October 2002

Baptist State Convention to meet Nov. 11-13

October 25 2002 by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications

Baptist State Convention to meet Nov. 11-13 | Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

Baptist State Convention to meet Nov. 11-13

By Bill Boatwright BSC Communications

The annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina will be held Nov. 11-13 at the Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and concluding Wednesday morning.

The state convention meeting will feature four plenary sessions - Monday evening, Tuesday morning and evening and Wednesday morning - and several breakout sessions on Tuesday afternoon. Although only registered messengers from cooperating churches may vote during the proceedings, the meetings are open to anyone, including attendance at the Tuesday afternoon breakout sessions.

Preceding the convention will be the annual Pastor's and Pastor's Wives Conference, Religious Education Conference and Youth Ministers' Conference. Several of the convention's colleges and universities plan alumni meetings.

The Monday evening session will open with several committee reports, the first General Board report, and the convention sermon by Charles Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte. Page is scheduled to preach at 8:15 p.m.

The Tuesday morning session will begin with the second General Board report, reports by Baptist Hospital, the Mission Growth Evangelism Group and an address by James Royston, state convention executive director-treasurer. Election of the president is set for 10:35 a.m. with the president's address scheduled for 11:30 a.m.

Following a format begun last year, small group breakout sessions will be held Tuesday afternoon. They will be held in the main coliseum building.

Breakout sessions will include conflict management, a discussion on Islam and Christianity, personal evangelism strategies, prayer, Sunday School evangelism, gift discovery, understanding the modern family, ministry in a diverse world, and several sessions on hands-on mission projects. They will be conducted in three 50-minutes time blocks from 2-5 p.m. The session on conflict management, set for 2 p.m., will be repeated at 4 p.m. In addition, the Southern Baptist Annuity Board has requested time for a special breakout session at 5 p.m., immediately following the other sessions.

Tuesday evening will open with several committee reports, the third General Board report and a one-hour worship service featuring pastors and church leaders from several of the state convention's innovative and ethnic congregations.

The annual meeting will conclude on Wednesday morning with the last General Board report (discussion and adoption of the 2003 budget), election of the first and second vice-presidents and recording and assistant recording secretaries, and a special report by the Council on Christian Higher Education. The convention is scheduled to adjourn around 11 a.m., with the presentation of the 2003 state convention officers.

The Budget Committee will be available on three occasions to answer questions and discuss the 2003 budget with messengers. The scheduled times are 8-8:40 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and 3-3:50 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. The sessions will be held in the Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum, Meeting Room 15 - Team Room B.

A complete copy of the convention program is available on the convention Web site: bscnc.org.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
10/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Bill Boatwright , BSC Communications | with 0 comments

Buncombe unlikely to support CBF churches

October 25 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Buncombe unlikely to support CBF churches | Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

Buncombe unlikely to support CBF churches

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

Will the Buncombe Baptist Association support a new church that wants to affiliate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), but not the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)?

Probably not.

That's the crux of a report from the association's New Work Committee. The association adopted the report at its annual meeting Oct. 14-15.

The report doesn't mention CBF in its seven criteria for starting a new church. But the report does say it would be wrong to ask the association to support a CBF-only church since most of the association's churches support the SBC and not the CBF.

The report was intended to address an earlier motion by Guy Sayles, pastor of Asheville's First Baptist Church.

Sayles wanted to know the association's stance on new churches that affiliate with the CBF but not the SBC. He asked whether the association would welcome cooperation with such churches and whether the association would endorse funding for them.

The Baptist State Convention (BSC) has given local associations effective veto power over funding for new churches. Earlier this year, the Carolina Baptist Association effectively nixed BSC funding for Providence Baptist Church, a new CBF church in Hendersonville. That church was co-sponsored by several churches in the Buncombe Association, but eventually joined the United Association, which is made up of churches mostly in the Charlotte area.

Sayles said he wanted a clear answer to his questions.

"We didn't get clarity," he said. "It's not a clear report."

Sayles said there is a "clear disconnect" between the background information in the report and its conclusions. The background information includes a "fairly good description of Baptist polity," he said.

"The conclusions don't seem to follow from that," he said.

Sayles said that he reads the report as "at least a qualified no" to the question of whether the association would support a new church that's affiliated with only CBF.

Steve Harris, pastor of New Life Community Church in Asheville, was chairman of the New Work Committee that wrote the report.

Harris said the answers to Sayles' two questions were "qualified no's."

"No, we'll not give a blanket endorsement to CBF-only churches but we will give an open, honest consideration to any church that comes before us," he said. "Our desire is to be as conciliatory as we can, to give an honest, genuine, open consideration to anyone."

