March 2003

Below the flight deck, worship refuels sailors

March 27 2003 by Sara Horn , Baptist Press

Below the flight deck, worship refuels sailors | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Below the flight deck, worship refuels sailors

By Sara Horn Baptist Press

ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, EAST MEDITERRANEAN - A deployed sailor's life during wartime can leave a lot to be desired.

The 5,000 sailors and Marines on board the USS Harry S. Truman don't have a lot of downtime. The young enlisted men and women typically work seven days a week, 12 hours a day at their various responsibilities and tasks. For officers, it can be 18 hours a day, overseeing and managing the enlisted. Many look forward to the Sunday services led by the ship's chaplains and the fresh encouragement that will get them through another long, intense week.

Five services are offered throughout the day on any given Sunday. A Protestant liturgical service, a contemporary Protestant worship service, a gospel service and two Catholic masses are offered to minister to sailors of different denominations and faiths. Many take advantage of the service.

The contemporary Protestant service, offered at "10-hundred," is in full swing in the bow of the ship just under the ship's flight deck. More than 120 people are gathered on this particular morning, singing joyfully and enthusiastically with the praise team led by a ship's supply officer. Many raise their hands and close their eyes, seeking one-on-one time with God even as the catapults above launch another group of planes for short mission training flights. The sudden engine roars and bone-crunching thuds offer a not-so-subtle reminder to the group that Sundays aren't days of rest for everyone.

Chaplain Doyle Dunn gives the week's sermon. He talks about Peter stepping out of the boat to be with Jesus.

"We've all felt fear and we give it lots of different titles - apprehension, anxiety," Dunn said. "Having courage doesn't mean you've conquered every fear, but holding on to fear can keep us frozen in place. It keeps us from doing basic things to survive."

Dunn and the ship's other chaplains and lay leaders - not just in Sunday sermons, but in ministry throughout the week - regularly remind sailors far from home about the courage Christ gives, along with comfort and reassurance.

Courage is taking fear and pushing ahead in spite of it, Dunn said in his sermon.

"When we turn to Christ for a problem and ask him for help, he never refuses," he said. "Courage is a discipline - a mental muscle that cuts a path through fear."

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Baptist Press writer Sara Horn and photographer Jim Veneman spent several days aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the eastern Mediterranean during the early part of the war in Iraq.)

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3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by Sara Horn , Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Conservative activist to speak at CCB meeting

March 27 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Conservative activist to speak at CCB meeting | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Conservative activist to speak at CCB meeting

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

A layman widely credited with turning the Missouri Baptist Convention in a decidedly conservative direction will speak to Baptist conservatives in North Carolina next month.

Roger Moran, a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and research director of the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association, will be the guest speaker at the Conservative Carolina Baptist (CCB) spring rally April 24. The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Greensboro.

Moran's group is credited with leading a conservative turn in the Missouri Baptist Convention. They published and distributed articles intending to link the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and moderate Baptists to liberal groups.

Moran's topic at the CCB meeting will be "How Loyal Missouri Baptists Prevented a CBF Takeover," according to a card sent to Baptist State Convention (BSC) pastors and other N.C. Baptists.

The BSC's giving Plan C, which allows churches to contribute to CBF, has faced criticism from conservatives who say the giving plans should only support the BSC and the Southern Baptist Convention. A special committee is studying whether Plan C is in line with the BSC constitution.

CBF offers moderate Baptists a missions and ministry alternative to the conservative-dominated Southern Baptist Convention.

Steve Hardy, editor of CCB's newsletter, said "a lot of people" told CCB officials that they'd like to hear Moran speak.

When asked if some people might consider Moran to be controversial, Hardy said, "There are people who feel that way about Dan Vestal. I don't think he'll be any more controversial than Dan Vestal."

Vestal, the coordinator of CBF, was in North Carolina recently for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina meeting.

In 1999, Vestal and Moran exchanged letters over articles put out by Moran's group. Vestal asked Moran to stop distributing the materials, "apologize publicly" for his actions and "seek reconciliation" with "Christian brothers and sisters."

Moran said he believes his information is factual and in context and said he would retract the material if it were shown to be inaccurate.

