November 2003

Churches must prepare for change, consultants say : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

November 25 2003 by Steve DeVane

Churches must prepare for change, consultants say : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

Churches must prepare for change, consultants say

By Steve DeVane
BR Managing Editor

WINSTON-SALEM - Any declining church can turn around, but not all have the energy, a N.C. Baptist consultant said.

Lynn Sasser, senior coach for the Baptist State Convention's Pursuing Vital Ministry (PVM) program, and Bill Moore, a PVM consultant, led a breakout session on PVM at the Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 12

"It's a transformational journey," Sasser said. "In order to benefit from it, you must be in some state of readiness."

Sasser said PVM is not a "quick fix." The process, which he said is not for every congregation, usually takes 12 to 18 months. It will take longer in churches that are in an advanced state of decline.

Moore described PVM as "a congregation's spiritual and strategic journey to discern and live into its full kingdom potential." Successful churches must have a desire to reach their potential and be willing to change, he said.

While each church's journey is unique, there is a common framework used in PVM, Moore said. One part is the realization that transition comes before change, he said.

The transition process helps people get ready to change. Churches that try to change without a transition often encounter resistance to change, Moore said.

PVM also helps churches see that the journey doesn't start with answers, but discovers them along the way, he said. The process is not about church growth or church health, but about helping the church become what God wants it to become, Moore said.

PVM uses a coaching, rather than consulting philosophy. Coaches observe, listen and ask questions rather than giving answers and advice and monopolizing conversations, Moore said.

"The most effective thing a coach will do is ask the right question at the right time," he said.

Coaches inform, challenge and encourage the congregation, but don't take sides, criticize, judge or dictate the process.

Coaches let congregations own the process and discover their journey for themselves, Sasser said.

Sasser gave an overview of the life cycle and stages of development for churches.

The stages are characterized by how the congregation arranges its vision, relationships, management and programs. Sasser used the metaphor of a sports utility vehicle to show how each area should be prioritized. A healthy church has vision in the driver's seat with relationships as the co-pilot and management behind the vision with programs to the rear of relationships.

The process could take three to five years in churches that have declined significantly, he said.

Churches that have reached the "old age" stage just before death are dominated by management with little vision, relationships or programs.

"There are a significant number of old age congregations who don't have enough energy for a three to five year process, but there are those that do," he said.

Sasser said that only 20 to 30 percent of N.C. Baptist churches are in the stages ranging from birth to adulthood.

In the birth and infancy stages, vision and relationships are strong. Programs also gain strength in adolescence. In adulthood, all four areas are dominant and properly aligned.

"This is utopia," Sasser said. "This is what we're looking for."

When a congregation moves beyond adulthood and reaches maturity, vision becomes diminished.

"Most congregations don't even realize when they move from adulthood to maturity because good stuff is still happening," he said.

At this stage, management begins to control the movement. The focus shifts from risky, new initiatives to sustaining the institution.

"That, dear brothers and sisters, is the kiss of death," Sasser said.

In the empty nest stage, relationships and management are dominant. Congregations will become angry and look for something or someone to blame for their situation. Many will redouble their efforts.

"Tell me, if you're going twice as fast in the wrong direction, will that get you where you want to go? No," he said.

In retirement, programs and management take charge with vision and relationships becoming passive. Some feel that new people would be disappointed in the congregation, but still want to find a way to fill their sanctuary.

"All over North Carolina, we've got buildings that seat 800 with 300 rattling around in them or buildings that seat 300 with 45 people rattling around," Sasser said.

Some churches at this stage will urge a new pastor to lead them into a new era of transformation. Many congregations don't realize what they're asking for.

About 18 to 24 months into changes initiated by younger leaders, the older stakeholders realize that things aren't going as they thought they would. The older crowd will then take steps to stop the change, even removing the younger leaders if necessary.

"It happens," Sasser said. "It's really not a bunch of mean people. It's just a pattern that happens time and again."

