Church planter's dream for New Orleans is coming true

 
You may remember a story we ran in our November 2016 print edition about Adam Wiggins, pastor of the Pen Creek campus of First Baptist Church in Orange Park. Adam’s testimony is a compelling story of God’s faithfulness in the midst of rebellion, and the power of persistent prayer. He loves to share it, and if you’re interested in hearing how Adam left drugs, alcohol and prison behind to follow Jesus, you should definitely reach ...

Matt Crawford talks about how young pastors, SBC can connect

 
It’s no secret that Southern Baptists are looking for ways to get millennials more involved in denominational life. Matt Crawford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sebring, checks both of those boxes. So, when I recently met with Pastor Matt as part of our ongoing series of Behind the Pulpit interviews with Florida pastors, I thought I would start with the topic of denominational involvement among young leaders. I asked him what it will take to get more ...

Gulf to Lake Church baptizes 117 people on one Sunday

 
One-hundred thirteen Florida Baptist churches took part in the recent Acts 2:41 Baptism Sunday, but Lloyd Bertine’s church couldn’t be one of them. Bertine, pastor of Gulf to Lake Church in Crystal River, was recovering from back surgery during the May 7th event so the church postponed their baptism celebration until July 9th. On that day, members of Gulf to Lake gathered on Fort Island Gulf Beach to celebrate as 117 people made their professions of faith public, ...

How Georgia church learned to embrace multicultural ministry

 
John Hawkins leads an English class at First Baptist in Duluth, Ga.. Photo provided by LifeWay I grew up in a small town tucked away in the mountains of Pulaski, Va. This beautiful Appalachian upbringing provided great vistas and wonderful childhood memories. However, it did little to prepare me to be a ministry leader in an increasingly diverse context. After 35 years of pastoral ministry, I wonder if anything could have prepared me for what I encounter today. In early 2010, my ...

Army's promotion of transgender ideology is 'misguided'

 
The U.S. Army has implemented new training that requires soldiers to accept the presence of people with the physical traits of the opposite sex in barracks, bathrooms and showers. The Army is thereby threatening the religious freedom of service members and playing a role in promoting falsehoods about what it means to be male and female, said a policy director for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The mandatory training follows the repeal last year of the ...

FIRST PERSON: Learn how to open your home, and your heart

 
People gathering together is a universal activity throughout the world. And there's nothing quite like a room full of women bringing international food! The air quickly fills with smells of curry and sounds of repetitive conversations. We each have to restate words several times to comprehend what is being said through thick accents. (Or a southern accent in my case.) Learning to love people from other cultures is a process. It's not something we automatically do. Have you noticed that? ...

Samford to withdraw from Alabama's CP funding channel

 
Samford University in Birmingham—described by many as Alabama Baptists' "crown jewel"—will no longer receive annual budget allocations from the Alabama Baptist State Convention after 2017. As of Jan. 1, the $3-plus million Cooperative Program allotment for Samford will be reduced from Alabama's CP budget, assuming the request to eliminate funding for Samford is approved by the State Board of Missions and convention messengers. This was a voluntary action taken by the school, Samford officials announced July 7. The school's ...

Hobby Lobby to forfeit Bible artifacts, pay $3 million fine

 
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) included sample images of cuneiform tablets in its decision to seize the items from Hobby Lobby. DOJ photo Hobby Lobby Stores will forfeit thousands of improperly acquired ancient biblical artifacts and pay a $3 million fine in a civil settlement announced by the Department of Justice. The settlement closed a federal investigation of the store's 2010 purchase and subsequent importation of more than 5,500 artifacts from dealers who did not disclose the items' Iraqi origin. Hobby ...

ERLC brings attention to Sudan's treatment of religious minorities

 
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has urged the U.S. State Department not to ignore religious freedom and persecution issues before possibly lifting sanctions on the government of Sudan. The ERLC joined six other organizations—including Samaritan's Purse, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the Enough Project—in a June 29 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling for his department's consideration of Sudan's treatment of religious minorities. The organizations sent the letter as ...

Worship and missions: An interview with Keith Getty

 
Many Southern Baptists may know the Gettys for "In Christ Alone," a beautiful hymn Keith Getty and Stuart Townend penned in 2000 and the church has been singing ever since. Keith and Kristyn Getty, along with others, have written many more, some of which tie directly to the missionary activity of the church. During the Southern Baptist Convention's recent annual meeting in Phoenix, the International Mission Board's Rodney Calfee sat down with Keith to discuss worship and missions. Here's an excerpt ...

YTD Cooperative Program giving is 5.96% above projections

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 5.96 percent above the year-to-date SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget projection, and are 2.05 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 year-to-date total represents money received by the Executive Committee by the close of the last business day of June and includes ...

Commentary: Churches have a lot to gain from internships

 
I graduated from college with a degree in communications and lots of hands-on experience about the same time a good friend of mine graduated with an accounting degree and not much exposure to what her career might look like. She was excellent at math, and had been guided toward a career in accounting by any number of well-meaning people who knew her giftedness in the area. She completed all the necessary coursework without breaking a sweat, and soon after graduating ...

Research on declining churches and the 80% myth

 
Buckle your seat belts. Over his next several posts, Thom Rainer will be sharing with you the results of an incredible research project on 1,000 Southern Baptist churches. At the risk of overstatement, he says this data may point us to some exciting and positive opportunities. Indeed, he hopes to share a plan for the evangelistic renewal and growth of our churches in the weeks ahead. To keep up with this topic, here's a good place to go: http://bit.ly/2...

Survey: Americans can't seem to agree about right, wrong re: sex

 
From cohabitation and same-sex marriage to birth control and bathrooms, Americans can't seem to agree about what is right and wrong regarding sex. Their views are often rooted in faith, according to a study released on June 27. Those disputes can end up in court, in highly divisive and controversial cases. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. When faith and sexuality ...

Heart for orphans stirs panel conversation at #SBC17 in Phoenix

 
Four Southern Baptist national entity leaders shared their insights on adoption and foster care during a panel discussion June 13 at the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program booth at the Phoenix Convention Center. Chad Keck, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Kettering, Ohio, and the Cooperative Program catalyst for the Midwest with the SBC Executive Committee, moderated the 20-minute discussion featuring North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell, Woman's Missionary Union Executive Director and Treasurer Sandy Wisdom-Martin, Ethics & Religious ...

Pastor Charles: Great Commission is not an either/or proposition

 
Many pastors are narrowly focused on their role as a church planter or their role as the leader of an established congregation, and that impedes the progress of the Great Commission. So says H.B. Charles Jr., senior pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church with campuses in Jacksonville and Orange Park, when I asked him why more Florida Baptist churches were not yet involved in church planting. “I catch it on both sides, that we are burdened about the ...

Pastors work through barriers to effective internship programs

 
Florida Baptist church leaders have long known the value of having interns on staff and those that do are able to extend their ministry reach while helping people clarify their call to ministry. Yet some Florida Baptist churches struggle to know how to use interns or simply don’t understand the value they bring. Jimmy Knott, teaching pastor at First Baptist Church in Orlando, said in many cases it comes down to churches just not understanding how to structure ...

HB Charles to pastors: Don’t feel pressure to duplicate efforts

 
Most Florida Baptists would agree with H.B. Charles Jr. when he says that God has called the church to be involved in very practical ways in the lives of believers and nonbelievers. But Charles, senior pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church with campuses in Jacksonville and Orange Park, finished his thought with a more daring sentiment: “I don’t think that will look the same way in every church, in as much as every church doesn’...

SBCAL group to study DOM title change, efficiency

 
A 12-member study group is expected to recommend in 2018 a new title, credentialing process and expectations of effectiveness for Southern Baptist directors of missions (DOMs). The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) appointed the group at its conference held June 11-12 in advance of the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Phoenix. The team is charged with submitting a report at the SBCAL 2018 meeting in Dallas. The changes are needed as the SBCAL works to better ...

Chets Creek decides to help Epoch Church in transitional role

 
Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville wasn’t looking for Epoch Church to become a Chets campus, but Darren Sullivan, missions and church planting pastor at Chets, said they wanted to leave the door open for God to work. So when circumstances presented the two churches with just such an opportunity, they have decided to see what God wants despite the fact that the timing isn’t perfect from a resource standpoint. Chets just opened its North Jacksonville campus ...

Churches typically looking for interns who feel a call to ministry

 
For many Florida Baptist churches that offer internships, the first thing they are looking for in an intern is a call to ministry. Beyond that, church leaders typically have an idea of who their ideal intern is, but are open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. At Mandarin Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Leigh Ann Powell, director of children’s ministry, said their internships are available for high school or college students but they prefer the younger interns because ...

H.B. Charles tells story of Shiloh’s decision to align with the SBC

 
Ever wonder what made Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, with campuses in Jacksonville and Orange Park, decide to align with the Southern Baptist Convention about five years ago? It’s as simple as the arrival of H.B. Charles Jr., who became senior pastor of the historically black church in 2008. “The church I served in Los Angeles was a part of the SBC toward the end of my work, and the priority shifted here when I moved to Jacksonville,&...

New Life Baptist is expanding its dental, senior ministries

 
New Life Baptist Church in Miami Gardens has opened its doors to its brand new dental clinic, and has plans for adding space to grow its senior-adult ministry. Pastor Erik Cummings says they already have their first dental patients scheduled to treat and speak with. For years, New Life has been among the Florida Baptist churches that has hosted the Florida Baptist Convention’s mobile dental unit. But recently, Cummings thought that having something more permanent would be a ...

Jacksonville Baptist Association launches micro loan initiative

 
When the Jacksonville Baptist Association retired its mortgage debt earlier this year, there was no doubt in Lead Missional Strategist Rick Wheeler’s mind what to do with the extra money in their budget. He would get it back in the hands of JBA churches. So the same day that JBA network pastors, leaders and friends gathered to celebrate the burning of the association’s mortgage note, Wheeler unveiled a plan for a micro loan initiative, allowing churches ...

H.B. Charles Jr. talks about need for building relationships

 
H.B. Charles Jr., senior pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church with campuses in Jacksonville and Orange Park, said there is work to be done both by the Southern Baptist Convention and historically black churches before more ethnic congregations decide to align with the SBC. “I think on both ends there is not as much strategic partnership as there should be because we only know one another from a distance,” Pastor Charles told me as we sat together ...

SBC's resolution against alt-right prompts NAAF statement

 
Calling the resolution denouncing “alt-right white supremacy” the Southern Baptist Convention’s “strongest statement to date” condemning racism, the president of the SBC’s fellowship of African-American pastors offered to help churches and entities overcome the evil. Byron Day, president of the SBC National African American Fellowship of 4,000 churches, extended help to churches and entities through a written statement to Baptist Press June 15, just one day after the resolution passed by a near unanimous ...

Messengers OK 9 resolutions, to vote on alt-right proposal

 
Barrett Duke, Resolutions Committee chairman, answers questions during a press conference on Tuesday (June 13). Photo by Matt Miller Messengers to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions June 13 repenting of prayerlessness and calling for leaders to practice biblical morality before deciding late at night to vote June 14 on a previously rejected proposal denouncing the "alt-right."  The approved resolutions covered some hot-button theological and moral issues, but the proposed resolution on the "alt-right"—a movement that supports white nationalism—...

Gaines re-elected as SBC president; Miami's Jose Abella named 2nd vice president

 
Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines was re-elected by acclamation to a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the June 13-14 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. He will lead a diverse slate of officers, including Walter Strickland, an African-American leader of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's Kingdom Diversity Initiative, first vice president; Jose Abella, a bilingual church planter from Miami, second vice president; John Yeats, who has served as recording secretary for the past two decades; and Don Currence, ...

Florida Baptists present $3.1M gift to SBC from sale of building

 
Flanked by more than two dozen Florida Baptist pastors, Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, presented a gift of $3,136,500 to the Southern Baptist Convention during the Executive Committee report June 13 in Phoenix. The gift was 51 percent of $6,150,000 received from the sale of the former Baptist Building located in downtown Jacksonville, which was completed June 7. The 51 percent allocation is in keeping with the Convention’s CP budget that sends 51 percent to the Cooperative Program and retains 49 percent ...

Unity is common theme as SBC Pastors' Conference gets underway

 
The Sunday night session of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference included messages from three pastors. Collectively, they preached through the first chapter of Philippians. David Choi, pastor of Church of the Beloved in Chicago, preached through the first 11 verses of Chapter 1. John Onwuchekwa, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, preached from verses 12-26, and Chris Davis, pastor of Groveton Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., finished the session by preaching from verses 27-30. Choi talked about “...

How HB Charles Jr. came to be 2018 Pastors' Conference president

 
A month ago, we broke the news that H.B. Charles Jr., lead pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church with locations in Jacksonville and Orange Park, was going to be nominated to be president of the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. On June 12th, Charles was elected to that important leadership role, one for which he is eminently qualified. “I want to be real clear about something today,” said Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in ...

Pastors’ Conference unpacks the richness of God’s Word

 
The Southern Baptist Convention’s two-day Pastors’ Conference concluded June 12th in Phoenix. In all, 12 pastors of average-sized SBC churches preached through the book of Philippians under the unifying theme “Above Every Name.” One of those pastors was Jose Abella, who leads Providence Road Church in Miami. He preached from Phil. 3:1-11. He said that Gospel clarity protects the church against heresy. He then went on to point out how Paul had no other message than ...

Moore: Sanders' remarks ignorant of the Constitution

 
Southern Baptist religious freedom advocate Russell Moore has decried Sen. Bernie Sanders' stated opposition to a White House nominee based on the candidate's adherence to foundational Christian teaching. Sanders—an independent from Vermont and 2016 candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination—said  on June 7 he will oppose Russell Vought's nomination as deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. In announcing his opposition, Sanders cited a 2016 blog post by Vought in which he said Muslims "...

ACP: Churches up in 2016; baptisms, membership decline

 
Southern Baptists experienced growth in the number of churches that cooperate with the SBC in 2016, according to the latest Annual Church Profile report (ACP). However, other key measures declined in 2016, including membership, baptisms, average worship attendance and total giving, according to the ACP compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources in cooperation with Baptist state conventions. The number of churches cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention grew by 479 to 47,272, a 1 percent increase over 2015. The number of Southern Baptist churches has increased the ...

Church planting 'Class of 2016' successes reported

 
In March of this year, Filipino International Baptist Church North in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, celebrated its one-year anniversary by baptizing eight new believers. That brought the total number of baptisms for the first year of the church to 17. Church planting missionary Bayani Taligato says his approach has been simple. "We joined God in what He is doing in Edmonton north, prayed that He would open opportunities so we can share the Gospel boldly, visited and invited people," Taligato said. "God ...

Sale of the old Florida Baptist Convention building is completed

 
The sale of the Florida Baptist Convention’s Baptist Building in downtown Jacksonville to a local developer for $6.15 million was finalized June 6. With the completion of the sale, the Convention is sending 51 percent—or $3,136,500—to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Cooperative Program for worldwide mission causes. Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer, announced the closing to the Convention staff on the day it was completed. He credited the generosity of Florida Baptists in earmarking the money ...

Five keys to help new members get going in your church

 
For Florida Baptists, there seems to be no one way to go about assimilating new members. But David Coggins, associate professor of leadership and Christian education at Baptist College of Florida, says there are five key elements that churches need to be intentional about including in the process. Coggins said the first thing to do is to confirm a conversion experience. Once it is established that they understand and have accepted the gift of salvation, baptism should be the second ...

Pro-LGBT group plans protest at SBC's annual meeting in Phoenix

 
An advocacy group seeking to have homosexuality and transgenderism "removed from the sin list" has announced plans to "politely disrupt" the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix. Faith in America (FIA) hopes to persuade the nation's largest Protestant denomination to change its interpretation of Scripture, FIA said in a press release accusing the SBC of marginalizing and harming lesbian, gay, homosexual and transgender (LGBT) children in particular by discouraging sexual sin. FIA requested a Phoenix meeting with ...

'Removing the Stain of Racism from SBC' title of new book

 
A new book co-edited by two African-American faculty members at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary aims to equip Southern Baptists for healing racial wounds in the denomination, which was founded in 1845 in a split from Northern Baptists so slaveholding families could serve on the mission field. "Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention," co-edited by Jarvis J. Williams and Kevin M. Jones Sr. and released by B&H Academic June 1, features contributions from a dozen black SBC ...

Tebow preps homeschoolers for 'impressionable times'

 
As a homeschooled child, Tim Tebow sat down with his parents and made a list of goals he had for his future, including becoming a baseball player and a Navy SEAL. Then he reviewed those goals daily with his mother, charting progress along the way. While God never called Tebow to be a SEAL, he writes in a new book that the personalized guidance of homeschooling played a significant role in his eventual success as an athlete. The former Heisman ...

Frank Page releases book to help guide pastor search process

 
"Pastor Searches for Dummies" would have been a fitting title for the latest book from Frank S. Page, he wrote in the book's introduction. Instead, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President and CEO chose "Looking for a New Pastor" as the title of his new guidebook. The book, released June 1st by B&H Publishing, shares biblical instruction and practical insights gleaned from Page's 34 years in the pastorate and additional, ongoing denominational service. "I was inspired to write ...

Message to SBC messengers: Be prepared for extreme heat

 
Messengers and speakers attending the Southern Baptist Convention 2017 Annual Meeting in Phoenix are encouraged to dress appropriately for daily temperatures surpassing 100 degrees. "Because of the severe heat in Phoenix during the summer months, I encourage all messengers to the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting to dress casually," SBC President Steve Gaines told Baptist Press. "Men should feel free not to wear a necktie. Speakers on the platform are encouraged to dress in business casual attire without a necktie. "I hope ...

Mike Huckabee's new show to 'encourage, edify, entertain'

 
  Former Arkansas Governor and U.S. presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee looks for his new talk show to be a "wholesome, watchable program for the whole family." Huckabee recently announced the fall debut of his show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). "Anybody who ever watched the show that I did on the FOX News Channel will be familiar with the idea of information and inspiration," Huckabee said when he announced the show from TBN's Jerusalem studio May 24. Huckabee was ...

H.B. Charles Jr. should be named Pastors' Conference president

 
I am excited about the 2017 SBC Pastors’ Conference and annual meeting in Phoenix June 11-14. From our Crossover events that are being strategically tied to Evangelist Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade at the University of Phoenix Stadium on June 11th to the one-of-a-kind sacred bond that will be formed during the June 13th IMB “Sending Celebration.” From SBC President Steve Gaines’ planned emphases on prayer, ...

Floridians to play key roles in rethinking associational ministries

 
The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders is putting together a panel whose purpose will be to clarify, modernize and establish a credentialing process for the role of associational leaders throughout the country. Florida’s own Rick Wheeler, lead missional strategist for the Jacksonville Baptist Association, has been tapped to head up the associational study team. Following its nomination by the SBC Executive Committee, the group will be commissioned at the SBCAL meeting in Phoenix on June 11. Though not ...

Memorial Day: Reflections from a former youth pastor

 
Attendance numbers, professions of faith, baptisms and sexual purity commitment cards showed I was leading a successful student ministry years ago. Yet I'm not sure I prepared my students for what was ahead. In the process of planning a family outing over Memorial Day weekend last year, my mind went to the true purpose of Memorial Day—remembering those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. I thought back to the prior Veterans Day when my daughter ...

Gov. Rick Scott vetoes ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ bill

 
Voicing concerns over job creation, Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed the so-called “whiskey & Wheaties” bill that would have removed the “wall of separation” between stores selling hard liquor and retailers selling beer, wine and other items. Currently, retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Publix cannot sell hard liquor in the same locations that they sell wine, beer and a host of other food and beverage products. They must have a separate package store entrance. And ...