Harris said the key question is the motivation behind the start of the church.

"We would not be interested in endorsing a politically motivated church, in other words a church that would be planted just to have a CBF presence in the area," he said.

Dennis Thurman, moderator of the association, said there is no guarantee that any new church will be funded.

"We can guarantee that it will not be if someone comes in and says, 'Our whole reason is to start a CBF church,'" he said.

He said a new church has to meet the association's criteria.

"Those are the things we're looking for," he said.

The criteria do not mention CBF.

"That is not in the criteria, but if someone comes in with that as their agenda, that will end the discussion at that point," he said.

A CBF-only new church might be considered if there is not "an overt agenda," he said.

"If a church comes in and they don't make that their agenda, all we can do is come in and give that church every opportunity to succeed," he said.

Joe Babb, who served on the committee, says the report deals with a question Sayles didn't ask. Sayles' motion didn't ask for such an endorsement, he said. Babb presented a "minority report" at the associational meeting that would have deleted a section concerning CBF but would have kept the criteria for new churches.

The motion to amend the report failed. The vote to adopt the report was "very decisive, very clear cut," Thurman said.

A motion to ask the BSC to take responsibility for doling out church planting funds from the separate giving plans was ruled out of order by Thurman. He said the association had already dealt with the matter when it adopted the report.

Babb said the report "prohibits what's currently accepted." He said the Buncombe constitution doesn't require affiliation with the SBC.

At least one church in the association is affiliated with CBF, and not SBC, he said.

Sayles said he is troubled when the relationship a church has with one Baptist body is linked to its relationship to another Baptist body.

"That's contrary to my understanding of Baptist polity," he said.

Sayles said his church will reconsider its relationship to the association, but he couldn't say what decision would be made. Regardless of that decision, "our church is going to pursue network style relationships with like-minded churches in western North Carolina," he said.

Thurman said the committee was trying to be conciliatory and not disrupt the fellowship of the association. The group attempted to find a "win-win" situation, he said.

"We don't want any churches to leave," he said. "We tried to bend over backwards to state our case in a way as that would not happen."

Harris agreed.

"We want to keep our association together," he said. "We have churches very strongly on both sides.

"We don't want the churches affiliated with CBF to think we're trying to control things and get discouraged and leave. At the same time, we don't want to plant churches that are planted with political motivations."

Harris said the "polarization" in the association is related to differing views on the controversy in the SBC since 1979.

Some are happy with the conservative movement in the SBC and see it as a move toward doctrinal accountability and the authority of the Bible and away from liberalism. Others see it as heavy-handed control and a threat to the priesthood of the believer, he said.

The controversy is almost like a separation in a marriage, he said.

"The separation papers were filed in the development of the CBF, but there hasn't been a divorce," he said. "The question is whether there's going to be a divorce."

The report "was an attempt to hold off the divorce (in the association) without compromising our convictions," he said.

"I think it's going to work very well in our association because we have a committee very focused on the criteria and not politics," Harris said. "If that's not good enough for someone, I don't know how much we can do."

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
10/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

CBF leaders adopt identity statement

October 25 2002 by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press

CBF leaders adopt identity statement | Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

CBF leaders adopt identity statement

By Bob Allen Associated Baptist Press

ATLANTA - The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is a "Baptist association of churches and individuals" separate from the Southern Baptist Convention, but the group declines to define itself as a convention or denomination, according to a new statement by CBF leadership.

The statement, adopted by the CBF Coordinating Council Oct. 19, responds to a request by a Baptist World Alliance (BWA) membership committee that the Atlanta-based group affirm publicly that it is not an "integral part" of any current BWA member - specifically the SBC.

The CBF, which formed in 1991 as a result of SBC controversy, first voted in 2000 to apply for membership in the BWA, a worldwide fellowship of Baptists. A BWA membership committee denied the group's first application last year, saying the Fellowship did not appear to qualify as a traditional Baptist convention or union for membership.

A second application this year, however, got a more favorable hearing when the BWA General Council met in Spain in July. The group overwhelmingly approved a report that the CBF could qualify for membership by next year if its leaders would "affirm publicly ... that they have separated themselves from the structures and organization of the SBC, and have a distinctively diverse understanding to the SBC of what it means to be an organized body of Baptist churches and individuals in covenant relationship."

The CBF council responded with a statement listing 20 indicators that the Fellowship is "no longer integral" to the SBC, including the fact that the SBC has in effect recognized CBF as a separate entity by refusing to accept funding from the Fellowship for the past seven years.

