April 2001

Bills that bear watching

April 20 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Bills that bear watching | Friday, April 20, 2001
  • Lottery - No less than four bills have been introduced to call for a state-sponsored lottery (H 1, H 511, H 1218, S 986). All versions call for profits to be used for education, but in differing ways. Many Baptists oppose a lottery, believing that the state has no business in sponsoring gambling and encouraging its citizens, through widespread advertising, to gamble. Statistics reveal that lotteries prey on the poor, largely for the benefit of the non-poor.
  • Death penalty - Senate bill 109 would set minimum standards for defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges in death penalty cases. Bill S 172 calls for a moratorium on all executions pending further review, while S 173 and H 141 call for an end to the death penalty for persons who are mentally retarded.
  • Infant homicide prevention - Bills S 252 and H 275 would decriminalize the act of abandoning a baby if the mother leaves the child with a responsible caretaker or public agency. Authors of the bill hope this would save the lives of babies who are otherwise abandoned without anyone to care for them.
  • Safe storage of firearms - Bill H 320 would expand requirements for safe storage of firearms to include all gun owners, not just those who have children living in the home. Children are injured or killed every year because guns are available to them.
  • Children's Internet safety net - Bills S 599 and H 478 would require all public schools and public libraries that offer Internet access to provide a filtering service to shield minors from obscene or violent material. Adults could bypass the filtering service by demonstrating that their research has "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific purposes."
  • Religious freedom - This bill (H 646) brings to the state level a national law that requires the state to show a compelling interest before interfering with the free exercise of religion.
  • Reform payday lending - Current law allows for short-term loans against the pledge of future paychecks. This service is most commonly used by persons with low income, who can be charged fees and interest that can exceed an effective interest rate of 400 percent. The current law expires in July. Bill H 670 would remove the sunset provision, require lenders to give customers an informational brochure, limit the extension of credit to $300, and set a five percent limit on fees for third and subsequent rollovers of the same loan.
  • Posting of Ten Commandments in schools - Bill H 681 would allow copies of the Ten Commandments to be posted in schools, along with "other documents of historical significance that have informed and influenced the United States legal or governmental system."
  • School health curriculum modifications - A legislated sex-education program now exists to promote abstinence until marriage as the best means of preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases "and other health and emotional problems." Modifications proposed in S 515 and H 855 would delete "and other health and emotional problems" and would change the description of a safe-sex lifestyle to include extra-marital and non-heterosexual encounters. The act currently states that "a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding diseases transmitted by sexual contact." The new bill would reduce the statement to "a monogamous relationship is the best lifelong means of avoiding diseases transmitted by sexual contact." Opponents fear the change would encourage homosexuality or "serial monogamy" outside of marriage. The bill also allows for an off-campus component of the health education program. Some fear that this could give students access to free contraceptives, which cannot be distributed on school campuses.

    Most bills are currently assigned to legislative committees that can make changes and decide whether to forward the bills for further consideration.

    The N.C. General Assembly has a functional and comprehensive Web site to facilitate contacting lawmakers and keeping up with the current status of legislation (www.ncga.state.nc.us). Persons without Internet access can still contact their senators or representatives with a letter or phone call.

    Let each one do as his or her heart and mind direct.

  • Friday, April 20, 2001

    Bills that bear watching

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor The North Carolina legislature is in the midst of an active year. A number of new bills could raise social, ethical or moral concerns for Baptists and other Christians. The following is not a comprehensive list of bills that should raise concerns (either pro or con). Nor will all Baptists share the same opinions about the bills listed. Nevertheless, here are some legislative issues that will bear watching in the coming year.
    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



    Building community in a youth group

    April 20 2001 by Jan R. Cartledge , Youth page guest editor

    Building community in a youth group | Friday, April 20, 2001

    Friday, April 20, 2001

    Building community in a youth group

    By Jan R. Cartledge Youth page guest editor Building community or unity within a youth group is certainly a challenge. The ideal is to have a group where everyone feels loved and cared for, where youth can share their deepest joys and sorrows. A youth leader hopes that newcomers will feel at home and that no one is able to distinguish the "in" group from the "out" group. Youth leaders long to hear a teen say, "I'm glad I'm part of this group. It means so much to me." The reality is that most groups aren't anything like our hopes or dreams. Some youth groups are loving and kind while other groups grow apart through unkind words and deeds. Some groups are characterized by a "family feel" while others don't seem to want to be together at all.

    Youth groups are complex. In every youth group there are dynamics at work that can potentially create division. Some youth will lead, some will follow. Other youth will rebel and not follow anyone.

    Some youth attend the group because their parents require it. Others are happy to be there whenever there is a planned event.

    Some youth have deep hurts but are afraid to open up. Other youth feel good about life.

    Some students are hyperactive and their attention span is short. Others are mature and listen and respond.

    All of these dynamics have the potential to create a youth group full of divisiveness.

    However, there are common elements in every youth group that leaders can draw on to promote unity. All adolescents share common experiences: they are maturing and growing; they are going through the various stages of adolescence; they are searching for their identity; they are discovering their gifts and abilities; they are experiencing peer pressure; they are longing for acceptance; and they all have a need to belong.

    Youth workers can take these common elements and create an environment where all youth feel loved and accepted as an integral part of a family of faith. Youth leaders can seek to build a place where youth can grow in their faith, discover their various gifts and seek to make a difference in their community and world.

    How do you build unity in a youth group? Following are some tips that can help a youth worker get started on making the group a loving and accepting circle of friends:

    1. Establish trust in the group. Seek to break down any cliques or barriers that exist. Find ways to engage group members in activities where they work side-by-side with one another. Build programs around activities that require teamwork and cooperation.

    2. Give the group and the space (or room) where you meet a name. A name can become the identifying mark for the youth and a focal point for publicity and promotion. After choosing a name for the group, create a logo to help promote the image of the group. Use the logo on T-shirts, bumper stickers, hats or mugs and on all of your publicity materials.