Youth pastor’s mantra: We don't compete with each other

 
Alan Harmon doesn’t want to see any more lone ranger student ministers. After all, he knows what it’s like to be one. Harmon, who serves as associate pastor and youth pastor at Fanning Springs Community Church in Fanning Springs, is passionate about seeing youth ministry leaders equipped and trained for the job the Lord has set before them. His own experience—coming up through the ranks of the laity to serve as youth pastor before ...

LifeWay Research studies American views of shame, guilt

 
Many Americans are more worried about their reputation than their conscience, according to a study released May 23. They worry less about guilt and fear and more about avoiding shame, according to the study from LifeWay Research that was conducted Sept. 27–Oct. 1, 2016. Shame has become particularly powerful in American culture in the Internet age, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. A single mistake or embarrassing moment posted on social media can ruin a person's life. "What's our biggest ...

Rural Alabama Baptist church sees 900 baptisms in 6 years

 
In 1995, Joey Hanner was a trucker who was about to give up on his marriage—and he was one Sunday service away from giving up on church, too. "We were going to give church one more try and then we were going to end our marriage," he said. They were so mad at each other they hadn't even realized that day was their 12th wedding anniversary, Hanner said. And they had no idea it was about to become an ...

Bell Shoals’ special evangelism emphasis bears fruit

 
Mary had tried to share the Gospel message with her stepfather Peter for several years, but he never seemed interested in hearing about the things of God. So, earlier this year, when Bell Shoals Baptist Church Senior Pastor Stephen Rummage shared during a worship service about the opportunity for the congregation to “Come to the Cross” to pray for unsaved friends and family members, Peter’s name came to mind for Mary and her family. During the ...

First person: Three ways to get going when you feel stuck

 
Have you pulled to the side of the road and parked your life? We can park at any age. Some people lose interest and motivation even in the prime of life. But consider Hosea 10:9: "The Lord says, 'You have made no progress whatsoever'" (NLT). In John 8:37, Jesus lamented: "My teaching makes no progress among you" (NET). But the apostle Paul commended the Philippians, saying, "I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy ...

Steve Gaines calls for 21-day fast before Phoenix SBC

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: The full text of SBC President Steve Gaines' call to prayer is printed below. Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines has called Southern Baptists to 21 days of prayer and fasting leading up to the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. The fast will begin May 23 and end June 12, the day preceding the June 13-14 SBC annual meeting, Gaines announced May 18th in a written call to prayer. He defined fasting as "doing without something in order to focus more ...

Parenting to be focus of ERLC conference, small-group study

 
Christ-centered parenting will be the focus of a two-pronged effort in August by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The ERLC's 2017 national conference—"Parenting: Christ-centered Parenting in a Complex World"—will be held Aug. 24-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. At the conference, the ERLC will unveil a new, small group study in collaboration with LifeWay Christian Resources—"Christ-centered Parenting: Gospel Conversations on Complex Cultural Issues." ERLC President Russell Moore ...

Gaines to be nominated for second term as SBC president

 
Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines will be nominated for a second term as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, his son Grant has announced. Gaines "has led the convention faithfully" over the past year and been "marked by ... godly traits," Grant Gaines, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., wrote in a statement to Baptist Press announcing his intent to nominate his father at the June 13-14 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. Steve Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church ...

Supreme Court gives Florida gambling opponents a big win

 
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday gave opponents of gambling expansion a big win. By a unanimous vote, the state Supreme Court has ruled that a Gadsden County racetrack, located in the Tallahassee metropolitan area, cannot add slot machines. Floridapolitics.com is reporting that the 20-page decision goes further than not allowing gambling facilities in Gretna, population 1,460. The Supreme Court ruling also nullifies local referendums that were approved in seven other counties designed to allow slot machine gambling. More information ...

Workplace evangelism abroad begins with your current job

 
I've had the privilege lately of seeing an increasing number of people at all stages of life express interest in joining the global mission of God through the International Mission Board. Many wonder how they can be preparing to go. On one level, it's very simple: faithfulness in your current assignments is the greatest predictor of future fruitfulness. So, faithfully serve where you are. One critical arena of faithfulness is your evangelistic witness. Being a faithful evangelist in the workplace ...

President Trump tells Liberty grads: 'Never ever give up'

 
Liberty University's graduating class of 2017 was witness to Donald Trump's first commencement address as a sitting president. More than 18,000 graduates and their families listened to Trump speak on May 13th as the first president to address a Liberty graduation since George H.W. Bush in 1990. Trump also received an honorary doctorate from the Baptist-affiliated university in Lynchburg, Va. Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., in introducing Trump, said he has done more to benefit the Christian community than any other ...

100 years later: Social gospel pioneer's legacy still debated

 
Theologians of all ideological stripes agree Walter Rauschenbusch was a key figure in 20th-century Baptist history and that his 1917 book, "A Theology for the Social Gospel," marked an important juncture in the social gospel tradition. But students of theology are divided 100 years later on whether Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) should be remembered as a friend or foe of evangelism and sound doctrine. "Walter Rauschenbusch was born into a long line of pastors," said Lloyd Harsch, professor of church history and Baptist studies ...

Ridge DOM taking staff position at Calvary Clearwater

 
Mike Hasha, director of missions for the Ridge Baptist Association in Winter Haven, recently announced that he has accepted a position at Calvary Church in Clearwater. Hasha, who’s been the director of missions at Ridge for more than 11 years, said his roles at Calvary will include pastoral care and evangelism, and he will also serve as liaison to senior adults. Excited about where’s he’s headed and what God has in store for him in ...

Rummage: Praying for a continued emphasis on Miami

 
Stephen Rummage, lead pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church and president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, recently talked with me about the importance of reaching Miami with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As part of a wide-ranging interview, I asked Pastor Rummage several questions about Miami, including why he thought more Florida Baptist churches hadn’t tried to connect with it as a SEND City. “I think there’s always a tendency to go further or ...

FERLC: Florida Baptists need to let voices be heard on ‘whiskey and Wheaties' bill

 
A much-debated piece of legislation informally known as the “whiskey and Wheaties bill” managed to pass by small margins in the Florida House and Senate after being voted down the past four years. It is on the desk of Gov. Rick Scott awaiting his final decision. If signed into law, the bill would remove a required wall of separation between hard liquor and other items at retail outlets across Florida. The bill, formally known as SB 106, managed a ...

The story of one mother's celebratory yet bruised heart

 
Almost six months ago, God gave me the greatest gift I've ever received besides salvation and an amazing husband: a son. Sheridan Steele Colter, born at 8 pounds and half an ounce after 30 hours of labor, is truly an answer to innumerable prayers. He is "my sunshine," and I'm continually in awe of the miracle of his life each time I whisper my love in his ear, stroke his strawberry-blonde hair and tickle his tiny toes. I've wanted to be a ...

Honoring the value of the life led by our stay-at-home mom

 
Almost every day of our childhood, we would pull down my grandmother's long driveway and go in for a quick visit. We, two sisters, would sit together on the narrow piano bench and peck at the black and white keys in my grandmother's living room while Mother moved through the house—setting out pills, fixing her mother's hair, asking questions and washing clothes. It was our weekday routine, completed with a glass of chocolate milk in her wood-paneled kitchen. ...

Florida mothers reflect on the importance of their calling

 
Over the years, many researchers, pundits and pseudo-philosophers have tried to attach a monetary value to the role mothers play in our society. One published estimate put a mother’s worth at $65,283.81, based on 40-hour work weeks and factoring in her roles as a chauffeur, cook, nurse, homework helper, accountant, etc. Others have placed a mother’s monetary value at $113,586 (Business Insider), $150,000 (The Independent), and $118,905 (Salary.com). Knowing that the role of mothers cannot simply be equated to ...

Nearly 1,300 Floridians baptized on 'Acts 2:41 Sunday'

 
Florida's beaches, rivers, lakes and even pools came alive May 7 with the gospel testimonies of 1,285 new Christian believers as 112 Florida Baptist churches partnered for "Acts 2:41 Sunday—Baptizing Coast-to-Coast." From the sandy white Gulf beaches of Perdido Key in Pensacola to the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean that stretch from Jacksonville to Miami; from the Suwannee River to lakes and state parks in every region, thousands of Florida Baptists and onlookers gathered to celebrate and witness the hundreds of ...

H.B. Charles Jr. to be SBC Pastors' Conference nominee

 
H.B. Charles Jr., the lead pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church with campuses in Jacksonville and Orange Park, is going to be nominated to be president of the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. “I have been incredibly impressed with his skill for the Word of God and love of the church,” said Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in the Tampa area, who will make the nomination at this year’s SBC Pastors’ ...

Graves: It’s my time to step aside, show support for Charles

 
A month after it was announced that Brad Graves, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ada, Okla., would be nominated to serve as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, he has confirmed that he wants his name to be withdrawn from consideration. Graves made his decision after being told that Jacksonville Pastor H.B. Charles Jr. also was going to be nominated as the 2018 Pastors’ Conference president when Southern Baptists gather next month in ...

Vacation in the desert reveals God's call to Arizona

 
The two-hour drive to Sedona was an uncomfortable one for Josh Jennings, balking at his wife's vacation plans in the middle of the Arizona desert after the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix. But when Josh and Shannon arrived in Sedona—2,000-plus miles removed from their South Carolina home—something happened they did not expect. There, in the midst of the red rock pillars and majestic mountain cliffs, they were drawn to this unique culture. Sedona, one of the ...

What do lay people know about the State Board of Missions?

 
Mention the State Board of Missions to the average Florida Baptist lay person and you might get a look of confusion. But talk to some of the officers who serve on the Board and they will tell you they wish more Florida Baptists took notice of the work of the State Board and the Florida Baptist Convention. So I did just that. I recently talked to Mike Tatem, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Lake City and president of ...

Q&A: Greg Laurie talks Crossover, Billy Graham and WWIII

 
Oklahoma's Baptist Messenger recently had the opportunity to sit down with evangelist and pastor Greg Laurie, who has been holding large-scale evangelistic outreach events throughout the United States and abroad, since 1990. In the interview, Laurie talks about the upcoming Harvest event scheduled for June 11 in Phoenix. The event will be held in conjunction with the Crossover evangelism events leading up to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting on June 13-14. Here are excerpts from Laurie's interview with the Baptist Messenger. ...

What the State Board of Missions needs from laity who serves

 
When it comes to choosing lay people to serve on the State Board of Missions, John Green, vice president of the Board and senior pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said there are some common characteristics. The ideal candidate, in Green’s opinion, is someone who already has demonstrated leadership abilities and commitment to his or her own church. Green thinks he or she also should care about and have an interest in what’s going ...

Services held for former Army chaplain, Florida Baptist pastor

 
Rev. Leonard Thomas Melton passed away recently in Asheville, N.C., at the age of 86. He had served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Flagler Beach and Airpark Baptist Church in Starke at various times in his ministry. He also served as an Army chaplain and retired from the military following service in Vietnam. He was an ordained minister for more than 60 years. Rev. Melton was born on June 14, 1930, in Gainesville to the late Lonnie L. and Norma Marie (...

Pensacola's Olive Baptist merges with Warrington Baptist

 
When the average attendance at Pensacola’s Warrington Baptist Church declined to just a handful of senior adults, those people knew they had to do something or go ahead and close their doors permanently. So they made a call to the North American Mission Board, and the folks at Warrington Baptist eventually were connected with leadership at Olive Baptist Church. Those conversations recently led to a merger of the two churches. “We have been in dialogue for about ...

Elevate Church among those taking part in Acts2:41 Sunday

 
On May 7th, beneath a bright, hot Miami sun, a group of 11 men and women from Elevate Church publicly professed their faith in Christ through their baptisms in the shallow waters of Key Biscayne. Neither a lack of parking nor scarcity of shade could keep their families from cheering them on. As part of the Florida Baptist Convention’s Acts 2:41 Sunday statewide baptism initiative, churches throughout Florida headed to their nearest beach or other body of water to baptize ...

Analysis: Trump order unlikely to alter sermonizing

 
Faith and politics have a complicated relationship in the United States. Many Americans want religious leaders to be clear about their values and how those values impact every aspect of life, including politics. And they want churches to be free to practice their faith, which includes discussing politics without any government intervention. But few want their preacher's advice on which candidate to vote for. All three come into play when thinking about the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that bans certain ...

FIRST PERSON: When things don't go as planned

 
Try as I might, some things just don't go quite like I've planned. You probably have had things go awry as well. Some have been disappointing, others have been devastating: the marriage that ended, or the marriage that hasn't happened yet; the baby you're unable to conceive, or the baby who grew up and broke your heart; a devastating diagnosis, or an illness they can't diagnose; the parent you lost at a young age, or the parent you care for ...

ERLC panel ponders media perceptions in an era of mistrust

 
Christians should turn to diverse sources, practice patience and humility, and extend grace in a culture plagued by fake news and mistrust of the media, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore and a panel of journalists said May 2 on Capitol Hill. Two reporters and a congressional communications specialist joined Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), to discuss the Christian response to the growth of intentionally misleading information, especially on social media, and the bias often perceived in ...

SBC President Steve Gaines: A prayer for America

 
Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States of America. As Bible-believing Christians, we believe in prayer. We know that God answers the faith-filled, frequent, fervent prayers of His people. As Southern Baptists, we believe that we should pray and ask God to bless our nation and its leaders. We should pray for our leaders and for every citizen of our nation, asking the Lord to forgive our sins and to guide us in His will in ...

Samford University considers pro-LGBT student group

 
A recommendation by Samford University's faculty to approve a pro-homosexual student group could have "serious implications ... for the relationship" between the university and the Alabama Baptist State Convention, according to a joint statement by the convention's president and the executive director of its State Board of Missions. Samford President Andrew Westmoreland told faculty in an April 28 email he hopes the university and state convention leaders "find meaningful ways to affirm beliefs regarding the authority of Scripture held by so many ...

Fort Myers' resort will host Fun in the Son singles retreat

 
It’s no secret that a large percentage of churches nationwide struggle to find ways to minister to the singles in their congregations. In fact, we took a deep dive into the topic in our November 2015 cover story. So I was encouraged to hear about a new singles retreat called Fun in the Son that is happening May 26-29 in Fort Myers. I caught up with Kris Swiatocho, director of The Singles Network Ministries, by phone to get the ...

Tips for planning your church's beach baptism

 
The Great Commission is a command that Jesus gave to the church. It reads “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age [Matthew 28:18b-20].” This command ...

JBA hosts Burn the Note BBQ after retiring mortgage debt

 
The churches of the Jacksonville Baptist Association gathered recently to celebrate the final mortgage payment on the Association offices located at 2700 University Blvd. in Jacksonville. The Burn the Note BBQ, as it was aptly named, was a picnic designed to celebrate the generosity of the JBA churches that made it possible not only to pay off the 20-year note, but to do it a year early. “We are overwhelmed by God’s generosity through His churches,” said ...

Brian Nall named DOM for Pensacola Bay Baptist Association

 
Pastor Brian Nall has been named director of missions for the Pensacola Bay Baptist Association. Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola hosted the associational meeting where Nall was voted in, with this Tweet being sent out by @olivebaptist moments after the vote: “Proud to host the associational meeting for voting in @BrianNall as the new Director of Missions for the Pensacola Bay Baptist Association.” Nall, husband and father of two, is currently in his 12th year as pastor at ...

Florida Baptists plan National Day of Prayer events

 
Florida Baptists will be joining other people of faith nationwide on Thursday, May 4th, in observance of the National Day of Prayer. For Ted Corley, retired pastor and member of Fruitcove Baptist Church outside of Jacksonville, this will be the 19th year that he has organized and hosted the May 4th prayer event for the city of Jacksonville. “We will be praying for the mayor, the City Council, the abortion issue, the judiciary and legal community, service men and ...

Church police dept. would be U.S. first, under Alabama bill

 
An Alabama church could be the first in the nation to open its own police force under a bill progressing through the Alabama legislature, despite disagreement whether it might violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Briarwood Presbyterian Church PCA in Birmingham would have permission to hire one or more police officers as church staff members under the bill that has passed the Alabama Senate and is progressing through the House. The church of 4,000 congregants and 2,000 students enrolled in ...

2017 SBC annual meeting program released

 
The program for the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting has been released. The meeting will convene at the Phoenix Convention Center Tuesday, June 13, at 8:15 a.m. and conclude Wednesday, June 14, at 4:55 p.m. A full schedule follows. TUESDAY MORNING, JUNE 13, 2017 8:15: Opening worship—Mark Blair, Convention music director; music minister, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn. 8:25: Welcome and call to order—Steve Gaines, SBC president; senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn. Announcement of Committee on Committees, Credentials Committee, Tellers, ...

Caregivers for Alzheimer's patients don't have to go it alone

 
The cover story in our May print edition takes a look at what Florida Baptists are doing to care for the caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s. If you don’t subscribe, you can access that story by going to http://gofbw.com/, keyword: Subscribe This piece of bonus coverage lists some of the resources available for people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers both in Florida and nationwide. Florida Resources To learn more about the Alzheimer’s ...

Prestonwood to resume CP giving without designation

 
Prestonwood Baptist Church has announced it will resume giving through the Cooperative Program after two months of evaluating its support of Southern Baptist missions and ministries. "After a time of prayerful evaluation, Prestonwood is renewing our commitment to Southern Baptist missions by giving to the Cooperative Program without designation," Prestonwood executive pastor Mike Buster told Baptist Press in a statement. "For more than 40 years, Prestonwood has been a steadfast supporter of the Cooperative Program and its mission to advance the ...

Study: Americans fond of Bible, but how many read it?

 
Americans appear to have a positive view of the Bible. And many say Scripture is filled with moral lessons for today. However, more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible, a study released April 25th by LifeWay Research shows. Less than a quarter of those who have ever read a Bible have a systematic plan for reading Scripture each day. And a third of Americans never pick it up on their own, according to the ...

SBC Pastors' Conference to spotlight the book of Philippians

 
Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference president Dave Miller doesn't expect attendees of this year's sessions to recognize the names of all 12 conference preachers. But that's OK, he said, because the preachers' names aren't the focus. With the theme "above every name," the June 11-12 gathering is centered on 12 pastors of average-sized Southern Baptist churches preaching through the biblical book of Philippians to exalt Jesus' name. Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, said the preacher-selection process for ...

A Gideons' Bible--borrowed and primed for witness

 
I was challenged to step up my pace in spreading the Gospel of Christ during the Louisiana Baptist Convention's evangelism conference, especially by the messages of Gevan Spinney, pastor of First Baptist Church in Haughton and president of the Louisiana convention, and evangelist Bill Britt, both calling us to be urgent in sharing the Good News. I had borrowed a Gideons Bible from my room that night in Ruston, never realizing how this seeming "chance" occurrence would provide a divine ...

Pastors Conference scholarships already exceed expectations

 
The Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference has announced the first 30 recipients of $1,000 scholarships to attend the Pastors' Conference and SBC annual meeting this summer in Phoenix. With more scholarship announcements anticipated within weeks, the first wave of awards already has exceeded the estimated 5-20 scholarships Pastors' Conference leaders had hoped to fund. "We are thrilled that we have been able to help this group of men to attend, grateful to those who have given and anticipate giving out even more ...

Complete overview for SBC's 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix

 
As this year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting approaches, SBC President Steve Gaines says fellow Baptists should anticipate emphases on prayer, evangelism and financial stewardship at the June 13-14 gathering in Phoenix, where the 2003 and 2011 annual meetings also were held. This year's annual meeting theme is "Pray! For such a time as this" based on Luke 18:1 and Esther 4:14. Gaines hopes that through a commitment "to fervent, frequent, faith-filled prayer," the SBC will become "a catalyst for spiritual awakening and revival." "...

Supreme Court arguments buoy church's supporters

 
The constitutionality of a state's refusal to include a daycare center in a playground resurfacing program was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 19th. Justices on both sides of the court's ideological divide vigorously questioned the state of Missouri's position in rejecting the Trinity Lutheran Church Learning Center in Columbia, Mo., from participation in the program. Much of the high court's reaction to the state, which cited the Missouri constitution's ban on government funding of religion in ...