Moran's critics say he relies on guilt by association. Supporters say he is simply stating facts.

CCB has printed articles based largely on Moran's research. His material has also been widely distributed in other states.

When asked if Moran's visit signals that CCB hopes to accomplish in North Carolina what Moran and his group carried out in Missouri, Hardy said, "We have a spring rally every year. He is the speaker for our spring rally. That's all that's behind this. End of discussion."

When asked to elaborate, Hardy said, "We don't have an agenda. You're really trying to read something into this that isn't there."

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3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments



POW found faith at Kansas Baptist church

March 27 2003 by Michael Foust , Baptist Press

POW found faith at Kansas Baptist church | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

POW found faith at Kansas Baptist church

By Michael Foust Baptist Press

WICHITA, Kan. - A Southern Baptist church in Kansas rallied to support the family of American POW Patrick Miller whose wife is a longtime member.

Olivet Baptist Church in Wichita is reaching out to Miller's wife, Jessa, and her two young children following the capture of her husband by Iraqis during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Miller, 23, and four others are members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company who became the war's first American POWs.

Miller and his wife were married at Olivet Baptist Church about a year ago. The church's pastor, Ron Pracht, performed the ceremony and provided the couple's marriage counseling, during which Miller accepted Christ. Shortly after the marriage, Miller and his wife left for Fort Bliss, Texas, where the 507th Maintenance - part of the 111th Air Defense Artillery Brigade - is stationed.

Jessa returned to the Kansas area after her husband was deployed. Pracht said he has talked to her since the news broke.

"We're praying with them (Jessa and her family)," Pracht said. "Our women's teams are ready to provide meals. (Jessa) is just real reticent to that. She's still pretty numb."

Pracht sent out a prayer request e-mail to church members. He believes Miller's family will receive more comfort in the Wichita area than they would have by staying in Texas.

"She has a lot of support around here," Pracht said, adding that one of Jessa's cousins serves as the church's administrative assistant.

Miller grew up in Valley Center, a town of 5,000 people a few miles north of Wichita. Several churches came together March 24 at a local United Methodist Church to pray for Miller.

Bobby Massey, the pastor of Valley Center Assembly of God, has known Miller for some 10 years. He said Miller visited his church as a youth.

"Obviously, all the churches in town have him on their prayer chain," Massey said.

Yellow ribbons, he said, are "all around town."

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3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by Michael Foust , Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Songs of life in the Bluebird Cafe

March 27 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Songs of life in the Bluebird Cafe | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Songs of life in the Bluebird Cafe

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

A recent meeting in Nashville provided the opportunity to experience country music at its best - up close and personal at the Bluebird Cafe.

The Bluebird is small and unobtrusive, 21 tables nearly hidden in an unassuming shopping center a few miles south of the city. It provides a venue for songwriters, the folks who labor in obscurity, bleeding the songs that other artists make famous.

Seven nights a week, writers take the Bluebird stage (such as it is, six inches high and jammed up against the audience), and sing their own songs.

From a corner seat that was actually behind the artists, I heard Armand Mele, Neil Herman, David Stewart and Sam Lorber, not a familiar name among them.

It was Nashville, but none wore boots or so much as a bandana; three were natives of New York, and the other was from New Jersey.

All were wizards of wordplay: the artistry of expression, the twisting of metaphors, the unexpected shifts in meaning so common to country music.

One sang of anger: "I've got a chip on my shoulder with your name on it."

Another bemoaned a lack of understanding. Because we often fail to learn the whole story, he sang, "Until you know, you never know." A song in the next set echoed, "If you only knew."

One performer skipped love altogether and sang of lust as "an ache of a different kind."

Most of the songs tended toward heartbreak and sorrow, lost love and lost opportunity. "Every day is Monday since you've been gone," sang one. "They say you can't hear the sound of a broken heart, but there's been a symphony of lonely since you've been gone," moaned another.

Some reflected a longing for new love. A man's first date in years left him feeling like "The new heart on the block." Another song explored a bored wife's desire for excitement: "I need a hurricane, I need my shutters blown apart ... I'm looking for a beautiful storm."

