News Articles – Baptist Press Great Commission News for a Great Commission People Sat, 07 May 2022 20:03:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 News Articles | Baptist Press 32 32 SATF releases final update before report Sat, 07 May 2022 17:42:35 +0000 NASHVILLE (BP) – The SBC Sex Abuse Task Force issued the fifth update on its work with Guidepost Solutions in the investigation of the SBC Executive Committee’s (EC) alleged mishandling of sex abuse claims. The group said it would be its last update before Guidepost’s full report is made public in mid-May.]]>

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a response from Jack Graham’s office.

NASHVILLE (BP) – The SBC Sex Abuse Task Force issued the fifth update on its work with Guidepost Solutions in the investigation of the SBC Executive Committee’s (EC) alleged mishandling of sex abuse claims. The group said it would be its last update before Guidepost’s full report is made public in mid-May.

“Pursuant to the Messenger’s Motion, Guidepost must submit its report to the Task Force no later than 30-days prior to the SBC Convention in Anaheim, which begins on June 14, 2022. Thus, the report is due to the Task Force on May 15, 2022,” the update said. It did not provide a date for public release.

Guidepost and the task force say they will release the factual portion of the report to the Committee on Cooperation (CoC) on May 10.

“Guidepost will not provide its observations or conclusions to the CoC, but strictly the factual portion so that any inadvertent errors (e.g., titles, dates) can be corrected,” the task force reported.

In the update, the group reported 313 interviews had been completed by Guidepost, with some individuals being interviewed multiple times. One interview is still to be conducted.

There were 31 witnesses contacted who, according to Guidepost, declined to participate, and investigators found that 24 potential witnesses were deceased.

The list of potential witnesses was composed of the more than 80 members of the SBC EC who serve annually over a period of 21 years, current and former EC staff members, and SBC officers and entity heads between Jan. 1, 2000, and June 14, 2021.

The report listed several prominent names in Southern Baptist life who chose not to be interviewed by the task force:

  • Judge Paul Pressler due to health concerns
  • Paige Patterson “declined through attorney and stated he had no recollection of the subject of sexual abuse coming up during the last six months of his presidency that falls under the scope of the investigation”
  • Jack Graham “offered full access to presidential papers as participation; after Guidepost confirmed we already had access and requested an interview at his convenience, received no response to that request”

In a correspondence shared with Baptist Press, Graham’s office responded to a Guidepost email by saying, “Given that his presidency was twenty years ago, we’re also not sure how helpful an in-person interview would be in the first place.”

Messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting called for President Ed Litton to name the task force to secure a firm to conduct the independent third-party investigation of the EC.

‘Exalt the Lord,’ Rolland Slade exhorts on 2022 National Day of Prayer Fri, 06 May 2022 20:40:13 +0000 WASHINGTON (BP) – As America observed National Day of Prayer May 5, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Chairman Rolland Slade exalted church and community leaders in San Diego at one of tens of thousands of local prayer events across the U.S.]]>

WASHINGTON (BP) – As America observed National Day of Prayer May 5, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Chairman Rolland Slade exalted church and community leaders in San Diego at one of tens of thousands of local prayer events across the U.S.

“In my keynote address, I encouraged believers to ‘Exalt the Lord’ wherever they were, because He established them there,” Slade, Pastor of Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon, Calif., told Baptist Press. “That includes not only praying for the seven pillars, (but also) for the believers within those sectors to step forward, letting their faith be known.”

San Diego Downtown Fellowship of Churches and Ministries sponsored the event at First Presbyterian Church, with church leaders and government leaders praying for the nation.

It was one of tens of thousands of prayer meetings held at churches, businesses and government centers in advance of the National Day of Prayer broadcast at 8 p.m. Eastern from the Museum of the Bible in Washington.

National Day of Prayer President Kathy Branzell moderated the nearly two-hour event with targeted prayers, worship and exhortation. Branzell led viewers in praying the official 2022 national prayer crafted for widespread use.

“Hopefully you’ve already prayed this prayer today,” Branzell said. “There’s power in agreeing prayer.”

Southern Baptists hosting local events included First Baptist Church of Barefoot Bay, Fla., Winter Garden First Baptist Church in Winter Garden, Fla., Lakeside Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., First Baptist Church of Dyersburg, Tenn., and Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., among numerous others.

Many Southern Baptists participated in the national event.

“It is through prayer that we offer our praise,” Prestonwood Baptist Church Senior Pastor Jack Graham of Dallas said in advance of his prayer. “There’s no substitute to praying in the power of God’s Spirit in the name of the Lord Jesus to our great God.”

Ed Young, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, prayed for revival.

“Revival takes place … in times of desperation,” Young said. “Everywhere you turn on the globe, I see and feel desperation, and that’s what happens when God begins to do a work in the lives of people, individuals, in churches, and therefore a moment of desperation. Then we pray that God begins, I pray, to bring many people to Jesus Christ, and to begin to heal our land and our world.”

AnGel Ministries Founder Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham, compared prayer to the vital act of breathing in sharing what prayer means to her.

“What breathing is to me physically, prayer is to me spiritually. Without prayer, I don’t have spiritual life,” she said. “The first perhaps and most important aspect of prayer is it’s based on a personal relationship, because God can answer any prayer He chooses. He can hear any prayer He chooses … But you’re only guaranteed access into His kingdom, you’re only guaranteed His full attention, you’re only guaranteed an answer from Him when you come to Him based on a personal relationship.”

The combined choirs of First Baptist Church of Atlanta and First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., offered praise, among others.

Music artists Chris Tomlin, Lacrae and Matthew West were among the many participants in the multidenominational Christian event featuring many speakers and pastors.

Branzell prayed for Christians in Ukraine and Russia.

“We pray Lord that You would be the defender for the people in Ukraine, Lord that as the Prince of Peace, that You would bring peace throughout that region, that you would heal their land Lord, that you would draw men and women to you.”

“Exalt the Lord who has established us,” was the event theme, based on Colossians 2:6-7.

The broadcast, which promoters said was accessible by as many as 300 million households, is viewable here, and was carried on DayStar Television, GovTV, CBN, CTN, NRB-TV, Revelation TV, Bott Radio, Faith Radio, Salem Radio, Mars Hill Network, American Family Radio and K-Love Radio.

National Day of Pray is a government-recognized observance held annually on the first Thursday in May.

Angola inmate pastor granted parole Fri, 06 May 2022 20:30:28 +0000 ANGOLA, La. (LBM) – Robert Hyde, the immediate past pastor of Grace Baptist Church in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, is now a free man after being granted parole a few weeks ago.]]>

ANGOLA, La. (LBM) – Robert Hyde, the immediate past pastor of Grace Baptist Church in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, is now a free man after being granted parole a few weeks ago.

Hyde, who from 2019-2021 pastored what is believed to be the first fully recognized Southern Baptist church inside the walls of a prison, learned of his verdict by the parole board on March 29 was freed the following day. The first person he met when he stepped outside the front gate of Angola was Paul Will, a long-time mentor and also a former pastor of Grace Baptist (2006-2019) who was granted parole in 2020.

“I never really knew what friendship was until I came into Christian fellowship with Paul and the others at Grace Baptist,” Hyde told the Baptist Message. “I never knew what Christian brotherhood was like until Paul and I became brothers. We hit it off and have had a really good relationship since.

“Seeing his smiling face at the gate goes beyond words I can describe,” he continued. “My story of life change began with Jesus and then Paul was willing to be a part of that story as he spent a lot of time with me and helped disciple me. We leaned on each other for a lot while at Angola and I look forward to continuing the good work now that I am free like him.”

Hyde grew up in a home in Baton Rouge with an abusive step-father. The domestic violence led to his mother’s death from a gunshot wound. He then went to live with his grandfather, whose aloof attitude left Hyde with no parental leadership. This led to a life of drugs, alcohol, the occult and eventually, when Hyde was 28, a homicide in 2001 of another man at a party.

While in Richland Parish Detention Center in Rayville, the Holy Spirit brought him under conviction, and in his cell Hyde turned to Christ.

“Because of my domestic violence history I realized I had become the very thing I hated: a violent man,” Hyde said. “It broke my heart. I was completely ashamed and at the end of my rope.

“It was right there I felt the voice of the Lord and I then asked the librarian to bring me a Bible where I read in Proverbs 5 where God, via Solomon, calls out to His sons. I had never heard anyone call me ‘son’ in the house I grew up in. The Holy Spirit let me know I had a father and was a son. Right there I wept like a baby and learned who Jesus was. I was ashamed of who I had become but I knew I was forgiven. I knew the atonement didn’t just apply to me at the moment of conversion, but that I had to stand and walk in the cross and be the man the Lord wanted me to be.”

Two years later, Hyde was given a 35-year sentence for manslaughter and was transferred to the Louisiana Department of Corrections. At Winn and Dixon correctional centers, Hyde began to lead Bible studies and eventually learned of an opportunity to transfer to Angola where he began classes at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Extension in 2012.

Hyde earned associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees at NOBTS’s Extension, and was ordained by Grace Baptist Church in 2017. In 2015, he was called to be the associate pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Angola. Not long after, Washington Baptist Association unanimously voted to accept the congregation into its fellowship in October 2015. Hyde served in that role until 2019, when he succeeded Will as pastor.

“I met Jesus in that cell in Rayville, but Angola is when things really changed,” he said. “For the first time in my life I learned what real ministry was and quickly latched onto Baptist church. I was extraordinarily impressed with the involvement and mission of the Southern Baptist churches and their investment in prisoners like me.”

Hyde spent the final two years of his time in Angola helping to establish a Christian-based substance abuse recovery program. Using the Celebrate Recovery model, Hyde saw 150 inmates turn from an addiction to drugs to a changed life with Jesus. First Baptist Church, Saint Francisville and the Washington Baptist Association provided the materials but the inmates have paid for other costs, like uniforms for mentors and a sound system.

“It’s 100 percent because of Jesus,” Hyde said. “We tell everybody before they come in that this isn’t us but the Lord delivering people from this mess.”

Hyde spent his first Sunday of freedom in worship at Jefferson Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, where he now is a member. Once he completes several weeks of reentry classes at the Louisiana Parole Project (a nonprofit organization that helps former convicts that served long sentences reenter society), he will begin work as an HVAC repairman and also hopes to work part time at churches in the Baton Rouge area.

“I feel this absolute joy now that I finally have paid a debt I owed to the Lord and the community I hurt,” Hyde said. “It felt like coming from under a thousand pounds of debt and being able to breathe. I feel free, loved and supported especially by brothers who helped me in all those years of prison. I want to thank everyone in the Baptist world for everything they have done and continue to do for me as I transition to this life of freedom.”

SBC presidential candidates discuss CRT, financial transparency in forum Fri, 06 May 2022 20:15:09 +0000 KELLER, Texas (BP) – Critical Race Theory and financial transparency were among topics addressed by the three known candidates to be nominated at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim. The candidates participated in a forum hosted by FBC Keller on May 4 and moderated by Joe Wooddell, a member of FBC Keller, and Tony Richmond, FBC Keller associate pastor.]]>

KELLER, Texas (BP) – Critical Race Theory and financial transparency were among topics addressed by the three known candidates to be nominated at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim. The candidates participated in a forum hosted by FBC Keller on May 4 and moderated by Joe Wooddell, a member of FBC Keller, and Tony Richmond, FBC Keller associate pastor.

Tom Ascol, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla.; Bart Barber, senior pastor of FBC Farmersville, Texas; and Robin Hadaway, senior professor of missions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, retired IMB missionary and former pastor, comprise the current slate of men to be nominated in Anaheim.

