Baptists react to Hillary Clinton's VP choice of Tim Kaine

 
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, whose pro-life stands in state-level offices stand in stark contrast to a socially liberal voting record since being elected to the U.S. Senate, has been selected as the running mate of presumed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state and first lady announced her selection July 22 via text message to her supporters, The New York Times reported. Elected to the Senate in 2012, Kaine served as Virginia's governor from 2006-10 and as chairman ...

Baptist College of Florida students serve at Mississippi kids camp

 
It took four vehicles to transport two classes comprised of 10 students and two professors to one destination: Mission Camp Macon in rural Noxubee County, Miss. For the second time, missions majors and psychology majors from The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville came together for a unique interdisciplinary practicum that provided hands-on opportunities for students of both fields. Known locally as “Camp Macon,” the weeklong project has been a summer highlight for children and teens in the ...

Baptist College of Florida students minister in Portugal

 
“This was the best day ever” was the sentiment of Samuel, one of the children that the mission team from The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) had the opportunity to minister to in Lisbon, Portugal. Samuel made this declaration to his mother at the end of one of the sports camp days held at an elementary school in a Lisbon neighborhood where a church plant is being revitalized. Samuel’s mother let the team of BCF students ...

Men's & women's roles are biblical 'battle' among Southern Baptists

 
While previous generations battled over the inerrancy of God's Word, a current debate among Southern Baptists deals with the sufficiency of Scripture to define the distinct roles of women and men. "The big battleground today is not that the Scripture is inerrant and absolutely true—though that's still a battle ongoing—but among evangelicals and among Baptists the real battle today is whether Scripture is sufficient," Dorothy Patterson, a theology professor in women's studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological ...

Donald Trump promises change; Baptists remain divided

 
Donald Trump told Americans he would solve their country's problems in accepting the Republican Party's nomination for president Thursday (July 21) but appeared unable to bridge the divide over his candidacy among Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians. Trump closed the GOP convention in Cleveland with a nearly 75-minute speech in which he promised to restore law and order to the United States and to repair the "rigged" political system. "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I ...

Chuck Lawless: 12 guidelines for God-honoring dating

 
I work with young adults, many who are singles, who are dating or considering dating. When they ask my advice about dating and purity, here are some of the guidelines I recommend: 1. Don't date a non-believer. You should date only someone you might marry, and the Bible speaks against being unequally yoked with non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14)—so don't take a step in the wrong direction by dating someone who doesn't follow Jesus. 2. If you're committed to being a strong believer, ...

Failed coup leaves Turkey's Christians on edge

 
In the aftermath of a failed military coup, Christians in Turkey are likely to face increased scrutiny and more persecution, an international security expert told Baptist Press. An estimated 50,000-60,000 people—soldiers, police, judges, prosecutors, civil servants and teachers—have been fired or detained since the July 15 coup attempt, according to news reports. The coup is widely seen as move by elements of the military opposed to the increased political influence of Islam in the constitutionally secular country. ...

Mike Pence makes case for Trump; Ted Cruz: 'Vote your conscience'

 
Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence made a social conservative's case for Donald Trump on the Republican National Convention's third day, but the GOP runner-up--Texas Sen. Ted Cruz--grabbed the spotlight by refusing to endorse his party's nominee. Pence, 57, accepted the Republican nomination for vice president Wednesday evening (July 20) and offered reasons the lightning-rod billionaire should be trusted over presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The Indiana governor made his case, however, after a wave of boos ushered Cruz off the stage in ...

Longtime Pensacola pastor Alton Butler dies at 90

 
Alton Butler, 90, pastor of Myrtle Grove Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., from 1963-93, died July 9. He served as president of the Florida Baptist State Convention in 1984, and on the boards of trustees of Stetson University in DeLand and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Butler's additional Florida Baptist State Convention service included serving on the State Board of Missions 1968-71, 1977-80 and as chairman 1978-79; Committee on Nominations 1966, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1987, and as chairman 1989; and Committee on Order of ...

Longtime Florida Baptist Convention contract worker Wayne Goff dies

 
Wayne B. Goff, 78, of Punta Gorda, Fla., died July 16 after a brief illness with pancreatic cancer. He was a longtime contract worker for the Florida Baptist Convention. Prior to his service as a contract worker with the Convention’s Stewardship and Sunday School departments, Goff served as first vice-president of the Florida Baptist State Convention in 1998-99; a member of the Committee on Nominations in 2000 and 2001; and from 1989-1997 served as a trustee on the SBC Home Mission ...

Ben Carson invokes the devil in support of Donald Trump

 
Donald Trump officially became the Republican Party's presidential nominee Tuesday (July 19) on a day when the devil was invoked at the GOP convention as part of a reason not to vote for his Democratic opponent. The controversial billionaire easily passed the 1,237 votes needed to secure the nomination during a state-by-state roll call, ending a divisive, even bitter, campaign season among Republicans. In what was a foregone conclusion, Trump won with 1,725 delegates, easily surpassing other GOP candidates who had suspended their ...

GOP passes pro-life, conservative platform

 
The Republican National Convention approved a strongly conservative platform—including what was described as its most pro-life stance ever—on an opening day marked by charges of plagiarism and a failed effort by delegates opposed to Donald Trump. Voting Monday (July 17) in Cleveland, GOP delegates endorsed a platform that supports biblical/traditional marriage and the right to life of unborn children while opposing the Obama administration's new transgender directive to public schools. In incidents that demonstrated the continuing ...

Baptist College of Florida conducts 2nd Elevate! Worship Arts Camp

 
Building upon the exciting weeklong music and worship arts camp held on The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) campus last year, 39 motivated campers and 15 faculty members from across Florida and neighboring states participated in the second-annual Elevate! Worship Arts Camp July 11-15. Just as the camp title implies, middle school and high school students engaged in worship experiences to lift up the Lord in worship and to elevate or increase their abilities to lead and participate in worship through singing, ...

Florida Baptist pastor applauds McDonald's for filtering porn

 
The McDonald's corporation's decision to filter pornography from Wi-Fi at its U.S. restaurants has been called "brave and bold" by the leader of Southern Baptists' anti-pornography campaign. "I applaud McDonald's for this brave and bold step of protecting people, especially children, from the evil that hovers over every place that offers Wi-Fi," Jay Dennis, co-sponsor of the Join One Million Men Campaign, told Baptist Press in written comments. "McDonald's wisely understood and acted upon the fact that pornography is ...

Study: Most Americans don't think changing genders is morally wrong

 
Most Americans see nothing morally wrong with gender change, a study released July 14 shows. Six in 10 Americans don't think it's wrong for people to identify with a gender different from their birth sex, according to a LifeWay Research survey conducted Sept. 14-28, 2015. And more than half don't think it's wrong to switch genders by taking hormones or having surgery. The findings indicate most Americans don't see moral significance in being born male or female, said Scott McConnell, executive director of ...

Pokémon Go craze drawing gamers to church

 
Pastor Dave Dolphin knew little about Pokémon Go before seeing his church's middle school pastor surrounded by several boys with phones out last Sunday discovering the new phenomenon that would capture the world's imagination during the coming week. It wouldn't be the last time Dolphin, the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church of Yukon, Okla., would see people wandering around the church property staring at smartphones. As a Pokémon Go "gym," the church has become a ...

Florida Baptists among those serving W.Va. flood survivors

 
Three weeks after historic flooding in West Virginia, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers continue to serve survivors as they begin the long process of recovery. Southern Baptists are serving in the Charleston, W.Va., area in Kanawha County along the Elk River. SBDR volunteers, including members from the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia (SBCV), manned one of three feeding kitchens in the state. Heritage Baptist Church in Elkview hosted one kitchen that had prepared more than 63,000 meals as of ...

Terror attack in Nice spawns prayer, questions

 
A terrorist attack yesterday (July 14) in Nice, France, that left at least 84 people dead has prompted calls for prayer as well as speculation on the role Islamic extremism may have played. International Mission Board spokeswoman Julie McGowan told Baptist Press the IMB does not discuss the location of its personnel "due to security considerations for IMB personnel and the national believers with whom they work." But McGowan noted, "However, with any breaking news event, we are in contact with anyone ...

Donald Trump chooses Mike Pence as running mate

 
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has selected a social conservative—Indiana Gov. Mike Pence—as his running mate. Trump announced his vice presidential choice in a tweet Friday (July 15) and said he would hold a news conference regarding his decision July 16, two days before the Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland. The brash billionaire's choice likely will be interpreted as an effort to help him gain votes from evangelicals and other conservatives—some who have proven ...

Florida Department of Corrections sees benefits of faith-based programs

 
The Florida Department of Corrections has recognized the value that faith-based programs bring to inmates and has designated certain facilities and dorms as “faith and character-based.” Kim Riley, chief of Bureau of Readiness and Community Transition, said the programs are designed to reduce recidivism and disciplinary infractions and promote pro-social behaviors. There are three faith and character-based institutions and 12 faith and character-based dorms across the state. During 2014-15, 12,000 inmates were enrolled in one of the programs. Riley said ...

Florida disaster relief volunteers shine light of Christ in flood-ravaged West Virginia

 
The elderly woman was still grieving the death of her husband when torrential rains June 23 flooded her West Virginia home. Consumed by her own sorrow and resentment, she was unable to respond to the devastation within her own house. When Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers arrived there a week after the historic flood, the widow appeared distrustful and bitter, volunteers reported. But as the team pulled out muddy carpet and unsalvageable furniture, disinfected contents and cut away moldy sheetrock, they ...

Calvary Clearwater takes unique approach to recruiting prison ministry mentors

 
Most churches that do prison ministry will tell you that recruiting volunteers can be a challenge. At the same time, some people are better suited for prison ministry than others. First Touch Mission at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla., takes a unique approach to volunteer recruitment for the very hands-on ministry it does with women who are newly released from prison and transitioning back into society. When the ministry identifies an inmate who will come to live in the ...

New Russian religion law said to 'undercut' missions and evangelism

 
A new Russian law that prohibits evangelism and preaching outside state-sanctioned sites reminds New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor Jake Roudkovski of his days as a youth in the Soviet Union. "Baptist churches in Russia will survive" the law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin July 6 and set to take effect July 20, Roudkovski, associate professor of evangelism and pastoral leadership, told Baptist Press. Such oppression "is nothing new to them. ... They will stay faithful to the Gospel." Still, the law "...

Canadian church plant seizes opportunity in Catholic sanctuary

 
In a place steeped in religious history, a Southern Baptist church plant in Canada's Quebec City is redefining what church looks like for a local community and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ among North America's most unreached people group. In 2005, Église Communautaire Mosaïque was founded in downtown Quebec City, Quebec, one of the poorest parts of the city and also one of the most spiritually impoverished places in Canada. With evangelical Christians making up less than 1 ...

David Jeremiah: A solid investment

 
Millions of us have experienced the uncertainty of creating a solid investment portfolio as the stock market rises and falls like a rollercoaster. Individual investors, senior citizens with mutual funds, charitable institutions with endowments, and most people who have a pension plan—have all suffered from the fragile and fluctuating world economy. Not even the experts know what to do. "One of the funny things about the stock market," said the American publisher William Feather, "is that every time ...

Perry Noble's termination reignites alcohol debate among Baptists

 
Alcohol consumption has jumped back into Baptist discussions, this time stirred by the termination of a high-profile pastor. Perry Noble's removal as senior pastor of the multi-campus NewSpring Church in South Carolina was communicated to members and attendees during Sunday worship services, July 11. "Perry's posture towards his marriage, increased reliance on alcohol and other behaviors were of continual concern," according to a statement by NewSpring's board of directors and pastor advisory team that was read aloud. "While this is the ...

Dallas shootings yield 'beginning of revival'

 
Holding interracial prayer gatherings, ministering to grieving police officers in the emergency room and hosting a question-and-answer session with police are among the ways Dallas-area Southern Baptists have responded to the violent killings of five police officers last week. The July 7 assassinations, apparently committed by a suspect who reportedly told police he wanted to kill white people, occurred within days of police killing two black civilians under questionable circumstances -- Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile of ...

Bill Nye tours Ark Encounter, hears Gospel from Ken Ham

 
When evolutionist Bill Nye "the science guy" visited a life-size replica of Noah's Ark in northern Kentucky, he wanted to learn how children were reacting to what he has called a danger to science education. By the time he left the Ark Encounter theme park, he had also learned the story of Christ's atoning death on the cross for humanity's sins, Ark Encounter's chief executive, Ken Ham, told Baptist Press, underscoring the park's value as an evangelistic tool. Nye "wanted ...

Dallas-area pastor: Weeping with those who weep

 
Although I live only 10 miles from downtown Dallas, I'm rarely there. But last night, of all nights, I was. I was just a couple of miles south of Dallas when the shootings took place and had to make my way back through the city to return home as the situation continued to unfold. The city looked unlike I had ever seen it. The streets were shut down, blue and red lights reflected off the buildings, and the sky was filled ...

Violence brings cry for 'true way of our Lord'

 
The collision of fear and mistrust have driven the violence upon violence that killed two black civilians and five police officers in three separate states in as many days, Southern Baptist pastor Lee Wesley told Baptist Press. "There is a fear on the part of police officers when they go into the black community, and that fear heightens their approach to these problems," said Wesley, whose pastorate Community Bible Baptist Church is in Baton Rouge, La., where two white police ...

Tommy Green: Global hunger relief unifies to make eternal difference

 
This month, Florida Baptists are observing and responding to the Baptist Global Hunger Relief offering. The offering provides a tangible way to respond to the hunger crisis. I am grateful that Florida Baptists are proactive in our desire to provide food to our neighbors in the name of Jesus. This offering enables resources to be disbursed in Florida, North America and internationally to meet this pressing need. This offering is a collaborative effort between the Florida Baptist Convention, North American ...

Replica of Noah's Ark in Kentucky opens to public

 
Thousands of supporters and media descended on the rural town of Williamstown, Ky., earlier this week for the ribbon cutting of a life-sized replica of Noah's Ark. The Ark Encounter theme park opens to the public today (July 7). "If it floods again, will it float?" a reporter shouted out during a July 5 press conference as dark clouds rolled across the sky over the property off I-75. "I've had many people in the media ask me if it will float, and ...

'I was born this way' countered by seminary professor

 
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Alan Branch has a friend whose brother explained his decision to embrace a homosexual lifestyle by stating, "I have a male body, but I have a female brain. That's why I'm attracted to men." Branch, professor of Christian ethics, classifies that pronouncement as a version of the increasingly common argument that homosexual acts are morally legitimate because homosexuality is "hard-wired into who [some people] are from birth." As Branch sees it, the argument has been ...

Sports film seeks 1 Corinthians 10:31 movement

 
The struggles of a Christian high school girls' cross country track team are used to discourage self-centeredness in "Remember the Goal," the latest release of brothers Dave and Rich Christiano and Five & Two Pictures. The limited-release film highlights 1 Corinthians 10:31, exhorting "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God," and drawing from the personal cross country competition and coaching experiences of Dave Christiano, the movie's writer, director and producer. "That one verse alone takes your eyes off self ...

Video highlights Southern Baptists' annual meeting in St. Louis

 
A video released today (July 6) by immediate past Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd condenses 17 hours of proceedings from the June 14-15 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis into a 20-minute highlight reel. "This video may be just a personal blessing to you or something you may want to share with your church or through social networking," Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, wrote in a blog post announcing the video. "To God's glory, we left St. Louis ...

Myriah Snyder: A Father to the fatherless

 
The other morning on my commute, the song "Piece by Piece" by Kelly Clarkson played. It's a popular song, which I hear on the radio multiple times a day. The song begins by telling the story of a daughter whose father wouldn't love her, at least not when she had nothing to offer. She remembers her father walking away. She begged him to want her. He wouldn't. When she grew up and "made something" of herself, he then wanted to ...

Registration open to preview LifeWay's 2017 VBS

 
Registration is open for Vacation Bible School leaders to preview "Galactic Starveyors," the 2017 VBS theme from LifeWay Christian Resources. LifeWay will host preview events in three locations in January to provide leaders hands-on experience with the backyard astronomy theme. "Galactic Starveyors" will prompt kids to look skyward and discover the Creator of the universe, said Rhonda VanCleave, LifeWay's VBS publishing team leader. "You see the stars and moon and you realize the God who created the universe is even bigger, ...

Iowa churches counter gender identity law

 
Two Iowa churches say the Iowa Civil Rights Commission's interpretation of a state civil rights law could force them to open restrooms to members of the opposite sex and inhibit their ability to teach biblical truth about gender. One of the churches, Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in Des Moines, filed a lawsuit in federal court July 4. The other, Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City, sent a demand letter to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission July 5 asking the Commission ...

Black church conference to focus on leadership, family

 
A concurrent spiritual retreat, leadership development week and a family vacation characterize the Southern Baptist 2016 Black Church Leadership and Family Conference July 11-15 at Ridgecrest, N.C. Southern Baptists from across the U.S. will be encouraged to Launch, Engage and Advance into their Destiny, as is the conference theme, drawn from Nehemiah 4:14, said Mark Croston, national director of Black Church Partnerships for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. "The 2016 Black Church Leadership and Family Conference is ...

Cuban believers make disciples in Ecuador

 
The first Cuban Baptist international missionary couple under the Western Cuba Baptist Convention's Cubans to the Nations initiative has started an evangelical Bible study in an area where there had been none. The missions theme of the convention, "Christ's disciples making disciples," has taken root in South America. About two years ago, International Mission Board missionary Johnny Maust began arranging for partnering mission teams from the U.S. to have lunch at Lupita Diner in Montalvo, Ecuador. He had befriended ...

Zika bill stalled over Planned Parenthood funding

 
A bill that would provide emergency funding to combat the Zika virus is stalled in the U.S. Senate in large part because Democrats object to provisions limiting the amount of Zika funding that could be distributed to Planned Parenthood. After bipartisan negotiations on the bill halted last month, Republicans put forward a bill that appropriates $1.1 billion to combat Zika, which is expected to spread in the continental U.S. this summer following a wave of infections in Latin America. ...

Cooperative Program contributions 5.22 percent above projection

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 5.22 percent above the year-to-date SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget projection, and are 2.88 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Frank S. Page. The year-to-date total represents money received by the Executive Committee by the close of the last business day of June and includes receipts ...

Florida churches use food pantries to ease hunger, share Gospel

 
In Florida, one in six people struggles with at least one of the following: having access to enough healthy food for every family member, having limited or uncertain availability to nutritionally adequate foods, or needing to make trade-offs between basic needs -- like housing or health care -- and food purchases. That statistic, by Feeding America, a network of food banks and food pantries across the nation, may be surprising to some, given that hunger is not a topic often ...

Diana Davis: Go, mow and glow

 
Here's a wildly successful ministry idea that happened a few weeks ago. Living Faith Indy, a church plant in Indianapolis, loaded a trailer with a riding lawnmower and some push mowers, edgers, blowers and brooms. The group prayed, asking God's direction for where to begin, then hauled the equipment to one of the modest neighborhoods near their church plant. They found a parking place for their trailer and began to go house to house, asking permission to mow each home's ...

Frank Page: The stewardship of democracy

 
On the second Tuesday of November, I plan to step up to the electronic ballot table in my voting precinct and cast my vote for president of the United States. I will do so prayerfully. I will do so carefully. I will do so gladly. I may do so sadly. But, Lord willing, I will do so. This has been my pattern during the years of my adult life and I see no reason to change. Unlike billions of people ...

Report details humanitarian crisis in Nigeria

 
Boko Haram violence has created a multifaceted humanitarian crisis in Nigeria that the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative (21CWI) and former Congressman Frank R. Wolf describe as the "gravest" in the world. The assessment is based on the 21CWI June report "Nigeria: Fractured and Forgotten" taken from onsite research conducted in 10 states in northern and middle Nigeria in 2016. Malnutrition, the lack of educational opportunities for nearly a million children, and what the 21CWI described as perhaps the second-largest number of internally ...