The CBF also has its own organizational structure, missionaries, foundation and benefits board and endorses chaplains. More than 150 CBF churches have no formal membership in the SBC. The United Nations recognizes the CBF as a non-governmental organization, and several Baptist state conventions allow churches to give to CBF through their budgets.

Consistent with earlier statements, however, leaders of the Fellowship insisted the moderate breakaway group is not a denomination.

"Though fully independent of the SBC or any other union, we do not declare that we are a denomination or convention," the statement says. "Rather, we are Baptist by conviction and we are a partnership of churches and individuals by philosophy. We have chosen instead to define ourselves as a 'fellowship,' which means that we are a 'Baptist association of churches and individuals' in partnership for the advancement of God's kingdom."

Founded in 1905, the Baptist World Alliance represents more than 200 Baptist unions and conventions that include 44.5 million baptized believers in 193,000 Baptist churches around the world.

CBF leaders believe membership in the BWA would expand opportunities for ministry through overseas partnerships and add legitimacy to the CBF by affirming it is more than a "splinter group."

"I believe it is important for us to be a part of the BWA," said CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal. "I believe it is important for the BWA, and I believe it is important for the kingdom of God."

Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention oppose the CBF's membership application. Members of the SBC delegation voted against the BWA membership committee report in July, commenting that the Fellowship should first declare itself a new convention in order to sufficiently separate from the SBC.

"I think there are some people who desperately want us to declare ourselves a convention of churches rather than a fellowship of individuals and churches," Vestal told the CBF Coordinating Council. "I don't think we want to go down that road."

CBF leaders said the new identity statement is significant not only for the BWA application, but it also gives the organization a chance to define itself more clearly to the general public.

Jim Baucom, past CBF moderator and pastor of Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., said before attending the BWA General Council meeting in Spain, he assumed everyone understood that the organization is not "an integral part" of the SBC.

Baucom said he soon discovered, however, that "almost no one outside of our movement understands that."

"They believe we are part of the SBC, sort of a shadow organization, but not a separate organization," Baucom said.

SBC leaders have indicated they might leave the BWA or reduce funding if the CBF is allowed to join. The SBC is the largest BWA member, with 16 million members, and provides funding for about 20 percent of the BWA's $2.1 million annual budget.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
10/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Missionaries who won't sign BF&M can't return

October 25 2002 by Jennifer Davis Rash , The Alabama Baptist

Missionaries who won't sign BF&M can't return | Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

Missionaries who won't sign BF&M can't return

By Jennifer Davis Rash The Alabama Baptist

Two Alabama missionaries currently on stateside assignment have been told they cannot return to the mission field without signing the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M).

Rick and Nancy Dill recently arrived on furlough to serve as missionaries-in-residence at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., from their assignment as church planters in East Germany.

Avery Willis, International Mission Board (IMB) senior vice president for overseas operations, called the Dills Oct. 10 believing the couple was less than a month away from returning to the field.

He talked with Dill and explained that missionaries on stateside assignment who have not signed the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message will not be allowed to return to the field.

Willis' statement was confirmed by the IMB in an e-mail statement to The Alabama Baptist.

"Just as new missionaries are expected to affirm their sympathy with Southern Baptist beliefs before being sent overseas, missionaries on stateside assignment are expected to express their affirmation before being returned to the field," Willis said in the e-mail statement.

Dill said he reminded Willis that he and Nancy declined to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message in February after IMB President Jerry Rankin's January request. He also noted that they were not planning to resign.

Because Willis had wrong information about their date to return to Germany, Dill said it exposed current IMB strategy in obtaining missionary signatures.

He said Willis called two other couples the same day that were within two weeks of departure and had not signed the faith statement.

Dill said that Willis is calling missionaries at a vulnerable point. Missionaries are just weeks away from returning to the field. Their belongings have been shipped, and they are emotionally set to go back, he said.

Another IMB official confirmed that Willis did make calls on Oct. 10 to three missionary couples, including the Dills, who had not signed. The other two couples signed.

Dill said Willis made the comment, "We thought you would either sign or resign."

"We are not going to change our minds nor are we going to argue," Dill replied. "I said at least now we have plenty of time to raise support to go back without the IMB."

"We are happy to be the people who make (the IMB) say (that we are terminated)," Nancy said.

"God will take care of us," Dill said. He also noted that Texas Baptists are helping missionaries who leave the IMB because they refuse to sign the 2000 BF&M.

While rumors that the Dills have already been fired from the IMB are circulating, Willis said this is not true.

"Rick and Nancy Dill have not been terminated," he said in his statement. "They are fine missionaries and we would hate to lose them."