    3. Create a Web site or a web page on the existing church site. Let the youth create and maintain it. For some cool ideas for a web page, check out the youth pages of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville (www.syndermbc.com) and Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte (www.hgbc.org). From the main church page, click on the links to the youth page.

    4. Create within the group the freedom to talk and listen. Provide opportunities for youth to share their lives, their concerns, their needs, their hurts and their joys with each other. Telling one's peers about one's self provides an opportunity for trust to develop in the group.

    5. Design and make available a youth T-shirt each summer with a different theme and logo. Invite youth to contribute theme and design ideas.

    6. Help youth focus on others and affirm one another. When youth hear good things about themselves or compliments are offered, their feelings of self-worth will soar dramatically. Provide guided opportunities for youth to encourage and affirm one another. Help them realize that others genuinely care about them and appreciate them. Be especially mindful of shy youth or those on the fringe who may feel left out. Reach out to all youth in the group, not just the "popular" ones.

    7. Provide opportunities for challenging growth. Help youth find ways to go beyond saying "I love you" by showing love through actions and deeds. This can occur when a group member experiences a time of crisis, or when the entire group gets involved in mission projects that help them reach out as a group and minister to others in their community.

    8. Provide a setting for the sharing of hurts, joys, struggles, dreams and hopes. Help group members learn to not condemn or laugh at one another, but to support and encourage one another. Use small groups during retreats or Bible studies. Youth are more likely to share with a smaller group and are not as likely to be embarrassed. Small groups also give the opportunity for youth to learn more youth they might not otherwise interact with on a regular basis.

    Remember that Jesus sought to build unity and diversity with his 12 disciples. His closest followers came from different backgrounds, yet Jesus was able to mold them into a group that labored together, broke bread together, prayed together and ministered together. Unity was important to Jesus as he ministered among the unloved, the lost, the sick, the misfits and the unpopular ones of society. May Jesus' example be the goal as youth leaders seek to build and encourage unity within their youth groups.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jan R. Cartledge , Youth page guest editor | with 0 comments



    Riding with Bathwell

    April 20 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    Riding with Bathwell | Friday, April 20, 2001

    Friday, April 20, 2001

    Riding with Bathwell

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor KHAYALITSHA, South Africa - It was early still on a cloudy Saturday morning when Bathwell Mketsu came to fetch me in a red Toyota that was worn, but well maintained. I had been warned not to expect punctuality from my South African hosts but a looser understanding of appointments called "African time." Bathwell had much to show me, however, and he was eager to begin. We exchanged the traditional handshake among black South Africans that consists of two "normal" shakes sandwiched around a thumb grasp and began our journey. Bathwell is pastor of the Great Commission Baptist Church in Khayalitsha (the word means "New Home"), a sprawling black township south and east of Cape Town. But he is also church planter, advisor or friend to several other faith communities, and we are out to visit them.
    Pastor Bathwell Mketsu, left, celebrates new growth and ministry at Zolami Baptist Church with James, a church member.
    As we leave the N1 highway and turn north toward Worchester ("Wooster"), Bathwell suggests that we might want some snacks for the road. He pulls into a modern convenience store/gas station/fast food restaurant that would not look out of place in America except for the cheerful women stationed at the gas pumps, clad in company uniforms, ready to serve. Bathwell selects peanuts and raisins, potato chips, peppermint candies and a Coke. At my request, he picks out the most flavorful variety of biltdong (a local type of beef jerky), and I go for a can of cold peach juice.

    We drive through miles of hilly green vineyards splayed out like a carpet beneath rugged mountains. Clouds hug the mountaintops, shaped like swirls of frosting by the prevailing winds. The road twists through the Hugenot Tunnel and on through a grassy veld as we wend our way northward.

    Between snacks, Bathwell tells me about the work at Zolani, two hours away. "They asked me if I would go and try to do something with this church that was dead," he explains. "And so I drove to the place and I found three or four members of the church. They said to me, 'Why do you come here? There is no need for you to come back to this place. We cannot give you money for petrol. We cannot give you food.'

    "And I said to them, 'Do you think I am coming here for your food or for petrol money? I will spend my own money for petrol and for food. I will come here because of Jesus, and not for your money.'"

    After several Saturdays of visiting the people and leading worship services for them, Bathwell found greater acceptance. "A young man came to me and said, 'When you come here, you can come to my house and have my food.' Another person said 'If you want to stay overnight, you can have my bed.'"

    The church is doing well now, Bathwell says, but is still struggling to complete a new building. The congregation meets in a small "Wendy house" (a prefabricated wooden building) that offers little more than shelter from the rain. It sits beside the tin-roofed metal framework of what the church hopes will be a new facility. The rusting frame has been in place for three and a half years. A businessman donated 2,000 cinder blocks, which are stacked on the dirt floor. Another 3,000 blocks are needed, Bathwell says.

    In America, such slow progress would be discouraging, but in South Africa, it is typical. Church buildings are often works-in-progress for years because the people are poor, and church loans are rare. Church members take pride in the progress they have made.

    The Zolani community includes houses that range from small to tiny. Some are nothing more than shacks of wood and metal. Here 65 percent of the people have no work, Bathwell says, and most of the available jobs are for just six months per year, when the fruit canneries in nearby Ashton are running.

    Unemployment is even worse in Khayalitsha, he says, and there are more who live in shanties, and there are many children who sleep without bread. "I go to the Pic n Pay every week," he says, "and I ask them for bread that is left over, so I can give it to the children of Khayalitsha. They told me not long ago that they wanted to cut down on 'wastage,' and would not give it to me any more. I said to them, 'Bathwell - you are cutting him down! That bread was feeding more than 400 children every week.'"

    While praying about whether to shut down the Saturday soup kitchen and food distribution effort that operates from the Great Commission church, a phone call came from a businessman who offered to give 300 loaves of bread each week for two months. It is not enough, but the program continues. There are other needs to meet.

