October 2003

NAMB forbids charismatic chaplains : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by

NAMB forbids charismatic chaplains : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

NAMB forbids charismatic chaplains

From wire reports
ALPHARETTA, Ga. - The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has expanded its prohibitions regarding the endorsement of chaplains to include those who participate in any kind of "charismatic manifestations."

Trustees of the board met in early February and approved a new "Endorsement Manual for Chaplains and Counselors in Ministry."

The manual, a consolidation of policies and guidelines that have for the most part existed already, includes the requirement that "no person who is actively participating in or promoting glossolalia (speaking in tongues) hold endorsement as a Southern Baptist chaplain or counselor." The policy was expanded to include "any other charismatic manifestations."

James W. "Skip" Owens, chairman of the agency's Chaplains Commission, said the rules in the manual will apply to newly endorsed chaplains and counselors and those seeking periodic renewal of their endorsement.

During their meeting, trustees also affirmed the decision announced by NAMB President Robert E. Reccord to withdraw funding from the Atlanta Baptist Association after the association allowed two churches that affirm homosexuals to remain in fellowship.

That decision means 12 missionary positions at the association will no longer receive funding from NAMB after the end of this year.

The board also learned that the focus of the agency's church finance ministry will evolve from its historic role primarily as a lending ministry into a church finance consulting ministry.

"Even though we've loaned millions of dollars to thousands of churches over the last 100 years, we can minister to more churches with a new emphasis," said Karl Dietz, director of NAMB's church finance ministry team.

He said the unit would still make loans to churches, but a priority will be placed on consultants helping churches with loan requests from other lenders, assessing their financial situation and providing sound biblical advice to minimize the potential for a church to slip into financial bondage.

The new direction will begin later this spring, Dietz said.

A task force studying guidelines for working with new state Baptist conventions was appointed by Reccord. The team will determine under what circumstances NAMB will enter into a formal cooperative agreement with a new convention of SBC churches.

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by | with 0 comments

Texas cuts dividing churches, SBC executive says : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by

Texas cuts dividing churches, SBC executive says : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Texas cuts dividing churches, SBC executive says

From staff and wire reports
The head of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee is backing off statements in a Baptist Press (BP) story that implied conservatives should take the debate over the authority of the Bible into churches.

Morris Chapman spoke to a meeting of the new conservative Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) on Feb. 7, according to a BP story distributed on Feb. 8.

Chapman said in the story that he regretted that "some of the division is being driven into the churches."

"We worked for a long time not to even debate the authority of God's word except on the plane of the national convention," leaving the local church with the priority of teaching and preaching God's word, Chapman said.

"But I believe that time has come. And what has drawn you together is that heart's desire to see Jesus and Jesus alone."

Chapman said in a written response to questions from the Biblical Recorder that "either my sentence structure was not clear or the reporting did not clearly state what I intended to say."

"I was trying to convey that the debate on the authority of God's Word was conducted on an national and/or state convention level," he said. "What I intended to convey was that 'the adoption of the Texas-Preferred Budget for 2001 by the (Baptist General Convention of Texas) BGCT has driven division into the local church,' because it becomes a church budget issue."

Pastors at the SBCT meeting were encouraged to pledge money to the SBC in light of recent funding cuts by the BGCT. The BGCT voted in October to cut more than $5 million from the SBC Executive Committee, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and the six SBC seminaries.

In January, Chapman appealed directly to Texas pastors regarding funding for the SBC. Chapman wrote a letter asking pastors to bypass the BGCT funding changes and select an option that sends money to the SBC. The letter was in a packet sent to Texas churches.

Chapman said the BGCT cuts are "detrimental to the ongoing witness of the BGCT, the SBC, and most of all, the Kingdom of God."

"In my opinion, the Southern Baptist Convention did what it had to do in establishing, hopefully once for all, what Southern Baptists believe about the authority of God's Holy Word," he said in the letter.

In response to a question from the Biblical Recorder about what churches and church members who do not agree with the SBC leadership's position on the inerrancy of the scripture should do, Chapman said he thinks most Southern Baptists believe in inerrancy.

"Those who do not are, to my knowledge, still welcomed in Southern Baptist churches," he said.

Chapman's letter to Texas churches was accompanied by a flier demonstrating his suggestions on how churches could fill out BGCT forms to make sure money went to the SBC. The illustrations also promoted giving to the SBCT.

A former president of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) of North Carolina is playing a key role in the SBCT. Mac Brunson, who is now pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, spoke at the meeting in Arlington, Texas, which was called the SBTC's "Great Commission Partners in the Harvest Luncheon."

Brunson was one of three pastors to pledge $10,000 from their churches to the SBC to help offset potential losses from the BGCT.

