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Newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention N MORE NEWS AT TEXANONLINE.NET
11 states file lawsuit against Obama administration’s transgender directive By Bonnie Pritchett TEXAN Correspondent AUSTIN The state of Texas, joined by representatives of 10 other states, filed a lawsuit May 25 challenging President Barack Obama’s directive demanding all federally funded schools apply a controversial interpretation of Title IX requiring schools to define a student’s sexual identity based, not on biological traits, but on feelings. On May 13 the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice issued a “Dear Colleague” letter giving guidance to all federally funded K-12 schools and universities in their application of Title IX. The onesentence regulation passed in 1972 as part of the Higher Education Act prohibits discrimination in public education based on sex. The Obama administration interprets “sex” to include “gender identity”—a student’s perceived gender regardless of biological characteristics. Declaring the federal demands are “unlawful,” “capricious and arbitrary,” the lawsuit calls for a permanent injunction preventing the Obama administration from implementing and enforcing its rules.
See TITLE IX, 3
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Seminary team’s Crossover efforts yield 105 professions of faith By Adam Covington and Alex Sibley SWBTS ST. LOUIS, Mo. Brandon Kiesling, instructor of evangelism at Southwestern Seminary, says Crossover, the Southern Baptist Convention’s yearly evangelism push prior to its annual meeting, is significant for three reasons. First, the lost are confronted with the gospel. Second, local churches are reinvigorated during the weeklong evangelism push. “Many of the churches we work with do not have the drive and/or personnel to visit thousands of homes in one week,” Kiesling says. “So, the Southern Baptist seminaries send an army of trained evangelists to come alongside the churches to give them the boost they need to reach their communities for Christ.” Finally, Crossover provides seminary students the opportunity to sharpen their skills in evangelism. “Over the week,” Kiesling explains, “each student will get multiple opportunities to share his/her faith with the lost, and many of them will get opportunities to lead people to Christ. This experience is invaluable to students as they are preparing for gospel ministry.”
See CROSSOVER, 8
SWBTS students share the gospel with a Buddhist woman at her door. SWBTS PHOTO/NEIL WILLIAMS
Catholic Church in Quebec sells sanctuary to Southern Baptist church plant By JC Davies TEXAN Correspondent QUEBEC CITY In a place steeped in religious history, a Baptist church plant in Quebec City, Canada, is redefining what church looks like for a local community and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ among North America’s most unreached people group.
See QUEBEC, 2
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In 2005, Église Communautaire Mosaïque was founded in downtown Quebec, one of the poorest parts of the city and also one of the most spiritually impoverished places in Canada. With evangelical Christians making up less than 1 percent of Quebec’s population, the native people, called Quebecois, are considered to be the leastreached people in North America, according to the North American Mission Board (NAMB). “One of the reasons they are so unreached is due to the negative impact the church had on their history,” said Chad Vandiver, NAMB Canada mobilization specialist. “This history resulted in the unfavorable definition of church the Quebecois have today.” The Catholic Church dominated the culture, education and government in Quebec until recent decades, leaving behind dying churches and people
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with a religious history but little spiritual connection to the church. The vision of Mosaïque is to “revive the church in each community and to be a church in mission (to) incarnate the gospel trough the love, hope and grace of Christ,” said the church’s pastor, Christian Lachance. In keeping with its vision to be on mission in the community, the first of Mosaïque’s church plants opened in a theatre owned by a local soup kitchen that serves the city’s homeless population. The church grew and planted its second church in the Catholic Chapel of University Laval, where university students began sharing the gospel in that community and taking the gospel message back to their homes. Since Mosaïque’s early days, Lachance said its members also began reaching out to a local Catholic group, eventually leading to a partnership that resulted in an after-school program for local high school students. “Because we focus on being a blessing in the community, we will be known as good people who are doing great things in the name of Jesus,” Lachance said.
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As Mosaïque has grown in recent years, Lachance said the need to expand led to an “amazing opportunity to rent a Catholic church in the poorest neighborhood of all the city, with no evangelical church at all.” Each Sunday morning, the Catholic church holds its mass, followed by a service led by Mosaïque church members, Lachance said. After one year of this partnership, leaders from the Catholic church offered Mosaïque the opportunity to purchase the building to continue its mission in the community. Though Lachance said it is a great opportunity for Mosaïque, purchasing the building “is also a surprise we were not prepared for and that represents more than a simple investment.” The church now has the funds for the down payment but is looking ahead to possible renovations in the future, as well as purchasing a new sound system, Lachance said. Despite these challenges, Lachance said establishing Mosaïque’s presence in the former Catholic church will allow the congregation to be on “mission like never before.”
Members of Église Communautaire Mosaïque meet for worship in a formerly Catholic church building. PHOTO PROVIDED BY ÉGLISE COMMUNAUTAIRE MOSAÏQUE
“We also could have such a wonderful opportunity to have influence in the Catholic Church beyond our city,” Lachance said, adding that the facility will help Mosaïque’s goal to plant 10 churches in the greater Quebec area by serving as a place to train new leaders. By establishing a new and growing church in a place once marked by an empty religious culture, Vandiver said Lachance and Mosaïque are “rede-
fining church for the Quebecois in a way they can understand and respond to.” “He is planting an evangelical church in a Catholic sanctuary in order to minister directly to the historical problem the Quebecois have had with churches. … Never before has there been such a tangible opportunity for Southern Baptists to reach an unreached people group on their own continent through the multiplication of church plants,” Vandiver said.
Church restart provides fertile ground for healthy growth
Foundation Baptist Church pastor Casey Lewis and his family
By JC Davies TEXAN Correspondent EULESS With fewer than 30 members in the congregation, Foundation Baptist Church in Euless held its first worship service in September 2014. But the humble start was the beginning of new life for a fellowship that nearly closed its doors altogether several months earlier. North Euless Baptist Church had been slowly dying when it came to a crossroads. “The church was barely functional, spiritually dead, and it had completely stopped growing,” said church member David Kennedy. After seeking direction from the SBTC church revitalization team, the church’s leaders decided not to close but instead to replant under the leadership of First Baptist Church Keller. “The whole goal when you restart a church—replant it—is that it will begin making a community impact once again for the cause of Christ,” said Kenneth
Priest, who leads church revitalization efforts for the SBTC. In May 2014, North Euless Baptist Church held its final service and closed its doors. The following month renovations began on the church’s building, and members met Casey Lewis, who would become the pastor of the newly formed Foundation Baptist Church. When Lewis, along with his wife and their family, took on the role of leading the church plant, he said the congregation was in a state of brokenness. “The Lord began the process of breaking them. They were to the point of being broken when I came on the scene,” Lewis said. Nearly two years after Foundation Baptist Church officially began, membership now stands at about 80, and attendance at Sunday worship services reaches more than 100 people. While the numerical growth is important, Lewis said the changes in the church are seen in more than only numbers.
“The greatest thing God has been doing is spiritual growth,” he said. Once Foundation BC opened its doors as a new church, remaining members went through a new membership process that focused on being a healthy, growing church. Kennedy, who was part of North Euless Baptist Church for more than a decade, and remained through the replant, said the once-dying church now “strives to worship God and know him fully.” “We are committed to sharing the gospel in our community, making disciples and studying the Word of God so that he may be glorified in everything we do,” Kennedy said. In going from a dying church to a thriving church, Lewis said two emphases have been key— preaching the gospel and making disciples. The latter, he said, was an area in which the church formerly struggled. “We cannot become consumed with ourselves. We have to make disciples where we are as well,” Lewis said. “That was really the major problem. They weren’t known as a church who cared about the community.” The church now hosts regular community events and goes out into neighborhoods and apartment complexes to meet people and share the gospel with them. “I want these people to know that we love them and we truly care about them as individuals, but to be successful we have to share the good news,” Lewis said. Because of the community involvement and evangelism,
“WE ARE COMMITTED TO SHARING THE GOSPEL IN OUR COMMUNITY, MAKING DISCIPLES AND STUDYING THE WORD OF GOD SO THAT HE MAY BE GLORIFIED IN EVERYTHING WE DO.” —DAVID KENNEDY, MEMBER OF FOUNDATION BAPTIST CHURCH
several new couples have joined the church, and church members have begun to share the gospel regularly with family members, friends, coworkers and acquaintances. “At the first event that we did with (Foundation), one of the elders came up and handed me a tract and said, ‘Ok, go share the gospel with that girl,’” Brittany Thompson, who joined Foundation BC with her husband last summer, recalled. “It was kind of scary, but I had never seen a church function like that before, where they pushed you to share the gospel.” Matt and Brittany Thompson were attending a large church, but after a couple of years there, decided to look for a smaller church where they could be more involved. In June, the Thompsons attended Foundation Baptist Church, and after one visit decided to stay. Though they were the youngest couple attending the church at the time, Matt and Brittany said they found true community there. “We’re getting bigger, but we still have kept everybody together. Everybody is still one fam-
ily, and that’s really cool to see among the ages,” Brittany said. The Thompsons now disciple another couple from the church who recently became believers, and they continue to be challenged to grow spiritually and to share the gospel with others. “It’s interesting to see at Foundation how in everything they do, their goal is to be biblically centered in doing it, and it’s really refreshing to hear the pastors and the other leaders in the church continuously going back to the Bible, and continuously ensuring that what they’re doing follows biblical principles and that they’re all in community with one another and abiding in Christ,” Matt Thompson said. Lewis said this emphasis is the basis for everything the church does now and the reason for its continued growth. “We’ve just been faithful here to preach God’s Word. He’s the one who brings the growth. We can’t take any credit for that. We’re striving to be faithful,” he said. Learn more about church revitalization at sbtexas.com/ church-revitalization.
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private changing area and sued the school district demanding he be allowed to use the same locker room facilities as the CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 girls. Citing Title IX, the DepartIn announcing the lawsuit, ments of Education and Justice Texas Attorney General Ken threatened to withhold some of Paxton said, “This represents the school’s $6 million in federal just the latest example of the funds if they did not submit to current administration’s at- the student’s demands. tempts to accomplish by exThe ongoing battle over reecutive fiat what they couldn’t cently enacted transgender accomplish through the demo- student guidelines by the Fort cratic process in Congress. By Worth Independent School forcing through his policies District (FWISD) demonstrates by executive action, President the dissolution of gender norms Obama excluded the voice of that Obama’s interpretation of the people. We stand today to Title IX require. The guidelines ensure those voices are heard.” permit students to identify as Although the Dear Colleague either gender without medical letter does not explicitly men- or parental validation and retion any repercussions for fail- quires district employees and ing to follow the guidelines, students to affirm the student’s previous action by the Obama preferred gender identity. The administration demonstrates guidelines also require school that failure to comply comes personnel expunge gender norwith a high price tag. mative language, such as “boys” Earlier this year a school dis- and “girls,” from the classroom. trict outside of Chicago created Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patits own standards for balanc- rick, who demanded the FWISD ing the needs of a transgender rescind the guidelines and fire female student—a teenage boy Superintendent Kent Scribner presenting himself as a girl— in May, said Obama’s edict “igwith those of the student’s fe- nores both common sense and male teammates. Demanding common decency.” full inclusion and affirmation “[It] creates a problem where of his gender identity as a fe- none existed,” Patrick said in a male, the transgender student statement supporting the lawbalked at the school’s offer of a suit. “It will disrupt schools
Texas Atty. General Ken Paxton explains the lawsuit filed May 25 by representatives in 11 states against the Obama administration’s transgender directive. PHOTO COURTESY OF TEXAS ATTY. GENERAL’S OFFICE
across Texas, creating potentially embarrassing and unsafe situations for girls who would be forced, under his order, to share bathrooms, locker rooms and showers with boys.” Patrick said he will continue to push back against the local and federal regulations. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called Obama’s directive “rule by executive fiat.” “The President continues to violate the Constitution by trying to re-write laws as if he were a king. The states serve as the last line of defense against an unlawfully expansive federal government,” he said.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the states of Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, and Georgia; Governor of Maine Paul Lepage; the Arizona Department of Education; Harrold Independent School District (HISD) in Texas and Heber-Overgaard Unified School District in Arizona. HISD issued new guidelines May 23 in defiance of the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX, stating a student’s birth certificate will determine a student’s gender identity on campus and all multiple-occupancy bathrooms
or changing facilities “shall be designated for and used only by individuals based on their biological sex.” In an effort to accommodate students with special needs, the HISD guidelines state, “The Superintendent or campus principal may make reasonable accommodations upon a person’s request due to special circumstances.” Defendants in the case include the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice and their leadership, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor and their respective directors.