11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane | with 0 comments



Rankin answers charges IMB not conservative enough : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

November 25 2003 by Mark Wingfield

Rankin answers charges IMB not conservative enough : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

Rankin answers charges IMB not conservative enough

By Mark Wingfield
Associated Baptist Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. - In response to criticism from a seminary missions professor, the president and trustees of the International Mission Board (IMB) defended the agency's actions and insisted its mission will not be "compromised."

A paper written by Keith Eitel of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and mailed to IMB trustees by Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, drew a strong response from IMB President Jerry Rankin.

Although Rankin and his critics all support the conservative movement that has risen to power in the Southern Baptist Convention, Rankin has found himself defending the IMB against charges it is not conservative enough.

In the paper, Eitel accused Rankin and other IMB administrators of failing to be doctrinally stringent enough. He specifically cited concerns about partnerships with other Great Commission Christian groups that require lesser doctrinal adherence, and about the role of women in missions leadership.

During a Nov. 10-12 meeting in Lexington, Ky., IMB trustees adopted two statements in response to the Eitel paper.

The first statement, which was adopted without discussion or dissent, affirmed "the strategies and leadership" of the board and resolved "to review the concerns and the issues raised and take appropriate action to guarantee that the vision to lead Southern Baptists to reach the world for Christ is not compromised."

The second statement, also adopted unanimously, affirmed an initiative by Rankin to arrange for a meeting of IMB staff and trustees with Eitel and Patterson "to resolve misunderstandings and perceptions communicated in Eitel's assessment of the International Mission Board vision and strategy."

Rankin said he would write Patterson "to seek an explanation as to why he would cast aspersion on our board relative to the conservative resurgence." Trustees of the IMB are "God-fearing, Bible-believing men and women, products of the conservative resurgence within our convention," Rankin said. Yet, "our staunch embracing of and adherence to the Baptist Faith and Message is not considered adequate from your perspective."

A letter from Rankin to Eitel countered the criticisms as "unfounded" and questioned why they were circulated without first coming to the board's leadership for a response.

Rankin acknowledged in the letter, however, that he was pleased finally to learn "the source of rumors that have plagued the IMB in recent years."

He said the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Mainstream Baptists, Texan David Currie and employees of SEBTS have perpetuated "myths" about the IMB.

"I had wondered why so much criticism of our program and policies, disrespect of leadership and even threatened litigation was being generated by students from Southeastern," Rankin told Eitel. Another memo written by Eitel to an IMB staff member "clearly indicates that they were being programmed to hear certain distortions out of context and encouraged to engage in a subversive response."

Eitel's criticisms have endangered collaborative efforts between SEBTS and the IMB, Rankin said. "It is hard to see how we can continue such a partnership when disrespect for leadership and policies is being nurtured, non-biblical subversive behavior is encouraged and blatant disregard for truth is propagated."

In the seven-page letter, Rankin countered point-by-point each of Eitel's criticisms.

He denied the IMB is placing less emphasis on theological training for mission workers, as Eitel suggested. He insisted on the importance of using short-term volunteers in contemporary missions work. He defended the training techniques and staff of the Missionary Learning Center. And he defended partnerships with other Great Commission Christians as a paradigm shift "that has been blessed of God to enhance unprecedented impact on a lost world."

"The reality is that many of these Great Commission Christians are far more conservative in their doctrine than Southern Baptists have been and would not have accepted us into partnership with them until recent years."

Rankin also defended the role of women in mission leadership.

"We fully recognize the biblical limitation of women holding a church office, such as pastor, that clearly represents spiritual authority in a local congregation," Rankin said. "However, to extrapolate that limited application to deny women the freedom to practice their giftedness and calling as a part of a team seeking to reach a segment of the lost world goes beyond biblical teaching."

In other action, IMB trustees adopted a trimmed-back $258.9 million budget for 2004, elected a new executive vice president and appointed 67 new workers for service in 29 countries.