Crossover continues to yield a 'lifetime of ministry'

 
"I will never forget the first day that we went door-to-door." As in door-to-door evangelism. Brittany Tennal and her husband Julius, from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, were among the 100-plus students participating in Crossover St. Louis, the evangelistic thrust prior to last year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. This June, seminary students again will be partnering with local Baptists to share the Gospel and—unique to this year—invite residents in Phoenix to a Harvest Crusade featuring evangelist-pastor ...

Going from despair to a Christ-honoring life in Northeast Florida

 
Even years ago, Russ Mason suspected there was some type of “higher power” out there. But he wasn’t willing to call it God. But that all changed when God used extraordinary circumstances to make Himself known. When Tim Larson, who is now Russ’ pastor at WaterMark Church in Orange Park, told me a little about Russ’ story, I knew I had to meet Russ for myself. Today, Russ is a grateful Jesus follower who ...

25,000 ways God shows Redemption Church He is in control

 
Apartment ministry is a hard mission field, so when God very obviously opened up opportunities at an apartment complex on Jacksonville’s west side, JimBo Stewart, lead pastor of what is now Redemption Church, didn’t hesitate. Stewart moved to Florida from New Orleans to pastor what was then known as the Hyde Park campus of Hibernia Baptist Church in Northeast Florida. Before the church even launched, JimBo received a call from a nearby property investor who was ...

Florahome minister shares importance of his mother’s witness

 
Before Jay Baker met Jesus, he was a risk-taker. Now, as a Jesus follower and associate pastor of New Grace Baptist Church in the tiny Northeast Florida town of Florahome, he still takes the occasional risk—but only when the Holy Spirit gives him the go-ahead. Jay’s redemption story illustrates the lengths the Lord will go to in order to save us from our tendency toward self-destruction. I had the privilege of hearing him tell his story ...

Brad Graves to be nominated for SBC Pastors' Conference president

 
Brad Graves, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ada, Okla., will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference, according to an announcement by Missouri pastor Malachi O'Brien. O'Brien, SBC second vice president and pastor of prayer and church revitalization at First Baptist Church in Raytown, Mo., stated in an April 13 announcement to Baptist Press Graves "is a leader that God is using mightily." "Just recently, First Baptist Church of Ada experienced the presence of God in ...

World's oldest person lauded as an 'extra-precious' Baptist

 
What has the world's oldest person, Violet Mosse-Brown, age 117, done nearly all her life? She has been a faithful, industrious church member, according to the Jamaica Baptist Reporter of the Jamaica Baptist Union. Mosse-Brown, baptized at age 13, became the world's oldest person after the April 15 death of Emma Morano of Italy, also 117. Morano was born on Nov. 29, 1899, and was the last living person born during the 1800s prior to her death. Mosse-Brown was born on March 30, 1900, in Duanvale in northwest ...

Sam Rainer on evangelism: 'We still have to train and equip'

 
I asked Sam Rainer, pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton, what he perceives to be the biggest problem facing Southern Baptists right now and how we can solve it. Without hesitation, he said a lack of evangelistic fervor in Southern Baptist churches is our biggest challenge. I asked if he thought a relational approach or programmatic approach is the better way to get Southern Baptists focused once again on leading lost sinners to the throne of grace. “...

Former BCF professor W. Wiley Richards passes away at age 84

 
Dr. Walter Wiley Richards, who spent 34 years on the faculty of The Baptist College of Florida (formerly Baptist Bible Institute) before being named professor emeritus of Theology and Philosophy upon his retirement, died in Graceville on April 15th. He is the author of five books, wrote numerous articles and papers, and contributed Sunday School lessons to the Florida Baptist Witness for 27 years. He also served as pastor of churches in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and served as an interim ...

Easter: Three commands from an empty tomb

 
"The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you'" (Matthew 28:5-7 NASB). Springtime ...

Hibernia Hyde Park to re-launch on Easter as Redemption Church

 
On Easter Sunday, Hibernia Baptist Church's Hyde Park Campus in Jacksonville will re-launch as Redemption Church. Hibernia Hyde Park launched Easter Sunday three years ago as a campus of Hibernia Baptist Church in Fleming Island in order to revitalize what once was Hyde Park Baptist Church. Pastor JimBo Stewart said becoming an autonomous church was an option for the campus from Day One, and he and Hibernia leadership prayed over the decision. As the Hyde Park campus shifted ministry strategies ...

FIRST PERSON: Eagerly looking for His return!

 
"Men of Galilee," said the angels, "why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). Those words inseparably linked Christ's departure to the moment of His return—the reality of His Ascension and His Second Coming. It behooves us to be watching and waiting, untainted by the world, since Christ may come at any moment. ...

The empty tomb: Archaeology and the ancient record

 
The thought of Jesus stepping out of the tomb on the first Easter morning is simply overwhelming. His atoning death was magnified by the miracle of His resurrection. While the cross remains the undisputed symbol of Christianity, the empty tomb conveys the abundant life found in Christ. Just imagine seeing the empty tomb as it was that day. As a believer, I have experienced the power of Jesus' cross and His empty tomb. I don't need to see the tomb ...

Event planners reserve more hotel rooms for SBC Phoenix 2017

 
Apparent interest in the Southern Baptist Convention's upcoming annual meeting has necessitated an increase in hotel room availability for attendees the second consecutive year, an event coordinator said. The SBC Executive Committee has reserved an additional 500 rooms for the 2017 meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix, said Bill Townes, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention finance. The previously reserved block of rooms, he noted, was fully booked as early as March. "We often fine tune our hotel blocks as we monitor ...

Steve Gaines named visiting professor at SBTS

 
Trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously approved the installation of Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines to a visiting professorship honoring former SBC President Herschel H. Hobbs during their meeting in Louisville, Ky., earlier this week. The board also approved an expanded budget for the 2017-2018 academic year and elected three faculty members. Trustees established the Herschel H. Hobbs Visiting Professor of Christian Preaching to honor the life and legacy of Hobbs, a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary. Hobbs ...

Pew: Restrictions, hostilities increase for people of faith

 
The world's religious adherents experienced greater government restraints and social animosities after two years of declines, according to a newly released study. The Pew Research Center reported on April 11th that the percentage of countries with "high" or "very high" levels of anti-religious policies or acts increased in 2015. The share of countries with such levels of government restrictions— including laws, policies and actions—edged up from 24 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in 2015. The percentage of countries with such degrees ...

Alabama governor's resignation yields call to prayer

 
After Alabama's governor pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and resigned amid allegations of illegal conduct to cover up an extramarital affair, the state's Southern Baptists expressed disappointment and pledged prayer. "More than anything, we need to pray for Gov. [Robert] Bentley," Alabama Baptist Convention President John Thweatt told Baptist Press. "Pray for his family. Pray for our new governor [Kay Ivey], lifting her up and asking God to give her direction and give her wisdom." Bentley, a Republican and ...

Baptist College of Florida installs storm shelters

 
The Baptist College of Florida has installed five storm shelters on its Graceville campus, after their purchase was approved by the BCF Board of Trustees in January. “I am so thankful that our trustees approved the expenditure of the funds necessary for the purchase of this extra protection for our students, faculty and staff,” said BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen, in a statement. “While we cannot control the weather, we can provide the highest level of safety ...

Why the resurrection is always an essential theological concept

 
As a student in a Baptist college I heard in a chapel service that it wasn't important whether Jesus literally and bodily resurrected from the dead. I was told as long as the influence of Jesus lived on in me, that was the important thing. Denying the miraculous was not uncommon in our Baptist institutions almost a half-century ago. For those who get weary of hearing about battles for the Bible, let me remind you that eternal vigilance is necessary ...

How to live out your faith in the workplace

 
One of the greatest opportunities afforded to followers of Jesus Christ in America is the ability to live out our faith in the workplace. At least 140 million Americans regularly enter the workplace. What it Means to Live Out Your Faith in the Workplace Living out your faith in the workplace involves integrating your faith in Christ into every decision of your life, including the workplace. Taking your faith into the workplace also means you seek to please God in your ...

Mitzpe Ramon, a hidden gem on your Holy Land tour

 
Despite security concerns in the Middle East, tourism to Israel increased 3.6 percent last year compared to 2015, according to Globes, an Israeli business news organization. Florida resident David Lema is one of the reasons why. The associate professor of theology and missions for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s South Florida campus travels to Israel multiple times a year with student groups. I recently talked to David about the top places to visit in Israel. While sharing his list of ...

Sam Rainer: Shortage of pastors looms for the established church

 
Do you like to solve riddles and play brain games? Try this one on for size: How will the 400,000 or so established churches in the United States—most of which have boomer-aged pastors or older—find their next leaders when their current ones start retiring in five to 10 years? If you’re stuck, you’re not alone. And if you have the answer, let Sam Rainer know. The pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church and I ...

Controlling the narrative when it comes to church perception

 
For those of you who still need motivation to keep your church’s lawn nicely mowed, the facilities painted and not in need of repair, and encouraging words on your church sign, read on. “People perceive things about your church—one way or the other,” says Sam Rainer, pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton. Later, he added: “As a pastor as you’re out in the community you should ask people: Hey, ...

Easter: Recalling a computer crash and the resurrection

 
Can you recall your worst academic disaster? I certainly can. I was in my second or third year of my doctor of ministry program at Gateway Seminary (then-Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary) back in the mid-1980s. The D.Min. program at that time was broken into three parts: 1) on-campus seminars—I absolutely loved these. I enjoyed the work and the time spent with my professors and fellow students. 2) The project phase and project report —I found this ...

Coptic Christians pray, persevere after Egypt church bombings

 
As Coptic Christians bury an estimated 44 killed in terrorist bombings during Palm Sunday services in Egypt, the oldest Coptic church in the United States is praying for both the families of the Christian "martyrs" and the Islamic State (IS) that has claimed responsibility for the deaths. The attacks at St. George's Church in Tanta and at St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria also wounded more than 125 worshippers, Morning Star News reported, making the bombings more deadly than the 2016 Christmas bombing at ...

Two scholars—evangelical and Jewish—discuss Jesus

 
Evangelical scholar Ben Witherington III and Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine found many points of agreement regarding the "historical" Jesus during a recent dialogue at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. But on the issue of Jesus as Messiah, their views diverged. Witherington, noted New Testament scholar and Asbury Theological Seminary professor, and Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt Divinity School New Testament professor and a member of an Orthodox synagogue, spoke at the seminary's Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum March 25 on the topic of "Christians, Jews ...

Palm Sunday: When the crowd gets it right

 
The crowd is often wrong. Popular opinion frequently misses the truth. And unfortunately, it seems that unrighteousness is usually trending. From the earliest days of human history that has been so. The crowd was wrong in the days of Noah, as it was in the gathering at Babel. Godliness was often forsaken in the days of the prophets, and the dominant culture was usually wrong in the days of the early church. But the crowds that gathered as Jesus entered ...

CP Sunday: For your efforts we are incredibly thankful

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: April 9 is Cooperative Program Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention. Despite being raised in Baptist churches most of my life, the Cooperative Program and North American Mission Board were foreign to me. Before I became a church planter's wife, I had very little working knowledge of what they are or what purpose they serve. Today, my understanding of the Cooperative Program and North American Mission Board has deepened. I recognize them as a friend and resource, equipped and ...

Pew Research: Muslim births vastly outpacing Christians

 
Muslims are so outpacing Christians in births that the two population groups will be nearly equal by 2060, with Christians holding only a slight majority, according to newly released Pew Research data. An increase in Muslim births compounded by an aging Christian population will put the Muslim share of the global population at 31 percent by 2060, just under the 32 percent for Christians, Pew said in its April 5 report. Muslim births are nearly double the overall growth rate of the global population, Pew ...

Trump administration denies funds to U.N. family planning agency

 
The Trump administration's reactivation of another international pro-life policy—this time by withholding funds for a controversial United Nations family planning agency linked to the support of China's coercive, population-control program—has drawn praise from pro-life advocates. The State Department announced in an April 3 letter it would not forward congressionally approved money to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) because of its partnership with a Chinese government program that includes forced abortions and sterilizations. The action came 10 weeks ...

Religious liberty, pro-life advocates praise Gorsuch's confirmation

 
Neil Gorsuch gained confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court on April 7, a day after a rules change in the deeply divided Senate made his approval possible. The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Gorsuch, filling a seat on the high court that had remained vacant since the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia nearly 14 months ago. The ascendancy of President Trump's first nominee to the Supreme Court occurred after the Republican majority voted to alter Senate rules to overcome a ...

U.S. missile strikes against Syria called 'just,' prayer urged

 
Following a U.S. missile strike against Syria, Southern Baptists pledged prayer and claimed the action was appropriate retribution for deadly chemical attacks allegedly carried out by the Syrian military. Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines said he "completely support[s]" President Trump's authorization of the attack. Former U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Douglas Carver said the strike "met the 'just war' criteria for military actions." Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore said the Syrian regime's "murderous ...

The Gospel Coalition celebrates Reformation's 500th anniversary

 
Some 8,500 people—including a significant contingent of Southern Baptists—celebrated the Protestant Reformation's 500th anniversary at The Gospel Coalition's National Conference April 3-5 in Indianapolis. Five centuries after Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, the meeting featured sermons on each chapter of the biblical book Galatians as well as historical addresses on key Reformation figures. More than a dozen conference workshops also explored Reformation themes, including the movement's missionary legacy and why ...

New Grace in rural Florida is learning how to love its neighbors

 
New Grace Baptist Church in Florahome loves Jesus and seeks to serve Him by loving its community. Unfortunately, it appears to be largely an unrequited love—at least for now. New Grace Associate Pastor Jay Baker said people who settle back in this rural area, located about 30 miles east of Gainesville, typically have picked the location for a specific reason—to stay off the grid. “Most have purposely moved here to get away in their retirement, and ...

MLK50 conference set for anniversary date of King's death

 
A racial unity conference on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. has been announced by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and The Gospel Coalition. The event—"MLK50: Gospel Reflections From the Mountaintop"—will be held April 4, 2018, in Memphis, half a century to the date of King's slaying in the city. The event—announced at The Gospel Coalition's National Conference earlier this week—will focus on ...

Panel OKs Neil Gorsuch; showdown set in U.S. Senate

 
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's approval by a Senate committee occurred the same day it became clear the Democrats have enough votes to block his confirmation barring a controversial rule change. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 along party lines on April 3rd to advance Gorsuch's nomination, but at least 41 Democratic senators have now announced they will oppose his confirmation, according to news reports. That means the Republican majority does not have the 60 votes necessary to halt a filibuster and ...

National CP 4.07% ahead of projections at mid-year point

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 4.07 percent above the year-to-date SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget projection. And they are 0.97 percent below 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 March and includes ...

Three ways to strengthen support of the Cooperative Program

 
The Cooperative Program ought not be a sacred cow, but it is close to one for me. Begun by Southern Baptists nearly a century ago, it has proven to be a most effective and enduring way to support our collective ministry and mission work. I often visit with leaders of other evangelical denominations who are envious of the Cooperative Program. And they should be; there is nothing like it in American Protestantism. I was reared in a Southern Baptist church, ...

When rec league softball could be more important than Twitter

 
Should a pastor run for City Council or play on a City League softball team? Sam Rainer, pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton, answers his own question with a qualified “yes.” I spent time with Pastor Sam recently as part of our ongoing interview series we call “Behind the Pulpit.” During our time together, I asked him to elaborate on a podcast of his where he talked about pastors building a personal platform. Here's ...

Texas Rangers' spring training yields 'incredible' ministry

 
For Major League Baseball players, coaches and fans, Opening Day is a time to look forward in anticipation of the season ahead. For North American Mission Board church planter Jason Griffin, it's also a time to celebrate the work God has done during spring training. Griffin, pastor of Phoenix-area Freedom Valley Church in Surprise, Ariz., serves as chaplain for the Texas' Rangers Arizona facility in Surprise, where some 400 team personnel descend for spring training each February and March. Over four ...

Reprimand of Air Force colonel sparks protest

 
First Liberty Institute is seeking justice for U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Madrid, a flight surgeon the institute said was reprimanded in 2016 for his Christian religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality. The U.S. Air Force originally cleared Madrid in 2014 of charges that he made unsubstantiated derogatory comments against homosexuality to an openly gay airman prior to the airman's court martial for unrelated criminal offenses. But when Madrid was placed under the command of Maj. Gen. John E. McCoy ...

Is God calling your church to help opioid addicts?

 
Ponder that headline for a moment. I doubt that I would have to convince readers of the Florida Baptist Witness that drug abuse of any kind is an abomination before God. Scripture is clear about how God views our bodies, and how we are to hold a similar view: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were ...

Southeastern offers mission trip assistance for minorities

 
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern have launched a Kingdom Diversity Missions Initiative to encourage minorities to become more involved in Great Commission work around the world. As a partnership between Southeastern's Kingdom Diversity Initiative and its Center for Great Commission Studies, the new program offers minority students financial assistance for Southeastern mission trips along with help in preparing to go, such as raising funds and obtaining a passport. When students return from their trip, the initiative ...

First Baptist of New Braunfels sets up Tragedy Relief Fund

 
The setting sun over New Braunfels, Texas, on March 30 found First Baptist Church holding a vigil on its lawn in remembrance of the 13 senior church members killed in a tragic bus accident the previous day in Uvalde County two hours away. First Baptist Church of New Braunfels established online giving portals after the vigil to enable community support, establishing the Tragedy Relief Fund for the victims' families and a separate portal to "offer your support in any other way, ...

Mike Pence plays pivotal role in helping reverse pro-PPFA rule

 
The U.S. Senate approved repeal of a pro-Planned Parenthood rule by the slimmest of margins last week, in an action that twice required Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie. Pence's decisive votes—first to bring the proposal to the Senate floor and then to pass it—broke 50-50 roll calls and provided final action by Congress to reverse an Obama administration regulation. The rule in question effectively bars states from prohibiting funds for Planned Parenthood ...

Central Florida Baptist church makes sure its legacy will live on

 
In a typical year, approximately 1,000 Southern Baptist churches close their doors forever, according to the North American Mission Board in its 2016 Ministry Report. Unfortunately, Florida is not immune to this trend. Jeffery Singletary, Central Florida regional catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention, says that churches don’t suddenly decide to close their doors. But it is rather a process that takes many years. “It’s a process of watching a vision die,” he told me during ...

Grieving process begins for Texas church that suffered tragic loss

 
"Death could not hold Him," proclaims the website of First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas. The bright Easter message of Jesus' resurrection sits just above the tragic announcement of 13 members who died Mardch 29th in a bus accident. "When we're absent from the body, we're present with the Lord," First Baptist New Braunfels pastor Brad McLean told San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS5 News hours after the crash. "We know that their families are going to be hurting and our ...

WaterMark Church in Orange Park rethinks its VBS strategy

 
As tried and true as Vacation Bible School is, sometimes shaking things up a bit can yield unexpected Gospel fruit. At least that’s what Tim Larson, lead pastor of WaterMark Church in Orange Park, was hoping when his church decided to host a soccer camp instead of VBS. Tim described the church’s strategy to me in a conversation we had recently. His passion to reach his community, especially people with no church background, compelled him to ...

Retirees find ways to serve Christ by serving BCF

 
Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service have made their annual trip to Graceville, where they have been helping as needed on the Baptist College of Florida campus. For the past few weeks, they have focused their efforts on remodeling, plumbing, painting, updating electrical outlets and installing new flooring for a house recently purchased by Baptist College of Florida. RVICS is comprised of retired Christian men and women who travel and live in recreational vehicles and campers in order to ...