What is Critical Race Theory (CRT)? Is it manifesting in churches and the SBC? What should the SBC president do about it?

“So, all you have to know about CRT to be ready to walk away from it is that it proposes some ideas of what justice is that are at odds with the Judeo-Christian idea of justice that’s been passed down into American jurisprudence.” Barber said, adding that he believes many Southern Baptists struggle to understand what it is.

“I don’t think we have to espouse secular ideologies just to be kind and welcoming to churches that are on the fringe in the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said. “I think we ought to work to try to build our fellowship stronger and stronger and to invite more and more people to come to be a part of this great family of churches. I think that’s the president’s role in helping to show the difference between CRT and just not being a jerk or just not caring about people who on the fringe, but trying to bring people in.”

In a follow up question, Ascol asked Barber if he thinks “that it’s possible that those folks who are saying, ‘No, we don’t believe in CRT,’ really don’t think they are, but could have well imbibed the ideas of CRT just as being a part of this culture where it is so preeminent?”

Barber pointed back to the need for a clear definition of CRT. “I think we ought to talk to each other in such a way that we’re only ready to start debating something when we can say what the other person’s viewpoint is so well that they say, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I believe.’ Then we’re ready to have those conversations. So it’s best, I think, to talk about the issues, issue by issue, before we’re just tossing labels around.”

Ascol spoke next and offered a definition of CRT.

“CRT is an offshoot of neo-Marxism, postmodernism and a theory that came out of a critical legal theory. And it basically says that all racial relationships should be viewed in terms of power dynamics and that some are inevitably oppressed and others are inevitably the oppressors.”

He said it is in opposition to biblical theology, “And so it takes the idea of sin partiality from the Bible and redefines it in ways that are completely unbiblical.”

Ascol also blamed the 2019 SBC Resolutions Committee for the discussion in current SBC life. “… [T]his wouldn’t even have been a conversation among us if the Resolutions Committee in 2019 rewritten a resolution that was submitted to renounce critical race theory and intersectionality. They rewrote it to affirm critical race theory and intersectionality and then we were told, ‘No, they’re just good analytical tools.’ And that was a disaster for the SBC and it was tragic that it happened.”

Ascol alluded to three examples of SBC seminary professors who had spoken or written about CRT or LGBTQ issues in ways that he alleged were in violation of biblical doctrine.

“We have boundaries and the Baptist Faith and Message certainly points out our doctoral boundaries, but I do believe just like we saw in the Conservative Resurgence, there are a lot of people were saying, ‘Oh, we believe the Bible. We believe the Bible.’ They’re not thinking as rigorously as they need to be thinking about exactly what does the Bible say? And so that’s part of my concern with this. I’m grieved over what I see happening. I don’t, it’s not a matter of partisanship with me, it’s a matter of deep conviction that we must change the direction right now.”

Barber asked Ascol, “Haven’t all of those people come back and said, ‘Hey, that’s not really accurately representing what I think and what I believe’? “What are we supposed to do when other people ask for that right [to clarify their statements]?”

Ascol responded, “Well, and I would be delighted for that, but the clarifications have not clarified.”

Hadaway said, “Critical Race Theory does view everything by race. … CRT is the cultural problem of the day, but we have to be careful that we aren’t seen as unsympathetic to the problem of racism in the United States and everywhere in the world.”

What should the Credentials Committee actually be doing? Are they working outside the scope of what they should be doing? What is their function if a church is operating outside the BF&M?

Calling the work of the committee a massive task, Ascol said that the responsibilities of the committee need to be investigated so their work can be better accomplished.

Ascol claimed to have submitted several churches to the Credentials Committee and said he never heard back. “I don’t know if they investigated them or what they did or what the disposition is,” he said. “That’s one thing that needs to change because if there’s something that is risen to the level of actually making a report and asking for an investigation, I think that the church that makes that request deserves the courtesy of a reply to let them know the disposition of that request.”

He said he feels sorry for the members of the committee because “they have a task that is unmanageable given our structure.”

He believes repairing the system will require some of the SBC’s top thinkers.

“I think what we’re going to need is some of our best theological minds to come together and to think through, ‘OK, here’s, here’s what we can do, given our polity, that we are fully convinced is biblical and here’s some history examples, from like the Philadelphia Association, how they did things very much like this. How can we now structure in our day a task force or a committee that will be able to do these things and give them the tools to do these things that need to be done in a convention of churches of 47,000-plus,” he said.

In 2019, Messengers voted to amend the SBC’s bylaws to repurpose the SBC’s Credentials Committee into a standing committee to make inquiries and recommendations for action regarding instances of sexual abuse, racism or other issues that call a church’s relationship with the SBC into question. The work handled by the previous Credentials Committee, on which Hadaway served in 2000, is now handled by the Registration Committee.

Barber pointed to a system that worked well in the past because local associations did more of the work: “… local associations were the ones who leaned into screening credentials. Every local association had a Credentials Committee like they should today,” he said, adding that the number of churches and growing “laundry list” of social concerns makes the work unmanageable for a Credentials Committee at a national level.

“It will work so much better if you go to your local association saying, ‘We need our Credentials Committee to be vibrant and active and doing the right thing there,” he said. “Your state convention will rise up and call you blessed if you do that. And the national convention will be so much healthier.”

Barber said associational credentials committees began to wane during the Conservative Resurgence. “The backbone of the local association needs to be restored so that we’re not trying to do this at the national level.”

Is there work to do related to the financial disclosures of SBC entities?

Ascol was the first to answer saying he believes there is much to do in this area. He called for forensic audits to be performed by the entities because trust has been broken and alleged crimes may have been committed.

“This would be an audit that is designed to look at the laws, the SEC, the state laws, local laws, federal laws, making sure those practices financially have been in accordance with the laws,” he said. “If there’s any discrepancies and what’s reported or what’s on the books and what is discovered, those discrepancies are investigated. And so, a forensic audit could well discover that crimes have been committed. And if so, they can be rectified. I mean, that doesn’t mean that somebody has to go to jail. Maybe there just needs to be some money paid back or something, but it is an audit that is done with very serious potential consequences if there’s been shady things going on.”

Barber said he said he does not believe trust is broken to the degree Ascol says.

“I want to affirm the idea that our trustees need to be trained better than they are,” Barber said, adding that while trustees receive an orientation by the entity they serve, “I think there needs to be independent instruction about baseline standards of what’s best to do as a trustee in order to hold these institutions to account.”

Pointing to increased giving to the Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, he said, “I really don’t know how much trust has been broken.”

Barber said the ultimate power to call for accountability is in the hands of the messengers.

“I think the trustees are the first place to be holding the institutions accountable for all of those things.,” he said, “But I think it’s the messenger body’s right, just as they did with sex abuse. It’s the messenger body’s right to call for any kind of financial transparency that they want for any of the entities and if the messenger body asks for a forensic audit, it’ll happen.”

Hadaway agreed that an entity’s trustees are the primary source of accountability, saying “you can trust what they do.”

“Most, if not all of the entities” have an annual audit of their finances, he said.

Based on his work at Midwestern Seminary, Hadaway said the most expensive audit an organization can have is a forensic audit. He doesn’t believe they are needed by any of the entities.

“I will respectfully disagree with Bro. Tom,” Hadaway said. “I don’t think we need that [a forensic audit]. When there is an egregious case that comes out … I think that can be handled by letters to the trustees.”

Candidates were given time to make opening and closing statements. They were asked about work of the Sexual Abuse Task Force and how churches can cooperate together.

The candidates were not asked about their views of women in leadership positions in the local church or in the SBC.

Full video of the forum is below.

FIRST-PERSON: The Supreme Court, human life and the way of Christ Fri, 06 May 2022 20:13:49 +0000 ATLANTA (BP) – In December of 2010, my wife Paige and I learned that we were having a baby and I was so excited! We told our families, and it being around Christmastime, Paige’s mom even bought a small toy as a Christmas present for our new child. Now, there is a general rule that […]]]>

ATLANTA (BP) – In December of 2010, my wife Paige and I learned that we were having a baby and I was so excited! We told our families, and it being around Christmastime, Paige’s mom even bought a small toy as a Christmas present for our new child. Now, there is a general rule that you aren’t supposed to widely reveal a pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, but I couldn’t help myself, and so at the end of the last worship service of the year in 2010, I broke the good news to our whole congregation; we were going to be welcoming a child into the world and we were so happy.

A few weeks after that announcement (about eight or nine weeks into the pregnancy), Paige and I went to an ultrasound appointment where we learned we had lost the baby. The baby was no more than a few weeks old at that point, and we were saddened and shocked, but there was so much support from our community and so many people shared stories of miscarriages with us that we quickly moved on and got back to the regular rhythm of our lives. A few months later, we were able to get pregnant with my daughter who is now 10 years old, and it felt very much like that first pregnancy was in the distant past.

One day, years later, I was in our attic looking for something in a box when I came across that little toy that Paige’s mother had given us back in December of 2010. As soon as I saw it, I broke down crying and stayed in the attic weeping over this unborn child for almost an hour. I was kind of surprised at my reaction. Why was I so sad? Why had this hit me so hard? As I have reflected on this, I came to realize that I was finally mourning the real loss of a life. A real person that would have been growing up and running around was gone.

I think about this when I think about the abortion debate that has raged in our country now for more than 50 years. While Christians should care deeply about the healthcare of women, this is not really a debate of health care. It’s a debate about the natural conception of human life and whether we are committed as a society to protecting that life or destroying it. Many proponents of abortion in America have tried to talk about unborn human beings as “fetal tissue,” but both science and human experience tell us that we are talking about a human being, a person – a life. And it’s these people that are truly the most vulnerable among us.

The more I have gotten to know the ministry of Jesus, the more I have become acutely aware of his focus on the poor, the oppressed, the needy and the children. The heart of Jesus is toward the vulnerable, and the more we care for the vulnerable, the more we are like Christ. When Christians identify with those who are weak, when we humble ourselves toward the person that can’t really do anything for us in return, we are like Jesus who humbled himself for sinful people like us even to the point of death on a cross.

It appears that this week our country took a great step forward in defending the most vulnerable among us, the children that are still in their mother’s womb. While the Dobbs decision won’t stop all or even most abortions in the United States, it will give Christians an important tool as we work to protect and care for the most precious and needy lives among us. Christians have not only been committed to this because of the example of Christ, but also because of the Imago Dei, the image of God in every human life. Because of this, it brings honor to God when we treat every human with dignity and honor.

It looks as if the Dobbs decision will be a great step forward in defending the dignity of human life and caring for the most vulnerable among us, but the work for Christians has just begun. Practically, this means that Christians must be even more committed to adoption, foster care and alleviating poverty. Christians must be committed to creating stable housing solutions, providing pathways for education and jobs training, and we must be committed to providing better healthcare to all. Now, there are a lot of pathways to achieve these goals, from Christian nonprofit work, to church engagement, to supporting government programs. Being “pro-life” is a commitment to all of life, to honor and give dignity to every life from conception even through death. As a Christian pastor, I am hopeful that this will be a defining moment for the Christian church. I am prayerful that this will show honor to the image of God in every human life, and that we will look out for the most vulnerable among us in the way of Christ.

Jason Dees is pastor of Christ Covenant in Atlanta. This article appeared in The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Longtime Southern Baptist student ministry leader Dave Paxton dies in motorcycle crash Fri, 06 May 2022 18:24:42 +0000 ORANGE PARK, Fla. (BP) – Dave Paxton, a student ministry veteran who served in several Southern Baptist churches, died May 3 after his motorcycle collided with a logging truck in Warren County, Miss., southeast of Vicksburg.]]>

ORANGE PARK, Fla. (BP) – Dave Paxton, a student ministry veteran who served in several Southern Baptist churches, died May 3 after his motorcycle collided with a logging truck in Warren County, Miss., southeast of Vicksburg.