And some celebrated finding the love they sought. "We were born to love this way, it must be deep in our DNA," sang one. Another crooned "There's no limitation to my imagination since love got a hold of me."

Recalling the uncertainty of life and love in the aftermath of 9/11/01, one singer poignantly asked "If I knew you'd be gone tomorrow, what would I do different tonight?"

And looking toward hope, even in face of failure, one writer sang "It's never too late to be what you might have been." Or to try, anyway.

Portraits of life and love, pain and sorrow, heartache and hope - food for thought at the Bluebird Cafe.

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3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



Targets of attitude

March 27 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Targets of attitude | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Targets of attitude

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

What sparked my thinking was the phrase "target of opportunity," used to describe the initial volley of cruise missiles and bombs on Baghdad. The phrase was soldier-speak for an enemy target too good to pass up. Military planners thought they had an opportunity to "decapitate" Iraqi leadership by killing - excuse me, by "taking out" - Saddam Hussein and his inner circle, who were thought to be huddling in a deep underground bunker.

The military lingo is an intriguing sidebar to the unhappy story of war and death unfolding in Iraq.

I couldn't help but notice that the war jargon is strikingly similar to the language of conquest many evangelicals use to describe evangelism and missions.

Let me say from the beginning that I strongly believe in both evangelism and missions. Sharing the gospel message with others is at the core of the church's identity. Any Christian, church or denomination that makes no effort to proclaim the good news is ignoring the clear demands of the great commission.

I wonder, however, if it might be helpful to examine our speech - to think about the common words we use, the unexamined attitudes they mask, and the way they are heard by others.

We have regularly described mass evangelistic efforts as "crusades," a word that recalls the ugly era when European armies waged war against Muslims under the banner of the cross.

We celebrate the size of our "missions force," which bespeaks overcoming power.

We talk about "making converts" by "winning" or "leading" someone to Christ, expressions that emphasize the evangelist's success in negotiating another's surrender to God.

We set up "platforms" as covert bases of operations in countries where the Christian gospel (or, at least, our version of it) is not welcomed.

In strategic planning, we "target" specific demographic or ethnic groups for evangelization, and send specially trained teams to "impact" the target groups.

Some of us still sing "Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before."

Enough said.

Our customs of language, like traditions of worship and other church practices, have developed and grown familiar over many years. We certainly mean no harm by them. But, as insightful church leaders have challenged us to rethink the relevance of some traditions and practices in our changing world, it may also be time to rethink our vocabulary of evangelism and missions.

Billy Graham took one step in that direction shortly after the events of 9/11/01. Demonstrating a heightened sensitivity to Muslims, he stopped using the word "crusade" to describe his mass evangelism meetings.

Perhaps we should learn from Graham's example, and build on it.

Unfortunately, many of the world's people think of "American" and "Christian" as equivalent terms. Whether right or not, there is growing world opinion that Americans are bullies who want to build an empire for own purposes. When American Christians use the language of conquest to describe their mission efforts, it feeds this tragic perception, with nothing but harm on the horizon for the reputation of evangelical Christianity.

Are there more positive ways to speak of evangelism, using words of opportunity and invitation rather than of judgment and conquest?

I think there are.

Think, for a moment, about the purpose of evangelism. Christ called us to live as He lived and to love as He loved, demonstrating Jesus' presence in such a positive way that others will also want to know and to follow the Lord we serve.

Working from this mindset, we love others for their own sake, and not just as targets for evangelism. As questions and opportunities arise, we gladly share the good news of what Christ can do in and for those who follow Him, instead of beginning with the bad news of what might lie in store for those who don't.

From this perspective, we don't "win," "lead," or "convert" others, vanquishing or diminishing their pre-Christian personhood. Rather, we introduce them to Christ from the overflow of our own cup, inspiring by our example rather than imposing our beliefs.

Working from that point of view, we would naturally use different language to describe our efforts. The shift in vocabulary or perspective does not lessen the importance of evangelism or decrease our responsibility to share the gospel through our lives.

If anything, approaching evangelism from the perspective of compassion instead of conquest demands more of us - that we not only use good words, but live by them.