Despite language and distance, Houston church looks like heaven By Bonnie Pritchett TEXAN Correspondent
Within the increasingly diverse congregation that makes up Champion Forest Baptist Church is a family that could be the poster children for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s annual “Look Like Heaven” emphasis. The Orellana family represents three continents, four languages and one Lord. Ivan Orellana, a native of El Salvador is the worship leader for the CFBC Spanish-language services. His wife, Samiko, is from Japan. Their daughters Micha, 6, and Aska, 4, are Texas born and bred. The girls are homeschooled in English. Afternoons are for conversations in Japanese. Talks with Dad in the evenings are in Spanish with a little Portuguese mixed in for good measure. “The Orellana family is representative of our church and community; we live in a multicultural world,” pastor David Fleming told the TEXAN. “They are an example of how we can achieve unity in the midst of diversity, when it’s family. We are the family of God.” Each year the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention promotes “Looks Like Heaven,” encouraging churches once a year to combine worship services with a church of a different culture, race or language. “It starts with the spiritual realization of the unity that
comes through the Holy Spirit,” said Fleming. On any given Sunday at CFBC one can hear English, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Farsi and Japanese. For the hearing impaired, there is American Sign Language. Of course more languages are likely represented since Houston is one of the nation’s most international cities. But 10 years ago, CFBC was predominantly white and English-speaking. “We could have stayed a wealthy, white church … and declining,” said Brent Dyer, lead worship pastor for the Englishlanguage services. Dyer said a desire to “reach the people who live in the shadow of the steeple” sent CFBC out into their neighborhoods to draw in new believers regardless of their race, culture or language. And then those people began bringing their friends and families. The largest growth has been in the Spanish-speaking members. On any given Sunday, 7,000 people worship on three campuses in 16 distinct yet similar worship services. About 2,000 of those attend the three Spanish-language worship services on two of the three CFBC campuses. But the Spanish-speaking population is not monolithic; there are distinctions of dialect and semantics to interpret. Orellana has learned to negotiate the nuances. Grow-
ing up in El Salvador, Spanish is his first language. But as he learned to master a second and arguably more universal language—music—his ministry took him to Portugal, Guatemala, El Salvador and Spain between 2002 and 2005 before landing in Houston. His first experience in an English-speaking church left him feeling lost during the preaching. But when the music started all that changed. “It’s not easy when you are in the process of learning a language because sometimes it makes it harder to connect with the others,” Orellana said. “So what we try to do is create a place where people can feel like they are part of it without being able to speak the language fluently.” As CFBC grew so did its complexion, its voices. The church began to reflect the community in which it was planted. And the new people brought more people like themselves. Fleming knew continuity between the pastors was crucial for them to be one church and one family rather than a loosely affiliated church in name only. “CFBC is very intentional about maintaining unity, and it starts by having unity among
the staff,” Orellana said. “It’s not just about the worship services but how we Spanish speakers and English speakers work together as one church in different ministries.” If all the church members couldn’t be in the same worship service at the same time, they could at least be on the same page. During weekly meetings, CFBC pastors and worship leaders review the next Sunday’s sermon. There will be 16 sermons, all same yet different. Each pastor teaches from the same verses, so each member of CFBC, regardless of age or language, will hear the same passage taught. They are currently teaching through the Old Testament. Dyer said from the weekly discussions a “big idea” emerges that will shape each sermon and worship service. The “big idea” may present itself differently in each service, but it creates unity among the people separated by time and distance. Fleming said the goal is uniformity without denying individuality. “They’re not all preaching my sermon,” Fleming said. Continuity flows from familiarity. And while a church member can go from campus to
campus or children’s worship service to the adult service and hear the same Bible passage taught, a sense of unity is strengthened as the pastors reinforce the notion that they shepherd the whole church, not just one segment. To that end they regularly take turns filling the pulpits on each of the three campuses. Dyer and Orellana develop worship services through the filter of the “big idea” going so far as to create a familiar musical genre that flows from service to service. Songs are translated from English to Spanish or vice versa. Cultural differences, even more than language, affect the dynamics of how a musical selection is interpreted, Dyer said. The worship team tries to make the differences as minimal as possible while allowing for cultural expressions in the context of any congregation. Just as in the creation of 16 sermons on the same passage, worship cannot be forced or generic. All of that comes into play when the church—the whole church—gathers for a joint worship service each year on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year. What may appear to some as barriers, the CFBC worship and pastoral teams see it as expressions of the body of Christ. “It’s a concerted effort all year,” Fleming said. “It wouldn’t work one service a year if we weren’t doing it all year long.”
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AN OPEN LETTER FOR PRESERVING THE FIRST FREEDOM OF UNIVERSAL RELIGIOUS LIBERTY Jason Duesing Midwestern Seminary
Editor’s Note: The following letter was written by Jason Duesing, provost at Midwestern Seminary; Thomas White, president of Cedarville University; and Malcolm Yarnell, professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Seminary. We are compelled by conscience to respond publicly to a June 6 public editorial penned by a revered Southern Baptist newspaper editor (Gerald Harris, The Christian Index, link to editorial: http:// bit.ly/1OsJwNs). Before reading our fourfold response, please allow us a preliminary word to our brother in Christ and to the general reader: First, to our brother in Christ, please know that we write as those who share your concerns about the imperiled present and future state of our culture
and society. As Southern Baptist churchmen like you and as leaders in higher education, we have a long-standing appreciation for your work and witness at The Christian Index. Second, to the general reader, please know that we agree with the editor’s effort to inform readers of teachings within Islam that are not fully known in the public square. We appreciate the editor’s attempt to raise questions requiring further exploration. Moreover, we recognize, support, and will heartily defend the right of the editor to express these views. However, while we appreciate the intended tone of the editorial, we do disagree with the tenor for the four following reasons: First, we believe, as Americans, that our Constitution guarantees the “first freedom” among all human freedoms, the freedom of religion with all of its benefits. For Christian Americans to question whether Muslim Americans qualify for religious freedom is essentially
a question about whether all Americans are under the protection of the first and fourteenth amendments. We believe that all Americans, including Muslims, are granted, as an inalienable human right, the freedom of conscience to worship God as they believe best. Second, we believe, as Baptists, that questioning whether Muslims deserve religious liberty is foreign to the historic Baptist understanding of biblical faith and practice. From the Reformation to the present, Baptists have been leading advocates for the separation of church and state and the freedom of religion for all citizens. In a supplement to this letter (link: http:// bit.ly/1Uy5MpE), we include quotes from the first continental Anabaptists and from the first English Baptists in order to demonstrate that religious liberty is foundational to our faith. We note that Thomas Helwys (the English Baptist pastor to whom most scholars trace Baptist origins) specifically included
“Turks” (i.e. Muslims) as possessing religious liberty from God. There are also quotes from leading American Baptists such as Roger Williams, Isaac Backus, and John Leland, each of whom was instrumental in shaping American Baptist life as well as American political thought. Third, we believe, as Southern Baptists, that universal religious liberty is a non-negotiable aspect of our denomination’s theology. In that light, we have included a portion of the Baptist Faith and Message in the second appendix (see link: http:// bit.ly/1Uy5MpE). We have also included one of our most recent denominational resolutions supporting religious liberty. The Southern Baptist Convention has adopted dozens of religious liberty resolutions since our inception in 1845, and this resolution, from 2011, specifically supports the freedom of Muslims to build mosques. Fourth, we believe, as Evangelical Christians, that it is inappropriate to question whether
Muslims should retain the right freely to practice their religion. We understand that granting such rights to some forms of Islam might one day lead to the threatening of Christians in our worship. However, we trust God will honor our faithfulness to proclaim and practice his Word for his glory and to the best of our ability. Moreover, we believe any attempt to inhibit religious liberty will only prove to be a hindrance to reaching these precious men and women, created in God’s image, with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. As those who believe in the exclusivity of Christ for salvation and who know that one cannot be coerced to believe and be saved, we want religious freedom for all human beings, while there is still time before the day of final judgment. We ask our brother and we ask all Baptists, as well as other people interested in human freedom, to join us in preserving the first freedom, freedom of religion, and in rejecting any restriction of its universal application.
When Suffering Produces Endurance quickly, but he wasn’t any better the next morning. Susie Hawkins My husband saw a friend at Author, Speaker lunch, an ophthalmologist, and related this story. The doctor told us to immediately come “… the testing of your faith to his office; this did not sound produces endurance.” (James 1:3) good. Two hours later we were on our way to Children’s Hospieveral years ago, our tal for emergency surgery. This daughter and her was a serious injury. Just the tihusband traveled to niest bit closer to the pupil and California, leaving Jackson would have been blindtheir 3-year-old, Jackson, and ed. Those hours are a blur to me 18-month-old, Julia, in our care. now—Holly and David feverishLike most grandparents, we ly booking flights to get home as were delighted to keep them. soon as possible, the doctor and One of those mornings, my hus- nurse calling them to get permisband took Jackson with him to sion to operate, finding someone his office. Jackson sat on his lap, to help with Julia, getting admitlooking over the desk, asking ted to the hospital, all the while questions. As O.S. was opening dealing with our growing fears. his mail, Jackson grabbed a let- The surgery was a success beter opener, somehow the end cause his eye was saved, but his of it striking his eye. We soon lens was destroyed. assumed his eyeball had been Thus began a very long road scratched since he wouldn’t of a 3-year-old wearing a contact open his eye and had a patch (with all the issues that brings) as put on it later in the day. Usu- well as “patching” almost every ally that type of injury heals day for the next eight or nine
Jim Richards, Executive Director
years. Patching is a technique used to prevent the brain from shutting down the injured eye. The surgeons said once his eye was fully developed (around age 11 or 12), a permanent lens could be implanted. However, the patching was crucial to the whole process, and his future vision literally depended upon it. When a child is barely 3 and his problem can’t be fully resolved until he is 11 ... well, that seemed like an eternity. There was no quick fix. Those were long days, weeks and years with many tears, frustrations and weariness on all sides. Endurance was the name of the game. But time does pass and two summers ago, Jackson had the lens surgery. We still have no words to express our thankfulness to God that it was successful, and his vision is very good. I experienced this trial through the lens of a wife and a mother. I had great angst in seeing my husband’s grief over this accident, which had happened on his
Contributors: Kay Adkins, Adam Covington,
Southern Baptist TEXAN VOLUME
Gary K. Ledbetter, Editor Keith Collier, Managing Editor Tammi Ledbetter, Special Assignments Editor Gayla Sullivan, Circulation Manager Russell Lightner, Layout/Graphic Artist
Susie Hawkins, Stephanie Heading, Amy Malott, Bonnie Pritchett, Erin Roach, Jane Rodgers, Alex Sibley, Tom Strode, Dante Wright
JC Davies, Michael Foust,
watch. He was inconsolable. As a parent and especially as a grandparent, our primary instinct is to PROTECT. How could such a freak accident occur to this child while sitting on his grandfather’s lap? As much as others and I tried to comfort him and remind him of God’s sovereignty, it was very difficult. O.S. is a strong believer, mature in his faith, to say the least. But this accident undid him. I realized more than ever how our brains may agree with truth, such as God’s care and control, but our emotions—remorse, guilt, self-condemnation—can lag far behind, tormenting us. I couldn’t fix that. The best I could do was sit by quietly, pray and entrust him to God’s loving care. As a mom, I have marveled these past years at the resourcefulness and sheer fortitude of young mothers. Truly God equips mommies for their season. One particular morning Jackson was unusually agitated, wailing, fearful of patching (because he couldn’t see well).
I watched as Holly swept him up, soothed him, invented some little game and quietly sang to him walking through their house, pointing out favorite toys and familiar objects. He soon settled down and forgot about the patch. How many times did I see that happen? Too many to remember. God may not remove the trial, but somehow he provides the wisdom and patience to cope with it every time. The accident is part of our family story, although it is primarily Jackson’s. He is a young teenager now. I listen when he occasionally refers to the accident. How will this experience affect him in the future? We all pray it is for God’s glory and for our good. “But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing,” (James 1:4) Susie lives in Dallas with her husband O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources.