Baptist leaders decry transgender troop ban repeal

 
The Obama administration's decision to allow openly transgender people to serve in the U.S. military has been classified by Southern Baptist leaders with military ties as "deluded," "disastrous" and a step toward self-inflicted "national weakness." Military chaplains endorsed by the North American Mission Board, along with other Christian chaplains, appear to be "in the crosshairs of this new policy," NAMB executive director of chaplaincy Douglas Carver told Baptist Press, noting religious liberty concerns. The new policy was announced June 30 ...

Mississippi religious freedom bill struck down

 
A bill that would have safeguarded the religious liberty of individuals and organizations who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings or gender identity transitions was stuck down by a U.S. district judge Thursday night (June 30), hours before the bill was slated to take effect July 1. The law "does not advance the interest the State says it does," Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in his 60-page ruling, which issued a preliminary injunction against the measure. "Under the guise of providing additional ...

'The biggest threat to Christian higher education in the history of the United States of America'

 
The religious liberty of California's faith-based colleges hangs in the balance in the state legislature. The State Assembly is considering a bill -- already approved by the Senate -- that Christian and other religious universities and colleges say would eliminate their religious freedom and that of their students. The legislation, Senate Bill 1146, affects any "postsecondary educational institution that receives, or benefits from, state financial assistance or enrolls students who receive state student financial aid" and would limit a religious exemption ...

'We the People' stirs Kentucky state legislator's loyalty

 
Only a few people recognized the words written more than 150 years ago when David Floyd read them at Bardstown (Ky.) Baptist Church during a God and Country emphasis. Citing a call to "public humiliation, prayer and fasting" to be observed by all Americans, the state representative and military veteran shared these words of proclamation to his church: "Whereas it is fit and becoming in all people at all times to acknowledge and revere the supreme government of God, to bow ...

Teen abstinence rate up 28 percent since 1991

 
The number of American high schoolers who have never had sexual intercourse has increased by 28 percent since 1991, according to data recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The finding was hailed by advocates of abstinence-based sexual education -- also known as Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education -- as proof the message of delayed sexual activity is catching on with teens. "I think this data is very clear," said Valerie Huber, president and CEO of Ascend (formerly the ...

Survey: Pastors favor patriotism for July Fourth services

 
Americans who attend a Protestant worship service the week of July Fourth are likely to get a good dose of God and country. Six in 10 Protestant pastors (61 percent) say it's important for Fourth of July worship services to incorporate patriotic elements to celebrate America, according to a survey by LifeWay Research. And while they plan to celebrate the birth of the nation, more than half (53 percent) agree their congregation sometimes seems to love America more than God. Most of the 1,000 ...

Jimmy Draper, Jerry Vines support pastors' counsel to Donald Trump

 
Uphold love and unity in conduct and conversations regarding the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, former Southern Baptist Convention presidents Jimmy Draper and Jerry Vines urged in an open letter to Southern Baptists. Negative reactions to the attendance of several noted Southern Baptists at a June 21 New York meeting of 1,000 evangelical leaders with Donald Trump precipitated the letter, the two wrote. "Disagreements with fellow believers should be private and not unleashed in the hands of an often hostile press that does ...

Emanuel massacre prompting change a year later

 
Labor pains of change are noted in Charleston, S.C., a former slave-trading port where the government flew the Confederate flag until a white supremacist killed nine black church worshippers a year ago. Southern Baptist leaders in Charleston and the widower of a victim told Baptist Press they are seeing the early fruit of improved race relations after the June 17, 2015, massacre at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Emanuel AME) in the heart of the city. Anthony Thompson, whose 59-year-old ...

Russian law would restrict evangelism

 
A Russian law that would place significant limits on Christian evangelism has drawn opposition from the International Mission Board, U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse and a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor. Passed by both houses of Russia's parliament within the past week and awaiting President Vladimir Putin's signature, the bill has been called "a step toward an Iron Curtain" by an opposition leader, The Los Angeles Times reported. According to Christianity Today, the measure would require that citizens who ...

IMB: Ramadan attacks reflect need for Christians to pray

 
Two terror attacks in Turkey during Ramadan have marked the Islamic holy month with violence and chaos. Terrorists opened fire at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul late Tuesday (June 28) before detonating explosives, killing 43 people and injuring more than 200. Three weeks earlier, a car bomb tore through a crowded area of Istanbul during the height of morning rush hour, killing 11 people and wounding dozens more. Almost immediately after the June 7 attack, Turks and others began venting their grief and frustration on Twitter. ...

FBC Orlando marks 15 years of service at Baptist College of Florida

 
Sacrificing their vacation time and resources to serve on The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) campus, the 80-member-strong volunteer mission team from the First Baptist Church in Orlando has made the trip to Graceville every summer for the past 15 years. Committed, motivated, full of energy and absolutely delightful, these servant volunteers pressure wash, remodel buildings, paint, remove carpet, lay tile and trim shrubs in preparing the campus for the next semester with the theme, “Whatever you do, work heartily, ...

Florida Baptist pastor contributes to new NAMB blog

 
Southern Baptist pastors looking to equip their churches in evangelism have a new tool to employ. The North American Mission Board has launched a blog to bring attention to "evergreen" principles that are working in some of the most evangelistic Southern Baptist churches in North America. Church leaders can already find content on a variety of topics related to these principles on the Your Church on Mission blog, including developing an evangelistic culture, encouraging your people to bring guests, engaging ...

Jessica Pigg: Modesty–beyond the fig leaves

 
Modesty is an out-of-style word that makes lots of people cringe, even in the church. Debates about modesty have divided believers for years. No matter how long you search, the Bible has no list of do's and don'ts pertaining to modesty. There isn't a skirt length or style listed for all Christian women to wear. Modesty isn't a list of rules; it is a reflection of our hearts. Fig leaves were the first clothing ever worn by man and woman. ...

Study: Unchurched will talk about faith

 
Americans who don't go to church are happy to talk about religion and often think about the meaning of life, according to a new study released today (June 28). They're also open to taking part in community service events hosted at a church or going to a church concert, the research revealed. But only about a third say they'd be interested in going to a worship service, and few think about what happens after they die. Those are among the findings ...

Collegiate ministries evolve into multiplying churches

 
Channeling college students' zeal for Christ drew the focus of two panel discussions held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis. The purpose of the panels, which took place on the Cooperative Program stage in the exhibit hall at America's Center, showcased missions and ministry funded by the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists' unified giving channel. "I've never been more encouraged about the future of the church," said Keith Weiser of Resonate Church in Pullman, Wash., ...

Pastor saw spiritual side of Pat Summitt

 
Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history who professed her faith in Christ four years ago through baptism, died today (June 28) at age 64 after a five-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. Summitt, coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team from 1974-2012, was a member of Faith Promise Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Knoxville, Tenn. Her pastor, Chris Stephens, told Knoxville's NewsTalk 98.7 June 27 she would "probably pass into heaven in the next few days." Stephens led listeners ...

Ronnie Floyd: Spiritual leaders & the election

 
I give my full and complete endorsement to Jesus Christ. My 100 percent trust is in God alone, our Sovereign King. I agree with the late Adrian Rogers, who said, "We dare not identify the Christian faith with the Democrat or Republican party. We need to be free to tell both parties to repent and get right with God."[1] I would add what I shared on June 14 with the Southern Baptist Convention, "The church cannot call America to repent until the ...

Florida Baptists among those responding to West Virginia flooding

 
Heavy rains on June 23 brought historic flooding to West Virginia, claiming at least 24 lives and 100 homes. Search and rescue continued on Sunday (June 26), where state and federal officials declared disaster areas. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leaders and volunteers have been working in the wake of the storm to aid survivors and comfort those facing the loss of family and loved ones. Several state SBDR units were mobilized Saturday (June 25). “The strength of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is our ...

Supreme Court strikes down abortion provider regulations

 
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Monday (June 27) a state legislature's effort to hold abortion providers responsible for the protection of women who use their services. In a 5-3 opinion, the high court ruled that portions of a Texas law regulating abortion doctors and clinics constitute an "undue burden" on a woman's right to abort her child and are therefore unconstitutional. The high court's reversal of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans invalidated requirements that an ...

South Florida church tackles community’s hunger

 
It’s Saturday morning in South Florida. Come rain or shine, dozens of cars snake slowly around the parking lot of Hollywood Community Church. When the morning ends, as many as 100 families facing hunger will have crisscrossed the church grounds to receive a box jam-packed with non-perishable food items, loaves of bread and meat. They are greeted with smiles and words of encouragement by volunteers serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in that inner-city community. ...

Florida pastors participate in LifeWay panel on leading change in church

 
Leading change in a church can be difficult and must be navigated with prayer, love and patience, pastors acknowledged in a panel discussion held during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis. LifeWay Christian Resources hosted more than 800 church leaders for a free breakfast and discussion on "Leading Change in the Church." LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer unpacked three things most leaders forget to do when leading change: begin with prayer, pray with a guiding coalition, ...

Brexit vote draws response from Baptist analysts

 
Though the United Kingdom's vote yesterday (June 23) to leave the European Union took many political observers by surprise, leaders at GuideStone Financial Resources and the Southern Baptist Foundation say they've had the referendum in view for months and have taken steps to protect Southern Baptist investors from the resultant market volatility. Meanwhile, Christian commentators on both sides of the Atlantic have weighed in on the "Brexit" -- as Britain's E.U. exit has been dubbed -- with opinions divided and ...

Mosque-building satirical rumor about SBC exposed as lie

 
A rumor promulgated by satirical news-like websites and blogs that the Southern Baptist Convention and at least one cooperating state convention are building Islamic mosques is being exposed as a lie. The self-proclaimed "Christian apocalyptic … news satire and parody site" The End Times wrote perhaps the first posting of the false report as early as May 28 when it claimed the SBC had launched a "Mosques Across America" campaign "to build mosques all across the nation in order to help ...

ERLC, Focus on the Family help St. Louis pregnancy center

 
Abortion-minded women in St. Louis have a new opportunity to learn the truth about their unborn children thanks in part to Southern Baptists. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), announced the placement of a sonogram machine with Thrive St. Louis during the denominational entity's presentation at the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting. The gift through the ERLC's Psalm 139 Project, in partnership with Focus on the Family, will equip the ministry's new mobile center with ...

Pastors & politics considered by 9Marks panel

 
The "moral formation" and unity of the church are two vital considerations for a pastor in guiding God's people during a disturbing presidential election season, attendees were told at the first of two 9Marks panel discussions held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis. SBC entity heads and a pastor assessed the convention and its proceedings during a second 9Marks discussion the following evening. The sessions were sponsored by 9Marks, a church health ministry based ...

Scott McConnell to lead LifeWay Research

 
Scott McConnell has been named executive director of LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based evangelical firm specializing in surveys about faith in culture and matters affecting the church. McConnell, 45, succeeds Ed Stetzer, who will join Wheaton College's faculty July 1 as The Billy Graham Distinguished Endowed Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism in addition to serving as executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at the Chicago-area college. McConnell has been a researcher for LifeWay Christian Resources for nearly 20 years, generating ...

Pro-lifers protest requiring churches to cover abortions

 
Pro-life advocates are protesting a new Obama administration decision that permits the state of California to force even churches to cover abortions in their health insurance plans. The criticisms, and calls for Congress to defend conscience protections, came after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced June 21 it had rejected complaints from churches and others that California had violated federal law by requiring their health plans to pay for elective abortions. The Obama administration "is once again making ...

NAMB trustees celebrate Send Relief launch

 
Trustees of the North American Mission Board met June 13 and approved the entity's 2017 budget, voted on several recommendations, heard reports on NAMB's church planting efforts and celebrated the launch of Send Relief. In his report to trustees, NAMB President Kevin Ezell noted highlights from NAMB's launch of its Send Relief compassion ministry in conjunction with the SBC's annual meeting in St. Louis, June 14-15. NAMB also hosted a June 13 luncheon attended by 3,000 during the SBC Pastors' Conference and helped coordinate ...

Midwestern Seminary launches Center for Public Theology

 
The new Center for Public Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary aims to equip the church "for theological engagement in a fallen order and a secularizing public square," as described by MBTS President Jason Allen. Allen has named Owen Strachan as the center's director. Strachan, 35, joined Midwestern Seminary's faculty as associate professor of public theology in June 2015. He is the author or coauthor of eight books and has served as president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood since 2014. ...

'Insanity of God' shows faith amid despair

 
Nik Ripken almost abandoned hope when he first arrived in Somalia 25 years ago. Ripken, then a young International Mission Board (IMB) missionary, had caught a ride with the Red Cross in a small plane carrying relief supplies across the border between Kenya and its war-ravaged neighbor. What he saw shook him to the core. He met parents who asked for burial cloths for the children they'd lost rather than food and water for themselves and saw soldiers passing out narcotics ...

Baptist 21 panelists call for 'Gospel intentionality'

 
Southern Baptists must sacrifice traditions that hinder biblical unity and intentionally seek new ways to approach missions and evangelism, said panelists at the eighth-annual Baptist 21 luncheon June 14, during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis. J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., told moderator Jon Akin that he attributed the denominational decline in baptisms to a "loss of evangelistic intentionality," in addition to the lack of reporting churches. "In the churches it can't ...

Ronnie Floyd, Robert Jeffress among new Donald Trump advisers

 
Immediate past Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress are among a diverse group of evangelicals Donald Trump named June 21 to advise him on religion and politics. Trump's 25-member Evangelical Executive Advisory Board includes at least eight Southern Baptists. They were among more than 1,000 conservative faith leaders who attended a June 21 invitation-only question-and-answer session with Trump and Ben Carson in New York, hosted by United in Purpose and the one-year-old My Faith Votes, and moderated by ...

Missions effectiveness examined by SBC leaders

 
Entity leaders discussed ways to be more effective in global missions during one of 18 Cooperative Program panel discussions held June 13-15 in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis. The videotaped discussion took place at one side of the America Center's exhibit hall with Jon Akin, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church near Nashville, moderating. Responding to his questions were Frank S. Page, executive director of the SBC's Executive Committee; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern ...

Commentary: What can we learn from LeBron James' theology?

 
Being a resident of northeast Ohio, I've had a lot of fun watching LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers as they clawed their way to an NBA title. At times I have lamented as the star basketball player has been lionized and other times vilified for his views on life. James' passion for playing and winning basketball games has been analyzed, questioned and even challenged over the years. He has proven he can take on a seemingly larger-than-life goal and ...

Tommy Green: Reflections on the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention

 
The Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis was a historic gathering of churches. The emphasis on evangelism, church planting, church revitalization and church health echoed throughout meetings. The clear message and demonstration of racial unity and reconciliation reveals the heart of our SBC churches. The unprecedented election of our SBC president revealed the servant leadership of Steve Gaines and J.D. Greear. I am grateful the churches of the Florida Baptist Convention are setting the pace in the decisions ...

Pastors on politics: Be biblical, not controversial

 
Proclaiming Scripture instead of promoting controversy is their approach when addressing political issues, pastors said during a June 15 panel discussion at the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention. Five Southern Baptist pastors explained to Ronnie Floyd, now former SBC president, during the afternoon session how they handle political issues in their churches. The panel discussion -- titled "Pastors and the Church in American Politics Today" and moderated by Floyd -- came during a tumultuous election season that has found many Southern Baptists and ...

NAMB trustees: Maryland/Delaware investigation 'concluded'

 
A North American Mission Board trustee recommendation and a messenger motion at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting were among the actions Southern Baptists took in St. Louis last week related to NAMB's dealings with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. NAMB trustees adopted a recommendation June 13 stating they have conducted a "thorough examination and review" of the entity's relationship with the BCMD and regard as "concluded" an investigation of complaints the convention, which is also known as the Mid-Atlantic ...

Bellevue Baptist sings of King on Fox, at Carnegie Hall

 
The choir from newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines' pastorate sang the Gospel alongside Elvis hits in New York's Times Square on Fox TV today (June 20) in advance of their concert tonight (June 20) at Carnegie Hall. An Elvis impersonator with the choir said the Memphis, Tenn., group loves to sing of "the King." "We always want to sing about the King," said the impersonator, one of two Bellevue choir members who impersonated the rock star on the live ...

Baptist College of Florida mission team serves in Cuba

 
The winds of change are indeed blowing in Cuba, but it’s more like a gentle stirring than a wind. There are more tour buses carrying more tourists to Havana, the capital city of the island nation once dubbed the “crown jewel of the Caribbean.” But the pace of life in the interior is still slow, and the spiritual climate is cautious. Those were the general impressions of the 12-member mission team from The Baptist College of ...

Ronnie Floyd: 'Not the same man I was two years ago'

 
This past Sunday morning I shared with our Cross Church family, “I return as your pastor, but I am not the same man I was two years ago.” Unquestionably, my life and leadership has changed and grown while serving as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. After traveling 200,000 miles in the air, many miles on the ground, experiencing too many moments to share in this space, and writing at least 116 unique articles about the work of Southern Baptists ...

SBC St. Louis wrapup: Historic election & resolution

 
The election of Steve Gaines as president on the third ballot and a historic repudiation of the Confederate battle flag were among the highlights of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 14-15 in St. Louis. The convention's resolution on the Confederate battle flag capped an emphasis on racial reconciliation throughout the meeting that included the election of a 2017 Committee on Nominations with 25 percent of its members drawn from ethnic minority groups and a panel discussion on "racial unity in ...

Father's Day: Dads, 'be there' for your children

 
I'm one of the lucky ones. I was privileged enough to be raised in the home of a father who loves me and who has stayed faithful to my mom all these years. I have never known the pain of growing up in a broken home, and for that I feel very blessed. My dad is my hero. He's 75 now, and as I reflect on his life, there is one word that describes him better than any other: faithfulness. I'm ...

Ted Traylor calls Baptists 'to dwell in unity'

 
Ted Traylor challenged Southern Baptists to move forward in cooperation and unity for the sake of the Gospel -- reflecting the preceding historic moment when Steve Gaines became SBC president with gracious consent from fellow nominee J.D. Greear. Traylor, in the annual convention sermon June 15 in St. Louis, drew from Psalm 133 to poignantly repeat the words of the psalmist David in the first verse of the passage: "How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together ...

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney faces Father's Day of memories

 
When Father's Day rolls around this year, Dabo Swinney won't be able to pick up the phone and call his dad. But Clemson's head football coach still has a few voicemail messages from the man he calls "Big Erv," who passed away last August. Maybe he'll listen to them again, as he does from time to time. Last summer, in the months before he died, Ervil Swinney had been receiving treatments in Greenville, S.C., for a recurrence of lung ...

Father's Day: Pray for them, play with them

 
When I was growing up in our small South Carolina town of Manning, my dad would come home many afternoons after work and throw the football or baseball with me in the backyard. To me, he was Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and I was his favorite receiver, running intricate patterns across the backyard for what seemed like hours. When I played JV football, my dad followed our team to Kingstree one Thursday afternoon. It was pouring. It rained so ...

SBC repudiates display of Confederate flag

 
Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention renounced display of the Confederate battle flag in a historic, overwhelming vote Tuesday (June 14). The convention adopted late in its afternoon session a resolution that urged "brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters."   The resolution was one of seven adopted by messengers, but time for the report concluded ...

NAAF president calls for radical obedience in final address

 
Radical obedience, inexplicable unity and Scriptural correctness were the clarion calls in K. Marshall Williams' final presidential address to the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention preceding the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis. Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, employed the rhythmic and exhortative preaching style traditionally heard in African-American pulpits across the country when he called preachers to be prophets of God instead of "pimps and puppets." "Beloved, the manifestation of sin is ...

Steve Gaines elected SBC president after J.D. Greear withdraws

 
Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines was elected by acclamation as Southern Baptist Convention president after fellow candidate J.D. Greear withdrew his candidacy June 15 in a display of unity. Greear's withdrawal followed a runoff vote that didn't produce a majority winner on Tuesday (June 14). His decision avoided a second runoff and left Gaines elected by acclamation as president of the SBC during the annual meeting in St. Louis. Greear told the convention he prayed the night before and believed "we need ...