Brunson, who called for shared leadership between conservatives and moderates in the BSC when he was in North Carolina, introduced Chapman and other SBC representatives at the meeting.

Brunson concluded the meeting with a reference to the influence of a church in Staunton, England, where members opposed Oliver Cromwell's attempt to rid the country of Christian influence, first attacking the seminaries. Quoting the inscription of the church cornerstone, Brunson said the church was dedicated to the glory of God as members sought to "do the best of things in the worst of times."

"In the Cooperative Program life of the SBC, it may seem like it is the worst of times, and if so, let us rise up and do the best of things," Brunson said.

In other action at the meeting, the head of the ERLC said his agency speaks for most Southern Baptists.

Richard Land, president of the ERLC, wrote a letter to U.S. Senators endorsing the nomination of John Ashcroft as U.S. attorney general on behalf of "a majority ... of Southern Baptists."

"No one presumes to speak for all Southern Baptists, but we do presume to speak for the majority of Southern Baptists," Land said.

Land told the SBTC audience he was once asked by a reporter whether it is confusing to go to Washington and find the ERLC bringing "the Baptist perspective" while the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs is also claiming to bring "the Baptist perspective." In addition, the reporter said, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship claims to represent the Baptist perspective.

"I find in Washington they're less confused than anywhere else because everyone who holds office in Washington got there by holding an election. Not everyone in the district voted for them, just the majority," Land said.

He said the government representatives in Washington know that "the majority spoke for us for more than two decades," referring to Southern Baptist Convention support for ERLC and its predecessor, the Christian Life Commission. "They know the ERLC speaks for Southern Baptists when the Southern Baptist Convention has spoken," he said in a reference to resolutions and doctrinal statements approved by messengers.

Land said he anticipates increased activity on the part of conservative evangelicals in Washington.

"We've got a president who feels our pain, the pain of being mocked and ridiculed by the media and the cultural elites," he said. "You know, and I know, it's a mighty healing balm when you've been ridiculed and mocked and caricatured by power elites of this culture for the president of the United States to stand up and say he's on your side."

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by | with 0 comments

BSC candidates hold various views : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by Steve DeVane

BSC candidates hold various views : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

BSC candidates hold various views

By Steve DeVane
BR Managing Editor
The six candidates for the Baptist State Convention's (BSC) top three offices share some similarities, but also have differences, according to their responses to a series of written questions asked by the Biblical Recorder.

The candidates were asked to answer eight questions, each in 100 words or less. The full responses of the candidates will be printed in the Nov. 1 issue of the Recorder and in a special edition that will be available at the BSC annual meeting in Winston-Salem next month.

All six say they will in some way try to work with people on the other side of the theological aisle.

Two of the candidates, David Horton and Brian Davis, indicated in their responses that they consider themselves conservatives. David Hughes, Raymond Earp and Ken Massey said they are moderates.

Phyllis Foy did not indicate whether she considers herself a conservative or a moderate, but she has been endorsed by Conservative Carolina Baptists.

Horton, pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Greensboro, decided to run for BSC president rather than seeking a second term as BSC second vice president. He said he thinks it would do the BSC good to "see some fresh faces alongside those who have served the convention so faithfully."

"North Carolina Baptists know my track record in working with other Baptists who are different than me," Horton said. "I will work with other officers and committees to see that a variety of Baptists are represented who desire to carry on the purposes of the BSC in a manner that honors Christ."

David Hughes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and a candidate for BSC president, said he worked for the passage of the "shared leadership" proposal several years ago and remains committed to the idea that conservatives and moderates can work together.

"As convention president, I will seek a balance in 'moderates' and 'conservatives' appointed for leadership," he said. "I will seek through word and deed to cultivate an environment of mutual respect and fairness."

Earp, who is running for first vice president, said he was disappointed that the shared leadership plan failed.

"I feel that for the sake of the convention both groups must work together to listen and to respect each other," he said. "I will work toward that goal."

Foy, who is also seeking the office of first vice president that is now held by her husband, said she is for unity.

"I am for anything that will bring us together, that will not cause us to take our eyes off the Lord's leadership," she said. "I believe we can accomplish far greater service together."

Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in East Flat Rock, said he would take steps to ensure "that the most qualified and cooperative men and women in Baptist life would have opportunities to serve our convention." He also said he'd like to see younger people involved.

Massey said he'd like to see people nominated based on their maturity and their track record of commitment to the BSC and Christ.

"I believe we should elect persons who are willing to work across 'party lines,'" he said.

In responses that might surprise some, all three conservative candidates indicated some level of support for Plan C, the only one of the BSC's four giving options that sends money to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Two of the moderate candidates, Hughes and Massey, indicated they would favor changes to the current system. Earp said the plans are important.

Hughes said that even thought he has supported the giving plans in the past, the BSC's current financial crisis shows that the BSC's budget system is broken.

