December 2001

Hollifield Center teaches coaching over consulting

December 28 2001 by Norman Jameson , BR Correspondent

Hollifield Center teaches coaching over consulting | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Hollifield Center teaches coaching over consulting

By Norman Jameson BR Correspondent LAKE HICKORY - When executive director Jim Royston of the N Baptist State Convention (BSC) unveiled his "Pursuing Vital Ministry" (PVM) theme at the annual meeting in November, he said there would be help for churches that want to be transformed. While the specific details of Pursuing Vital Ministry are still being established, the first step in training the workers was taken on Dec. 4 at Hollifield Leadership Center in Conover. Fifteen BSC staff members and a half dozen people from other denominations were exposed to a method of assisting churches that is more coaching than consulting, more process than prescription.

"This is a process that will help congregations achieve their full kingdom potential in their context," said participant Lynn Sasser, a church planting specialist who will be involved in the PVM process.

"Coaches" who help churches pursue vital ministry will not bring a formula, instead, they will coach the church to find its own answers.

One participant compared the process to an Easter egg hunt. Instead of knowing the location of each egg and pointing people to it, a coach admits he doesn't know where to find all the eggs but organizes a hunt and helps people discover them.

"Coaches will form a relationship with a church and walk along with members and leadership in journey to discover what God wants for that church," said Don Bouldin, leader of the Convention's congregational services group. "Being coached is not a prescription, but a process of self discovery. PVM is not a program, it's a process."

The Convention intends to certify its first coaches by September 2002.

The PVM process will not be for churches in conflict. PVM will be for churches whose staff and congregational leadership sense a loss of dynamic fervor, stalled growth or suffocating routine. The convention estimates that 70 percent of N.C. churches are at a plateau or declining.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Norman Jameson , BR Correspondent | with 0 comments

Leaders ponder BSC's future

December 28 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Leaders ponder BSC's future | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Leaders ponder BSC's future

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor The future of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) depends on one's perspective. A Southern Baptist leader believes that either conservatives or moderates will gain control of the BSC within the next decade, but well-known BSC leaders tend to believe that the uneasy truce between the two groups will hold.

Paige Patterson, the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest and one of the architects of the conservative surge in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), talked about the future of the BSC in a recent interview with the Recorder. He said he believes that within the next five to 10 years the BSC will either look like the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which has strong moderate leadership, or the state conventions in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, which have strong conservative leadership.

"What I'm getting at is, can two walk together except they be agreed?" he said. "The fact is they can't."

Some BSC leaders believe that BSC elected officers will ultimately determine if there's a fork in the BSC's path.

At the forefront of that discussion is BSC President Jerry Pereira. Pereira, a conservative who was elected in November, succeeds Mike Cummings, a conservative who is widely respected by moderates.

Pereira, pastor of First Baptist Church in Swannonoa, said he believes N.C. Baptists can work together for a common purpose.

"I believe we're going to work together and build on common ground under the lordship of Jesus Christ and share the gospel of Jesus Christ at home and abroad," he said. "People on both sides have passion for both."

Pereira said he shares BSC Executive Director-treasurer Jim Royston's goal to get all N.C. Baptists to work together.

Royston said he hopes N.C. Baptists can stay together and that he intends to work for that.

"I believe it is in the best interest of the kingdom's work and I honestly believe the majority of N.C. Baptists want to do that," he said.

Royston said he believes leaders who want to work together and be inclusive and have a strong focus on missions and ministry can keep N.C. Baptists together.

"We've seen a lot of movement to be inclusive, a lot of sharing of appointments," he said. "The desire of leaders I've worked with has been to do the things that are in the best interests of N.C. Baptists."

Dixon Free, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lincolnton, said in a written statement that he has seen inclusive leadership in his year of service as president of the BSC General Board.

"Probably the most important observation has related to the magic of actually sitting down with each other and talking," Free said. "Several times I have been amazed to see individuals, who are said to be poles apart in terms of convention politics, working together to solve thorny problems. I have listened to them compliment each other for their cooperative spirits. I have been amazed by such moments."

Free said he has "guarded optimism" for the BSC's future.

"We really aren't so different," he said. "We can love the Lord together. We can do missions and evangelism together.

"We can witness together. We can pray together. We can love each other. This is the hope of the future for us as North Carolina Baptists."

Free said he noted that Pereira has called for N.C. Baptists to work together under the banner of the lordship of Jesus.

"If we choose to focus on such a noble goal, we will be stronger and better five years from now," Free said. "It is a possibility. We can make it happen. I, for one, am praying to that end."