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3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



Let's get serious about prayer

March 27 2003 by Jim Royston , Executive Director-Treasurer

Let's get serious about prayer | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Let's get serious about prayer

By Jim Royston Executive Director-Treasurer

Virtually every great moment in my life as a pastor was preceded by a season of prayer. One of those great moments happened just before I came to the state convention when I was pastor in Kingsport, Tenn.

Our long-range planning committee made a recommendation that we begin the Watchmen Prayer Ministry, an around-the-clock prayer vigil involving our church members. It was an awesome experience to know that no matter what time of day or day of the week somebody at the church was praying for me by name. Every hour of every day someone in our church was praying for our missionaries, lost people, but most of all, for revival in our church and community.

We have begun a similar prayer ministry in the state convention called, "Stand in the Gap," led by our Mission Growth Evangelism Group. Basically, we are seeking to enlist 30,000 N.C. Baptists to choose 30 days out of the year to focus on praying specifically for evangelism and spiritual renewal.

This goal may seem very ambitious for our state convention. The "Stand in the Gap" goal of 30,000 N.C. Baptists is only 2.5 percent of our total statewide membership. In fact, why not make this a "prayer triplet," each person enlists two other people to join you in this prayer effort?

We probably cannot imagine what would result from such an intensive prayer movement. Think of the differences in our communities if more and more people commit to this type of prayer ministry. Think of the healing in our homes and churches. Imagine what would be accomplished to God's glory. Some of our convention goals, like baptizing 43,000 people in 2006, would be far surpassed if we truly became a people of prayer.

Prayer is not an option. It is absolutely necessary. Prayer is literally the foundation of everything we do at the Baptist State Convention. In fact, we should never do anything or even plan anything, without first undergoing a time of intensive prayer.

I came to this convention as executive director-treasurer in January five years ago. These five years have proven to me that more than anything else we need spiritual awakening and revival in North Carolina. It cannot happen without prayer. It will not happen without prayer.

Please join me and be one of the 30,000 who commit to prayer for 30 days this year and pray for revival in North Carolina.

(For more information about the "Stand in the Gap" prayer emphasis, contact the Mission Growth Evangelism Group at (800) 395-5102 ext. 217.)

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by Jim Royston , Executive Director-Treasurer | with 0 comments



Family Bible Study lesson for April 13: The Good Shepherd

March 27 2003 by Crate Jones , John 10:11-16, 22-30

Family Bible Study lesson for April 13: The Good Shepherd | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Family Bible Study lesson for April 13: The Good Shepherd

By Crate Jones John 10:11-16, 22-30

A good question to ask ourselves is: "How can I know that Jesus loves me?"

Due to adverse circumstances, some have fallen into the pit of doubt - serious illness, deep sorrow, disappointment, loss of a job or something else that makes the heart ache.

After my wife underwent her first cancer surgery, an infection set in and she suffered great pain. One night, in anguish, she cried out, "Jesus, do You really love me?" Immediately, the answer came as the radio began playing, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

Peace came as she rested in the loving arms of Jesus.

If you are going through a patch of darkness, repeat this affirmation out loud until it soaks in: "Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me."

We will look at the evidence of His love from four viewpoints.

Jesus gave His life for us John 10:11-13 Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." His statement was a foreshadowing of the cross. We look back on His sacrifice as a completed act for our salvation.

Twice He used the word "good." There is a stark contrast between the good shepherd and the hired hand. One sacrifices himself for the flock, the other abandons the sheep.

The Greek word for good, used here, is kalos, which can also suggest winsomeness, loveliness, attractiveness. No wonder people were drawn to Jesus then and now. He is the shepherd who loves, leads and nourishes the flock.

A pastor is called to be a good shepherd, not a cowboy to drive the herd.

Jesus knows us completely John 10:14-16 Knowing Jesus is a growing relationship. He said: "I know my sheep and My sheep know Me - just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father" (John 10:14-15).

I started learning about Jesus in the primary department; at junior department age I came to know Him as my Savior. At 19, in a youth revival, I answered God's call to preach. We were singing, "Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord to Thee."

Sixty-one years later, that relationship, which began as a child, is still growing. He knows all about us, yet who can fully understand God? As the song says, "The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows."