    "We always have a worship service before we give out the soup and the bread," Bathwell says, "but one day there was no bread when the people came. I was sad and I told someone to go and tell them there was no bread. And they said, 'but what about the service?' Oh! Then I was feeling very sorry for saying there was no service because there was no bread. They were hungry for more than bread."

    We have arrived in Zweletemba, a township near Worchester. Bathwell shows me another metal frame standing tall beside a tiny Wendy house. Goats walk past the sign that identifies the place as Zweletemba Baptist Church, stopping occasionally to nibble at the sparse grass.

    "The people are very poor here," Bathwell says. "They are clean, but hungry." A barefoot boy walks by in his pajamas, carrying a shovel. "I live by faith," Bathwell says, "and I teach my people to live that way. All that I have ever done, I never had enough money or enough material, but I say let us go and do it - when the Lord has opened the door, we must go in."

    A distant Mketsu relative walks by, dressed in a suit and carrying a Bible. He is a 7th Day Adventist minister, and it is Saturday. The two men speak rapidly in Xhosa, a language that includes pops, clicks, lip smacks and other sounds unique to the indigenous languages of Southern Africa.

    Back in the car, we drive through the town of Robertson, where a new work has just been started, but we continue on to Ashton. It is raining, but hundreds of people are walking, many of them clad in bright green or blue scrub suits worn in the town's two main canneries. We slow for a dump truck filled with people looking for a quick way home, and Bathwell notices an elderly church member named James. We offer him a ride, and go on to Zolani. Like virtually all black townships built during the apartheid years, Zolani is located in a defined area at some distance from the town proper.

    James and Bathwell show me the unfinished building at Zolani, and as we head back to town he offers a ride to another church member, a young woman named Bukiwe. They carry on an animated conversation in Xhosa. I have no idea what they are saying, but I can sense Bathwell's excitement.

    "Bukiwe and her sister have learned to install fiberglass bathroom fixtures," he says, "and they are willing to teach others how to do it so they can find work when the canneries are not running."

    We leave Bukiwe in Ashton and drive toward Montegu so Bathwell can show me an impressive arch where a short tunnel was blasted in the mountain "during the war." I ask which war, but he doesn't know. Our conversation lulls. Bathwell slips a dusty CD into the car's after-market stereo, and we listen to the Gaithers singing "I'll meet you on the mountain" as we stop to watch a troop of baboons cross the road and climb the rain-soaked hillside. The mountains are starkly beautiful, haunting in the mist.

    The road takes us back by the hillside township near Robertson, where the new work is struggling. "When we go into these places, I may not be accepted," Bathwell says. "You may not be accepted. But you are there to cross the boundaries. We need to take down the walls and cross the boundaries."

    I ask Bathwell why he is involved with so many church starts. He seems embarrassed. "I say this humbly," he says, "but when people know that you work hard, they come and say 'Will you do this, too?'"

    It is 2 p.m. when we stop for lunch in Worchester. The "San Diego Spur" restaurant features a motif from the American west, complete with a logo profile of Geronimo. The menu is heavy on meat, including platters of local sausages and a hamburger with monkey gland sauce. I order chicken and ribs, and ask for monkey gland sauce on the side. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with monkeys or their glands, but is a chunky sweet and sour sauce made from the monkey gland plant. Bathwell chooses lamb chops.

    As we eat, Bathwell tells me that his church sometimes breaks with tradition. The subject is food again. In traditional African settings, men eat first, women eat second, and the children eat last. "In my church," Bathwell says, "the children eat first."

    Bathwell warms to the topic of tradition and culture. "Some people hide behind their culture," he says. "I say we all should live by heaven's culture. Let us drop all cultures, and live by one culture."

    On the way out of Worcester, we drive by Avion Park, a huge new township where the Western Cape Baptist Association hopes to begin yet another new work, and then the road begins its descent back through the mountains. We take a different route and stop at an overlook high above the city of Paarl. The panorama is dreamlike, with a light mist that leaves its beauty slightly blurred. I think I can see the Indian Ocean in the distance.

    "When I look at the mountains and the hills," Bathwell says, "I enjoy looking at what the Lord has made. But when I look at the sea. . ." - he sighs and speaks more slowly - "when I sit and look at the waves coming to shore, I get a peace in my heart."

    We dodge more baboons on the way down through wine country to the town of Stellenbosch. Vineyards flash by, and I notice that some sort of flower is planted at the end of each row. Bathwell says the strong-smelling flowers attract the birds and bees, so they do not damage the grapes.

    Outside of Stellenbosch, we visit the township of Khayamandi. We creep through a street market where men sell stuffed sausages cooked over wood fires in split metal drums and chickens marked for sale sit miserably in overcrowded cages by the roadside. Bathwell stops to consider purchasing a chicken for his family, but decides against it. "They are not beautiful," he says.

    In Khayamandi, nicely paved streets wind through rows of homes to which the word "hovel" would impart excess dignity. We look for the church site in a nicer section and find a member, but she knows the pastor is not home.

    Bathwell again becomes animated as we drive on to Kalkfontein, where he shows me the house where church services were held before the church obtained property. The former host family is gracious. They invite us in for a chat, and two other members join us. The walls are covered with packaging material, and the sun shines through a hole in the rusted metal roof, but there is great warmth in the hearts of the people there.

    Bathwell takes me to yet another Wendy house parked beside a steel framework painted a dull red. It was just erected in November, and the people are excited about the possibility of a new church building. Marvelous sounds are coming from the Wendy house, where a young woman named Thandi leads choir practice for the children and youth. I ask to record their singing, and take their pictures, and show them what they look like on the camera's LCD screen.

    From Kalkfontein we drive to Mfulani, where Bathwell introduces me to pastor Mashia Zola. The church was started five years ago, he says. It meets in a small wooden building whose walls lean at a noticeable angle.