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SAVE THE DATE Jim Richards Executive Director
y the grace of God and with the doctor’s permission I made the trip to St. Louis for the Southern Baptist Convention. Although my strength is not 100 percent yet, I am grateful for the opportunity to have been with my fellow Baptists from across the nation. This year was the most unusual convention I have ever attended. You will find coverage in the TEXAN about the interesting events in St. Louis. Now, let me turn your attention to the SBTC. This fall I am praying for a supernatural gathering of believers in Texas. You will want to save the date.
I encourage you to be present at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention this Nov. 14-15 at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin. SBTC President Nathan Lino is working with the Committee on Order of Business to produce a Christ-honoring experience for all of us. Pastor Lino will bring the president’s address on Monday night. Various Texas leaders will speak throughout the two days. The music worship will encourage you. Testimonies of God’s work will thrill you. Most of the business will transpire in the Tuesday afternoon session. Our ministry together in Texas is worth your time. Save the date. I’m excited to share with you that Tuesday night has been set aside as a monumental time of gathering for God’s people. On November 15th SBTC is invit-
ing the Austin Prayer Network to join us in the evening session. This is an inter-denominational group that meets regularly in Austin to pray for spiritual awakening and renewal. Hyde Park Baptist Church Pastor Kie Bowman is coordinating the prayer meeting with the SBTC staff. A music worship team will help us to prepare our hearts for God’s Word. The convention message will be delivered by Houston’s First Baptist Church Pastor Gregg Matte. Gregg has God’s anointing on his ministry. You will want to hear the message he has for us. This night could change everything for your church. Save the date so you can experience this night with other believers. “The Holy Spirit, Zechariah 4:6” is the theme for the 2016 Annual Meeting. I am thrilled
THIS YEAR COULD BE A DIFFERENCE MAKER FOR EVERY PERSON PRESENT. TEXAS CHURCHES NEED AN OUT-POURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. CHURCHES WOULD BE REVIVED. we are focusing on the third person of the Trinity. We all need a fresh breath from heaven. We have the power available to us to be witnesses. We have to turn on the power switch. This year could be a difference maker for every person present. Texas churches need an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. Churches would be revived. If a supernatural work of God’s Spirit were to happen, the gospel would be unleashed in a new way across our state. We do not need an-
other Pentecost or a second blessing. We simply need to seek the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. Be in Austin this fall. Save the date. If you have never attended a SBTC Annual Meeting I’m asking that you plan on being present for this one. If you have never brought fellow church members with you, this is the year to enlist them. Join with us Nov. 14-15 as we worship, hear the Word and pray together. It’s important that you save the date.
Calling All Prophets and Preachers Dante Wright Pastor, Sweet Home Baptist Church
ur society is in turmoil. Our political, economic, educational, and spiritual foundations are fractured and in need of repair. We have turned our attention to building larger churches, while abandoning and aborting our responsibility to fight injustice with God’s justice. Pre-occupied with political correctness, feel-good theology, and the prosperity gospel, we silently watch as our society struggles. With the decline of biblical marriage, legislation of restroom designations, racially divisive politicians, and the general desensitization of society to the downtrodden, it is clear that the kingdom of God is in search of prophets and preachers who will speak
DEADLINE FOR SBTC COMMITTEE/BOARD NOMINATIONS The Committee on Nominations is receiving nomination forms to fill upcoming vacancies on the SBTC Executive Board and committees. Nomination forms can be completed online or downloaded at www.sbtexas. com/nominations. The deadline to receive nomination forms is Aug. 1, 2016. The vacancies to be filled are as follows:
boldly to the complex issues of our day. God is issuing a kingdom-wide search for us to heed the job description of divinely called prophets and preachers. If God sent this job description to his churches, it may read like the one below:
Minimum Qualifications: Education & Experience u A divine education in prophetic hermeneutics. (Amos 7:14-15) u A divine call from God to speak to the ills and sins of society. (Jeremiah 1:1-19)
General Description: The kingdom of God is enlisting prophetic voices to speak against this crumbling culture. The 21st century church is looking for a prophetic voice who feels a strong call to fight injustice with God’s justice, who utilizes the Scriptures for “prophetic preaching,” acknowledging that the Scriptures provide an authority that can be found in no other text. This prophetic voice should stir up and motivate others to make a change in our current cultural context by confronting the “great moral and ethical issues that confound the world.”
Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities u Must be a born-again believer in Jesus Christ and spiritually mature. u Must possess a prophetic consciousness. u Must possess the ability to preach with a divine pathos. u Must be able to envision and proclaim a godly vision that brings us back to our original purpose as the people of God. u Able to transcend prideful denominational and political agendas to see the unifying message of hope and the humble realization of our collective sin.
Executive Board – 12 vacancies (9 eligible for renomination). Note: The composition of the Executive Board is based on certain considerations: 1) one-fourth (1/4) of the membership must be laypersons, 2) one-fourth (1/4) of the membership, at the time of election, must be a member of a church of 400 or less in resident membership, 3) at least five (5) representatives from each quadrant of the state. Missions Committee – 3 vacancies; Evangelism Committee – 3 vacancies;
Essential Job Functions
Church Ministries Committee – 3 vacancies; Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee – 3 vacancies; Pastor/Church Relations Committee – 2 vacancies; Credentials Committee – 1 vacancy; Committee on Order of Business – 2 vacancies. Also: Criswell College Board – 3 vacancies (all eligible for renomination); Jacksonville College – 1 vacancy (eligible for renomination); Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation – 4 vacancies (all eligible for renomination).
u Shift the focus of the congregation from what is happening to them as a local church to what is happening to them as a part of society. u Confront the false gods of comfort. u Confront the lack of concern and acquiescence in the face of evil in our society. u Preach “truth to power,” standing against the political elite and economically powerful when they are wrong. If we are to be prophets and preachers of God, we must be able to see in Scripture and society the destruction that oppression and injustice have on our society. Furthermore, we must recognize the work of justice in Scripture and in our society as a primary objective of the kingdom of God. This ability to see oppression and combat it with justice is the prophetic hermeneutic, which every prophet of God must possess. The role of the prophet is to convey an alternative future to society than the one they are currently living. This prophetic consciousness allows the prophet to see beyond the status quo to elevate the vision of the kingdom of God that is displayed in the gospel. This requires a divine pathos, or a passion that
exemplifies the passion of God, that not only presents God’s anger but gives way to a call for the people’s repentance. This pathos does not revel in the death and the destruction of ungodly people but maintains hope and deliverance as the ultimate objectives of God and his prophets. To prophetically proclaim is to rid ourselves of denominational and political pride and to see the sins of the people and society as “alive and at work in the people who preach the sermons.” As Marvin McMickle exclaims: “We do not have the right to preach to people about their sins as if we who preach are somehow above and removed from the problem. The preferred approach is to preach about the sins and shortcomings that grip and pull all of us away from the love and loyalty we should be displaying toward God.” The kingdom of God is looking for prophets and preachers to courageously confront the many false gods that society and the church have constructed. God is looking for prophets and preachers to call the church to concern about and action against injustice, preaching truth to power against our unholy donors, political partners, and even against ourselves. This is the work of the kingdom for each of us. Will you answer the call?
CORRECTION In the opening article of the June edition of the TEXAN, titled “Created to Complete, Not Compete,” the article erroneously quoted Dr. Candi Finch on page 13 as saying “... evangelical feminists ‘placed themselves as authorities over Scripture and viewed God’s Word as an instrument of oppression.’” The sentence should have read that secular feminists, not evangelical feminists, did this. An updated version of the article can be found at texanonline.net/am-site/media/june-2016-texan-new2.pdf
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1.32 percent to 15.3 million members. Average weekly worship attendance declined by 1.72 percent to 5.6 million worshippers. Southern Baptists also experienced a decline in baptisms, down 3.3 percent to 295,212. Reported baptisms have fallen eight of the last 10 years. The ratio of baptisms to total members decreased to one baptism for every 52 members. from bpnews.net
Norway returns kids it seized over spanking
A Christian couple in Norway who had their children taken away by the government because they spanked them will be reunited after six months of international protest. Critics, though, say the situation for parents is just as bad as it was when the controversy began. “The situation in Norway is very horrible and very frightening,” said Tomáš Zdechovský, a member of the European Parliament from the Czech Republic. Norway’s form of CPS, called Barnevernet, seized the five children in November after officials at school interrogated the two daughters about their family life. Spanking is against the law in Norway. from World Magazine
Trump pledges to ‘restore faith to its proper mantle’ Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told attendees at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s conference June 10 that he will “restore faith to its proper mantle” if elected. He was the keynote speaker at the gathering of conservative Christians. “People who go to church, who work and work in religious charities and so
forth and share their values, these are the foundations of our society,” Trump said. “We will restore respect for people of faith, who dutifully raise their children, follow our laws and rules and we have to really take care of them. We have to take care of our neighbors. Right now, our neighbors are not being taken care of. We have to restore the rule of law on our border, in our government.” Trump also pledged to “uphold the sanctity and dignity of life [and] marriage and family as the building block of happiness and success.” “I know many, many successful people and the happiest people are people that have that great religious feel and that incredible marriage and children,” Trump said. “That is more important than the money, folks, believe me. I know plenty of people with lots of money and they are not happy. “ from ChristianPost.com
More churches, fewer baptisms for SBC in 2015 Southern Baptists saw an increase in total giving and added more churches in 2015, but saw declines in membership, average worship attendance, baptisms and missions giving, according to the ACP report compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources. The number of churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention grew by 294 to 46,793, a 0.63 percent increase over 2014. This is the 17th year in a row the number of SBC churches has grown. While the number of SBC-related congregations increased, reported membership declined more than 200,000, down
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CP 6.13% ahead of budget projection Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 6.13 percent above the year-to-date budgeted projection, and are 2.65 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page. The total includes receipts from state conventions and fellowships, churches and individuals for distribution according to the 2015-16 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget. As of May 31, gifts received by the Executive Committee for distribution through the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget through the first eight months of the Convention’s fiscal year totaled $131,956,900.93. This total is $7,623,567.60 above the $124,333,333.33 year-to-date budgeted amount to support SBC ministries globally and across North America. from bpnews.net
Golden Gate Seminary closes Mill Valley campus Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary closed its main campus in the San Francisco Bay Area on June 3 to prepare for its 400-mile move to Southern California. After a ceremonial locking of the doors, Golden Gate President Jeff Iorg sent out a campus-wide email that read, “The Mill Valley campus of Golden Gate Seminary is now closed. We press on!” The Southern Baptist seminary had been
Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers, shared gospel with Muhammad Ali Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary administrator Dan Dumas are among the Christians who have told of gospel conversations with the late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
Trump reveals what he believes about Jesus
Veteran journalist and columnist Cal Thomas has gotten Donald Trump to give a more detailed answer about his religious beliefs than anyone else in the past year, although it may not appease all Christians. Thomas asked, “You have said you never felt the need to ask for God’s forgiveness, and yet repentance for one’s sins is a precondition to sal-
vation. I ask you the question Jesus asked of Peter: Who do you say he is?” Trump responded, “I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness. As you know, I am Presbyterian and Protestant,” Trump said. Moments later, after Trump discussed how Christians are persecuted around the world, Thomas asked again, “Who do you say Jesus is?” Trump replied, “Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and—because I consider the Christian religion so important—somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind,” he said. from ChristianExaminer.com
located in the Bay Area since its founding in 1944. Messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June approved the school changing its name to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. from bpnews.net
Lottie Moon mission offering sets record: $165.8 million Southern Baptists provided resounding support through the 2015 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, giving a record of $165.8 million—the highest total
in the 127-year history of the offering. The total was finalized in early June. The offering surpassed the previous all-time record of $154 million in 2013 by $11.8 million. The 2014 Lottie Moon offering totaled just over $153 million. from bpnews.net
Billy Graham statue move rescheduled LifeWay Christian Resources is moving a largerthan-life statue of Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham from its downtown Nashville location to a LifeWay retreat center in the North Carolina mountains, a few miles from Graham’s home. The move is prompted by last year’s sale of LifeWay’s 15-acre Nashville campus. The iconic bronze sculpture
Ali, who died June 3 in Scottsdale, Ariz., at age 74, grew up in a Christian family but converted to Islam in the late 1960s. According to AP, Ali occasionally attended King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., where his family worshiped, even after his conversion to Islam. Rogers, a former Southern Baptist Convention president, told in at least three sermons between 1986 and 1994 of sharing the gospel with Ali. Rogers died in 2005. In a 1994 sermon, Rogers, longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova,
will be dismantled and placed in storage until a new site is ready this fall at the entrance to LifeWay’s 1,300-acre Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Center, near Asheville, N.C. from bpnews.net
Tenn., said Ali had asked him, “How can you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the unique Son of God? Just because he was born of a virgin? Why, Adam didn’t have a father or mother. Wouldn’t that make Adam more son of God than Jesus?” Rogers replied according to a sermon transcript provided by Love Worth Finding Ministries, “Champ, Jesus was not the Son of God because he was born of a virgin. He was born of a virgin because he was the Son of God.” from bpnews.net
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DR FEEDING UNITS USED BY RED CROSS TO SERVE THOUSANDS AFFECTED BY TEXAS FLOODS
First Baptist Pflugerville set up an SBTC DR feeding unit to support Red Cross efforts in central Texas following region-wide flooding in May. SBTC DR PHOTO
Austin CBS affiliate KEYE interviews Mike Northen, SBTC DR team leader and a pastor at First Baptist Church in Pflugerville, Texas. SBTC DR PHOTO
By Jane Rodgers TEXAN Correspondent PFLUGERVILLE Mike Northen never imagined disaster relief would begin in his church’s parking lot, but that is what happened as First Baptist Pflugerville set up an SBTC DR feeding unit to support Red Cross efforts in central Texas following region-wide flooding in May. “We set up the kitchen at our church because it was a central location,” said Northen, First Pflugerville’s associate pastor of education and church administration. “The Red Cross was delivering to multiple towns 30 minutes to an hour and a half away.” The feeding unit, manned initially by volunteers from First Pflugerville, began preparing meals June 1 for Red Cross workers to transport to area communities including Brenham, Bryan-College Station, Somerville, Cedar Creek, Bastrop and Giddings, Northen said. The meals prepared by SBTC volunteers were kept hot in Cambro containers supplied by the Red Cross, whose workers drove ERVs (emergency response vehicles) to distribute the food to distant victims, Northen said. Northen served as white hat, or incident leader, May 31–June 4, the week in which First Pflugerville volunteers
manned the feeding unit. Ralph Britt of Flint Baptist Church rotated in with a fresh crew over the next weekend as SBTC teams continued producing 500plus meals per day. More than 6,000 meals were prepared the first week of the deployment, Northen added. “Our feeding volunteers continue to serve and be a blessing to the victims of the recent flooding. Mud-out operations will start after the water recedes,” said Scottie Stice, SBTC director of disaster relief. SBTC DR volunteers also deployed to Rosenberg, north of Houston, where they provided laundry and shower units to assist more than 200 first responders engaged in flood relief in southeast Texas. “We are honored to serve first responders in Rosenberg as they serve the people of the state of Texas,” Stice said. Mud-out teams began cleanup of Rosenberg June 13. Spring floods ravaging Texas only affirmed the need for disaster relief volunteers. For pastors considering establishing a disaster relief ministry, Northen advised, “Don’t try to figure out whether you need [DR training]. Get trained to help. Get ready.”