Committee on Resolutions named for 2017 SBC annual meeting

 
Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines has named the members of the Committee on Resolutions for the June 13-14 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church, appointed the committee in keeping with the provision in SBC Bylaw 20 that its members be named 75 days prior to the start of the annual meeting. Gaines named Barrett Duke of Montana as committee chairman. Duke is the newly elected executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention and a ...

Foster care advocates voice support for proposed legislation

 
Editor's Note: For those interested in more information about orphan care, the April print edition of the Florida Baptist Witness has a special report on Orphan Care and the Church. The content is available online to current print-edition subscribers. Advocates for children needing families voiced their approval of new federal legislation designed to improve the placement of children in quality foster care families at a time of increased demand for such homes. The National Adoption and Foster Care Home Study ...

BCF to host West Florida Evangelism Conference

 
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect time. The time has now been corrected. The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville is hosting the West Florida Evangelism Conference on April 10th. The theme for the conference is “Partnering to Reach the Lost” and will feature two guest preachers: Ted Traylor, senior pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola; and, Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention. The conference will be held in ...

Imprisoned Iranian believer in urgent 'health' crisis

 
Maryam Naghash Zargaran, an imprisoned Iranian convert to Christianity, is in "urgent need of special care." An Iranian Christian media outlet, Mohabat News, reported March 24 that Zargaran's health condition "deteriorated last week," citing sources close to her family. Zargaran suffers from multiple health issues, including ASD hole-in-the heart disease, "drastic" weight loss, weakness, depression and trauma, according to Mohabat News, online at www.mohabatnews.com/en in English. Accused of participating with pastor Saeed Abedini in a house church in ...

FIRST PERSON: My experience at a TobyMac concert

 
I went to the "Hits Deep Tour" featuring TobyMac at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Ga., earlier this month. I didn't go alone, but with my extended family -- 17 of us (one granddaughter was sick and could not join us). It was not the first time I have been to a contemporary Christian music concert. I have also been to Winter Jam at the Georgia Dome. The "Hits Deep" concert was an extraordinary experience. I actually appreciated and enjoyed ...

Year after Pakistan Easter bombing, suffering lingers

 
Families are still struggling a year after a suicide bomber killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds others in an attack targeting Christians at Easter in Lahore, Pakistan, International Christian Concern (ICC) noted on the event's March 27 anniversary. At least 21 Christians were killed and 45 Christians injured when an Islamic State terrorist denoted a suicide vest, killing an estimated 75 people and injuring about 340 others during an evening Easter celebration in a public park. "The Easter day bombing left me alone," Tariq, ...

Assisted-suicide bills faring poorly so far in 2017

 
Bills that would legalize assisted suicide have failed to advance in eight of 24 states considering them this year, with pro-life victories in Hawaii and New Mexico drawing media focus. No state has passed assisted-suicide legislation thus far in 2017 after 2016 saw Colorado and the District of Columbia legalize the practice and California enact a bill passed the previous year. Assisted-suicide bills "have done very poorly" this year, said Rita Marker, executive director of the Patients Rights Council (PRC), a group that ...

Volunteers needed for 'Engage Phoenix' Crossover event

 
The goal of this year's Crossover is to "Engage Phoenix with the Gospel" through a partnership with Harvest America. North American Mission Board and Arizona Southern Baptist Convention leaders are praying for more than 5,000 salvation decisions through this summer's Crossover activities prior to the 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. But for that to happen, they need the help of Southern Baptists to come and serve as volunteers, according to Eddy Pearson, evangelism director for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. This ...

FIRST PERSON: VBS planning has got to include follow-up strategy

 
If you've ever planned a big event, you know how it feels when it's over. All the work and energy and trial and error that went into planning and executing the project can be exhausting, and when it's finally over, all that energy seems to fly out the window. But for church leaders, the end of an outreach event is only the beginning. This is heavy on my heart as we enter Vacation Bible School season, and I'm reminded how ...

Millennials: In search of a bigger God

 
In a recent blog post, Shaun Pillay, the new minister of evangelism and discipleship at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, shared his thoughts about engaging more millennials. You may recall that Shaun said millennials are looking for vibrancy, a sense of realness and something sacrificial. Here’s the link: http://gofbw.com/blog?id=1598 That makes millennials especially well-suited to taking part on mission trips, community outreach and church plants. Those things check all their boxes. But some of ...

Tx Baptist leader: 'We do not need to be fighting against one another'

 
Southern Baptists need to unite in order "to advance the Kingdom of God together for God's glory," Texas state convention leader Jim Richards said in a chapel message at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. What we have [as churches in the Southern Baptist Convention] is definitely much more in common than we have apart," said Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, noting that "our heart and our soul" is "to be together." Preaching from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Richards' ...

Angry, tortured refugee makes peace with God's love

 
Andrew* limped up the stairs to the pulpit of the church. As he turned to face the congregation, I noticed that one of his eyes sagged. The scarring was evidence of the torture he had endured. He greeted the members of the Bulgarian Baptist church in broken English. It was the late 1990s, and it had been less than a decade since the Soviet Union had dissolved. Many of the believers sitting shoulder to shoulder in the pews of the ...

SWBTS launches Center for Early Christian Studies

 
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has launched a new center dedicated to the study of the ancient church—the Southwestern Center for Early Christian Studies. The seminary has a long history of research and publications in early Christianity, but now it meets with a heightened focus. A new website, special lectures, patristic reading groups, regular graduate and postgraduate seminars, and a group of faculty and students dedicated to researching the early church will all be features of the new initiative. "...

Friends, foes debate Neil Gorsuch; Democrats to filibuster

 
Proponents and opponents voiced their opinions of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on the final day of his hearing—the same day the Senate's Democratic leader announced he would try to block a confirmation vote. After three days of appearances before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gorsuch was followed by witnesses who urged panel members either to vote for or against his confirmation. Among the witnesses were a religious freedom expert who endorsed Gorsuch's confirmation and abortion and ...

Neil Gorsuch defends religious liberty ruling in hearings

 
Neil Gorsuch steadfastly refused to provide judge-like commentary on such issues as abortion and assisted suicide in his confirmation hearings but was not reluctant to explain his ruling in a vital religious liberty case. President Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court answered questions about his role in supporting the free exercise of religion rights of Hobby Lobby March 21 as a member of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Gorsuch responded to questions about the religious liberty ...

Africa drought victims became family to Kentucky volunteer

 
Residents of drought-stricken Lesotho, Africa, became like family to 64-year-old Karen Smith of Shepherdsville, Ky., the first time she took them food. "You go with expectations of doing a job and it quickly becomes more than a job. It becomes personal," Smith, volunteer feeding coordinator for the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC), told Baptist Press. "That first little boy that came and sat in my lap, it stopped being a job. It began to be personal, because then I met moms ...

Wyoming judge censured for gay marriage opposition

 
Proponents of religious liberty have expressed mixed opinions on the Wyoming Supreme Court's censure of a judge for saying her religious beliefs would prevent her from performing same-sex weddings. Judge Ruth Neely's counsel from Alliance Defending Freedom cited the court's decision not to remove her from the bench as a recognition "that her honorable beliefs about marriage do not disqualify her from serving her community as a judge." But Martha Lawley, a Wyoming attorney and former officer of the Southern ...

Olive Baptist's response to engaging more millennials

 
Like most pastors, Ted Traylor has been prayerfully considering how to keep more millennials engaged in the church. I spent time recently with Dr. Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist in Pensacola, and he took the opportunity to introduce me to Shaun Pillay, his new minister of evangelism and discipleship. He wants Shaun to spend a lot of time with what he calls the under-40 crowd at Olive. I asked Shaun what that group is looking for when it comes to ...

ERLC unity statement praised by Steve Gaines, Jack Graham

 
An extended statement by Russell Moore and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission executive committee, "Seeking Unity in the Southern Baptist Convention," has drawn praise from SBC President Steve Gaines and former SBC President Jack Graham among others. Meanwhile, Christian worldview analyst John Stonestreet said in a radio interview that controversy surrounding Moore, the ERLC's president, gives Southern Baptists an opportunity to "model what it looks like to have deeply held differences ... on political issues" yet "keep the main things ...

Gorsuch affirms independence, refuses to give opinion on Roe

 
Neil Gorsuch defended his judicial independence and refused to express his opinion on U.S. Supreme Court decisions—including Roe v. Wade—during the first two days of hearings on his nomination to serve as a justice. In his opening statement on March 20 and in responses to questions on March 21, the nominee to the high court assured the Senate Judiciary Committee of his willingness to rule against President Trump, who nominated him. The hearings will continue March 22, with ...

Olive's Ted Traylor affirms his obligation to young pastors

 
During my recent wide-ranging conversation with Ted Traylor, he touched on the topic of what he thinks is the obligation his generation of pastors has to young SBC leaders. Reflecting on those who came alongside him at a critical time, the pastor at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola said: “I was invited to a lot of things. Nobody asked me to open my mouth.” And, he said in a jovial manner, they didn’t need to. “...

Clemson great played key role in early years of Bell Shoals Baptist

 
Frank Irvin Gillespie's last year playing football at Clemson was 1949—20 years before Dabo Swinney, coach of the university's national championship football team, was born. However, Coach Swinney called Gillespie's son Frank the day after his dad died to offer his condolences—a call evidencing that Frank Irvin Gillespie's influence at Clemson is legendary and still being felt nearly 70 years after his last football game. Gillespie, 94, died on March 8. He was a war hero, a champion in collegiate athletics, ...

Russell Moore, ERLC trustees issue 'Seeking Unity' statement

 
An extended statement, "Seeking Unity in the Southern Baptist Convention," has been issued by Russell Moore and the executive committee of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Moore, in a 1,691-word portion of the March 20 statement, clarified criticism he had leveled at Christians who supported Donald Trump for president in the November 2016 election. The ERLC executive committee, in a 536-word portion of the statement, affirmed Moore's ongoing leadership as president of the SBC entity. The ERLC executive committee acknowledged criticisms ...

Ted Traylor talks about supernatural living, personal revival

 
I recently had the opportunity to spend time with Ted Traylor, pastor at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola. During our wide-ranging conversation, I asked Dr. Traylor what he thought was the biggest misconception American Christians had about living the Christian life. His answer led to one of the most emotional moments of our entire time together. In short, the misconception is believers think that, within their own power, the Christian life is something they can accomplish. “I had to ...

FIRST PERSON: 'We as a Convention have lost our way'

 
As I look on in dismay at the convention I love, splintering and fragmenting, I cannot help but desire unity. This is why I have believed that we as Southern Baptists must pull together our resources for the sake of the Gospel based on our doctrinal commitment defined in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. But still it seems that this doctrinal statement is not sufficient. What then is the truth that unites us as Southern Baptists? The reality is, we ...

Jim Henry's busy schedule includes release of autobiography

 
Jim Henry, mid-1990s president of the Southern Baptist Convention, hasn't been sitting around with his feet propped up since his 2006 retirement as pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.—unless it was sitting in airports or vehicles getting to his next assignment. "I'm busier now than I've ever been," said Henry, before adding with a laugh, "or maybe it just takes me longer to get everything done. [It's] one of the two." Joking aside, Henry has indeed ...

Muslims in Michigan open to conversations about Christianity

 
In Dearborn, Mich., home to the largest concentration of Arab-Americans in the United States, students from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary learned about praying for and sharing the Gospel with local Muslims during a three-day visit to the city. Led by faculty member Ayman S. Ibrahim, the team interacted with a number of the 100,000-plus Arab Americans who comprise at least 45 percent of Dearborn's population. The 13 students from Southern Seminary and its undergraduate school, Boyce College, visited local Arab bakeries and ...

Pastor Traylor surprises Olive's guests by sending personal texts

 
I recently had the opportunity to spend time with Ted Traylor, pastor at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola. During our wide-ranging conversation, Dr. Traylor talked about a discipline in his life instilled by Jim Henry, former pastor of FBC Orlando and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jim told a small group of people that included Dr. Traylor about how every Saturday he used to call everyone who visited FBC Orlando the previous week. Dr. Traylor’s response: &...

Humanitarian emergency: Africa's famine and drought

 
Hunger and thirst often prevent members of Kamakowa Baptist Church in Kimusu, Kenya from attending worship, pastor Tom Ogalo Ngoya told Baptist Press in an appeal for aid to the country where drought is a national disaster. "It's [disheartening] to watch your children beg for water and food," Ngoya emailed BP after Kenya's government declared the drought a national disaster in February. Members of the congregation "are often not in the church due to lack of food and water for ...

Divide over Neil Gorsuch on display as hearings open

 
Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearings opened March 20 with Republicans and Democrats, pro-lifers and pro-choicers, and conservatives and liberals pressing their conflicting cases regarding his nomination to the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee began the latest hearings in what has been an often stridently contentious process for the last three decades with a day of opening statements—first from the 20 members of the panel, then from the nominee. Gorsuch's statement came after the deadline for this article. A committee vote ...

Advisory council surveying young leaders within the SBC

 
A newly appointed advisory council is drafting recommendations to foster vibrant participation within Southern Baptist life among young leaders including pastors, denominational servants and others. The diverse 22-member Young Leaders Advisory Council, appointed by SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, is conducting an online survey of young leaders to help accomplish its goal. Ken Weathersby, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention advancement, serves as EC liaison for the group, and is assisted by Ashley Clayton, SBC Executive Committee ...

FIRST PERSON: Annie Armstrong offering helps push us forward

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Kevin Ezell is president of the North American Mission Board. Have you noticed that God does not settle for the status quo? There is no place in the Bible where He says, "There, that's good enough. You can take a break now." Even nature, which He created, is constantly shifting, changing and moving in order to keep the balance He intended. God is always pushing us forward. He calls us closer in our walk with Him. He sends ...

N.C. challenges NCAA's tax status for lobbying against HB 2

 
With March Madness in full swing, Republican state legislators in North Carolina are alleging the NCAA and the ACC violated their federal tax-exempt status by attempting to provoke a repeal of the Tar Heel State's transgender restroom law. GOP state Rep. Mark Brody filed the Athletic Associations Accountability Act (HB 328) in the state legislature March 13. The measure, which has 17 co-sponsors, would instruct leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly to "file a tax-exempt organization complaint (referral) with the Department of ...

FIRST PERSON: When filmmakers get it right

 
British novelist Evelyn Waugh was known as an earthy man, even after he found Christ. A lady once asked him: "Mr. Waugh, how can you behave as you do and still call yourself a Christian?" His answer: "Madam, I may be as bad as you say. But believe me, were it not for my religion, I would scarcely be a human being." Well, we've all heard it before: "Christians are hypocrites!" Sometimes, it appears so. None of us gets it ...

Beauty and the Beast's 'gay moment' sours many Christians

 
A gay plot twist in Disney's upcoming live-action "Beauty and the Beast" continues to stir discontent among Christians, with an online poll at Faith Driven Consumer (FDC) among the latest to voice displeasure. The poll reports 95 percent of 6,700 consumers said they are less likely to see the film because of an intimate attraction the bumbling LeFou character expresses toward the villainous Gaston. And 94 percent of those polled said they will likely spend less money on all Disney offerings as a ...

Religious liberty in China is 'rapidly deteriorating'

 
The persecution of Christians in China has increased, and is expected to continue to do so, as a result of a dramatic policy change by the communist government, according to the human rights organization China Aid. In its annual report released March 2, China Aid said Beijing's shift in how it seeks to manage religion and the adoption of that new policy by government agencies resulted in expanded persecution of individual Christians and greater oppression of unregistered house churches in 2016. Conditions ...

My conversation with Jacksonville foster parents

 
It’s hard to look at the sheer number of children in foster care and not have your heart break a little. I know mine does. Julie Bruce, director of foster care at the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes Jacksonville campus, said the need for foster parents is critical. With more than 12,000 children currently in foster homes, Bruce is always willing to talk to families who want to find out more about being a foster parent. Bruce said ...

If we're going to help recovering addicts, we have work to do

 
Many Florida Baptist churches join the fight against addiction by hosting Celebrate Recovery groups. Simon Hunt is the director of the Celebrate Recovery ministry at First Baptist Orlando. He said that while they don’t have people coming in off the street who are under the influence, Celebrate Recovery can be a good option for people as they are leaving a treatment facility and looking to rejoin and rebuild their lives. Hunt believes that when it comes to recovery, ...

Vocational Church in Tampa helps former addicts develop job skills

 
Charles Young saw the need to help recovering addicts find faith in God and their place in society, and planted Vocational Church in Tampa to do just that. Complete with an in-house residency program, the church offers men who are already in recovery a place to live while they develop job skills that help them move away from the lives they knew as addicts. As more churches understand just how far-reaching and deadly the effects of our state’s ...

LifeWay's Chris Adams retires as 'true champion for women'

 
Although she was a young mother of twin girls with a fear of public speaking, Chris Adams became a women's ministry pioneer in the Southern Baptist Convention. After 22 years of training leaders as the women's ministry specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources, Adams retired in February from a role that God began leading her toward 30-plus years ago at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. As she navigated motherhood, Adams gained a desire to share with others the wisdom that ...

Why church plants sometimes have trouble becoming self-sustaining

 
It’s not rare to hear a church planter name money as one of his top needs even as he shifts in his seat and tries to come up with what he hopes you think will sound like a more spiritual answer. And, while many planters will admit that finances rank as one of their plant’s top challenges, it is still tough for them to ask for money from potential partners or even their own congregation. The ...

FIRST PERSON: Our job is to save the humans, not the whales

 
Millions of people in the online world have watched livestream video for days on end as a 15 year old named April prepares to give birth to her baby. April, though, is not a teen mom. April is a giraffe who lives at Animal Adventure Park in New York. People often are as emotionally attached to the lives of animals as they are of people. We see it now with "April the Giraffe," as we saw it when many grieved over ...

Frank Page & Russell Moore: 'We fully support one another'

 
Despite a Washington Post article published on March 13th suggesting Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank S. Page could ask Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore to resign amid ongoing controversy, the two SBC entity leaders reported a collegial meeting on that day and said they "fully support one another." Earlier in the day, amid a social media flurry following the Post's report, Page told Baptist Press he planned on "bridge-building" with Moore with no anticipation of ...

'JESUS' film, now translated into 1,500 languages, reaches millions

 
For one morning a week for quite some time, both women had been nothing but consistent. Riah* had been faithfully working to help keep up the home of Yvonne Cantwell*, an IMB missionary in Southeast Asia. And Cantwell had been faithfully sharing the Gospel and Bible stories with her as they built a relationship. "She is from a UPG [unreached people group]," Cantwell said. "I speak her national language but not her heart language." Riah was "friendly and open but ...

FIRST PERSON: What happens when foster kids come to church

 
    EDITOR'S NOTE: Diana Davis' column is part of a Special Report that the April print edition of the Florida Baptist Witness will have on orphan care. To subscribe, go here: https://www.sonovasystems.com/css/1012/epay.page "The Turners have a new foster child," someone whispered. A wide-eyed 12-year-old walked into church beside the couple, and people began to welcome him. When God prompts someone in your church to foster a child, how will your church respond? Are ...

Bellevue Baptist reaches $1 million in Cooperative Program giving

 
Bellevue Baptist Church, where Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines serves as pastor, has become the first church in Tennessee to send $1 million through the Cooperative Program over a 12-month period. In early March, the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board received a check for $83,333 that brought Bellevue's total giving through the Cooperative Program to $1 million since April 2016. Records from the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board indicate that Bellevue's gifts through the Cooperative Program have quadrupled over the past six years. Gaines said ...

SBC's disciple-making task force needs to work an additional year

 
A group tasked with encouraging and teaching disciple-making among Southern Baptist churches will extend its work an additional year, task force chairman Robby Gallaty told Baptist Press. Gallaty, hosting a task force meeting in Nashville on March 9, said the group will not issue a report at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix. The task force will instead seek an additional year to evaluate discipleship and strategize. They plan to give their report at the 2018 SBC annual meeting in ...