    The sun is sinking behind Table Mountain when we finally make our way back to Khayalitsha and the Great Commission Baptist Church, where Saturday night programs are underway. The women meet in the Sanctuary, each clad in black, with a white collar. "It is their church uniform," Bathwell explains. Bathwell's wife, Gloria, teaches a class for the women on Saturday nights. The class is over, and food is being distributed. Each woman is given a piece of sliced pumpkin and a bunch of grapes.

    The men are meeting in Bathwell's home, located no more than 10 feet from the church. Their meeting is over, too. They are watching soccer on Bathwell's TV.

    Bathwell points to the houses surrounding the church. "A sangoma lives there," he says. "A sangoma lives there ... a sangoma lives there." Sangomas are traditional African spiritualists. Some would call them witch doctors. "We battle against much that is evil," Bathwell says.

    I want to stay and talk to the children. I had been told to drop my agendas and relax, being satisfied to live on African time. But now it is I who have forgotten the clock, and Bathwell who says "Tony, can we go now?" It is late when he returns me to my lodging. I realize that no arrangements have been made for supper, but it doesn't matter. I've been well fed.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



    Springing up year-round

    April 20 2001 by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press

    Springing up year-round | Friday, April 20, 2001

    Friday, April 20, 2001

    Springing up year-round

    By Mark Wingfield Associated Baptist Press DALLAS, Texas - Sprung is springing up all over. A unique new structure called a Sprung building is gaining popularity among innovative and growing churches as an alternative for creating temporary space quickly.

    Sprung comes from the name of the family-owned company that manufactures these high-tech tents, but they do virtually spring to life in a matter of days in all sorts of locations.

    The structures are made of an incredibly strong synthetic membrane stretched tightly over a skeleton of aluminum beams. Insulation is placed between an outer membrane and an inner membrane, creating an insulation factor of R-28.

    Typically, Sprung buildings are white, but they do come in other colors and patterns as well. The appearance of the completed building has been compared to a hard-shell circus tent, a giant marshmallow and a big bubble.

    Although the company that manufactures these space-age structures has been around for more than 100 years, its structure division is less than 30 years old. Churches have begun using the pre-fab buildings only in the last decade.

    Lawton Searcy was pastor of the third church in the United States to use a Sprung structure. In 1994, as pastor of a new congregation, he turned to Sprung to solve a crisis.

    The young church had purchased property in Baton Rouge, La. but did not intend to build for up to 18 months. The landlord of the facility they were leasing at the time, however, gave them a 30-day notice to get out.

    "We needed a worship space for 300 people immediately," Search recalled. "I thought about a tent, and the only person I knew who had a tent was Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California."

    Searcy called Warren, who told him about Sprung buildings as a better alternative to a tent. Saddleback was using a Sprung building to accommodate its rapid growth.

    Other than Saddleback and a Catholic church in California, no other U.S. church was using the unique manufactured buildings, Searcy said. However, he learned the structures had been used in an Olympic village, in Operation Desert Storm and in the arctic.

    "Finally, we decided if it's good enough for the Olympic village, we're going to take a shot at it," he said. "We ordered the building, and six weeks later we held our first service in it."

    Just as important, he said, his young church put up the Sprung building for 30-40 percent of the cost of a traditional building.

    Churches using Sprung buildings fall into two general categories, Searcy said. The first group is new churches that need an immediate facility but have limited funds or can't get a traditional building erected fast enough to meet their needs. The second group is large churches that are growing so rapidly they don't have time to build an adequate traditional building without impeding growth.

    "It's fast. It's flexible. You can resell the building or relocate it. It doesn't interfere with your master plan," Searcy said. "It can keep churches growing until they can build what they want to build."

    That's exactly what happened at Southcliff Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, where the congregation has worshipped in a 70-by-120-foot Sprung building for more than 18 months.

    Southcliff moved into a new permanent worship center Easter Sunday - one that was built on the same spot as the old worship center. In the meantime, the 700-seat Sprung worship center erected on a church parking lot has helped the church not miss a beat during construction.

    "We've had a great experience with it," said Joshua Whitehead, minister of evangelism and outreach and overseer of church facilities.

    Southcliff bought the temporary building for $187,500 - about $22 per square foot. The church spent quite a bit more, however, to put carpet on the floor, build a stage, install heating and air conditioning and install theatrical lighting and sound equipment.

    Now that the new worship center is nearly complete, Southcliff is seeking to sell the Sprung building. Whitehead said he does not yet know what the resale value will be or how easy or hard it will be to sell the structure.

    Cost and flexibility are major selling points of the Sprung buildings, Searcy said, noting the inside of the domes can be finished any way a church desires. Some churches put up drywall framing inside to create traditional rooms. Others use the structure as is, only moving in chairs and other furniture.

    Because the structures have no corners, the acoustics are exceptional, he said. And the covering is fire-resistant and wind-resistant. The Sprung building he erected in Baton Rouge survived a tornado, he said.

    Total cost of erecting a Sprung structure depends on how the building is finished out and equipped, Searcy said. But for an average church application, the total cost per square foot averages between $25 and $55, he said.

    That compares to between $40 and $60 per square foot for construction of a metal building or $70 to $130 per square foot for construction of a permanent traditional worship center, according to Keith Crouch, director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas church-facilities office.

    As with any church construction project, Crouch advises caution and careful deliberation about all options. Whether a Sprung building is appropriate for a church will depend upon factors such as a church's mission strategy, location, community expectations and long-term goals, he said.

    (EDITOR'S NOTE: For illustrations of Sprung buildings, visit the Web site of Southcliff Baptist Church, www.southcliff.org, or Sprung Instant Structures, www.sprung.com.)

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



    Baptist union in Russia ends partnership, cuts ties to IMB

    April 13 2001 by Trennis Henderson , Associated Baptist Press

    Friday, April 13, 2001

    Baptist union in Russia ends partnership, cuts ties to IMB

    By Trennis Henderson Associated Baptist Press ROCHESTER, Minn. - An international missions partnership between the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention and the Irkutsk Russian Baptist Union has come to an abrupt halt. The partnership ended when Russian Baptist leaders in Irkutsk unilaterally voted to withdraw from the partnership and to sever the union's relationship with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB).