“WE NEED MORE PEOPLE, MORE PASTORS, TO WAKE UP AND SEE THIS MINISTRY IS A VERY EVANGELISTIC OUTREACH. I HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE INVOLVED IN DR WHO DON’T FEEL LIKE THEY CAN DO ANYTHING ELSE IN THE CHURCH. THEY DON’T FEEL LIKE THEY CAN TEACH. THIS GIVES THEM A WAY TO SERVE. IF YOU ARE NOT GETTING YOUR CHURCH INVOLVED, ARE YOU KEEPING SOMEBODY, ESPECIALLY IN THEIR RETIREMENT YEARS, FROM A WAY OF SERVING?” — MI KE N O RT H E N , F IRST BAPTIST PF LUGERVILLE
Volunteering on a DR deployment may involve a few hours, a day, a week or longer. “Some deployed from our church are in job or life situations where they thought they’d never get to serve. I pushed them to get the training,” Northen said, adding that he told church members, “Let God worry about when and where you deploy.” Fifteen DR volunteers from First Pflugerville manned the feeding unit in the church parking lot, some working for just a day. Participating in disaster relief, especially in one’s own backyard, may inconvenience a church, but the inconvenience is worth it, Northen said. In the case of First Baptist Pflugerville, Sunday services were impacted as the feeding unit took up 100 parking spaces.
The next week’s feeding crew stayed in church facilities. “We need more people, more pastors, to wake up and see this ministry is a very evangelistic outreach. I have people who are involved in DR who don’t feel like they can do anything else in the church. They don’t feel like they can teach. This gives them a way to serve. If you are not getting your church involved, are you keeping somebody, especially in their retirement years, from a way of serving?” DR is an inclusive form of ministry meeting the needs of people in times of crisis, providing basic services and sharing the love of Jesus. “It’s a chance to become salt and light,” Northen said. For more information on SBTC Disaster Relief and how your church can be involved, visit sbtexas.com/dr.
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SBC ANNUAL MEETING
CROSSOVER CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
All three of these elements were reaffirmed during this year’s Crossover event in St. Louis, June 4-11. Seventyfive students and staff from Southwestern Seminary participated, working alongside Tower Grove Baptist Church to ultimately visit more than 5,000 homes in five days. By the grace of God and to the glory of his name, these collective efforts ultimately yielded 105 professions of faith. “I think SWBTS led the way among all of our seminaries in bringing the number of students they did but also in trying to re-establish that intentional evangelism is what Crossover is all about,” evangelism professor Matt Queen said. Chris Coury, pastor of Tower Grove Baptist Church mapped out nearly 10,000 homes within the neighborhood surrounding their church. Teams of Southwestern students went door-todoor throughout the community of Shaw and knocked on doors with the express intent of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with members of the community. They passed out fliers to invite people to a block party at the end of the week, offered to replace smoke detectors in homes and prayed for the Spirit of God to lead them to people who were in need of hope. “Of course when we can help people paint fences and install smoke detectors we want to do that, but our main concern is to tell people about the gospel of Jesus Christ; that’s what our students did, and we saw 105 people receive the Lord because of it,” Queen said. Giving Hope to the Hopeless SWBTS students began the week of Crossover on Monday, June 6. It was on this same day that master’s student Kim Whitten received a phone call that her brother and sister-inlaw who were expecting their first child had lost their baby. Struggling as one who has hope, Whitten felt the Lord clearly telling her that he had called her to Crossover, even as she mourned the loss in her family. So, when a fellow Crossover team member fell ill the next morning, Whitten jumped in to help take her to the hospital for medical attention. “I didn’t want to be in a hospital that day,” recalled Whitten, “because I couldn’t be at the
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hospital with my brother and sister-in-law, and it was a place I just didn’t want to be. But I knew this is where God had me, so I thought, ‘The Lord says give joy in all circumstances, so I’m going to have joy even while this girl is throwing up on my shoes.’” After spending a full day at the hospital, Whitten initiated conversations with other people in the waiting room, always to be cut off due to external circumstances. As they were preparing to leave the hospital, a woman with a deep scowl on her face caught Whitten’s eye. She walked over, offered her a tissue, and asked one simple question, “Are you alright?” Sindra, the woman Whitten approached, shared that she had lost her job, been kicked out of her home, and unable to feed herself for the past two days. “This is the worst day of my life,” she told Whitten. Following the Lord’s prompting, Whitten shared the gospel with Sindra immediately. After walking through the Romans Road, Whitten told Sindra she could have a relationship with Jesus Christ if she would just talk to him. Sindra began her prayer in earnest by telling God she didn’t know how to begin. “But then she just said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’” Whitten said. “And the more she said ‘I’m sorry,’ the more broken she became. She was more broken over her sin than anyone I’ve ever seen.” Sindra ended her prayer by simply stating, “God if you’ll give me hope, I’ll give you my life.” Whitten saw a smile spread across Sindra’s face after she finished her prayer and a complete transformation in her countenance. Celebrating with her new sister in Christ, Whitten reminded her, “Today you walked in here with no hope and walked out with the God of the universe to give you not only life, but abundant life.” Sindra’s story is just one of the many that Southwestern students experienced during the week of Crossover. Southwestern president Paige Patterson said, “The fact of the matter is that these kids change not only other lives but their own lives because they learn firsthand that you really can witness to people and see results, and they’ll spend the rest of their lives, many of them, witnessing. I’m extremely proud of them and grateful for them.”
7,321: SBC’S UNOFFICIAL ST. LOUIS REGISTRATION By Brian Koonce | The Pathway
The Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting drew 7,321 messengers to St. Louis June 14-15 from the nation’s 46,000-plus Southern Baptist churches. The unofficial total is 35 percent above last year’s 5,407 messengers in Columbus, Ohio. When registered guests, exhibitors and others are included, the count of those at the SBC annual meeting rose to 11,581 as of Wednesday morning, June 15.
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Crossover volunteers hand a man on a bike a tract and share the gospel with him. SWBTS PHOTO/NEIL WILLIAMS
“But then she just said,
‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. And the more she said ‘I’m sorry,’ the more broken she became. She was more broken over her sin than anyone I’ve ever seen.” — K I M W HI TTE N , S W B TS M A STE R ’ S STU D ENT, S PEAKI NG OF A WOM AN WH O S H E S HA R E D THE G O S P E L W I TH D U R I NG S BC C R OS S OVER I N ST. LOUI S
Crossover participants receive training before they go out and share the gospel door to door in St. Louis.
Southwestern Seminary students share the gospel door to door in St. Louis as part of Crossover.
SWBTS PHOTO/NEIL WILLIAMS
SWBTS PHOTO/NEIL WILLIAMS
S A M P L E PAY M E N T R AT E S AG E
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6 . 80 %
5 .1 0 %
7. 80 %
5 . 80 %
9. 0 0 %
Notes: Rates are subject to change. Rates are based upon one-life.