Two N.C. Baptist pastors who are widely credited with starting a model for shared leadership among conservatives and moderates both believe cooperation is still possible. When Greg Mathis, a conservative, was president of the BSC and Mike Queen, a moderate, was president of the BSC General Board, their efforts at reconciliation became known as "the Greg and Mike Show."

Mathis, pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, said that even though an effort to obtain shared leadership through changes to the BSC constitution failed a few years ago, the BSC has shared leadership. He said he thinks the BSC General Board is becoming more balanced, but the General Board's Executive Committee is still weighted toward moderates by about a 70-30 margin.

"We are continuing with shared leadership," he said. "I hope we can continue to find ways to work together."

Mathis said that if conservatives ever gain control of the BSC, they would have to demonstrate that "everybody has a place at the table."

That hasn't happened in the SBC, where conservatives effectively shut out moderates.

"I hope there will be voices that continue to say let's continue to work together," Mathis said. "I think that will be a very revealing time."

Queen, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington, said cooperation in the BSC will exist as long as people want it. The BSC's elected leaders will have to decide if the spirit of cooperation goes forward, he said

"If our unity comes at the price that everybody has to be unified on every issue, we'll self-destruct out there somewhere," Queen said. "If we ever get to the point where we're not open and accepting of other people, then we'll just dry up."

Queen noted that Pereira is on the board of Conservative Carolina Baptists, a conservative political group, but has said that the group is not his heart.

"Sooner or later you've got to demonstrate that that's not your heart," Queen said. "He will have to distance himself in a very straightforward way from those who have a mean spirit."

Cummings, who left office as BSC president in November, said he is convinced that shared leadership among conservatives and moderates has "a pretty strong hold on N.C. Baptists."

Cummings, director of missions for Burnt Swamp Baptist Association, said he didn't think N.C. Baptists would elect leaders with a "takeover mentality."

"I'm confident that messengers that come to our conventions are convinced that shared leadership is the way," he said.

Moderates who are worried that conservatives who now say they only want balance will exclude moderates if they gain control of the BSC have a "legitimate concern," Cummings said. But he pointed out that many conservatives have distanced themselves from conservative remarks about a takeover of the BSC.

"I'm convinced that the moderates can't take over and conservatives must not take over," he said.

Cummings, who describes himself as rigidly conservative and fundamentalist in background, said he has appreciated learning to balance preaching focused on keeping people out of hell with a genuine concern for their struggles on earth

"We're learning that evangelism through missions and ministry is effective," he said.

Cummings pointed out that Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville, where prominent moderate David Crocker is pastor, is "blitzing the city with ministry in the name of Jesus Christ" and "bringing people to the Lord."

Moderates and conservatives can learn from each other, Cummings said.

"If takeover is the day then each of us will run off with half of our effectiveness," he said.

Cummings said he believes the BSC can avoid such a fate.

"We're Southern Baptists, but we're also cooperative Baptists," he said.

When asked if he thought moderates and conservatives could come together in Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina, Cummings said he thinks the group is too closely identified with moderates.

Don Gordon, head of Mainstream's steering committee, said the group wants a future where conservatives and moderates can work together.

"As long as our voice is heard and followed there will continue to be a place where conservatives and moderates can work together," he said.

Gordon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mount Olive, said conservative churches in moderate-controlled states are allowed to support the SBC, but moderate churches in conservative states cannot support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

"I want to work together to maintain local church autonomy and freedom that has characterized our state convention for 171 years," Gordon said. "I would say give me freedom under Christ or take Baptist out of our name."

Bill Sanderson, president of Conservative Carolina Baptists, said members of his group are willing to work with moderates if moderates are willing to work with them.

"I don't think it would be good for our state to split and that's not what I desire to see," he said. "But I desire that conservatives have a voice on our General Board."

Sanderson agreed that the future of the BSC depends largely on the BSC leadership.

When asked if his group was in favor of conservatives taking over the BSC, Sanderson said, "I wouldn't use the word 'takeover,' I would use the word 'persuasion' or at least, 'give a listening ear to.'"

Sanderson said Patterson's prediction that the BSC will likely look different is five to 10 years is "probably true, but I don't have a crystal ball."

Patterson said he's "not a big fan" of shared leadership.

"With moderate leadership, moderates win," he said. "With shared leadership, moderates win."

Patterson said he doesn't agree with compromising on spiritual truth.

"The issue is not really (biblical) inerrancy," he said. "The issue is, 'Is everything in the Bible absolutely true?'"

Patterson said he finds fault with people who think they know what parts of the Bible are true.

"I have a problem with that," he said.

Patterson said some people are pictured as moderate and believe everything in the Bible is absolutely true but just don't like conservative leaders.