    The international partnership, officially launched last year, was scheduled to continue through 2002. The end of the partnership initially was reported in the March issue of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist newspaper.

    "This was an unexpected move on the part of the Russian Baptist leadership in Irkutsk," said Glen Land, state missions director for the Minnesota-Wisconsin convention. "The issues involved were local to that particular province of Russia. There was no indication on our part that it was coming."

    Land said the Russian Baptists greeted volunteers who participated in a mission trip to Irkutsk last year with "genuine warmth and affection"

    "Our firsthand contacts with the Russian Baptists while we were there (were) positive," he said.

    Land said Joe Kelley, an IMB missionary serving in Irkutsk, indicated that the crux of the problem was a philosophical difference between the Baptist union and the IMB concerning how mission work should be done.

    "We got caught up in a bigger controversy between Baptists in Irkutsk and the IMB," Land said. "Our partnership became one of the casualties. For us, it's been an inconvenience but that's part of the price of partnership missions overseas."

    Mike Norfleet, the IMB's Richmond, Va.-based associate for Central and Eastern Europe, said IMB officials and state convention leaders "did everything they could to make the partnership work."

    Citing conflicting priorities with at least one senior pastor in Irkutsk, Norfleet said some pastors primarily are interested in receiving financial assistance while the IMB's priority is starting new churches.

    "In that particular area, they're struggling with exactly what do to with Americans still," Norfleet said. "They had another agenda rather than the partnership."

    Despite the setback, Norfleet added: "There still is hope there. We are praying we can help them see the long-term benefit of working together."

    Norfleet said the Baptist union's decision "is not typical of Russia or Ukraine where they have a very warm, open-door attitude toward us. Hopefully we can build a foundation for relationships down the road."

    Land said convention leaders in Minnesota-Wisconsin already are exploring other options for partnership efforts in Russia.

    "We are hoping to get a new partnership in some other area of Russia, probably still in Siberia but not in Irkutsk," he said. Leaders hope to present a new partnership proposal to convention messengers in November.

    "When you sign up for one of these things, you have to be pretty flexible," Land said. "I don't see any widespread dismay about it. We'll go where the doors are open. ... I wouldn't discount the possibility of us going back to Irkutsk some day."

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/13/2001 12:00:00 AM by Trennis Henderson , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments



    Missionaries reach out to former boy soldiers in Sudan

    April 13 2001 by Brittany Jarvis , Baptist Press

    Missionaries reach out to former boy soldiers in Sudan | Friday, April 13, 2001

    Friday, April 13, 2001

    Missionaries reach out to former boy soldiers in Sudan

    By Brittany Jarvis Baptist Press AKOT, Sudan - Boy soldiers, once forced to fight alongside rebels of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), are slowly adjusting to civilian life after being released. Southern Baptist workers have joined other Great Commission Christians to meet the boys' physical and spiritual needs.

    More than 1,600 of 2,500 boys released by the SPLA in March have made their way to a refugee camp in Akot, Sudan. The boys, some as young as 8 years old, live in dilapidated buildings and makeshift tents in the camp. UNICEF has pitched in to supply some food, sanitation, a T-shirt, hat and backpack for each boy.

    Most of the boys express relief at being anywhere else after their traumatic military experiences, but missionaries fear the boys soon will grow restless as conditions in the camp deteriorate.

    Thousands of boys have been forcibly recruited into military units on both sides of Sudan's 18-year-old civil war. The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers cites Sudan as having one of the worst child soldier problems in the world.

    The SPLA, which had held these boy soldiers, fights on behalf of largely Christian and animist southern Sudan against Muslim-backed government forces from the north. Generally, boy soldiers are kidnapped and forced to fight against their own people.

    UNICEF hopes to reunite the boys with their families, who are in Sudan's northern Bahr El Gazal region, within four months.

    "UNICEF has provided some basic medicines for the boys, [which] seem to be adequate at this time," International Mission Board worker John Witte said. While a medical clinic is being planned specifically for the camp, a separate clinic run by Southern Baptist workers and the Samaritan's Purse relief agency is filling in the gap to care for the boys' medical conditions.

    "We believe God is giving us an opportunity to work with these boys," Witte said. "We'd like to respond in three ways: medically, educationally and pastorally."

    In March, Baptist missionaries Larry Pepper, a physician, and Ben Haley traveled from Uganda to conduct medical and pastoral work among the boys. Another missionary, Janet McDowell, will supply medical help in April. Finally, a team of youth workers from the United States will do pastoral and evangelism work during May.

    "We have been welcomed with open arms to share the message of Jesus Christ," Witte said.

    During the initial survey trip, Witte and Larry Pumpelly, another International Mission Board worker, were able to share Bible stories with the young boys. The missionaries told the boy soldiers about another great boy soldier who defeated a giant.

    "[The boys] cheered the skill of David to kill the giant with only a slingshot," Witte said. "I hope and pray they also heard the clear message that God can use even a boy to accomplish his greatest tasks.

    "He can, you know."

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/13/2001 12:00:00 AM by Brittany Jarvis , Baptist Press | with 0 comments



    SEBTS adopts BF&M

    April 13 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

    SEBTS adopts BF&M | Friday, April 13, 2001
  • Approved a $16.8 million budget for the coming fiscal year beginning Aug. 1. The budget is a $2 million or 11.9 percent increase. Trustee Kent Humphreys of Oklahoma City, Okla. asked how the Baptist General Convention of Texas' decision to withdraw funding from the seminary has affected the budget.

    Ryan Hutchinson, vice president for administration, said giving through the Cooperative Program to the SBC has increased over the same time last year. If a drastic effect is noticed later, then a contingency plan will be presented to trustees as their fall meeting, he said.