At the time of his death, the 69-year-old Paxton was a member at First Baptist Church in Orange Park, Fla. He retired in October from his position as Generations pastor with the congregation, a role he had filled for two years that oversaw ministries from pre-K through college. In the six years prior to that, he had been the church’s student minister.

Dave Paxton – here speaking at a junior high school Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting – remained active with students throughout his career. Photo from First Baptist Orange Park

“Dave Paxton is one of the great student pastors in SBC history,” said David Tarkington, pastor of First Orange Park. “I don’t say that flippantly. He impacted thousands of teenagers for decades while serving in churches in Tennessee, Texas and Florida. His legacy remains in the lives of the ones he ministered to and with.”

In retirement Paxton remained an active lay leader at First Baptist while keeping a busy schedule filling pulpits as needed. In recent years he had preached once a month for a Vietnamese congregation with the assistance of an interpreter while discipling its students.

Nearly two decades ago Tarkington was working at Super Summer, the Florida Baptist Convention’s youth camp, as student minister at First Orange Park when he met Paxton, then the student minister at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola. They would go on to serve together on a state-wide youth pastors council.

“I remember seeing and hearing all that Dave was doing and realized right then that this was the most creative youth pastor I had ever met,” Tarkington told BP.

In 1992 Paxton became the first staff member Pastor Ted Traylor hired at Olive Baptist, where Paxton served as minister to youth for 15 years. Along the way he built a landmark student ministry while growing as a mentor for his younger peers.

“One of the first things he told me is, ‘Pastor, I’m a lifer when it comes to youth ministry,’” Traylor said. “I’ve got a call on my life to do this.

“He loved kids, especially those who came from a broken situation in their family or home. Over and over, I’ve had people tell me ‘Dave was there when I needed a touch from a father that I didn’t have.”

Traylor was in a staff meeting Tuesday when he received the call from Tarkington.

“I have two children who grew up in Dave’s ministry,” he said. “In many ways he and his wife, Sharon, were like surrogate parents to my kids. He was one year older than I am and a dear friend.”

Many of the students from Paxton’s time at Olive are now adults with teens of their own. Recollections of the impact from his discipleship flooded into the church’s office once news of his death became known. Those who answered the call to ministry themselves include Jon Tyner, Olive’s current minister of music who will sing at Paxton’s funeral next week.

Aiden Thomas became the last teenager for Dave Paxton to baptize on Jan. 23. Photo submitted

During his ministry Paxton also formerly served as director of student ministries at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.; student pastor at First Baptist in Crowley, Texas, and as youth pastor at Grandview Baptist Church in Maryville, Tenn. He was also a former camp pastor at Crossings Ministries in Louisville, Ky.

Paxton was in east Tennessee when he heard Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Phil Briggs at a conference proclaim the need for those willing to spend their lives in student ministry. Soon afterwards, the Paxtons had moved to Fort Worth for training in doing just that.

Later in his career Paxton found himself at a crossroads, not serving in a church but contemplating making the move to conferences, revivals and student ministry training, Tarkington said.

Now the pastor at First Baptist Orange Park, Tarkington had an idea.

“We were soon looking for a student pastor, so I called him and asked if he was ready for another round and come to serve on my staff,” he said.

At 60 years old, it’s certain Paxton was the oldest student minister interviewing at a Southern Baptist church. Nevertheless, the personnel committee voted unanimously in the affirmative. His experience and wisdom became paramount in the church’s overhaul to cover different generations of students.

“He served our church and loved people … all people,” Tarkington said.

A self-described adrenaline junkie, Paxton was up for skydiving, cliff-jumping into water and cross-country trips on his beloved motorcycle. One year Olive Baptist hosted a Fourth of July event that called for a volunteer to rappel from the ceiling in the church’s sanctuary. Paxton volunteered.

“That was the first time we saw his kind of craziness,” Traylor laughed.

It was also just one example of Paxton’s willingness to help where needed, using his skills in whatever capacity required.

“Every pastor needs a wingman like Dave Paxton,” Tarkington said, “totally trustworthy, godly character, wisdom and loving enough to tell me the truth when I need reminding.”

Pivotal moment for America’s first Korean Southern Baptist church Fri, 06 May 2022 17:58:21 +0000 LOS ANGELES (BP) – Berendo Street Baptist Church (BSBC) is known as the “mother church” of all 970 churches that worship in a Korean context in the United States, and it’s changing its name. Not officially. Not legally. But it will now be known as Saenuri.]]>

LOS ANGELES (BP) – Berendo Street Baptist Church (BSBC) is known as the “mother church” of all 970 churches that worship in a Korean context in the United States, and it’s changing its name. Not officially. Not legally. But it will now be known as Saenuri.

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Brenedo Street, started in 1957, is the first Korean Baptist Church in all of the Americas started by Southern Baptists. (There was an earlier Korean church, in Washington, D.C., but it was not started by Southern Baptists.)

The word “Saenuri” in English means New Community.

“Los Angeles Korean Baptist Church is our old Korean name,” Senior Pastor Sung Kun Park told Baptist Press. “We have removed the location and ethnicity.”

The pastor said the new name is strategic.

“We have a crisis,” Park said, referring to Christianity as a whole, the Korean church in America and in South Korea, as well as the church he has pastored since 1990. “Most churches are declining regardless of COVID. Korea and America are becoming more hostile to Christianity. It’s an anti-Christian movement – young people rejecting the Gospel – so we’ve got to pray for them.

“In my opinion, the most challenging thing we should be doing is we should take care of our people. When they go to college more than 90 percent leave the faith. … We have many colleges and universities in this area. I like to send workers and pastors to the campuses, to reach the students and bring them to our church.

“I put so much energy and prayer to this. We should be more aggressive in the future.”

Senior Pastor Sung Kun Park is planning now for the transition that will happen when he retires in 2024.

The problem, Park said, is that today the 90 percent of those who leave the Christianity they grew up with to find their “own way,” don’t return. They’re on to something new.

But they long for community. Saenuri. New Community. No “Baptist” and no “church” in the name.

“We have to have some kind of strategy and plans to bring them back to church, to the God who loves them,” Park said. “All the pastors here are bringing energy to reach them. Without them, the younger generation, we will lose ground in the future.”

Church distinctives

Berendo Street/Saenuri, where about 2,500 people attend Sunday services in person and online, has 22 associate pastors, (a few full time) plus 10 interns and 200 shepherds who care for the church’s 60 “flocks” or age-linked community groups. Park named all the groups, starting with Daniel for the youngest adults to Hannah and Abraham for the oldest.

The shepherds lead in Bible study and prayer Sundays before or after one of five services and serve in pastoral ministry throughout the week. They meet with the senior pastor on Wednesdays to receive insights about the next Sunday’s sermon, which they discuss with their flocks.

Early morning prayer time is a staple of Korean churches. Said to be related to the Welsh revival in 1905, it grew into national lament after the Korean War, when people had nothing but God.

Typical Korean prayer involves everyone praying aloud to God at the same time, usually with emotion, as those praying get caught up in their conversation with the Most High God.

At Berendo Street/Saenuri, there is early morning prayer six days a week, four Sundays in August for a prayer revival, and in October and November, an intense 40-day time of prayer for spiritual renewal and awakening.

Local ministries

Berendo/Saenuri is located in a crowded residential neighborhood, but the church is committed to stay, even though many members have relocated to the suburbs and drive in to church.

Berendo Street’s deacons maintained the church’s homeless ministry despite strict pandemic-related restrictions the past two years.

“Our vision is still to build up branch churches in the future: Orange County, San Fernando Valley, and so forth, the idea of having one church in many locations,” Daniel Lee told Baptist Press. He is lead pastor for the English ministry. “We still have a vision for that. However, according to Pastor Park, with him retiring soon, this vision will most likely be a task for the next senior pastor of Berendo Street.”

Two buildings were added across Berendo Street between 2014-18. One is an amphitheater-style, 1,600-seat, worship center regularly used by community groups for events like graduation ceremonies and seminars. The other adds to the church’s education space. A three-story parking garage is located underneath the new building, which can accommodate more than 450 cars.

Berendo Street/Saenuri is located in what still is known as Koreatown Los Angeles, though it has become multicultural. The area – west of Interstate 5 and north of Interstate 10 – has become crowded with homeless camps. The church provides a preschool and kindergarten for the community as well as a security force to keep students and parishioners safe.

COVID brought a halt to nearly all its local ministries because of government control. The deacons, however, have maintained the church’s longtime homeless ministry despite its growth over the last three years. On Saturdays, they take food to the homeless camps.

A FAITH evangelism program, which the church began in 2004, began again this spring after being shut down for two years because of the pandemic. Discipleship Training has also restarted.

A Hispanic church planted by Berendo/Saenuri meets at the church, as does a multi-ethnic church for the Deaf.


After a two-year COVID-related hiatus, mission teams will again travel this summer to Fresno, Calif., to minister among the sizable Hmong population there; to Arizona to minister on the Navajo nation; and to Mexico, to minister with former members of the church who pastor there.

Of the more than 200 members Berendo Street/Saenuri has trained and sent out worldwide as pastors and missionaries, the church financially supports 16 of them internationally and 14 in the U.S. It also supports and partners with eight churches in South America planted by Berendo/Saenuri and five local churches.

The church has 20/20 vision, Lee said, referring to eyesight rather than the calendar.

“Senior pastor’s vision for this is for our church to be a launching base for missions,” Lee said. “We want to be a mission center that empowers the second generation to be kingdom-focused, Gospel-driven missionaries who can radically impact the world for our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Two-plus of five goals have been achieved: The church started a coffee shop in a large nation in East Asia and ministers there with the Korean CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ); Eight churches have been started in South America; and three members of the church are now career missionaries with the IMB. Berendo/Saenuri’s goal is “as many we can send out,” Lee said.


Sung Kun Park will turn 70 on June 27. Church bylaws say the pastor must retire at age 70, but members objected and gave him two more years, the pastor said. A “Future of the Church” committee is already working, and the pastor is praying both for God’s plans for the church, and for the next pastor.

“God really gave me grace through ministering here,” Park said. “I emphasize the teaching of the Bible and the importance of prayer. Both make the church grow and be strong.”

Park was born in Korea in 1952 and moved to the United States in 1981. In 1992 he was the first Korean to graduate with a Ph.D. – it was in New Testament – from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, have two daughters and one granddaughter. When he retires in 2024 he plans to teach in various mission fields, equipping missionaries with biblical and spiritual resources.

TRUSTEES: Gateway hires new faculty, approve 22-23 budget Fri, 06 May 2022 17:47:00 +0000 ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) – Trustees approved Gateway’s 2022-2023 budget of $12.275 million and hired two new faculty members at their May 3 board meeting.]]>

ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) – Trustees approved Gateway’s 2022-2023 budget of $12.275 million and hired two new faculty members at their May 3 board meeting.

“We’re grateful to be in a strong financial position exiting the uncertainties of the COVID pandemic,” said Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary.

Daniel Gurtner

Daniel Gurtner will join the faculty as professor of New Testament studies July 24, 2022. Gurtner earned a Ph.D. at University of St. Andrews, a Th.M. at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, an M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell, and B.A. at Grove City College. He is broadly published in New Testament and Second Temple Judaism. He is co-editor of T&T Clark Encyclopedia of Second Temple Judaism and is currently writing the Word Biblical Commentary on Matthew. He has taught at both Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Bethel Seminary.