We get to know Jesus more intimately through the Bible, prayer and sometimes through stumbling and being forgiven

Jesus also said: "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen" (John 10:16 NIV). He came to the Jews and then to the gentile world. God has His people all over the world. Jesus said, "Whosoever believeth in Me shall never perish" (John 3:16).

Jesus guides us through life John 10:27 "My sheep listen to My voice, and they follow Me." The world is filled with potholes and pitfalls. We need someone to keep us out of them and to guide us in decisions, and directions and to show us His purpose for each life. Following Jesus is wise, for His plan fits like a glove.

Jesus gives eternal security John 10:28-30 Jesus said: "I give unto them eternal life; no one can snatch them out of My hand." That's tighter security than the gold vaults at Fort Knox.

Colossians 3:3-4 reads: ''Your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory''

To engrave that truth in your mind, write your name on a card and hide it in your Bible. Then hide the Bible inside your coat. This represents your life being hidden with Christ in God. There's no safer place in the universe.

Meditate on that truth for awhile; then remove the Bible from your coat. Remove the signed card and look forward to being with Jesus in glory when He appears.

See you "up there!"

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3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by Crate Jones , John 10:11-16, 22-30 | with 0 comments



Formations lesson for April 13: Crucifixion and Death

March 27 2003 by David Stratton , Mark 15: 21-39

Formations lesson for April 13: Crucifixion and Death | Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

Formations lesson for April 13: Crucifixion and Death

By David Stratton Mark 15: 21-39

Perhaps as amazing as what Jesus did on the cross is what He did not do. We know that He suffered and died for us. We know that His death was so agonizing that He questioned the heavenly Father ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"). We know what Jesus did on the cross and we are amazed by God's love shown at Calvary.

What intrigued me in another look at Mark 15:21-39 is what He did not do.

Loving action When we come to these verses Jesus has already been betrayed, arrested, tried, flogged and sentenced to death. Verse 24 states matter-of-factly that, "they crucified Him." Our English word "excruciating" is derived from the Greek word translated "crucify." Jesus was nailed to a cross where He died a cruel combination of exhaustion and asphyxiation.

As He endured this humiliation and agony He could see the soldiers dividing up His clothes among them. Religious leaders stood by mocking Jesus' apparent inability to save Himself. Strangling, bleeding and dying, His ears rung from the taunting of the crowd.

After hours of this torture, Jesus breathed His last and died.

Loving restraint He had been arrested on a trumped up charge and His trial and sentence were a mockery of justice. Jesus died an excruciating death amid the insults of the crowd. Perhaps most amazing is that, despite what the religious leaders said, the Lord did possess the power to save Himself. According to Matthew's gospel, Jesus stated that the Father had placed legions of angels at His disposal that could have been used to end the suffering (Matt. 26:53).

Jesus could have stopped the dishonor and the pain, but He chose not to.

Our action and restraint Enduring humiliation, injustice, suffering and death is certainly difficult. But I cannot conceive of anything more difficult than enduring humiliation, injustice, suffering and death when one possesses the power to stop it. Would any of us allow agony and shame to continue in our own lives if we had the ability to really show those who were inflicting it upon us?

Why would Jesus do such a thing? There can be only one answer: love. "But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8 NRSV).

What then is our proper response to the love of God, shown not only in what Jesus did on the cross, but also in what He did not do?

Are we stirred to worship the One who showed such amazing love for us? Are our lips moved to offer Jesus praise and thanksgiving? Does the action and restraint shown for us on the cross motivate us to offer adoration to Jesus?

Should our own expressions of love follow Jesus' example of restraint?

The gospels reveal Jesus as one who got involved in making the world a better place. On the cross He took astounding action demonstrating His love. Yet His loving action was mingled with loving restraint in the use of power. This example of our Lord should guide our own expressions of love.

I have a friend who got involved with helping a child who was in an abusive situation. The process was complicated and it took far too long, unnecessarily extending the suffering of a young person. In the midst of it all, my friend was ridiculed publicly, unfairly and incessantly by the person caring for the child. My friend had the power to decisively stop the slander. But he knew that, if he exercised that power, he would never get that child out of an awful situation. So he kept quiet in the face of the attacks and he responded gently to them. Now the child is in a safe place and my friend has turned his attention to ministering to the child abuser that also verbally abused him.