  • Dedicated the renovated Johnson Dorm as Goldston Hall in honor of Jim and Agnes Goldston of Raleigh. The building, with 21 apartments housing 90 male students, was originally named for a dean of women at Wake Forest College while the school was on the campus in the town of Wake Forest. The Goldstons were recognized for their financial support of the seminary through scholarships and building fund gifts.
  • Approved the naming of the missions center now under construction in honor of Jimmy and Nancy Jacumin of Icard. He is a trustee at the seminary who has "given unbelievably" to the building project, said Paige Patterson, seminary president. The couple chose to remember their deceased parents - Roy and Muriel Simpson of Icard, and Emile and Mamie Jacumin of Rutherford College - in recommending the building be named the Jacumin-Simpson World Missions Center.

    Jimmy Jacumin said he is excited about the idea of church mission teams visiting the building before leaving on a mission trip so they can talk with the missionary serving where the team is going. That in turn gets people to see the campus, he said.

  • Heard that the seminary raised $3.3 million over the past six months. Jacumin said that amount is higher than any previous 12-month period.
  • Considered the creation of an off-campus master's degree program. Patterson said the school is getting pressure to offer a degree program off campus. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. does it, and churches where Southeastern has extension sites want it, he said.

    Accrediting agencies require a student on an off-campus degree site to get the same education as available on the main campus. Patterson said he couldn't honestly say that could occur.

    Trustee Cecil Taylor said he supports the creation of the degree program.

    Dale Thompson, a trustee from Fort Smith, Ark., said a lot of ministers are serving churches and yet don't have a seminary degree.

    Bush said the faculty's concern about the new program is they want to make sure the master of arts in biblical studies doesn't become a lighter version of the master of divinity degree, in which students must complete at least half of the 96 credit hours on the campus.

    No decision was made on the new degree program. Trustees may be polled prior to the fall meeting for a decision.

  • Approved a long-range institutional plan as part of the upcoming visits of accreditation teams from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the Association of Theological Schools.
  • Agreed to spend two-thirds of the $300,000 cost for a new computer system on the campus. When the seminary sells property on U.S. 1 for a shopping center, the balance of $100,000 will be made available so the system can be installed before the fall semester. Hutchinson said the sale of land should be completed by June 30. The sale is contingent on the approval of a site plan by the Town of Wake Forest. The town board, which previously denied shopping center requests for the property, will vote May 15. The present town board is a "completely different town council" in that it is supportive of economic development, Hutchinson said.
  • Promoted Dorothy Patterson from an assistant professor to professor of women's studies. Trustee Dwight Smith of Florence, Miss. proposed the idea.

    "She's been around a long time. I think that's the right thing to do," said Smith, meeting the last time with trustees before rotating off the board.

    Bush was asked how other faculty members would react, considering the promotion would be handled differently than others. The academic dean said he sees no problem. "Everybody loves her," Bush said.

    Dorothy Patterson is the wife of the seminary president and doesn't accept pay for teaching.

  • Recognized a support group called Sunshine Seniors. The group of senior adults in the Wake County area has adopted a project of providing groceries to about 200 seminary families in need. Each month, the group donates groceries worth about $12,000.
  • Heard the president say the student body numbers 2,129, a growth rate of about 1.5-2 percent, Patterson said. That number includes the number of people who have taken classes during the school year. The actual number of full-time equivalent students for the seminary and college is 1,685, he said.
  • Heard Coy Privette, trustee chair from Kannapolis, note the change that has occurred at Southeastern since conservatives gained a majority of trustees in 1987. Although the student enrollment dropped during the years of conservative president Lewis Drummond (1988-1992), the enrollment has increased from 703 to more than 2,000 during Patterson's reign the past decade, he said.

    In addition, 100 teams the past five years have been sent to parts of the world unreached with the gospel message. And 97 percent of those have since become International Mission Board appointees. Despite those numbers, "We've got a lot of adversaries," Privette said. "In North Carolina, not all appreciate us."

    Privette said his response to people who are displeased with the conservative surge at Southeastern is to invite them to a chapel service on the campus. "You're going to be absolutely amazed at what you're going to see," he said.

  • Heard Patterson tell a story about chapel services. About three years ago, chapel attendance began to lag so the president decided to visit dorms during chapel.

    During his rounds, he found some who had just taken a shower and a couple others playing table tennis. Patterson said he "took chapel to them" by reading scripture to them.

    "I never had so much fun in my life," Patterson said.

    About the same time, Patterson wrote a strongly worded letter to students implying that he would make chapel mandatory if more didn't start attending the services, held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

  • Friday, April 13, 2001

    SEBTS adopts BF&M

    By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor New faculty members at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will have to agree with the 2000 version of the Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M), but current faculty members won't have to sign the document.

    Trustees voted 23-1 on April 9 to require new faculty to sign the statement of faith that was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at its annual meeting last June in Orlando. The statement has been hailed by conservatives as more closely representing Southern Baptists of today, and it has been criticized by moderates for de-emphasizing the priesthood of each believer and limiting the pastorate to men only.

    "We felt it was important to send a message of cooperation and support to the Southern Baptist Convention," said Cecil Taylor, a trustee from Satsuma, Ala. who chairs the instruction committee.

    Last fall, the trustees began studying the idea of adopting the 2000 BF&M. At the SBC annual meeting a resolution was made asking SBC institutions to refrain from requiring employees to sign the faith statement.

    Taylor said the instruction committee struggled over whether to recommend the 2000 BF&M or to keep the Abstract of Principles, which the seminary has used since its founding in 1951. The committee decided to recommend both. By keeping the Abstract of Principles, the seminary is "true to the school's history," Taylor said.

    Trustee Charlie Waller was the lone voter against the proposal to have both documents.

    "In my mind we're committing institutional schizophrenia," said Waller, a Southeastern graduate who now lives in Jeffersonton, Va.

    The two faith statements are similar and requiring faculty to sign both would be like a group having two mission statements, said Waller, who noted he doesn't oppose the 2000 BF&M.