SBC ANNUAL MEETING
STEVE GAINES ELECTED SBC PRESIDENT AFTER J.D. GREEAR WITHDRAWS
(Left to right) Outgoing Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd together with presidential nominee J.D. Greear congratulate president-elect Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., after he is elected president of the SBC. Greear withdrew from the race and moved that the convention elect Gaines by acclamation during the SBC’s annual meeting at America’s Center in St. Louis Wednesday, June 15. BY BILL BANGHAM
By Barbara Denman Baptist Press ST. LOUIS Tennessee pastor Steve Gaines was elected by acclamation as Southern Baptist Convention president after fellow candidate J.D. Greear withdrew his candidacy June 15 in a display of unity. Greear’s withdrawal followed a runoff vote the day before that didn’t produce a majority winner. His decision avoided a second runoff and left Gaines
elected by acclamation as president of the SBC during the annual meeting in St. Louis. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., told the convention he prayed the night before and believed “we need to leave St. Louis united.” He made the motion for Gaines to be elected by acclamation. Gaines said he, too, had decided internally Tuesday night to withdraw but agreed to serve as president after a conversation with Greear. “There’s
no way God is not doing something in all of this.” “I just wanted Jesus to be lifted high” and the convention to be united, Gaines said. Gaines, Greear and New Orleans pastor David Crosby originally were nominated for convention president. In the first ballot cast by 5,784 messengers, Crosby received 583 votes or 10.08 percent; Gaines received 2,551 votes, or 44.1 percent; and Greear received 2,601 votes, or 44.97 percent. None of the candidates received 50 percent or more of the votes, forcing a runoff. Then in the runoff ballot, with 7,230 messengers registered, 4,824 ballots were cast. Gaines received 2,410 votes or 49.96 percent while Greear received 2,306 votes or 47.80 percent. However, 108 votes were considered illegal because the wrong ballot was used or an indistinguishable mark was made. Roberts Rules of Order require that the 108 illegal votes be counted to determine a majority. To be declared a winner, Gaines or Greear needed to win 50 percent plus 1 of ballots cast, or 2,413 or more votes. Gaines was three votes shy of the majority. Had the second runoff election taken place, it would have been the first time in SBC history that a second ballot for the same two candidates in the
presidential election would have been necessary, said chief parliamentarian Barry McCarty. The new SBC president succeeds Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Ark. During the 11 years Gaines has pastored Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church, the congregation has averaged 481 baptisms per year, according to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile database. Previously, he pastored churches in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. Bellevue voted to give $1 million during its 2016-17 church year through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified channel for funding state- and SBC-level missions and ministries. That will total approximately 4.6 percent of undesignated receipts, the church told Baptist Press. Gaines was nominated by former SBC President Johnny Hunt, who emphasized Gaines’ commitment to evangelism. “When baptisms are at a 15year low, we need Steve to lead us in a great soul-winning resurgence,” Hunt said. Among his denominational service, Gaines has been a member of the Committee on Nominations, a trustee of LifeWay Christian Resources, a member of the committee that proposed a revision of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000, chairman
of the Resolutions Committee, and president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference, Hunt noted. In winning the election, Gaines is the fourth president from Bellevue Baptist Church, following Southern Baptist legends R.G. Lee, Ramsey Pollard and Adrian Rogers. Greear, 43, was nominated by Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, as a younger alternative to the two other candidates, saying his election would signal the next generation of leaders they “have a place at the SBC table.” Former SBC President Fred Luter nominated fellow Louisiana pastor Crosbyn. Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, Ill., was elected first vice president, was and Malachi O’Brien, pastor of The Church at Pleasant Ridge in Harrisonville, Mo., was elected second vice president. John L. Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, was re-elected to a 20th term as recording secretary, while Jim Wells, a church consultant and retired Missouri Baptist Convention staff member was re-elected to a 15th term as registration secretary. —Contributing to this story were Todd Deaton of the Western Recorder, Brian Koonce of The Pathway, and David Roach of Baptist Press.
Gaines recounts presidential decision By Erin Roach Baptist Press ST. LOUIS Steve Gaines, elected president by acclamation at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, recounted in a press conference afterward how God led the candidates to that “special moment” of unity. After a runoff didn’t produce a majority winner between Gaines, pastor of the Memphisarea Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., and J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Greear withdrew his name and urged messengers to vote for Gaines. The display of unity began the night before the vote when the two men talked. “He and I both were sensing the Holy Spirit moving in the same direction, and we had a good time talking last night,” Gaines told reporters. “We talked to the Lord, and we talked about the situation, and I really feel like what just happened was really a blessing from God,
and I pray God would use it to help us go forward and tell people about Jesus Christ.” As president, Gaines hopes to emphasize spiritual awakening, soul-winning and stewardship, among other issues. “We need to be more intentional and proactive about sharing Christ with people,” Gaines said, adding that good stewardship would enable Southern Baptists to send missionaries back to the field rather than bringing more home. Gaines and Greear both had the same impulse from the Holy Spirit the night before the vote, Gaines said. “It’s supernatural that the Spirit of God lives within us. Jesus said, ‘My sheep hear my voice.’ Anything you hear from the Lord is going to be in keeping with Scripture, but God was prompting both me and J.D. to be willing to pull out at the same time. Recounting the conversation, Gaines said, “I looked at him and said, ‘You can have it.’ He said, ‘No, I want you to have it.’ It was more like that. I said, ‘Let’s just
Southern Baptist Convention President-elect Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., speaks at a press conference at America’s Center in St. Louis Wednesday, June 15, immediately after his election by acclamation at the SBC annual meeting. PHOTO BY ADAM COVINGTON
don’t vote on it because if we have another vote it’s going to be another tie.’ It couldn’t have gone better. He was just very gracious. He’s the J.D. I know him to be.” Gaines said Greear has preached in his church, and he doesn’t invite people to preach in his church if he doesn’t believe they really love the Lord. “I know J.D. does. He hears from God, and I believe it was exactly what should be done,”
Gaines said. “I just appreciate it so much, and I think he appreciated the whole conversation, me willing to do the same thing.” Regarding the notion that Greear had vast support from younger Southern Baptists and Gaines was the candidate for the older crowd, Gaines said he believes the convention needs all ages. “People under 40 need the people over 40 for some wisdom—not that the younger people don’t have any wisdom, but
some things you learn the older you get, hopefully,” Gaines said. “Then, the people that are over 40 need the fire and the energy and the new ideas of younger people. It’s not a competition. We need each other.” Gaines has attended SBC annual meetings since he was a Ph.D. student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His first meeting was in Dallas in 1985 when more than 45,000 messengers were registered. W.A. Criswell, Herschel Hobbs and Adrian Rogers were his heroes. “We revered those guys. I’m not saying worshiped them. I’m saying we respected them in a good way, and the good thing about it is they respected us when we were young,” Gaines said. “I think that’s what we have to have.” What Southern Baptists saw in this year’s presidential election, Gaines said, is that “if the devil was trying to divide us, he failed and failed miserably.” “The Lord Jesus Christ gave us unity today in a great way.”
SBC ANNUAL MEETING
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SBC REPUDIATES DISPLAY OF CONFEDERATE FLAG By Tom Strode Baptist Press ST. LOUIS Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention renounced display of the Confederate battle flag in a historic, overwhelming vote June 14. The convention adopted late in its afternoon session a resolution that urged “brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters.” The resolution was one of seven adopted by messengers, but time for the report concluded before five other measures from the Resolutions Committee were able to be considered. The convention acted on the remaining resolutions during Wednesday morning’s session. The Confederate battle flag resolution was another step in the convention’s effort to address its past actions regarding slavery and racism. The SBC, which began in 1845 in part in support of slaveholding missionaries, approved a resolution in 1995 repenting of racism and asking for forgiveness from African-American Christians. It also has acted in a variety of ways in an attempt to bring about racial reconciliation and involve African-Americans and other minorities in leadership roles in the convention. The Resolutions Committee brought a proposal to the messengers calling for “sensitivity and unity” regarding display of the Confederate battle flag. The resolution called for Christians who display the flag “to consider prayerfully whether to limit, or even more so, discontinue its dis-
play” because of the “undeniably painful impact of the flag’s symbolism on others.” After two messengers spoke against the resolution, former SBC President James Merritt offered an amendment that went beyond the committee’s proposed language. His two-fold amendment deleted a paragraph that said the flag “serves for some not as a symbol of hatred, bigotry, and racism, but as a memorial to their loved ones who died in the Civil War, and an emblem to honor their loved ones’ valor.” It also removed language about prayerful consideration and called for a halt to displaying the flag. Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., said he offered the amendment not just as a pastor but as the great,-great-grandson of two men who fought in the Confederate Army. “[N]o one can deny” the Confederate battle flag is “a stumbling block” for many African-Americans to the witness of Southern Baptists, Merritt told messengers. In a comment that produced a partial standing ovation, he said, “[A]ll the Confederate flags in the world are not worth one soul of any race.” Calling it “a seminal moment in our convention,” Merritt said, “This is not a matter of political correctness. It is a matter of spiritual conviction and biblical compassion. We have a golden opportunity to say to every person of every race, ethnicity and nationality that Southern Baptists are not a people of any flag. We march under the banner of the cross of Jesus and the grace of God. “Today, we can say loudly and clearly to a world filled with racial strife and division that Southern Baptists are not in the business of building barriers and burning
Southern Baptist Convention Parliamentarian Barry McCarty explains the resolution amendment process after a messenger complained about not being allowed to speak after time expired during the afternoon session of the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday, June 14 in St. Louis. PHOTO BY BILL BANGHAM
bridges,” he said. “We’re about building bridges and tearing down barriers.” Messengers approved both the amendment and the amended resolution by wide margins. SBC leaders gratefully and warmly welcomed the convention’s latest action in support of racial reconciliation. Kevin Smith, the new executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and an African-American, told Baptist Press he was “very thankful and very moved by the clarity [Merritt] brought to the issue today.” He was “pleasantly surprised” by the convention’s adoption of Merritt’s stronger language and believes it will help the SBC in the future, said Smith, who has been assistant professor of church history and Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Smith expressed gratitude to the Resolutions Committee and Dwight McKissic, who submitted the original version of the resolution. McKissic, an AfricanAmerican, is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. Calling it “an extraordinary moment,” ethics leader Russell Moore told BP, “We watched a denomination founded by slaveholders vote to repudiate the display of the Confederate battle flag in solidarity with our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ. “I can’t recall ever seeing anything like it,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “And my hope and prayer is that we will work together in our churches toward modeling for the rest of the world what it means to be brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God.”
SBC resolutions address culture, ministry concerns By Tom Strode Baptist Press ST. LOUIS Messengers to the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention, in addition to repudiating the display of the Confederate battle flag, approved 11 other resolutions on a variety of culture and ministry concerns. Messengers voted on the proposals over both days of the annual meeting, adopting resolutions that expressed compassion for those devastated by the Orlando mass shooting, urged consistent evangelism of unbelievers and encouraged care for refugees. They also passed measures that included calling for the federal government not to discriminate against people who support only the biblical, traditional view of marriage and opposing an effort to require women to register for the military draft. For Resolutions Committee chairman Stephen Rummage, the call for Southern Baptists to evangelize was central to the 10-member panel’s deliberations in presenting the 12 measures to the messengers. The resolution on evangelism “might just seem like a standard resolution for an evangelical body such as Southern Baptists to pass,” Rummage said at a news conference June 15, “but really that is at the heart of everything that we talked about, including what we had to say about the Confederate flag. Everything that we do should have as its end and as its goal reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Echoing a comment made in support of the measure on the Confederate flag, Rummage said resolutions “build bridges and they tear down walls, but we’ve got to cross those bridges with the gospel and take Jesus to people because that’s what it’s all about and that’s the only hope for our world, for our nation and indeed for Southern Baptists.” In addition to the Confederate flag measure, the other 11 resolutions: u affirmed Southern Baptists’ commitment to biblical sexuality and urged the protection of religious free exercise. Kelvin Cochran, who was fired as Atlanta’s fire chief after writing in a book that homosexual behavior is immoral, presented the resolution to the convention as a member of the committee. u called for prayer for and pledged support to those affected by the June 12 killings in Orlando. u encouraged faithful proclamation of the gospel by churches and intentional evangelism by individual Southern Baptists locally, nationally and globally. u declared “unrelenting opposition” to efforts by military leaders and the Obama administration “to increase the likelihood that women will be placed in harm’s way” along with voicing support for service members and their families. u called on the government to enact strict security in screening refugees and for Southern Baptists to compassionately minister to and share the gospel with them.
u urged participation in voting and prayer for God to provide “spiritual, moral, ethical and cultural renewal.” u encouraged churches to consider increasing ministries to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and their family caregivers. u called for pastors and SBC entities to support freedom of the press and journalists to practice that freedom responsibly. u affirmed “In God We Trust” as the national motto and encouraged its public display.
u supported Israel’s right to exist as a free state and encouraged renewed prayer for peace in and salvation of Israel. u expressed gratitude to God as well as Southern Baptists in the St. Louis area and all others who helped with this year’s meeting. Messengers passed the first seven resolutions during the Tuesday afternoon session but were unable to vote on the remainder because time for their consideration expired. They approved the final five resolutions as a package Wednesday morning.
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SBC ANNUAL MEETING
TEXAS PASTORS LEAD, PREACH AT SBC PASTORS’ CONFERENCE By Keith Collier Managing Editor ST. LOUIS Aimed at giving pastors a charge like the one the apostle Paul gave his son in the ministry, Timothy, in 2 Timothy 4:5-6, the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference challenged pastors to endure hardship and engage in evangelism. Texas pastors serving in leadership this year were pastors’ conference president John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, and conference treasurer Glynn Stone, pastor of Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview. Additionally, two Texas pastors preached sermons during the two-day conference at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis June 12-13.