He got involved, yet he exercised amazing restraint in doing so. Is this some reflection of what Jesus did for us on the cross? Let us learn not only from the loving action of Jesus on the cross, but also from His loving restraint in the use of power.

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3/27/2003 11:00:00 PM by David Stratton , Mark 15: 21-39 | with 0 comments



CBF leader sees demise of political groups

March 20 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

CBF leader sees demise of political groups | Friday, March 21, 2003

Friday, March 21, 2003

CBF leader sees demise of political groups

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

The head of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) doesn't see much future for Baptist political organizations.

Dan Vestal, CBF's coordinator, was asked in a breakout session during the CBF-North Carolina General Assembly, about CBF's relationship with Texas Baptist Committed and the Mainstream Baptist organization. He said there is no formal relationship, though many of the same people in those organizations are also CBF supporters.

"I don't see a future for the Mainstream organization," Vestal said. "Its primary purpose has been political. They have helped Baptists, but people are tired of fighting fundamentalists, and I don't see a future (in it)."

CBF formed in 1991 as a missions and ministry alternative to the Southern Baptist Convention, which has taken a decidedly conservative shift since the late 1970s.

Texas Baptists Committed is largely credited with keeping hard-line conservatives from gaining control of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Similar groups, usually called Mainstream Baptists, have formed in other states with less success.

Vestal said CBF's future will depend on how faithful it is in fulfilling its own mission. "The more people see who we are, the more they will be attracted to us," he said. "The more we are committed to that vision, the more we can say 'Come and join us.'"

Pastors and laity need to step forward, Vestal said, and say "CBF is really who we are, and it's time for us to step up to the plate" in financial support and active involvement.

Vestal said it is hard for Baptists who have always been part of a majority movement to realize that they are now in the minority. "I'm convinced I will spend the rest of my ministry as part of a minority movement," he said, "but that's okay. We need to get over it ...

"Let's hold our heads up and be part of a movement, a righteous movement," Vestal said. "Let's say 'I want to give to it and sacrifice for it.' We are surrounded by a powerful juggernaut of fundamentalism, but it's our time."

Asked about the status of CBF's application for membership in the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), Vestal said, "I will be surprised and disappointed if we don't get in." The membership committee will probably not make an announcement prior to the July meeting in Seoul, Korea, he said, but the SBC's reduction in giving to BWA "is a sign that they think we will get in."

Vestal expressed concern about the actions of SBC representatives during the 2002 meeting of the BWA General Counsel in Seville, Spain. The membership committee brought a favorable report about CBF's progress toward meeting membership requirements, Vestal said, and asked the counsel to accept the report as a simple matter of receiving information, not as final acceptance.

When BWA president Billy Kim called for a voice vote, the response was almost wholly positive, Vestal said, except for a small group of SBC leaders who shouted "No!" Kim seemed taken aback, Vestal said, and asked for a show of hands. Again, most representatives lifted their hands high, while the SBC representatives raised their hands in opposition.

It was an emotional, tense moment, Vestal said. Afterward, many leaders from other countries sought out CBF representatives and offered affirmation, he said. "There is great love for CBF in many parts of the world by Baptist leaders."

"If we are admitted we want to be a good member, and we don't want the SBC to leave," Vestal said. "I hope we can work together in BWA as fellow Baptists and fellow Christians."

But Vestal did not seem confident about a positive movement in the relationship. "A lot of money and time has been spent by SBC leaders to make us look bad," he said, "a lot of effort to malign us, belittle us, criticize us, saying we are liberal and that we don't believe the Bible.

"If you say something often enough, many people will believe it whether it is true or not," Vestal said. "Those constant accusations have hurt us."

Vestal said a lack of funds has slowed expansion of the CBF global missions program. "We could double our missions force tomorrow with no additional administrative costs," he said. The organization is currently behind in budget income, he said, and could not budget any additional funds for new missionaries in 2003-04, though 400 missionary applications are on file.

"Are you saying we can't send any more missionaries unless we get more money?" someone asked. "That's right," Vestal replied.