Pastor's family chooses Cooperative Program for memorial

 
Levi Parish spent the better part of his ministry supporting and encouraging others to support the Cooperative Program. So when he passed away on Feb. 26, it was only natural that the family wanted to do something related to Southern Baptist's giving channel for missions and ministry in his memory. "He loved missions," Sherry Parish said of her husband of 53 years. "In every church we served, he encouraged the church to increase its giving through the Cooperative Program," she recalled. "He ...

Texas prison's 'field ministers' see wide-ranging impact

 
"I've been in prison before," Michael Rios humbly reflects. "I came in when I was very young. I had the right ideas, I had the right intents: get out, get married, have a life." Dressed in a white prison uniform, Rios speaks slowly but directly, his tattooed hands slowly gesturing to accentuate his words. He has been in prison longer than some of his fellow inmates have even been alive. Though Rios had the "right intents," bad choices kept him ...

LifeWay Films schedules encore 'Insanity of God' simulcasts

 
LifeWay Films schedules encore 'Insanity of God' simulcasts   Response to LifeWay Films' simulcasts of "The Insanity of God" last fall has prompted encore showings March 22 and 26. The feature documentary tells the story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken who traveled to 72 countries into the depths of the persecuted church to find out if God actually makes a difference in difficult places. The film is produced by the International Mission Board and Cooke Pictures, distributed by LifeWay Films and based ...

NAAF president urges reconciliation among Moore, critics

 
The president of a network of some 4,000 predominantly African-American Southern Baptist churches has issued an open letter urging reconciliation between Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore and those threatening to withhold Cooperative Program money over his actions. Byron Day, president of the National African-American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote in a March 9 letter that while "feathers have been ruffled on both sides," "obedience to the Bible's teaching can surely offer a solution so that we can ...

Planned Parenthood reveals how vital abortion is to its mission

 
Planned Parenthood's rejection of a White House offer to maintain federal funding if it drops its abortion business demonstrates how important the lethal procedure is to the organization, Southern Baptist leaders said. The informal proposal and the refusal—reported March 6 by The New York Times—came as Congress and President Trump consider legislation to cut funds for the country's scandal-plagued, leading abortion provider. Both budget bills and a new health care replacement measure proposed in the House of ...

NRB highlights Reformation's 'solas' at Proclaim 17 in Orlando

 
The five "solas" of the Protestant Reformation were highlighted during the National Religious Broadcasters' Proclaim 17 convention in Orlando. The event was designed to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 Theses. Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, preached on "Sola Gratia" (by grace alone) during the NRB International Christian Media Convention, which was held Feb. 27-March 2. Erwin Lutzer, pastor emeritus of Moody Church in Chicago, addressed "Sola Fide" (by faith alone); Mac Brunson, senior pastor ...

ERLC, LifeWay release religious liberty curriculum

 
Two Southern Baptist entities have combined efforts to produce a small-group study on religious liberty at a time when the fundamental freedom appears to be both threatened and misunderstood in the United States. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and LifeWay Christian Resources announced the release of the study—"Religious Liberty: How the Gospel Shapes Our First Freedom"—on March 7. The six-week study is available for purchase through LifeWay. The free exercise of religion guaranteed in the ...

FIRST PERSON: The power of preaching the Word of God

 
The writer of Hebrews said, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). Not long ago, I was reminded of this power. Preachers are called to communicate God's Word and when they do so, they have a promise of His power to work in it and through it. When a ...

WEEK OF PRAYER: Colorado church planters no longer alone

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: The annual Week of Prayer for North American Missions, March 5-12, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering provide support for missionaries who serve on behalf of Southern Baptists across North America. With a goal of $70 million, this year's offering theme is "Together for His Kingdom." Jacob and Jessica Dahl are Week of Prayer missionaries for the North American Mission Board. For more information, visit anniearmstrong.com . To read about other 2017 featured missionaries, visit anniearmstrong.com/missionaries-overview. Two months ...

WEEK OF PRAYER: Teaching, reaching refugees in Jacksonville

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: The annual Week of Prayer for North American Missions, March 5-12, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering provide support for missionaries who serve on behalf of Southern Baptists across North America. With a goal of $70 million, this year's offering theme is "Together for His Kingdom." Kim and Ron Carr are Week of Prayer missionaries for the North American Mission Board. For more information, visit anniearmstrong.com . To read about other 2017 featured missionaries, visit anniearmstrong.com/missionaries-overview. While sitting ...

Orphan care helps Florida Baptists build more diverse congregations

 
Adoption and foster care cross ethnic and cultural lines, and while that may be a challenge it is also an opportunity. Florida Southern Baptist churches are discovering that by being involved in adoption and foster care ministries they are becoming multicultural themselves, or growing their current multicultural ministries even further. “As a church with so many people who have fostered children and adopted children the ethnic makeup of the church has changed,” said Pastor Jamin Stinziano of ...

Bradenton church has a 'work where it's planted' strategy

 
“It’s like throwing a life preserver to someone who thinks they’re standing in a baby pool.” That’s how Jason Smith, pastor of Good Life Church in Bradenton, described trying to reach the suburbs with the Gospel. When you’re living and ministering to an urban area, the needs are easy to see. Examples of homelessness, hunger and addiction are right out in the open. You don’t have to convince ...

Cooperative Program escrow study set to begin

 
An ad hoc committee of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee is set to begin its study of churches' escrowing Cooperative Program money. EC chairman and Florida Baptist pastor Stephen Rummage says the study was occasioned in part by the notable volume of contacts the EC has received regarding the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. ERLC President Russell Moore told Baptist Press the entity is "a servant of our churches" and is "happy to work with the Executive Committee." Meanwhile, ...

Fla. lawmakers to debate alcohol, guns, abortion and gambling

 
As members of the Florida House and Senate gather in Tallahassee for the 2017 legislative session, Florida Baptists will find several items of particular interest. Alcohol will be front and center once again as the debate over whether grocery stores should be allowed to sell hard liquor within their primary storefronts continues to rage on. Those opposed to the legislation, which has failed in past years, think the bill makes it too convenient for minors to get their hands on spirits. ...

Steve Gaines: Loving people gives you the platform to share Christ

 
Evangelism should be the priority of every Christian, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines said at the March 5 West Tennessee Evangelism Rally. "Heaven and hell are looming in the balance, and that's a lot more important than anything else," Gaines, pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, told those gathered at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Gaines was the featured preacher at the rally, sponsored by Union and the Tennessee Baptist Convention. He spoke to pastors and church members from ...

WEEK OF PRAYER: Pastor finds new flock with The Gathering

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: The annual Week of Prayer for North American Missions, March 5-12, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering provide support for missionaries who serve on behalf of Southern Baptists across North America. With a goal of $70 million, this year's offering theme is "Together for His Kingdom." Garth and Patty Leno are Week of Prayer missionaries for the North American Mission Board. For more information, visit anniearmstrong.com . To read about other 2017 featured missionaries, visit anniearmstrong.com/missionaries-overview. John D'Antonio's ...

President Trump's immigration orders draw diverse reaction

 
President Trump's immigration policy has drawn renewed focus among Baptists, with reactions to his March 6 executive order emerging and criticism of two previous executive orders voiced by a coalition of Hispanic pastors. Trump's March 6 executive order revoked a Jan. 27 order on immigration that proved controversial and was blocked by federal courts. The new order, which would take effect March 16, imposes a 90-day "pause" on entry to the U.S. by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—...

International Mission Board appoints 29 new missionaries

 
Twenty-nine Southern Baptists were appointed as missionaries to the nations during the International Mission Board's trustee meeting Feb. 28-March 1 near Richmond, Va. Trustees also heard numerous reports and recognized 63 missionaries who retired or died within the past year. During IMB's Sending Celebration service, new missionaries represented churches that cooperate with 11 state Baptist conventions. The missionaries will take the Gospel to peoples in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Americas. ...

Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein continue court fight

 
Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein took their religious liberty fight to court March 2 after they were penalized for refusing business for a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony. First Liberty Institute defended the Kleins before a three-judge panel in the Oregon Court of Appeals, promoting the couple's constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech and due process in a court session webcast online. Kelly Shackelford, First Liberty president and CEO, said after the proceedings that he hopes the court upholds the ...

Attacks on religious liberty were the focus of NRB panel

 
Three clients of Alliance Defending Freedom described their battles for religious liberty March 2 at Proclaim 17, the National Religious Broadcasters' annual convention, which was held in Orlando this year. A wedding cinematographer, preschool director, and former fire chief shared about their legal efforts in a public policy session sponsored by ADF at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Their cases and others likely will determine the future of religious freedom in America, ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley told the audience. "I firmly ...

Supreme Court vacates pro-transgender ruling

 
The U.S. Supreme Court set aside on March 6 a ruling in favor of a transgender high school student and returned it to a lower court for reconsideration in light of the Trump administration's recent withdrawal of a directive issued under President Obama. The justices issued the order returning the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., barely three weeks before they were to hear oral arguments in the matter. The arguments were scheduled for March 28. ...

NRB leader: Free speech mission 'primary, necessary, indispensable'

 
Protecting the freedom of speech is as vital to the National Religious Broadcasters' mission today as it was when the association was founded in 1944, the group's president and CEO, Jerry A. Johnson, said. Johnson gave his State of the Association speech at the Orlando World Center Marriott in the opening session of Proclaim 17, NRB's International Christian Media Convention. During the session, he also read a statement regarding the terrorist killing of 49 people and injury to 53 others at the city's Pulse ...

LGBTQ themes spread in kids' entertainment

 
Themes promoting gay, bisexual and transgender lifestyles are becoming more prevalent in entertainment expressly marketed to children, most notably with Disney's upcoming version of "Beauty and the Beast." Disney's remake of Beauty and the Beast, debuting in theaters March 17, will include a reimagined LeFou, who will express a homosexual yet conflicted attraction to the brutish and macho Gaston, the movie's director Bill Condon told the gay Attitude Magazine. The movie is after Disney already included a scene with several same-gender ...

N.C. billboard sparks debate over gender roles

 
A North Carolina billboard that reads, "Real men provide. Real women appreciate it," has generated discussion of gender roles and work. While some say the sign expresses a biblical principle that men should provide financially for their families, others argue provision is a shared responsibility not limited by gender roles. The controversial message appeared in late February on a billboard along Interstate 40 between Winston-Salem and Greensboro, according to media reports. The billboard's owner told the Raleigh News & Observer the ...

Christians in Egypt flee after killings in North Sinai

 
Hundreds of Christians continue to flood out of the Egyptian town of Al-Arish in northern Sinai after the third Coptic Christian in a week was gunned down on Feb. 23, reportedly by Islamic State-linked militants. The mass exodus comes after three Coptic Christians were killed in what appears to be the work of militants making good on Islamic State threats issued on a Feb. 19 video promising to rid the country of "idolaters." The latest slaying was the seventh killing of a ...

Sen. James Lankford sees a 'missional calling' to government

 
James Lankford, a U.S. senator from Oklahoma, knows a little bit about experiencing a call from God. He also knows a little bit about resisting that call to be obedient. "For all of the disciples, Jesus used one simple phrase to call them: 'Come follow me,'" Lankford said during a Great Commission Conference at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo. "It wasn't a calling to an occupation, to a place or a task. It was a calling to ...

Africa: Preparing for the next missions epicenter

 
Historian Richard Bulliet suggests that early Muslims recounted the story of the spread of Islam as if it had one center, like an inkblot diffusing outward from a center that remains set and inexorably stained. In contrast, when we look at the story of the spread of God's Kingdom, we see something more like shifting epicenters of earthquakes. Sudden, tectonic shifts occur and then shock waves go out from the center to spread the Gospel far and wide. Once the ...

National Cooperative Program giving 4.86% ahead of projections

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 4.86 percent above the year-to-date budgeted projection, and are 0.86 percent below 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 2016-17 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget. As of Feb. 28, gifts ...

FIRST PERSON: Dear absent church member

 
Dear Absent Church Member, Today I saw your empty seat as I stood to welcome the people to worship. I wondered to myself what it was this week that had kept you away once again from gathering with other believers on the Lord's Day. I love being your pastor, but I must admit that I experience sadness every time I see your empty seat. I visit the older members of our church in their homes because age and sickness has ...

How churches are expanding their reach through social media

 
More than 5,000 people watched and listened to small-town pastor Mark Helton's sermons on smartphones, tablets and computer monitors over the past month. First Baptist Church in Monticello, Ky., has embraced the relatively inexpensive technology that has allowed congregations of all sizes to vastly increase their reaches. On the typical Sunday morning, Helton preaches to about 200 familiar faces gathered in the pews while analytics show that lots of others from his community and beyond tune in remotely. "It has been an ...

Trump highlights immigration, war on terror in speech to Congress

 
Discussions of immigration, terrorism and health care were among the highlights of President Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28. The hour-long address included no mention of abortion, so-called homosexual and transgender rights or religious liberty. It did include calls to "invest in women's health," confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and ensure parents' access to "paid family leave." The president also voiced support for "the incredible men and women of law enforcement" and ...

ANALYSIS: Reaching the remote in the Amazon jungle

 
Although we sometimes lament the digital age, truth be told, it's nice to be so connected. Most of us can't remember the last time we were out of contact without a phone, a computer or even a GPS-enabled car to get us out of trouble. Everyone, everywhere on the planet seems accessible, but that's not the case. There are still remote, uncontacted places in the world where the Gospel has not yet been declared. Some of those places are in ...

The special challenges pastors have in raising Godly children

 
One of the greatest legacies of any pastor is for his children to grow up loving God and loving the Church passionately. Yet, this is often not the story of the children of a pastor. Why? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Through the years, hundreds of people have asked how they could pray for our family. Jeana and I were very clear through the years our boys were living at home with us: Pray for Josh ...

Reports show improved levels of ethnic participation within SBC

 
A review of ethnic participation in Southern Baptist Convention life left a workgroup of the convention's Executive Committee encouraged at the SBC's progress and eager for increased diversity in the days ahead. Reports submitted to the EC "show intentionality on the part of each one of our entities to provide resources and opportunities for involvement of our ethnic churches and church leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention," Jim Gregory, chairman of the EC's Communications Workgroup, told Baptist Press. "I think ...

Black history and the SBC: Need for more study noted

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: February is Black History Month. Black History Month gives Americans a yearly spotlight on such key figures in U.S. history as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. Few Southern Baptists, however, have considered key African-American figures in SBC history like Garland Offutt, Emmanuel McCall and Fred Luter—the first African-Americans, respectively, to attend a Southern Baptist Convention seminary, serve on an SBC entity staff and be elected SBC president. Yet some Baptist historians ...

Frank Page's witness fruitful after 35 years

 
Engaging in door-to-door evangelism earlier this year, two seminary students came across a house they almost overlooked because of its obscurity. When they knocked on the door, Jackie, a man with a unique connection to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, answered the door. When master of divinity students Sharon Ngai and Christian Stringer told Jackie they were from Southwestern, Jackie informed them that he had given his life to Christ more than 35 years ago as a result of Southwestern students doing ...

FIRST PERSON: Why I practice cold-call evangelism

 
Many of us have received a phone call from an unknown number and, upon answering, found out that a random salesperson from a different state is attempting to sell us something. This method is called cold-call sales, which simply means that a company acquires a list of random names and phone numbers and methodically marches down the list, calling people to whom they have never spoken before and offering their product and/or services. My question regarding this practice is, ...

Obama-era transgender bathroom order rescinded

 
The Trump administration has reversed an Obama-era directive that advised schools to open bathrooms and locker rooms to students based on their perceived sexual identity or risk losing federal funding. The new ruling leaves bathroom use policies to the discretion of state governments and local school districts, but the issue is already set to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court is scheduled on March 28 to hear a case from the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia ...

Women's academic society forms at Southeastern

 
Women at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern have a new opportunity for encouragement and collaboration in their academic work through the Society for Women in Scholarship. Created by SEBTS students, the society's goal is to provide a gathering place for ideas, networking, learning and leadership development among women at Southeastern who desire to be part of theological scholarship. It was just over a year ago when Bekah Stoneking, a doctor of education student, and Amber Bowen, ...

Young leader initiative announced by EC & NAMB

 
The SBC Executive Committee and North American Mission Board are launching a young leader initiative to better engage pastors between the ages of 25-45. The network's goal will be to provide a sense of brotherhood for those already participating in Southern Baptist life and find ways to engage those who are disconnected or minimally involved. "A look at the research and a look around the room at most SBC meetings tells you we must do a better job at engaging ...

Today is the day to start growing Sharper! in your ministry

 
Sharper!, the one-day conference taking place simultaneously at more than 20 Florida Baptist churches across the state, has arrived. Host churches will focus the day of training and team building on discipleship, prayer, preaching, teaching, leadership, church multiplication, small groups and other issues, with each location having the freedom to customize its own program and schedule to the needs of their specific audience. "Staying honed and ready to be used by God can be difficult as the challenges of the day ...

CP escrowing by Prestonwood Baptist draws EC's attention

 
Amid continuing discussion of churches' escrowing or withholding Cooperative Program funds, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee launched two efforts to study the issue at its Feb. 20-21 meeting in Nashville. The EC's actions related to CP came less than a week after it was reported that Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church would escrow CP funds over "various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission." See related story. Other churches have taken or are considering ...

Anderson U.'s divinity school OKs partnership with BEMCSC

 
The Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina has voted to establish a partnership with Anderson University's Clamp Divinity School. The Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina encompasses 1,100 churches and 230,000 members across the state. It was founded in 1877 by a group of black men who came together to enhance the quality of life in their churches and to provide a means of bringing churches together on a statewide basis to address the educational needs of African Americans ...

GuideStone planning its first-ever Employee Benefits Summit

 
Key ministry decision-makers, along with human resource professionals and financial officers of churches and ministries, are invited to register for the first Employee Benefits Summit presented by GuideStone Financial Resources, March 27–29 in Dallas. The Employee Benefits Summit, a combination of GuideStone's popular Southern Baptist Business Officers' Conference held each spring and the Benefits Forum held in the fall, will provide an expanded menu of networking and training opportunities in one annual conference. Registration is $199. An additional $50 per person dinner ...

FIRST PERSON: God's mission and women's ministries

 
I'm plagued with a burden that I've played it too safe. And what's even more dangerous, I fear I may have led others to play it safe as well. The heaviness was fueled as I sat on a dirt floor listening to 15 Asian women -- one by one -- tell how they had shared the Gospel. Each said something like, "I shared the Gospel with 15 people in my village, eight of them followed Christ and one was healed of demon ...

Page: We need a 'massive effort' to build stewardship education

 
The use of God's resources—stewardship—will gain a strengthened emphasis in Southern Baptist life, Frank S. Page said in addressing the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville. "If we do not get the issue of stewardship correct, the work to which God is calling us will simply not be done in a way that would honor Him and glorify Him as He would wish," Page, president of the Executive Committee, said during the opening session of the EC's ...

An impassioned Steve Gaines implores SBC to pray

 
In Nashville all of 24 hours while his wife Donna was home in Memphis, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines had already spoken with her four times, he said, because he loves her and simply loves to hear her voice. The conversations with his wife served as an analogy to encourage Southern Baptists to talk with God and tell others about our Savior, the theme of his sermon on the first evening of the SBC Executive Committee meeting in Nashville Feb. 20...

Dreher: Stop wasting energy fighting unwinnable culture battles

 
With secular culture increasingly marginalizing the Christian faith, believers should leave behind political battles and embrace the communal life exemplified by St. Benedict of Nursia, author Rod Dreher said in the Gheens Lectures, Feb. 7-8 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Although Christianity continues to spread in Asia and the global south, it is rapidly losing its influence in the public square in the West, said Dreher, senior editor of the American Conservative and author of "The Benedict Option," a book ...

FIRST PERSON: What makes the Great Commission great?