In 1992 the Dills became the first IMB missionaries to move into East Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Still, "we have asked them to decide whether they will demonstrate their doctrinal accountability to Southern Baptists by affirming the current version of the Baptist Faith and Message," Willis said. "Documents on the subject written by Jerry Rankin and Don Kammerdiener have been sent to them. We are hoping they will decide to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message before the time comes for them to be released to return to the field in May."

Rankin has yet to announce what penalty will come for missionaries who refuse to sign the 2000 BF&M. Thirteen missionary units (26 people) have resigned since February, attributing Rankin's request as a factor in their decision, IMB officials reported.

The resignations of three other units (six people) are waiting for trustee action during the board's November meeting.

Board officials estimate that slightly more than 1 percent of the missionaries have not announced their decisions. A total of 5,437 missionaries are currently serving through the IMB.

The Dills are the first reported missionaries to refuse to sign as well as decline to resign after being confronted by top IMB officials.

"The bottom line is, we are terminated because we are not going to sign and we are not going to resign," Nancy said. "They are saying it but not saying it."

While IMB officials have yet to use the word "fire" or "terminate," Willis said in an IMB news release that a timetable has been established for resolving the issue. "What is happening now is that missionaries are being asked to resolve the issue in the next two or three months." He said missionaries are not being told to change their personal convictions.

"Southern Baptist missionaries are godly people with God's passion for a lost world," Willis explained. "We would hate to lose a single one of them. But Southern Baptists deserve to know that their missionaries serve in harmony with the deeply held convictions they have expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message. We believe it is a matter of integrity for missionaries to be honest with Southern Baptists and promise to honor the churches' convictions in the ways they teach and minister."

In January 2001, IMB trustees voted their "whole-hearted" endorsement of the Baptist Faith and Message statement as "the standard for carrying out the program and ministries" of the IMB. They also strongly affirmed the personal beliefs of the agency's missionaries and key stateside staff members.

A year later, Rankin sent a letter to missionaries, asking them to take the initiative of affirming the 2000 version of the faith statement, just as they had affirmed earlier versions when they were appointed. In the ensuing nine months, overseas leaders have talked with missionaries who voiced questions and reservations and the vast majority have signed the statement.

In his latest letter to missionaries who have yet to sign the statement, Rankin said, "allowance is provided for stating areas of disagreement. However, there cannot be flexibility in being unwilling to be doctrinally accountable and assure Southern Baptists that we will work in accord with our confession of faith and not contrary to it. To do so would erode the credibility and support of the IMB and to bring into question your colleagues around the world."

Nancy said she knows of other missionaries who signed because they are too committed to their ministries to leave or out of fear of losing their jobs.

While the Dills have served in Germany for 20 years, they said "serious theological changes ... made in the 2000 document disturb us greatly and for that reason we cannot sign."

They outlined four reasons:

1. Removal of the statement "the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ."

"The center of our faith is Jesus Christ," they said in a written statement. "He certainly is the criterion by which the Bible is to be understood and interpreted."

2. Use of the expression "priesthood of believers" instead of "priesthood of the believer."

"The authors of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 seem to mistrust or minimize the importance of the personal experience of the individual believer and his personal responsibility before God," they wrote. "God speaks to each and every individual. We are called to be His priests. His Spirit works within us individually (as well as corporately), and finally, we will be called to account for our lives as His servants."

3. Role of women in marriage. "There is no question that Paul was stressing the mutual submission that should be a part of every marriage relationship (Eph. 5:21-22)," they wrote, pointing out verse 21, which says, "husbands love your wives," was not included in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. "It is a perversion of the marriage relationship to reduce it to a question of power and control."

4. Role of women in the church - "the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture."

"Such a statement does not belong in a statement of faith," the Dills said. "It is not central to the question of faith or orthodoxy. ... I do not find a clear scriptural basis for denying women any office of service in the church.

"One thing that I certainly cannot understand is the IMB forcing missionaries to sign a statement that denies women the right to be called of God as pastors (and denying service to those who belong to a church that has chosen to call a woman as pastor) and yet says that one of the growing missionary callings of women is that of church planter," they wrote.

"Church planters are pastors. How can we deny that God calls women to pastor and at the same time send them out all over the world to serve in that capacity?"

Pointing to their own faith, the Dills said, "We are not heretics. We are conservative Christians. We are Baptists. We are Southern Baptists. We have served faithfully on a foreign field for over 20 years and want to continue that service for another 15. But we cannot in good conscience sign a document that we feel in several ways reflects neither the truth of scripture nor the heritage that Baptists hold so dear."