"Whether in multiple plans or in one unified plan, our budget must allocate adequate funds for our state convention to address the growing needs of North Carolina Baptists and protect the right of North Carolina Baptists to give to the SBC or CBF as they choose."

Horton said his stance on Plan C is best reflected by the report of a study committee that found that Plan C does not violate the BSC constitution.

The committee's report was in response to a motion from last year's BSC meeting.

Foy said she wishes N.C. Baptists could agree on a unified plan. "But if the four giving plans that we presently have, including Plan C, will keep us together, then I am for and will support them," she said.

Earp said each church has the freedom of choice in the current system.

Massey said that no matter how many giving plans the BSC has, its financial future will never be stronger that the trust and fairness of its polity. He said he supports the institutions that receive funding through plans B and C.

"I also support a renewed emphasis on unified giving for mission and ministry," he said. "I believe a prayerful reduction to two plans, and possibly one, could strengthen our common work and honor our diverse convictions."

Davis said the churches he has served have supported the BSC through plans A and D, which both send money to the SBC.

"I have respected the decisions of the messengers to previous conventions to establish additional giving plans and will continue to respect what the messengers of future conventions decide concerning all of the plans," he said.

When asked what recent BSC officer most closely resembles the way they would hope to serve, three candidates - two conservatives and a moderate - mentioned Greg Mathis. Mathis, who began a streak of conservative BSC presidents when he was elected in 1995, strongly supported the shared leadership plan that was designed to make it near certain that conservatives and moderates would have equal power.

Horton, Davis and Hughes included Mathis in their response to the question.

Horton and Davis also mentioned Mac Brunson, Mike Cummings and Jerry Pereira, the three conservative presidents elected since Mathis.

Hughes also mentioned Mike Queen, who served as BSC General Board president while Mathis was BSC president. Their efforts to cooperate became known as the "Greg and Mike Show."

Earp and Massey both named Queen as an officer who resembles the way they hope to serve. Earp also included Cummings, who was also known for his cooperative spirit.

Foy said, "I would have to say my husband, Bob Foy, because I know his heart and we share the same desire to get our convention refocused on missions and discipleship and unity."

The candidates also shared why they decided to run, what they see as the BSC biggest challenges, the reasons they think the BSC is great and the ministries they feel are "mission-critical" for the BSC.

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by Steve DeVane | with 0 comments

2004 budget reflects reality, priorities : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge

2004 budget reflects reality, priorities : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

2004 budget reflects reality, priorities

By Tony W. Cartledge
BR Editor
When a decline in contributions to and through the Baptist State Convention (BSC) led to a series of cost-cutting moves that included the elimination of 24 staff positions as of Aug. 31, Executive Director/Treasurer Jim Royston announced that decisions were based on what was most "mission critical" to the BSC. He later qualified the statement by telling the General Board that all of the convention's ministries are crucial to its mission. Cuts were made in areas whose work could most easily be absorbed by others, he said.

Those staff reductions are reflected in the new BSC budget proposal for 2004, approved Oct. 1 by the General Board. The proposed budget is 6.3 percent below the 2003 budget, and in line with actual anticipated income for 2003. The 2003 budget called for income of $37.55 million, but the 2004 version drops to $35.18 million, the lowest total since 2000, when the budget was $34 million. Following new policies approved at last year's annual meeting, the Board also approved a budget for 2005. That budget is fractionally larger at $35.68 million, though still below the 2001 budget of $35.75 million.

The N.C. Ministries portion of the budget falls almost $2 million in 2004, from $26.27 million to $24.34 million, a drop of 7.37 percent. N.C. Ministries should also receive a slightly smaller percentage of total budget income, falling from 69.97 to 69.19 percent.

The N.C. Ministries budget consists of the BSC's 68 percent share from Plans A, B and C and its 50 percent share from Plan D, plus partnership missions funds designated in Plans B, C and D.

An analysis of budget changes for 2004 reveals economic realities, as well as some shifts in "mission critical" priorities, most of them reflecting personnel cuts that have already been made. While 2003 budget figures are presented here for comparison, the amount actually received and available for distribution in 2003 will almost certainly be less than the budgeted amount. Contributions at the end of September were running 7.79 percent under budget for the first nine months of the year.

If giving for either year should surpass budget expectations, all entities would receive additional funds in line with the budget formula.

Among the BSC's affiliated agencies and institutions, budgeted expenditures for Christian Higher Education are expected to drop 6.67 percent in 2004, from $5.25 million to $4.9 million, while funding for Christian Social Services falls 6.67 percent, from $3.62 million to $3.38 million, and BSC support for convention agencies declines 5.6 percent, from $555,000 to $523,875. Although incoming dollars may decline, the designated percentage for those entities varies only slightly from the current budget.