Orlando community mourns at Baptist prayer services

 
Pain pulsing through Orlando this week touches many more than the families of the 49 murdered and the 53 wounded by a single gunman's terrorism on the Lord's Day at a gay nightclub; it touches the entire community, pastors holding prayer services told Baptist Press. Prayer services continue today (June 15) at 6:30 p.m. at Delaney Baptist Church two blocks from the crime scene, and at 7:30 p.m. at Church at the Cross, both Southern Baptist congregations. "They're locals. They're people that we ...

Frank Page: Evangelism 'groundswell' needed

 
Southern Baptists need "a long-term vision of Great Commission Advance." Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, addressing messengers to the convention's annual meeting, cited Southern Baptists' decline in baptisms and in missionary numbers in calling for "a groundswell of intentionality like never before to see God's Great Commission accomplished." "It is time to review our ministry assignments. It is time to see if there is any way we can lead our churches" toward heightened resolve in "the ...

Steve Gaines recounts SBC presidential decision

 
Steve Gaines, elected president by acclamation at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, recounted in a press conference afterward how God led the candidates to that "special moment" of unity. After a runoff didn't produce a majority winner between Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., and J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Greear withdrew his name and urged messengers to vote for Gaines. The ...

SBC resolutions address culture, ministry concerns

 
  Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention, in addition to repudiating the display of the Confederate battle flag, approved 11 other resolutions on a variety of culture and ministry concerns. Messengers voted on the proposals over both days of the annual meeting, adopting resolutions that expressed compassion for those devastated by the Orlando mass shooting, urged consistent evangelism of unbelievers and encouraged care for refugees. They also passed measures that included calling for the federal government not to discriminate against people ...

Executive Committee action changes plan for SBC entity Q&A session

 
The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee's June 13 decision not to recommend amending SBC Bylaw 26 has forced the cancelation of a panel discussion scheduled for June 15 with SBC entity heads fielding questions from messengers to the convention's annual meeting in St. Louis. Instead, each entity president will answer messenger questions for four minutes at the end of his report. The EC also referred back to its Bylaws Workgroup for further discussion of a proposal to grant EC representation to Baptists in ...

Bell Shoals Pastor Stephen Rummage elected chairman of SBC Executive Committee

 
Stephen Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., has been elected chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, succeeding Mike Routt, pastor of Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. Rummage, the lone nominee, was nominated by John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention. Rummage is this year's chairman of the SBC Resolutions Committee. The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention is comprised of&...

Jimmy Scroggins: 4 ways to pour yourself into the task of evangelism

 
Jimmy Scroggins, lead pastor at Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., was the first speaker in the final session of this year’s Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference in St. Louis. Using 2 Timothy Chapter 4 as his text, Scroggins’s message was titled: “How do we pour ourselves into the task of evangelism?” After setting up his sermon by talking about the culture shock and change in strategies he went through when he moved from Kentucky ...

Johnny Hunt: Living well until the time of your departure

 
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., tackled the topic of “Enthusiastically Reaching My Journey’s End” during his Monday evening presentation at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference in St. Louis. In his opening remarks, Hunt said: “It’s not the truth we know that changes us. It’s the truth we obey.” He also said: “In the name of Jesus I want to do now ...

Baptist Press live blog from SBC annual meeting

 
All times Central Wednesday afternoon 5:46 p.m. -- The convention has adjourned. 5:32 p.m. -- Floyd said he is "grateful for the present, and we must look forward to the future." Four words that describe the 2016 SBC annual meeting, he said, are "providential," "historic," "foundational" and "gratitude." "God made two days in a row living history," Floyd said. Two words for the future are "missional" and "hopeful," Floyd said. 5:22 p.m. -- Malachi O'Brien has been elected second vice president. ...

'Every church can' demonstrated through Send Luncheon

 
A capacity audience of 3,000 at The Dome in St. Louis experienced the launch of Send Relief at the 2016 Send Luncheon on Monday, part of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference. In keeping with the Send Relief theme—bringing practical help with lasting hope—the North American Mission Board (NAMB) presented Plymouth Baptist Church with a Send Relief trailer to augment the compassion ministry the church of 100 already accomplishes to reach the people of Plymouth, Ind. Pastor Clark Harless, ...

Southern Baptist Texan: NAMB trustees conclude review of dealings with Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network

 
Following an unanticipated two-hour, closed-door session labeled as a “workshop,” trustees of the North American Mission Board meeting in St. Louis June 13 unanimously approved a recommendation by officers indicating their satisfaction with a “thorough examination and review” of the Southern Baptist entity’s relationship with the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network (MABN). “Representatives of this board have conducted a thorough examination and review of the dealings between NAMB leadership and the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network and have ...

Hispanic Alliance launches with church-centric focus pastors encouraged

 
The inaugural meeting of the Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance provided a night of worship and fellowship as well as insight from various SBC leaders and from key Hispanic pastors. The alliance is a network of Hispanic Southern Baptist pastors intent on reaching their Hispanic communities with the Gospel and sharing the Word of God with their congregations, said Felix Cabrera, co-founder of the organization and lead pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City. The alliance has grown in grassroots ...

Ronnie Floyd in final presidential address: 'The stakes are high'

 
Southern Baptists must act, akin to Queen Esther on behalf of her people, because "the stakes are high" in the church and in the world today, Ronnie Floyd said Tuesday (June 14) in his presidential address to messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis. "More Christians around the world are being persecuted and killed for their faith than any other time in modern history," said Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. "And with ...

'Lean into culture,' speakers urge pastors' wives

 
Burdened with a changing culture and apparent declining in Christian influence, the women who shared the stage at the 2016 Pastors' Wives Conference urged their listeners to pray, lean into the culture and personally get involved in reaching their communities. Anne Graham Lotz, executive director of AnGeL Ministries, headlined the June 13 event in the Marriott Majestic Ballroom prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis. Fearing America is facing impending judgment like Israel faced before going ...

'Pass the Salt': Racism cure resides with church

 
Racial reconciliation rests at the doorsteps of the church and can only be achieved through the Gospel in action, a diverse panel of Baptist pastors said during a trailblazing discussion today (June 14) on the opening morning of the 2016 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis. Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd convened the panel at 10:52 a.m., historically including National Baptist Convention USA President Jerry Young. The two have collaborated for months to put talk into action and actually achieve racial ...

Noah Oldham: Called men are called to hardship

 
Local Pastor Noah Oldham got the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference started Sunday evening in St. Louis. Addressing the theme of enduring hardships, Oldham, who is pastor of August Gate Church in St. Louis, shared a lot of his personal story during his sermon. He talked about how, in 2007, he hit rock bottom when his mom died, he was involved in a church plant that didn’t get off the ground, and he had health problems and ...

James MacDonald: 5 things that will zap your perseverance

 
James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, took part in the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference by presenting a message about the five biggest obstacles to perseverance. But before he dove into the main part of his sermon, MacDonald helped those in attendance for the Sunday night session of the Pastors Conference in St. Louis gain a better understanding of suffering, or endurance. He said the best definition of the word endurance is “remaining under,&...

Idlewild Baptist Church volunteer see impact of Crossover St. Louis

 
Southern Baptist volunteers reported more than 350 professions of faith in Jesus Christ during Crossover events throughout metro St. Louis this year. One man who made a decision for Christ had been considering suicide just a few days earlier, said Eloy Rodriquez. Rodriquez, a longtime Crossover volunteer, serves as Hispanic pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla. Rodriquez said his team knocked on the door of the man's house and asked if they could pray with him. The man told ...

Florida Baptists help launch Send Relief initiative at FBC Ferguson

 
As a primary partner in the launch of the North American Mission Board's Send Relief initiative, a metro St. Louis church reintroduced itself Saturday (June 11) to a couple thousand of its neighbors on a day that coincided with the evangelism effort Crossover St. Louis. "One of our primary goals was to tell the community we are here for you," said Joe Costephens, pastor of First Baptist Church of Ferguson. "This is a community building effort. We wanted to show that ...

Orlando massacre spurs prayer, compassion

 
Calls for prayer and compassion rang out from Southern Baptists nationwide hours after the mass murder of 49 and the injury of 53 early Sunday (June 12) at an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Armed with a handgun and an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a U.S.-born citizen of Afghani parents, walked into the Pulse nightclub around 2 a.m. and began shooting among the more than 300 patrons at the club as ...

AVANCE honors, encourages Hispanic missions commitment

 
AVANCE 2016 drew more than 100 Hispanic attendees from across the nation for an evening focused on "Firmly Standing on the Gospel—Boldly Committed to the Mission." During the June 12 gathering, Hispanic pastors and leaders were recognized for their work in the Kingdom and were encouraged to immerse themselves in missions in order to reach other Hispanics for Christ. AVANCE, held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, is a partnership of LifeWay Christian Resources, the International ...

Ronnie Floyd: This is our time

 
This is our time to come together now more than ever before, refusing to let anything separate us. In the perilous times we are facing in America, we must be found strong, faithful and unified. Our testimony as Christ-followers in this hour needs to be: that we are like Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus said it this way: "May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in ...

David Platt: Pastors must clarify churches’ understanding of the Gospel

 
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, started the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference Monday morning with a call to clarify our understanding of the Gospel. Early in his presentation to thousands of Baptists who have gathered in St. Louis for the Pastors Conference and SBC annual meeting, Platt said: “The last thing the nations need is the presentation of a Gospel-lite from North America.” He said his No. 1 priority right now at the IMB ...

Derwin Gray: Gospel clarity, racial equity needed

 
Derwin L. Gray, former NFL linebacker and founding pastor of Transformation Church in South Carolina, spoke about Gospel clarity and racial equity during the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference Monday morning in St. Louis. “The apostle Paul knows nothing of segregated churches,” said Gray, an African-American, after reading 2 Timothy 1:5, which makes an indirect reference to Timothy’s mixed racial heritage. “We need more Timothys to reach our increasingly diverse world,” Gray said. “...

St. Louis church's Hispanic outreach gets Crossover boost

 
Tower Grove Baptist Church culminated a weeklong outreach in a nearby Hispanic community by launching its first-ever Spanish service. Spanish-speaking students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary engaged in door-to-door evangelism in the mostly Hispanic community called Cherokee during the yearly Crossover evangelistic emphasis prior to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting. "It was great to share the Gospel with people who are culturally like me," SWBTS student Carmen Jimenez said. During their time spent in the Hispanic community, the students ...

Tommy Green: BCF impacts eternal Kingdom of God

 
The Baptist College of Florida serves Florida Baptists by providing quality Christian education for our young people. With an emphasis on “Changing the World through the Unchanging Word,” the college’s administration and faculty are deeply committed to training and equipping those called in ministry to fulfill the Great Commission. BCF graduates serve across the world in all types of ministries. The influence and impact of the BCF family has eternal Kingdom ramifications! We are blessed by ...

Commitment to the Word guides BCF alums in state

 
Scattered from the Panhandle to South Florida in rural communities and complex urban centers, graduates of The Baptist College of Florida are committed to “Changing the World through the Unchanging Word,” while serving Florida Baptist churches as pastors, church planters, ministry leaders and Christian educators. Each year nearly 100 students graduate from BCF’s hallowed halls in Graceville, and as many as 75 percent of these will serve in the Sunshine State. “The quality of education at BCF ...

Ed Stetzer: Reflections of the SBC stats guy

 
My upcoming career change means—for the first time in a long time—I won't be employed by an SBC entity (although I'm still a Southern Baptist). In other words, my long history of being the bearer of bad news as the denominational stats guy is coming to a close. But, facts are still our friends. And, the SBC Annual Church Profile has been a bearer of unwelcome facts for a long time. As I look back over ...

Pastor celebrates 50 years with Houston church

 
When Pastor John Morgan planted Sagemont Church on June 1, 1966, he never imagined the explosive growth and worldwide impact it would have. But, over the past 50 years, the church on the southeast side of Houston has grown from 16 to more than 20,000 members and regularly sends hundreds of members each year to share the Gospel on short-term international mission trips as well as through mission work in Houston. Reflecting on the congregational and personal milestones, Morgan told the church, "Today is the ...

SBTS professor Kevin Smith called as Mid-Atlantic exec

 
The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, also known as the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, has called seminary professor Kevin Smith as its executive director. Michael L. Trammell, president of the network’s General Mission Board, announced Smith’s election after a called board meeting June 7. Smith, 49, is assistant professor of church history and Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; teaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville; and president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and chairman of its ...

Ronnie Floyd: A few thoughts about Southern Baptist statistics

 
In a Baptist Press story on Tuesday (June 7), we were informed of the most recent Annual Church Profile (or ACP), where churches report their own statistics. So how are we really doing as Southern Baptists? I want to give you a few thoughts about our statistics from the compiled ACP from the churches who reported. What did we learn about ourselves? Statistics are our friends, but they do not always tell the entire story about who we are. Yet, what ...

Clinton breaks barrier; Trump sweeps final primaries

 
A major American political party selected a female as its presumptive presidential nominee for the first time, while Donald Trump swept the final Republican primaries without any active opponents. Hillary Clinton easily won the California primary and three other contests Tuesday (June 7) to cement the Democratic Party nomination, a nod she reportedly had clinched on the eve of her latest victories. If officially nominated at the Democratic convention, she will become the first woman to head a presidential ticket for ...

SBC ACP: More churches reported; baptism, worship numbers decline

 
Southern Baptists may find cause for hope in the latest Annual Church Profile report. The Southern Baptist Convention added more churches in 2015, due mostly to church planting efforts. Churches also experienced an increase in total giving. However, according to the ACP report compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in cooperation with state conventions, other key measures declined. Those included membership, average worship attendance, baptisms and missions giving. A bright spot in the ACP data was the increase in churches. The number ...

Team to help overseas mission groups handle crises

 
How would you respond if a mission team member serving on an international trip you are leading suddenly went missing, was robbed or even died while serving overseas? A team of Florida Baptists is hoping to prepare you to face such a crisis. The crisis action team was created to lead “Safe and Secure Mission Trips” conferences across the state. The team of trainers is composed of Florida Baptists who have served in law enforcement, police chaplaincy and ...

Lottie Moon offering reaches record $165.8 million

 
Southern Baptists provided resounding support through the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Finalized in early June, the 2015 Lottie Moon offering totaled $165.8 million -- the highest total in the 127-year history of the offering. The offering surpassed the previous all-time record of $154 million in 2013 by $11.8 million. The 2014 Lottie Moon offering totaled just more than $153 million. "Southern Baptists have exhibited their commitment to God's mission through these gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering," said IMB President David Platt. "Especially ...

SBC St. Louis prayer call to be broadcast globally

 
Worldwide audiences will have opportunities to support the impassioned pleas of Southern Baptists for the next great awakening, revival and other concerns at the Southern Baptist Convention’s National Call to Prayer June 14 in St. Louis. SBC President Ronnie Floyd’s “National Call to Prayer for Spiritual Leadership, Revived Churches and Nationwide & Global Awakening” will be livestreamed and available by video on demand at sbcannualmeeting.net, will air on the DayStar Television Network, and will ...

Golden Gate Seminary closes Mill Valley campus

 
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary closed its main campus in the San Francisco Bay Area on June 3 to prepare for its 400-mile move to Southern California. After a ceremonial locking of the doors at 4 p.m., President Jeff Iorg sent out a campus-wide email that read, “The Mill Valley campus of Golden Gate Seminary is now closed. We press on!” The Southern Baptist seminary had been located in the Bay Area since its founding in 1944. Employees at the ...

Kevin Ezell shares NAMB tools for evangelism focus

 
I understand that Southern Baptists are concerned about baptism numbers and at the North American Mission Board we are as well. That is why at NAMB we are doing everything we can to stir up enough dust to get pastors to see the need to motivate and educate their people on how to share their faith and encourage them to get out there and do it. • Engage24 events: Beginning this fall, NAMB will sponsor a series of Engage24 ...

Ronnie Floyd: The SBC and our future

 
The future of Southern Baptist Convention is on my heart this week. Perhaps now, days away from the conclusion of my two-year presidency, my feelings may lean toward being a little nostalgic. What will our future look like? If Jesus tarries His coming, how long will our convention of churches last? Only God knows the answer to these and more questions when we think about our future together. Who do we want to be in the future? This should be ...

Muhammad Ali heard Gospel from Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers

 
Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary administrator Dan Dumas are among the Christians who have told of Gospel conversations with the late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali. Ali, who died June 3 in Scottsdale, Ariz., at age 74, grew up in a Christian family but converted to Islam in the late 1960s. Initially, he was a member of the black nationalist group the Nation of Islam, but in the mid-1970s he, along with the Nation of Islam, converted ...

BCF trustees affirm Blue Springs Conference Center plan

 
The Board of Trustees of The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) held its annual meeting on the home campus in Graceville on June 2-3. The meeting was highlighted by a lengthy presentation and discussion of the college's proposal for the utilization of the Blue Springs Baptist Conference Center property in Marianna. In April, BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen requested that the State Board of Missions give the college an opportunity to conduct a feasibility study and present a plan for ...

Billy Graham statue moving to North Carolina mountains

 
LifeWay Christian Resources is moving a larger-than-life statue of Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham from its downtown Nashville location to a LifeWay retreat center in the North Carolina mountains, a few miles from Graham’s home. The move is prompted by last year’s sale of LifeWay’s 15-acre Nashville campus. The iconic bronze sculpture will be dismantled and placed in storage until a new site is ready this fall at the entrance to LifeWay’s 1,300...

Saeed Abedini church worker near death in Iran prison

 
A female Christian convert who worked with Saeed Abedini planting house churches years ago in Iran is on a hunger strike and near death in the harsh Evin prison in Tehran, Iran, the freed pastor told Baptist Press. Nasim Naghash Zargaran, also known as Maryam, was one of the first persons who converted to Christianity under Abedini's counsel [16 years ago], he told BP, and shortly after Abedini's 2012 imprisonment was arrested because of her vigilant evangelism. Denied proper medical treatment for ...

Ronnie Floyd: How to pray for SBC annual meeting

 
As we enter the final stretch toward our Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis on June 14-15, I want to call upon each individual and every Southern Baptist church to set aside time to pray. For several weeks, I have prayed very specifically and intentionally each day. Let me share with you how I am praying and perhaps it will encourage you to create your own prayer list for the Southern Baptist Convention. The main thing is pray. 1. ...

Pastor/cartoonist: Never retire from serving the Lord

 
Never stop doing what God put you on earth to do. For the seniors among us, this is no time to slack off. It's just getting good. Congratulations on two of the biggest blessings in your life. One, if you are born again, your name is written in the book of life. You are going to heaven. And two, you're old. You may not think of getting old as a blessing, but it is. We all have had friends who ...

Christian educators haven't seen influx of students since transgender directive

 
The Obama administration's transgender directive for public schools does not seem so far to have provoked a widespread rush of families toward other education options, but it could be a factor if such a movement develops in the future, say leaders in the Christian school and homeschooling movements. The May 13 guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice directed public schools and universities to permit transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their gender identity instead ...

Messenger increase predicted for St. Louis SBC

 
Hotel reservations for the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting are up 23 percent from last year's total in Columbus, Ohio, leading some convention leaders to project an increased messenger total as well.   Some 13,275 hotel room nights in St. Louis have been reserved for the annual meeting while 4,923 messengers have been pre-registered online so far, the SBC Executive Committee reported. That's up from 10,829 hotel room night reservations in 2015 and 3,267 pre-registered messengers. The messenger pre-registration total to date marks a 51 percent ...

South Carolina 'Sunburn trailer' offers Gospel witness

 
Headed to the Carolina coast this summer for some sun and surf but also looking for a missions opportunity? Martha Bullard has just the job for you. This summer, as she has for the past seven summers, Bullard, along with volunteers from churches of the Waccamaw Baptist Association, will be manning a "sunburn trailer" in Surfside Beach, S.C. Volunteers at the trailer dole out free sunscreen, aloe gel and water, and they look for opportunities to share the Gospel ...

CP contributions 6.13% above budget projection

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 6.13 percent above the year-to-date budgeted projection, and are 2.65 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Frank S. Page. The total includes receipts from state conventions and fellowships, churches and individuals for distribution according to the 2015-16 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget. As of May 31, gifts ...