Cliff Jenkins will join Gateway’s faculty as associate director of the Doctor of Ministry program and associate professor of leadership formation. Jenkins earned a D.Min. at Gateway, an M.Div at Biblical (Missio) Seminary, and a B.A. at University of Pittsburgh. His ministry career includes stints serving as a church planter, pastor, interim pastor and as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board (NAMB). Most recently he was state director of missions for NAMB and the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey. He also received the William O. Crews Presidential Leadership Award, the highest honor Gateway bestows on students, when he graduated with the D.Min.

Cliff Jenkins

Trustees also directed the Seminary to explore a new approach to the regional campus in Fremont, Calif., near San Francisco. “We have an opportunity to reassess our strategy in the Bay Area in light of pandemic complications, educational delivery expectations of students, and leadership changes at the campus,” Iorg said.

“We are confident God will lead us to new strategies and partnerships to effectively accomplish our mission commitments in the region.”

During the first plenary session, Iorg shared with trustees three critical assets of Gateway Seminary.

“The first is God’s providential care. There is no way to explain Gateway apart from God’s gracious care,” Iorg said.

The second is a strong institutional commitment to the mission of Gateway Seminary.

“We have a low drama workplace,” he said. “Day in and day out, people come to work focused on one thing: shaping leaders who expand God’s kingdom around the world.”

“Third, we have remarkable people who work at Gateway Seminary,” Iorg said.

“They are intelligent, humble, dedicated and mature.”

As part of the alumni and friends banquet following the trustee meeting, Iorg recognized several staff and faculty. Several staff were recognized for employment milestones and two received the Hixson award for excellence: Sarah Katherine Johnson, ADVANCE program coordinator, and Jennifer Palmer, director of Human Resources. Trustees recognized Anne Dent for her work in designing and preparing the Hoff House, a professional-in-residence home owned by Gateway. The condo previously belonged to Lisa Hoff, a Gateway professor who passed away in September 2020.

Retiring faculty were also recognized at the banquet. Rick Durst, David Gill, Harry Hahne and J.T. Reed will retire at the end of this academic year. Durst, theology professor at the Ontario campus, retires July 2022 after more than 30 years of service to Gateway. Gill, associate director of the D.Min. program and former director of the Korean-English bilingual program, retires in 2022 after more than 20 years of teaching at the seminary and a storied career as a church planter and pastor. Hahne, New Testament professor for 20 years at the Arizona campus, retires in July 2022. Reed, associate director of the D.Min. program, will transition into retirement in 2022. Each was granted senior faculty status by trustees.

Iorg specifically recognized Michael Martin, current vice president of educational effectiveness, for his leadership as vice president of academic services and dean of the faculty of Gateway Seminary for 16 years. The seminary named a classroom at the Ontario campus in honor of Martin and his wife Beth. Additionally, Iorg announced a new award for excellence in faculty service named in honor of Martin and awarded the first recipient: Rick Durst.

Trustees approved sabbatical requests for Gary Arbino and Paul Kelly. Paul Smith was promoted to full professor status. Trustee officers elected for 2022-2023 are Robert White, chairman, Phil Kell, vice-chairman, and Steve Long, secretary.

Heart condition: Medical checkups provide inroads with Ukrainian refugees Fri, 06 May 2022 17:37:11 +0000 “Are you looking for help? Do you need hope?”]]>

“Are you looking for help? Do you need hope?”

A banner with these words printed over the Ukrainian flag hangs from tables where Romanian Christians and Send Relief teams interact with Ukrainian refugees at the border of Romania and Ukraine.

Oksana and her father see the banner and stop. She is from Mariupol – the Ukrainian city that resembles a scene from a dystopian novel.

“There is nothing there now,” Oksana said with pain in her eyes.

Oksana and her father left the city three weeks ago, taking refuge in another city before making their way to the border of Romania and Ukraine.

When asked if she still had family in Ukraine. She pointed to her father, “He’s my family.”

Send Relief volunteers from First Baptist Church of Folsom, La., directed Oksana’s father to a white plastic chair in between two tables of supplies. Lauren Robbins, a medical student from Liberty University, checked his blood pressure. Robbins’ father, Will, is the pastor of First Baptist Folsom. She traveled with him and other volunteers to serve Ukrainian refugees at the border and in refugee centers.

Oksana scans the “Hope for Ukraine” QR code that leads to a website that shares the Gospel and offers an avenue to talk with a Christian. The website was developed by the International Mission Board (IMB) to connect with refugees and direct them toward Christ.

Robbins showed Oksana her father’s very high blood pressure reading. She recommended he take medication, but crossing the border had actually lowered his blood pressure. At a doctor’s visit a few weeks ago, his blood pressure was dangerously high. He said “thank you” in as many languages as he knew how, his broad smile evincing his gratefulness for their help.

After accepting snacks and a cup of coffee, Oksana placed her hand on her heart as a sign of thanks before she and her father walked away, in search of a new home.

A few days later, Oksana messaged to say she and her father were safely in Bulgaria and her father’s blood pressure had gone down. She asked to receive the link to the Hope for Ukraine website so she could explore more.

Karen Stassi, also from FBC Folsom, loaned her medical expertise to assist refugees as well. Stassi has 40 years of nursing experience. A medical team from Cyprus asked if Stassi and Robbins could cover a shift at their medical station. Stethoscopes in hand, Stassi and Robbins crossed the road to tend to the Ukrainian patients. The Cypriot volunteers had served refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos and traveled to meet the needs of another refugee demographic.

Goodwill abounds among the humanitarian organizations representing multiple nations – Israel, Malta, Egypt, Romania and the U.S. – who refer refugees to one another for aid. In addition to providing a charging station, snacks, juice boxes, tissue, coffee, tea and SIM cards, Send Relief and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams (SBDR) from the Baptist state conventions of Missouri, California and Texas distributed pain relievers, antiseptic cream and reading glasses.

The greatest gift offered by Southern Baptists, however, is not the medicine or the refreshments. It’s the love of Christ they receive and the hope that a Savior has already rescued them.

Death doesn’t stop persecuted churches from multiplying in South Asia Fri, 06 May 2022 17:36:00 +0000 It’s the stuff inspirational movies are made of, but this is the real-life story of a man and his lasting influence in his South Asian village. Kahan went from practicing Hinduism to testifying for Jesus.]]>

It’s the stuff inspirational movies are made of, but this is the real-life story of a man and his lasting influence in his South Asian village. Kahan went from practicing Hinduism to testifying for Jesus.

Then, this is where the plot thickens: he’s murdered.

Allegedly, the death was an attempt to keep Kahan quiet about Jesus’ saving grace, Christian worker Morgan Rawlings confirmed. The South Asian planned to share his testimony before the entire village.

Persecution of Christians in South Asia is nothing new. This region of the world has every one of its countries on the World Watch List’s “Top 50 persecuted countries.” What makes Kahan’s story so different is that from the very beginning, it was never about him. It was about inspiring an entire community of believers to faithfully follow Jesus one step at a time.

The first time Kahan stepped foot in a house church, his neighbors carried him inside. He hadn’t walked in four months. When he heard the Gospel, he knew it was true and gave his life to Jesus on the spot. Four members of the church prayed for Kahan and asked for his leg to be healed. The brand-new believer had heard of other people being healed, so he asked if it really worked.

The church leader shrugged and said, “We don’t know. It’s God’s work.” The believers understood that God is powerful and can certainly choose to heal.

This leader left for another meeting and called back to this house to see if someone took Kahan home. The believers casually said he walked home.

“What touched our hearts most was…the nonchalant way in telling how this man got up and walked 2.5 miles home [after not walking for four months],” Rawlings said. They live expecting to see mighty works done in Jesus’ name.

Kahan soon hit the dirt paths, going to all the homes in his village telling them about Jesus. In another village, he shared his testimony and helped show a movie about Jesus to 135 people, with 80 praying to receive Jesus. Kahan couldn’t hide his joy and excitement in talking about his Jesus with everyone he met. He started a church in his home and hosted discipleship trainings. He walked miles every week, sharing the Gospel, despite the heavy Hindu influence in the area.

While running an errand, Kahan was killed with a blow to the head. The suspect confessed to doing it because Kahan was “poisoning people’s minds and changing their religion.” The man was angry because Kahan wouldn’t stop sharing his testimony and people kept putting their faith in Jesus.

Kahan’s work didn’t stop at his death. He had passed his passion for sharing the Good News to other believers. Advised that they should stop until it was safer, one believer reminded others that they must bear their cross and “die to follow Jesus.”

“I will not stop telling people about Jesus,” the young woman said. “If the day comes that I do not come back home, … don’t worry about me. I will be with Jesus.”

Five groups now meet because of Kahan’s testimony and proclamation. He led more than 100 to a saving faith and spent his last hours training others to share their testimony. Kahan’s death did not crumble their faith, Rawlings said.

“It has made their backs straighten and the church is rising,” she said.

In fact, a new church started in the home of another who practiced black magic. Kahan led Shikhar’s wife to Christ before he died. She attended the church still meeting in his home – a journey that required wading through a deep body of water. She shared with and prayed for her husband every day until he finally agreed to attend with her. He suffered many sleepless nights from fever and dreams.

Shikhar heard the Gospel and prayed to receive Christ. Believers prayed for Shikhar to be healed of his sickness. He asked the same question as Kahan. “Will this work?” Shikhar received the same answer.

As the couple waded back across the waist-deep water to return home, Shikhar felt the fever leave. He turned to his wife and said they “no longer needed to wade across the water to Kahan’s home.” He was ready to start a church in their own home. They now host church services and outreach events.

“Shikhar is the same hot coal Kahan was,” Rawlings said. “He baptized three people just this week.”

Join the Rawlingses in praying that this village will burn brightly with the holy witness of God’s faithfulness to His persecuted church.

Some names may have been changed for security reasons.

‘No Vacancy’ brings Florida church’s true story to cinemas May 9 Fri, 06 May 2022 17:33:33 +0000 LEESBURG, Fla. (BP) – Florida pastor Cliff Lea never envisioned being portrayed on the big screen by Dean Cain of Superman fame.]]>

LEESBURG, Fla. (BP) – Florida pastor Cliff Lea never envisioned being portrayed on the big screen by Dean Cain of Superman fame.

But Cain plays Lea in a leading role in “No Vacancy,” a true story of God’s miraculous power at First Baptist Church of Leesburg where Lea is senior pastor.

“I knew that it was the Lord’s hand, and I thought to myself, what a very unusual thing for a church, and what a blessing,” Lea told Baptist Press of the miraculous story.

No Vacancy unfolds in 2008 during the Great Recession and housing crisis as First Leesburg attempts to buy a blighted motel adjacent to its downtown campus, hoping to help homeless families rebuild their lives.

Area property owners objected. First Leesburg didn’t have the funds. Hundreds of thousands of dollars had to be raised within weeks. Government boards had to approve the project.

That’s when resounding blessings unfolded, beginning with the community-swaying news coverage by Orlando Sentinel reporter Brandi Michaels, who was yet to be saved.

Longtime First Leesburg Executive Pastor Art Ayris, an award-winning screenwriter and CEO of Kingstone Studios, wrote and produced the movie showing nationwide Monday, May 9, in most locations for one night only. A few theaters plan a four-night run, Ayris said.

No Vacancy “is 90 to 95 percent just absolute accurate with everything that happened,” Ayris told Baptist Press. “If you just want to tell facts, you do a documentary. But if you want to tell a story, you know you do a movie.”

Except Michaels’ brother, who’s fictional, “they’re all real characters you can touch and poke all on, except for Cecil, who’s with the Lord. But it’s literally … 90, 95 percent just totally true.”