 
We call these words of Jesus the Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20). But what makes the Great Commission so great? It's great in its responsibility Every follower of Jesus has ...

Hispanic churches face unique challenges with cultural expression

 
It’s not always easy for any church to reach millennials or post-millennials in an increasingly secular culture. But, Hispanic churches often have additional challenges when it comes to reaching young adults in Florida. As Spanish-speaking churches affiliated with the Florida Baptist Convention grow, and younger generations come of age, it often takes time and effort to figure out the church’s cultural expression, said Emmanuel Roque, the FBC’s Hispanic church catalyst. First- and second-generation Hispanics ...

Gaines, Greear, Luter, Hunt to lend support to Pastors' Conference

 
Celebrating smaller membership churches in the Southern Baptist Convention is a key aspect of this year's Pastors' Conference. However, key leaders are calling for broad participation by pastors regardless of the size of their church. "The core of the SBC has always been faithful men and women living out the Great Commission in local churches without the benefits of large platforms, big budgets or headline recognition," J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., ...

What's planned for SBC's Pastors' Conference? Check this out!

 
This year's Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference has already promised several firsts, including the first time all preachers will be from small- and medium-sized churches and all sermons will walk through a book of the Bible expositionally. This year's Pastors'Conference added another first—the first time the speakers met in advance to discuss their passages to ensure cohesive unity to their sermons. Eleven of the 12 pastors, whose churches range in attendance from 60 to 500, met with Pastors' Conference officers as well ...

Prestonwood Baptist escrows CP funds, citing ERLC actions

 
A Dallas-area megachurch has decided to escrow Cooperative Program funds temporarily in order to evaluate future support of Southern Baptist Convention causes. At issue are what the congregation calls "various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission that do not reflect the beliefs and values of many in the Southern Baptist Convention," according to a statement the church released to Louisiana's Baptist Message newsjournal. Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, will escrow what would ...

David Platt apologizes for 'divisive' IMB amicus brief

 
International Mission Board President David Platt has apologized to Southern Baptists for the divisive nature of an amicus brief the IMB joined last May in support of a New Jersey's Islamic society's right to build a mosque. "I apologize to Southern Baptists for how distracting and divisive this has been," Platt said Feb. 15 during a meeting with Baptist state paper editors in Ontario, Calif. "I can say with full confidence," he said, "that in the days ahead, IMB will have ...

Steve Gaines' Q&A: from Trump to prayer for revival

 
Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines discussed a range of topics of interest to Baptists in a question-and-answer session with state Baptist paper editors during their Feb. 14-16 annual meeting in Ontario, Calif. The discussion covered President Donald Trump's first 25 days in office, including the refugee crisis; controversial comments by Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore during the election; churches tithing 10 percent to the Cooperative Program and state conventions splitting their CP receipts 50/50 with national entities; Millennials and ...

Believers see health-care cost-sharing ministries as 'safe harbors'

 
As Kacie Melvin anticipated the arrival of her newborn and transitioned from school teacher to stay-at-home mom, she immediately knew health insurance was going to pose a problem. So Melvin and her husband, both members of First Baptist Church in Orlando, did something that more and more Florida Baptists are doing. They began to look into alternatives to the increasing costs of insurance, especially for those who are not receiving healthcare benefits from an employer. What they found was heath-care ...

We already have the tools to reach next-generation Hispanics

 
Billy Young, next generation ministries catalyst with the Florida Baptist Convention, pointed out in a phone conversation that Millennials and post-millennials are the generations that have perhaps been the most exposed to diversity through their school systems. “Student ministry/college ministry is more diverse than other ministries because [Millennials and post-millennials] have gone to school with many different cultures; they are accustomed to interacting with people different than they.” For Young, this is encouraging because it means that ...

Florida Baptist church planters stress over health-care coverage

 
As Washington begins to debate about whether it will try to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act, Florida Baptist church planters reflect on how they have managed to provide health care protection for themselves and their families, and how a decision on the Affordable Care Act could affect them. Todd Peterson, pastor of the Pulse of Miami Church, purchases his health insurance on the federal government’s health care exchange page healthcare.gov. “I’m ...

'Authentic Love' calls teens to true identity in Christ

 
Love is a popular topic in today's culture, especially around Valentine's Day. But since many teens hear a distorted view, "Authentic Love," a new True Love Waits Bible study, aims to ground students' concept of love in their identity in Christ. Authentic Love, divided into studies for guys and girls, places a "strong emphasis on developing a lifestyle of personal holiness and helps students understand sex and purity in light of the Gospel," said Karen Daniel, team leader in student ...

Faith-based groups lead in sheltering the homeless

 
Rick Lechner says he speaks the language of the streets. A former drug addict and convicted criminal, the Southern Baptist preacher helps put a dent in homelessness in Omaha, Neb., as co-founder of Freeway Ministries. Omaha is one of 11 cities included in a new Baylor University study that found, on average, 58 percent of emergency shelter beds for the homeless in those cities are provided through faith-based organizations. At the high end of the spectrum is Omaha, where faith-based groups provide 90 ...

FIRST-PERSON: David Jeremiah says marriage is like a song

 
For most of us, the radio was part of our dating experience. That's why when we hear a certain tune, we smile and say, "Honey, they're playing our song." So-called experts are always putting together "Top 100" lists, so I wondered what songs would be listed as the Top 100 love songs of all time. According to one study I saw, the top pick was George Harrison's "Something," sung by the Beatles in 1969. No. 2 was Elton John's "Your Song." Also high on ...

Florida Baptists find different ways to tackle sports ministries

 
Many Florida Baptist churches have implemented sports ministries as a way to reach out to the sports-crazed communities they serve. But for churches not playing in this space, it can be difficult to get a grip on what they can offer with the resources they have available. To see how churches tackle the task of making decisions about sports and recreation ministries, we talked to congregations of various sizes to find out what the process of starting and running a ...

Pastor Willy: Churches need to give 20-somethings the chance to lead

 
The millennial generation presents unique challenges for a lot of churches. So, when I met recently with Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, I wanted to make sure I asked what they were doing to minister in this critical area. As during other parts of our interview, Pastor Willy was candid in his responses. “A church like ours, which is a multigenerational church that has been there for 150 years last year, we’re asking: How ...

Shiloh shows that racial unity is not an unattainable goal

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Florida Baptist Witness told the story of how Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in downtown Jacksonville and Ridgewood Baptist Church in Orange Park were planning to merge in our Sept. 11, 2014, print edition. This article from Baptist Press shows what has happened since that time. Tami and Roger Clemmons searched more than a year for a church home after moving from Georgia to the Palm Coast area in 2014. Nothing seemed to fit the couple's desire for racial diversity coupled ...

FIRST PERSON: Deciding what kind of neighbor you will be

 
From time to time I receive a postcard boasting the headline, "Choose Your Neighbor!" It's from a local realtor sending listings of houses for sale in my neighborhood. The idea is for me to tell my circle of friends and acquaintances about the available houses, thus allowing me to choose my neighbor. Through many years of moving around the country and overseas, my family has been blessed with incredible neighbors. There was one family in particular that we really enjoyed. ...

FIRST PERSON: Finding reasons to celebrate our diversity

 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Feb. 12 is Racial Reconciliation Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention. "The beauty (and effectiveness) of Southern Baptists is their diversity," I wrote in a column after my first Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore in 2014. I was amazed that so many different personalities comprised this group of evangelicals known as the SBC. However, I have not always prized diversity. As one of the few half-black girls in the predominately white school, church and extended family I grew up in, ...

NAMB approves three SEND Relief mercy ministry hubs

 
Trustees of the North American Mission Board meeting in Southern California heard reports from local church planters and approved the establishment of three Send Relief "ministry hubs" that will provide mercy ministry and give Southern Baptists more opportunities for hands-on missions service. Meeting Feb. 7 for their full board meeting, trustees approved a plan for NAMB to purchase existing property that will be transitioned into the ministry hubs. A Clarkston, Ga., hub will be located in Clarkston International Bible Church; in ...

Open letter from evangelicals: Refugee ban 'deeply' concerning

 
A full-page ad in the Feb. 8 Washington Post expressing concern over a portion of President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration included the signatures of at least seven Southern Baptists among a coalition of some 100 evangelicals. Two of the signatories—former Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin—told Baptist Press their signatures reflect a specific policy disagreement and not a blanket repudiation of the president's approach to immigration. The ad ...

ANALYSIS: What to know about apostasy laws worldwide

 
When a Sudanese court handed down a death sentence to Meriam Yahya Ibrahim for converting from Islam to Christianity, her case sparked international outcry. The young wife and expecting mother was convicted of apostasy, a crime in Sudan. Although the furor died down after her 2014 release, the law she was found guilty of violating remains on the books today. As recently as one month ago in Sudan, a group of men, including three teenagers, was accused of apostasy for following ...

Texas church plant blessed with space once used as a bar

 
An El Paso, Texas, area church withstood the opposition of alleged drug traffickers and credit the protection of God as they sought to expand their presence in a strip shopping center in San Elizario, a city of 5,000 in El Paso County. Iglesia Bautista Dios con Nosotros, translated in English as "God with Us Baptist Church," quickly outgrew the small space rented in 2012 and expanded the storefront. Within a few years, they again needed more room, but the owner of Amigos ...

Pastor Willy: Everyone can play a role in church planting

 
I recently asked Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, if it is realistic to think that smaller Florida Baptist churches can play a significant role in church planting. His answer convinced me that he’s confident church planting is based on heart and leadership—not size and scope. “Even in a smaller church I think focusing on multiplication is a kingdom mindset,” Pastor Willy says. “Obviously, in a smaller church you’...

Prayer for injured player leads to Freedom From Religion complaint

 
A Tennessee public school system has agreed to update employees on applicable constitutional law after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained of a Southern Baptist pastor's impromptu prayer over an injured player at a high school football game this past season. The Hamilton County Department of Education will "provide additional training to its employees on the application of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses in public schools," HCDE attorney D. Scott Bennett recently told the FFRF. On Jan. 27, the FFRF ...

Send Conference in S. Calif. urges redefining moment

 
"Redefine" was the charge and challenge at the Send Conference—a joint event of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board. The sold-out conference in Long Beach, Calif., drew nearly 4,000 attendees Feb. 3-4 from a variety of backgrounds. Church planters, college students, pastors, missionaries, moms and dads, sons and daughters, California natives, world travelers, road-trippers and frequent flyers came together to redefine their lives for Christ. "I'm not a risk-taker," Caroline McGibbon, daughter of Canadian church ...

New Orleans tornado destroys church, delays NOBTS chapel

 
The EF-3 tornado that touched down in eastern New Orleans on Feb. 7 heavily damaged a Southern Baptist church's facility and briefly interrupted a chapel service at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Initial reports estimated that 250 homes were damaged with 31 people injured. No fatalities have been reported. The tornado—one of several to strike Louisiana Tuesday—devastated the three-building campus of Suburban Baptist Church in New Orleans, a predominately African-American congregation. Pastor Jeffery Friend and his wife Stephanie were ...

Trump's immigration order sparks biblical analysis

 
With President Trump's travel ban from seven predominately-Muslim countries on hold at least temporarily, some Christians are evaluating biblical teaching on immigration and refugees. On one side of the debate, the National Association of Evangelicals' World Relief arm is helping to draft a letter signed by hundreds of pastors asking Trump to rethink the travel ban. Other Christians have emphasized the need for stringent border security along with compassion toward immigrants and refugees. Trump's order was temporarily blocked Feb. 3 in ...

'Grace-filled' Kurt Warner selected to NFL's Hall of Fame

 
After coming up short in his first two years of eligibility, Kurt Warner is finally a Pro Football Hall of Famer. The former NFL quarterback, often known for being outspoken about his Christian faith, was picked for the honor on Feb. 4 by the 48-member selection committee. He was selected along with LaDainian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Morten Andersen, Jason Taylor, Jerry Jones and Kenny Easley. Warner won two MVP awards during his NFL career, played in three Super Bowls and was ...

Why mediation works so well as a tool for church conflict resolution

 
Conflict in any relationship is painful, but within a church family it can be downright devastating. Lewis Miller, regional catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, has helped pastors and congregations navigate the turbulent waters of conflict over the years. Miller said that even with a biblical mandate to resolve issues peacefully and in God-honoring ways, churches sometimes struggle to know when or how to go about it. “Churches tend to wait too late to ask for outside help,” ...

Why not take kids on overseas mission trips?

 
We were celebrities and oddities in a rolling caravan. And by rolling, I mean with actual wheels—a double stroller and several wheeled suitcases trailing my husband Steven and me as we careened through an Asian airport with our two boys, ages 3 and 1. In an American airport, perhaps we would have been a passing entertainment, avoided in security lines and processed with great pains. Yet in this Asian country, as I sweated my way through an immigration line, it ...

Congress proposes Johnson Amendment overhaul

 
Members of Congress have introduced legislation to enable churches and other non-profit organizations to endorse candidates or otherwise participate in political campaigns without fear of penalties from the Internal Revenue Service. The Free Speech Fairness Act—introduced Feb. 1, the day before President Trump reiterated his intent to eliminate the so-called Johnson Amendment—would free pastors, churches and other tax-exempt entities to intervene on behalf of or against candidates in an election campaign. The measure would still prohibit financial ...

Pastor Willy: It's arrogance that divides us as Southern Baptists

 
During a wide-ranging interview with Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, I asked him about the most divisive issue facing Southern Baptists right now. He lamented what he describes as the underlying “tribalism, division” that seems to occur. At another point, he called those divisions “camps.” I asked him if one of those camps is the division caused by the issue of Calvinism, and he reluctantly acknowledged that there is a lot of ...

Faith allows for Falcon's Jacob Tamme to put injury into context

 
The Atlanta Falcons squared off against the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 30 in what proved to be a preview of this year's NFC championship game. Atlanta tight end Jacob Tamme caught a 13-yard pass on the first drive of the game. "When I got tackled, a second guy hit me right as I went to the ground," Tamme said. "Twice in my career I've known that something bad had happened. The first time was [when] I broke my femur in ...

National Cooperative Program giving 3.11% ahead of projections

 
Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 3.11 percent above the year-to-date budgeted projection through the first four months of the convention's fiscal year, and are 1.48 percent below 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 2016...

President Trump spotlights religious liberty at prayer breakfast

 
The Trump administration "will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty," President Donald Trump said earlier this week at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Among steps he proposed to safeguard religious liberty was a promise to "get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment," a 1954 law that bars churches and other tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates. The promise drew attention within hours from major media outlets and echoed statements Trump made during the 2016 ...

Pastor Willy Rice leads Calvary to shift the church growth 'scorecard'

 
I met earlier this week with Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, for a wide-ranging conversation. One of the first things I asked him was what he saw as the biggest obstacle to more Florida Baptist churches getting involved in church planting. His answer was fascinating. "Because we’ve created a target, we’ve created a scorecard that doesn’t necessarily value kingdom expansion as much as we value expanding our kingdom," Pastor Willy ...

ERLC-organized coalition endorses Gorsuch's SCOTUS nomination

 
More than 50 Southern Baptist and other evangelical leaders have endorsed the confirmation of new Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch in a letter sponsored by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The Southern Baptist Convention entity released the letter Feb. 1, a day after President Trump announced his nomination of Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge the last 10 years. If confirmed, Gorsuch would fill the seat on the nine-person high court left vacant by the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia last ...

Boy Scouts' new transgender policy 'sad,' 'predicted'

 
The Boy Scouts' decision to include girls who identify as boys in their programs is a tragic but predictable step, said conservative Christian leaders. "Tragically, the Boy Scouts seem to be continuing their trajectory toward embracing the moral priorities of the Sexual Revolution," said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "Many of us predicted that earlier decisions by the organization were the beginning of an organizational reinvention and hoped we were wrong. Those fears ...

Idlewild shows how a clean bus can lead to a Gospel conversation

 
Barry Chesney, minister for local missions at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, shared some stories of Gospel impact with me recently as we talked about Idlewild’s One Day churchwide local missions initiative. Twice a year, members participate in projects to serve the community and spread the Gospel message through acts of service. Barry told me about a project Idlewild did last year where a team washed school buses and left gift bags for the drivers. One driver was ...

Just what is it, exactly, that leads to a successful revival?

 
Blackrock Baptist Church in Yulee has been having successful revivals for the last 26 years. Senior Pastor John Kasper, who’s been leading the church for the last three of those, said preparation is key. Kasper said the people must be prepared to receive revival through a combination of prayer and fasting. “Prepare people not to put hope in the evangelist,” he said. “God brings revival.” David Burton, president and founder of David Burton Ministries, said ...

Trump's nomination of Gorsuch lauded by life, liberty advocates

 
Religious liberty and pro-life advocates warmly welcomed President Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court as the Senate prepares for what is expected to be a hard-fought confirmation battle. Trump announced his selection of Gorsuch, 49, a federal appeals court judge, during prime-time television on Jan. 31 to fill the seat created by the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia last February. In Gorsuch, Trump nominated a judge who—like Scalia—has a philosophy and record ...

President Trump's immigration order draws protests, support

 
Following President Trump's executive order temporarily limiting travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, Southern Baptists reasserted their commitment to seek a balance between compassion and national security in immigration policy. Among Southern Baptist leaders to respond to Trump's order and ensuing protests across America were Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore, Executive Committee President Frank S. Page and former Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright. Also weighing in on the controversy were pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas, a vocal ...

FIRST-PERSON: Learning when it's OK to say no

 
The first time I ever ate shark meat was at a Chinese restaurant in Mexico in 1991. Specialist Salters, a soldier in my Army unit, took Pamela and me to a little restaurant in Juarez as a wedding present to us. In attempting to show off in front of my new bride and demonstrate that I ate "exotic" stuff all the time, I stuck a huge piece of shark meat in my mouth. I had never had this before and knew ...

Here's what we can do while debate rages over refugee policy

 
Persecution against Christians is ranked "extreme" and "severe" in the seven countries whose residents President Donald Trump's recent executive order on immigration has temporarily banned from entry into the United States, based on 2017 rankings by the nonprofit Open Doors USA. Six of the countries—Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen—are ranked in the top 10 nations where persecution of Christians is highest, with Libya ranked 11th, according to Open Doors' 2017 World Watch List. Upon the release of the ...

MKs, international students to receive WMU aid after tornado

 
Children of missionaries (MKs) and international students attending tornado-ravaged William Carey University in Mississippi are being assisted by a $5,000 HEART Fund grant from the national Woman's Missionary Union and the WMU Foundation. The HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Aid for Rebuilding Tomorrow) grant will be used to purchase gift cards for each of the 30 MKs as well as international students affected by the Jan. 21st tornado's devastation at the university in Hattiesburg. "My first thought after witnessing the vast destruction in my ...

'Life is winning,' VP Michael Pence says at March for Life rally

 
Vice President Michael Pence declared "life is winning again in America" in his historic appearance Jan. 27 before a massive March for Life crowd that included a contingent of Southern Baptists attending the Evangelicals for Life conference. Sworn in as vice president only a week before, Pence became the first person holding that office to speak in person at the March for Life in its 44-year history. No president has ever appeared at the annual event. Pence's appearance—as well ...

More believers drawn to health care cost-sharing ministries

 
Dale Bellis, CEO of Liberty Healthshare, a health-care cost sharing ministry, said there is a massive movement of people leaving the care of traditional general practitioners and moving to what he calls direct primary care physicians. These doctors, who were once known as concierge doctors who treated only the ultra-wealthy, are now making their services available to the general public on a subscription basis. With one flat monthly payment, subscribers can have access to their doctor whenever they need or ...

SBC 2017 Phoenix registration opens Feb. 1

 
Registration opens Feb. 1 for the Southern Baptist Convention 2017 Annual Meeting June 13-14 at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. 3rd St. in Phoenix. Registration will be available around the clock at www.SBCAnnualMeeting.net for messengers and guests. 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 Phoenix. The code will be entered into a computer at the SBC registration area and ...