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
10/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Jennifer Davis Rash , The Alabama Baptist | with 0 comments

Tuckaseigee Association moves on without six churches

October 25 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Tuckaseigee Association moves on without six churches | Friday, Oct. 25, 2002
  • $5,000 to REACH of Jackson Country for transitional housing for women who are facing financial crisis due to the break up of their marriages.
  • $5,000 to United Christian Ministries for rent, utility, food and other assistance to people in poverty in Jackson County.
  • $4,000 to the Harris Hospital Chaplaincy Program and $1,000 to the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Chaplaincy program to provide pastoral care training for Tuckaseigee Association pastors.
  • $5,000 to the Library Fund of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in Hendersonville.
  • $5,000 to the Baptist Student Union at Western Carolina University to establish a scholarship program for students who plan to continue their education in a Southern Baptist seminary or serve as a missionary.

    The committee also voted to designate $6,000 to be used to encourage Tuckaseigee Association churches to form mission partnerships and work together to spread the gospel around the world. Another $2,000 was set aside to help a Jackson County family living in substandard housing buy a suitable replacement home.

    Rich Peoples, pastor of Scotts Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, proposed the expenditures.

    "I believe that our association needs to step forward and move in a positive direction," he said in a written statement. "I believe that our churches are filled with caring and compassionate people who are concerned about the needs of our community. I know that Tuckaseigee Baptists are firmly committed to being a mission-minded people. This proposal is not the final answer, it is just a first step toward our new future."

  • Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

    Tuckaseigee Association moves on without six churches

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

    Tuckaseigee Baptist Association is in good financial shape despite the loss of six churches, association officials said.

    The association held its annual meeting Oct. 17-18, the first gathering since the six churches left.

    "We had an excellent meeting both nights," said Claude Conard, the association's interim director of missions.

    More than 120 people attended each night, representing 28 of the 37 churches now in the association, he said.

    Conard said Deitz Memorial Baptist Church in Sylva was the latest church to leave the association. The church informed the association of the move in a letter received before the annual meeting.

    Robert Blanton, the pastor at Deitz Memorial, told The Sylva Herald, that the Sept. 29 vote to leave the association was unanimous.

    Blanton told the newspaper that his church, which has 66 members, severed ties with the association because church members don't subscribe to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) and because they felt the autonomy of the church was being threatened.

    Another reason is a shift in the association's focus, he said.

    "We're not aligned with that focus. In the past we've worked for unity of purpose to do the things together that we could not do separately," Blanton said." Now (the association is) more interested in fussing than in doing kingdom work, and we want to separate ourselves from the fussing."

    Other churches that have cut ties with the association are Cullowhee, Sylva First, Tuckasegee, Black Mountain and East Sylva.

    Conard said there was little talk of the churches at the meeting. Messengers at the meeting did not discuss the 2000 BF&M which was affirmed by the association's Executive Committee in a closed meeting in July.

    Some of the churches that have left cited a concern for church autonomy. Others wanted to get away from fighting in the association.

    The six churches that left gave about $11,000 a year to the association, according to Mike Moore, chairman of the association's finance committee and pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Sylva. Other churches have committed to make up the difference, he said.

    "They're taking up the slack created by the churches that left and our association is moving forward," Conard said.

    Moore said the 2003 budget of $46,976 adopted at the meeting is $200 more than the 2002 budget.

    "We expect everything to be fine," he said.

    During the meeting, the association presented several checks to local ministry agencies. The checks were part of $33,000 in distributions approved by the association's Executive Committee at its Oct. 7 meeting.

    The gifts include:

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

    Need a lift? Give something away

    October 25 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    Need a lift? Give something away | Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

    Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

    Need a lift? Give something away

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

    Few things in life are more gratifying to the soul and uplifting to the heart than the ability to give - and everyone has that ability. Even those who are financially destitute can give time and attention to others who need it.

    But most of us do have the ability to give financially, and my guess is that the happiest among us are also the most generous.

    On occasions, I have heard someone say "Give until it hurts."

    That is not a particularly effective motivation for most folks.

    I'd rather hear someone say "Give until it feels good."

    Dropping a dollar in the offering plate when you can afford to give much more accomplishes little beyond avoiding the embarrassment of giving nothing at all.

    The gifts that feel really good are the gifts that you feel in other ways - large enough to be noticed on the bank statement, large enough to impact budget planning.

    The biblical guideline of a "tithe" - 10 percent - is a number that most people would feel. It's large enough that we have to plan around it if we also plan on giving it away, and that's a great plan to follow.

