shared his hope for the future of the organization.

Even on the heels of recent news that LifeWay will close a number of stores and shift toward a more dynamic digital strategy driven by online commerce, President and CEO Thom S. Rainer expressed confidence in the weeks, months and years ahead.
“The greatest days for LifeWay are yet ahead,” said Rainer in what was his final presidential address to the trustees during their Feb. 4-5 meeting. Rainer announced his pending retirement at the August 2018 trustee meeting.
“In a short time, there will be a new leader and a new season here,” he said. “It will be a great opportunity and a great future for LifeWay.”
In his address, Rainer recalled “some of the most powerful memories” from his 13-year tenure as president. He thanked trustees and employees for the honor of serving alongside them.
He also walked trustees through the disruptions and transitions LifeWay has faced during its history and is facing today. Rainer explained that LifeWay finished 2018 squarely in the digital era.
From 2001 to 2018, said Rainer, “we began to move significantly into the era of digital growth. We began to say there are other channels and means from which we can distribute and provide resources. It was also during this time we began to see more people move from walking into a brick-and-mortar store to buying things online.”
Rainer reminded trustees that as the entity makes changes in retail that brick-and-mortar is only one channel. “LifeWay has so many channels through which our resources can be made available to churches and individuals,” Rainer said. “LifeWay will still have all of its resources and so much to offer the evangelical world, churches and individual Christians.

“Our ministry, regardless of this channel shift,” Rainer said, “will not go away.”
Trustees heard updates on the future of LifeWay’s retail channels and the presidential search, as well as a financial report on the entity during executive session.

Presidential search update

The presidential search committee met during the two-day trustee meeting as they continue their search for LifeWay’s 10th president. Chairman of the search committee Kent Dacus reported on their progress to the full board during executive session.

In a statement following the meeting, the search committee thanked everyone who has been praying for the committee and for the future leader of LifeWay.
“Throughout the process, the members of this committee have been in one accord about the type of leader LifeWay needs and have consulted the Lord’s counsel for who He wants in this position,” said search committee chairman Kent Dacus. “It’s clear LifeWay needs a president who will carry on the organization’s 128-year legacy of providing trustworthy resources, while leading with innovation as we face a strategic point in LifeWay’s ministry. We are confident God is already preparing the person who will lead LifeWay into the future.”
The committee asked that churches and individuals “join with us as we pray for God’s guidance and clear direction as we begin the next phase of this process.”

Updates to trustees

LifeWay continues to focus on providing biblical solutions for life, leaders said. Trustees heard updates from LifeWay’s Earl Roberson and Michael Kelley regarding progress and plans for ministry.
Global ministry through ongoing curriculum

Photo by Aaron Earls
LifeWay Christian Resources trustees and employees gathered in small groups to pray for the organization and its future during a time of guided prayer at the conclusion of the Feb. 5 trustee meeting.

Ongoing curriculum – Bible study tools designed for Sunday morning group experiences – is still going strong, said Earl Roberson, acting senior vice president and chief business officer, giving an update on the global reach of LifeWay curriculum.

He said LifeWay’s three primary curriculum brands – Explore the Bible, The Gospel Project and Bible Studies for Life – have shown steady growth for six consecutive years, particularly around the globe.
Ongoing curriculum, Roberson reported, presently serves people in 57 countries, with more than 50,000 churches using at least one of the brands.
“We’re trying to come alongside churches in their discipleship strategy,” Roberson said. “Ongoing curriculum is one of the primary instruments for us to serve and love the church.”
Bible Studies for Life
One of those instruments, Bible Studies for Life, will be a key focus in 2019 for serving churches, “not just for education, but for transformation,” said Michael Kelley, LifeWay’s director of groups.
“The name itself strikes close to the heart of what we do here at LifeWay,” Kelley said. “Our aim is to equip churches in a holistic way, not to help people know the right answers, but help people think differently with a renewed mind.”
Launched 60 years ago, Bible Studies for Life has touched countless lives, according to Kelley.
He said LifeWay has a goal to see 300,000 more people using Bible Studies for Life this fall. “We have a real chance here to make a dent in the darkness, to play our part in pushing back the darkness and bringing to light the Kingdom of God.”