"I don't particularly blame them for that," he said. "Sometimes I don't like me either."

The issue, he said, is not whether they like conservative leaders, the issue is whether everything in the Bible is absolutely true.

Patterson compared shared leadership with treading water.

"You can't tread water and get anyplace," he said.

But Gordon said people tearing each other apart can't stay above water.

"If people can remain focused on Christ and the mission of Christ instead of man-made doctrines then we can work together," he said. "If we coerce a uniformity of thought we can't stay above water."

Patterson said his comment about the BSC looking different in the next five to 10 years was not a prediction of conservative victory in the state.

"But anybody observing it would have to observe the conservative presence in North Carolina is growing," he said.

Conservatives have controlled at least two of the top three BSC offices for six of the last seven years.

Patterson said he would like to think Southeastern is the main reason for the conservative growth, but he's not ready to take credit for it.

"We're certainly doing everything we can, but our focus is missions," he said. "We've not had time to do very much in politics. I'd imagine we've had some impact."

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Editor Tony W. Cartledge and Assistant Editor Jimmy Allen contributed to this story.)

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

N.C. Baptists' response to Sept. 11 attacks voted the top story for 2001

December 28 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

N.C. Baptists' response to Sept. 11 attacks voted the top story for 2001 | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

N.C. Baptists' response to Sept. 11 attacks voted the top story for 2001

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor The N.C. Baptist response to terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., was voted the most important story of 2001 by the editorial staff of the Biblical Recorder. Relief workers from N.C. Baptist churches were headed toward the Pentagon less than 16 hours after terrorists crashed a plane into the building on Sept. 11. Twenty-two hours later, N.C. Baptists were headed toward New York.

Crews at the Pentagon provided hot meals for emergency workers. N.C. Baptists initially sent shower units to New York and later added feeding, laundry and cleaning units.

Tar Heel Baptists provided relief help for three months after the attacks.

Conservatives' successful effort to regain control of Baptist State Convention (BSC) offices was voted the second most important story of the year.

Conservatives won the top two BSC elected offices at the annual meeting in November. Moderates held on to the second vice presidency.

Jerry Pereira, pastor of First Baptist Church of Swannanoa, was elected president. Bob Foy, a layman from Peninsula Baptist Church in Mooresville, won the first vice presidency and Larry Harper, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, was re-elected second vice president.

The two conservative victories marked the sixth time in the last seven years that conservatives have controlled at least two of the three top BSC offices.

Conservative talk of a BSC takeover was chosen as the third most important story.

The remarks were made at a meeting sponsored by Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB). Clarence Johnson, the head of a conservative laity group and a member of the CCB Executive Committee, was the main speaker at the Sept. 20 meeting in Fayetteville and several of the other gatherings

"Do I want a takeover? Absolutely," Johnson said.

A number of conservatives, including Pereira and Foy, have distanced themselves from Johnson's remarks.

Other stories voted important by the Recorder staff:

(4) New Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) church faces funding questions.

Providence Baptist Congregation, a new CBF church in Hendersonville, sought funding from the BSC.

Potential funding from the BSC hit a snag when church supporters were told that its lack of ties to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) would likely disqualify it from membership in the Carolina Baptist Association. BSC policy says a new church must be endorsed by a "district association" to get funding from the BSC.

Providence then sought endorsement from the Buncombe Baptist Association.

Buncombe officials, however, said the association's constitution doesn't allow it to start churches outside Buncombe County.

Supporters of the church then asked United Association, a multi-racial association generally located in the Charlotte area, to endorse Providence. United officials agreed and invited the church to become part of the association, but funding from the BSC is still in question.

(5) More N.C. Baptist churches leave SBC.

Several moderate churches in the BSC decided during 2001 to officially cut ties with the conservative-dominated SBC. At least 25 N.C. Baptist churches have left the SBC over the past several years.

About a third of all the churches that have left the SBC are N.C. Baptist churches, according to a list compiled by a CBF official. North Carolina has nearly triple the number from any other state.

(6-tie) N.C. Baptists minister in partnership areas.

Thousands of N.C. Baptists went on mission trips during 2001 through the BSC's partnerships with Alaska, Honduras and Southern Africa.

Most of the trips to Alaska took place in the summer. Teams of N.C. Baptists constructed new buildings and repaired existing ones; led Vacation Bible Schools; conducted revivals; and performed community surveys.

Teams going to Honduras helped people rebuild after Hurricane Mitch destroyed thousands of homes in 1998.

The three-year partnership with Southern Africa ended in 2001.

(6-tie) Associations face controversies.