'The SBC & the 21st Century' book released

 
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced the release of a book featuring key Southern Baptist leaders addressing the Southern Baptist Convention, its heritage, identity and future. The 269-page work, "The SBC & the 21st Century," was edited by Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen. The idea for the project resulted from the seminary's 2015 symposium, "The SBC & the 21st Century: Reflection, Renewal & Recommitment." LifeWay Christian Resources' imprint B&H Academic released the book today (June 1). "I cannot be more ...

Ohio Baptists agree with zoo's decision to shoot gorilla

 
Local Baptists have expressed support for the Cincinnati Zoo's decision to shoot and kill a 450-pound gorilla in order to protect a 3-year-old boy who fell into the animal's enclosure over Memorial Day weekend. Much of the reaction was released to Baptist Press the same day the boy's family shared a statement with media outlets expressing "praise" to "God for His grace and mercy." The child, whose name has not been publicized, suffered only "a concussion and a few scrapes" ...

Prison ministries encourage personal, spiritual growth

 
When an inmate enters Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., she loses her old life. But in Alicia Smallwood's eyes, she also gains an opportunity for a new life in Christ regardless of past or present circumstances.  "She (the inmate) can't see her kids, can't help the person who is taking care of them. She thinks she has lost everything," said Smallwood, a chaplain. "I tell her that God has cleared her mind of drugs, of men, ...

Hispanic church in Georgia beams Gospel to its community

 
A young mother may turn to 94.7 on her radio dial for health tips for herself and her family as well as children's programming. An auto mechanic may listen to the station to hear a two-way discussion of a previous week's sermon or a broadcast on anger management. Radio PESCA, the Spanish word for fish, streams into homes that may never be reached by a knock on the door. Through a variety of ad-free programming, the station seeks to glorify God ...

Want to see everything the Witness has to offer? Now is your chance

 
The Florida Baptist Witness has decided to remove its paywall for a month, starting June 1. The goal is to increase our web traffic and paid circulation, as those who have not been able to see anything more than the covers of our print editions for nearly two years get to see what they’ve been missing. To get your free month of digital access, all you have to do is click on one of the icons in the row ...

13 incarcerated women receive milestone degrees

 
Having overcome a crisis of faith to complete her college degree, Brenda Thornton walked the chapel stage at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women. Thornton was one of 13 LCIW graduates in the first-ever awarding of bachelor degrees at the prison by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's Leavell College, marking a milestone for the program that began five years ago. "I'll be honest; I didn't think I would make it," said Thornton, who received a bachelor of Christian ministry degree with ...

Memorial Day: Jimmy Connelly's greatest honor

 
An estimated 3.6 million Americans fought in the Pacific Theatre in World War II, overcoming brutal encounters on island after island against Japanese soldiers burrowed into the hillsides. The late Jimmy Connelly was one of those Americans. The Navy made Connelly chief of a troop-landing Higgins Craft during the massive amphibious assaults at the outset of the Allies' first major Pacific offensive against the Japanese—Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Each craft could ferry up to 36 Marines, and when they ...

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief receives national award

 
When devastating floods hit the Houston area in April, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers did what they normally do in the face of crisis. They responded. Those efforts were recognized May 20 when several disaster relief teams were acknowledged during this year's National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD or VOAD) conference in Minneapolis. The organization presented SBDR with its National Member of the Year award. "I am honored that the North American Mission Board allows me to serve this ...

SBC's first African-American seminary professor retiring

 
The Southern Baptist Convention's first African-American seminary professor is among three retiring faculty members at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. T. Vaughn Walker, David L. Puckett and Brian C. Richardson are retiring following the 2015-16 school year with 64 combined years of service on the faculty of Southern Seminary. Walker, WMU professor of Christian ministries and professor of black church studies, was appointed in 1986 as the first African-American professor at any of the six SBC seminaries, and then the first elected to ...

11 states sue Obama administration over transgender directive

 
Eleven states and two school districts filed a lawsuit May 25 challenging President Barack Obama's directive demanding all federally funded schools apply a controversial interpretation of Title IX requiring schools to define a student's sexual identity based not on biological traits, but on feelings. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin; Maine Gov. Paul Lepage; the Arizona Department of Education; Harrold Independent School District (HISD) in Texas and Heber-Overgaard Unified School District ...

South Carolina joins 13 states banning abortion at 20 weeks

 
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has signed into law a bill banning most abortions in the state at 20 weeks of pregnancy, joining 13 other states where such limitations currently stand. Haley signed the South Carolina Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act May 25 after the Legislature sent it to her desk a week earlier. Effective immediately, the law bans abortions after the 19th week, including pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, and allows for exceptions only to save the mother's life or in ...

Baylor demotes president, fires football coach

 
Baylor University stripped Ken Starr of his presidency and fired head football coach Art Briles today (May 26) after an independent investigation found "a fundamental failure" to protect students from sexual assault in a years-long scandal. The Baylor Board of Regents announced the personnel changes in a press release posted on its website, based on the findings of an investigation by the law firm Pepper Hamilton, LLP. "Key findings of the investigation reflect a fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title ...

Jacksonville church comes up with $1.3M to keep property

 
After struggling with massive debt for several years, leadership at Faithbridge Church in Jacksonville, Fla., thought the end had finally come when the church went into foreclosure. But God, acting through a prominent Jacksonville real estate developer, had other plans. The mounting debt and the real possibility of losing the property took a toll on Faithbridge's congregation, as well as the many missionaries and ministries they support around the world. “It’s been ...

Survey shows prison ministry not priority for most Protestant pastors, churches

 
While most Protestant pastors visit correctional facilities and want to help prisoners and their families, their churches often lack the training or finances to run an effective prison ministry. Those are among the findings of a new phone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors from LifeWay Research. Researchers found widespread support among pastors for the idea of prison ministry. Eighty-three percent of pastors have visited a correctional facility. And nearly all believe churches should help families of those incarcerated (97 percent) and ...

SBC seminaries, colleges hold spring commencements

 
Serve as Christ served, Akin exhorts SEBTS grads By Harper McKay Sent to lead? Perhaps. Sent to serve? Absolutely. With those words, Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, charged 237 spring graduates to follow Christ's model of service. "The greatest person who ever lived and walked on this earth was a humble servant," Akin said. "He got down low so that He might lift others up. And now He calls us, those who follow Him, to do the same." ...

Baptists, other faith leaders support universal religious freedom

 
Religious leaders with widely diverse views called for freedom for all faith groups, not just their own, during a May 23 panel discussion sponsored by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Southern Baptist, Roman Catholic, Mormon and Muslim representatives explained to an audience on Capitol Hill why their faith perspectives support universal religious freedom despite the distinctions in their beliefs. "Our differences are too important to be adjudicated by the state or to be applied through pressure," said Southern ...

Ronnie Floyd: If I had more time as SBC president

 
A reporter recently asked me a very thought-provoking question: If you had two more years as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, what would you do? I was not intimidated by the question; in fact, I have thought about it since the beginning of the year. Every president in the past and every president in the future must lead the convention in the direction he believes God has put on his heart. Yet, he must also ensure it coincides with ...

Retired pastor and his wife: Mission:Dignity aids 'folks like us'

 
After 45 years of ministry, Reginald and Claudia Pressley retired much the way they began—serving small churches in the Southeast. They were there for births, baptisms, weddings and funerals as they marked the milestones and the passage of time in the lives of their members. And they wouldn't take anything for the memories. The couple met in their teens at Toccoa Falls Institute (now Toccoa Falls College), a faith-based school in the mountains of north Georgia. He was attending ...

Evangelical leaders to meet with Donald Trump on June 21

 
Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd is among perhaps 500 evangelicals and other conservatives planning to meet with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about his faith and values June 21 in New York. Family Research Council President and Southern Baptist Tony Perkins, and United In Purpose leader Bill Dallas who partners with nearly 50 groups to uphold biblical principles in the United States, recruited Floyd among a small group of leaders to spearhead the meeting as the steering committee. Members of the ...

Miami churches change lives with pregame meals

 
Two Miami-area churches are scoring inroads into local schools by providing pregame meals for their football teams–while changing lives of players and coaches alike. Each week during football season, pastors Patrick Coats of Kingdom Covenant Baptist Church in Homestead and Erik Cummings of New Life Baptist Church in Carol City, along with church members, prepare and serve hot, nutritious meals before games, cleaning up afterward and subsidizing all costs. It is a ministry they call “Huddle Touch.&...

Zika threat prompts abortion discussion

 
In the United States and Latin America, abortion has entered the discussion of how to combat the Zika virus. With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing in April that Zika infection during pregnancy can cause "microcephaly and other severe brain defects" in unborn babies, some abortion rights advocates, including members of Congress, have suggested broadening access to abortion among Zika-infected women. But Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), ...

'But seriously folks': Humor's place in pulpit assessed

 
The legendary British preacher Charles Spurgeon was once rebuked by a woman in his congregation who felt he used too much humor in his sermons. As Baptist historian Michael Haykin recounts the story, Spurgeon replied, "Well, madam, if you knew the number of things that I refrain from saying, you would give me more credit." Humor abounds in the human mind, but the question for preachers is how often, if ever, to employ it in sermons. Chris Osborne, a Texas ...

Hobbyist's auto restorations nurture young men

 
For seven days, up to 12 hours a day, several Baptist Collegiate Ministries students took the rough places and made them new, fashioning what began as junk into something special. Working under the watchful eye of John Albrycht, the group restored a 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle, winning Best in Class at the Classics in the Country Car Show in Watkinsville, Ga., on April 23. The like-new VW will be sold to raise money for SendMeNow missions for BCM students at Georgia College in ...

GO Jax churches collaborate as hands, feet of Jesus

 
Descending upon the campus of Jacksonville’s Englewood High School, more than 25 volunteers from GO Jax 2016 planted vibrant flowers and shrubs along the sidewalks of the school’s entrance, mulched beds and repainted wooden garbage bins a bright yellow to freshen up the urban campus. As the hands and feet of Christ, the fruits of their labors sent a message to the student body and faculty, said Principal Sara Bravo. “First impressions of a school campus are ...

Tommy Green: Churches do more together through associations

 
The establishing of the association in Baptist life enabled churches to unify in ministry efforts. The need for fellowship and combined local ministries prompted churches in proximity to each other to join together for the cause of Christ in their community. “Together” has always been a benchmark of Southern Baptist life. We do more together, we do better together, and we honor Christ together in fulfilling the Great Commission. We have 49 associations in Florida that are geographically positioned ...

Thom Rainer shares road map to leading change in the church

 
The email addressed to LifeWay Christian Resources President and CEO Thom S. Rainer sounded urgent. The subject line: A plea for help. "I am a pastor and I'm about to give up," the email began. The pastor went on to share his frustration in trying to lead his church to make much-needed changes. "Every time I try something, I get hit hard by critics and bullies," he wrote. "My wife wants me to quit." He ended by asking Rainer for ...

Share Jesus as you go garage sale-ing

 
Nice weather has arrived, and it seems there’s a garage sale on every corner! If you’re a garage sale fanatic and a Christian, here’s a fresh idea you’ll love. These easy tips can turn a garage sale-ing hobby into a simple, effective witness opportunity: Get ready Go to the bank and get lots of $1 bills. Any purchase provides interaction with the seller. Keep church brochures or business cards in your car or ...

Q&A with SBC presidential candidates

 
Louisiana pastor David Crosby, Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines and North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear, who will be nominated for Southern Baptist Convention president in June, responded to six questions Baptist Press posed to each candidate. David Crosby Crosby's nomination was announced March 24 by former SBC President Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. Among Crosby's leadership roles at the association, state convention and SBC levels, he has served as moderator of the New Orleans Baptist ...

Donald Trump's Supreme Court list draws mixed reaction

 
Donald Trump's list for the U.S. Supreme Court gained approval from many social conservatives but apparently was unable to convince all to support his presidential candidacy. The presumptive Republican Party nominee named Wednesday (May 18) 11 candidates he would consider as replacements for the late Antonin Scalia on the high court. Trump offered the list as a self-acknowledged effort to reassure conservatives, saying later in a television interview he released the names "to quell any fears that people may have." The ...

Does transgender bathroom policy enable predators?

 
In the battle across the United States over providing transgender access to public restrooms, key groups are divided about the effects of such a policy. Opponents of transgender access say it would increase sexual assaults and abuse, enabling predators to claim a specific, perceived gender identity to access bathrooms used by potential victims. Proponents say such a policy is necessary to prevent discrimination against transgender individuals, defined as those who perceive their gender to be different than the gender of ...

Florida Baptists recognize Vanita Baldwin’s missions support

 
For four decades Vanita Baldwin has inspired Florida Baptist women and men to pray for and support Southern Baptists’ worldwide missions, first as WMU executive director for the Florida Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union from 1977-91 and then as a legendary prayer warrior for mission causes. Now her legacy will continue to encourage and influence the cause of missions for decades to come. In honor of her 90th birthday May 1, the Executive Council of Florida Women’s ...

Florida’s DOMs focus on strengthening churches

 
Thirty-eight associational mission leaders focused on the main priority of their mission—to strengthen the local church—during the annual Florida Baptist Director of Missions Retreat May 2-4 at College Road Baptist Church in Ocala. Kicking off the three-day meeting was Tommy Green, who has been serving as the executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention for nearly a year. He pledged to the directors of missions that the Convention would work together with associations to support and ...

2016 FBSC Committee on Nominations named

 
A Committee on Nominations composed of pastors, laypersons, and church staff has been appointed by the officers of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Stan Lewis, executive pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, was named to chair the 49-member committee. The committee is composed of one member from each of the 49 associations in the state, plus three officers of the state convention who serve as ex-officio members. The committee is responsible for nominating Florida Baptists to serve on the ...

An open letter to Gov. Rick Scott from Dr. Tommy Green on behalf of the State Board of Missions

 
May 18, 2016 Office of Governor Rick ScottState of FloridaThe Capitol400 S. Monroe StreetTallahassee, FL 32399-0001 Governor Scott: On behalf of the thousands of Southern Baptists across the state of Florida, I am contacting you now to urge your prayerful consideration of the recent joint-action taken by the United States Department of Education and Department of Justice. As you are certainly aware, these two federal agencies have sought to do exactly what the United States Constitution prohibits them from doing. Specifically, they ...

LifeWay's Ed Stetzer joining Wheaton College faculty

 
Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research and executive editor of The Gospel Project curriculum published by LifeWay, has been named to the faculty of Wheaton College and as executive director of Wheaton's Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. Stetzer, 49, will begin his new roles at Wheaton July 1, which also will include publisher of Evangelical Missions Quarterly, founded nearly 50 years ago, and chair of the Wheaton College Graduate School's evangelism and leadership program. Wheaton College President Philip Ryken, in a news ...

Ronnie Floyd: Unity is needed in SBC

 
Unity demands we accept one another in love. Unity requires work—hard work. Unity is an act of humility. In a convention of more than 51,000 churches and congregations, 11 national entities and our Executive Committee, 42 state conventions, and more than 1,000 associations, unity does not happen without intentionality. A brief look back As a young pastor in seminary, I remember some of the beginning days of the conservative resurgence. These were very difficult and tumultuous times. When the movement was declared ...

Retired state collegiate director Joe Webb dies

 
Joe H. Webb, who served as state director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s Student Department (now Collegiate Ministries) from 1958 until his retirement in 1990, died May 13 in Tallahassee while under hospice care. Webb, 90, died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. A celebration of his life will be held May 17 at 11:30 a.m. at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Greenlawn Cemetery. Prior to being named state director, the ...

Southern Baptists decry White House's transgender order to schools

 
The Obama administration has directed public schools and universities to permit transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identity instead of their biological sex. The across-the-board guidance, issued May 13, met quick protests from Southern Baptist leaders. Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, described the federal guidance as "an outrageous attack on our Creator Himself, human sexuality and morality, and an advancement of the attack against religious freedom." "Gender is not fluid ... but a ...

Baptist College of Florida holds historic graduation

 
On Friday, May 13, the Wellness Center at The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville was filled with faculty and graduating seniors wearing black robes and mortarboards as family and friends gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the spring 2016 graduating class. Fifty-one graduates entered the front doors of the Wellness Center as the BCF College Winds played “Pomp and Circumstance” under the direction of Professor Ron Branning. Following the processional, the invocation was voiced by BCF Associate Professor ...

Southern Baptist discipleship task force formed

 
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, and Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, have appointed a task force on disciple-making. Consisting of Southern Baptist pastors, the task force will recommend steps that churches can take to improve their disciple-making process and spark a disciple-making movement throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. "This group will suggest a transferrable process that any church can use in any context," Ezell said. "The priority will be leading people to the Gospel ...

Sexual addiction tragedy prompts seminary conference

 
The suicide death of a beloved colleague after a sexual addiction came to light drove the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary community to their knees in prayer last August. They rose determined to help others caught in pornography and sexual addiction. "Recalibrate," a campus-wide conference with Greg Miller of Faithful & True, a ministry to those impacted by sexual addictions, came together as a response to the death of John Gibson, longtime professor at NOBTS' Leavell College on the opening ...

Albert Mohler: Crisis in American democracy

 
Americans have enjoyed the enormous privilege and responsibility of forming our own government for nearly two and a half centuries -- a privilege rarely experienced throughout human history. As generations have struggled with the question of how to respond to a government that was essentially forced upon them, Americans have often struggled with a very different reality: How do we rightly respond to the government that we choose? To put all of this in historical perspective, the Framers of the ...

Hickory Grove Baptist Church finds ways to minister in the midst of Green Cove Springs tragedy

 
When tragedy rocks a small, close-knit community, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t personally touched by it in some way. So when Murray Lancaster shot and killed his ex-girlfriend Valorie Short and her father, Buddy, as well as his ex-wife, Erica Green, on May 3, it was bound to send the small town of Green Cove Springs, Fla., reeling.   With a focus on helping the community heal and living out the Gospel message, Baptist ...

Facebook's alleged anti-conservative bias debated

 
Southern Baptist social media observers have expressed diverse reactions to allegations that Facebook "routinely suppressed" news of interest to conservative readers from the site's "trending" news section. National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry Johnson said Facebook "must change if they want our trust and participation in their platform." Meanwhile, social media expert Marty Duren of LifeWay Christian Resources and digital strategist Darrel Girardier of the Nashville, Tenn.-area Brentwood Baptist Church said Christians desiring to stay informed should not rely on ...

Pastor: Overeating is occupational hazard

 
Seymour Wattenbarger isn't nearly the man he once was. Physically speaking. A year ago, Wattenbarger tipped the scales at 325 pounds, but a healthy diet has allowed the 76-year-old Baptist preacher to trim down significantly. He's shed 75 pounds -- and counting. "My clothes didn't fit me," he said. "My suits were too small. I felt terrible. My doctor informed me that I had crossed the line into diabetes. I made up my mind the weight had to come off." Now, Wattenbarger, ...

Russell Moore responds to Donald Trump tweet

 
Russell Moore finally has found agreement with one of Donald Trump's insulting tweets. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, responded in television interviews Monday evening (May 9) to the following Twitter comment from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee early in the day: ".@drmoore Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!" Appearing on MSNBC's "Meet the Press Daily," Moore said he ...

Pastors' views on handling misconduct surveyed

 
There's no consensus among Protestant pastors whether a colleague accused of misconduct should step down from the pulpit for a time, according to a LifeWay Research survey released May 10. Few respondents, however, say pastors who commit adultery should be permanently banned from ministry, LifeWay Research reported on the findings of a telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors. "Pastors believe church leaders should be held to high standards," said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, based in Nashville, Tenn. "They ...

Chick-fil-A to N.Y.: 'no political agenda'

 
Homosexual New York councilman Danny Dromm has urged the boycott of a Chick-fil-A scheduled to open in his Queens council district this fall, releasing an official press statement accusing the chain of supporting groups opposed to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered lifestyles. At an unrelated press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio counseled citizens not to frequent the chain that already has two successful restaurants in Manhattan, citing the chain ownership's support of biblically based marriage, but stopped short ...

¿Cuán confiables son tus palabras?