Byron McWilliams West Texas pastor Byron McWilliams concluded the Monday morning session with a charge to pastors to develop an intentional evangelism strategy for their churches. He shared from his own experience how the Lord has moved mightily
at his church, First Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas, through their intentional e va n g e l i s m efforts. John Meador McWilliams noted the pastor’s resp onsibility to lead out in evangelism, saying, “When the pastor lives Jack Graham the Gospel, God is most glorified, ... God’s church is most fortified, ... God’s servant is most satisfied.” Recognizing the rich evangelistic heritage of the SBC, McWilliams reflected on the current state of Southern Baptist churches and said, “We stink at evangelism ... and it is our (pastors’) fault. It is not the fault of the Southern Baptist Convention’s top leadership; it is not the fault of the people who sit in the pews; ... I am a pastor, and I point the finger at me if I pastor a church that does not
preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” McWilliams told pastors that if they retheir Byron McWilliams new c ommitment to evangelism, it will be a life filled with broken-heartedness over the lost in their community and the world. At the same time, though, it will invigorate their ministry. “You will not find true satisfaction in ministry until the Gospel becomes central in what you do,” McWilliams said. “You will see no evidence of the power of God at work until the Gospel becomes central to what you do. “God has promised His power to further His kingdom through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You want power in your ministry? You make the Gospel first and foremost, and what you’ll see is the power of God will be unleashed in an incredible way.” Jack Graham Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in
Plano, Texas, urged Pastors’ Conference attendees to fulfill their ministry calling, to be faithful, to be fruitful in their efforts, and to finish well. The way to accomplish these tasks is to “do the work of an evangelist,” Graham said. Basing his message from 2 Timothy 4:5-8, Graham offered 10 principle ways to create an evangelistic environment and culture within the local church: evangelism begins with the pastor; an invitational culture should be encouraged and developed within a church; authenticity is critical; the power of the gospel must be trusted; do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ; train believers to share their faith; give a public invitation; baptize believers as often as you can; engage in event evangelism; and participate in mission trips and church planting. “Pastors and people in ministry are called to ... keep showing up and being faithful,” Graham said, emphasizing his point about pastors setting the tone for the evangelistic climate of their churches. “It all starts with us—with our attitude, our
holy ambitions, and the enthusiasm, eagerness and passion to preach the Word and to do the work of an evangelist.” Graham noted evangelism should permeate the atmosphere of a church. The ideology of it is more caught than taught, he said, so a high expectation should be set for church members to be invitational. Additionally, Graham called for petty differences to be put aside when working to share the gospel within a community. “The time is now to come together—to do away with the distractions and divisions, to set aside petty differences—and get on our knees, get together, and get people to Jesus,” he said. When it comes to evangelism being carried out in the local church, Graham exhorted the group: “You gotta finish. Live this! (Evangelism) is our life; it is our legacy. I’m not interested in leaving a legacy; I’m interested in living a legacy and doing what God has called me to do.” —with reporting by Pat Hudson of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
‘We need You, Lord’: Baptists plead for national revival By Baptist Press ST. LOUIS At times they raised their hands. At times they gathered together in groups of two to three. And at times thousands of messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention knelt at their chairs on Tuesday night (June 14) as they pleaded with God to bring national revival and spiritual awakening to America. In one of his final acts as SBC president, Ronnie Floyd led the convention in an evening of prayer during its annual meeting in St. Louis. Throughout the
evening, various pastors from across the country led in times of prayer for spiritual leaders, revived churches, racial reconciliation, and nationwide and global spiritual awakening. At the end of the service, Floyd encouraged every Southern Baptist church to dedicate at least 11 minutes— but preferably the entire service—to pray for America on Sunday, Sept. 11, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He asked that churches pray for the upcoming election and ask God to bring revival to the country.
Pauline Dawkins Cole, member of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., raises her hands in worship during the National Call to Prayer at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention Tuesday, June 14. PHOTO BY MATT MILLER
‘PASS THE SALT’: RACISM CURE RESIDES WITH CHURCH by Diana Chandler Baptist Press ST. LOUIS Racial reconciliation rests at the doorsteps of the church and can only be achieved through the gospel in action, a diverse panel of Baptist pastors said during a trailblazing discussion June 14 on the opening morning of the 2016 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis. Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd convened the panel, historically including National Bap-
tist Convention USA President Jerry Young. The two have collaborated for months to put talk into action and actually achieve racial reconciliation in a racially troubled America. All members of the panel expressed a unity of vision and purpose, describing the church as the Light and Salt of the earth, and the only cure on this side of heaven for racism. Referencing Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:16, Young, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., said racism is
a sin problem that can only be solved by the people God has put in place to offer the healing salvation of the gospel. “The problem in America is a problem with the church being what God called it to be,” Young said. “The problem [is] contaminated salt, concealed light, whereby we do not express the love of Christ nor extend his light. ... Somebody needs to pass the salt and turn on the light.” David Um, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass., and chap-
lain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the smartest people in the world have invented no cure for racism. “The students I encounter at these elite and intellectual institutions are most certainly not racist. Just ask them. They are the enlightened ones,” he said with sarcasm. “They have evolved beyond racial divisions ... or so they assume.” But they are “completely blind to their personal biases and bigotries.”
Um concluded, “You cannot educate away racism because you cannot educate away sin. Sin is the problem. Racism is just another sin.” Floyd described the SBC as the most multi-ethnic and multi-lingual denomination in America, with 10,709 of the 51,441 churches and mission churches holding non-Anglo majority memberships. Of almost 1,000 churches planted in America two years ago, 58 percent were non-Anglo, Floyd said.
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SAGEMONT CHURCH, PASTOR JOHN MORGAN CELEBRATE 50TH ANNIVERSARIES By Keith Collier Managing Editor HOUSTON When pastor John Morgan planted Sagemont Church on June 1, 1966, he never imagined the explosive growth and worldwide impact the church would have. But, over the past 50 years, the church on the southeast side of Houston has grown from 16 to more than 20,000 members and regularly sends hundreds of members each year to share the gospel on short-term international mission trips as well as through mission work in Houston. Reflecting on the congregational and personal milestones, Morgan told the church, “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. On bended knees, we need to take ‘our hats off to the past and our coats off to the future.’ Just keep looking to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. This is certainly not the peak … just a spot to stop on the mountain and look to see what the Lord has done, then keep on until his return.” The congregation celebrated the church’s 50th anniversary and Morgan’s 50th anniversary as pastor June 5 with special worship services in the morning and an outdoor celebration that evening, where 50 people were baptized. The evening festivities also featured carnival games, food trucks, live music
Sagemont Church pastoral staff baptize two young men, June 5. Fifty people were baptized as part of the church’s 50th anniversary celebration. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAGEMONT CHURCH
Sagemont Church pastor John Morgan preaches during the church’s 50th anniversary celebration, June 5. Morgan started the church on June 1, 1966. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAGEMONT CHURCH
from current and past worship leaders and church members, and a fireworks show. During the morning services, the church announced a $650,000 gift to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to establish the John Morgan/ Sagemont Church classroom in the Fort Worth campus’s new Mathena Hall, which will house classrooms and offices for the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions and the College at Southwestern. Morgan and his wife, Bethel, were also presented with several gifts, including large pot-
ted plant arrangements for their home and ranch, a new Mule vehicle for the ranch, and a check for $85,000 from the members of Sagemont. Sagemont has seen more than 18,000 professions of faith in 50 years, averaging more than one person for each day of the church’s existence. One of the hallmark moments of in the church’s history was the decision in 1975 to become debt-free. Since then, the church has built multiple buildings on its 55-acre campus without borrowing any money. The latest construction was a $32 million worship cen-
Evening festivities for Houston’s Sagemont Church’s 50th anniversary celebration included carnival games, food trucks, live music from current and past worship leaders and church members, and a fireworks show. PHOTO
COURTESY OF SAGEMONT CHURCH
ter and adult education building that opened in 2012. As a result of being debt-free, the church
has been able to give more than $44 million to worldwide mission work over the years.
Ready to call it quits, small-church pastor and congregation experience revitalization By Amy Malott TEXAN Correspondent WEATHERFORD Fifteen years into his ministry at Harmony Baptist Church in Weatherford, bi-vocational pastor Lynn Crosslin considered throwing in the towel. However, a renewed emphasis on evangelism and discipleship has revitalized the small community of believers and their pastor. When Crosslin arrived at Harmony 19 years ago, weekly attendance hovered around 15-20 people. The church experienced growth during the first two years of Crosslin’s ministry but struggled to retain people and hit a plateau of about 60-75 regular attenders. “For years we would reach a new family only to later see them move on to a larger church
with more to offer in programming for the whole family,” Crosslin told the TEXAN. Eventually, Crosslin reached out to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for help, which proved a turning point in the life of the church and for Crosslin personally. Evangelism director Nathan Lorick helped him plan a revival for the fall of 2013. At the end of that revival week, Harmony baptized 20 people, sparking a renewed sense of purpose for Crosslin and church members. “On our Annual Church Profile that year we realized that our total was 40 baptisms! While we weren’t able to retain all those we baptized, several are still active,” Crosslin said. That same year, Crosslin and his wife attended their first SBTC annual meeting in San
Antonio. They came back to Harmony “encouraged that what we were doing was the right thing to do.” He purposed to take his youth pastor and wife to the convention in Amarillo the next year. “Being able to experience that convention with our youth pastor and his wife was really a blessing, and I believe [it] brought great benefit to our church that is hard to describe. All I know is that it helped all of us begin to get a clearer picture for what God wanted to do through our church.” In the past year, Harmony has added a part time children’s minister to the staff in order to reach the growing number of families with children and teens. The church also renewed its commitments to discipleship and outreach. In May, they started
three small groups in homes and expect to add more as needed. “The focus of these groups will be on the revitalization sermon series and small group study notes recommended by Kenneth Priest, [SBTC] director of convention strategies,” Crosslin said. “It will be discipleship oriented; focusing on application of the morning sermon, building relationships within the church family, accountability, and fellowship.” Additionally, Harmony has recommitted to personal evangelism by training three teams through the Can We Talk? evangelism strategy. “The challenge before us is to continue knocking on every door in a radius around our church,” Crosslin said. “As to date, we have presented the gospel many times but have yet
to see anyone saved. We still have a lot of work to do to build a better outreach ministry.” Throughout the revitalization process, Crosslin realizes he needed to change just as much as his congregation. His own personal renewal has made him a better pastor, preacher, teacher and leader. “For several years I felt like we were competing with what the larger churches could offer. I no longer feel that way,” Crosslin said. “I believe smaller churches can offer things some larger churches can’t. Harmony has been attracting a variety of people who are looking for a biblically based, friendly, ministryfocused church.” Learn more about church revitalization at sbtexas.com/ church-revitalization.