The Elkin Baptist Association dismissed First Baptist Church of Elkin for accepting members who have not been baptized by immersion. The association voted 70-16 to dismiss the church at the association's meeting Oct. 25.

Lamberth Memorial Baptist Church in Roxboro voted to withdraw from the Beulah Baptist Association shortly after a surprise motion to align the association more closely with the SBC narrowly failed during its Oct. 15-16 annual meeting. The church has faced criticism within the association because it supports CBF and because pastor Jeff Raymond's wife, LeJeanna, is ordained and serves as associate pastor.

Messengers to the North Roanoke Baptist Association's semi-annual meeting on April 3 voted to approve a nominating committee's recommendation despite attempts to have two of the nominees replaced.

The nominating committee's slate had been a target for controversy after two active conservative pastors in the association were asked to serve, but later replaced with two laypersons.

(8) Baptist Children's Homes (BCH) of North Carolina opens home for adults with developmental disabilities and passes $1 million offering mark.

BCH started the active phase of its ministry to adults with developmental disabilities in March with the opening of Baptist House at Bethabara. The opening of the Winston-Salem facility put BCH about two years ahead of schedule.

BCH announced in March that its 2000 Thanksgiving Offering had raised $1.03 million, the first time in N.C. Baptist history a single institution raised $1 million dollars in special offerings.

The Thanksgiving Offering was the culmination of an intensive 20-month campaign called QSTQR (Quality Service Through Quality Relationships).

(9-tie) Some conservatives join Mainstream group.

Several conservative N.C. Baptists, including one who holds an elected office with CCB agreed to serve on the Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC) steering committee. Larry Locklear, pastor of Island Grove Baptist Church in Pembroke and a self-described theological "ultra-conservative" and a CCB regional director, said he agreed to serve on the committee after he was promised that the main goal of the group is to encourage cooperation between conservatives and moderates in North Carolina.

(9-tie) Population outpacing Baptist growth in North Carolina.

A BSC analysis of population and church records showed that the Baptist presence in North Carolina declined dramatically in the past 20 years. From 1980 to 2000, the percentage of Baptists in the state has dropped from about 25 percent to about 14 percent, the analysis said.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Organization formed to promote women in missions

December 28 2001 by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press

Organization formed to promote women in missions | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Organization formed to promote women in missions

By Bob Allen Associated Baptist Press BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A new missions organization led by and focused on women has been launched, according to an announcement Dec. 13. "One third of the world's people today are non-Christian women," said Suzanah Raffield of Birmingham, Ala., an incorporator of Global Women who will be the group's full-time coordinator.

Despite that statistic, planners of the organization said they could find no evangelical mission board in existence specializing in worldwide ministry and witness by women.

Incorporated Dec. 6, Global Women will attempt to "create and cultivate global friendships among women for shared learning and service for all humanity," according to legal documents.

"A dominant characteristic of most unevangelized peoples is repression and isolation of their women," said Raffield, an ordained minister. "Such women cannot usually receive the loving message of Jesus Christ, except through contact with a(nother) woman."

A purpose statement says the organization will "enable evangelical women to help women and their families to obtain a life of faith and benefit." Though started by Baptists, the organization is open to full participation from all "missions-minded evangelicals." It is also open to men.

Organizers include several former leaders of the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU), auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention. They also include younger women who believe a new kind of mission organization is needed to appeal to their generation.

Raffield said Global Women is unique among Baptists and other protestant groups. She believes an informally defined constituency will be appealing for young women to enter and to lead.

"We hope to help meet the need for gathering and sharing expertise in global ministry among women," Raffield said. "Many women already in the field have requested a chance to network."

President of Global Women is Dorothy Sample of Flint, Mich., a former national president of WMU.

"Nurture of women toward global service will be a distinctive of Global Women," Sample said. "We want to help place women, and also men, where they can minister to the world through women."

The first year's work is projected to include international partnership projects, conferences for young women, building an infrastructure for appointing women as missionaries and working with others wishing to expand humanitarian aid and evangelism among women, according to Raffield.

The group says it wants to complement the work of both the WMU and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).

Daniel Vestal, coordinator of the Atlanta-based CBF, said the founders of Global Women inspire him.

"Their vision for this new organization is born out of a deep commitment to Jesus Christ and a passionate desire to fulfill the Great Commission," he said. "The birth of Global Women is fresh evidence of the Spirit's continued empowering."

Gary Baldridge, co-coordinator of the CBF's global missions division, said he looks "forward to cooperating in every way possible" with the group.

Funding will be "by churches and individuals who have a global vision of ministry for and by women," said Catherine Allen of Birmingham, the group's treasurer. She said the organization might also develop publications and projects that are "more-or-less self-funding."