 
En tiempos antiguos el peso de un compromiso verbal era tan serio como un documento escrito y firmado delante de testigos. Las palabras de un caballero eran esperadas a ser cumplidas a cabalidad. Sin embargo, en los días en que vivimos pareciera que la confiabilidad de las promesas o palabras expresadas tienen muy poca credibilidad. Esto parece calzar bien con la corriente de un mundo que se agrada de vivir sin escrúpulos, ni absolutos morales. Pero &...

N.C. governor defends restroom law in suit

 
North Carolina's governor went to federal court Monday (May 9) to defend his state's new restroom privacy law against a threat from the Obama administration. Gov. Pat McCrory's lawsuit asks a judge to declare the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, also known as H.B. 2, does not violate federal anti-discrimination protections by requiring individuals in government buildings to use the restrooms of the sex on their birth certificates. The Department of Justice (DOJ) had written McCrory and two other state ...

Donald Trump knocks Russell Moore on Twitter

 
Russell Moore spoke and Donald Trump took notice in one of his Twitter posts today (May 9). Trump's tweet came the morning after Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, criticized the presumptive Republican nominee on CBS' "Face the Nation" and, two days earlier, in a New York Times online op-ed. ".@drmoore Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!" Trump tweeted ...

Cradle-through-college focus of Next Gen ministry

 
When First Baptist Church of Orange Park had a staffing gap to fill with the departure of its student minister, church leaders sought to look at a new model that would better equip the church to minister to all ages—especially families with children. They called veteran student minister Dave Paxton as Generations Pastor to connect and bond all age groups with a singular focus of serving those from every age group. “Our Generations ministry has sought to ...

Tommy Green: Engaging the next generation

 
The Next Generation ministry is not about the future but the present. We cannot wait and hope for good things for the Next Generation. We must actively engage the Next Generation in the ministry of our churches today. A unified approach to preschool, children, student and collegiate ministry enables a church to respond in partnership with parents to our children through these critical years of life. Billy Young, who serves as the Next Generation Ministries catalyst for the Florida Baptist ...

Ronnie Floyd: Racial unity & the 2016 SBC annual meeting

 
When I was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention in June 2014 in Baltimore, little did I know God would take me through the open doors of addressing racial challenges in America. While racial unrest already existed in our nation, it was not until Aug. 9, 2014, and the tragic death of a black teenager named Michael Brown, shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., that we began to see this racial unrest erupt like a volcano across ...

Mom finds identity as daughter of the King

 
Celebrating Mother's Day was always a peaceful and joy-filled experience as I grew up in a loving, Christian, two-parent home. I remember working diligently on the obligatory homemade gift projects we were given as schoolchildren in order to present something to my mom that would conjure a smile, thanks and a hug. Mother's Day served as an annual reminder to say "thank you." To be honest, I never thought deeply about the annual celebration until later into my adulthood. I ...

Motherhood: Molding minds, developing potential

 
Being a mother is both demanding and rewarding—it is equivalent to a professional pursuit. Molding minds, healing spirits, nurturing bodies and developing potential—this job can be amazingly productive and rewarding. The results of competent mothering will be passed from generation to generation. For a mother, rearing her children is her mission, life's work, the opportunity for her greatest legacy. You cannot pay a woman to do what mothers do for free. A mother loses much of ...

Suicide stats prompt call for ministry

 
With the U.S. suicide rate increasing 24 percent over the past 15 years, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, mental health experts have called pastors to prepare for ministry to suicidal individuals. While a pastor need not mention mental health issues every week from the pulpit, "a bit of regular exposure to such human realities has a way of breaking down the walls of shame and secrecy," Tony Rose, pastor of LaGrange (Ky.) Baptist Church, told Baptist ...

Southern Seminary event addresses depression, Bible’s comfort

 
The Bible provides comfort and hope for people in the pit of despair, said speakers at the Counsel the Word conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on April 26-27. “When you say, ‘You need something more than the Bible,’ that actually makes a statement about the character of God,” said Heath Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla. “God finished the ...

Developments in transgender restroom debate

 
In the continuing political debate of transgender restroom policies, one U.S. state has received a threat from the Obama administration over its restroom use restrictions while another has asked discount retailer Target to explain how it will protect women and children from abuse of an open restroom policy. North Carolina pro-family leaders say the Obama administration has engaged in "bullying" and an "attack on religious freedom" by threatening legal action if the state does not rescind its law requiring ...

Pray, vote, engage, Franklin Graham urges

 
Christians cannot restore America by rallying behind political parties, but must pray, vote and engage in politics to uphold biblical principles, evangelist Franklin Graham told a crowd of about 8,600 gathered at May 3 in front of the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville. It was the largest crowd to date in his Decision American Tour 2016 with Franklin Graham—a series of sermons and prayer rallies at each capitol in the nation that began Jan. 5 in Des Moines, Iowa—and ...

Seminary witnesses effectiveness of door-to-door evangelism

 
The efficacy of door-to-door evangelism—or any type of cold-call evangelism—is often called into question. In fact, I myself have expressed doubt whether such evangelistic efforts actually "work." Perhaps these doubts stem from cynicism. "Surely people in this culture won't respond well to strangers showing up at their door unannounced," we say, "interrupting their day for the sake of sharing a message that they most likely will not understand." People (myself included) have used such sentiments to ...

NOBTS student found in Alabama hospital

 
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary student John Russell, missing since April 22, has been found in an Alabama hospital. He has been in the ICU at D.W. McMillan Hospital in Brewton, Ala., since April 22 following an accident. Hospital officials were unable to identify Russell until May 4. After identifying Russell, Alabama authorities notified NOBTS that he had been found. Russell's mother has been notified and is traveling to be with him during his recovery. NOBTS President Chuck Kelley asked for continued ...

Churches breathe life into struggling congregations

 
Stories of rescue can be found throughout Scripture. Indeed, the constant thread that is woven throughout the Bible speaks of our ultimate rescue from death and sin through Jesus' sacrifice at Calvary. Yet, many churches today are finding themselves at a crossroads and coming to terms with their need for a different kind of rescue. During a panel discussion at the SBC annual meeting last year, NAMB National Legacy Strategy Leader John Mark Clifton put it this way: "Approximately 10-15 ...

CP 6.45% ahead of budget projection

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 6.45 percent above the year-to-date budgeted projection, and 4.15 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank S. Page. The total includes receipts from state conventions and fellowships, churches and individuals for distribution according to the 2015-16 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget. As of April 30, ...

2016 SBC annual meeting program

 
The schedule for this year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting program has been released by the SBC Executive Committee in a special pre-convention issue of SBC LIFE. TUESDAY MORNING, JUNE 14, 2016 8:15 Opening Worship -- Julio Arriola, Convention music director; global worship pastor, Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas 8:25 Welcome and Call to Order -- Ronnie Floyd, SBC president; senior pastor, Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas Announcement of Committee on Committees, Credentials Committee, Tellers and Resolutions Committee 8:30 Scripture -- David Prince, pastor of preaching and ...

Trump's win draws support, concern from evangelicals

 
Donald Trump's striking victory in Indiana Tuesday (May 3) apparently settled the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but it did little to resolve the divisiveness among conservatives and evangelical Christians over his controversial candidacy. The brash billionaire triumphed easily in the latest primary over both of his rivals for the GOP nomination, leaving him seemingly with no opponents and an open path to the nomination barring a stunningly dramatic development. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced Tuesday night he was ...

Evangelicals critique female military draft proposal

 
The House Armed Services Committee's recommendation that women be required to register for the draft has provoked reactions from an array of evangelicals, including Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary First Lady Dorothy Patterson and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. Though mandatory female registration for the Selective Service is still a long way from becoming law, the House committee's 32-30 approval of the idea April 27 led Patterson to note military service for wives and mothers "has never been ...

Ex-drifter knows saving power of Gospel

 
At times, Ellis Brasher still wonders why God kept him alive decades ago when he was hopping from bar to bar, town to town, and jail cell to jail cell, wanting nothing more than another beer, another buzz. Brasher, 83, testifies today to the saving power of the Gospel from his life as a drifter. By his count, he was arrested nearly 50 times across four states, spending time in nine jails. His life was the stuff of outlaw movies: alcohol, hanging ...

Report: International religious freedom continues to decline

 
Religious liberty continued to worsen globally in the last year, according to the annual report of a bipartisan, federal watchdog. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported Monday (May 2) governments around the world and non-government forces in locations such as Nigeria, Iraq and Syria were guilty of a "serious and sustained assault" on freedom of belief. The commission cited the rampant imprisonment of prisoners of conscience, the startling increase in refugees and the ongoing bigotry toward Jews ...

Missionary slain in Jamaica was Iowa So. Baptist

 
An Iowa Southern Baptist was among two American missionaries killed in Jamaica April 30 in what appeared to be a violent attack. Randy Hentzel, 48, a member of First Family Church in Ankeny, Iowa, was serving with the Pennsylvania-based Teams for Medical Missions when he was slain in a remote, rural area of Jamaica along with fellow missionary Harold Nichols, 53. The two men went for a motorcycle ride at approximately 8 a.m., and Hentzel's body was found hours later beside a motorcycle ...

NOBTS helping police in missing student case

 
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is assisting police in the disappearance of John W. Russell, a 39-year-old master of divinity student reported missing April 25. Russell was last seen April 21 at NOBTS around 7:45 p.m., and last had contact with his mother April 22, NOBTS Director of Public Relations Gary Myers confirmed to Baptist Press. NOBTS informed the New Orleans Police Department of Russell's disappearance after receiving a call from his mother April 25, Myers said. NOBTS President Chuck Kelley told BP, "At ...

Alzheimer's considerations include Gospel

 
Alzheimer's disease grips millions of Americans with fear and hopelessness daily, yet the Gospel can infuse a spiritual dynamic into the struggle, asserts a university psychologist and author. He suggests believers should prepare for the possibility that their lives could be upended by the increasingly common hardship. "People will tell me beautiful stories of how their loved ones remembered the Lord even deep into dementia—sometimes through singing well-known hymns, reading familiar Bible passages or praying together," Benjamin Mast, ...

Florida Baptists receive SBC nominations

 
Nominees to serve on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, the four denominational boards—International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, and GuideStone Financial Resources—the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the six seminaries and the Committee on Order of Business have been selected by the 2016 SBC Committee on Nominations. Nominees will serve if elected by the messengers to the 2016 SBC annual meeting June 14-15 in St. Louis. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (82 members): 23 nominations considered, 11 new members, 12 ...

Member charged in Pa. church shooting

 
A member of a Philadelphia Southern Baptist church has been charged with voluntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the shooting death of a fellow church member during a worship service April 24. Mark Storms, 46, allegedly shot and killed 27-year-old Robert Braxton during an altercation in the worship center of Keystone Fellowship's campus in North Wales, Pa., shortly after the 11 a.m. service began. Keystone released a statement to Baptist Press April 28 thanking Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele's office "for its ...

Potential church planters get enhanced screening

 
Church planter Bryan Bair became involved in Southern Baptist life as a youth when he accepted the invitation to join a friend at church. God called Bair into ministry at a Southern Baptist church, and he had served in Southern Baptist churches for nearly two decades. But the 38-year-old, who was in the beginning stages of planting South Point Church in Tallahassee, Fla., was thinking long and hard about whether the new outreach should be part of a denomination. While ...

First Bonifay embraces needs of displaced children

 
Shelly and Carole Chandler looked at their soon-to-be empty nester home and heard God speak. “He moved our hearts,” said Shelly Chandler, to see they could fill their house once again with gales of laughter brought from small children. And that their home could be a vessel to give hope to one more child. “We were led by God to move into foster care as our home becomes available,” said Chandler, pastor of First Baptist Church ...

Roque named Fla. Baptist Hispanic Church Catalyst

 
Longtime Florida Baptist Convention employee Emanuel Roque has been named as the state’s Hispanic Church Catalyst, a position he will assume effective May 2. In this role, he will serve and partner with churches and pastors to plan and facilitate processes that support, strengthen and encourage Hispanic Florida Baptist churches in their mission and Kingdom ministry. “I am excited for the leadership, vision and direction that Emanuel brings to this role,” said Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ ...

Roque nombrado Catalítico de Iglesias Hispanas

 
Emanuel Roque, empleado de largo tiempo de la Convención Bautista de Florida, ha sido nombrado como el Catalítico de Iglesias Hispanas, una posición que será efectiva el 2 de mayo. En este rol el servirá a iglesias y pastores para planificar y facilitar procesos que apoyen, fortalezcan y motiven a iglesias Hispanas Bautistas de Florida en su misión y ministerio del reino. “Estoy emocionado por el liderazgo, visión ...

Mohler, Thomas discuss 'God and Politics'

 
Christians should be involved in the political process but remember their ultimate hope lies beyond any office or vote, said evangelical thinkers R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Cal Thomas at the April 25 “God and Politics” event at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, and Thomas, a political pundit and syndicated columnist, discussed their views regarding the religious beliefs of political candidates before a full Alumni Memorial Chapel. Although the event came about ...

Compassion rises with water levels to help Houston

 
A flash flood on April 18 swamped Houston when as much as one foot of rain fell on the nation's fourth-largest city, claiming seven lives and making it the wettest day there since 1888. Most of the victims died in their cars while trying to traverse flooded roads. An estimated 1,200 Houstonians required rescue assistance. The city finally caught a break on Friday, April 22, their first dry day since the initial downpour, though rain returned on Sunday along with tornado warnings. Citizens reported ...

Study looks at pastors' views on end times

 
Most Protestant pastors believe Jesus will return in the future. But few agree about the details of the apocalypse. A third of America’s Protestant pastors expect Christians to be raptured—or taken up in the sky to meet Jesus—as the end times begin. About half think a false messiah known as the Antichrist will appear sometime in the future. A surprising number think the Antichrist has already been here or isn’t on his ...

Target transgender policy: Protests escalate

 
With more than 736,000 people signing on to boycott Target over the retailer's transgender restroom policy, evangelical leaders are discussing whether consumer boycotts are an effective means of cultural engagement. Many conservative evangelicals apparently disagree with Target's policy of allowing customers to use whichever restroom or fitting room corresponds to their perceived "gender identity." Yet some—like the American Family Association and the watchdog group Faith Driven Consumer—have urged a boycott while others—including Southern Baptist Convention ...

Fatal shooting leaves Pa. church 'grieved'

 
Investigators are seeking to determine whether a fatal shooting April 24 during a worship service at a Philadelphia-area Southern Baptist church was "justified under the law," according to media reports. Keystone Fellowship Church, a congregation with four campuses in the Philadelphia area, confirmed on Facebook that "one man was shot and another is being questioned by police" regarding an incident that occurred during the 11 a.m. worship service at its Montgomeryville campus in North Wales, Pa. The victim, 27-year-old Robert Braxton, ...

Replant brings children back to dying church

 
Nancy Elliott found herself crying alone in the nursery. She had attended Calvary Church in Englewood, Colo., since she was 14. Now, for the first time, they had no children at church on a Sunday morning. "Not one child," Elliot said. "I went into the nursery and started crying and praying to God to bring children." Little did she know her prayers were about to be answered in ways she didn't expect. After serving in youth ministry for several years in ...

Medical missions patient safety is nonprofit's aim

 
While medical missions typically brings to mind images of impoverished people receiving medical treatment, a doctor and pharmacist are aiming to take it to the next level by bringing patient safety more clearly into the picture. Francis Nuthalapathy, a maternal-fetal medicine physician who is president of the nonprofit organization Omer Medical Logistics, said the idea originated with Roger Blackwell, a pharmacist and vice president of operations for the ministry. Blackwell met someone who wanted to donate medications left over from ...

Video of kidnapped Chibok girls surfaces

 
Esther Yakubu has not seen her daughter Dorcas since Boko Haram kidnapped the girl with 275 classmates from the Chibok boarding school in Nigeria two years ago, but Yakubu professes faith that the Lord is with her child. "I know that the angel of the Lord Almighty is with you, and He will continue to be with you wherever you are," Yakubu told the international Pathfinders Justice Initiative for women. "But I would like to advise you, wherever you are, please ...

Ga. fires physician for lay sermons, lawsuit says

 
First Liberty Institute has filed a lawsuit for a bivocational lay minister and physician, alleging the state of Georgia fired him because of sermons he delivered in the pulpit before his employment as a district health director. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) fired Eric Walsh a week after hiring him as a district health director for northwest Atlanta because of the content of sermons he delivered as an ordained lay minister, alleges the suit filed April 20 in U....

Why this film critic stopped going to the movies

 
Guess what question this film critic of 30 years was asked the day after the Academy Awards: "What'd ya think of the Oscars?" Well, for the first time since John Wayne won a golden statuette for "True Grit," I didn't watch the Oscars. Sadly, after three decades reviewing movies I simply dread entering the local Cineplex, let alone watching Hollywood congratulate itself for something I refuse to view. Sounds like an old fogey statement but let me explain why I, albeit ...

After finding healing, Okla. woman directs pregnancy center

 
She left that meeting in 1993 discouraged. Carolyn Anson was told she was not ready to be a volunteer at the Crisis Pregnancy Center (now known as the Hope Pregnancy Center) because she needed healing from her past abortion experience. But, after reading an advertisement in the Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma, Anson would be on her way to not only find healing, but also help other post-abortive women. This eventually led to her new position as the director of Hope Pregnancy ...

Baptist College of Florida named Best Value School

 
The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville has been selected out of nearly 8,000 postsecondary schools as the recipient of a Best Value School award from University Research & Review (URR), a company that seeks to help match prospective students to postsecondary institutions. “It is our distinguished pleasure to present the award to The Baptist College of Florida,” said URR Founder Joseph Schmoke. “We hope current students and alumni take pride in this honor, and anyone searching ...

Labeling porn 'public health hazard' may bring change

 
Labeling pornography a "public health hazard" may prove to be a game-changer. That is the hope of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) and its allies in the attempt to prevent exposure and addiction to pornography and to help those impacted by its use. The effort to reverse the spread of sexually explicit material and its effects received a boost March 29, when Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution saying pornography is establishing "a public health crisis." The first-of-its-kind ...

Evangelical leaders esteem Reformation heritage at T4G

 
The legacy of the Protestant Reformation must endure in the doctrine and ministry of the church, evangelical leaders said at the 2016 Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Ky., April 12-14. Nearly 500 years after Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation in 1517, 10,000 attendees from 43 different countries and 20 denominations filled most of the KFC Yum! Center to hear preaching from the biggest names in Reformed evangelicalism. Over 4,000 attendees identified as members of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. R. Albert Mohler Jr., ...

Witness receives 3 awards from Baptist Communicators Association

 
The Florida Baptist Witness won three awards from the Baptist Communicators Association for work done in 2015. The Witness’ executive editor, Kevin Bumgarner, finished second in the category for First-Person Columns for his piece headlined “Ministry of reconciliation puts those involved on a very satisfying journey,” which appeared in the April 23-May 6, 2015, edition. In that column, Kevin wrote about the importance of resolving differences of opinion in a Christ-honoring manner. Witness Reporter Nicole Kalil took third place in ...

Parody video about J.D. Greear simply for fun, producer says

 
An online parody video titled “J.D. Greear for SBC President Rap” stirred controversy recently due to its inclusion of alleged campaign endorsements by Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entity heads. The video’s producer, Ashley Unzicker, said the two-minute comedy was simply for fun. “As a stay-at-home mother of three,” she said, “I’ve found that writing music, making parodies and shooting silly videos is a fun and creative outlet for me.” ...

Ronnie Floyd calls on Baptists to participate in night of prayer

 
On June 14, the entire Tuesday evening session of the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis will be committed to praying for spiritual leaders, our churches, nation and world. There, perhaps, has never been a time in our generation when we have needed to pray more than now. Testimonies poured in from across the nation after last year's national call to prayer in Columbus, Ohio, where 7,000 Baptists cried out to the Lord together. A common testimony was, "This was ...

SBC president builds ties in Ethiopia

 
When Ethiopian Airlines transports newly purchased Boeing 777s home from the United States, the planes are customarily loaded with humanitarian supplies for the independent country that still struggles with poverty despite significant economic advances. The country's economy was among concerns highlighted when Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd met with key leaders of the country, including Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome and Speaker of the House Abadulla Gemeda. "They talked about ... in their country, about poverty that's existent. They talked about ...