    "Our institution does not need a new confessional statement," Waller said. The problem has been with faculty honestly fulfilling the statement, not with the statement itself, he said.

    Randall Lolley, president of the seminary from 1974-88, said he didn't want to comment about Waller's description of the faculty. He did say he was saddened to learn the trustees had adopted the Baptist Faith & Message as a "creed."

    A trustee at the seminary from 1978-88 did counter Waller's comment about some previous faculty members not fulfilling the Abstract of Principles. Harold Stinson of Winston-Salem said he often visited classes while a trustee. "I never saw anything that wasn't on the up and up," Stinson said.

    Russ Bush, academic vice president and dean of the faculty, said Waller is right in that if a person with integrity signs the Abstract of Principles, then the seminary shouldn't have a problem. But he said the differences between the two faith statements are minor and having both allows the seminary to keep its roots while affirming where the Convention is today. Faculty members said they wanted to keep the Abstract, he said, noting that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary requires faculty to sign both.

    Trustee James E. Merritt of Easley, S.C. said he wanted the seminary to require the affirmation of the 2000 BF&M by faculty. "It's keeping this institution safe," he said.

    Trustee Bradley Wilcoxen of Auburn, Calif. said he understood Waller's argument but asked him to consider the implication of a less than unanimous affirmation of the new faith statement.

    Before the vote, trustee Tom Rush of Clovis, N.M., referred to the Abstract's impact on faculty while he was in the school. "The professors signed the same thing. They didn't teach by it," he said.

    By approving the 2000 BF&M, the seminary shows its solidarity with the Convention, he said.

    Waller, who as the trustee's secretary is hidden from view by people attending the meeting, said afterward he voted against the recommendation.

    Although the vote does not require present faculty to sign the 2000 BF&M, Bush said they will be invited to sign during Awards Day at the seminary at the end of the semester.

    Not more than one instructor will choose not to sign, he said. Bush described the professor as the most senior faculty member who will retire in a couple years. George W. Braswell is the only faculty member who served prior to the conservative takeover of trustees in 1987. He is distinguished professor of missions and world religions and director of the doctor of ministry program.

    In other items, trustees did the following:

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/13/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments



    Trustees delete 'political' verse of seminary hymn

    April 13 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

    Trustees delete 'political' verse from seminary hymn | Friday, April 13, 2001

    Friday, April 13, 2001

    Trustees delete 'political' verse from seminary hymn

    By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor A verse that celebrates freedom was removed April 10 from the official hymn of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Trustees at the school voted unanimously to delete the verse that was written and approved in 1987, the same year conservatives gained a majority on the board of trustees.

    Edward A. McDowell, a New Testament professor at Southeastern in its early days, wrote the original six verses.

    Russ Bush, academic vice president and dean of the faculty, told trustees the verse was used as a battle cry by moderates during the seminary's conservative surge.

    "It was simply put in as a political statement," Bush said.

    One of the authors of the verse, Bob Mullinax, a 1957 graduate of the seminary, said later he disagrees with Bush's assessment.

    "It was an expression of our Christian and Baptist beliefs which we felt were consistent with Dr. McDowell's work in the other stanzas of the hymn," Mullinax said. "Of course, I'm disappointed to hear about this action, and, of course, I'm not surprised."

    Joining Mullinax in writing the verse was Randall Lolley, who at the time was president of Southeastern. He announced his resignation in 1987, stating he could not follow the direction of Southeastern's majority of conservative trustees.

    Lolley declined to comment on the removal of the verse.

    The verse written by Mullinax and Lolley was inserted as the fifth of seven verses. During the seminary's celebration of its 50th anniversary last fall, the hymn was sung in three separate parts of two verses each. The verse written by Mullinax and Lolley wasn't sung.

    The hymn was written to the tune of Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life. The fifth verse is as follows: For freedom Christ has set us free, Breaking the chains of captivity. Bound but to God we go forth whole, Free from the shackles of mind and soul.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/13/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments



    N.C. Baptists involved in bus crash

    April 10 2001 by

    N.C. Baptists involved in bus crash | Tuesday, April 10, 2001

    Tuesday, April 10, 2001

    N.C. Baptists involved in bus crash

    From wire reports Several N.C. Baptists were on a school trip when a bus crashed April 6 in Georgia.

    The bus carrying dozens of high school students to a band competition flipped on its side on Interstate 95, CNN reported. About 20 students were injured, some of them seriously. The bus was part of a two-bus convoy from Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, Lt. William Terrell of the Camden County Sheriff's Department told CNN.

    The school group's director, Steve West, is the music director at Massey Hill Baptist Church. He was on another bus and was not injured.

    Leigh Faircloth, a music assistant at the school and the wife of Cedar Creek Baptist Church pastor Rodney Faircloth, sustained minor injuries in the crash.

    "We are really worried about her, but the pastor was able to talk with her on the phone and she's going to be okay," a spokesperson for the church told Baptist Press (BP). "The pastor rushed out the door and is on his way to Georgia to be with her."

    David Weeks, pastor of Massey Hill Baptist Church, said he heard about the crash just before 9 a.m. "I spoke to our music director's wife and he's really torn up about this," Weeks told BP. "He was in the lead bus and wasn't hurt, but this is a terrible thing."

    West told WJXT in Jacksonville, Fla., that he was in the process of calling parents of the injured students.

    A church secretary at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church said at least three of their students were on the trip, but were riding on another bus and were not injured.

    Johnny Byrd, the minister of youth at Village Baptist Church, said one student from Village was on the trip, but was not on the bus that crashed.

    The Associated Press (AP) reported that the six most seriously injured were taken to hospitals in Jacksonville, Fla., and the rest to Camden Medical Center in St. Marys.

    Eleven students remained in hospitals three days after the accident, the Fayetteville Observer reported.

    Officials at St. Marys hospital said the patients they received, all teen-agers, had mostly broken bones. Four underwent surgery, and the rest were to be released after treatment, said spokeswoman Susan Bates.