Allen, a former staff member of WMU who has written several books on the history of women in missions, said several strong women's mission boards were active 100 years ago. Their work helped to plant lasting Christian communities in Burma, China, India, Brazil, Korea, Nigeria, and other nations."

But in recent years, Allen said, the percentages of women appointed as missionaries, especially for leadership development and human-needs ministry to women, have declined among Southern Baptists and some other denominations.

"We want to multiply women missionaries," Allen said. Global Women, she added, "will be an advocate and also an action agent for women in missions."

Vice-president of the organization is Carolyn Crumpler of Cincinnati, Ohio, who was executive director of WMU from 1974-1989 and later moderator of CBF.

"Global Women will take up parts of the missions task among women that need a spotlight," Crumpler said. "Our women's mission heritage around the world gives excellent models of what can be done when women shape mission philosophy. We will build on those and be mutually supportive of all who are continuing to serve."

Secretary is LeAnn Gunter of Panama City, Fla., and assistant secretary will be Lori Crowe of Cornelia, Ga. Gunter and Crowe are students at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta with backgrounds in mission projects.

Other incorporators include Alma Hunt of Roanoke, Va., who was executive secretary of WMU from 1948-1974; and Dellanna O'Brien of Birmingham, WMU executive director from 1989-1999. After serving as an incorporator, O'Brien vacated her position on the founding board of directors.

Organizers said planning for a women's mission initiative began in March 2000, after research indicated declines in missions for and by women. Research also revealed that suffering of women is worsening globally.

Three informal think tanks have been held since June 2000, where women described shortcomings of existing missions-delivery systems, looked at the history and current demographics of women in missions and discussed factors that hinder women from following God's call.

As early as November 2000, a consensus developed that a free-standing organization was needed to meet growing needs and opportunities for women, Allen said.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

New shoes for an old friend

December 28 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

New shoes for an old friend | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

New shoes for an old friend

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I bought Trigger some new shoes for Christmas. Trigger is my faithful mount (a white Intrigue), and he needed shoes badly - the old ones had 87,000 miles on them.

Previously, I've never had a set of tires to last more than 60,000 miles, so I was amazed when the original set, like the Energizer Bunny, kept going and going and going.

There was still good tread on the tires when I finally gave in, went to Wal-Mart and bought another set just like them. They might have gone another 5,000 miles. But, with winter coming - assuming that it does eventually get here - I thought the extra traction might come in handy.

Automobile tires, like shoes, are more important for their functionality than their looks. Tires come with letters or stripes or basic black. They can be wide or narrow, fat or skinny. Some folks pay them little attention, while others like to shine them up like patent leather.

Shoes come in far greater variety - loafers and lace-ups, sneakers and dress shoes, pumps and mules, boots and clogs, sandals and high heels, in every color imaginable.

Foot fashions seem to change often, sometimes for the worse.

I have seen some really ugly shoes in my life, including a couple of pair I spotted last Sunday. I won't mention any names.

But, if shoes are comfortable and dependable, if they get you where you need to go, they've done their job.

One of the places we all need to go is on the trail in search of people who don't yet know Christ. "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news," the Bible says (Isa. 52:7; Rom. 10:15), and we have the best news ever.

Wearing ugly shoes doesn't mean you can't have beautiful feet.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Of horses, streams and change

December 28 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Of horses, streams and change | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Of horses, streams and change

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor An old saying, generally quoted in opposition to change, asks why anyone would want to change horses in the middle of a stream. The question assumes, of course, that the person is riding a horse, and that the horse is making progress toward the other bank of the stream. I can think of several reasons.

A rider might change to a fresher horse to get across more quickly, perhaps, or to a braver horse if the current mount was skittish. One could change to a prettier horse in fancier gear for esthetic reasons, or to a taller horse that might keep the rider's pants from getting wet. When traveling to an area where dappled horses are known to cause offense, one might switch to a solid-colored steed.

In short, there could be any number of legitimate reasons for changing horses in the middle of the stream, none of them necessarily implying that the old horse is incapable of getting across.

So, why does this week's printed edition of the Biblical Recorder look so different? Why have we "changed horses in the middle of the stream"?

Let me point out the changes you'll see, and the rationale behind them.

1. The paper is folded differently, so it arrives with the front page showing and no longer has a "cover." The reason for this is straightforward: it provides us more usable space for news and advertising copy. In most cases, the picture that would have been on the cover will appear on the front page as the dominant image, though smaller than it would have been on the traditional cover. There was also some unused space on the former "back cover." The new arrangement remains attractive while using space more efficiently.