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CRISWELL COLLEGE CPR PROGRAM TRAINS CHURCH PLANTERS, REVITALIZERS By Stephanie Heading TEXAN Correspondent DALLAS The face of ministry is changing in America as a growing need for revitalizing dying churches and planting new works requires new pastoral skill sets. “Almost 90 percent of church jobs today are either in a church needing revitalization or in a church plant,” according to Aaron Meraz, director of the Church Planting and Revitalization (CPR) Center at Criswell College. To meet this need, Criswell created the Bachelor of Arts in church planting and revitalization in the fall of 2012. “The goal of the CPR major is to prepare students to make disciples resulting in the development of churches,” Meraz said. “With the United States being the third-largest mission field in the world, the CPR major also prepares students for international and domestic missions. With two practicums in the program and field assignments in every course, stu-
dents who complete the CPR major will have at least four semesters of practical experience in church planting and/or church revitalization.” Meraz spent 10 years revitalizing churches and another nine years in church planting before coming to Criswell. Administrators asked him, along with others, to create a curriculum for the CPR major, which was eventually approved. Meraz taught the first two CPR classes in 2012 and became the official program director of the CPR major in fall 2013. Recently, the CPR major celebrated a milestone as the first three students, Tim and Katrina Stone and J.T. Riley, graduated from the fledging program and set out to impact Texas and the world with the gospel. The Stones have served for two years in youth ministry at Stepping Stones Church in McKinney, an SBTC church plant. Upon graduation, Tim was promoted to an associate pastor role, and Stepping Stones plans to send the Stones to plant a church in the next
couple years, Meraz said. “J.T. took his education and planted Providence Baptist Church, which is the first Baptist church in the new township of Providence, Texas. The church is funded [through] SBTC,” Meraz said. Riley believes his work at Criswell enhanced the skills he needed to become a church planter. “Criswell provided me with the tools to proficiently research demographic information on my own, which is critical for a planter to know prior to moving into an area,” Riley said. Riley said the program strengthened his understanding of fundraising strategies, provided him a support network, and challenged him to remember the biblical foundations of church planting, including the importance of prayer. A relationship with Meraz also added to the Riley’s experience at Criswell. “Dr. Aaron Meraz is a man with a sincere passion for the lost. He will personally invest
Criswell College professor Aaron Meraz (left) stands with the school’s first CPR graduates, (left to right) J.T. Riley, Katrina Stone, and Tim Stone. PHOTO PROVIDED BY AARON MERAZ
himself in your life and your work. You can guarantee that he will be praying for you and for the lost you are trying to reach,” Riley said. In addition to the skills he acquired at Criswell, Riley is also grateful for the training, funding and ongoing support from SBTC. “The SBTC has been a priceless resource in regards to prayer and friendships above all else,” Riley said. “The financial support is nice, but without the support of others who have
walked in your shoes, it would be very hard to walk this path. “They also have coaches that are extremely knowledgeable in the work of church planting, and they have a genuine passion for planters, their families and the lost.” For more information about Criswell College’s CPR program, visit their website at criswell.edu/cpr. Learn more about SBTC church planting at sbtexas.com/missions/churchplanting
Jacksonville College graduate seeks to be disciple maker By Kay Adkins TEXAN Correspondent JACKSONVILLE Joe Allen was 5 years old when his family answered a call to serve as missionaries in Brazil to the Hunsrik people, a culture that taught Joe about the importance of family and relationships. The Hunsrik people speak an ancient Germanic dialect that had no written form until the Allens began working with Wycliffe Bible Translators and other groups to translate the Gospel of Luke and 70 Bible stories into print and audio formats. For 12 years, Joe’s parents, Daniel and Teresa Allen, started house churches by making disciples in the Hunsrik community. According to Daniel, he and Teresa never considered Joe and his brother John to be ‘missionary kids.’ “They were missionaries with us,” he said. As early as age 8, Joe and John played guitar accompaniment along with their father during worship services in the homes of Hunsrik people. “In the house churches people would ask questions, and Joe would share insight that God had given him,” Daniel recalled. “We could see then that the Lord’s hand was on him.” By age 14, Joe was leading worship. Though their work with the Hunsrik people continues long
distance and via short-term mission trips, Daniel’s failing health necessitated a return to the states when Joe was 17. They live on a farm in Rusk, Texas, and Daniel serves as the pastor of Tyler St. Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Joe completed high school but was unsure of what to do next until he accompanied a friend to the Jacksonville College campus three weeks prior to the start of the fall 2013 semester. Jacksonville College, the only Christian two-year liberal arts college in Texas, is owned and operated by the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas and has been affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention since 2004. “As soon as I set foot on the campus, I felt God say, ‘You need to be here. You need to go to college,’” Joe said. Able to enroll with a full tuition scholarship, Joe is deeply grateful to the college for the training, encouragement and opportunities he received there. “I got to be in a place that prayed before class and challenged you to grow in your relationship with the Lord. I wasn’t a number but a person— every teacher knows your name,” he said. As a student, Joe reciprocated the caring that he felt from his professors. Academic Dean Marolyn Welch told the TEXAN,
“Joe is always ready to give a word of encouragement. He has prayed for me during difficult times of caring for my father.” Family friend and faculty member David Heflin described Joe as one who invests his time wisely and focuses on doing everything for the glory of God. “He had fun doing Christian skits, acting in talent shows and joking with his friends; but because he cared about people, his conversations would always eventually lead to Jesus,” Heflin said. While at Jacksonville, Joe took on numerous leadership roles, including guitarist and president for the Jacksonville College choir and a leader of the student praise band. He often brought the message in the Wednesday chapel service. Joe also participated in the Jacksonville College Ministerial Alliance—a group of students who sense a call to ministry, support each other and conduct
service projects together in the community. Jacksonville College President Mike Smith told the TEXAN Joe shared the plan of salvation at the alliance’s community-wide Easter egg hunt. Smith has often relied on Joe to represent the college at events like association meetings and SOAR, a youth evangelism conference. “When churches call us and say, ‘We would like to have a student preach or talk about the college,’ I have called on Joe,” Smith said. In Joe’s sophomore year, a spiritual renewal took place on Jacksonville’s campus through which more than 100 decisions were made for Christ. One of those decisions was a young man to whom Joe and his family had ministered in Brazil, a foreign exchange student at Jacksonville College. Joe marveled over God’s timing in reaching his Brazilian friend: “He finished his first year, and then he got saved at the revival.” Though the Allens’ ministry in Brazil seemed to have no impact on the young man or his family, Joe continued, “We saw him come to the Lord four to five years after we left Brazil. Now he is discipling his family in Brazil.” During the college’s time of revival, Joe himself became more deeply committed “to be the next generation to impact
lives and change the world.” Though his musical and speaking gifts provide him with public opportunities, Joe noted that his passion is not to be on a stage but to use that as a platform to work with individuals. Outside of their Jacksonville College roles, Joe and his 19-year-old brother John— “The Allen Brothers”—take their own message to heart by taking their music on the road. They have traveled across Texas filling in as worship leaders and instrumentalists. “While we do this, we are discipling,” Joe said. “We will teach people who maybe could not even play, and sometimes we are able to leave the church with an established praise and worship team. “I want to share what God has done in my life with people—spending time, going to lunch, or passing them in the hall and asking how their day went. That is where disciples are made—taking the time to breathe and invest in people. That’s what Christ did, and I want to do the same.” In May, Joe completed an Associate of Science degree with a 4.0 GPA, graduating summa cum laude from Jacksonville College, with plans to major in music at East Texas Baptist University. His dream is to hear Jesus say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
CHURCH POSITIONS PASTOR u Central BC, Clovis, NM, with a growing membership in a military, agricultural, and transportation based community, has opening for a FT senior pastor. The church has 650+ in church attendance and actively participates in home and foreign missions, sponsors Grief Share, several weekly Bible studies, a food service program, has active youth and children’s ministries, sponsors Upward for the community and has many outreach ministries to the city of Clovis. Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to pastorsearch.central@ gmail.com or 920 CR 13 Clovis, NM. For inquiries call 575-693-7801. u FBC Spurger is seeking a FT senior pastor. FBC is a rural church with an avg worship attendance of 145. Parsonage is included. Please submit resumes to [email protected]
or to FBC Spurger, Attn: Pastor Search Team, PO Box 89, Spurger, TX 77660. u Meadowbrook BC, Rockdale is seeking a FT pastor. Rockdale has a population of 5,500 and is halfway between Austin & Bryan. Must be strictly Southern Baptist and adhere to the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. Resumes accepted through July 31. Mail to Search Committee, P.O. Box 996, Rockdale, TX 76567 or email [email protected]
. u New Colony BC is seeking a FT pastor. Send resume to New Colony Baptist Church, Pastoral Committee, 3086 Hwy 59 N, Linden, TX 75563 or [email protected]
. u FBC Cameron seeks FT senior pastor. Ideal candidate will have prior youth minister or pastor experience. Strong preaching, leadership, communication and people skills. Competitive compensation package with available parsonage. Send resume in confidence to [email protected]
. u FBC Jewett is seeking a FT senior pastor. Send resume to donna.ellis81@ yahoo.com or PO Box 263, Jewett, TX 78546. u FBC Galveston is seeking a FT pastor who holds at least a master’s degree, has at least five years’ FT ministry experience as an associate pastor or senior pastor. For a complete profile, see: fbcgalveston.com/ fbc-galveston-pastor-search. All inquiries and materials should be directed to the Pastor Search Committee by email to [email protected]
. u Eastside BC of New Braunfels is accepting resumes through August 1, 2016, for the position of bi-vocational pastor. Eastside is a small SBC church. Send resume with references to: [email protected]
or Eastside Baptist Church, Attn: Kathy Lehmann, 983 Holly St, New Braunfels, TX 78130. u Eastside BC of McCamey seeks a bivocational or FT pastor. Please consider researching the area prior to submitting a resume. Parsonage and utilities furnished. Please submit a resume to Eastside Baptist Church, PO Box 786, McCamey, TX 79752 or [email protected]
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u Triple C Christ Cowboy Church in Snook is seeking a bi-vocational pastor. Please send resumes to PO Box 471, Snook, TX 77878 or email [email protected]
. u Luella FBC is seeking a bi-vocational pastor. Send resume to Patty Madison, chairman of Pastor Search Committee by email at [email protected]
or mail to 3162 State Hwy 11, Sherman, TX 75090. u FBC Blum seeking bi-vocational pastor. Parsonage included. Send resumes to First Baptist Church, attn: Sam Howard, 207 E 3rd St, Blum, TX 76627. u Lone Oak BC near Snook, TX, 15 miles from Bryan-College Station, TX is seeking a bi-vocational pastor. Parsonage available. Submit resumes to [email protected]
or Pastor Search Committee, PO Box 300, Snook, TX 77878. MUSIC u FBC of Linden, aligned with the SBTC, is seeking a FT minister of worship. Responsibilities include adult choir, praise band, youth choir and praise band, and coordinating children’s graded choirs. Interested individuals may email a resume to [email protected]
, Pastor Jackie Stanfield. u Emmanuel BC in southwest OK is prayerfully searching for a FT worship minister to lead with passion our blended music and worship ministry. Send resumes to EBC, 800 N Forrest, Altus, OK 73521 or email to [email protected]
. u Highland Park BC, Bartlesville, OK, a conservative, reformed Southern Baptist Church, is seeking a FT worship pastor to lead in a blended worship style service. Preferred abilities include choir conducting and media skills. Visit our website at highlandparkbaptist.net. Email resume to: [email protected]
. u FBC New Braunfels is accepting resumes for a FT music minister until July 15. Worship style is updated blended using contemporary instruments, praise team and choir. Responsible for organizing, managing and leading the church’s music ministries. Seminary degree with music emphasis and church ministerial staff experience desired. Send resumes with references and video sample to [email protected]
. u Main Street BC, Grand Saline, is seeking a FT worship leader. Must be able to play instruments, direct choir and move into community. Send resume to David@ churchonmainstreet.com or call Edell Davis at 409-489-5323. u FBC Hico seeks bi-vocational worship leader to oversee choir, worship team, in blended style service. Must have flexible availability. Contact Jim Felty, 254-4850287 or FBC @ 254-796-4238, fbchico@ embarqmail.com. COMBINATION u FBC Uvalde, a Southern Baptist Church, is seeking a FT associate pastor to lead worship in a blended worship style service. This position also includes some pastoral, administrative, and senior adult responsibilities. Visit our website at fbcuvalde.com. Email resume to: [email protected]
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u Connection Church, a growing church plant in Spearfish, SD, has multiple staff openings for combination positions in the areas of worship, small groups, children, youth, college, and administration. For details, please go to: http://spearfishconnection.com/who-weare/paid-positions. For more information, contact 605-559-1020. u Calvary BC, Lufkin, is seeking a bivocational director of music and media, responsible for musical worship, planning blended worship music for Sunday services in collaboration with lead pastor’s sermons, directing choir rehearsal on Wednesday evening, and managing basic media and technology. Please submit resumes to [email protected]
. YOUTH u College BC, Big Spring, is seeking a FT youth minister. Please send resumes to [email protected]
. u FBC of Newton TX is seeking a FT youth pastor. Please contact Pastor Dean Ferguson at 409-379-3381 or email resumes to [email protected]
. u Indiana Ave BC in Lubbock is seeking a FT minister of youth. The qualified candidate will need both education (bachelor’s degree minimum) and experience (at least three years full-time). Over 100 students are waiting for you. Send resumes to [email protected]
. u Kirkwood Church, Houston, is seeking a FT student pastor to work with high school and college students. Contact Pastor David Mai 281-495-7783 or email resume to [email protected]
. u Webb BC in Arlington is searching for a PT youth minister. Located in the heart of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Resumes or questions can be sent to [email protected]
. OTHER u Sabine Neches Baptist Area, www. snbarea.org, is seeking DOM for Southeast Texas area. Our area consists of 100 churches in three associations with the central office located in Kirbyville, Texas. Send resumes through July 31 to DOM Search Committee, P.O. Box 1269 Buna, Texas or delbertmilstead@ sbcglobal.net. u Calvary BC of Pampa is seeking a FT families pastor. Primary responsibility will be pastoring a growing youth department as well as overseeing leadership in children’s ministries. Resumes may be sent to [email protected]
. FBC of Troy is in need of paid nursery workers. Nursery workers need to be at least 18 years of age and available to work on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday evenings and would occasionally be needed for other special occasions. Workers can expect to regularly work 8-9 hours per week. If you or someone you know would be interested in this position, please contact the church office at 254-938-2582 or [email protected]
for an application.