They also heard a five-year evaluation of the "New Directions" emphasis that shifted the board's missions focus from geographical countries to ethno-linguistic people groups. A trustee committee compiled the information from a survey of overseas personnel.

Now called "Strategic Directions for the 21st Century," or SD-21 for short, the emphasis organized missionaries into teams focused on specific people groups, with a goal of sparking church-starting movements and taking the gospel to those previously neglected by Christian missions efforts.

The survey found:
  • The number of people groups engaged by IMB personnel has more than doubled to 1,371.
  • Seven church-starting movements have been confirmed and 42 others reported.
  • A 29 percent growth in the IMB missionary force over the past five years is the greatest in board history.
  • The focus on multiplying churches within people groups has resulted in an increase of almost 71 percent in the number of churches worldwide, a 95 percent increase in the number of outreach groups and the baptism of more than 1.8 million believers.
  • The research also identified concerns about supervision and training of strategy coordinators.

    The IMB's 2004 budget cuts almost $20 million in operating expenses from the current year's spending plan. Additional budget funds are allocated to capital needs that will not be spent unless funds are received. The financial plan also sets a Lottie Moon Challenge budget of $17 million.

    The plan anticipates receiving $96.2 million through the Cooperative Program unified budget and $133 million through the 2003 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. It also projects $16.4 million from investment income.

    To protect missionary outreach from budget cuts, the financial plan reduces stateside spending by 14 percent and overseas spending by 2.12 percent. The budget includes no salary increases for missionary personnel or stateside employees.

    Trustees elected veteran missionary and administrator Clyde Meador to fill the executive vice president's position vacated by the resignation of John White in June.

    Meador, an Arkansas native who grew up in New Mexico, and his wife, Elaine, were appointed to missionary service in 1974. He served as a general evangelist, theological teacher and mission administrator in Indonesia before accepting leadership of a team of itinerant missionaries that looked for opportunities to share the gospel in countries closed to traditional missionary presence.

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - Mark Kelly of the IMB contributed to this report.)

    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield | with 0 comments



    Not your mother's Malibu : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    November 25 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge

    Not your mother's Malibu : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
    Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    Not your mother's Malibu

    By Tony W. Cartledge
    BR Editor

    Now that Trigger has found pasture in the green hills outside of Dunn, I'm happy to report that my new company car has arrived, and is already broken in.

    Since the Oldsmobile I favored is no longer available, I decided to look for a car that was slightly smaller and got better gas mileage without giving up anything in the comfort, quiet, and drivability departments.

    That put me squarely in the segment currently ruled by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, and for good reason. Both are well-designed, good-riding, economical vehicles with little pizzazz but a strong record for dependability.

    I drove them both, and was impressed. American car companies really haven't had anything to challenge their domination.

    Until now.

    Enter the new Chevy Malibu, which I learned about while surfing the Web for best values.

    It's not your mother's Malibu, the one that hasn't changed for years, the one that's unexciting but so dependable that it became a favorite of car rental companies.

    That car is still around, but renamed the Chevrolet "Classic."

    The Malibu, on the other hand, is altogether new, built on a new European chassis, put together with the driver in mind.

    It's taller and spiffier than the old Malibu, with ample seating room and a truckload of safety features. It's solid and quiet, yet surefooted as a big cat. The driver's seat, steering wheel and foot pedals are all so adjustable that any driver can find a comfort zone. The V-6 engine offers abundant power, but can get 32 miles per gallon on the highway.

    Even the mid-range models come with enough bells and whistles to keep most drivers entertained.

    The good folks down at Darryl Burke Chevrolet in Fuquay-Varina found the white one I wanted and were kind enough to offer a good price with no haggling required.

    If the new Malibu doesn't give the Camry and Accord some serious competition, I'll be surprised, but still happy with my new traveling partner.