2. We'll think of the new front page as a "cover page." From week to week, it will be heavy on stories about missions and ministries, including local, state, national and global features and reports.

Hard news" - including both routine reporting of denominational events and the treatment of controversy, politics, and the like - will begin on "The Inside Front," which will usually appear at page 7 or page 9, at the center fold.

With this shift, to mangle another old clich�, the Biblical Recorder is putting its money where the editor's mouth is. I have often said Baptists would be better off if we focused more on the missions and ministries that unite us, and less on the conflict that divides us. So, we're putting missions and ministries up front.

It would be irresponsible for us to ignore denominational events and issues that are relevant to Baptist life, however, including those that threaten cooperation and promote division. We remain committed to keeping our readers informed about the news that matters to Baptists, and they can always find it on "The Inside Front."

3. The editorial and opinion pages will appear in their accustomed position (pages 2 and .c.3), with the "Church Events" page generally occupying page 4 and stories continued from the cover page following that. Page 6 (or 6-8 in a 16-page paper) will be the place to find informative resources from the Baptist State Convention ("The Church Leader"), our resource pages for children, youth, and seniors, or other supportive materials.

4. Pages in the latter half of the paper will include stories continued from "The Inside Front" and the bulk of our advertising, including the popular classified section.

Sunday School lesson commentaries will remain in their customary spot inside the last page.

The newly reformatted back page may include a variety of materials, including some church-related comics, a Christian crossword puzzle, media reviews and other features.

5. Every issue will feature color photography, and more issues will include 16 pages, rather than 12. An expanded arrangement with the Religion News Service will give us access to more and better photographs, charts, and other graphics. We believe this will give the paper more visual appeal.

I am committed to our mission statement, which calls for the Biblical Recorder to "further Christ's kingdom among North Carolina Baptists by providing relevant news, insightful opinion, and supportive resources in a timely and accessible fashion."

I believe we have done this faithfully, and that the new format will help us to do so more effectively.

The changes you see were prompted in part by what we hear from our readers, and we're still listening. Let us know what you think of our new horse.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Enemy to Advocate

December 28 2001 by Lisa Horton , Gate City Baptist Church, Greensboro

Enemy to Advocate | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Enemy to Advocate

By Lisa Horton Gate City Baptist Church, Greensboro Throughout history, many Christians have considered it an honor to suffer persecution for Christ. One such person was the great preacher, John Wesley. One day Wesley realized that three days had passed in which he had suffered no persecution - not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him. He wondered if he had sinned, or if he had backslidden. Alarmed, he slipped from his horse, fell to his knees and prayed for God to show him where he might be at fault. A rough fellow, on the other side of the hedge, heard him praying and recognized the preacher. "I'll fix that preacher," he said, picking up a brick and tossing it at him. The brick missed. John Wesley jumped to his feet, joyfully exclaiming, "Thank God, it's all right. I still have His presence."

A Mission of Hate

(Acts 9:1-2)

Consumed with a burning desire to destroy the church and to stop the spread of Christianity, Saul of Tarsus set out on a bloodthirsty journey to arrest and punish Christians living in Damascus. Saul deliberately rejected the advice of his own respected teacher, Gamaliel, who had advised the Sanhedrin to leave the apostles alone and let them go. Gamaliel said the movement could not be stopped, if it was of God, and to try to stop it would mean, "fighting against God" (Acts 5:33-39, 22:3).

Driven by hatred, Saul was willing to take that risk and soon found himself "fighting against God." But his battle came to an abrupt end on the Damascus road when, instead of Saul taking Christians captive, the resurrected Christ took Saul captive.

Over the centuries, numerous people have tried to destroy Christianity. Diocletian, a Roman Emperor, killed so many Christians and destroyed so many Bibles that he was convinced he had put an end to Christianity. He had a medal inscribed with this motto: "The Christian religion is destroyed, and the worship of the gods is restored."

Voltaire, an 18th century French philosopher, boasted that he would destroy Christianity within 50 years. He viciously began writing books against God. Ironically, 20 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society purchased Voltaire's house and used it for printing the Bible.

Atheist leader, Madalyn Murray O'Hair spent her life rejecting Christianity and spreading her atheistic views. She thought she had successfully eliminated prayer from public schools, but on Sept. 11 prayer could be heard echoing through the hallways of schools across our country.

These people, like Saul, thought they were fighting against Christians, when, in fact, they were fighting against God Himself.