Mosque case prompts change to IMB policy

 
Ongoing discussion of a federal court case concerning religious liberty for Muslims has prompted the resignation of an International Mission Board trustee and a revision of the IMB's process for submitting friend of the court briefs. Dean Haun, pastor of First Baptist Church in Morristown, Tenn., resigned from the IMB trustee board in November based on his conviction the IMB should not have joined a friend of the court brief last May supporting the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, N....

Russell Moore: Gospel shapes view of human dignity

 
A Gospel-based view of human dignity both contradicts and gives hope to the world, Russell Moore said in the opening address of Evangelicals for Life on Jan. 26. "We are evangelicals for life," which means "we are a Gospel people," the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) told attendees at the second-annual conference in the country's capital city. "We're pro-life, and we're pro-newness of life," Moore said. "We're pro-birth, and we're pro-new birth. We're pro-adoption, because ...

Friday's March for Life highlights Evangelicals for Life conference

 
Churches and pastors are to stand for vulnerable people because of the image and glory of God, speakers told participants on Jan. 26, the first day of the Evangelicals for Life conference. The conference—the second-annual event co-hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Focus on the Family—continued Jan. 27 with a schedule built around the afternoon March for Life, which also took place in the country's capital. Evangelicals for Life (EFL) attendees were to join ...

Florida ALS patient speaks out on issues dealing with disabilities

 
It’s easy to spot when you walk in. A beautiful piece of furniture that you’d guess came from a high end department store. But that’s not the case. It was an old dresser that 37 year old Richard Pollock re-finished himself. This do it yourself-project was impressive, and there are others. But that was then. Before Pollock was diagnosed with ALS-most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He has a wheel chair and ...

Former Tennessee GOP executive director joins ERLC

 
Former Tennessee GOP Executive Director Brent Leatherwood has been appointed as the new director of strategic partnerships for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.  In this role, Leatherwood will work to further the organization's reach in the public square through coalition building and mobilizing, and by serving as an advisor on both state-level and national policy goals. "Brent Leatherwood is the perfect fit to serve as our director of strategic partnerships," said ERLC President Russell Moore. "He comes to ...

FIRST-PERSON: Don't waste a youthful faith

 
When I lived in Central Asia, it was very interesting to see how many of the young Muslims viewed their religion. They said that, at their age, they could enjoy life and wait until an older age to get serious about religion. Their thinking was that God is more interested in the afterlife, and that only becomes an issue when you are close to the afterlife, which is where old people find themselves. Once you are of a grandparent-type age, ...

Baptists mobilize after weekend storms in Southeast

 
Southern Baptists throughout the Southeast have started responding to a deadly storm system that reportedly claimed the lives of at least 19 people from Georgia to Mississippi over a two-day period this past weekend. Severe weather, which lasted through Jan 22 in the region, extended into South Carolina and north Florida. According to the Associated Press, 39 possible tornadoes were reported in the Southeast. Georgia Baptist Mission Board disaster relief leader Stuart Lang says chaplains are heading into the impacted regions of the ...

Ken Whitten: When freedoms are lost, church form will change

 
Lots of people are wondering what the future of the church will look like as we live in an increasingly secularized society. Count me among those. So, when I met recently with Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in the Tampa suburb of Lutz, I looked around his beautiful campus and then popped the question: What did he think the future of the universal church would look like? “The church is Jesus’ bride. We know that,&...

Calvary Baptist Clearwater shares strategy for greeter ministry

 
Amanda Stanton, director of guest services at Calvary Church in Clearwater, recently had the gigantic task of recruiting and training volunteers to greet guests who attended the Florida Baptist State Convention, which her church hosted last November. Stanton said she normally utilizes 40 to 50 volunteers as greeters on any given Sunday morning, but for the State Convention she used 100 volunteers. She was able to offer community service hours to the high school students who attend Calvary Christian High School, which shares ...

Mississippi tornado damages William Carey University

 
A tornado that ripped through southern Mississippi Jan. 21 in the wee hours of the morning damaged nearly all of the 30 buildings on William Carey University's Hattiesburg campus and left seven students injured. William Carey is affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention and has campuses in Hattiesburg and Biloxi. "The outpouring of support from not only here in Hattiesburg but also around the state and out of state has just been tremendous," university spokeswoman Mia Overton told Baptist Press, adding, "Although ...

Sanctity of Life: Pro-life also has to mean anti-poverty

 
We can't truly be pro-life if we're not anti-poverty. Follow me through the facts here. Planned Parenthood celebrated its 100-year anniversary last October. Since 1916, founder Margaret Sanger's vision for this organization, reflected in its very name, was that every child be a wanted child. But underneath this mantra lay an ambition of systematic eugenics along with her belief that "the most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it." Today, Planned ...

Trump cabinet picks draw Baptist prayer support

 
When U.S. Rep. Tom Price and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt faced Senate confirmation hearings Jan. 18, they were supported by prayers of the Southern Baptist churches they attend. The two cabinet nominees of President Donald Trump also appeared at their confirmation hearings with endorsements from some evangelicals who did not support Trump in the presidential election. Price, a regular attendee at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., has been nominated as secretary of the Department of Health and ...

Pew Research: Trump deemed good for conservative Christians

 
Conservative Christians will gain influence under President-elect Donald Trump's term, more than half of respondents polled in a Pew Research study believe. Conversely, Hispanics, the poor, and gays and lesbians will lose influence under Trump, a majority of those polled told Pew. Nearly half of respondents said African Americans and women are poised to lose. "The public's assessments of the groups that will gain and lose influence in Trump's presidency are sharply different than before Barack Obama took office eight ...

President Trump's inauguration day: The Christian response

 
Today Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States. As you know, Mr. Trump won a highly volatile election last November. Some see him as a candidate of much-needed change, readily resonating with his Reaganish slogan, "Make America Great Again!" Others see Mr. Trump as a less than desirable candidate for the highest office in the land. What are Southern Baptists to do? Trump won the election. In doing so, he earned the right to serve for ...

God & inaugurations: Baptists continue tradition

 
The participation of at least five Southern Baptist pastors in inaugural activities for President Donald Trump continues a tradition of prayer, Scripture and references to God surrounding presidential inaugurations dating back to George Washington. Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress preached Jan. 20 at a private worship service for the families of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at St. John's Church near the White House. The service is a pre-inauguration tradition dating back to the 1933 inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt, according to the ...

Ken Whitten: Tension caused by Calvinism nothing new

 
“Some Baptists need to understand this: Calvinism has been a tension in our ranks for hundreds and hundreds of years.” Now that Ken Whitten, senior pastor at Idlewild Baptist Church in the Tampa suburb of Lutz, has your attention, here’s what he means. “There’s a lot of folks who don’t think anything happened before 1986,” he told me during a recent interview, only partly joking. “There’s a lot ...

Survey: 79% of unchurched say it's OK if friends share their faith

 
A recent study of unchurched Americans by LifeWay Research and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism in Wheaton, Ill., found that 79 percent of the unchurched don’t mind if Christian friends talk about their faith if it’s something they genuinely value. Luther Stanford, lead pastor of City Church at Northside in Panama City, said that number is “dead on the money” in his ministry context. He said the “plastic” evangelism presentations we used ...

Blind preacher from Florida has a heart for people of Italy

 
RJ Sandefur attends First Baptist Church of Okeechobee. He is a preacher. He is blind. Despite his special need, RJ has not stopped preaching the Gospel, and he considers his lack of sight a means for God to glorify Himself through him. Sandefur, who is currently starting a career as an evangelist, has a burden for the country of Italy on his heart. “Here’s the thing about the country of Italy,” he said recently in a ...

Baptist Marlana VanHoose to perform at Trump's inauguration

 
Marlana VanHoose, a petite, young Kentucky Southern Baptist with a big voice, will take perhaps her grandest stage yet when she performs at President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural concert. "Whoo! I'm excited," said VanHoose, who is a member of Liberty Baptist Church near Paintsville. At little more than 4-feet-tall, VanHoose has led tens of thousands of sports fans at lots of venues in singing the national anthem since she first appeared center court at a University of Kentucky women's basketball game ...

New ADF president has big plans for securing religious liberty

 
New Alliance Defending Freedom President Michael Farris says he wants to make ADF larger than the American Civil Liberties Union and secure religious liberty in America for generations to come. Farris, a founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and Patrick Henry College, began his duties with ADF Jan. 10. He also serves as CEO and general counsel at ADF, a legal organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom. "I hope that Alliance Defending Freedom grows and prospers ...

Report: U.S. abortion rate hits all-time low

 
The abortion rate in the United States declined to an all-time low, with the number of lethal procedures dropping below a million for the first time since 1975, according to a new report. The Guttmacher Institute is reporting the rate fell to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old in 2014, which is a decline of 14 percent since its most recent survey in 2011. In its census of all known abortion providers in the country, Guttmacher found abortions totaled 958,700 in 2013 and 926,190 in 2014. The abortion ...

Agape House empowers women with the truth about life

 
When a woman walks into the medical clinic operated by Agape House in northwest Tennessee, she won't find evangelism tracts or Bibles in the waiting room. While she waits nervously to have an ultrasound to confirm her pregnancy, she won't be judged regardless of her circumstances. And if she tells the clinic staff that she's considering having an abortion, she will be given all the information she needs about her child, but won't be pressured into a decision. "If someone ...

Five tips to evangelize superstitious religious people

 
Terror gripped Simon and his family. Their neighborhood mutt had howled and barked incessantly the previous night at the front door of their one-room home. Simon explained that the dog's behavior signaled an impending death in their household. While many may simply dismiss Simon as foolishly superstitious, others would not. In fact, millions of people see the world as Simon does. Traditional Religion, as it is called, is common in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and yes, North America. Vestiges ...

Pastor Ken Whitten reflects on how times have changed

 
Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in the Tampa suburb of Lutz, has been in the ministry for 40 years. I recently had the chance to spend some time with him, and one of the things I wanted to know was how he felt the role of the pastor had changed during his time in ministry. He was quick to point out that, biblically speaking, he thinks the expectations of the role are unchanged. Practically speaking, however, the challenges ...

The unchurched: They don't know what they don't know

 
Sixty-two percent of those who no longer attend an organized church service did so as a child, according to a recent study of unchurched Americans conducted by LifeWay Research and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism in Wheaton, Ill. Sam Rainer, lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church in Manatee County, says churches need to be sensitive to this fact as they interact with people who don’t currently attend church. Rainer cautioned that just because they may have ...

Trio NeVaeh wins Best Album from Artists Music Guild

 
First Baptist Church of Palm Coast has three ladies to be very proud of. April McHone, Allison Walker and Kathleen Robinson together form the musical Trio NeVaeh—Heaven spelled backward—and they were nominated for three Artists  Music Guild Awards— Best Album, Best New Artist and Best Song. The trio won Best Album for their CD “Love is Enough” during the guild’s last meeting in November. The music guild meets annually in ...

Even for the redeemed, the work of cooperation is challenging

 
"Jesus: to the Neighborhood and the Nations" was the cry during the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans. That cry for missions and cooperation encapsulates the heart of Southern Baptists since the days of men like Jesse Mercer and women like Lottie Moon. It was during that SBC when I heard seminary president Danny Akin say to a group of pastors: Within Southern Baptist life we have different theological ideas. We disagree on different issues but we agree ...

Urban church planters sow amid complex demographics

 
Boston church planting catalyst Joe Souza has developed a unique strategy for working in the city: prayer driving. As a lifelong urbanite and an urban church planter in Rio de Janeiro, Orlando and now Boston, Souza frequently ponders how to reach the vast numbers of distinctive city dwellers, many of whom have radically different lifestyles from the average Christian. "I pray, I cry and I ask God in desperation: Father, do something here that these people may understand that You ...

Brooks Hays, SBC president during turbulent '50s, drew MLK's praise

 
Though Southern Baptists were not known for their advocacy of racial justice 60 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. once told a fellow black Baptist minister that the 1957 Southern Baptist Convention president "suffered with us" in the cause of civil rights. King's reference was to the late U.S. Rep. Brooks Hays, D-Ark., who served as SBC president from 1956-58. After helping to mediate a conflict over integration at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., Hays lost his bid for ...

Obama's farewell draws mixed response from Baptists

 
Following President Obama's farewell address Jan. 11 in Chicago, Southern Baptists who have met with him personally reflected on his "liberal" social policies, apparent commitment to family, and status as America's first black president. Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank S. Page said he "watched the presidential speech with great interest" and has appreciated Obama's example as a husband and father despite deep disagreements with the president on some issues. A member of Obama's Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood ...

Kentucky's AG won't defend new late-term abortion ban

 
Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear is refusing to defend Kentucky's new law banning late-term abortions if a lawsuit challenges its constitutionality, drawing a sharp rebuke from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. "This law is clearly unconstitutional based on our review of numerous federal appellate rulings," Beshear said in a statement released Jan. 10. The new law, passed by the General Assembly on Jan. 7, bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point at which babies can survive outside the womb. Bevin chastised Beshear ...

LifeWay stores plan nationwide Bible study workshop

 
LifeWay Christian Stores across the country will host a nationwide Bible study workshop next week to help people better understand Scripture. The Jan. 17 workshop will teach participants how to conduct a devotional Bible study and how to apply the teachings of Scripture to life. "This event is another great example of something customers will find in their local LifeWay Store, where we are striving to walk with them every step of the way," said Nathan Magness, director of marketing strategy. ...

My hope is that media execs become open to issues of faith

 
"We don't get religion," New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said, his words sparking a whirlwind of attention. The "media powerhouses," as Baquet put it in an NPR interview Dec. 8, "don't get the role of religion in people's lives." As a Christian, I can understand Baquet's observation. In order to "get" religion, one has to "get" faith. This often seems to be a challenge for those who see themselves as intellectuals. They have a faith; however, their faith is ...

Anxious mom learns to rely on sovereign God

 
I was sitting on the conveyor belt in the baggage claim area of the airport in Jackson, Miss., when the tornadoes came through last fall. The airport staff had directed us to take shelter there until the storms passed. I had already heard of the casualties in Arkansas, children who lost parents, parents who lost babies. My own mother, meanwhile, was on the road somewhere in the storm trying to get home. As I sat there in the darkness, the ...

Texas church gives more than $1M to Lottie Moon in single day

 
Steve Swofford came with a vision 27 years ago—a vision for what a church could do to support missions around the globe. At First Baptist Church Rockwall's annual missions offering day in December, that dream was realized in a single Sunday when church members gave more than $1 million. "I had prayed secretly in my heart that someday before I retired we might get a million dollars but I never dreamed it would be this year," Swofford said. For his ...

ACLU challenges Kentucky's new ultrasound law

 
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a new Kentucky law requiring women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound first. The lawsuit, filed at U. S. District Court in Louisville, seeks to overturn the ultrasound law approved by the General Assembly on Jan. 7. "It forces physicians to deliver a government-mandated, ideological message to patients in violation of the First Amendment, all the while causing harm to their patients," the ACLU claims in the lawsuit. "...

Alabama, Clemson players pique pastor's compassion

 
Six seasons as chaplain of the University of Alabama football team give pastor Bruce Chesser a unique perspective on the Jan. 9 College Football Playoff title game between Alabama and Clemson University. The uniqueness, however, isn't the strength of his allegiance to the Crimson Tide—though his office does feature a sign that reads "Jesus bled crimson." What's unique for Chesser, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., is the way he thinks about the players on both sidelines. ...

Southern Baptist named co-chair of Congressional Prayer Caucus

 
Another Southern Baptist has stepped up to provide leadership for the Congressional Prayer Caucus. Rep. Mark Walker, R.-N.C., will be the new House of Representatives co-chairman of the caucus, it was announced on Jan. 9. Sen. James Lankford, R.-Okla., the other co-chairman of the prayer caucus, and former Rep. Randy Forbes, R.-Va., made the announcement. All three are members of Southern Baptist churches. Forbes, a seven-term Congressman, founded the caucus in 2005 to help protect the right of ...

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signs pro-life bills into law

 
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed bills into law on Jan. 7 that ban late-term abortions and require women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds. Both laws took effect as soon as Bevin's signature was applied. Lawmakers held a rare session on Saturday (Jan. 7) to give final passage to a series of high-priority bills, including two that would curb abortions. The late-term abortion law bans the procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases in which the mother's life is in danger. Physicians ...

Music & worship draw focus of Baptist theologians

 
A biblical argument for congregational singing, insights for planning worship and a case for multigenerational worship services are among the music-related topics being discussed by Southern Baptist theologians. Such topics were featured in at least eight presentations on biblical worship at the most recent meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. At least five of those presentations were given by scholars affiliated with Southern Baptist-related institutions. In all, the fall meeting in San Antonio featured approximately 600 presentations, including some 175 by scholars ...

Congress remains majority Christian, but less Protestant

 
Congress has remained majority Christian and Protestant for as long as the Pew Research Center has been tracking data, but the number of Protestants has declined by nearly 20 percentage points. Since Pew began tracking religion in 1961 during the 87th Congress, the body has declined from 95 percent to 91 percent Christian. Protestants, while still maintaining a majority, have declined from 75 percent in 1961 to 56 percent today, Pew announced. Of the 485 Christians in the 535-member Congress, 299 are Protestant, according to Pew's analysis of the 115...

Congressional panel urges defunding of Planned Parenthood

 
Planned Parenthood should no longer receive federal funds, a special congressional panel has recommended following a nearly 15-month investigation. The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives issued its final report Jan. 3 into the practices of abortion providers and others involved in the fetal tissue procurement business. The report not only called for congressional action to protect unborn children and their mothers, but it also recommended restrictions on government grants to abortion providers and on research using fetal tissue. Congress established ...

GuideStone president just misses Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

 
At least five people are dead and 13 wounded after a gunman allegedly opened fire today (Jan. 6) in a baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Among air travelers to narrowly miss the shooting were GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins and his wife, Susie. The shooting occurred in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2, according to media reports. The alleged shooter reportedly arrived in Fort Lauderdale on an Air Canada flight, "pulled a gun out of a ...

Illinois Baptist executive director: Leading in the need of prayer

 
Especially for leaders, new years require fresh vision. And for pastors and other Christian leaders, fresh vision requires prayer. But quality prayer takes time and, for me at least, finding that time is one of the biggest challenges I face. Time is so precious. I often feel I don't have enough of it simply to do well with my family, my job and my church. So I end up giving almost all my time to those things, and telling myself ...

Baptist missionary fighting Russia's anti-evangelism law

 
A longtime Baptist missionary convicted under Russia's anti-evangelism law has returned briefly to his Illinois home as lawyers appeal his conviction and challenge the law's constitutionality. Donald Ossewaarde was compelled to end his ministry months ago after his arrest under the July 2016 law. He hopes other Baptists might find ways to continue to minister in Russia as his attorneys defend religious freedom in the nation more than 25 years after the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). "There's ...

Former atheist shares how she became a pastor's wife

 
Pardon Tiffany Bowen for laughing when the following question was posed to her and a room full of other ministers' wives: "Did you think you would ever marry a minister?" During The Good Cup event for ministers' wives, held during the Tennessee Baptist Convention's annual meeting in November, the question served as a reminder to her of God's apparent sense of humor. At the time she met her future husband, Jason Bowen, now pastor of First Baptist Church in Trenton, ...

Who do Americans think can best lead discussion of nation's woes?

 
America has its problems and needs to talk. But according to a new study, few Americans agree on who can best lead a conversation about the nation's woes. Less than a quarter (23 percent) would turn to the office of the U.S. president. About one in 10 would turn to the nation's preachers (11 percent) or to college professors (10 percent), a survey by LifeWay Research shows. "Almost no one would ask a musician or pro athlete," said Scott McConnell, executive director of ...