    In less than a month, we logged 2,700 miles, with stops ranging from Shallotte to Yadkinville and Swannanoa to Kitty Hawk.

    Some have asked if I plan to give the new mount a name.

    The car bears a faint resemblance to an old Nash Rambler I drove many moons ago, and together we ramble all over the state, so I've dubbed it "Rambler."

    I hope we can ramble your way soon, and celebrate together what God is doing among North Carolina Baptists.

    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments



    Small computer, big reminder : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    November 25 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge

    Small computer, big reminder : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
    Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    Small computer, big reminder

    By Tony W. Cartledge
    BR Editor

    Rejoicing erupted at our house a couple of months ago when a harried technical consultant on his third house call finally succeeded in installing a wireless network for our computers.

    We already had broadband via a cable modem, but it was limited to one desktop computer. With "WiFi" technology now reasonably priced and successfully installed, we can check e-mail and scan the Internet from any room in the house, or even the back deck and front porch - and at high speed.

    While Jan is doing research on the desktop, I can answer e-mail on a laptop, while Samuel visits lego.com on the hand-me-down computer in his room.

    And so, I rejoiced - until I managed to throw a wrench into the works. I tried to get really fancy and turn on "printer-sharing" so I could also print from another room. I made the mistake of letting one of those "Windows Wizards" automate the process, and that was the end of my wireless access. The computer would claim I was connected to the Web, but it lied.

    One evening, after two days of trying to solve the problem myself, I called our computer consultant at home, which was not a very thoughtful thing to do. He said he'd have to get back to me. He didn't.

    Two days later, I decided to try the tech-support number listed on the bottom of my Toshiba laptop. I did so with trepidation, having experienced long waits and little help with a variety of other tech-support numbers I had tried in the past.

    After listening to a recorded warning that a rash of viruses might slow down response times, I settled in, expecting a long hold. But, within five minutes, a gentleman named Nazif came on the line, recorded my information, and asked about the problem.

    He had a rather heavy accent (when he said "wireless," it sounded like "virus," which was confusing at first), but we communicated. He diagnosed my problem quickly, told me to disable a "Network Bridge" that the wizard had wrongly put into operation, and asked me to re-start the computer.

    While waiting, I made small talk with Nazif and asked where he was located. "Istanbul," he said.

    Istanbul, as in Turkey.

    Here I sat with a Japanese computer built on an American processor and assembled in Taiwan, with a new wireless card from a California company but manufactured in China, using software created in Redmond, Washington - and the guy troubleshooting the problem for me was in Istanbul.

    It gave me a new appreciation for the term "global village." I wondered how many people, speaking how many different languages, had contributed to the manufacture and operation of that one laptop computer.

    And with that computer, attached to the Internet, I can access Web sites and receive e-mail from every continent and every nation under the sun - in seconds. Likewise, people the world over can (and do) read about Baptist life through the Biblical Recorder's Internet presence.

    Several times every week, I hear from missionaries at work in places like Southeast Asia, South America, Europe and Africa. We can share prayer needs, news or other concerns quickly, without having to wait weeks for mail to arrive.

    The distance in miles has not changed, but the world seems smaller just the same.

    The experience reminded me that "God so loved the world ..." - the whole world, every person from every tribe. He loved the whole world so much "that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him ..." - not just an elect few, but whosoever - "should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    We celebrate the incarnation of that "only begotten Son" in this Christmas season, and we are reminded how important it is that all should hear a clear message of God's love.

    With Nazif's help, high-speed information was soon flowing into my computer. As I hung up the phone, I wished Nazif God's blessing, and prayed that God's grace would flow into his life.

    I also made a silent promise to dig a little deeper to support world missions during the annual Christmas emphasis, so people like Nazif and all the nameless individuals behind my computer can see Christ's love demonstrated in positive ways through missionaries who come with burning hearts and glowing faces.