Other business

During the meeting, trustees heard that LifeWay received a clean audit report. Trustees also nominated three people to fill vacancies on the board. These three individuals will serve until the Southern Baptist Convention elects directors to fill the unexpired terms. They include Scott Hanberry, pastor of Hardy Street Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss.; Sabrina Patterson, a member of Eastgate Baptist Church in Burton, Mich.; and Judith “Judy” Sonich, a member of Bellewood Baptist Church in North Syracuse, N.Y.
The board also recognized three trustees who are ending their board service in June. They are Harry Forester of Shreveport, La.; Steve McNeil of Martinsville, Ind.; and Michael Steven of Austin, Texas.

Optimism for the future

“There is a LifeWay on the other side of this [current] disruption that is strong, vibrant, ministry-minded and that is going to make the biggest difference, I believe, of LifeWay’s entire history since 1891,” Rainer said.
Before adjourning the last plenary session trustee chairman Jimmy Scroggins led a time of corporate prayer for LifeWay’s future president, LifeWay employees and the churches LifeWay serves.
Scroggins, pastor of the Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., closed the meeting by thanking Rainer for his service to LifeWay. “I think I can speak for everyone in the room that you are loved and respected and your legacy will be honored. Thank you for serving, Thom. We are very grateful.”

2/7/2019 11:58:49 AM by Carol Pipes, LifeWay Christian Resources | with 0 comments

Mississippi latest state to consider heartbeat abortion ban

February 7 2019 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Mississippi is the latest state this legislative season to consider banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, possibly establishing legal challenges to reach a U.S. Supreme Court considered more conservative.
Mississippi House and Senate bills passed legislative committees Feb. 5 and are headed to the chamber floors for consideration, the Associated Press (AP) reported, with court challenges predicted if the measures pass. Both bills have Baptist Republicans as principal authors, namely Rep. Chris Brown and Sen. Angela Burks Hill.
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves praised the measures “to stop the barbaric practice of ending life in the womb even though a heartbeat is plainly detected,” WLBT-TV reported. “I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Reeves said.
Mississippi’s bills, identically titled, would allow abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat only “when a medical emergency necessitates,” and would allow the State Board of Health to specify how heartbeats are detected, according to the Mississippi Legislature website. Mothers would be required to sign statements indicating they’ve been made aware of the heartbeat, according to the text of the House bill.
“Fetal heartbeat ... has become a key, medical predictor that an unborn human individual will reach viability and live birth,” the House bill reads.
“The pregnant woman shall sign a form acknowledging that she has received information from the person intending to perform the abortion that the unborn human individual that she is carrying has a fetal heartbeat,” the bill reads, “and that she is aware of the statistical probability of bringing the unborn human individual that she is carrying to term.”
Fetal heartbeats can be heard with special medical equipment as early as eight to 10 weeks after conception, according to medical websites and, while ultrasounds can detect hearts beating around four or five weeks after conception. Physicians in violation of the proposed standard could lose their medical licenses or face other discipline.
Tennessee is considering a fetal heartbeat bill for the third consecutive year, and newly elected Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine supports such a measure the previous administration twice vetoed, AP has reported. An Iowa state judge struck down a fetal heartbeat abortion bill there in January, and federal courts in Arkansas and North Dakota also have killed such measures.
On Jan. 22 , New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed what is considered the most permissive abortion bill in the U.S. to date, allowing abortions until birth to protect the mother’s health. A similar Virginia House of Delegates bill, which removes certain restrictions on third trimester abortions, is in committee, according to the Virginia’s Legislative Information System.
Nationwide, Mississippi is among 19 states that limit abortion to 20 weeks of gestation, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Abortions are limited to 24 weeks of gestation in six states, and at the fetus’ “viability” in 16 states, according to Guttmacher, with exceptions made for the mother’s life or health in all 43 states with gestational limitations.

2/7/2019 11:58:36 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

NAMB: Evangelism, leadership pipeline on display

February 7 2019 by Mike Ebert, NAMB

North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustees meeting in South Florida this week saw first-hand the remarkable impact a sending church can have on its community. They also heard a challenge to be personally involved in NAMB’s new “Who’s Your One?” evangelism initiative.