Judge blocks HHS mandate on gender transition, abortion

 
A federal judge has blocked implementation of a controversial Obama administration rule that requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures or treatments, as well as abortions. In a Dec. 31 opinion, judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas granted a nationwide, preliminary injunction against a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that mandates the performance of and insurance coverage for gender transitions—even on children—and abortions, even if they violate the religious or ethical ...

David Platt to students at Cross 2016: 'Risk your life in faith'

 
As 2016 came to close, more than 2,000 college students and campus leaders were challenged by Southern Baptists and other Christian speakers to give their lives to the cause of missions during the Cross 2016 missions event. The purpose of the Dec. 27-30 conference at the Indianapolis Convention Center was "to mobilize students in the cause of frontier missions for the glory of Jesus Christ," according to the event website and various speakers throughout the gathering. "Don't retreat in fear! Risk your life ...

Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes receives early Christmas present

 
A $1.2 million gift recently made by supporters allows Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes) to expand its foster care ministry and impact major capital needs, according to agency leaders.  More than $767,000 of the generous gift was made by Charles and Genevieve Bonner of Conway, Ark. Winston Wolfe of Memphis donated $500,000. The trio are longtime supporters of ABCHomes. Part of the Bonner's donation will help the organization meet the needs of foster children and provide startup money for ...

National CP contributions .04% above last year's 1st quarter

 
Year-to-date contributions through the Southern Baptist Convention's portion of the Cooperative Program are .04 percent ahead of the same time frame at the end of 2015 and 3.11 percent under the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget projection for the year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Frank S. Page. The $45,782,192.42 received by the Executive Committee from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 for distribution through the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget represents 96.89 percent of the $47,250,000.00 year-to-date budgeted amount to support Southern ...

Jen Hatmaker tops list of Baptist Press' most-read stories in 2016

 
It was a year of unexpected election outcomes, race-related violence, ongoing global terrorism and natural disasters. It also was another year of controversial comments and consequences. In 2016, the most-read Baptist Press story was one about a popular author and speaker who sparked a firestorm with statements she made in an interview about gay marriage. This year's list of stories, compiled by the web-traffic tracker Google Analytics, also includes coverage of a tragic highway crash that took the lives of a ...

Commentary: Professor ponders the question, 'Is Christmas done?'

 
Although the Christmas holidays are getting smaller and smaller in our rearview mirror, a Christmastime question asked by my young son continues to linger in my head. We had gathered with friends for one of the holiday's first Christmas parties on the first Friday in December last year. We enjoyed the tasty food, great conversation, special music of the season and a twist on our Christmas ornament gift exchange that left us all cracking up. Then, as our family began ...

Annual day of prayer for Baptist College of Florida set for Jan. 29

 
The Florida Baptist State Convention has set aside the last Sunday of January as the annual day of prayer for The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville. This year, Florida Baptists all across the state will be praying for the college on Jan. 29, which is not only exciting and encouraging but of great comfort to those individuals who work and study at BCF. “As an institution, The Baptist College of Florida needs prayer,” stated BCF President Thomas A. ...

Bobby Bowden's life profiled in LifeWay film 'The Bowden Dynasty'

 
The life of one of Florida Baptists’ own—legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden—is profiled in the inspirational true story, “The Bowden Dynasty: A Story of Faith, Family and Football” in a new film from LifeWay Films. The film of the life and career of Bowden, the winningest coach in college football, will kick-off the NCAA Football National Championship weekend in January. Along with his loyal assistants and players, Bowden fought against all odds ...

Christmas marks 2nd anniversary for family of adopted kids

 
As Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, one Kentucky couple reflects on the day they say God stitched together their Christmas gift of a new family. On Dec. 18, Sam and Stephanie Patterson will mark the second anniversary of the day they adopted four siblings from foster care. "That's our 'forever family' day," said Stephanie, a music ministry associate at Little Flock Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, Ky., just south of Louisville. More than 8,000 children are in the care ...

More than half the states boost CP dollars for SBC causes

 
Ohio Baptists approved the largest increase in the portion of Cooperative Program receipts sent beyond the state next year, moving from the current 59.75/40.25 ratio to a 50/50 split. "Supporting missions from Ohio to the ends of the earth is the heartbeat of Ohio Southern Baptists," said Ohio Executive Director Jack Kwok in praising the decision. The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (SCBO) joins four other conventions that forward half or more to the Southern Baptist Convention, without a "shared ministry" ...

Christmas schedule for the Florida Baptist Witness

 
The offices of the Florida Baptist Witness will be closed from Dec. 23 until Jan. 3 so that we can spend time with family and friends during the Christmas and New Years holidays. In a similar fashion, we hope that you and yours get a chance to relax and reflect during this special time of year. But that doesn't mean we are leaving you without something meaningful to read. For print-edition subscribers, the redesigned January 2017 issue—all 32 pages of it—...

Diana Davis: Keep the Christmas spirit going all year long

 
It feels so wonderful how the spirit of Christmas adds oomph to life. We live in anticipation and we're even nice to strangers. We become quite intentional about giving to others. But as we turn the calendar page to Dec. 26, does that Christmas spirit fade? As you pack up those Christmas decorations, consider these five simple reminders to help keep that spirit of joy and generosity at the forefront throughout the year: Live expectantly. Anticipation is at a high during ...

Measuring the impact of Mission:Dignity

 
Hard work was nothing new for bivocational pastor L.C. Jones. After decades of laboring in sewing factories, he was accustomed to sweating it out for the sake of his family. "I've worked all summer—mowing yards, trying to save enough money to fix my wife's teeth," he said. "I plan to work next summer to finish paying for her teeth." The blazing Texas heat wasn't going to hold him back from earning enough so that Jerry could get ...

Open letter: Cooperation needed to ease rising SBC tensions

 
Controversy surrounding ethicist Russell Moore's past comments on President-elect Donald Trump has led three Tennessee Baptists—all under the age of 40—to issue an open letter calling "the [conservative] resurgence generation and their protégés" to "be the statesmen we need them to be in this season of denominational tension." Jonathan Akin, Nathan Finn and Micah Fries wrote in a Dec. 21 open letter provided to Baptist Press, "Now isn't the time for acrimonious debates over ...

Your all-new Florida Baptist Witness is on the way!

 
Subscribers to the Florida Baptist Witness are only days away from holding our new product in their hands. The new print edition is the result of months of prayerful planning, and only part of our new approach to how we are going to bring you news and information of interest to Florida Baptists going forward. First and foremost, the changes we are making are designed to better connect our digital, social and print platforms—and the audiences that use ...

Letter from evangelical leaders calls Pruitt 'well qualified' for EPA

 
A group of 48 evangelical leaders, the vast majority of them Southern Baptists, has sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump in support of Scott Pruitt, Trump's choice to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Among the signatories are 12 former Southern Baptist Convention presidents; current SBC President Steve Gaines; 14 current and former SBC entity heads, including all six current SBC seminary presidents; and 17 state Baptist convention executive directors, including Florida's Tommy Green. Pruitt, Oklahoma's attorney general, is a deacon at ...

Rule protects Planned Parenthood in Obama's last days in office

 
Pro-life advocates hope the Obama administration's latest beneficial act for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers will have a brief existence. Barely five weeks before President Obama leaves office, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued Dec. 14 a final rule that would effectively block states from prohibiting Title X funds for abortion providers. The federal government provides funds for family planning and preventive health services to states through the Title X program. The HHS action appears to benefit ...

War on Christmas includes Peanuts poster, Christmas tree cross

 
A poster of a Peanuts character with a Bible verse, a cross on a town Christmas tree and even the word "holiday" are among the latest battlegrounds in the so-called war against Christmas. Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines told Baptist Press this year's flurry of attacks on public expressions of Christmas highlight the need to safeguard religious liberty. "Christians are not the only people in America," said Gaines, pastor of Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn. "But we ...

Pastors: Enjoy Christmas with your family

 
One December I spent 22 nights away from home leading up to Christmas Day. Then I repented and never did that again! The December schedule is fast-paced for many but perhaps more so for pastors. Class Christmas parties, community events, special Christmas services at church—if you try to do it all it can become too much. While many travel to be with family on Christmas, pastors rarely do so because Christmas is too important to miss, including the traditional "...

ERLC's Moore clarifies comments on Trump supporters

 
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore has clarified that he never intended to criticize all evangelical supporters of President-elect Donald Trump, noting many were motivated by "biblical convictions" and "voted their conscience." In a Dec. 19 blog post, Moore acknowledged “pointed conversations in my denominational family about the election" over the past month, "some of them ... directed at me." "I remember one situation where I witnessed a handful of Christian political operatives excusing immorality and confusing the definition ...

Brunson: To pledge allegiance to the flag is not dishonoring to Christ

 
Here’s the last excerpt from my conversation with Dr. Mac Brunson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, ahead of the story scheduled to publish in our January 2017 print edition. During our interview, I made this statement about war and how it is waged differently today. “For your generation war was a total country sacrifice,” I said to Dr. Brunson during a wide-ranging interview in his office in late November. “If your dad wasn&...

Congress OKs new International Religious Freedom Act

 
Congress has approved legislation promoted by religious freedom advocates that should strengthen the United States' effort to combat persecution of Christians and other faith minorities. The House of Representatives approved the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), H.R. 1150, Dec. 13 to complete congressional action on the proposal. That action came only three days after the Senate amended and passed an earlier House-approved version. Both the House and Senate endorsed the amended bill without opposition. Bill supporters are optimistic ...

SBC leaders defend religious liberty against gender laws

 
More than 20 leaders of Southern Baptist institutions have endorsed a new statement that defends religious freedom by rejecting sexual orientation and gender identity laws. The document—"Preserve Freedom, Reject Coercion"—says even "narrowly crafted" sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) measures "threaten fundamental freedoms, and any ostensible protections for religious liberty appended to such laws are inherently inadequate and unstable." The Colson Center for Christian Worldview released the statement on Dec. 14 with 79 original signatories. SOGI policies seek to ...

Ohio Gov. John Kasich: Veto of 'Heartbeat Bill' was strategic

 
In an action that drew divided response from the pro-life community, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Dec. 13 banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and vetoed a measure outlawing abortion following detection of a fetal heartbeat. The 20-week ban includes an exception only for saving the life of the mother, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The so-called “Heartbeat Bill” would have banned most abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Kasich, a Republican, said in a statement he ...

Florida pastor: PPFA prosecution could have 'cooling effect'

 
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley's decision to refer the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and several affiliates for potential federal prosecution has drawn praise from a Florida Baptist pastor who helped draft a Southern Baptist Convention resolution rebuking America's largest abortion provider. Prosecution "would have a cooling effect on the abortion industry," said Darrell Orman, chairman of the 2008 SBC Resolutions Committee, which recommended a resolution adopted by messengers "on Planned Parenthood." The resolution "decr[ied] the immoral actions of ...

Southern Baptist leaders call on Christians to pray for Aleppo

 
Southern Baptist leaders are exhorting Christians to pray for Aleppo, Syria, a city being destroyed in civil war between the Syrian government and rebels, including the Islamic State. The latest call for prayer follows the desperate pleas of residents who believed their death was imminent as the Syrian government reportedly made significant progress in overtaking and evacuating rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo. The United Nations received multiple reports of execution-style killings—although it was not clear whether the perpetrators ...

St. Augustine church's Christmas story undaunted by hurricane

 
Michael Arnold and his family were among hundreds of St. Augustine residents who fled their homes two months ago as Hurricane Matthew trailed close behind. And while St. Augustine, the nation's oldest city, didn't take a direct hit from the hurricane, coastal flooding from its storm surge and near-hurricane-force winds wreaked havoc and destruction for many who call it home. When the bridges reopened and Arnold returned home after a mandatory evacuation he discovered his garage had been flooded and ...

Brian Hobbs: Keep the 'mas' in Christmas

 
The year 2016 offers a unique opportunity in that Christmas falls on a Sunday. Years ago, a non-denominational megachurch publicly decided to cancel its worship services when Christmas fell on a Sunday, citing families' needs to spend time together that day and the church's inability to get enough volunteers together to make services work. This move, perhaps unintentionally, showed a great misunderstanding of Christmas. You see, it not only takes Christ out of Christmas, it takes that "mas" out of Christmas. ...

Billy Graham statue has new home at Ridgecrest Conference Center

 
A larger-than-life statue of evangelist Billy Graham has been installed at its new location at Ridgecrest Conference Center in the North Carolina mountains. The sale of LifeWay Christian Resources' 14-acre downtown Nashville campus prompted the move from middle Tennessee to LifeWay's conference center near Asheville, N.C. The statue was removed from LifeWay earlier this summer and placed in storage until the new site at Ridgecrest was ready. Workers installed the sculpture in October near the main entrance to the ...

Macy's ends Planned Parenthood contributions

 
Macy's Inc. has reportedly discontinued contributions to Planned Parenthood after customers complained of the chain's support of the abortion provider. Macy's Inc.'s latest 990 tax form verifies that the retail giant no longer includes the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in its community contributions, the research group 2ndVote said, describing the news as the latest "Miracle on 34th Street." "We're constantly updating our research to portray companies in the fairest possible light," 2ndVote Executive Director Lance Wray said in a ...

First person: 5 pastoral convictions about congregational singing

 
I'm not a music guy. I can still awkwardly bang out a few chords on the guitar, but for the most part I'm pretty terrible at music. Furthermore, I'm not a music enthusiast; I'd rather be listening to news or talk radio than music in the car. Some people seem to have music in their souls. I'm just not one of those people. But I do love singing with other believers in worship. As a pastor, I am the worship ...

Study: Most churches will be open for worship on Christmas

 
More than half of Americans plan to go to church at Christmastime. And most Protestant pastors will keep the doors open for them, a new study shows. Nearly nine out of 10 Protestant senior pastors say their churches plan to hold services on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, as both fall on a Sunday, according to a recent survey from LifeWay Research. More than seven in 10 Protestant senior pastors say their churches plan to hold Christmas Eve services. And ...

First person: A tribute to Thomas C. Oden

 
Thomas C. Oden was one of the most prolific and influential theologians of this generation. Not only was Thomas, who died Dec. 8, one of the most prolific and influential Christian thinkers of our time, but his theological journey was also certainly one of the most interesting. I had the privilege of hearing him give lectures in the early 1980s at Drew University, where for many years he held the Henry Anson Buttz Chair in Theology and Ethics. He was making ...

Teen overcomes fear to spread Gospel in South Africa

 
The children crowded around 18-year-old Bethany Amber, hands reaching toward her on the hot South African morning. A few years ago this kind of crowding frightened the Southern Baptist "missionary kid." At age 13 she found the lack of personal space in the townships difficult to endure, having just moved to South Africa with her parents who were International Mission Board missionaries. "People were always wanting to touch my hair, touch my face," Bethany recalled. But she's learned to understand and ...

Dr. Brunson: 'I'm very much marked by my dad's generation'

 
I recently asked Dr. Mac Brunson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, what counsel he could provide when it comes to discussing politics and the recent election with millennials. Here was my specific question: A lot of believers, especially millennials, of which I have three, are uncomfortable with public professions of support for specific political candidates, issues or parties. What counsel would you give to them? “Well, I think that is unique to them, in a sense,&...

Movie reviewer urges Christians to send Hollywood a message

 
Following a contentious election season, it's apparent that many Americans are tired of corruption and ineptness in our political system. Will this latest presidential election change Washington, D.C., for the positive? We can hope and pray that it will. Now, when it comes to Hollywood, there is an opportunity for Christians and conservatives to send a message that could provoke change for the better. Many Christians want change in the entertainment capital. It's time the prejudice and bigotry against ...

Supreme Court will decide if hospitals can remain as ministries

 
The U.S. Supreme Court should prevent the government from making the determination if Protestant and Catholic hospitals qualify as faith-based ministries, religious freedom advocates say. The high court announced Dec. 2 it would review lower-court rulings in cases involving religious hospitals that are being threatened with losing the ability to participate in church pension plans. Three religious health-care systems in California, Illinois and New Jersey have lost in federal appeals courts, which have ruled the hospitals are ineligible for a ...

Gatlinburg fire suspects elicit churches' sympathy

 
The arrests of two teenagers in connection with deadly wildfires in and around Gatlinburg, Tenn., have provoked expressions of sadness from three local Southern Baptist congregations that lost buildings in the blaze. The three Gatlinburg churches—Roaring Fork Baptist Church, First Baptist Church and Banner Baptist Church—also report God's continued work in their midst, including at least four first-time professions of faith in Christ over the past two weeks. Authorities announced the arrests Dec. 7, the Knoxville News ...

Theme selected for 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix

 
"Pray! For such a time as this" is the theme for the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix, anchored by Esther 4:14 and Luke 11:1, SBC President Steve Gaines has announced. Prayer should be the top priority of every Christian, Gaines said in an interview outlining his choice. "The Southern Baptist Convention needs to be a people of prayer," Gaines said in the interview with SBC LIFE, journal of the SBC. "Only then will God send the power we ...

ABC being urged to change title for sit-com it is developing

 
The Parents Television Council is urging ABC to drop plans to use profanity in the title of a television comedy series featuring a struggling church and its new pastor. "Holy (expletive)," the title of the series currently in development, is not only offensive and inappropriate, but assumes that advertisers want to link their products to "excrement," PTC President Tim Winter told Baptist Press. "You scratch your head and wonder what the folks at the programming department in these networks are ...

Converting a sheet of paper into salvation tool

 
Take an 8½-by-11 sheet of paper and fold it in half. Now fold it in half again. Then fold it in half one more time, so that you're holding a pocket-size piece of paper. Pray and think a few moments—perhaps off and on for a day or two or as long as need be—to seek God's guidance for a short phrase that might spark someone's interest in your journey of faith or the importance of ...

Ronnie Floyd reflects on 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

 
Today, Dec. 7, the United States commemorates the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack on our forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the Imperial Japanese Navy. That attack killed 2,403 Americans and wounded 1,178 others—and was the direct cause of our nation entering into World War II. It was, according to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “a date which will live in infamy.” This past June, I presided over the Southern Baptist Convention as president. In this setting in St. ...

Study: Most Americans say assisted suicide morally OK

 
The American Medical Association has described physician-assisted suicide as a serious risk to society and "fundamentally incompatible with a physician's role as healer." But millions of Americans disagree, according to a new study released Tuesday (Dec. 6) by LifeWay Research. Two-thirds say it is morally acceptable for terminally ill patients to ask their doctors for help in ending their lives, according to a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. A similar number says doctors should be able to help terminally ill ...

Pearl Harbor attack cited as evangelism catalyst in Hawaii

 
As Americans commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, some Christians also are remembering a series of evangelistic harvests that emerged from the death and destruction. Among those to find a saving relationship with Jesus in the aftermath of Dec. 7, 1941, were the commander of the Japanese air fleet that carried out the attack, Japanese Buddhists in Hawaii and other Hawaii residents who heard the preaching of missionaries recalled from East Asia. 'Impressed & captivated' by Christ ...

Patterson & chapel speaker address topic of Calvinism

 
Paige Patterson stated his personal views on Calvinism in a blog post in light of a chapel speaker's critique of the doctrinal system and "rude behavior [in response] on the part of a few students." The speaker, Rick Patrick, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sylacauga, Ala., spoke about salvation in Christ at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in a Nov. 29 message titled "The greatest thing that ever happened to me." Patrick, a 1993 Southwestern master of divinity graduate, spoke of his ...

Gatlinburg fire: Disaster relief volunteers urged to be patient

 
The Tennessee Baptist Convention, the Woman's Missionary Union and Southern Baptists serving in local government are among those providing aid in the wake of wildfires that killed at least 14 people in and around Gatlinburg on Nov. 28. But TBC disaster relief officials are urging those wishing to volunteer to be patient. TBC Executive Director Randy Davis wrote in a Dec. 1 open letter to Tennessee Baptists that "Tennessee Baptist Mission Board missionaries were able to get to the sites of three of ...