The "General Board Groups" category, which includes most of the BSC's staff and program money, falls 13.5 percent, from $10.61 million to $9.18 million.

The budget's "Convention Special" section, which includes funds for the Ministers' Emergency Reserve, scholarships for N.C. Baptist students attending N.C. Baptist colleges and universities, the Christian Action League, and the Baptist World Alliance, drops 12.6 percent, from $1.59 million to $1.39 million.

Two budget categories grew, both as a result of rising benefits costs. Expanded annuity funds for participating staff members in BSC churches and on the General Board staff will rise from $1.55 million to $1.73 million, or 11.75 percent. The increase is due to growth in the number of participants, along with an expected decrease in matching funds from the Southern Baptist Annuity Board.

The "Convention and General Board Operations" budget, used largely to cover meeting costs, employee benefits, contingencies and base funding for Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, is set to grow 4.9 percent, from $3.1 million to $3.23 million. Some specific items decline, but the cost of employee benefits is expected to rise $305,000 despite the elimination of 24 staff positions, mainly due to increased health insurance premiums. Many retirees, including nine staff members whose positions were recently eliminated, continue to receive health insurance benefits from the BSC.

The North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) goal for 2004 falls to $2.3 million, from $2.6 million in 2004. The drop has a direct impact on N.C. Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) and Baptist Men, both of which are funded from the NCMO offering.

N.C. WMU's 2003 budget of $880,641 falls 13.2 percent, to $764,465. Budgeted income for Baptist Men drops 17.5 percent, from $699,217 to $576,898. The decrease for WMU and Baptist Men is based not only on a lower NCMO goal, but also on decreased percentages. WMU's percentage of the NCMO offering goes from 34.01 to 33.08 percent, while Baptist Men drops from 27.01 percent to 24.96 percent. The decrease reflects the loss of two staff positions each in WMU and Baptist Men.

The vacant position of medical/dental bus coordinator had previously been moved from Partnership Missions to Baptist Men. It was not officially eliminated, but no additional funding was provided for it.

A portion of the NCMO budget designated for Congregational Services will drop from $98,350 to $67,600. Most of that reappears in a new $40,000 item for "Pursuing Vital Ministries" (PVM).

PVM uses trained coaches to assist "a congregation's spiritual and strategic journey to discern and reach its full kingdom potential," according to information on the www.pursuingvitalministries.com Web site. The initiative, which Royston has promoted heavily as a means of assisting plateaued churches, also appears as a new item in the budget for "Administration-Convention Relationships and Budget." That section grows from $1.47 to $1.52 million, thanks mainly to a $210,700 new item for PVM. Some of the PVM funds are new, while others are being transferred from the Congregational Services group.

The operating budget for the Hollifield Leadership Center falls 22.4 percent, from $353,286 to $273,978. When convention officials promoted the purchase of the Hollifield Center in 2000, they expressed hope that it would become self-supporting within three to five years. The 2005 budget calls for an additional 22.2 percent decline in BSC support, to $212,378. George Bullard, former director of the Hollifield Leadership Center and current associate executive director, said "this keeps Hollifield on target to require only the basic supplement provided to Caswell and Caraway conference centers by the end of 2006, its fifth full year of operation."

BSC funding for the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Caswell and Caraway Conference Center are set to fall 25 percent in 2004, from $100,000 to $75,000 each.

Funding for Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, the Council on Christian Higher Education (CCHE), and Woman's Missionary Union is listed in the budget under convention relationships. Income for Fruitland is expected to increase 2.5 percent due to the continued popularity of Plan D, which designates five percent to the school. Fruitland provides ministerial training for persons who do not have a college education. Its funding is expected to grow from $1.15 million to $1.17 million.

Following the elimination of its paid staff, the CCHE budget falls 65.25 percent. Most of the council's program funds remain intact, however, falling from $65,250 to $59,750, or 8.43 percent.

Among other General Board Groups, Business Services falls 8.38 percent, from $1.52 million to $1.39 million. Resource Development and Promotion declines 16.77 percent, from $1.15 million to $956,262, but picks up an additional $180,000 from a 0.006 deduction from all funded entities, to be used for Cooperative Giving promotion.

With the excision of its executive leadership layer and some shifting of responsibilities, funding for the Strategic Initiatives and Planning group falls 26.62 percent, from $616,780 to $452,574. Remaining staff members have been assigned to work with other groups but the funding, mostly related to information technology and services, remains separate for budget purposes.

Congregational Services dropped 13.1 percent, from $2.35 million to $2.05 million, with the biggest change coming on the Bible Teaching Reaching team, which goes from $845,407 in 2003 to $589,827 in 2004. The $285,580 drop reflects staff reductions and the shifting of some staff and program funds to the Discipleship Team.