NAMB photo by Kalie Drake
On their South Florida vision tour, NAMB trustees heard the story of how a dying church – Jog Road Baptist – partnered with Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., to transition their building to a Spanish-speaking congregation that is now thriving and strongly rooted in its surrounding neighborhood. At right is Keith Albert, former pastor of Jog Road Baptist and now missions pastor for Family Church in West Palm Beach. Also pictured is Jose Dasilva, pastor of Iglesia Familiar Green Acres.  

“Could I ask each one of you as pastors and church members to start praying right now about your one?” Johnny Hunt asked at dinner Monday evening. “If we are going to turn around evangelism trends in the SBC, I believe it is going to happen one person at a time.”
Hunt serves as NAMB’s senior vice president of evangelism and leadership. The trustee gathering took place Feb. 4-5 in West Palm Beach, Fla., with an emphasis on the gospel need and ministry that is taking place across South Florida.
After dinner, trustees loaded onto buses and traveled to Family Church to hear how the congregation is identifying and training leaders to plant and pastor new churches throughout South Florida.
South Florida’s diversity, unceasing growth, great wealth and extreme poverty can all be a challenge for churches trying to connect with the more than 6 million residents in the region. Dozens of legacy churches are struggling or have shut their doors.


Family Church has confronted this challenge with a goal of planting 100 neighborhood-focused churches in South Florida. To do that they have partnered with NAMB to start a leadership pipeline residency program that began with seven students in 2014 and has now seen 105 graduates complete the two-year program.

NAMB photo by Kalie Drake
Mark Clifton, national director for church replanting at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), shared a devotion at the beginning of NAMB’s trustee meeting Feb. 5 in West Palm Beach, Fla. “77 percent of churches in the SBC that close each year are located in cities with over 100,000 people,” Clifton reported. “We’re closing churches where we desperately need churches.”

Trustees met Sal Cavarretta, who planted in Boca Raton in November 2017, and Kostiantyn Goncharov, who is planting a Russian speaking church to reach the nearly 400,000 Russian speaking residents of the area.

At another stop, trustees heard the story of how a dying church—Jog Road Baptist—partnered with Family Church to transition their building to a Spanish-speaking congregation that is now thriving and strongly rooted in its surrounding neighborhood.
The next morning trustees heard more about church replanting efforts from Mark Clifton, NAMB’s national director for church replanting.
“77 percent of churches in the SBC that close each year are located in cities with over 100,000 people,” Clifton reported. “We’re closing churches where we desperately need churches.”
Clifton’s “Revitalize” podcast hosted with LifeWay president Thom Rainer has had more than 250,000 downloads. An upcoming NAMB replant certification workshop for Associational Mission Strategists is sold out with 250 attending, and an upcoming “Am I A Replanter?” workshop has 100 attending. Currently at least 200 SBC congregations are walking through the replanting process.

During their Feb. 5 plenary meeting, trustees heard several reports:

  • NAMB Chief Financial Officer Matt Smith reported that NAMB’s fiscal year spending to date is 7.7 percent below budget and that offering income from both the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® are at anticipated levels for this time of year.

  • Andy Addis, pastor of Cross Point Church in Hutchinson, Kan., and chairman of the Send Network committee, reported that Send Network’s Leadership Pipeline has grown from 237 churches in early 2018 to 750 today, with 216 of those churches actively implementing the process and 660 individuals participating.

  • Erin Bounds, chairwoman of NAMB’s Financial Services Committee, and a member of North Valley Baptist Church in Odenville, Ala., reported that NAMB’s annual end of year audit conducted by an outside auditing firm resulted in “a completely clean audit. The highest rating you can get,” Bounds said.

  • Trustees voted to defer a final recommendation on a motion from the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting until they have more time to finalize a response. The motion asked NAMB to alter its guidelines for representation on the NAMB Board of Trustees.

In his report to trustees NAMB president Kevin Ezell started by stating, “Everything we do at NAMB is about sending the hope of the gospel.”
On church planting, Ezell reminded trustees that NAMB is involved in church planting everywhere across North America.