    Some of the students had "cuts, bruises, scrapes, injuries from broken glass and road rash," she said. "The bus turned over on its side, and the kids sitting on that side received those injuries."

    Renarta Moyd, a spokeswoman for the Cumberland County, N.C., school system, told AP that a car apparently pulled in front of the bus, causing it to swerve and overturn.

    But Allison Hodge, a spokeswoman for the Georgia State Patrol in Atlanta, said troopers couldn't confirm that a car had caused the accident. "We're getting a lot of conflicting stories right now," she said.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/10/2001 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



    North Roanoke Association dispute narrowly decided

    April 6 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

    North Roanoke Association dispute narrowly decided | Friday, April 6, 2001

    Friday, April 6, 2001

    North Roanoke Association dispute narrowly decided

    By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor A divisive battle the past few months in a N.C. association resulted April 3 with close votes in favor of those who say they are defending historic principles and a call to refocus on missions.

    Messengers to the North Roanoke Baptist Association's semi-annual meeting voted to approve a nominating committee's recommendation despite attempts to have two of the nominees replaced. Separate motions to replace the two nominees to the personnel committee were defeated by votes of 119 to 104 and 126 to 98.

    The nominating committee's slate has been a target for controversy the past few months. At the group's first meeting in February, two pastors who are active conservatives in the association were asked if they would serve. But at the next meeting a week later, the nominating committee decided to replace the two pastors with two laypersons - Edna Weeks of Weldon Baptist Church and Al Stroud of Rosemary Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids.

    In making the nominating committee report to the association, the chair, Jean Gurganus of Rosemary Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids, noted the controversy and briefly described the meetings of the committee.

    After her report, the two other nominations were made from the floor. One was Howard Harden, pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church in Whitakers and a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The other was Al Thomerson, pastor of Chockyotte Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids.

    Wayne Martin, pastor of Weldon Baptist Church, defended the nominating committee's slate as representing the association both geographically and spiritually.

    "They worked long and hard ... with no agenda except to make things as open and fair as possible," Martin said.

    One of the two conservatives initially recommended said last month the controversy was related to theology. Michael Cloer, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, said the personnel committee will eventually choose the successor to the director of missions (DOM), J.D. Harrod. Conservatives don't want the personnel committee controlled by churches supporting the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, he said.

    Cloer's comments were made following an informational meeting on March 6 organized by leaders in the association's Woman's Missionary Union (WMU). During the meeting, speakers talked about what they called threats to historic Baptist principles such as priesthood of the believer and local church autonomy.

    One of the speakers at the meeting was Weeks, an associate director of the association's WMU.

    The approximately 110 people attending the March 6 gathering were encouraged to attend the semi-annual meeting of the association.

    The March 6 meeting was spurred in part by a letter dated Feb. 21 and signed by 20 pastors complaining about the nominating committee's decision to withdraw the names of the two conservatives initially recommended. A copy of the Feb. 21 letter, along a description of events, was later sent to church leaders in the association by Tom McLean, pastor of Oak View Baptist Church in Rocky Mount. McLean was one of the letter signers and in his cover letter, he called the nominating committee's action unethical. Another signer of the Feb. 21 letter was William Tomlinson, pastor of Arlington Baptist Church, Rocky Mount, and the other person who was initially recommended to serve. In his church newsletter column, he called the nominating committee's action "unethical and unchristian."

    After the votes, Charles Peterson, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids, said he was concerned about the divisiveness in the association. "Perhaps the nominating committee will take that into consideration next year," he said.

    Moderator Kenneth Brantley of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids said he is sure the committee will do that. "We certainly don't want divisiveness among our association."

    At the end of the business portion of the meeting, McLean asked to speak to the group. "Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the last few months there has been a lot of turmoil, a lot of strife, a lot of slander," said McLean, who then noted the term association means working together.

    "We just spent a lot of time arguing over the personnel committee while people outside are going to hell," he said. "Let's get on with winning this world that's going to hell."

    McLean asked the group to pray about the sin of selfishness before worshipping.

    Donald Etheridge, pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids, then stood and noted that forgiveness should be sought from the DOM, his wife, Donice, and Gurganus, the nominating committee chair, "for what has been thrown at them," including what he called "vicious words."

    "Then we'll be more able to go to the lost because they'll know we won't hurt each other," he said.

    During the prayer, Bill Grisham, pastor of First Baptist Church, Rocky Mount, noted each person's humanity. "Lord, there are differences that matter. You matter more."

    The worship service then focused on the four elements of responding to the Great Commission according to Acts 1: 8 - "and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

    Connie Armstrong talked about her work with a local Hispanic ministry. Charles Mullen described his efforts with the Angel Flight ministry in which medical patients are flown for care without charge. Scott Gleason noted his church's mission trip to Uganda. And the guest speaker, Geoff Hammond, a former missionary who now works with missions at First Baptist Church, Norfolk, Va., spoke on the need to minister locally, nationally and internationally together.

    "It is a simultaneous commandment," Hammond said. "If we want to reach Judea before we reach Samaria, we'll never reach Samaria."

    North Carolina's population grew 21.4 percent between 1990 and 2000, he said. "You know what God's doing, He's bringing the world to your Judea."

    The Hispanic population in North Carolina grew by 400 percent during the same period from 79,000 to 379,000 "souls God loves and sent Jesus Christ for. Every church needs a Hispanic Sunday School class." If a church doesn't have a Spanish speaking teacher, win one for Christ, he said.

    He also encouraged the association's churches to start new churches. He gave one example where a church with 284 members decided to plant a church. Forty of the members left for the church start. Two years later, the new church had 234 members. The home church's membership had grown to 491, he said.

    Hammond described an association as a fellowship of churches cooperating to fulfill the Great Commission.

    The meeting ended with each person holding hands as Harrod, the DOM, gave the benediction.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    4/6/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments



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