    My personal goal is to use 10 percent as a starting place, and go from there. For most believers, the best place to invest their tithe is through the ministries of their local churches. That's where the rubber meets the road for most of us.

    Once I've given a tithe, it's an added joy to give more to mission offerings, to children's ministries, to other charities - even to people who need a helping hand but can't provide a tax receipt.

    Churches have similar opportunities. I always believed that a church should forward at least 10 percent of its undesignated receipts toward cooperative missions efforts through the local association, the state convention and national bodies. Some give much more. Others give much less.

    For churches, as for individuals, priorities are expressed in the way we give.

    Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for both individuals and churches to shift into self-preservation mode and lose the joy of giving.

    According to surveys I've seen, the average American now contributes no more than two percent of his or her income to charitable causes. Although contributions spiked in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, they have dropped off considerably in the current year.

    On the denominational level, churches that gave an average of eight percent to missions causes 20 years ago now give only about half that amount through the cooperative missions plans of their state conventions.

    At a time when our own state convention budget should be reaching for the sky in our efforts to reach the massive influx of newcomers to North Carolina, budget planners have to be very careful, recommending only incremental increases.

    Even at that, budget income is falling short. Through September, gifts from the churches amounted to only 92 percent of the Baptist State Convention's budget needs.

    What does that mean? It means convention programs from church planting to missions to congregational services have to operate on smaller budgets.

    It means convention agencies and institutions receive only a portion of the funds allotted to them. That's fewer dollars for the Children's Homes and Retirement Homes and Baptist Hospital - dollars they were counting on to provide needed services. It means fewer dollars for the colleges, most of which are budgeted for student aid. It means fewer dollars for the convention's two agencies, the Baptist Foundation and the Biblical Recorder.

    Partial budget funding means convention entities have to scramble to reorganize their budgets, cut services or redouble their own fund-raising efforts.

    I'm told that Cooperative Missions giving was improved for October. If churches come through toward the end of the year, as many did in 2001, the picture can still improve, but there is no guarantee that will happen.

    The Baptist State Convention offers a variety of giving plans and options so that every church should have little trouble in finding an avenue for giving that everyone can feel good about.

    Of course, it's not just the direction of the dollars but the priorities of the heart that determine whether we consider giving to be an onerous duty or a privileged joy.

    That's why the best stewardship sermons don't aim at the purse strings, but at the heart.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    They're trying

    October 25 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

    They're trying | Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

    Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

    They're trying

    By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

    In a recent article, I noted that the medical insurance industry considers minister types to be bad risks, and that being overweight is one of the most common risk factors. At least one reader thought I was meddling, but I think it's a matter of facing facts - and very important facts they are.

    I noted my own intention to shed a dozen pounds by the end of the year, and challenged readers to "go out on a limb" with me by choosing to get healthier and adding an element of accountability by going public with their goals. It was fit to be tried, I suggested.

    I'm halfway to my goal, and delighted to report that a number of readers reported goals of their own. We heard from lay people, ministers and denominational officials.

    These include Tom Allen of Southern Pines, who plans to lose 15 pounds, Nadine Ashe of Horse Shoe (15 lbs.), Michael C. Blackwell of Thomasville (10 lbs.), Robert Dixon of Greensboro (20 lbs.), James Garrison of Arden (20 lbs.), John Hatcher of Cary (12 lbs.), Joy Heaton of Enfeld (20 lbs.), Audra Holland of Fuquay-Varina (15 lbs.), Jim Johnson of Fayetteville (20 lbs.), Race Lariscy of Wrens, Ga. (20 lbs.), Phillips McRae of Marshville (15 lbs.), Gene Miller of Pink Hill (35 lbs.), and Hank Smith of Cary (11 lbs.).

    Although it's possible to take anything to an idolatrous extreme, for most of us losing weight or improving our physical health is not about worshipping our bodies, but about being good stewards of the "earthen vessel" God has given us to use in serving Him.

    When we have better health, we naturally have more energy and a more positive attitude, which can lead to a more effective witness as we serve the Lord in various ways.

    If you know any of the folks listed above, offer them a word of encouragement or support - just don't offer them any doughnuts.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

    Please pray for our convention

    October 25 2002 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

    Please pray for our convention | Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

    Friday, Oct. 25, 2002

    Please pray for our convention

    By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer

    There has probably never been a more "prayed for" Baptist State Convention meeting than the one scheduled this month in Winston-Salem. Our convention program committee developed the "40 Days of Prayer" emphasis, which was printed in the Sept. 28th Biblical Recorder and listed on our Web site. Bob Lowman, director of the Metrolina Prayer Network in Charlotte, has written a special prayer guide, which will be included in every messenger packet at the annual meeting. In addition, we have prayed specifically for the annual convention during many of our other regular meetings throughout the year.