An Encounter With Jesus

(Acts 9:3-9)

Startled by a blinding light, Saul fell on his face in the dusty road before the one in whom he had not believed. Calling Saul by name, Jesus revealed that He knew who Saul was. But even more significant, Jesus knew who Saul "could be" by the grace of God. Looking compassionately through Saul's calloused, empty heart, Jesus saw a sinner He had loved enough to die for. And Saul found in Jesus a Savior worth living for (Phil. 1:21). This glorious encounter with Jesus left Saul "physically" blind for three days, but his "spiritual" blindness was gone forever!

A Radical Transformation

(Acts 9:10-16)

After his encounter with the living Christ, Saul became a new person. He was now driven by a love and a purpose greater than he had known before. Saul the persecutor became Paul the preacher. Saul the murderer became Paul the missionary. Paul later wrote, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17-18)! Saul had become a new creation. He was no longer the man he used to be.

While in college, author and speaker, Josh McDowell, believed Christianity was a farce and set out to prove it. But, instead of proving Christianity to be false, Josh was faced with the undeniable truth of the gospel. He became a Christian and Jesus transformed his life. One of the areas God changed was Josh's hatred toward his father. His hatred turned into love. Josh's father noticed the change and said to him, "Son, if God can do in my life what I've seen Him do in yours, then I want to give Him the opportunity." Josh's father prayed and received Christ.

Have you allowed Jesus to transform your life? If so, what effect is your transformation having on others who need to accept Christ?

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Lisa Horton , Gate City Baptist Church, Greensboro | with 0 comments

Miracles of Power

December 28 2001 by Steve Zimmerman , First Baptist Church, High Point

Miracles of Power | Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Miracles of Power

By Steve Zimmerman First Baptist Church, High Point One life-changing day happened to me when the great baseball catcher, Johnny Bench, stepped down from his sport. You see he grew up only 80-miles from my hometown. As a young boy I just had to cheer for the Cincinnati Reds because of Johnny. Yet when word came about his retirement, I knew that I had to cheer for another "hometown" team. About that time along came cable television and the introduction of the Atlanta Braves to the nation. Through thick and thin, I have been with these boys of summer now for the last 20-years.

What has been so disappointing in the last few years has been their home attendance. The news recently said that last year's total figure had dropped off again from the previous year. Even their home playing record was terrible.

I could hardly bear watching them in the playoffs last year with empty seats all around! Where have all the crowds gone? Don't they remember the great plays? Where is the magic that transformed Atlanta into a real baseball town? Can't they believe in miracles any more?

Maybe the Braves know how Jesus must have felt when He came home to do His ministry. You would think your hometown would be the ideal place to do great things. That was not the case for Jesus in His ministry in Mark 6.

The Galilean Grumble

(Mark 6:2-3)

Prior to His homecoming we read of Jesus' mighty miracles in chapters 4-5. The people of Nazareth did not have the luxury of radio, television, e-mail or Internet like we do today. They probably had not heard about Jesus' miracles in other parts of Galilee by the time He was coming home with some of His friends. The only thing they might recall about Jesus was that He was a carpenter.

The other dilemma was not so much technology as gradual change. What they had was the same problem many parents have with their children. It doesn't take long for a relative or a friend, who has not seen your preschool child in a while, to marvel about how much that bundle of joy has grown since the last time they saw the little one.

As a parent you are so busy with everyday survival that you tend to forget to notice the progress made by your offspring.

The community of Nazareth was so busy with their lives that they did not pay close attention to the boy in their midst that later would be the man who could save them from their sins. They weren't quite ready for someone who was familiar to perform miracles in their midst.

Sometimes when we worship we get so caught up in our own chaos that we forget to focus on Jesus and what He can do for us.

Jesus' Response

(Mark 6:4-6)

The sting of rejection is most severe when it hits home. Yet when we look at the life of Jesus in these verses He doesn't just sit and pout. He continues to perform healing miracles. He stays focused on the mission that His Heavenly Father wanted Him to do all along.

Rejection by others should not sabotage our calling by God either.

And yet more than anything, we find our Savior perplexed at their lack of faith. How much more could He have done with them had a dynamic faith in their lives been available to Christ?

In many ways Jesus may be asking the same question of us today.

When we meet Him in worship do we really see the everyday miracles brought about by Him? Are we anticipating any new miracles in our lives because of our faith or are we confused just like the hometown crowd when something special from Him comes around?

May you and I be ready when He comes to visit us again!

By the way, do you have any Braves tickets, I can use?