Tenn. governor vetoes Bible as state book, override effort planned

 
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed a bill April 14 that would have made the Bible the official state book, but the measure's sponsors are hopeful a veto override will occur. Rep. Jerry Sexton and Sen. Steve Southerland, both Republicans, told The Tennessean they plan to lead an override effort, which would require only a simple majority in both chambers. The bill passed earlier this month by a 55-38 margin in the state House of Representatives and a 19-8 margin in the ...

Tampa-area pastor has big league ministry

 
Ken Whitten used to dream of playing professional baseball. But even though God closed that door following Whitten's college pitching career nearly 40 years ago at Eastern Illinois University, He reopens another door into baseball for Whitten each spring as major league players and coaches -- especially New York Yankees -- descend on the Tampa, Fla.-area Idlewild Baptist Church, where he has served as pastor for 26 years. With the Yankees' spring training facility less than half an hour away, some 8...

Florida Baptist Convention honors legacy black and multicultural pastors in Miami area

 
The Southeast Regional Center in Hialeah, Fla., transformed its cafeteria into a fancy dinner hall Thursday night (April 14), complete with ceiling ornaments and centerpieces to honor legacy black and multicultural pastors in the region. “These are multicultural pastors who have been part of the Florida Baptist Convention for a long time and we wanted to find a way to reconnect with them,” said Patrick Coats, black and multicultural church consultant. There were more than 20 pastors and wives in ...

J.D. Greear YouTube video raises concern

 
A YouTube video promoting J.D. Greear for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has raised concern. The question is the participation of three SBC entity presidents who appear to be endorsing Greear's election. The "It's Tricky” video is a parody of the late 80s rap song with the same name by Run-DMC. The concern emerged when Greear—pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., and a leading member of Acts 29, a church network that ...

Christians' views on payday loans studied

 
Self-identified Christians in 30 states -- from Alabama to Wyoming -- say it's a sin to lend money to someone who can't afford to pay it back. Most want the government to protect consumers from loans with excessive interest. Still, one in six Christians has taken out a high-interest payday loan, while few of their fellow believers know how such loans work or look to the Bible for guidance about fair lending. Those are among the findings of a new online ...

14 challenges church search committees face

 
I've worked with a number of pastor and staff search teams as they vet possible candidates for their open positions. These folks typically are God-seeking believers who want nothing but God's will to be done. Churches and their search committees face an array of challenges. Among them: 1. Making wise choices for committee members. Just because a person is viewed as a leader doesn't necessarily make him or her a good search team member. These ought to be godly, prayerful, ...

The spiritual renewal of spring

 
In winter, trees lose their leaves, annuals die off completely, perennials die back and lose their color -- nature takes on an appearance of seeming fruitlessness. But then -- spring! Those "dead" seeds are coaxed into life by the warming soil. The seed has enough stored food to live on for a few days until its roots get established, and soon it's preparing for its annual purpose -- to bear fruit for the good of man and the glory of ...

Bible changes Chinese scholar's life

 
Tao Lu never laid eyes on the Word of God until he came to the United States to study advanced computer engineering. That's not unusual in China where Tao grew up, even though his father taught English in a major city. The Chinese Christian movement may be growing rapidly amid periodic crackdowns, but it has yet to reach hundreds of millions of people in the vast communist nation. "Not only did my father never mention the Bible to me, but ...

Women's roles in SBC focus of advisory council

 
A diverse group of 18 women is studying the perspectives and strategies women in Southern Baptist churches bring to the God-given task of fulfilling the Great Commission. They comprise the Women's Ministry Advisory Council appointed by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. The council joins a list of advisory councils Page has appointed to provide insight into the needs, desires and goals of the many groups represented in SBC life. "We are excited about encouraging our ...

Ronnie Floyd: Bringing prayer back

 
Do our churches and the Southern Baptist Convention talk more about evangelism and prayer than practice evangelism and prayer? Our annual statistics show this is definitely true about evangelism. Yet, prayer itself does not have the same type of visible scoreboard of evaluation as evangelism. The Bible says this about Jesus Christ: "… He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray" (Matthew 14:23). If Jesus Himself sensed the deep need to pray and fellowship with God, how much more ...

Orlando Baptist Association offers training for reaching immigrants

 
Mark Weible, church planting director for the Greater Orlando Baptist Association (GOBA), hopes that one day “Orlando would be known more for Jesus Christ than Mickey Mouse.” In a Feb. 6 seminar hosted by GOBA, Weible pointed to Acts 19:10 to introduce his vision to see every person in Central Florida reached for Christ. And reaching every person in Central Florida will help spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, he said. Orlando, like most major metropolitan areas ...

Layman weeps over needs in his native Ethiopia

 
Arkansas corporate executive Haileyesus Abate cries, he says, for the people of his native Ethiopia, a majority Christian nation where numerous tribes still worship nature as deities and have never heard the Gospel. Typical is the Mursi tribe in southwestern Ethiopia, whose men use clay and natural pigments to paint intricate, colorful patterns on their bodies to attract a bride, who likely will have had a hole punched just below her lip before puberty; the hole stretched by the insertion ...

Former Angola Warden Burl Cain exonerated

 
Burl Cain, a longtime warden who infused faith into what had been called the nation's most violent maximum security prison, has been cleared of alleged ethics breeches following investigations by two Louisiana state agencies. "Thank you so much for the prayers," said Cain, former warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, speaking to the state's Baptists in an exclusive interview with the Baptist Message newsjournal. A Southern Baptist, Cain was Angola's warden from February 1995 until Jan. 1 when he retired ...

BCF to host Northeast Florida open house

 
On April 12 beginning at 2:30 p.m., representatives from The Baptist College of Florida will host an informational open house in the education building at Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., in celebration of the Northeast Florida Distance Site. BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen, Site Director Jim Robinett, enrollment representatives, professors, trustees, alumni and admissions counselors will be available to answer questions and share information about all of the opportunities for continued education at the Northeast Florida Distance Site. “...

Daytona Beach pastor reaches biker community

 
At first glance Jim "Cochise" Powell looks like one of the hundreds of bikers from the Daytona Beach, Fla., area. His white mustache and beard, long hair pulled back into a ponytail, tattooed arms and boots certainly seem to identify him as a biker. But those who know him personally know him as Pastor Cochise Chops or Brother Jim. Powell pastors Set Free Daytona, a church with a mission to reach the biker community in Daytona with the Gospel. Powell ...

Cities, states ban travel to Miss., N.C.

 
At least nine U.S. cities and five states have banned non-essential travel by government employees to Mississippi, North Carolina or both, claiming religious liberty bills adopted there discriminate against homosexual and transgendered persons. A Mississippi pastor told Baptist Press he's proud of his state legislature's courage and confused by the seeming hypocrisy of some critics. Pastors in Vermont and Washington -- two states to enact bans -- said such actions are a predictable outworking of the secular worldview that ...

Unashamed outsider: What evangelicals can learn from Lecrae

 
Is this "the year of black memoir?" Imani Perry, professor of African-American studies at Princeton, thinks so, and she places recent books like Ta-Nehisi Coates' "Between the World and Me" and Clifford Thompson's "Twin of Blackness" squarely in the black literary tradition. People, however, may read such memoirs as representing all of black thought. "Telling one's story is one's story," Perry reminds, not a prototype you can foist on all the people in a group.  But this drawback doesn't ...

African-American church embraces Hispanic neighbors

 
At the end of a Black History Month-themed service at St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Anthony Dockery rose to tell about his recent mission trip to El Salvador. The mission team had served in the hometown of Jose Rivas, one of the pastors at St. Stephen. Beyond "good morning" and "God bless you," Dockery had relied on Rivas for Spanish translation while in the Central American country. The African-American congregation enthusiastically applauded the news that 500 people came to the ...

Tommy Green: Celebrate the Cooperative Program

 
The call to champion or celebrate a program rings hollow in most instances. But the call for Florida Baptists to celebrate and champion the Cooperative Program is significant. Since the inception of the Cooperative Program in 1925, Southern Baptist churches have provided funding for the global advancement of the Gospel. The resources advanced from our churches to the Cooperative Program fuels the fire of global missions and evangelism. I prayerfully suggest three observations on the current state of the Cooperative Program. ...

Church makes its home among the homeless

 
Jeff Foshee was at the end of his rope. Haunted by depression, fear and his own misfortunes, he felt he could not hold on any longer. Thanks to a friend's guidance, Foshee's next step landed him at the Houston-area Under Over Fellowship in Conroe, Texas. "When I first came to a Sunday service with Under Over, something clicked. It just felt like home," Foshee says. "I have been here ever since." Jerry Vineyard, meanwhile, also found himself at the end ...

Engaging Muslims, refugees with 'Gospel love' addressed

 
In order to fulfill the Great Commission, the church must learn how to teach and make disciples of the 1.6 million Muslims around the world, doing away with cultural fear and embracing them with Gospel love, said Southern Baptist leaders during the Great Commission Summit at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The three-day event, March 29-31, featured leading thinkers in the Southern Baptist Convention in engaging Islam and handling the refugee crisis, along with student-led prayer for Muslims around the world. With ...

LifeWay moves swiftly toward new headquarters

 
LifeWay Christian Resources appeared to leave little doubt of its aggressive timetable Wednesday (April 6) for construction of its new building, breaking ground for new headquarters just hours after closing the purchase of the property. Within two years, LifeWay expects to move 1,100 employees into a new office building on 2.5 acres in Capitol View, a mixed-use urban development in Nashville's central business district. On Wednesday, the future site of the nine-story, 250,000-square-foot building was primarily dirt and gravel, with front-end loaders waiting ...

Study: TV content ratings system needs reform

 
The television content ratings system has harmed children by failing to protect them from graphic sex, violence and profanity on screen, the Parents Television Council (PTC) reports in a new study analyzing 20 years of broadcasting. Operated by a TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board that provides insufficient oversight, the ratings system has suffered "systemic failures" and should be comprehensively reformed, the PTC announced at an April 4 press conference releasing the report. "Parents who rely on the TV content ratings system to ...

Ga. religious liberty veto lamented, analyzed

 
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's veto of a religious liberty bill March 28 has provoked a stream of responses from social conservatives. Despite a Clout Research poll indicating two-thirds of Georgians supported House Bill 757—the Free Exercise Protection Act—the measure fell just short of a veto-proof majority in each chamber of the Georgia General Assembly. The bill combined elements of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a First Amendment Defense Act and a Pastor Protection Act. The consensus among conservative ...

Donald Trump dealt setback in Wisconsin primary

 
Donald Trump's apparent ascendancy to the Republican presidential nomination suffered a significant setback Tuesday (April 5) in Wisconsin. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas defeated the controversial billionaire/celebrity by 13 percentage points and won 36 of the Midwest state's 42 delegates in the race for the GOP nomination. Wisconsin's primary result increases the possibility of a scenario in which Trump is unable to win the delegates needed to prevent an open convention in July. Democrats also saw their frontrunner lose in Wisconsin. Sen. Bernie ...

Baptists are making the history of the future

 
In an address titled "The History of the Future" in 1994, the late Baptist philosopher and seminary dean L. Russ Bush reminded, "We are living and making the history of the future. What we teach and do today will be what future Christians consider to be their heritage." Bush counseled against novel theological innovation "merely for the sake of newness," since what we establish in the present will become the doctrinal foundation of the future. With this in mind, I am ...

Sale of Baptist Building to impact the nations

 
A sacrificial investment made by Florida Baptists nearly six decades ago will reap a far-reaching global missions impact this year as the State Board of Missions approved a multimillion-dollar contract to sell the Baptist Building property in Jacksonville. Fifty-one percent of the proceeds of the Baptist Building property sale will be directed to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program for worldwide mission causes, pledged Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, during the April 1 meeting at ...

A Cooperative Program for today & future

 
Last fall before speaking at one of our state conventions, I had the privilege to meet a man employed by another major denomination. As we were talking, I asked what he felt was one of the biggest challenges in their denomination. He said their biggest problem is their churches not funding missionaries like they used to. He stated they are searching for a new way to get this done because when the missionaries come to their churches to raise their ...

Mississippi adopts religious freedom bill

 
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed into law a bill safeguarding the religious liberty of individuals and organizations who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings or gender identity transitions. Bryant, a Republican, announced today (April 5) via Twitter that he signed House Bill 1523—the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act. "I am signing HB 1523 into law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state government or ...

Glad my parents didn't let me choose my gender

 
There is a growing trend today that we see repeated in news headlines: Parents choosing to raise their child genderless or as the opposite gender due to the child's preference. Simply put, if a little girl says she wishes she were a boy or a little boy prefers to play with dolls, the parents seek to grant their wish. If I had been raised in a different time, by different parents, I fear I could have been one of them. ...

CP 6.5% ahead of projection at midyear point

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 6.5 percent above the year-to-date SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget projection, and are 3.09 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank S. Page. "This report marks the second successive year that CP contributions have increased over the previous fiscal year's mid-point and is the highest ...

'God's Not Dead 2' opening falls short of predecessor

 
The sequel "God's Not Dead 2" opened much weaker than its 2014 predecessor, trailing the top-grossing "God's Not Dead" in per screen earnings by 72 percent, according to Box Office Mojo statistics. With total earnings of $8.1 million for the April 1-3 weekend, God's Not Dead 2 averaged $3,350 per screen in 2,419 theaters. Its predecessor averaged $11,817 per screen in 780 theaters, earning $9.2 million when it opened in March 2014. "God's Not Dead" was the highest-grossing independent faith film of 2014 at $60.8 million. The sequel's total earnings ranked first among ...

Evangelism initiative keyed to small groups

 
The call to biblical evangelism is becoming a person-to-person, small group initiative in Oklahoma as well as a dozen other states. The Connect>1 Evangelism Campaign, created by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, aims to "take the Gospel to every corner of our state by engaging Sunday School classes and small groups in personal evangelism," said Bob Mayfield, BGCO Sunday School specialist. Sunday School or small groups, as the single largest organization in most churches, are integral to the ...

Baptist state leaders discuss church revitalization

 
Church growth is a "supernatural event, and therefore church revitalization is more of a spiritual issue than a mechanical one," said Ken Hemphill, director for North Greenville University's Center for Church Planting and Revitalization, during a meeting of leaders from 14 Baptist state conventions. Hemphill was a guest speaker at the March 21-22 meeting in Charleston, S.C., where the network of leaders focused on sharing best practices related to work in church revitalization. Also present were representatives from LifeWay Christian ...

Take the drive-by prayer challenge

 
Think about how much time you and your family spend in the car. Then think about how you use that time. Whatever you typically do, I challenge you to use your time to pray as you drive -- even to pray aloud as a family as you go. Think about how many places and people you pass every day for which you might do "drive-by praying": • Other churches. How many churches do you drive by daily, but don't ...

FDA update called 'victory for abortion rights advocates'

 
The Food and Drug Administration has updated its guidelines concerning the abortion drug mifepristone, allowing women to take it later in pregnancy and with reduced medical supervision. The New York Times called the update "an unequivocal victory for abortion rights advocates." Previously, women were permitted to take mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486) up to the seventh week of pregnancy, but that has been extended to 10 weeks. Recommended dosage has been lowered from 600 milligrams to 200 milligrams to reflect "standard medical practice," ...

Fla. pastor helps commission college's international mission team

 
Praying over Northeastern Baptist College's first international mission team was among the highlights of the trustee meeting at the Vermont campus March 7-8. The commissioning service was held in the college's chapel in Bennington for the six students, two faculty members and a faculty spouse who ministered in the Gospel-bleak city of Glasgow, Scotland, March 13-19. NEBC's mission team worked with local IMB missionaries to share the Gospel and create a network base for a Bible study group and eventual ...

Religious freedom tops ERLC legislative agenda

 
Religious freedom leads the issues in the policy plan by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission for the final year of President Obama's administration. The ERLC already has been focusing during this congressional session on many of the bills and initiatives cited in its 2016 legislative agenda. In some cases, the House of Representatives adopted proposals promoted by the commission in 2015, while the Senate has yet to approve those measures. On religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and ...

'God's Not Dead 2' explores religious freedom

 
"God's Not Dead 2," the sequel to the 2014 film about religious freedom of expression, reminds us that in an age when just about everything of a secular or sexual nature is freely discussed in the classroom, Jesus is not allowed to enter. The dramatic sequel from Pure Flix Entertainment concerns a high school teacher who finds herself in legal hot water merely for answering a student's question about Jesus. Containing a significant insight, God's Not Dead 2 (rated PG) has its main ...

Study shows Americans believe religious liberty is declining

 
A growing number of Americans believe religious liberty is on the decline and that the nation's Christians face growing intolerance, according to a survey by LifeWay Research. Those surveyed also noted American Christians complain too much. Those are among the findings of a new study of views about religious liberty from LifeWay Research. Researchers surveyed 1,000 Americans in September 2013 and September 2015 and then compared the results. Two-thirds (63 percent) say Christians face increasing intolerance, up from half (50 percent) in 2013. A similar number (60 ...

New issue of Facts & Trends focuses on power of small churches

 
The power of small churches is the focus of the latest edition of Facts & Trends, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources for pastors and other church leaders. "With the majority of churches in America having weekly attendance below 100, we believe this issue will hit home with and inspire many of our readers," said Carol Pipes, the magazine's editor. The magazine includes the unique opportunities and challenges small churches face on a daily basis as well as examples of how ...

Midwestern Seminary announces ERLC doctoral studies partnership

 
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced a partnership with Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to equip doctoral studies students in becoming the next generation of Christian ethicists. Beginning in May, certain modular-format seminars for Ph.D. and doctor of ministry degrees -- both with an emphasis in Christian ethics -- will be offered to Midwestern Seminary students either in Nashville, Tenn., or Washington, D.C. In addition to Midwestern's ethics faculty, several courses will be taught by ERLC ...

Jim Henry shares about Downtown Baptist Orlando revitalization

 
Leaders who recognize the need and are willing to be involved are critical to church revitalization, speakers agreed at a church revitalization conference held earlier this month at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. The conference, which was sponsored by the Tennessee Baptist Convention and Union, addressed the issue of “Fanning the Flame of Christian Leadership.” Tennessee native Jim Henry, former pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church, Nashville, and First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla., spoke twice during the opening ...

Data-driven strategy focuses on prayer, evangelism

 
Pastor Louis Rosenthal sits at his desk, praying through a list of one hundred names from his neighborhood in McKinney, Texas. He had printed the list from Pray4EveryHome.com, a tool his congregation uses to pray specifically—by name—for all their neighbors. Afterward, Pastor Louis makes a lunchtime run to the store. As he stands in the checkout line, he notices a woman nearby is crying softly. Pastor Louis asks if he can help. After a ...

Southern Baptists criticize Ga. governor's decision to veto religious liberty bill

 
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's March 28 announcement that he will veto the state's religious liberty bill has provoked criticism from social conservatives, including Southern Baptists. Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, told Baptist Press that Deal, a Republican, "missed an opportunity to stand for Georgia values as opposed to Wall Street and Hollywood values. We certainly respect his right to make that decision, but we also respect the right to voice our disappointment with it." House ...

Texas church enlists 'Encore Adults' for Kingdom impact

 
America's Baby Boomers are aging. In 2014, the last of the Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—crossed the threshold into their 50s; and whether they liked it or not, they received their first invitation to join AARP and entered the ranks of "senior adults." Aging Boomers present new challenges for churches, who now must balance ministering to younger Boomers, who often do not consider themselves to be seniors, and their Builder Generation parents, many of whom are still active ...

Judas documentary critiqued as heresy, revisionism

 
A BBC documentary suggesting Judas Iscariot wasn't purely a traitor has drawn criticism from evangelicals as, among other things, "an attempt to undermine the Christian Gospel." "This is nothing new," said Jerry Vines, a former Southern Baptist Convention president who has written and preached on Judas. He noted attempts since the second century to portray Judas more favorably than he is presented in Scripture -- as a traitor who delivered Jesus to the authorities for 30 pieces of silver. Revising Judas ...