GET TO KNOW OUR SBTC TEAM NAME: TRACEY FINLEY JOB: ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE CHURCH: FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, EULESS
SO, WHAT DO YOU DO AS AN OPERATIONS & FINANCE ASSISTANT? It is my pleasure and blessing to receive all the donations given by our wonderful churches and apply those funds to the ministries of SBTC. Every check that comes into our building, I handle. But it is seeing the effect of these donations to God’s kingdom that is the true blessing and to know that I had a small part in it. HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED FOR THE SBTC? I celebrated my fifth year in February. THE BEST DAY AT THE OFFICE IS WHEN … We will all gather together to pray either at chapel or for any other reason. WHEN PACKING FOR A TRIP, WHAT ITEM MUST YOU ALWAYS BRING ALONG, THAT OTHERS MIGHT FIND SILLY? My kids. But not for long, very soon both will be leaving. My daughter is going to college at Kilgore College in Kilgore, TX and my son has joined the ARMY and will be shipping out to Ft Benning, Georgia. WHAT IS ONE THING YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW BEFORE BEGINNING YOUR JOB AT THE SBTC? That there was a place that I could work with other believers and enjoy their sweet communion while I made a living for my family. ON A WEEKEND AWAY FROM WORK, WHAT DO YOU MOST LIKE TO DO? Wake up early on a fair weather day and go outside to enjoy the quiet of the morning with my Lord.
PAID CLASSIFIEDS u CAREER OPPORTUNITY Immediate earning potential. Be part of the rapidly growing precious metals industry. Free training and ongoing support. Work from home. Rapidly growing international company. 888-644-4408. Call NOW! u CUSTOM SCREEN-PRINTED T-SHIRTS FOR CHURCHES Great prices and free shipping across the state! Small and large orders welcome. Printed by Christian owned and operated business. Call Southeast Texas Printing Co. 409622-2197.
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Struggling church keeps missions, CP focus By Karen L. Willoughby Baptist Press FORT ASHBY, W.Va. In a small country town where everybody knows everybody, word spread quickly that the Baptist church was without a pastor. But three years later, the news in Fort Ashby, W. Va., wasn’t news anymore. Even during its lengthy search for a pastor and with few people in the pews, First Baptist Church of Fort Ashby continued to send 12 percent of its undesignated offerings each month to missions through the Cooperative Program—the Southern Baptist Convention’s unified channel of support for missions and ministry—to fulfill the Great Commission. An additional 3 percent goes to the Potomac Highland Baptist Association.
Lisa Wagoner, a member of the church for 30 years, described the church’s giving as vital. “We would never decrease our giving David Duckworth unless the church was so far gone that no one was left,” Wagoner told Baptist Press. “We do live by the fact that the Lord blesses us for giving. … God will continue to bless us as long as we’re giving, and giving in the right areas.” The church that in 1994 counted 71 people in Sunday morning worship dipped to 15 members before unanimously calling David Duckworth as pastor in August 2015. Bi-vocational, he owns Duckworth Insurance Services in nearby Winchester, Va.
First Baptist Church in Fort Ashby, W. Va., continued to give 12 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program during its three years without a pastor. BP PHOTO
“I grew up in the area,” Duckworth said. “I’m home.” The 15 who called Duckworth included a “lovely young couple” who joined even without a pastor because they “felt the love and felt that was where they belonged,” Wagoner said. That love had reignited after the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists sent two men to help the church while it was struggling to find a pastor. The men led the church to envision what God wanted from them, which led to the vision statement, “To glorify God by winning souls through the preaching and teaching of God’s word and loving others.” A new pastor search committee was formed, and about the same time, the church restarted its midweek prayer service. “We wanted to make sure everyone was praying and listening to what God wanted for our church,” Wagoner said. “We prayed, ‘If this is your will for this church to continue, show us what we need to do.’“ With 20 years of ministry experience, Duckworth applied to pastor the church in the town he had visited on a mission trip about 12 years earlier during a pastorate in Virginia. “That drew me back to the area,” he said from his current home in Winchester, Va., an hour east of Fort Ashby. “I got the people back in my heart again.” He was shocked to hear of the church’s need for a pastor, said Duckworth, who had often looked at the state convention’s website but hadn’t known of the need.
“I had felt called to the area for many years,” he said. “I knew the church and knew what God could do at Fort Ashby. They got a new vision, and that’s when everything started to turn around,” Duckworth said. “We’re running close to 40 in worship now, and we have eight new members, brand-new people who have never been in church before, and a lot of returning members. “We’re waiting for the floodgates to open,” he said. “There’s a new energy level. It’s definitely a God-thing. … The Cooperative Program is a part of what’s going on. They recognize the benefit of it. We’re greater together.” Members are involved in a variety of community ministries in Fort Ashby, from the fire department to the food bank, but the church is most known for prayer, Duckworth said. “It’s amazing how the community calls us for prayer,” the pastor said. “They know we’re a praying church. We’re always looking out for other people.” “Us being small has a lot of advantages,” Wagoner said of the town of about 3,000 people. “We get to know each other better. We know the needs of the congregation and the community.” The biggest issue in Fort Ashby is heroin use, Duckworth said. Baltimore, known as the heroin capital of the nation, is just 150 miles east of the community, and a typical “There’s an epidemic of heroin use in the area,” Duckworth said. “We’ve had more than enough of that in the 10 months I’ve been here. … It’s heartbreaking. Kids, young kids, have easy access to drugs as do teenagers and adults. Even those who don’t use are affected by it. “What I realize is that anybody could fall into that trap,” he said. “There but for the grace of God go you and I. The only way to combat it is Christ. Galatians 5:6 ‘… what matters is faith working through love.’ I really think that’s the essence of who we ought to be.” The church has a family life center—built 13 years ago and mostly unused—that Duckworth wants to utilize as a gathering place for children, teens and adults. “I’m hoping we can use that resource but the only way it will work is if we do so expressing our faith through love. … We need to change our mind, the way we think, the way we feel,” Duckworth said. “Maybe it’s a matter of us allowing God to love us more. The activation of our love comes as we allow him to love us more, and then we can love more too.”
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SOUTHWESTERN ANNOUNCES NEW CERTIFICATE PROGRAM FOR PROFESSIONALS By Alex Sibley SWBTS FORT WORTH Just because one is a professional in the business world does not mean one cannot serve the kingdom of God. Such a mentality is the driving force behind Southwestern Seminary’s new Professional Missions Certificate, a 20- to 21-hour program designed for professionals outside the world of vocational ministry but who nevertheless feel called to advance the work of Christ on the mission field. Southwestern has been approached by a number of medical professionals over the years inquiring about a certificate program or degree that would prepare them specifically for assisting in church planting efforts while involved in medical missions. As Southwestern administrators discussed this need, the vision expanded to include business and perhaps other professionals as well. The professional missions certificate is the result of these discussions. According to Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern, the
“WHILE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVIDE A THOROUGH GROUNDING IN BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL STUDIES THROUGH A SHORT CERTIFICATE PROGRAM, WE BELIEVE THAT THE PROFESSIONAL MISSIONS CERTIFICATE WILL GIVE THE TRAINED PROFESSIONAL A BASIC FOUNDATION FOR ASSISTING CAREER MISSIONARIES IN THE WORK OF INTERNATIONAL CHURCH PLANTING.” —CRAIG BLAISING, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND PROVOST AT SOUTHWESTERN A medical missionary performs dental work. Southwestern Seminary’s new Professional Missions Certificate equips professionals with theological education to engage in missions through their vocation. SWBTS PHOTO
professional envisioned by this program already has a graduate degree (such as a Doctor of Medicine or Master of Business Administration) and is seeking to serve in the field of his/her training—such as medical missions or international business—as a platform to assist in mission work. Such a person would not be seeking to lead the work of church planting but to assist that work from his/her service position.
The certificate curriculum provides three hours of study each in Old Testament, New Testament, biblical hermeneutics and systematic theology. It also includes “Introduction to Missiology” and a specialized course connecting the professional’s training to missions, as well as practicum training in missions. “While it is impossible to provide a thorough grounding in biblical and theological studies through a short certificate program, we be-
lieve that the professional missions certificate will give the trained professional a basic foundation for assisting career missionaries in the work of international church planting,” Blaising said. “It will also be a foundation upon which the professional can build a program of further studies (whether residential or online while in the field) toward one of Southwestern’s master’s degrees.”
Each of these courses would count toward higher degrees at Southwestern (such as the Master of Theological Studies or Master of Arts in Missiology) should professionals choose to continue their education. Also, the curriculum meets the International Mission Board’s seminary requirements for those deployed as apprentice workers with the IMB and can support IMB President David Platt’s vision for “limitless pathways” for missions.
German preachers conference welcomes 1,000 European church leaders By Alex Sibley SWBTS LEMGO, Germany More than 1,000 pastors and lay preachers assembled for the fifth biennial Preachers Conference in Lemgo, Germany, May 25-28. Heinrich Derksen, president of Southwestern Seminary’s partner seminary Bibelseminar Bonn (BSB) in Bonn, Germany, served as one of the conference’s hosts alongside Southwestern, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Forum of Evangelical Free Churches, an organization comprising roughly 100 Russian German Baptist and Mennonite churches. These various parties united under the motto, “Preach the Word … the ONE Gospel for the whole world.” The conference aimed to strengthen lay preachers and pastors in their ministries through solid, faithful teaching as well as fellowship and spiritual encouragement. “Our hearts are burdened with assisting both full-time and lay ministers as they seek to better understand the Word of God, to develop their gifts
More than 1,000 European pastors gather for the fifth biennial Preachers Conference in Lemgo, Germany. SWBTS PHOTO
and abilities, and to serve God in their communities, churches and around the world,” Derksen wrote on BSB’s website. The idea for the conference originated in 2007 when Southwestern President Paige Patterson suggested to Pastor Nikolai Reimer (whose church hosted the conference this year) that a meeting be held for pastors and lay preachers in Europe. A preachers conference has been held every two years since then, and many European countries have been
represented on each occasion. Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee; Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas; and Patterson all spoke at the conference as representatives of the Southern Baptist Convention. During an interview with Walter Risto, pastor of a growing evangelical church in Germany and a Southwestern graduate, each of the SBC leaders expressed his excitement and gratitude regarding what God is doing through the Rus-
sian-German churches and the partnership between Southwestern and BSB. “Sharing Christ personally and as a church is key,” Page told pastors. “I am here because ‘Ich liebe Deutschland.’ (translated, ‘I love Germany.’)” Acknowledging the difficulties that believers often face as they engage culture with the gospel, Jeffress said, “It is worth it to stand up for God’s Word in a growing opposition culture because it’s about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Building on this theme, Patterson preached a sermon on the Holy Spirit, explaining that the Spirit provides the strength and wisdom necessary for evangelism. Noting the vast experience Patterson and his wife, First Lady Dorothy Patterson, have in evangelizing the lost, Andy Wiebe, student dean and lecturer at BSB, said, “Dr. Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, are a living testimony of what the Holy Spirit will do if Christians are willing to be used by him.” Wiebe said BSB students consistently share Christ on market squares in Cologne and Bonn. In addition to “great” evangelistic conversations and prayers, students have also handed out several hundred Bibles. Such acts, as well as the preachers conference itself, all serve BSB’s purpose of impacting their region with the gospel. “Because we believe that God has placed us in a unique and strategic place in central Europe,” Derksen said, “we want to faithfully fulfill our role in reaching this part of the world with the good news of Jesus Christ.”