T.C. Stallings of the Kendrick Brothers’ “War Room” fame portrays Cecil, an emotionally haunted drug addict whom God restores and positions to lead a First Leesburg ministry until his death in 2019.

Sean Young, who has starred or co-starred in more than 50 movies and multiple TV episodes, portrays Michaels in the role, chosen after a casting call drew 1,400 applicants for the female lead, Ayris said.

Cain has starred in several successful films including “God’s Not Dead,” but perhaps is best known for his portrayal of Superman in the 1990s television series “Lois & Clark – The New Adventures of Superman.”

With Katrina Cook Katz as casting director, Ayris followed Hollywood’s “three-star” formula.

“I’d done another movie before, and I’d done a documentary, and I’d produced some television,” Ayris said, “but I’d realized I can’t make another movie unless I’ve got talent in it. There’s something in Hollywood – it’s called a three-star formula – that you really need to have three bankable stars, really, that can carry the movie.”

Among Ayris’ writing and producing awards for film and television are Hollywood’s Next Success Best TV Movie, Florida Film & Television’s Best Feature, and Angel Awards’ Best Feature. He’s a prolific writer of comic books, including “The Last Convert of John Harper,” “Babylon,” “101 Questions about the Bible” and others.

Ayris made the movie for just over $1 million, estimating that normal production costs for a comparable feature would be $2.5 million. He took no salary for his work.

The production that began in early September 2021, survived unscathed the outbreak of the Delta strain during the COVID-19 pandemic, weathered several petty break-ins at its production trailers and finished the project within months. No Vacancy was filmed onsite in Lake County.

“This is lightning fast,” Ayris said. “That’s another reason we feel like God was really in this thing. … This is very quick, and I’m rejoicing in the Lord.”

In addition to the film’s limited release, churches and schools may host the film May 10 – June 10 through Faith Content Network. Stream the movie beginning June 30 at

“I really want to give hope to churches, my fellow Southern Baptist churches, to stay on mission in their community and in their area,” Ayris said. “There’s like three stories within the story, but one of the stories is this church staying on mission in their community.”

The motel the church purchased is now Samaritan Inn, one of many outreaches through nonprofit Christian Care Center supported by many area churches.

No Vacancy “is literally about a Southern Baptist church. Obviously, I want a lot of Southern Baptist churches to support the movie and tell their people about it,” Ayris said, “but I really want to encourage my brothers and sisters, in the context of their church, just to stay on mission and see what God will do.

“And this is a story (where) we stepped out on faith and God did a miracle.”

2022 Book of Reports released Thu, 05 May 2022 21:19:47 +0000 NASHVILLE (BP) – The 2022 Book of Reports for the Southern Baptist Convention has been released. In it, Southern Baptists receive updates over the last year regarding SBC entities, including discussions pertaining to recommendations at last year’s annual meeting.]]>

NASHVILLE (BP) – The 2022 Book of Reports for the Southern Baptist Convention has been released. In it, Southern Baptists receive updates over the last year regarding SBC entities, including discussions pertaining to recommendations at last year’s annual meeting.

Those recommendations included one pertaining to ministry resources for the Deaf. The recommendation asked that those resources include but not be limited to “theological education, discipleship materials, print, video, and other resources prepared in and by individuals skilled in [American Sign Language].”

The North American Mission Board, International Mission Board and Lifeway Christian Resources responded to the request for a feasibility study on the matter

That collaborated report among the three entities – first seen on page 60 in the IMB report – noted the publication of “Explore the Bible: Deaf” by Lifeway. Written by hearing-impaired writers, the simplified text becomes more compatible with ASL. A digital library of “Explore the Bible: Deaf” will be available for free this summer at

Lifeway also includes captions in video discipleship products and ASL interpreters at many events, the report noted.

In partnership with state conventions, NAMB has a sponsorship of RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf), which helps provide a national registry for certified interpreters. NAMB also sponsors workshops for deaf ministry each year in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Through its partnership with the Deaf Theological Center in Brentwood, Tenn., the IMB has provided “instructors, customized course delivery and financial support for missionaries and their families.” Other partners are Union University, the Southern Baptist Conference for the Deaf, Brentwood Baptist Church and Brentwood Baptist Deaf Church. Seminary-level training includes instruction in missions and ministry, hermeneutics, Old Testament, New Testament, doctrine and theology.

Other actions on the IMB’s part include a partnership with Brentwood Baptist Church toward producing the Deaf Pathway Global’s Bible App, which offers sign language translations of Bible stories. More information can be found at

The SBC Executive Committee report is lengthy with “significant actions” beginning on page 10. Many of them are related to the third-party investigation into allegations of mishandling sexual abuse claims. Items include adopting the contract and funding for Guidepost Solutions as well as naming the Bradley law firm as the EC’s interim legal representation following the decision by longtime SBC attorneys Guenther, Jordan & Price to withdraw.

In other business, the EC report notes the appointment of Willie McLaurin as interim president and chief executive officer and the selection of a six-member EC president search team at the February meeting. Trustees also issued an apology to Jennifer Lyell, acknowledging that her story of sexual abuse had been misrepresented by Baptist Press.

All six Southern Baptist seminaries provide reports followed by additional information such as seminary comparative data and a report on seminary extension. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Woman’s Missionary Union reported on their year in ministry as well.

SBC elections feature broad range of candidates Thu, 05 May 2022 21:17:57 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Southern Baptists will have a variety of candidates to choose from when electing officers during the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting June 14-15.]]>

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Southern Baptists will have a variety of candidates to choose from when electing officers during the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting June 14-15.

A list of candidates for each elected position is below:


After SBC President Ed Litton announced earlier this year that he will not seek a second term, several candidates have announced their intention to seek run for the office. The three announced candidates are:

Tom Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral (Florida) and founder of Founders Ministries, announced his intention to run on March 22.

Robin Hadaway, a former International Mission Board missionary, was announced as a candidate March 23. Hadaway will be nominated by fellow former IMB missionary Wade Akins.

Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church, Farmersville, Texas, announced on April 7 he intends to accept a nomination from 2022 SBC Pastors’ Conference President Matt Henslee. Barber will also be serving as the chairman of the Committee on Resolutions at this year’s annual meeting.

A fourth candidate, Florida pastor Willy Rice, announced his candidacy in early March, but withdrew his candidacy April 6.

First Vice President

Victor Chayasirisobhon, president of the California Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Anaheim, was announced as a candidate for first vice president on February 15. Chayasirisobhon will be nominated by Abel Galvan, senior pastor of Faith Fellowship church in La Palma, Calif.

Second Vice President:

South Carolina pastor Alex Sands will be nominated for second vice president by fellow South Carolina pastor Josh Powell. Sands is the founder and pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Simpsonville, S.C., and in 2021, he became the first African American to serve as president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Recording Secretary

After John Yeats announced he would not seek the office again this year (Yeats has served in the position since 1997), several candidates have come forward to be nominated for recording secretary.

Javier Chavez, pastor of Amistad Cristiana Church in Gainesville, Ga., announced his candidacy in late March. Chavez told Baptist Press that several individuals have volunteered to give his nomination speech at the annual meeting, and an announcement on that is expected this month.

Nathan Finn, current provost at North Greenville University, will be nominated for recording secretary by David Sons, pastor of Lake Murray Baptist Church in Lexington, S.C.

Alabama pastor David Roach was announced as a candidate for recording secretary in late April. Mark Snowden, director of missional leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association, announced his intention to nominate Roach.

Roach has been the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Saraland, Ala., since 2020, and previously served as chief national correspondent for Baptist Press from 2014-2019.

In addition to these positions, messengers to the annual meeting will have the opportunity to select the president of next year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference, which will be held June 11-12, 2023, immediately prior to next year’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Official nominations for Pastors’ Conference president will take place June 13, 2022, during the second day of this year’s conference. The following candidates have announced their intention to be nominated:

Daniel Dickard, pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., will be nominated for president of the pastors’ conference. Jordan Easley, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Cleveland, Tenn., announced his intention to nominated Dickard in a video shared on social media March 16.

Voddie Baucham, dean of theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, was announced as a candidate for pastors’ conference president in a story published at the conservative news site Daily Wire.

Nominations for all positions remain open until the time of voting at the annual meeting this summer. To register as a messenger to the annual meeting, go here.

SBC messengers long resolved to overturn Roe v. Wade Thu, 05 May 2022 21:16:40 +0000 NASHVILLE (BP) – A leaked copy of a Supreme Court opinion that would essentially overturn 1973’s Roe V. Wade decision has prompted Southern Baptists to reflect on their pro-life history.]]>

NASHVILLE (BP) – A leaked copy of a Supreme Court opinion that would essentially overturn 1973’s Roe V. Wade decision has prompted Southern Baptists to reflect on their pro-life history.

The draft was originally published by Politico and was later confirmed to be authentic by Chief Justice John Roberts in a press release issued by the Supreme Court.

The leaked document suggests the SCOTUS is set to overturn not only the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, but also 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. Overturning these decisions would essentially return the determination of abortion law to state-level governments.

Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), called the leak of the SCOTUS draft “the most consequential leak of our lifetime,” in a first-person piece released this week.

He said if the decisions are in fact overturned, it would be an incredible step in developing “a culture of life.”

“Overturning the Roe-Casey precedents will mark massive progress toward this goal as the jurisprudence stemming from these cases has been the number one factor inhibiting pro-life laws from taking effect,” Leatherwood said.

“It will mark a hopeful and substantial step toward establishing a true culture of life in our nation by giving states the freedom to pursue policies that protect preborn children. Christians should be in earnest prayer for such a moment.”

Leatherwood referenced an SBC Resolution from 2003, ‘On Thirty Years Of Roe V. Wade,’ which called for not only overturning Roe v. Wade, but striving for a society that would consider the act of abortion “unthinkable.”

“RESOLVED, That we pray and work for the repeal of the Roe v. Wade decision and for the day when the act of abortion will be not only illegal, but also unthinkable.”

Leatherwood said the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade will hopefully serve as a step in that direction for society.

“This leaked draft opinion would indicate we are closer than we have ever been to that reality,” Leatherwood said. “When that day is upon us, we will enter a time when the inherent rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are finally extended to our most vulnerable neighbors.”

This 2003 resolution is not the only time Southern Baptists have stood in opposition to Roe. After a somewhat uncertain start in 1971 and 1974, they solidified their stance with resolutions passed in 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979.

In 1980, they took on the challenge of legalized abortion on demand for the first time. They were resolved saying, “That we abhor the use of tax money or public, tax-supported medical facilities for selfish, non-therapeutic abortion,” calling “for appropriate legislation or a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion except to save the life of the mother.”

Resolutions calling for the end of legalized abortion followed in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1987.

In 1989, messengers passed a resolution on encouraging laws regulating abortion, and in 1993 messengers passed a resolution regarding The Freedom of Choice Act.

More recently, the convention based a 2015 resolution on the sanctity of human life, and in 2021 passed two resolution on both abolishing abortion and on taxpayer complicity related to The Hyde Amendment.

Bart Barber, chair of 2022 SBC Committee on Resolutions, said the committee had already been working on a resolution calling for the repeal of the Roe v. Wade decision before this week’s news, and will now be reworking that resolution in case the opinion reflected in the leaked draft becomes finalized.

“Southern Baptists have long stood for and been united around the sanctity of every human life, including the preborn,” Barber said in a statement.

“The Committee on Resolutions was already working on a resolution asking the Supreme Court to reverse the disastrous Roe v. Wade decision. The things we have learned in the past 24 hours have given every member of this committee an even greater hope that American jurisprudence will soon make a giant leap forward toward recognizing the right to life of the preborn.