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/28/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve Zimmerman , First Baptist Church, High Point | with 0 comments

Baptist chorale brings musical gift to White House

December 21 2001 by Ken Camp , Associated Baptist Press

Baptist chorale brings musical gift to White House | Friday, Dec. 21, 2001

Friday, Dec. 21, 2001

Baptist chorale brings musical gift to White House

By Ken Camp Associated Baptist Press DALLAS, Texas - Members of a Baptist church chorale expected singing at the White House to be the thrill of a lifetime, but even they were surprised at how their gift of Christmas music would be so deeply appreciated and needed by the White House staff.

The 22-voice chorale, auditioned from the sanctuary choir at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, sang carols in the East Room of the White House on Dec. 7.

Terry Goolsby, minister of worship and music at the church, first contacted the White House in mid-summer to explore the possibility of the group performing a Christmas concert. Goolsby had taken a choir to the White House in 1996 when he worked at another church, so he was familiar with the procedure for requesting an invitation.

"Then Sept. 11 came along, and we didn't know what that would mean," Goolsby said. "By October, I was telling the chorale that the White House concert was looking iffy."

But about that time, he received word that the invitation had been granted.

The White House currently is closed to the public, but Goolsby learned that it would be decorated for the holiday season, and the concert would be open to volunteers, staff, their families and elected officials.

The chorale, along with accompanist Christina Harmon, arrived at the White House two-and-a-half hours prior to their scheduled performance to receive security clearance. The group passed through four security checkpoints before finally arriving in the East Room.

Neither the President nor the First Lady attended the concert. President Bush was in Norfolk, Va., at a memorial service marking the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But several hundred members of the White House staff and others passed through the East Room during the two-hour performance.

After the concert, when the group received a private tour of the White House, members learned just how meaningful their presence had been to the staff and their families. Even usually reserved Secret Service agents were "outgoing" in expressing their gratitude, Goolsby said.

"An administration representative who greeted us broke down and cried as she talked about the strain the staff has felt," Goolsby said. "She told me, 'It just didn't seem like Christmas around here this year. What a difference it made to have you sing for us.'"

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/21/2001 12:00:00 AM by Ken Camp , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Christian leaders discuss responses to Sept. 11

December 21 2001 by Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press

Christian leaders discuss responses to Sept. 11 | Friday, Dec. 21, 2001

Friday, Dec. 21, 2001

Christian leaders discuss responses to Sept. 11

By Robert Marus Associated Baptist Press WASHINGTON - Faith has assumed a greater role in public life since Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but is that necessarily a good thing? A diverse group of religious leaders recently discussed that question in a panel on some of the best - and worst - Christian responses to the terrorism.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, and the Center for Public Justice sponsored the discussion, titled "What Do Christians Have to Say Post 9/11?"

One positive outcome, said Joan Rosenhauer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is that, "We can no longer pretend that there is this distinction between religion and politics."

"There's a heightened need for a deeper appreciation of the role that religion plays in international affairs," she said.

Panelist John Schroeder of the Acton Institute said there is less controversy now about politicians and other civic leaders expressing their faith publicly. "Prior to Sept. 11, some of these actions (publicly invoking God's blessings on the U.S., asking for Americans' prayers) by our leaders - bringing God into it - might have been viewed as breaches of the First Amendment," he said.

Schroeder also observed that, since the attacks, Christians have come to realize that "Americans have a better understanding of evil than we previously thought."

Other panelists sounded a more cautious note about Christian thought following Sept. 11.

Ken Johnson, director of the social-service arm of the Azusa Christian Community in Boston, noted that evangelical Christians have often been ridiculed in the secular world because they are selective about the kinds of injustice they oppose.

For example, he said the evangelical media has been slow to condemn recent revelations about former Christian Coalition leader Pat Robertson's business ties with an African dictator who has helped Osama bin Laden raise millions of dollars. "We fail to speak up against things that are unjust," Johnson said. "And that brings us into disrepute."

Panelist Nathan Wilson, a Disciples of Christ minister and activist with the Christian social-justice group Call to Renewal, said Sept. 11 "only heightened our concerns about economic justice." As a result of the economic downturn that was made more acute by the Sept. 11 tragedies and their aftermath, more than 850,000 Americans have lost their jobs - and many of those jobs were low-wage to begin with. "To bail out the airline companies without a plan to help the 140,000 workers laid off by them is unacceptable," Wilson said.

And several panelists noted that, in the post-Sept. 11 revival of faith and patriotism in American life, Christians should never confuse their identity as citizens of God's Kingdom with their identity as citizens of the United States.

Jim Skillen, executive director of the Center for Public Justice, worried that much of the expression of faith since Sept. 11 is a superficial form of civil religion. "I think a lot of what's going to happen - people praying more - it could be a very healthy sign," Skillen said. "On the other hand, will it continue after this is all over?"

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
12/21/2001 12:00:00 AM by Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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