The Council on Christian Life and Public Affairs, which functions under the Congregational Services umbrella, dropped 15.2 percent, from $604,757 to $513,087, due mainly to the layoff of its executive director.

Mission Growth Evangelism, the largest of the convention's groups, loses the most dollars for 2004, falling 19.6 percent, from $3.5 million to $2.82 million.

The brunt of the losses are being felt by Campus Ministry, which falls 28.2 percent, from $1.32 million to $949,444; Church Planting, down 18.1 percent, from $1.02 million to $832,825; and Partnership Missions, dropping 16.9 percent, from $503,651 to $418,533.

Most of the reductions reflect staff cuts that have already taken place.

Funding for the Evangelism and Church Growth team declines 3.4 percent, from $491,278 to $474,389. Anticipated expenditures for the team actually increase for the year, but increased revenues from the North American Mission Board and from conference fees hold the BSC share to slightly less than the previous year.

The budget proposal, though approved by the General Board, must still be affirmed or amended by messengers attending the Convention's annual meeting in Winston-Salem. Budget discussions are scheduled for Wednesday morning, Nov. 12.

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments

SEBTS president searches for new president : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by Steve DeVane

SEBTS president searches for new president : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

SEBTS president searches for new president

By Steve DeVane
BR Managing Editor
WAKE FOREST - Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's (SEBTS) new president could be a pastor, an academic or a denominational employee, the head of the search committee said.

SEBTS has been searching for a new leader since Paige Patterson left in July to become president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Patterson had led the seminary for 11 years.

Timothy D. Lewis, who serves as chairman of the committee and the SEBTS trustees, said in an interview after the trustees meeting Oct. 14 that the committee has "substantially" narrowed its search from a list of less than 50 candidates. Lewis said it's too soon to say when a president may be named.

"We're still seemingly far away," he said.

Lewis said the new president will not have to be well known in Southern Baptist circles. He said the man who takes over the reins at SEBTS could come from the pastorate, an academic setting or a denominational position.

"All of them are a little different, ... but can prepare you to be a seminary leader," he said.

Lewis said the search committee has met three times. Committee members talked with faculty and staff members about the type of person they want as president. They also got information from the school's Board of Visitors, he said.

The committee has developed a profile to help in the search, Lewis said. Among the qualities desired in the new president are:

� A proven, godly leader;

� Committed to conservative theology;

� In agreement with the school's abstract of principles and the 2000 version of the Baptist Faith and Message;

� Able to deal with students, faculty and staff;

� Familiar with funding issues and donors;

� A capable, expository preacher;

� Courageous, visionary leadership;

� A thorough understanding of the purpose of the seminary;

� A heartbeat for missions and evangelism;

� Good people skills;

� Able to represent the school;

� Able to recruit students;

� Academic achievement; and

� A supportive wife.

"He represents the school wherever he goes, to churches and in churches to prospective donors and students," Lewis said.

The characteristics listed by Lewis are similar to those suggested by Patterson in his last meeting with trustees in July.

During their meeting Oct. 14, the trustees voted unanimously to leave it to the search committee's discretion regarding how much information to provide trustees before a special called meeting to consider a candidate for president.

Lewis said the action was taken to protect the candidate, who will likely be working somewhere else when he is considered for the SEBTS position.

In other action, the trustees responded to a motion at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting asking that the school accept money from any Baptist. The response says the school will continue to follow SBC guidelines, but reserves the right to accept or reject any gift outside the Cooperative Program.

"The decision to accept or reject is based on the gift's impact on the mission of the institution in light of the beliefs set forth in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 and our effort to glorify God," the seminary statement said.

The SEBTS trustees also held two closed meetings for a total of about an hour and a half.

The trustees were also told that N.C. students attending the seminary's college program will get $1,800 a year under a bill recently passed by the N.C. General assembly. Students in the school pay tuition of $145 per credit hour, meaning a student taking 15 hours per semester pays $4,350 a year. That cost does not include room, food or other expenses.

School officials said tuition at the school will likely increase next year.

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by Steve DeVane | with 0 comments

Building Christian community : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by Norman Jameson

Building Christian community : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Building Christian community

By Norman Jameson
Special to the Recorder
When Randy Frazee was called out of the pew to the pulpit at Pantego Bible Church in Arlington, Texas, he knew "church" and theology, but he didn't know much about being a pastor.

His advice books and mentors said to grow a church he should buy land, be contemporary, expand Bible study around "life stages" and add "small groups."

Because Frazee "put better cheese in the mousetrap" Pantego attendance rose from 400 to 1,250 within four years.

And it was killing him.

Although growth was gratifying, Frazee felt alone in a crowd of lonely people. Members knew no sense of community, there was no "yield" of persons coming to faith and the church had no impact on its community.