    I hope you'll do the same.
    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments



    'Be careful about drawing conclusions that belong to God' : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    November 25 2003 by

    'Be careful about drawing conclusions that belong to God' : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
    Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    'Be careful about drawing conclusions that belong to God'

    James Walker's convention sermon (BR, Nov. 22) follows an unfortunate but familiar pattern. A pastor develops a "successful" church and is invited to a large meeting to share his insights, in this case the convention of N.C. Baptists. In the process, he denigrates churches that are not like his or do things differently from his. In Walker's case, he speaks of churches like the Laodicean congregation of Revelation 3, and refers to them as spiritually dead, but not aware of it. He said they appeared outwardly prosperous but are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. In addition, he said such churches are dead because "the Holy Spirit is not in them." My question is, how does he know? Has he visited these congregations? Is he intimately aware of the dynamics involved in these churches? Has he served as their pastor, and therefore has inside information that leads him to this damning conclusion? Has God spoken to him personally about such things? Is his insight so keen, and bravado so strong, that he is willing to name names?

    Since he is using the letters in Revelation, I would remind him that it is the risen Christ who is making such conclusions about the churches profiled there. It is not the pastor of the church at Smyrna or Philadelphia, two of the seven that have nothing negative said about them. In other words, Walker, and those who have committed the same grievance, borders dangerously on blasphemy, taking on himself the role of the Holy Spirit.

    Let us be careful about drawing conclusions that belong to God and God alone.

    Randy L. Hyde

    Little Rock, Ark.

    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



    'Litmus tests' now required for baptism? : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    November 25 2003 by

    'Litmus tests' now required for baptism? : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
    Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    'Litmus tests' now required for baptism?

    The recent failure of the Baptist State Convention to reverse the ouster of McGill church over its baptismal practices causes me to wonder if the convention would, for the sake of consistency, ask each church to impose additional "litmus tests" for other lifestyle issues on each candidate for baptism before they enter the baptistery. Would the convention act to exclude a church that baptized someone with a drug or alcohol abuse problem? A tobacco addiction? A weight problem? A history of gossip or racist attitudes? The list could be endless. I was taught long ago that one type of sin is no worse than another. We are all sinners who need God's grace to transform our lives.

    May we be agents of grace, giving to others the grace we have experienced in Jesus Christ.

    James A. Garrison

    Arden, N.C.

    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



    Missionary urges 'sacrificial' giving to Lottie Moon : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    November 25 2003 by

    Missionary urges 'sacrificial' giving to Lottie Moon : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
    Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    Missionary urges 'sacrificial' giving to Lottie Moon

    I enjoyed reading your Nov. 1 column, "Farewell old friend," about the 1998 Oldsmobile you nicknamed Trigger. As you mentioned, you felt it was time to turn it in since it had 133,000 miles, and you would feel more secure with "a newer mount," especially when visiting churches in "far flung places." The type of car you drive is a minor issue when compared to other details connected to your ministry. Yet, when your job takes you to a remote area, and far from the closest repair shop, the quality of your vehicle takes on new significance. The possibility of being stranded or endangered are thoughts none of us consider pleasant. Your article illustrates points I think are important for N.C. Baptists during this current Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) season. First, the money makes it possible for the International Mission Board to provide good, road-worthy vehicles to missionaries. If LMCO receipts fall short of the goal, then missionaries are forced to make their vehicles last longer. When a missionary travels in conditions that are extremely tough and hard on the car and missionary's body, then being forced to keep an old vehicle can become a major issue. When I first began to minister among the Maasai of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania 10 years ago, we were told to make our cars last 4-5 years. Now we are told to make them last up to 8 years.

    So, my plea to N.C. Baptists is this: give prayerfully and sacrificially to the LMCO, so the kind of car missionaries drive can remain a secondary issue, rather than contributing to an early return because of a back injury, or from a wreck because of our vehicles.