NAMB photo by Kalie Drake
At the Feb. 5 North American Mission Board (NAMB) trustee meeting, NAMB president Kevin Ezell, right, spotlighted the entity’s recently renewed efforts in Pittsburgh. He introduced Rob Wilton, left, who now serves as Send Missionary to the city and will be starting a church this fall in its West Hills area.

“Over 60 percent of the churches we helped Southern Baptists plant in 2018 were non-Anglo,” Ezell reported. “We plant churches everywhere, for everyone.”
Ezell spotlighted NAMB’s recently renewed efforts in Pittsburgh. He introduced Rob Wilton who now serves as Send Missionary to the city and will be starting a church this fall in its West Hills area.
“Just last month his church sent a $30,000 check for the Cooperative Program to the Penn-South Jersey state convention,” Ezell said. “That makes his church one on of the top five Cooperative Program giving churches in his state convention. And he doesn’t launch until October.
“So often,” Ezell said, “people talk about church plants in terms of what they get, and they don’t realize what they are giving, and that’s what’s so exciting.”
Wilton shared a map showing one existing and four proposed Multiplying Churches that will each plant at least five churches in greater Pittsburgh over the next several years.

“We are dreaming big in Pittsburgh,” Wilton said. “I believe this is just the beginning.”
Ezell also highlighted the upcoming “Who’s Your One?” evangelism campaign NAMB is implementing with current SBC president J.D. Greear as well as the “GO2” initiative, which challenges college students to commit their first two years after school to getting a job near a church plant that they can help get established in North America or abroad.
Information on both initiatives and others can be found at
NAMB’s next trustee meeting is scheduled for May 21 in Alpharetta, Ga.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Mike Ebert serves as NAMB’s executive director of public relations.)

2/7/2019 11:58:19 AM by Mike Ebert, NAMB | with 0 comments

Born-alive bill blocked in Senate

February 6 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

An effort in the U.S. Senate to require health care for a child born alive during an abortion fell victim to a Democratic member’s objection Feb. 4.

Screen capture from YouTube
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska asked the Senate for unanimous consent in support of the measure requiring health care for a baby born after a failed abortion