In fact, Frazee told participants in a recent day of dialogue at Hollifield Leadership Center, "As attendance rose, involvement with the community decreased. We were too busy to have compassion on the poor."

Frazee's own experience in his hand picked small group was "horrible." When he learned by chance that his staff members were having similarly unsatisfying experiences, he knew he had to find a way to recover community - that vital hallmark of the early church.

He knew people are lonely. They come to church miles from home and find no community. There is a disconnect between the most important elements of their lives.

Finding real community

Frazee discovered real community in the rumpled frame of his unchurched neighbor, Tom, whom he found reading his newspaper in Frazee's living room one Saturday morning, drinking coffee he had prepared in Frazee's coffeepot.

Real community evolves around a sense of place, and place is found only where there is spontaneity, availability, frequency, proximity and common meals, Frazee said.

Expecting the church building to be the center point for Christian community denies the reality of those essentials, said Frazee, who has recorded his journey in The Connecting Church, published by Zondervan. When people must leave their neighborhood to come to their "community" those characteristics of "place" are all impossible.

So Frazee and his staff, at great risk to their own security, began to deconstruct what they had built in their $15 million building on their 100-acre campus, to make the focal points of their ministry the neighborhoods in which they and their members live.

Instead of adding more events at the church to increase "frequency" of being together, they eliminated all regularly scheduled evening meetings. Staff ministers are now "parish pastors" living and working in their neighborhoods. Members, too, are essentially parish pastors who minister where they live.

There is no staff member assigned the role of "pastoral care," or "evangelism" because members are living, breathing, ministering care givers and evangelizers with every foray outside their doors.

Sunday morning worship services are great gatherings of the parishes to one place for common worship. Bible study classes are organized by school neighborhoods. So people whose children attend the same schools and who live near each other, study together - consolidating their everyday world with the world of their church.

All the elements of community are enhanced when they occur in the neighborhood, when friends, neighbors and church members get their papers in the morning, walk the dog or attend a school event.

"It took seven years for this process to become a part of the DNA of the church," Frazee said. And it came at great risk. Several church leaders, aghast at the diminishing importance of multi-million dollar facilities, balked. But others had caught the vision and supported the changes.

"The real problem," he said, "is taking power from the few and giving it to the community."

Parish churches effective

Although disdained as ineffective, the parish church in small town America actually has the greatest penetration of its potential market, Frazee said, reaching 30 percent of the target population. The greatest mega church today can expect to reach only 0.5 percent of its target population.

The Connecting Church, in essence a return to neighborhood parish ministry, frees ministers to the joy of life and witness among people with whom they live. And it frees church members to the same ministry, giving them back hours to live Christ among their neighbors, rather than trying to drag those same neighbors to a church which is foreign ground to them.

Frazee said the No. 1 vacation destination in America today is to visit a "small town." Suburbia is contracting because people are lonely, searching for relationships, for community.

"Community is the only valid means to be the church," he said.

He urged Christians to consolidate the relationships in their lives, and interconnect them. You can go fishing by yourself, he said, "or you can say to your friends, 'Do any of you want to go fishing with me?'"

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by Norman Jameson | with 0 comments

Churches minister to wildfire victims : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by

Churches minister to wildfire victims : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Churches minister to wildfire victims

Baptist Press
SAN DIEGO - Two Baptist churches in San Diego County within the raging wildfires' striking distance stopped Sunday morning services Oct. 26 to evacuate and help fire victims.

First Baptist Church of Tierrasanta was saved as the fire skirted around it and First Baptist Church of Mira Mesa saw flames as close as a half-mile away.

"God intervened," said Wayne Wester, pastor of the Mira Mesa church.

The Tierrasanta church held a short prayer service the morning of Oct. 26, after TV crews in their parking lot were told to get out because the flames had jumped over the freeway and were skirting around the facility.

"We put out our sprinklers and had to leave," said Wayne Eurich, who has served as pastor of the church for the past year. "Our building is only 10 years old and we feel very fortunate God spared it. We are very fortunate that more homes weren't destroyed."

Between its first and second service, the Mira Mesa church took food planned for a pastor appreciation lunch to a nearby shelter, which was housing more than 100 fire evacuees. The church also sent tables, chairs and food distributors.

Both churches have been in the path of the Cedar Fire that had burned more than 210,000 acres and destroyed more than 880 homes in eastern San Diego County, according to a report by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as of early Oct. 29.

"So far we haven't lost any church structures but about 1,200 homes have been lost," said Dwight Simpson, director of missions for the 150 churches in the San Diego Baptist Association. "A lot of people have been disrupted from their homes."

Two other fires, the Dulzura Fire in eastern San Diego County and the Paradise Fire in the middle of San Diego County, had destroyed 83,000 acres, according to Associated Press reports.