    David Crane

    IMB missionary to Maasai, East Africa

    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



    Mystified over attempts to reduce Recorder funding : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    November 25 2003 by

    Mystified over attempts to reduce Recorder funding : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
    Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    Mystified over attempts to reduce Recorder funding

    After 67 years as a N.C. Baptist - and proud of every step along the way - it still mystifies me as to the attempts to reduce Recorder income. This year's efforts by a pastor from Seagrove were typical. Of course, it failed. All efforts to do this have failed. A pastor from Dublin, who supported this effort, was wrong when he said, "the Recorder brings more of a spirit of division than unity." Not surprisingly, the motion to cut funding was defeated, achieving a mere 30 percent of the vote.

    In these days of continuously higher postage rates, the Recorder performs an impossible job by keeping its rates as low as it does. Let's hope 2003 will be the last time any effort will be made to reduce the needed funds of a paper devoted to Baptist distinctives for 170 years.

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - Grant is editor emeritus of the Recorder.)

    Marse Grant

    Raleigh, N.C.

    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



    Who should Baptists baptize? : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    November 25 2003 by

    Who should Baptists baptize? : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
    Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    Who should Baptists baptize?

    There is a lot of talk about who, we as Baptist should baptize. Baptists believe in the authority of scriptures, so we should go there for spiritual answers.

    Matthew 3:1-2, (New Living Translation) tells us: "In those days John the Baptist began preaching in the Judean wilderness." His message was, "turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near."

    Verse 5 says: "People from Jerusalem and from every section of Judea and from all over the Jordan Valley went out to the wilderness to hear him preach. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River."

    Notice that confession came before baptism.

    Some are saying we can and should baptize people first, and they will turn from their sins or repent later.

    Verse 7 answers that: "But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he denounced them. 'You brood of snakes,' he exclaimed, 'Who warned you to flee God's coming judgment? Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God.'"

    We seem to have lost the understanding of the word "repent" - to turn away from.

    Some are saying that people can continue in their sins and still be baptized, and that baptism is not a public announcement.

    What in the world is baptism, if it is not making public our decision to turn from sin and be raised into a new life with Christ? We do this in obedience to Christ, as a public testimony of what has happened, not something we are hoping will happen later.

    Some say we all have sin in our lives and cannot single out one sin. The problem comes when we say that any sin is OK to continue doing.

    Bob Foy

    Mooresville, N.C.

    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



    'Work together for the glory of God' : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    November 25 2003 by

    'Work together for the glory of God' : Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
    Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003

    'Work together for the glory of God'

    Our Baptist Heritage Conference at North Rocky Mount Baptist Church was covered recently. Let me thank you for accuracy in reporting. I hope many convention-going readers paid attention to the address of Dr. Tom Graves. He told the beautiful story of working with a musician doing revival meetings in Zimbabwe. They argued theology and personal differences between meetings, but presented the gospel in song and word to win many converts to Christianity. It is a shame we have to argue, but our free church and free democratic process produces such differences. We need to control our egos to the point we can somehow work together for the glory of God. This can only be accomplished if both sides, conservative and moderate, realize a real person lives inside the skin of any who disagree with us.

    Some years ago we tried an experiment. With the local hospital chaplain acting as facilitator, six of us - three from each side - met weekly for about six weeks. Our beginning point was to share our journey in the faith with one another. As each man told his story, it became obvious we all had a real experience to tell. Although no one changed his theological position, I came to know five Christian brothers from a deeper viewpoint.

    Perhaps we should drop all the business for one year, and, instead, talk to one another about our faith and how we try to work it out in the local church. Conservatives or moderates have people who agree with them locally. Who cares as long as we all work together to share the gospel in a spirit of love.

    Remember the Bible says, "Speak the truth in love." If there is not love, then no truth has any relevance to someone of a different opinion.

    Viva la difference!

    Gene Scarborough

    Rocky Mount, N.C.

    11/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments



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