Conference speakers urge attendees to be 'driven by truth'

 
Secularization requires that Christians articulate their worldview in defense of the truth, evangelical leaders said at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s inaugural Driven By Truth conference, March 18-19. “A conference like this is important, because from this generation forward no Christian will have a non-apologetic moment, and we must learn how to live faithfully in the world,” Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told the 200 conference attendees. Preaching from John 18:33-38, Mohler said faithful Christians ...

Louisiana minister thankful to be alive after Brussels attack

 
A Louisiana Baptist music minister is thankful to be alive after surviving a terrorist attack March 22 at an airport in Brussels, Belgium. Jeff Slaughter, an interim music minister at First Baptist Church in Greenwood, La., told the Baptist Message he had just walked into the airport departure area to check in for his return flight to Shreveport, La., when he heard the first explosion, just 200 feet away. Moments later, a second bomb exploded. CNN reported today (March 28) the death toll ...

Potential tragedy prevented at Tennessee church's Easter service

 
A "heavily armed" man was subdued and arrested at the Memphis, Tenn.-area Bellevue Baptist Church on Easter Sunday, the congregation's director of security services told Baptist Press. Texas-based church security expert Jimmy Meeks told BP the incident serves as an example of "heads-up" response to a potential threat. The man—31-year-old Marcus Donald—who was taken into custody remains under mental evaluation, according to media reports. Bellevue Pastor Steve Gaines said in a March 28 statement, "Saturday evening ...

Pakistani Easter bombing death toll rising

 
The death toll is rising from a suicide bombing targeting Christians in a crowded park on Easter Sunday in Lahore, Pakistan, with at least 75 dead and more than 368 wounded, 138 of them critically, based on reports from Morning Star News and CNN. Already claiming responsibility for the evening attack and professing to have targeted Christians is the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar terrorist group, a splinter faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that has professed allegiance to ISIS. "We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians ...

What about Easter Monday?

 
We all know about Easter Sunday (resurrection) and Good Friday (crucifixion). Some know about Maundy Thursday (Last Supper). But do you know about Easter Monday, the day after Easter? Known as "Bright Monday" among the Eastern Orthodox, Easter Monday is regarded in the West as the second day of Eastertide, the 50 days from Easter to Pentecost, and in the East as the second day of Bright Week (or Renewal Week). Easter Monday is observed by many all over the world. ...

NAMB VP: Make evangelism central to Easter message

 
The Easter service drew a packed crowd, so when 12-year-old Steve Davis entered the auditorium, the only seat he found was at the side of the platform. The crowd didn't intimidate Davis; he was the first to respond to the invitation that morning to profess faith in Christ. A few minutes later, he was not alone on the front pew where he sat to fill out paperwork at First Baptist Church in Richmond, Ind. A favorite aunt and uncle also ...

The cross—far more than jewelry

 
What would you think if people everywhere wore jewelry shaped or imprinted with an electric chair? Think of it—beautiful and ornate jewelry made of gold or silver and adorned with diamonds or other precious stones. No, fine jewelry, beloved jewelry in the shape of an electric chair—the symbol of death to murderers—does not sound appealing at all. Yet over these 2,000 years, the cross—the place of Roman execution for murderers and hardened criminals&...

Florida Baptists minister to Syrian refugees

 
The Syrian refugee crisis happening thousands of miles away from Florida might soon come closer to home as the federal government seeks to relocate 10,000 Syrian refugees, with a couple hundred coming to the Sunshine State in 2016. There are 20 million refugees in the world, with almost 49,000 coming to Florida last year, according to data from World Relief and the Florida Department of Children and Families. About 100 of them were Syrian. This data represents a special opportunity for Florida Baptists to reach ...

Baptist disaster relief reaches toward the nations

 
The shantytowns of Cape Town, South Africa, could be among the initial disaster relief deployments for the Baptist Union of Southern Africa. In a partnership with the Kentucky Baptist Convention facilitated by the Baptist Global Response humanitarian organization, the Baptist union's disaster relief ministry is in the early stages of development, according to reports by the KBC Kentucky Today news site and KBC Western Recorder newsjournal. South Africa is among several countries where Baptist state convention disaster relief leaders have ...

Louisiana Pastor David Crosby to be SBC president nominee

 
Louisiana Pastor David Crosby will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, fellow Louisiana Pastor Fred Luter announced today (March 24). "I have watched David the last 10 years here in New Orleans as he has taken the leadership of all the churches and pastors of our city in helping to rebuild New Orleans, which everybody knows was totally destroyed [in 2005] in Hurricane Katrina," Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said in an interview, telling Baptist ...

6 ways you can champion a church plant

 
Each Sunday, we'd haul baby beds, sound equipment and chairs to our temporary meeting place. We were church planters, and though it was hard work, the results were awesome. Flash forward to present day. Our son-in-law and daughter serve as church planting pastor and worship leader for a new church. Every Sunday, they load a trailer to haul all kinds of equipment to their downtown Indianapolis meeting site. America is still a great mission field. As a Southern Baptist, you ...

Russell Moore: Let's stop millennial bashing

 
The Internet lit up recently with outrage when a 20-something woman complained about how hard it was to live in San Francisco, because her job didn't pay her enough. The post, directed toward the woman's employer, Yelp, caused many to point out that millennials are, as a generation, lazy, self-obsessed and entitled. The controversy caught my attention because I tend to hear similar things within the church directed toward millennial Christians. I don't feel qualified to speak to the general ...

Analysis: Brussels, terror and Easter

 
Once again, innocent blood stains the ground and fear fills the air in Europe. The March 22 airport and subway bombings in Brussels, claimed by the ISIS Islamic terror group, killed more than 30 people, wounded at least 170—and traumatized a region still reeling from the November massacre in Paris, multiple bombings in NATO member Turkey and warnings of more attacks to come. (Regular ISIS—or Al Qaeda—inspired attacks continue to kill hundreds in the Middle East, Central ...

Pornography addiction & steps to freedom

 
In every age and culture there are certain habits of sinful behavior that are particularly common and overwhelmingly destructive. In modern Western cultures one of the most soul-destroying habits is consumption of pornography, which leads us to commit adultery in our hearts. For this reason (see Matthew 5:28) we should give special scrutiny to how habits of porn consumption develop and how they can, by the power of the Gospel, be overcome. Job 31:1 describes how to sever the shackles of porn. ...

Florida Baptists among Disaster Relief volunteers serving in Louisiana

 
When flood victim Lynell Davis walked into the Southern Baptist Incident Command Center at Woodlawn Park Baptist Church, longtime Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer Marlene Thompson could see that he was distraught. "He looked like he hadn't slept in days," said Thompson of Colyell, La. "He sat down and was shaking, said he hadn't had food." The volunteers at Woodlawn Park in Hammond, La., provided Davis with food, and then began the process of completing forms for disaster relief team ...

Florida among states with laws to help pastors decline gay weddings

 
Pastor Protection Acts adopted in multiple states and under consideration in others seek to protect the right of ministers not to perform same-sex weddings. But the bills have drawn mixed reviews from religious liberty proponents. Three state legislators who have served as Southern Baptist ministers told Baptist Press that Pastor Protection Acts are helpful even though they should be supplemented by broader guarantees of religious liberty in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage. Roger ...

Florida Pastor Stephen Rummage to chair SBC Committee on Resolutions

 
Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd has named the members of the Committee on Resolutions for the June 14-15 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis. Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, appointed the 10-member committee in keeping with the provision in SBC Bylaw 20 that its members be named at least 75 days prior to the start of the annual meeting. Floyd named Stephen Rummage of Florida as committee chairman and Jason Duesing of Missouri as vice ...

IMB baptisms hit lowest level since 1969

 
Overseas baptisms for 2015 dropped to 54,762 from the 190,957 reported for 2014, according to information submitted by the International Mission Board in response to a request by the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. Likewise, the number of new churches fell from 13,824 to 3,842 over the same one-year period. The baptism figure represents the lowest level reported in 46 years. A note explaining the declines states the decrease is “due to one large CPM no longer reported” (CPM refers to “church planting movement&...

IMB addresses decreased baptism numbers

 
Decreases in the number of baptisms and new churches reported by International Mission Board missionaries during the past decade reflect changes in data-reporting methods and missions strategy, not a lack of evangelistic ministry. That's the conclusion of a March 21 IMB news release issued in response to observations that overseas baptisms for 2015 are at their lowest level since 1969 -- 54,762, according to the IMB's 2016 Ministry Report to the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, down from a high of 609,968 reported for 2007. IMB President ...

South Carolina family seeks to reach 'unwanted'

 
Imagine quitting your job, putting your roomy home up for sale, paring down your possessions by way of a yard sale, saying goodbye to family and friends, and moving your family nearly two hours away to set up housekeeping in a singlewide in the middle of a crime-plagued trailer park. Grant and Amber Hinson can't imagine doing anything else. In May 2013, after praying about the move they felt God was preparing them for, Grant and Amber and their two children ...

NCAA pressed to defend transgender athletes

 
A homosexual advocacy group is pressuring the NCAA to exclude from its membership all schools with federal government approval to "discriminate" against transgender individuals on religious grounds. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. predicted the NCAA eventually will succumb to pressure from activists and grant the request to ban schools with a biblically orthodox view of human sexuality from America's most prominent college athletics association. Campus Pride, a coalition of more than 80 homosexual and transgender advocacy groups, ...

Pastor Jim Henry to conference attendees: Deacons are servants first

 
Jim Henry has a love for deacons that grows stronger with each passing year. From the surgeon who shined the shoes of his prayer group members at First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla., to the small group of deacons who “had his back” at a rural church in Mississippi during days of racial tension in the 1960s, Henry knows his ministry has been made easier by deacons who held to the servant model of leadership. Henry, senior pastor of ...

Clearwater’s Calvary Baptist Church celebrates 150 years of Gospel witness

 
Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla., honored its past while casting a mission and ministry vision for the future as the congregation celebrated its 150th anniversary March 5-6. “Founded in 1866, Calvary has stood for a century and a half as a faithful Gospel witness in our city and in the entire Tampa Bay area,” said Pastor Willy Rice. “We looked back to honor the past and expressed gratitude by worshipping God and thanking people who came before ...

Contemporary Baptist historians: St. Patrick not 'a closet Baptist'

 
In William Cathcart's "Baptist Encyclopedia," a catalog of Baptist doctrines, organizations and individuals, there is a surprising entry under the letter P: "Patrick, Saint, the Apostle of Ireland." Perhaps more surprising is that Cathcart, a 19th-century Baptist historian, was not alone in claiming Patrick for the Baptist tradition. Pastor W.A. Criswell of First Baptist Church in Dallas and Pastor Wayne Dehoney then of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn.—both of whom went on to become Southern Baptist ...

Texas teenagers lead 5 to Christ at Wendy's restaurant

 
A group of Texas cheerleaders in a crowded Wendy's restaurant near the University of Texas at Arlington wound up with more than fast food one Saturday when they met a group of teens in town for a youth evangelism conference. "We encouraged the [students] to pray for one person to share the Gospel with," said Bobby Worthington, Criswell College associate professor of missions and evangelism who assisted that weekend with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention's (SBTC) Student Evangelism Conference ...

Southern Baptist leaders commend John Kerry's genocide label for ISIS

 
Southern Baptist and other religious freedom advocates commended the Obama administration's declaration Thursday (March 17) that the Islamic State's murderous campaign against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East is genocide. The announcement by Secretary of State John Kerry provided a satisfactory resolution to what concerned observers had feared for four months would be a disturbing decision by the administration. Religious liberty advocates urged Kerry and President Obama to reverse course after it was reported in mid-November the State Department ...

Trump, Clinton score convincing victories; Rubio drops out of race

 
Donald Trump won the Republican primaries Tuesday in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio decided to suspend his campaign as a result, according to multiple news sources. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primaries in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio. Trump’s win in Florida didn’t surprise a lot of people, but the magnitude of his win did. Trump carried every county except Miami-Dade, which Rubio won. Ted Cruz finished a distant ...

2016 Florida legislative wrapup: ‘Pastor protection’ bill becomes law

 
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed the “pastor protection” bill into law, guaranteeing pastors and churches in the Sunshine State immunity from litigation if they refuse to perform same-sex weddings based on religious beliefs. Some people have said that the bill was not necessary because Florida pastors are not facing attacks on their religious freedom. “Notwithstanding one isolated case in Houston, Texas, pastor and ministers are far from being the most vulnerable to Florida discrimination lawsuits in 2016,&...

SCOTUS pick Merrick Garland lacks record on social issues, critics say

 
Merrick Garland, a federal judge described in media reports as a "moderate" with little judicial record on abortion or same-sex marriage, is President Obama's choice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Announcing his pick from the White House Rose Garden today (March 16), Obama praised Garland's ability to build consensus among "colleagues with wide-ranging judicial philosophies" and told Senate Republicans failing to consider the nomination would be "an abdication of the Senate's constitutional ...

ERLC, IMB urge prayer for Syrian refugees

 
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is collaborating with the International Mission Board and other organizations to urge prayer today (March 15) for the millions of refugees of the Syrian civil war. The March 15 focus of the campaign -- #PrayForRefugees -- comes on the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle Eastern country. The ERLC and its partners are calling for churches, small groups, Christian organizations, families and individuals to pray for the more than 13.5 million ...

In new book, O.S. Hawkins redefines true 'VIP'

 
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins, a golfer since boyhood, says his favorite holes to play are the par 3s. "It only takes one really good shot out of three to make par," Hawkins noted. But while one good shot out of three can lead to success on a golf course par 3, it doesn't lead to success for influential people, he acknowledged. It takes all three factors—vision, integrity and purpose—to be men and women of influence. That's ...

Torrential Gulf Coast rains challenge disaster-relief efforts

 
  Storm waters have damaged an estimated 5,000 homes in Louisiana alone in about 28 parishes, and that number likely will rise. As water recedes in one town and recovery begins, it's likely cresting in another. Some of the state's bigger rivers have yet to crest. "This flood was not a respecter of any one place or people," said David Abernathy, the Louisiana Baptist Convention's disaster-relief incident commander. "This thing hit everybody. Rivers and lakes are cresting at records never seen before." ...

Willy Rice named chairman of SBC's Committee on Committees

 
Appointments to the Southern Baptist Convention's Committee on Committees have been announced by SBC President Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. The Committee on Committees has 68 members, two from each of the 34 states and regions qualified for representation on boards of SBC entities. The Committee on Committees will assemble in St. Louis just prior to the SBC's June 14-15 sessions to nominate members of the Committee on Nominations who, in turn, nominate trustees for the boards of ...

Prospective students preview The Baptist College of Florida

 
Excitement was in the air on March 11 at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, as more than 100 prospective students and their families attended Spring Preview Day to see if BCF is where they should continue their education. The day began with registration in the Wellness Center, where students received bags filled with information regarding the many facets and areas of life at BCF. During the registration time, prospective students were able to visit exhibits and booths dedicated to providing ...

Miami GOP debate: Israel policy divides Donald Trump, rivals

 
A divide on policy toward Israel became evident between Donald Trump and his three remaining rivals during a March 10 Republican presidential debate in Miami. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio all argued the U.S. president should not remain neutral in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority but must stand with Israel. Trump said multiple times he is "pro-Israel" but argued the president should take a "somewhat neutral" posture toward the ...

Southern Baptist churches in Texas take part in Harvest America

 
Overflow crowds swelled Arlington's AT&T Stadium for Harvest America, a North Texas evangelistic event months in the making. Following an evening of worship and a call to follow Christ as Savior by California mega-church Pastor Greg Laurie, more than 25,000 professions of faith were reported. Hundreds of thousands in 123 countries also tuned in for the March 6 event via radio, television, Internet stream or remote broadcast at 7,200 host locations, crusade organizers reported, adding that 750 local churches were involved in bringing ...

Budget shortfalls hamper 3 in 10 churches surveyed

 
When it comes to finances, the new normal for many American churches seems to be "just getting by." A third of Protestant senior pastors say their church's giving was under budget in 2015, according to LifeWay Research. One in five saw their finances decline. Overall, about half of pastors say the economy has negatively affected their churches. Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research, says pastors are still uneasy about their church's finances. "Wages grew in 2015 and inflation and unemployment remained ...

Louisiana native planting a church in his childhood neighborhood

 
Ryan Rice once despised the church. Then he found love. Growing up in greater New Orleans, an aunt read the Bible to him. Rice found the stories about Jesus fascinating. "I was the kid who raised his hand to answer every Bible question," Rice said of his early exposure to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. When he turned 8, his mother married a man who was an abuser and drug user. As a child just discovering the Bible, he learned ...

Waterfront Church to be a fort in nation's capital

 
Zack Randles believes that the nation's capital needs another fort, and he's willing to build that fortified structure. The fort he envisions will not look anything like the military installations that protect the hub of America's government—this fort will be a church. The young west Texan set his heart toward Washington during his senior year at Oklahoma State University, where he studied sociology. He committed to God in prayer to "do whatever you want me to do." Randles ...

SCOTUS, Cuba, Hillary Clinton's character discussed at Miami Democratic debate

 
The Supreme Court, immigration, human rights in Cuba and Hillary Clinton's character were among the topics discussed during a March 9 Democratic presidential debate in Miami featuring the former secretary of state and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Co-sponsored by Univision with some questions asked in Spanish, the debate saw no mention of same-sex marriage or abortion until the evening's final question drew a promise from Clinton to nominate Supreme Court judges who support abortion rights. In nominating justices, Clinton said, "you ...

Creativity meets church planting in Montreal

 
When Tony Silveira's family arrived in Montreal in 2006, the Portuguese native was not naive. After starting churches in Toronto for 12 years and assisting with efforts in Montreal, he knew challenges existed in cities where there was an apparent resistance to religion. "In general, churches don't have a good reputation," Silveira said. "Religious words are curse words." A city that he now says is against religion was once nicknamed "the city of 100 bell towers," evidenced by the presence of so many ...

Free access to voters guide in March 10-23 issue

 
Every so often an event so important comes along that we cannot keep our exclusive content behind our paywall for subscribers only. Such is the case with our March 10-23 print edition, which is highlighted by a voters guide for the Florida presidential primaries scheduled for March 15. “Our country has rarely had as much at stake as we do during the 2016 presidential election,” said Executive Editor Kevin Bumgarner. “The next president will continue to set the tone ...

ERLC conference to address cultural engagement

 
Gospel-centered cultural engagement will be the theme of the third national conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "Onward," the ERLC's 2016 National Conference, will be held Aug. 25-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. The event will focus on helping Christians apply the Gospel of Jesus to interaction with various aspects of a culture that is growing increasingly hostile to that message while remaining faithful to the Bible. Conference topics to ...

GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins explains keys to influential leadership

 
A “very influential person” can shape a lasting legacy, said Southern Baptist leader O.S. Hawkins in a March 3 chapel message at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. "The world has a way of forgetting those folks who deemed themselves important people, but it has a long memory when it comes to remembering those who have influenced our lives,” said Hawkins, president and chief executive officer of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. ...

NYC bathroom order called 'one-way tolerance'

 
A New York City executive order underscoring the requirement that city agencies allow transgender persons to use any restroom they choose is among the latest round of cultural challenges to which believers are responding. In other developments, Georgia's Republican governor has suggested his opposition to a bill that would allow wedding vendors to decline service to same-sex couples based on religious convictions; Hawaii legislators are considering a proposal to ban licensed counselors from attempting to help minors overcome same-sex attraction; ...

Tennessee Pastor Steve Gaines to be SBC president nominee

 
Tennessee Pastor Steve Gaines will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Georgia Pastor Johnny Hunt announced today (March 9). "When Steve Gaines shared his prayer journey he and [his wife] Donna had travelled, I was touched by his clear call to allow himself to be nominated," Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., wrote in a news release stating his intention to nominate Gaines during the SBC annual meeting June 14-15 in St. Louis. "Steve struggled ...

SBC President Ronnie Floyd wants to finish strong

 
This week I am entering my last 100 days as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Someone told me it would be a two-year sprint and, unquestionably, it has been. Honestly, it seems like it was just yesterday this journey began, though my team may feel otherwise. I am very committed to finishing strong. Please understand, I do not know how presidents before me led during this season relating to the topics below, or how the ones who follow me will. ...