Simpson sent an e-mail Oct. 28 asking for association pastors to volunteer as Red Cross chaplains.

"It's a real mess down here," Simpson said. "We want to help out in any way we can but most of our efforts will come in a couple of weeks when the fires have stopped and people know what they need. Right now individual churches are helping out in different ways."

Southern Baptist public safety chaplains were at the front lines of grief faced by the hundreds of families who have lost their homes, possessions, pets and even loved ones.

The fires, blamed for at least 16 deaths, had destroyed nearly 2,000 homes as of early Oct. 29. Thousands, unsure whether they will be able to return to their homes, remained in evacuation centers.

Dale Garland, a volunteer police chaplain and pastor of First Baptist Church of Fontana, said he and a fellow church staff member have been busy working with two evacuation centers providing counseling services. The church also has provided meals for evacuees at the centers.

One of the first steps when somebody has faced loss from a fire, Garland said, is to provide a "defusing."

"You just let them talk about it and give them some information about the grieving process," he said.

Greg Smith, a volunteer chaplain with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and California Division of Forestry, said he has been busy serving in the affected areas talking with families while also providing protection from looters.

"Many of the homes have been lost for I don't know how many days, but lots of the families are just now sifting through the rubble, crying, hoping to find things," Smith said.

Many people, particularly the elderly, often are in "complete shock," Smith said. Part of his role is also to help get individuals connected with the American Red Cross and other agencies that can provide clothes, food and temporary housing.

"In some cases we've gone in to find the family members and bring them out, or we've transported the people to the evacuation centers where they could make phone calls and get cared for," Smith said. "We have had a couple of deaths. People were just overwhelmed and died of a heart attack. So it's tragedy upon tragedy."

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by | with 0 comments

Ties to SBC main issue in BSC elections : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by Steve DeVane

Ties to SBC main issue in BSC elections : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Ties to SBC main issue in BSC elections

By Steve DeVane
BR Managing Editor
Political maneuvering leading up to the Baptist State Convention (BSC) annual meeting Nov. 10-12 has focused on the BSC's relationship to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Groups representing conservative and moderate N.C. Baptists made final attempts to get their message out in newsletters mailed in late October.

At issue is the primary allegiance of Baptists in the state. Are they N.C. Baptists with voluntary ties to the SBC, or are they Southern Baptists who happen to live in North Carolina?

The Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB) newsletter, the Conservative Record, deals with what its leaders see as an "anti-SBC agenda" by moderates.

Articles in the Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC) newsletter ask if churches need to have an exclusive relationship with the SBC in order to participate in the BSC.

MBNC has endorsed David Hughes for president, Raymond Earp for first vice president and Ken Massey for second vice president.

CCB has endorsed David Horton for president, Phyllis Foy for first vice president and Brian Davis for second vice president.

The CCB newsletter criticized a plan by Hughes to reduce the amount of money sent to SBC.

MBNC's newsletter featured articles by Hughes and Massey.

In his article, Hughes proposes cutting the amount sent to the SBC through the BSC's Plan A from 32 percent to 30 percent. Keeping the extra 2 percent in North Carolina would help the BSC to regain its financial stability, Hughes said.

Through September, BSC income was running about $2.16 million below budget. In August, the BSC cut 24 positions, including 15 that cost staff members their jobs.

The lead article in the Conservative Record said that Hughes' proposal "revealed an agenda that would gravely affect the relationship" of the BSC and the SBC. The article, by CCB Editorial Committee Chairman Steve Hardy, said the issue "is sure to motivate conservatives to attend" the BSC meeting.

Hardy said the proposal would mean that $500,000 to $1 million would remain in North Carolina "and out of the hands of the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board and SBC seminaries."

"This would come at a critical time when seminary enrollment is at an all time high, and the mission boards have a waiting list of those to be appointed," the article said.

Massey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Greensboro, said in his MBNC newsletter article, that even though his church gives little money to SBC causes, church members this summer worked closely and effectively with SBC employees and churches on three mission trips.

"Some brothers and sisters in our state convention want the BSC and her cooperating churches to have an exclusive relationship with the SBC," he said. "They are telling us explicitly and implicitly, that our way of cooperation is unacceptable for BSC congregations."

Massey said church members find that cooperating with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the SBC and other organizations is exhilarating.

"Churches like ours really need to know if the BSC is going to work with us or work to exclude us like the SBC," he said. "We are not demanding our way, but we do deserve a clear and honest answer to the question."

A sidebar to Hardy's article in the Conservative Record calls for conservatives to attend the BSC meeting. The moderates' agenda "is aimed at hurting the missions program of the Southern Baptist Convention," the article said.

"Those of us who love and value missions, biblical preaching and evangelism must show up to prevent moderates from achieving their goal of taking money from the SBC," the sidebar said.

