January 13, 2005 Print Edition

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Florida Baptists pitch in after tsunamis hit

JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—Just months after mounting a comprehensive relief strategy in the aftermath of four deadly hurricanes, the Florida Baptist Convention will send $150,000 to the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) to help tsunami-devastated southern Asia where millions are homeless and desperate for help.

Hurricanes top Witness stories for 2004

JACKSONVILLE (FBW)-From surviving ferocious weather to performing heroically in the face of America’s war on terror, Florida Baptists have ministered both in the marketplace of ideas and through practical means while the world watched in 2004.

Baptist state papers choose top national stories

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—It is not possible in one article to recap all the major news from the last 12 months. But, as a review of the top issues for the year, Baptist Press polled the news staffs representing the 41 state Baptist conventions, asking each to identify 10 national stories, five SBC stories and three state convention stories that stood out in 2004.

Sanctity of Human Life focus covers variety of issues

JACKSONVILLE (FBW) — Southern Baptists across America will mark Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, January 16, mindful of recent victories in the political arena—the re-election of a pro-life president, the gain of pro-life votes in the U.S. Senate, and the introduction of key legislation touching on issues from partial-birth abortion to stem cell research and cloning.

Guest Editorial

From pulpits to news programs, from The New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, the message of the tsunami was missed. It is a double grief when lives are lost and lessons are not learned. Every deadly calamity is a merciful call from God for the living to repent. “Weep with those who weep,” the Bible says. Yes, but let us also weep for our own rebellion against the living God. Lesson one: weep for the dead. Lesson two: weep for yourselves.

Point of View

As Florida Baptists enter the year 2005, we cannot help but reflect on God’s blessings—and immense opportunities—of the past year.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor may not reflect the views or opinions of the Witness. Letters may be mailed, faxed or submitted using our online form. Only letters marked clearly for publication, signed with address will be considered for use. Letters are subject to editing. Please limit letters to 250 words.

Point of View

The second commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,” is not just designed to prohibit idolatry, but also to prohibit the profaning of the sacred. Any attempt by man to depict the divine always ends up trivializing and desecrating it. Thus, man is commanded by God to keep his hands off the sacred, lest he commit sacrilege.

Point of View

The tragedy unfolding in the Indian Ocean demands the world’s attention—and calls for a clear Christian response. In the aftermath of the disaster, some religious leaders suggested that God was simply unable to prevent the tsunamis that destroyed so many lives. Some secularists jumped on the opportunity to argue that the tragedy was further proof that God does not exist. Others simply blamed the earthquake and tidal waves on fate or claimed that God had sent the destruction as punishment for the victims’ sins.

Point of View

The occasion of a new year is a time to reflect back on the year ended—which I’m sure most Christians do with great gratitude. Many of us believe that God was with us in providing political leadership that will continue to support causes we believe so deeply in. And God has seen us through a year of war and international turmoil, a year in which we were spared further terrorist attacks.

Revivals vital for growth, convention strategist says

JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—Church and associational leaders can approach 2005 with evangelistic momentum, reaching spiritually lost residents in their communities by hosting “Consumed with Hope Harvest Revivals.”

Florida Baptists’ top African-American leader to take early retirement

JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—Sid Smith, director of the African-American Ministries Division of the Florida Baptist Convention since 1994, has requested and been granted an extended leave of absence to care for his wife who has continuing health problems.

New churches started

According to a report released by the Florida Baptist Convention’s Church Planting Department, Florida Baptists started five new churches in November and December 2004.

Former Florida convention staffer John Claude Walters dies at 78

JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—John Claude Walters, 78, former assistant executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, died Dec. 28 at Union General Hospital in Blairsville, Ga.

Special Reports