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington blocked approval of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 130) when the proposal’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, asked the Senate for unanimous consent in support of the measure. Defeat of a unanimous consent agreement requires an objection from only one senator.
Though Murray was the only Democrat to object, many others in a party dedicated to abortion rights likely would have been willing to do so.
Sasse’s effort to gain passage of his bill is not dead. He also has initiated the process to bring his bill to the Senate floor for a roll-call vote.
Sasse announced his dual-track approach Jan. 31, a day after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, expressed support for allowing babies to die if they survive abortion. Northam’s comments set off widespread protests from Sasse and many other pro-life advocates who charged the governor with defending infanticide.
Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore told Baptist Press, “If a baby is born alive after an attempted abortion, that precious child deserves legal protection and medical care, and the failure of the great deliberative body to say so unanimously is morally reprehensible.
“How seared must a conscience be to stand on the floor of the U.S. Senate and object to protecting living babies?” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments. “Children have intrinsic value that is defined not by their power nor by the whim of doctors, but by the image of God each one of them bears.
“I hope the Senate will move soon to take a roll-call vote on this bill in order for Americans to know where their elected officials stand on infanticide.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, decried Murray’s action, saying in a written release, “The Democratic Party’s agenda of abortion on demand through birth and even beyond is radically out of step with the standards of decency the overwhelming majority of Americans expect from their leaders.”
The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act not only says a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion is a “legal person” deserving protection, but it mandates a health-care provider give the same degree of care offered “any other baby born alive at the same gestational age.” Under the proposal, an infant who survives an abortion must be admitted to a hospital after the initial treatment. A violation of the measure could result in a fine and/or a prison sentence of as many as five years.
In seeking unanimous consent Feb. 4, Sasse told the Senate he was giving all 100 members “an opportunity to condemn infanticide.”
“Frankly, this shouldn’t be hard,” Sasse said from the Senate floor. “We’re not talking about second-trimester abortion; we’re not having some big, complicated discussion about a mother’s reproductive freedom, as important as all those debates are. We’re actually talking about babies that have been born. The only debate on the floor tonight is about infanticide.”
Sasse appealed to Democrats near the close of his speech: “It’s my understanding that some of my Democratic colleagues are prepared to object tonight, and I humbly say that I don’t understand why. I beg you from the bottom of my heart not to do so.
“There are just two sides of the debate on the floor tonight – you’re either for babies or you’re defending infanticide.”
Murray said in immediately objecting, “We have laws against infanticide in this country. This is a gross misinterpretation of the actual language of the bill that is being asked to be considered.”
Sasse said in response, “This debate is about infanticide and infanticide only, and this is a sad day for this body. It shouldn’t be controversial.”
Northam’s controversial remarks came after Del. Kathy Tran, a Democrat, spoke Jan. 28 before a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on behalf of her legislation to repeal abortion restrictions. In response to questioning, Tran said her bill would allow an abortion for “mental health” reasons “all the way up to 40 weeks.” Her proposal would permit abortion when the woman’s cervix is dilating and she is preparing to give birth, she said.
In a radio interview Jan. 30, Northam said in commenting on the bill, “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
The Virginia-ignited uproar came a week after New York enacted a law that legalizes abortion until birth for the mother’s “health” – which is not defined and has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to include essentially any reason – and as other states seek to wipe out limitations on the procedure. At least in part, the effort is based on the concern expressed by abortion rights advocates that two Supreme Court justices nominated by President Trump will help overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion that legalized the procedure nationwide.
Democrats did not block similar legislation that gained approval in 2002. The Senate passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act by unanimous consent, and the House of Representatives approved it by voice vote.
The measure, signed into law by President George W. Bush, clarified a newborn child – “at any stage of development” and fully outside the womb – is a person to be protected under federal law. The legislation especially targeted what was known at the time as live-birth abortion. The method, practiced in at least one hospital in Chicago, resulted in surviving babies being left unattended to die.
The 2002 law does not adequately protect children who survive an abortion, Sasse said in reintroducing his bill in January. His proposal makes specific requirements of health-care providers and calls for penalties not in the 2002 measure.

2/6/2019 11:33:04 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

ERLC names largest Leadership Council

February 6 2019 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The 2019 Leadership Council of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is its largest to date.

The ERLC – which announced Feb. 1 its latest yearly council that consists of 120 members – provides training to help participants and their churches apply the gospel of Jesus to all areas of life. The council consists of a diverse group of Southern Baptist pastors, ministry leaders and other church members.
Russell Moore said one of his “greatest joys” as ERLC president “is gathering with this group of leaders throughout the year.”
“Time that I spend with these men and women consistently makes me optimistic about our churches and shared mission,” Moore said in an ERLC release.
This year’s council members “are among the most gifted and godly I know,” he said. “It’s a privilege to serve alongside them for the sake of equipping churches to address cultural concerns with a gospel focus.”
Among the 2019 council members are:

  • Lauren Ashford, member of the leadership team for women’s discipleship at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

  • Christy Britton, orphan advocate for 127 Worldwide and member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C.

  • Seth Brown, lay pastor, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, N.C., and content editor for the Biblical Recorder, news journal of North Carolina Baptists

  • Marshal Ausberry, senior pastor, Antioch Baptist Church, Fairfax Station, Va., and president, National African American Fellowship, Southern Baptist Convention.

  • ​Curtis Cook, senior pastor, Hope Fellowship Church, Cambridge, Mass.

  • Erik Cummings, senior pastor, New Life Baptist Church of Carol City, Miami, Fla., and president, Florida Baptist Convention.

  • Clint Darst, founding pastor of King’s Cross church in Greensboro, N.C.

  • Donna Gaines, Bible teacher, author and president of ARISE2Read, a nonprofit focused on breaking the poverty cycle through the gospel and education, Memphis, Tenn.

  • Noe Garcia, senior pastor, North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz.

  • Mike Glenn, lead pastor, Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, Tenn.

  • Sara Beth Fentress, executive director of 127 Worldwide and member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C.