“We are now working to revise the resolution that we had already begun to draft in such a way as to celebrate the final opinion in Dobbs—an opinion that we hope maintains the strength and clarity of the draft we’ve seen—to give thanks to God, and to envision the task before us as the Roe regime fades away into the annals of history. Southern Baptists long for the day when the dignity of every human life is celebrated and we redouble our ongoing efforts to care for vulnerable women and children throughout our communities.”

Southern Baptists meet for the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim on June 14-15.

Chelsea Sobolik, director of public policy for the ERLC, said the potential overturning of Roe will serve as an opportunity to step into people’s lives with the Gospel.

“For decades the SBC has stood for the most vulnerable among us and longed for the day when our laws will also protect the pre-born, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the highest Court in the land could vote to send the issue of abortion back to the states, allowing them to make their own decisions regarding abortions,” Sobolik said.

“I pray that Christians throughout the country will continue to love and serve women and children, and point to the hope of Jesus.”

FIRST-PERSON: A good attitude as we go to Anaheim Thu, 05 May 2022 21:10:28 +0000 Anaheim awaits Southern Baptists as we prepare for our annual meeting. The setting will be sunny southern California. As we all know, this is not our typical meeting place for Southern Baptists. Yet for our brothers and sisters in the western states, meeting in Anaheim makes an important statement about their ministry where Southern Baptists […]]]>

Anaheim awaits Southern Baptists as we prepare for our annual meeting. The setting will be sunny southern California. As we all know, this is not our typical meeting place for Southern Baptists.

Yet for our brothers and sisters in the western states, meeting in Anaheim makes an important statement about their ministry where Southern Baptists are in a distinct minority. This can be an encouragement to them as we gather. 

What kind of attitude should we have as we look toward this annual meeting? We all know that our beloved SBC faces some unique challenges, and differences of opinion do exist among Southern Baptists concerning them. 

As one solidly committed Southern Baptist, I would like to offer a simple but specific kind of attitude that I see as a good one for this historic meeting. I share this with the hope that our SBC family would be encouraged to have the healthiest attitude possible as we approach our family gathering.

We need passion for our shared mission.

We all have the same passion for the Great Commission. That is an important affirmation to make. Reaching people for Christ and helping them become growing disciples of Christ represents our mission. We are at our best when we unify around that passion for the Great Commission.

We need prudence for our family gathering.

To some, prudence may be a dusty word, but the concept is good. One online dictionary defines it as “skill and good judgment in the use of resources.” For the Christian, that only happens when we depend upon God and ask Him for wisdom.

Praying for daily wisdom is as important as thanking God for daily bread. In the midst of these most challenging times, we do need wisdom from God like never before.

Each day I pray for daily wisdom. My prayer lately has been that we have His wisdom for the SBC meeting. With His wisdom we will do the right things, the right way, with the right spirit. Without His wisdom, we will wander in the wilderness. 

We need patience with each other.

In times of tension, patience seems to evaporate from the attitudes of people. My prayer is that we will be patient with each other, especially with those with whom we disagree.

This is one of the most difficult tests we face as Southern Baptists. In a culture which seems to denigrate those with whom we have disagreements, we can set a much better example.

If we have agape love for one another, we can be patient with each other. Our God has perfect patience. We can draw from the inexhaustible well of His patience.

We need to have persistence in prayer.

Sometimes I think if we spent as much time in prayer as we do differing with each other, we could make a much bigger and better impact upon the world. Prayer gives us perspective. Without prayer, we lose perspective. 

Please do not misunderstand me. I do know that we have some serious issues to consider. We can and should have our convictions and opinions about those matters, but my simple plea is to remember our passion for the Great Commission.

Furthermore, remember our need for prudence or wisdom from God. Pause and reflect how we can have patience with each other and, as always, exercise persistence in prayer for our SBC family gathering. 

Call me simpleminded or idealistic, but on my best days I think we can come together and handle our business in such a way that honors our Lord and advances the Kingdom.

I believe Southern Baptists are resilient people. I feel certain we can come out of this period in our history with a renewed sense of being on mission with the Great Commission.

I hope to see you in Anaheim. I want to fellowship with you. I desire to help Southern Baptists see better days in the future, and I know you do as well.

CP Stage to encourage a ‘laser focus’ on unity, generosity, diversity Thu, 05 May 2022 21:06:46 +0000 ANAHEIM (BP) – A drive toward unity in the Gospel and taking the Great Commission to the nations will permeate the presentations and discussion at the Cooperative Program Stage at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, organizers say.]]>

ANAHEIM (BP) – A drive toward unity in the Gospel and taking the Great Commission to the nations will permeate the presentations and discussion at the Cooperative Program Stage at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, organizers say.

“It will be an opportunity for messengers to hear firsthand reports about a variety of SBC missions and ministries, and ‘listen in’ on hard-hitting and relevant panel discussions which orbit around important issues for Southern Baptists,” said Willie McLaurin, interim SBC Executive Committee president and CEO. “The 2022 Cooperative Program stage has been designed to put a laser-sharp focus on unity, generosity and diversity.”

The theme of the annual gathering, held this year at the Anaheim Convention Center, is “Jesus: The Center of It All.” Due to shifting personal schedules, messengers are encouraged to monitor the Annual Meeting app for the latest information on CP Stage speakers and times.

Both the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board will feature prominently, with the latter hosting various panel discussions ranging from the future of the SBC to church planting and adoption and foster care.

First Baptist Church, Cleveland, Tenn., Pastor Jordan Easley will moderate several of those discussions. The first will be “Creating A Church Culture That Looks Like & Ministers To Your Community” on June 13. It will be followed by “Forecasting the Future of the SBC: What Are The Main Things We Need To Focus On As We Move Forward To The Future?”

National Next Gen Director Shane Pruitt and NAMB National Collegiate Director Paul Worcester will discuss student and collegiate ministry issues with “Reaching the Next Generation.” NAMB President Kevin Ezell – who alongside his wife, Lynette, has raised six children, three of them adopted – will lead a panel on adoption and foster care.

Sessions commence each day at 8:30, with the June 13 slate beginning with “Making Disciples Who Live on Mission” led by Sandy Wisdom-Martin, Woman’s Missionary Union executive director-treasurer. Later, the National African American Fellowship will host a panel on “Finishing Well” and that afternoon McLaurin will be interviewed about his new book “The Winning Way.”

“We all have lessons that we pick up along the way,” McLaurin said. “Those lessons have shaped our philosophy on how we engage and develop others. The lessons deepen our faith and challenge us to think and live differently. The set of working principles in this book were derived from such a lesson.”

IMB President Paul Chitwood will be on stage as well for at least two of the entity’s three sessions. Those sessions will cover the importance of having an ongoing Southern Baptist missionary presence around the world as well as how the IMB is sending more missionaries and opening more pathways for Southern Baptist churches to participate in short-term and long-term missions work.

The IMB and Send Relief have been active in ministering to those impacted by the war in Ukraine since the beginning. Another session will address how the IMB has used digital strategies for Gospel engagement in and around the country during the conflict.

Earlier this year Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg testified to what is special about ministry in California in a Baptist Press First Person. Those points are certain to resurface in the panel he will lead in the final Monday session – “As California Goes.”

Luis Lopez, SBC EC executive director for Hispanic Relations and Mobilization, will lead an especially timely session June 15 titled “Leading the Church out of the COVID-19 Crisis.”

“I really hope this session will provide those attending an opportunity to learn more about the impact the COVID crisis has had on ourselves, the church and the world,” he told BP. “We hope to discuss what are some of the lessons we, as churches, have learned from the pandemic. It is one thing to lead the church during a crisis; it is another thing to lead it out of it.

“The idea is to help us think about how we are coming out of this period and the challenges the post-COVID church faces. We want to learn from real practitioners – pastors from different church sizes – what we can learn about how to lead the church out stronger and learn how we are adapting to the new realities.”

McLaurin agreed that a variety of voices can only make the SBC stronger for the purpose of spreading the Gospel.

“The platform participants will provide relevant and usable information that will assist pastors and churches in advancing the Great Commission,” McLaurin said. “I am thrilled that the Cooperative Program panel discussions speak to every generation.”

Southern Baptists will also have more than 147,000 square feet of exhibit hall space in which to speak with representatives from various organizations. Exhibit information regarding SBC entities will be updated below as it is received by Baptist Press.

GuideStone Financial Services

GuideStone participants can visit with representatives about their retirement account or health plan coverage. Daily giveaways will be available while supplies last. On June 13 during the Pastors’ Conference, GuideStone will have a giveaway notebook for adults and an activity and colors for kids. The next day there will be free copies of some of GuideStone President Emeritus O.S. Hawkins’ books. Finally on June 15, water bottles will be available. GuideStone’s popular highlighters will also be available each day.

GuideStone will once again offer its Wellness Center where messengers can receive a free health screening and report suitable to share with your family doctor. Messengers are encouraged to sign up in advance at Messengers can also order free materials for Mission:Dignity Sunday.

Southern Baptist Foundation

How can I make an impact for the Kingdom? What will my legacy be? These are just a few of the questions visitors to the Southern Baptist Foundation booth will be encouraged to explore. Visitors will be challenged to think about causes they love and discover ways to support them.

At the booth, messengers can see the Foundation’s 75th Anniversary giveaways including sunglasses and chocolates as well as register to win a jersey autographed by Cooper Kupp, Super Bowl MVP and receiver for the Los Angeles Rams.

Messengers may remember the giant cash-filled soda bottle. It’s back, and guessing the amount of cash in the bottle makes the money yours. For more information, visit the booth or email

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Southwestern Seminary’s exhibit will highlight the Fort Worth institution’s commitment to helping students live, find and refine their callings through academic programs and hands-on ministry training. President Adam W. Greenway and other faculty will host the exhibit to explain the seminary’s programs and reconnect with alumni. Daily giveaways will feature “Live Your Calling” and “Find Your Calling”-branded T-shirts and Fellow Carter Everywhere Mugs.

Tickets to the alumni and friends luncheon on June 15 at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel are available online and will be available at the exhibit while supplies last. During the luncheon, two new distinguished alumni will be honored, and luncheon attendees will receive the newest Seminary Hill Press title, “The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture,” edited by Greenway and David S. Dockery, distinguished professor of theology.

Visitors to the exhibit also will receive the latest issue of Southwestern News, with features on the seminary’s Hispanic Programs; alumnus Yaroslav Pyzh, president of the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary; 2008 Master of Divinity graduate Chap. (Maj.) Brandon Denning, who is a former guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; alumnus Joshua Crisp, who pastors First Baptist Church of Bethalto, Illinois; and an excerpt from the recent Seminary Hill Press book, “The L.R. Scarborough Treasury.”

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

In anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling on the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission will provide several resources  to help Southern Baptists think holistically about how to care well for both mothers and children in a potential post-Roe world. Ultrasound machines will be on display to demonstrate how the Psalm 139 Project provides a window to the womb for abortion-vulnerable women. Attendees will also have an opportunity to receive a free Psalm 139 T-shirt when they sign up to receive updates on the ERLC’s life work both in Washington, D.C., and in our churches.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College will unveil a new booth at this year’s annual meeting that highlights the For The Church vision for theological education. A featured giveaway – For The Church T-shirts – also returns with a new look. Visitors will be able to receive a shirt and discuss any prospective student questions with a member of MBTS’ Admissions team.

Midwestern Seminary will also host FTC Anaheim: Micro Conference at noon on June 14. This year’s conference is titled “Six Humble Affirmations,” and will feature speakers Jason Allen, Kevin Ezell, Albert Mohler, Paul Chitwood, Mark Dever and Matt Carter. Its annual alumni luncheon will be held on June 15 at noon with the theme “The Future of the SBC.”