Vestal said 150 new churches contributed to CBF for the first time last year, but that the organization's growth has reached a plateau. "I don't see any great exodus of churches from the SBC," he said.

Budget growth for CBF national has been affected by growth in the state and regional CBF organizations, whose budgets have grown considerably, Vestal said. "That has hurt our budget in the short term, but in the long term I think it is good," he said.

"But the missionaries are sent from Atlanta," someone responded.

"You're making my speech!" Vestal said.

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3/20/2003 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



CBF-NC looks forward

March 20 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

CBF-NC looks forward | Friday, March 21, 2003

Friday, March 21, 2003

CBF-NC looks forward

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

GASTONIA - "Our calling is to be the presence of Christ wherever we serve," coordinator Bob Patterson told the annual general assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBF-NC), "bringing Baptists together for Christ centered ministry."

About 550 CBF-NC members attended the meeting, held March 14-15 at First Baptist Church of Gastonia.

Kelly Belcher, a North Carolina native who is minister of children and family life at Fernwood Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., brought the sermon during worship on Friday night. Belcher compared the stories of the Israelites crossing the sea to escape the Egyptians, and Peter attempting to walk on the water in the midst of a storm. Caught between life and death, both had to learn to trust God, she said.

For Cooperative Baptists, she said, "It is not time to fish or cut bait, but time to take the hand of Almighty God and step beyond the Baptist infinity we have known." The times, like the threatening waters in the Bible stories, are uncertain, Belcher said, calling for a church that allows all members to minister according to their gifts and that offers acceptance to all people.

"Dare to go with God where you have not been before," Belcher said. "You are the real, authentic Baptists, you are the Moses and Peters of our time."

Participants elected Roger Gilbert of First Baptist, Mt. Airy as moderator elect. Larry Hovis of The Memorial Baptist Church in Greenville is moderator for 2003-04. Tyanna Day of First Baptist, Mount Olive is outgoing moderator.

The group approved a 2003-04 budget of $548,359, a 17 percent increase over the current budget. CBF-NC now has four full time employees.

Task force leaders highlighted new initiatives during the past year, including the gift of a relief trailer for use by the CBF Rural Poverty Initiative, a targeted ministry to the 20 poorest counties in the U.S. Ben Newell, a missionary who will use the trailer in the Mississippi delta region of Arkansas, thanked CBF-NC for its support.

CBF-NC also financed the construction of a medical trailer and the purchase of a tow vehicle for use in Indonesia.

Several youth and children's retreats were held during the year, along with a retreat for youth ministers and a variety of workshops.

In a closing worship service, Mike Cogdill, dean of the Campbell University Divinity School, said it was good to be together during Lent, remembering the difficulties Jesus faced leading up to the crucifixion.

"It's been a rough year," Cogdill said, citing anti-CBF rhetoric and concerns about the Plan C giving option for North Carolina Baptists. Cogdill said 45 percent of all scholarship aid for N.C. Baptist divinity school programs comes through Plan C. Cogdill also expressed concern for the Baptist World Alliance, which is facing budget woes compounded by a reduction in contributions from the Southern Baptist Convention.

Instead of "giving up" something for Lent this year, Cogdill encouraged attenders to add two things to their lives: courage and compassion.

Jesus demonstrated great courage on his way to the cross, Cogdill said, challenging participants to "say 'no' to Pilate's way of doing things," to say "I will not wash my hands of this matter." There are too many Baptist principles to defend, Cogdill said, too many bright students wanting to study theology in an open environment, too many women who need affirmation. CBF-NC Baptists need to stand up to critics, modeling both compassion and conviction, he said.

Jesus fell victim to those who had a high view of scripture and a low view of people, Cogdill said, but answered with love. And for Christ's followers, "The way to live as a Christian is to love like Jesus."

News | Opinion | Children | Youth | Youth Q&A | Archive | Calendar | Email Updates | Feedback | Sunday School Lessons | Churches | Church Search | FAQ | LinksAdvertising | Mast Head | History | Staff | Classified Ads | Place An Ad In The Biblical Recorder ClassifiedsSubscribe To The Biblical RecorderChange Your Biblical Recorder Subscription AddressSend A Tar Heel Voices Letter
3/20/2003 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments



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