Massey's article in the MBNC newsletter said his church has realized the fruitfulness of working across "denominational battle lines" and the limits of being "hardwired" to the SBC.

"We have made our choice," he said. "In November, the BSC will make hers. You should be there."

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by Steve DeVane | with 0 comments

Youth ministry leader killed in car wreck : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

October 30 2003 by

Youth ministry leader killed in car wreck : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Youth ministry leader killed in car wreck

From staff reports
EL CAJON, Calif. - Mike Yaconelli, owner and co-founder of Youth Specialties, died early Oct. 30 after being involved in a car wreck the night before.

The accident occurred outside Yaconelli's hometown of Yreka, in northern California, according to a statement released by Youth Specialties, an organization dedicated to equipping and training youth workers through events and resources.

Yaconelli was the founder and general editor of The Door (formerly The Wittenberg Door), the author of numerous books, and a contributing columnist to Youthworker journal.

"Mike was the incarnation of his book titles, Dangerous Wonder and Messy Spirituality. He lived a life of wonder and amazement at God's grace," said Tic Long, president of events at Youth Specialties. "He never claimed to be perfect; he just lived as he was - a man after God's own heart."

Yaconelli's life and work inspired thousands of people, most notably youth workers, the statement said. Perhaps his greatest contribution was his ability to encourage and inspire youth workers for almost 30 years at the National Youth Workers Convention.

Mark Oestreicher, president of Youth Specialties, recently introduced Yaconelli at the National Youth Workers Convention.

"I guess I could say he is a wonderfully complex group of seeming contradictions," Oestreicher said then. "Many of you know that Mike is extremely playful; and while many playful people are only that, Mike is a deep well - a contemplative man with a mushy pastor's heart. Mike is one of those rare people who truly lives in the upside-down kingdom of God; he values mercy, change and truth (even when it's uncomfortable) ... He's a reluctant prophet, and reminds me of Jeremiah, but more fun. In my imagination, they even look alike."

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by | with 0 comments

Biblical Recorder:Retired woman missionary to be pastor

October 30 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Biblical Recorder:Retired woman missionary to be pastor

| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life | NewsFriday, Oct. 31, 2003

By Steve DeVane

BR Managing Editor

Before Ida Mae Hays retired as an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to Brazil in 2002, she asked God to give her "a ministry in retirement."She thinks that prayer was answered Oct. 5 when Weldon Baptist Church in Weldon voted overwhelmingly to call her as pastor."I consider Weldon to be my mission field in the U.S.A.," she said in a telephone interview the day after the vote.Hays will begin her tenure as Weldon's pastor on Nov. 16. An installation service is planned for Nov. 23. She will be the first woman to serve as the church's pastor.Wayne Martin, the church's previous pastor, retired in October 2002.A Missouri native, Hays said the people at Weldon Baptist Church have been wonderful. Her call to the church came together like pieces of a puzzle, she said."I am excited," she said. "To me, it's just awesome."Edna Weeks, who led the pastor search committee, said the church is excited about having Hays as pastor."We're going to enjoy Ida Mae," Weeks said. "She's going to be good for our church and good for our association."Hays becomes the second woman pastor in North Roanoke Baptist Association. Joy Heaton is pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Enfield about 12 miles from Weldon.Hays joins at least three other women who serve as pastors of N.C. Baptist churches. At least four others serve as co-pastors.Hays and Weeks said they realize the church may face some repercussions for calling a woman as pastor.The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message says the office of pastor is limited to men. Several N.C. Baptist churches have been criticized for calling women as pastor or co-pastor.Hays has faced controversy over her ministry before. Just before she left Brazil in February 2001, the First Baptist Church of Paranoa in Brasilia, Brazil ordained her and named her pastor emeritus.In July 2001, IMB officials called her to a meeting where they questioned her for two hours, she said. As a result, IMB officials asked her to rescind her ordination and pastor emeritus title. "I informed them that I had neither the power or authority to rescind," she said.Bob Shoemake, an associate vice president with IMB, said that in September 2001, the IMB trustees adopted a statement saying the IMB does not recognize Hays' ordination or pastor emeritus title. In March 2002, the IMB gave Hays missionary emeritus status and thanked her for her service, Shoemake said.Hays said she performed pastoral duties in Brazil. She worked alongside the pastor and preached during worship services he asked. She also visited members of the church.Hays said she did not seek ordination in Brazil. The pastor of the church began asking her in 1990 if she would let the church ordain her."My pastor kept saying, 'It will enhance your ministry among us,'" she said. "I had to agree with him, but I wouldn't allow it."Hays supervised the building of more than 30 churches during her time in Brazil. A chapel at a Baptist camp is named in her honor.| Home | NewsOpinion | Baptist Life |

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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