NAMB President Kevin Ezell: Don't wait to say 'Send me'

 
Not long ago I had the privilege of visiting with 1,200 college students for the weekly meeting of The Salt Company, a ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, near the campus of Iowa State University. Cornerstone was birthed from The Salt Company 21 years ago. The goal of The Salt Company was to reach students at Iowa State for Christ and today this ministry keeps that as its primary goal. Two years ago Cornerstone planted Candeo church in Waterloo, Iowa, near ...

Marriage & family author/speaker Gary Smalley leaves large legacy

 
Gary Smalley, a self-effacing yet prolific author and auditorium-packing speaker on marriage and the family, died March 6 in Branson, Mo. A cause of death for Smalley, 75, had not been reported at Baptist Press' mid-afternoon deadline March 8. "Gary Smalley was a tremendous communicator and personality," said Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. "When he spoke at our church, the place was packed, people were helped and hundreds of marriages were ...

Ted Cruz makes gains on Donald Trump in GOP race

 
Sen. Ted Cruz cut into frontrunner Donald Trump's delegate lead March 5, providing evidence the presidential nominee of the Republican Party should not be considered a foregone conclusion. Cruz and Trump split four states, but the senator from Texas won 16 more delegates than the billionaire businessman. By winning the Kansas and Maine caucuses comfortably, Cruz outpaced Trump, 69-53, in delegates gained. Trump won the Louisiana primary and the Kentucky caucus but by less than five percent in each state. In the ...

Florist who refused gay wedding gets appeal

 
The highest court in Washington state has agreed to hear the appeal of florist Barronelle Stutzman, who was found guilty of violating state laws and the constitutional rights of a gay couple when she refused to arrange flowers for their wedding, citing religious beliefs. The Washington Supreme Court will hear the appeal of Stutzman, a 70-year-old Southern Baptist grandmother who owns Arlene's Flowers in Richmond, possibly as early as its spring 2016 session beginning in May, according to the court's official ...

South Florida pastor baptizes son, 469 others

 
When David Hughes was called as pastor of Church by the Glades in 1998, 470 was the average weekly attendance. Now nearly 18 years later in just one weekend, the South Florida church stirred the baptismal waters with 470 new believers in Christ. The correlation of numbers was "catalytic," Hughes said. "It was very organic. It was one of these 'trust God moments and see God at work.'" Leading the baptismal candidates was a child, as Hughes baptized his 7-year-old son, Zane, who ...

Donald Trump's character draws focus during Detroit GOP debate

 
Whether GOP front-runner Donald Trump is morally fit to be president drew extended focus during a March 3 Republican presidential debate in Detroit that also included discussion of religious liberty, adoption by same-sex couples, judicial nominations and the water crisis in Flint, Mich. Trump's opponents, and at times the Fox News moderators, suggested Trump's alleged unkindness toward others, inconsistent policy positions and business impropriety are unbefitting a U.S. president. Trump countered that he is "flexible" rather than inconsistent, his business ...

Baptist College of Florida’s online business program recognized by website

 
The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville was identified as one of the top colleges for online business degrees in a recent ranking by CollegeValuesOnline.com. BCF was ranked 10th, with comparison criteria that included graduation rate and tuition rates. CollegeValuesOnline.com is an interactive website that seeks to provide assistance for students in selecting the best college for each individual situation by offering rankings of schools and various degree programs. According to the CollegeValuesOnline.com article, “Whether they ...

H.B. Charles Jr.: Christian proclamation requires Christ-centeredness

 
Christian proclamation requires Christ-centeredness in message, motivation and ministry, H.B. Charles Jr., told attendees Feb. 23 during the opening session of Proclaim 16, the National Religious Broadcasters’ International Christian Media Convention. Charles, pastor of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., urged all Christians, as well as church and ministry leaders, to realize: “[I]f you have Jesus, you already have enough.” Christ’s sufficiency, as well as His sovereignty and supremacy, should not be “...

National CP 7.19 percent ahead of projection

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 7.19 percent above the year-to-date budgeted projection and 1.46 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Frank S. Page. The total includes receipts from state conventions and fellowships, churches and individuals for distribution according to the 2015-16 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget. As of Feb. 29, ...

Florida House passes bill expanding use of medical marijuana

 
The Florida House of Representatives approved the expansion of medical marijuana in a 99-16 vote on Thursday. House Bill 307 makes low-THC cannabis available for eligible patients to purchase from dispensing organizations. It also makes allowance for three more dispensing organizations once there are 250,000 eligible patients registered. Those opposed to the bill expressed that passing it was the first step in opening the doors to more people being allowed to legally use marijuana. “As much as I love the intention, ...

David Platt looks forward after IMB 'reset'

 
Following an "organizational reset" that saw more than 1,100 International Mission Board personnel transition away from the board, President David Platt told a March 3 live stream audience he is ready to focus on the future. "I really want to shift the conversation from talking about numbers and finances to talking about how this army of brothers and sisters going out specifically from Southern Baptist churches across North America can make the Gospel known among the nations," Platt told an online audience ...

Depression, suicide focus of Christian counseling conference

 
Encouraging those in attendance to adopt a "theology of life," Frank S. Page delivered the keynote address during a Christian counseling conference that focused on depression. Ouachita Baptist University's Pruet School of Christian Studies hosted the sixth annual Conference on Issues in Christian Counseling at OBU in Arkadelphia, Ark., on Feb. 26. Sponsored by Ouachita, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, the one-day conference brought together a total of 160 mental health professionals—counselors, nurses ...

Religious liberty violations recounted at NRB convention

 
As followers of Christ in America experience increasing attacks against their religious liberty, Christian journalists have an opportunity to lay the groundwork for rights of conscience to prevail, an attorney and a Fox News commentator said at Proclaim 16, the National Religious Broadcasters' International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, Tenn. Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of legal advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom, said during an NRB panel discussion that ADF is contacted nearly every day by Christians whose religious liberty is ...

J.D. Greear to be nominated for SBC president

 
North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins announced today (March 2). Greear, 42, "is leading his generation to live out a passion for the SBC, missions and the local church," Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., wrote in a news release stating his intention to nominate Greear at the SBC annual meeting in June. During the 14 years Greear has pastored The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, ...

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton make gains on Super Tuesday

 
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton piled up more victories on Super Tuesday, further raising the question of whether they can be stopped from winning the presidential nominations of their political parties. Trump—the celebrity billionaire—won the Republican vote in seven states on the busiest day of the nomination season, while Clinton—the former secretary of state and first lady—also gained victories in seven states March 1 in her effort to win the Democratic nod. Even ...

Missionary couple asks Florida church: ‘How can we help you?’

 
It wasn’t what the members of Church at the Cross in Orlando, Fla., expected to hear during a Sunday morning service. A missionary couple was coming to town to speak to them, so they had expected to see a PowerPoint presentation of photos from distant lands—elephants and mud huts or skyscrapers and crowds of sad, stoic faces. They had readied themselves to experience a tug on their pocketbooks to support international missions. But Texans Jeremiah and ...

Anne Graham Lotz shares difference prayer makes

 
Anne Graham Lotz encouraged listeners at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to be like Daniel, who was compelled to pray, centered in prayer and persistent in his petitions. Southeastern Seminary hosted "An Evening with Anne," featuring Lotz, renowned author and speaker and daughter of Billy Graham. More than 900 guests attended the Feb. 25 event hosted by Women's Life. To open the evening, Lotz expressed thanks to everyone who has supported her family since the passing of her late husband, Danny Lotz. "I ...

Super Tuesday: Voting and the 'evangelical'

 
As pollsters analyze the voting patterns of "evangelicals" in Super Tuesday presidential primaries, some pastors and theologians have noted the mainstream media's failure to account for immense diversity among the movement claiming that label. Voters went to the polls March 1 in 13 states and one U.S. territory, including several so-called Bible Belt states where evangelical voters were expected to exert considerable influence. Yet confusion over the term "evangelical" has led Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore to stop using it to ...

New book: Pro-life women are 'pro-woman'

 
A misleading concept prevalent about women is the focus of a new book from the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's publishing arm. "There is an idea out there that those who are pro-choice are pro-woman, and the rest of us do not care about women," said Trillia Newbell, editor of "Women on Life: A Call to Love the Unborn, Unloved and Neglected." "This, to me, couldn't be further from the truth." The book features 16 female writers addressing a ...

Study: Churches twice as likely to fear refugees than help them

 
When it comes to helping refugees, Protestant churches and their pastors are often separated by faith and fear, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research. Most pastors say Christians should lend a hand to refugees and foreigners, and believe caring for refugees is a privilege. But pastors say their churches are twice as likely to fear refugees as they are to help them. “Pastors believe Scripture tells Christians to care for refugees and foreigners,” said Ed Stetzer, ...

With his stains removed, Connecticut man returns to the streets

 
David Holland says his single mom raised him right. He went to church and knew about God. But when he got older, he "branched out into different areas." Soon, he was mired in a life of crime and addiction. Between the ages of 21 and 40, Holland estimates he spent eight-plus years incarcerated for short-term sentences on a range of charges, such as cocaine possession with intent to sell and domestic violence. Incarceration, Holland now believes, was God working to rescue him ...

David Platt announces March 3 live streamed Q&A about future of IMB

 
International Mission Board President David Platt will host a one-hour live streamed video session on the entity's future at 11 a.m. Eastern Time March 3, answering questions and responding to comments submitted via Twitter under #IMBLive. Platt has expressed a desire to move the conversation beyond discussion of the 983 missionaries and 149 stateside staff members leaving IMB through a Voluntary Retirement Incentive (VRI) and a Hand Raising Opportunity (HRI) collectively aimed at balancing the entity's budget. Registration is available free online to ...

Transcript: Ronnie Floyd's remarks to SBC Executive Committee

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., delivered the following message at the SBC Executive Committee's Feb. 22 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. It is with great joy in a spirit of humility that I come to you tonight after serving as your president for the past 20 months. Thank you Southern Baptists for this blessed but overwhelming entrustment of leadership. To God first, thank You. To my dear friend of ...

Southwestern Seminary's Men's Game Banquet sees 191 professions of faith

 
Nearly 2,000 men and boys gathered for the Men's Game Banquet on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. United by a love for the great outdoors, 191 responded to the Gospel message by surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ. The Feb. 20 banquet in Fort Worth, Texas, featured free barbeque, exhibits, door prizes and speakers Paige Patterson and David Morris, who shared hunting stories regarding some of their most prized trophies. But the clear focus of the evening appeared to be the ...

Amid digital-age porn, kids need 'safe place'

 
Traylor Lovvorn saw porn for the first time when he was 8. It set him on a path that ripped his family apart for years before God healed him and put them back together. It breaks his heart. It sobers him. And it makes him wonder what's about to happen in the next few years. "Today's 8- to 12-year-olds, when they are first exposed to porn it is not a Playboy or Penthouse centerfold—it is much more graphic and ...

Israeli ambassador: Terrorists fueled by 'hope'

 
The poison spread by militant Islam is rooted in hope among Mideast terrorists, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said Tuesday (Feb. 23) during Proclaim 16, the National Religious Broadcasters' International Christian Media Convention. Dermer, along with Fox News legal analyst Jeanine Pirro, voiced the warning during the convention's Media Leadership Dinner at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. The "biggest mistake people make in dealing with terrorism" is to "think terrorism is a product of poverty or despair. It ...

David Platt 'fairly confident' IMB can handle added VRI, HRO costs

 
The International Mission Board is "fairly confident" it will be able to handle additional costs incurred by a larger than anticipated number of employees leaving the workforce in the entity's "reset" to balance its budget, according to IMB President David Platt. The 2016 budget already had a $23 million deficit, based on an anticipated 600-800 employees taking the Voluntary Retirement Incentive (VRI) and Hand Raising Opportunity (HRO). But 1,132 missionaries and employees opted to take the incentives, Platt announced Feb. 24. "Our 2016 budget as ...

What church planters want you to know

 
What is a church planter? A simple definition of a church planter is one who plants (or starts) a new local church. That leads to the question, "What is a good definition for church?" The word "church" originally comes from the Greek word "ekklesia," which is defined as "an assembly" or "called-out ones." The root meaning of "church" is not that of a building but of a people. Beyond just a Greek definition of the word, the New Testament model ...

Get out of your comfort zone, and let your political voice be heard

 
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Romans 13:1 Many followers of Christ would rather avoid any involvement in politics, and that’s understandable given the increasingly ugly headlines that seem to dominate so many campaigns during each new election season. In other words, I see where you’re coming from. I have been a journalist all my adult life, and involvement in politics beyond ...

David Platt to 26 new missionaries: God is worthy of surrender, sacrifice

 
Asked to confront the lostness of the world, 26 new missionaries were approved by International Mission Board trustees Feb. 23 and commissioned later that evening at the International Learning Center outside of Richmond, Va. The event was broadcast via livestream, allowing friends, family members and churches a chance to hear the testimonies of the new group of missionaries. Only darkened silhouettes were shown in order to protect the security of Southern Baptist personnel who will be serving in dangerous destinations. Of the ...

IMB: 1,132 missionaries, staff accept VRI, HRO

 
The International Mission Board announced today (Feb. 24) that 983 missionaries and 149 stateside staff have transitioned outside the mission entity during the past six months as a result of its voluntary retirement and resignation programs. IMB President David Platt told trustees the organization now expects to operate a balanced budget for 2017 due to its 2015-16 organizational "reset" processes and the generosity of Southern Baptists who have given sacrificially. "IMB is now in a much healthier financial position," Platt said during IMB's Feb. 22...

SBC Executive Committee wrapup: Small-state representation considered

 
After nearly an hour of discussion, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee's officers withdrew a recommendation to propose granting representation on three key SBC committees to Baptists in pioneer regions. EC leadership promised, however, to make an alternate proposal with the same goal but addressing logistical concerns raised by EC members. In other business during the EC's Feb. 22-23 meeting in Nashville, Tenn., the committee recommended a change in the method for asking questions of entity leaders during SBC annual ...

Charlotte (N.C.) council passes LGBT ordinance

 
After voting down a highly controversial sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) ordinance in March 2015, the Charlotte (N.C.) City Council passed a similar measure Feb. 22 requiring places of "public accommodation" to abide by a nondiscrimination policy that includes "marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression." Opponents say the ordinance allows sexual predators to visit the bathrooms or locker rooms of their choice, endangering women and children. The ordinance, which passed on a 7-4 vote, now ...

Seminary professor graduates from police academy

 
For counseling professor John Babler, intertwining ministry as a fire department chaplain with academic training has been a natural part of life and work. Now, he also is a police academy graduate. Babler, a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary faculty member, attended the North Central Texas Council of Governments Regional Police Academy during 22 weeks of a sabbatical last year. Upon graduation, he became a reserve police officer for the Fort Worth-area Forest Hill Police Department. Babler already serves as chaplain for ...

Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem: 'Without my faith I wouldn’t be here'

 
Growing up on the mean streets of Miami, nothing was given to Udonis Haslem nor did anything come easy. At almost every corner, his faith was tested. His biggest test came in July 2010 when his mother, Debra Haslem, died of cancer at age 53. “Growing up in the inner city, losing my mother to cancer and losing a lot of family and friends to drugs and violence and different things—my faith has been tested a lot,” said ...

Cooperative Program legacy is Frank Page's resolve

 
"There will be a day when I'm gone, and there will be a day when you are gone," Frank S. Page said. "What kind of legacy will we leave behind," Page asked, "as the Executive Committee, as students, as professors, as preachers, as laymen and women?" Page reviewed the legacy Southern Baptists are building through the Cooperative Program when he addressed the opening session of the Feb. 22-23 Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, Tenn. "We need to be resolute in ...

'Hope in God,' Ronnie Floyd tells Southern Baptists

 
Southern Baptists must recognize God as our strength and lead evangelicals into the future with His Light and the truth of His Word, Ronnie Floyd said at the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee's Feb. 22-23 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. "Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, ... in this dark hour in America, when we wrestle within ourselves to not become downcast or discouraged with all that is happening in our nation," Floyd said, "we must respond in obedience to what the ...

'Risen' movie takes first place among new releases

 
"Risen," a film that tells of Jesus' resurrection from the eyes of an unsaved soldier who participated in His crucifixion, opened in first place at the box office among new wide releases the weekend of Feb. 19-21, Box Office Mojo reported. The movie grossed an estimated $11.8 million, well ahead of its nearest competitor among new releases "The Witch," which took in $8.68 million. Among all films at theaters, "Risen" brought in $4.015 million to place second on opening night Feb. 19 behind the ...

Trump wins GOP, 'evangelical' vote in S.C. primary

 
Donald Trump easily won the Republican primary Feb. 20 in the evangelical Christian stronghold of South Carolina, strengthening his frontrunner's status for the presidential nomination. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses the same day, providing an important victory after her 20-point loss in New Hampshire. The former secretary of state and first lady gained 52.6 percent of the vote, while Sanders, a self-described socialist, polled 47.3. Trump won all 50 GOP delegates in play in South Carolina, receiving 32.5 percent ...

Registration for SBC annual meeting in St. Louis is open

 
Registration for the SBC's "Awaken America: Reach the World" annual meeting, June 14-15 in St. Louis, has opened. Online registration for messengers and local hotels can be accessed at www.SBCAnnualMeeting.net. Through online messenger registration at the www.SBCAnnualMeeting.net tab, each messenger will receive an eight-digit registration code to present at the annual meeting's Express Registration lane in St. Louis, preferably as a printout for the church's credential. The code will be entered into a ...

Obama's upcoming visit to Cuba stirs religious liberty discussion

 
As President Obama prepares to become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in 88 years, a U.S. senator has said further steps to normalize relations with Cuba could hinder the advance of religious freedom in the island nation. Cuban Southern Baptists hold a range of views about the effect of strengthened U.S.-Cuba ties on religious liberty. For example, a Maryland pastor told Baptist Press normalized relations between the United States and Cuba will enable the ...

Fred Luter: Church can lead in modeling racial reconciliation

 
Race relations issues have not improved since the election of the first African-American U.S. president, but the church can lead in modeling reconciliation, said Fred Luter Jr., immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the first African-American to hold the position. Luter, speaking on a Black History Month video, "Answering the Call", produced by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said, "I really thought this nation was ready to move forward" with the historic election of Barack ...

FCA founder Don McClanen lifted sports into ministry

 
Don McClanen, who founded Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 1954 after enlisting the support of several Christians in sports, died Feb. 16 at age 91. More than 60 years after its founding, FCA is a worldwide ministry headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., with 1,200 staff members who use athletics as a means of reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Former Major League pitcher Rick Horton, who now serves as the St. Louis-area FCA director in addition to his role as a St. ...

Charles Ryrie: 'one of the great theologians of the 20th century'

 
Charles C. Ryrie, a scholar whose name abounds on Ryrie Study Bible editions with more than 2.6 million in print in multiple languages, died Feb. 16 in Dallas at age 90. Known for his end-times theology of dispensationalism, Ryrie was a longtime systematic theology professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and a longtime member of First Baptist Church in Dallas. At FBC Dallas, Ryrie became close friends with the current pastor, Robert Jeffress, and his predecessors at First Baptist, O.S. Hawkins and Mac ...

David Platt asks Baptist state papers to encourage unity

 
International Mission Board President David Platt has asked Baptist state papers to encourage unity among Southern Baptists following the announcement next week of how many IMB personnel have left the board through a series of voluntary resignation programs. Addressing a gathering of Baptist state paper leaders Feb. 16 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Platt also detailed what he deemed some of the most exciting work God is doing through IMB missionaries across the globe. "As we announce a number next week" at ...

Survey: Most Americans unfazed by Planned Parenthood videos

 
"What videos?" seems to be the reaction of most Americans to the series of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood over the past six months, according to a new LifeWay Research survey. The videos made national headlines, provoked outrage in Congress and prompted investigations in about a dozen states. In showing undercover activists from the Center for Medical Progress discussing with Planned Parenthood officials possible payments for donated fetal remains, CMP contends the videos show Planned Parenthood illegally selling fetal remains. ...