  • Christine Hoover, writer, speaker and podcast host, Charlottesville, Va.

  • Elicia Horton, rap artist and author, North Long Beach, Calif.

  • Jennifer Lyell, trade book publisher, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville.

  • Lauren Green McAfee, speaker, writer and corporate ambassador for Hobby Lobby, Oklahoma City.

  • Dave Miller, senior pastor, Southern Hills Baptist Church, Sioux City, Iowa, and editor, SBC Voices.

  • Lilly Park, assistant professor, biblical counseling, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.

  • Ronnie Parrott, pastor of Christ Community Church in Huntersville, N.C.

  • Vance Pitman, senior pastor, Hope Church, Las Vegas, Nev.

  • Sarah Short, freelance writer, photographer and member of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

  • Kevin Smith, executive director, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

  • Ashley Unzicker, member of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

In the ERLC release, McAfee said she is “eager to be trained to have convictional kindness in the face of cultural opposition by Dr. Moore, the ERLC staff and this remarkable cohort of influencers.”
Council members serve an annual term and are equipped by the ERLC through conference calls and events, while providing input to the entity’s staff and occasional content for its website.
The entire list of council members is available at

2/6/2019 11:32:54 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

T. Vaughn Walker honored by SBTS with endowed chair

February 6 2019 by Aaron Hanbury, SBTS

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced a new endowed chair in honor of the school’s late professor T. Vaughn Walker.

T. Vaughn Walker

Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. made the announcement Feb. 2 as part of a funeral service for Walker in Alumni Memorial Chapel. The seminary, Mohler noted, will fund a teaching position as the T. Vaughn Walker Professor of Christian Ministry.
Walker, the first African-American elected to any Southern Baptist Convention seminary faculty and who taught at Southern Seminary for 33 years, died Jan. 26 at age 68. He also graduated from the seminary with a master of divinity degree in 1987.
As Mohler announced the establishment of the T. Vaughn Walker endowed chair, he addressed an auditorium filled with pastors and church leaders from around the United States and those who represent the wide influence of Walker’s life and ministry.
“We want to honor the man not only who was the first African-American to serve as a full professor at any Southern Baptist institution, but a man who served so faithfully and so well,” he said.
Mohler noted, “I also want to make clear: this is not a fundraising project of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” he said. The seminary will fund the chair out of its endowment.
The funeral, held on campus at Southern Seminary, was organized by the Walker family and the staff of the First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville, where Walker pastored from 1984 until his death. Walker began teaching at Southern Seminary in 1986 in the Carver School of Church Social Work and went on to serve in two other graduate schools of the seminary as WMU Professor of Christian Ministry until he retired in 2016. He continued to supervise doctoral students as a senior professor up through the current academic semester.
In his comments, Mohler highlighted the historical significance of the school’s naming a professorship for Walker. He pointed out that the first service held the Alumni Memorial Chapel, in November 1950, was for Ellis A. Fuller, the seminary’s sixth president. Mohler further recounted the seminary’s own founders, “who not only supported but who were themselves involved in slavery.”
“Imagine the history and imagine the rightness that a building that was first used for the funeral of a segregationist is now used for Dr. T. Vaughn Walker,” Mohler said. “And not here simply because of his stature in the community but here because he is a member of this family.”
Mohler added moments later that, “For so long as this institution exists, there will be a teacher who teaches as the T. Vaughn Walker Professor of Christian Ministry.”  
In addition to his announcement, Mohler spoke about his personal relationship with Walker. He said that every time he saw Walker, the late professor greeted him by asking, “How is my president today?” Mohler noted that Walker’s unique salutation was consistent throughout their relationship. 
“The moment that I had heard that [Walker] passed, I couldn’t help but hear, ‘My president’,” Mohler recalled. “So a part of my joy in this service is to say that Dr. T. Vaughn Walker was my professor and for that, I am very, very thankful.”
Mohler and the school’s administration plan to announce the professor who will hold the chair at a later date.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Cline Hanbury is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

2/6/2019 11:32:42 AM by Aaron Hanbury, SBTS | with 0 comments

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