Send Relief

From North American ministry centers to hundreds of international compassion ministry projects, Send Relief helps Southern Baptists provide boots-on-the-ground ministry to those in need. At the Send Relief booth, attendees will learn about upcoming Serve Tour and mission trip opportunities – both national and international. By scanning a QR code in the booth, guests can register for a chance to win a free trip to serve at Send Relief’s first international Serve Tour.

International Mission Board

International Mission Board leaders hint at bringing a fresh look to 177 years of cooperative missions work and fresh story to remind us all of why the IMB exists. Visitors will learn how to join in pursuit of the Revelation 7:9 vision – a multitude from every nation, all tribes and peoples and languages, worshiping Jesus.

Limited tickets may still available for the IMB dinner on June 13 at 5 p.m. IMB President Paul Chitwood, Executive Vice President Todd Lafferty and IMB missionaries will share about how God is at work among the nations.

North American Mission Board

All across the continent, church planting missionaries are reaching the unreached with the hope of the Gospel. At the North American Mission Board booth, attendees can commit to pray for a church planter through the Pray for Planters website. Using QR codes, they will enter a prayer experience and connect directly with the church planter.

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Visitors to the NOBTS and Leavell College booth will learn about the school’s commitment to prepare servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth and fulfill His mission. The booth will highlight changes taking place on the New Orleans campus, including the newly-updated MDiv program, campus renovations with today’s students in mind and Kingdom-focused degree offerings at every academic level. Faculty and admissions personnel will be on-site to answer alumni and prospective students’ questions about campus life, degree offerings and ministry opportunities in the unique ministry setting of New Orleans.

Lifeway Christian Resources

Lifeway Christian Resources’ 11,000-square-foot exhibit will offer a store containing a wide selection of books, Bibles, small-group studies, boxed cards, Spanish resources and other Christian products. Other features include onsite training on digital curriculum experiences and demonstrations of recent and upcoming enhancements at Lifeway staff will help messengers and guests plan and select appropriate materials for group Bible studies and offer information on Lifeway’s ongoing studies including Bible Studies for Life, The Gospel Project, Explore the Bible, and You, as well as short-term Bible studies. Digital tools to enhance personal relationships with Christ and help with group discipleship will also be available.

Ministry leaders are invited to sign up at for 20-minute coaching sessions to discuss restarting groups and building a disciple-making ministry in your church. Lifeway’s Auxano team will be on-site to consult with church leaders about vision and mission. Visioneering Studios representatives will be available to talk with churches about intentional environments for ministry.

SBC entities plan host of offerings for messengers Thu, 05 May 2022 21:03:52 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – During the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, to be held June 14-15 in Anaheim, Southern Baptist entities will be hosting a variety of gatherings for fellowship and celebration.]]>

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – During the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, to be held June 14-15 in Anaheim, Southern Baptist entities will be hosting a variety of gatherings for fellowship and celebration.

The following is a listing of the dates and times of each entity meeting:

GuideStone Financial Resources

  • Wellness Center wellness checks
  • Monday and Tuesday, June 13-14, until 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 5, until noon.
  • Exhibit Hall, Anaheim Convention Center
  • Sign up for an appointment at

North American Mission Board Send Luncheon

  • Monday, June 13, noon
  • Anaheim Convention Center, Hall A

International Mission Board Dinner

  • Monday, June 13, 5 p.m.
  • Anaheim Convention Center, Ballroom Level 3

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Monday Night Event

  • Monday, June 13, 9 p.m., to be determined
  • Anaheim Marriott, Grand Ballroom E-K

Lifeway Breakfast

  • Tuesday, June 14, 6:30 p.m.
  • Anaheim Marriott, Platinum Ballroom
  • Register here.

For the Church Conference (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)

  • Tuesday, June 14, noon
  • Anaheim Convention Center, Ballrooms A-C

Seminary Luncheons

All Wednesday, June 15, noon

Gateway Seminary Alumni & Friends

  • Anaheim Marriott
  • Platinum Ballrooms 5-6
  • Register here.

MBTS Alumni & Friends Luncheon

  • Hilton Anaheim
  • California Ballrooms A-B
  • Register here.

NOBTS Alumni & Friends Luncheon

  • Anaheim Convention Center
  • Ballrooms A-B
  • Register here.

SBTS Alumni & Friends Luncheon

  • Hilton Anaheim
  • California Ballrooms C-D
  • Register here.

SEBTS Alumni & Friends Luncheon

  • Anaheim Marriott
  • Grand Ballroom
  • Register here.

SWBTS Alumni & Friends Luncheon

  • Anaheim Marriott
  • Marquis Ballroom, Sections Center and North
  • Register here.
Bible Study: Christ’s unmistakable return Thu, 05 May 2022 21:02:30 +0000 One day Jesus is coming back, and the signs of the powerful, can’t-miss event will be clear and unmistakable.]]>

NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies For Life curriculum.

Bible Passage: Matthew 24:23-31

Discussion Questions:

  • Whose voice can you recognize instantly in a crowd?
  • What are some ways to guard against spiritual deception?
  • How does Jesus’ imminent return give you hope?

Food for Thought:

I have fond memories of summers growing up. I played outside most of the day with neighborhood friends. One place we lived was near a creek beside some woods. My friends and I would be gone for hours playing in that creek. My mother had a recognizable Southern accent. When it was time for dinner, you could hear all the neighborhood mothers out on their porches calling for their kids. No matter how far down the creek I was, I could always hear Mom’s strong, distinctive voice call my name. There was no mistaking her voice or her call to me.

The false messiahs and false prophets will not be able to pull off deceiving Christ’s followers. They will attempt “to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Satan has never been able to deceive true believers about the identity of their Lord. As Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).

One day Jesus is coming back, and the signs of His return will be clear and unmistakable. It will be obvious! Christ’s return will be a powerful, can’t-miss event. Matthew gave us a great reminder that the true Messiah’s coming will not be secret or hidden. His coming will not be seen by only a select group; it will be visible to all. When you hear thunder or see lightning in the sky, you do not usually wonder what it is. That’s what Jesus wanted to make clear. We will not wonder what is happening when He returns. There will be no mistaking it! Jesus’ return will be sudden and visible. When Jesus returns, I’ll gladly welcome that moment to “go home” and be with Him. In Matthew 24, Jesus told us what that day will be like.

Bible Studies for Life

Bible Studies for Life connects the Bible to life for adults, students and kids. Bible Studies for Life helps individuals and groups know God’s Word through trustworthy content, creates biblical community through engaging and conversational group studies, and helps people engage the culture missionally by unpacking what the Bible says about real-life issues. More information can be found on the internet at

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by Lifeway can be found at and

Special prayer service, prayer room await 2022 SBC messengers, leaders Thu, 05 May 2022 20:38:55 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Long Hollow Church Senior Pastor Robby Gallaty of Hendersonville, Tenn., knows the value of crying out to God and sitting silently for His response.]]>

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Long Hollow Church Senior Pastor Robby Gallaty of Hendersonville, Tenn., knows the value of crying out to God and sitting silently for His response.

“For a season, I was praying for God to fix the problems in my church. God, would you fix the problem in my deacon body? Would you fix the problems in my staff?” Gallaty recounted to Baptist Press. “After spending time with the Lord, He came back and said, ‘Robby, the problem’s not your church. It’s not your staff. It’s not the deacon body. The problem’s actually you.’

“If you’ve ever gotten that gut-level honest with the Lord before, it’s painful, but you know, that’s where true breakthrough and transformation came. Because God began to show me my own pride and arrogance and jealousy.”

Gallaty will share and encourage transparency, repentance and confession as he leads a special prayer service June 12 at 4 p.m. in the main meeting hall venue of the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in the Anaheim Convention Center, inviting pastors, messengers and guests to the event. Bill Elliff, founding and national engage pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Ark., will co-lead the prayer session, which Gallaty estimated will last about 90 minutes.

“I want to challenge the pastors to think, and I’m going to say, ‘You may be the blood clot to revival coming to your church, Pastor,” Gallaty said.

The prayer meeting, an official activity of the 2022 SBC Pastors’ Conference, is one of several prayer opportunities planned for the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting.

The SBC 2022 Prayer Team, a group of prayer leaders drawn from across Southern Baptist life, is hosting through the California Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC) an online portal to volunteer to pray in the SBC Annual Meeting Prayer Room in Anaheim. Southern Baptists are also encouraged to pray in advance of the meeting.

“Whenever we attempt to make decisions for God’s work, He should be consulted, honored and sought,” said Grant Bennett, SBC 2022 Prayer Team leader, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gilroy. If Jesus prayed before making any decisions, how much more should we be praying and seeking God when we decide on kingdom work?

“Join us in the prayer room as we seek God and lift up our prayers to a heavenly Father who loves us and wants to see us united in His mission as a loving, cooperating, Christ-honoring family,” Bennett said. “In the prayer room we are praying for the decisions of the convention, our missionaries and our messengers and kingdom work. We are thrilled to join you in praying to our awesome God about what you are facing and where you need His power and love to meet you.”

Bennett is appealing to leaders and messengers to pray for the annual meeting, encouraging SBC entity leaders and pastors to consider volunteering to pray in the prayer room for at least an hour. The room will be staffed throughout the annual meeting.

The prayer team shared prayer requests with Baptist Press:

  • Pray for SBC leadership to seek Good and follow His direction in all they do;
  • Pray for unity, harmony and synergy among the SBC leadership team;
  • Pray for revival in Southern Baptist churches and spiritual awakening in their communities;
  • Pray for Spirit-filled preaching and leadership among SBC pastors and churches.

Gallaty believes revival is always birthed by prayer, and has dedicated special quiet and prayer times in advance of the June 12 prayer meeting.

The meeting will include times of silence and solitude, worship, meditation on Scripture, confession, repentance, introspection and crying out to God.

“I want to have a rough outline (of the program) but I also want to be led by the Spirit and see what He wants us to do,” Gallaty said. “The tone of the entire convention will be set in that hour-and-a-half prior to the Pastors’ Conference. Prayer is not ‘a’ work in the Christian life. Prayer is ‘the’ work of the Christian life.”

Evangelists, associational leaders, others to meet for fellowship and outreach in Anaheim Thu, 05 May 2022 20:37:43 +0000 ANAHEIM, California (BP) – Several groups closely connected with the Southern Baptist Convention plan gatherings adjacent to the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting June 14-15 in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles.]]>

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Several groups closely connected with the Southern Baptist Convention plan gatherings adjacent to the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting June 14-15 in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles.

The Southern Baptist Evangelists have a special event planned. The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) will meet for a day and a half. The SBC Senders Network has merged with Missions Metro and will not be formally meeting in Anaheim.

The Messianic Fellowship also will gather, but not the Fellowship of Native American Christians.


Southern Baptist Evangelists (formerly known as COSBE, the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists) will host the Southwest Supper Sing-A-Long, a free special event, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Monday, June 13, at the Hilton Anaheim, Ballroom A, Level 2.

All Southern Baptists and guests are welcome, Amy Stockwell, the group’s secretary, told Baptist Press.

“This will be a great opportunity to get to know our Southern Baptist vocational evangelists and enjoy visiting and singing together as the SBC music evangelists lead in worship,” Stockwell said. “SBC Evangelists will also be available for visiting and discussions at their booth, #670, in the Exhibit Hall throughout the duration of all convention events.”

There will not be a Sunday morning worship service hosted by the Southern Baptist Evangelists in Anaheim. A casual dinner and business meeting for members is slated for Tuesday at a local restaurant.