    Prayer, in my opinion, is probably one of the most talked-about, but least practiced, of all the gifts we possess as Christians. Too often, we "use" prayer as a last-ditch effort to change the outcome of something critical in our lives. Our most fervent prayers, for example, are reserved for those who are terminally ill, recently bereaved, unemployed or facing other major catastrophies of life. Although we generally sprinkle our prayers with statements of praise and adoration, most of our prayers dwell primarily on crisis needs rather than personal renewal.

    So, when I ask you to pray earnestly for our Baptist State Convention meeting this month, I have no specific issue in mind. Actually, I'm asking you to be in a "spirit of prayer" as we come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities that face our convention in the months and years ahead. I'm asking you to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17) and "always to pray" (Luke 18:1).

    One of the best definitions of this understanding of prayer comes from Gene Garrison in a message he gave recently to our Baptist Building staff. He defined prayer as an act of submission by which God is allowed and invited to become active in accomplishing His will through our lives. Prayer is all about seeking God's will (Matt. 6:10) - nothing more, nothing less. Too often our prayers simply ask God to "add His blessing" to our planned programs and ministries.

    I am not sure how many of us pray seeking God's will as our primary focus. Many people who come to our convention have a very clear and definite idea about what ought to happen. We all come with our priorities and agenda more than with an open mind and heart truly seeking the leadership of our Lord. We are much better at voicing our concerns than inviting God into our lives.

    Prayer is serious business. Too often, prayer is used something like bookends, a way to begin and end a meeting (invocation and benediction), rather than literally undergirding the entire proceedings. Or sometimes, we use prayer to help us get over an impasse or avoid an unpleasant discussion. We only "seek the mind of God" when we cannot seem to agree within our own minds.

    I'm praying for God's will, not my will or your will, to be done at our state convention this month. I'm praying for everyone to come with open minds and open hearts, truly seeking God's guidance, because what we try to do together is simply too important to follow any other path.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/25/2002 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments

    Jimmy Carter wins Nobel Peace Prize

    October 18 2002 by John Pierce , Baptists Today

    Jimmy Carter wins Nobel Peace Prize | Friday, Oct. 18, 2002

    Friday, Oct. 18, 2002

    Jimmy Carter wins Nobel Peace Prize

    By John Pierce Baptists Today

    PLAINS, Ga. - The world's best-known Baptist Sunday school teacher, Jimmy Carter, won this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

    The 39th President of the United States was selected for his "vital contribution" to the historic Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt and his continuing efforts to resolve conflicts around the world and promote human rights.

    Upon learning the news on Oct. 11, Carter told reporters he hoped the visibility from the Nobel Prize would enhance efforts in seeking peaceful solutions to international conflicts. Carter added that he would donate the $1 million prize to the Carter Center, the 20-year-old think tank and policy center that he and his wife, Rosalynn, started in 1982.

    Carter considers establishing and working through the Atlanta-based center as his most gratifying and significant achievement. He is often described as a model ex-president for the work he has done with the center as well as with Habitat for Humanity and other service organizations.

    Thousands of guests - including many international visitors - attend Sunday school classes at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains where Carter teaches most Sundays.

    "It's about time!" Dan Ariail, pastor at Maranatha, told Baptists Today after the announcement. "He's been nominated seven times and passed over six."

    However, Carter has also been gracious to state how previous winners were more deserving of the honor, Ariail said. "There is no end to my admiration for that guy."

    Denton Lotz, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) in Washington, D.C., wrote a letter congratulating Carter on behalf of Baptists around the world.

    "For years we have prayed that the world would recognize you in this way because we know of no other person who has been such a great example of peace in the world," Lotz wrote in the letter. "Your commitment and dedication to carrying out the Christian principles of justice and righteousness mean so much to so many of our brothers and sisters who themselves are suffering from religious persecution.

    "Thank you for not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. ... Not only have you talked about Christ but your actions have spoken even louder. The fact that you helped eradicate river blindness in Africa is an example of your commitment to the principles of Christ's call in Matthew 25."

    The BWA presented Carter with its first BWA Human Rights Award in 1995.

    Carter is a lifelong Baptist who was actively involved in Southern Baptist Brotherhood work as a young man. However, he has been openly critical of changes in the Southern Baptist Convention over the past two decades.

    The Carters have aligned themselves with the 11-year-old Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). In 2001, he addressed CBF general assembly in Atlanta that drew a record crowd.

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/18/2002 12:00:00 AM by John Pierce , Baptists Today | with 0 comments

    Southeastern plans for new student center

    October 18 2002 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

    Southeastern plans for new student center | Friday, Oct. 18, 2002
  • Trustees approved a two-year program called Master of Arts in Christian Ethics. Patterson said the seminary has gotten requests from representatives of parachurch groups in the Washington, D.C., area who wanted some training in ethics for the national workplace. SEBTS is the only institution on earth with three ethicists, he said.
  • Trustees approved two new degree programs in biblical counseling. The purpose of the programs is to train students who will serve in churches, not as licensed counselors, Patterson said. The programs represent a concentrated effort to develop a program that is more straightforward in seeking answers to people's problems in the Bible. Patterson described Christian counseling, in contrast to biblical counseling, as a Freudian or secular approach with a Christian veneer.

    "The single largest problem in life today is still sin," Patterson said.

  • During a devotion at the beginning of the Oct. 15 session, Emir Caner, an assistant professor of church history and Anabaptist studies, read Acts 8:1-8 and noted the persecution the early church experienced from the Jewish leaders, including Saul. As in the days of Stephen, religious persecution today can come from within the body of believers, he said. Caner warned the trustees of persecution "from the left."

    He also told a story about a judge in Pakistan who had ordered 2,000 Christians to be killed for violating a pro-Muslim law. The judge then accepted Jesus Christ, and the judge has since led 700 people to faith in Jesus, Caner said.

  • Tim Lewis from Troy, Ill., was elected chairman. He replaces Coy Privette of Kannapolis who served two one-year terms. Jimmy Jacumin of Icard was elected vice chairman. Jim Goldston of Raleigh was elected secretary, and Philip Mercer of Columbia, Md., was elected treasurer.
  • Enrollment for the fall semester is 1,992 students, Patterson said. That figure is the seminary's highest for a fall semester, he said. For the year, he expects 2,400 different students to take classes.
  • Patterson told the trustees he expects them to be "nosy." So often trustees are so honored to be elected to the position they don't take the opportunity to look around. He encouraged trustees to talk to students and visit classes unannounced.
  • Friday, Oct. 18, 2002

    Southeastern plans for new student center

    By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor

    WAKE FOREST - Plans for a new student center at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary were approved by trustees Oct. 15.

    Trustees voted unanimously to proceed with the development of the three-story brick building on the site which formerly held the seminary cafeteria and Ruby Reid Child Development Center buildings. Those buildings were demolished over the summer.

    Ryan Hutchinson, vice president of administration, said the new 39,000-square-foot building would include food services, a coffee shop, a computer lab and a commons area/banquet facility on the bottom floor; a book store, copy center, student services offices on the main floor; and classrooms on the top floor. One of those classrooms will seat 120-130 people. Four other classrooms will seat between 50-70 students each. The classrooms will be constructed with modern technology. Retrofitting existing classrooms with the modern technology is sometimes difficult, he said.

    The building is the first part of a 10-year $50 million fund-raising campaign the trustees approved at their spring meeting. The campaign is called "Scholarship on Fire."

    Bart Neal, vice president of institutional advancement, told trustees on Oct. 14 that Jim Jacumin of Icard and Jim Goldston of Raleigh will serve as co-chairmen of the overall campaign.

    "Both men are committed to our Lord and this seminary," Neal said.

    In the first 12 weeks of the campaign, $4.4 million was raised, a consultant said.

    Neal encouraged the trustees to make pledges to the campaign. "You will set the course for others," he said.

    A recruitment of support from the faculty has already began. In January, a campaign to seek pledges from other staff will begin, Neal said. The steering committee will also focus on cities like Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Atlanta and Houston.

    "Like Dr. (Paige) Patterson said last spring, we're going to have to step on our tiptoes (to reach this goal)," Neal said.

    Patterson, who is president of the seminary, said he will refrain from teaching any classes next spring so he can devote time to meeting with potential donors. A consultant last spring said Patterson's popularity would require him to take an active role in raising the funds.

    The first phase goal of the campaign is $16.5 million.

    Construction of the new building could begin as early as next summer, Hutchinson said. The next day, a trustee asked Patterson when the seminary could break ground on the building.

    "We'll see what you put on the cards this morning," Patterson said in reply, referring to the trustees' pledges to the campaign.

    The seminary administration plans to create a new campus quad on the west side of what is now the main part of the campus. A new library building is planned to eventually anchor the new quad.

    In other items:

    Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
    10/18/2002 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments

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