The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) is to meet June 12-13 at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim for a gathering centered around “Pursuing Love and Good Works,” based on Hebrews 10:24.

The annual event starts at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, June 12. Ben Mandrell, president of LifeWay Christian Resources is to be the guest speaker. Rick Curtis, assistant to the president at the North American Mission Board, is to speak at the meal that begins at 11:15 a.m. Hance Dilbeck, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, is to speak during the 5:55 p.m. banquet dinner.

Ministry fairs, networking and plenary sessions are to take place between meals Sunday and on Monday from 8:30-11:15 a.m.

The SBCAL “is a great way to connect with like-minded AMSs (association mission strategists) across America, to sharpen your skills, and to learn from your peers,” SBCAL president Ray Gentry wrote on the group’s website,

Messianic Fellowship

The 2022 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship is set for Sunday, June 12, at The Disciple Center, 505 Villa Real #108 in Anaheim Hills.

A nearly two-hour worship service is to start at 10 a.m. followed by a church-provided pot luck luncheon. The business meeting, set for 1:30 p.m. is to also be streamed via Zoom.

President Bruce Stokes is to bring the morning message. Other than that, this is a time for the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship members to experience one of our congregations rather than having a special program,” said Stokes, a professor at California Baptist University.

“If people are interested in the Jewish foundations of the Christian faith or are interested in sharing their faith with Jewish friends in an effective manner they would be benefited by attending this conference,” Stokes told Baptist Press. “If they are wanting to assist in alleviating the problems of anti-Semitism and Replacement Theology among Christians they would benefit from being part of the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship.

“We are very interested in connecting with Jewish members of Southern Baptist Churches and congregations with a desire to understand the Jewish foundation and underpinning of our faith in Yeshua Jesus.”

Native Americans

FoNAC, the Fellowship of Native American Christians, will not gather in Anaheim. Instead, regional gatherings are planned, starting with one in October in Oklahoma.

“FoNAC intends to continue having a physical presence at the SBC, while taking a more regional approach of going to locations with larger Native populations,” Executive Director Gary Hawkins told Baptist Press. “We will join the All Nations Booth in the Exhibit Hall with [FoNAC president] Jordan Kanuho, [Pawnee Pastor] Warren ‘Jr’ Pratt, and [SBC Native American statesman] Emerson Falls.

“Our challenge is to develop a stronger, longer-reaching network working corporately to see God’s people reaching the nations for Christ,” Hawkins continued. “I thank God for FoNAC’s executive board. They are younger and have brought some fresh ideas and approaches to Native ministry.”

Global ministries

A breakfast at 8 a.m. Monday, June 13, in the California Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in Anaheim has been set by the Fellowship of Baptist World Ministries (FBWM.) NAMB will cover the cost of the first 150 to register at Registration on is required.

Guest speakers include Charles Clark, IMB; Johnny Hunt, NAMB; and Efraim Tendero, World Evangelical Alliance.

Phil Roberts is FBWM’s new president. Anthony George, pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, recently was elected the group’s pastor/advisor.

FBWM, founded in 1985 with now 15 member organizations, “offers fellowship, coordination and collaboration with other like-minded ministries as well as connectedness with our IMB,” Roberts said.

World missions organizations, evangelistic associations, churches, associations, Baptist state conventions, Baptist seminaries and elected lay leaders who are in good standing in local Southern Baptist churches all are welcome in the group and at the breakfast.

Women’s gatherings, network fellowships await SBC messengers in Anaheim Thu, 05 May 2022 20:32:47 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – SBC Pastors’ Wives, the SBC Women’s Leadership Network and Women & Work have teamed up to present the SBC Women’s Session Monday, June 13, in advance of the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. The gathering is one of many to be offered by network and affinity groups related to the SBC.]]>

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – SBC Pastors’ Wives, the SBC Women’s Leadership Network and Women & Work have teamed up to present the SBC Women’s Session on Monday, June 13, in advance of the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. The gathering is one of many to be offered by network and affinity groups related to the SBC.

A list of meetings follows:

SBC Women’s Session

  • Theme: Emotional health, spiritual rhythms and rest
  • Monday, June 13, 9 a.m.
  • Anaheim Marriott – Platinum Ballrooms 5/6
  • Jointly sponsored by SBC Pastors’ Wives, SBC Women’s Leadership Network and Women & Work

Women’s Expo

  • Monday, June 13, 1 p.m.
  • Anaheim Marriott – Platinum Foyer

Ministers’ Wives Luncheon

  • Tuesday, June 14, noon
  • Anaheim Marriott, Platinum Ballroom
  • Register here.

Conservative Baptist Network

  • An Evening with John MacArthur
  • Sunday, June 12, 6 p.m.
  • Anaheim Marriott
  • Marquis Ballroom Sections Center and South
  • Register here.
  • Breakfast
  • Tuesday, June 14, 7 a.m.
  • Anaheim Marriott
  • Marquis Ballroom Sections Center and South
  • Register here.


  • Monday-Tuesday, June 13-14, 9 p.m.
  • Hilton Anaheim
  • California Ballroom C-D
  • Register here.

Pillar Network Fellowship

  • Tuesday, June 14, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Hilton Anaheim
  • California Ballroom C-D
  • (prior to 9Marks@9)
  • Register here.

Trauma-informed Ministry Breakout

  • SBC Voices
  • Monday, June 13, 7 p.m.
  • Anaheim Marriott Platinum Ballroom 4

B21 Panel Discussion

  • Tuesday, June 14, 6:45 a.m.
  • Anaheim Marriott
  • Grand Ballroom E
  • Register here.

Large Church Roundtable Breakfast

  • Tuesday, June 14, 7 a.m.
  • Anaheim Marriott
  • Grand Ballroom C

Kids Ministry Leaders Gathering

  • Tuesday, June 14, 1-2 p.m.
  • ACC Level 3 Room 303C

BSCLN Bivocational Luncheon

  • Wednesday, June 15, noon
  • Anaheim Marriott
  • Platinum Ballrooms 1-3
Tony Evans, CP Stage conversations on NAAF lineup Thu, 05 May 2022 20:30:31 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Preaching from Tony Evans and kingdom conversations with diverse panelists are among activities the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAAF) will host in conjunction with the SBC 2022 Annual Meeting in Anaheim.]]>

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Preaching from Tony Evans and kingdom conversations with diverse panelists are among activities the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAAF) will host in conjunction with the SBC 2022 Annual Meeting in Anaheim.

The worship and conversations are designed to engage African American pastors and others in advance of the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting June 14-15 at the Anaheim Convention Center, NAAF President Frank Williams said.

“We’ve generated a lot of excitement among our churches, especially those who are local in California to gather and to really continue to encourage each other in the work that God has called us to do in our local communities,” Williams said, “but also the work that God has called us to do within our denomination, whether that’s on the local level, at your association, at your state convention and serving nationally on the boards and committees of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Evans, a noted pastor, author and influencer, will preach June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Friendship Baptist Church of Yorba Linda, Calif., headlining NAAF’s Sunday worship service.

The founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas has authored more than 100 books, including the CSB Tony Evans Study Bible and Commentary, the first such work by an African American.

New to NAAF’s lineup this year are two kingdom conversations on the Cooperative Program stage of the Annual Meeting Exhibit Hall. A group of panelists representing several ethnicities will discuss Biblical Christianity and Justice on June 14 at 9 a.m. The Fellowship of Native American Christians, the National Fellowship of Hispanic Southern Baptist Churches, NAAF, one of the many Asian fellowships in the SBC, and an Anglo Southern Baptist have all been invited to state how they see justice addressed in the Gospel and to hear each other’s views on how justice has impacted their communities.

“Finishing Well,” the kingdom conversation set for June 14 at 10:10 a.m., will feature Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Senior Pastor Fred Luter of New Orleans, and former GuideStone President and CEO O.S. Hawkins.

NAAF is encouraging pastors to identify with and embrace the SBC through the work of their hands, said Williams, pastor of Bronx Baptist Church and Wake-Eden Community Baptist Church, both in Bronx, N.Y.

“We have been working behind the scenes encouraging pastors to be more involved in giving to the Cooperative Program and being present at their local, associational and state convention events,” Williams said. “We want our pastors to see that kind of work in their local area as a part of why we are connected with the Southern Baptist Convention, and to also see this convention as their convention. You’re not just an observer, you’re not a bystander, you are an active participant in your convention.”

NAAF will hold its annual business meeting June 13 at 4 p.m. in Room 304B of the convention center, followed by its annual George Liele Banquet in Rooms 304C-D. Williams will preach the banquet sermon. The Friendship Baptist Church Choir, the Wrecking Crew, will lead worship music. Banquet tickets, $55 each, are available at

NAAF will host two exhibits on the Exhibit Hall floor, including at the All Nations Booth and a separate NAAF booth designed to engage pastors more directly.

Kenneth C. Curry Jr. is host pastor of the Sunday worship service, which will feature a regional mass choir from multiple California churches.

Asian groups to gather in Anaheim; a homecoming for Korean Baptists Thu, 05 May 2022 20:28:04 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – The Asian Kickoff Gathering will celebrate the newest Asian fellowship on the Sunday before the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting.]]>

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – The Asian Kickoff Gathering will celebrate the newest Asian fellowship on the Sunday before the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting.

Hosted by the Southern Baptist Asian Collective in partnership with SBC Executive Committee, the Asian Kickoff Gathering is for the 10-member Asian contingent of the SBC’s 35 ethnic fellowships, and for those individuals, churches and associations that minister among the various Asian ethnicities.

“We are looking forward to great fellowship and an opportunity to foster greater cooperation of how we can work together in God’s kingdom work,” Peter Yanes told Baptist Press.

Yanes is executive director of Asian relations and mobilization, and facilitates ethnic engagement for the SBC Executive Committee.

In addition, the Korean and Filipino fellowship groups plan to host annual meetings in the days surrounding the two-day annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Asian Collective

The Asian Kickoff Gathering is set for 3-6 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at the Anaheim Marriott.

“This is a gathering of pastors, leaders, and partners to kick off the SBC Pastors’ Conference and the SBC annual meeting,” Yanes said. “You don’t have to be Asian to attend. The Asian Kickoff Gathering is a way to promote ongoing partnerships among Asian fellowships and SBC entities for mission cooperation. Together we can do more than apart.”

Willie McLaurin, interim president/CEO of the Executive Committee, is guest speaker, as are leaders from the Orange County Baptist Association and California Southern Baptist Convention.

The new, 128-church SBC Myanmar churches’ fellowship is to install its first-ever leadership team at the Asian Kickoff Gathering. The Myanmar leadership team will develop a constitution and bylaws over the next year and present them at the group’s first annual meeting in 2023.

“We are looking forward to this second annual Asian Kickoff Gathering,” Yanes said. “The more we know about each other, the easier it is to work together for the sake of the millions of Asians in the United States around the world who do not yet know of God’s love for each of them, individually.”

More Asian events

An Asian American Collective Pastors Panel is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, June 13, in Room 304C at the Anaheim Convention Center. Space is limited. Please contact Terrence Shay ( or Hyung Lee ( to register. They are two of four pastors coordinating the event.

“If you are an English-speaking pastor or chaplain serving in an Asian-American or Asian-Canadian context, come join us for this gathering where we will tackle the topic of ‘Pursuing biblical health together,’” said Shay, family ministry pastor at First Chinese Baptist Church in Walnut, Calif.

The presenters and panelists include Geoff Chang Ph.D. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Pastors Albert Ting and Hanley Liu, from First Chinese in Walnut; and Pastors P.J. Tibayan and John Lee, from Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, Calif.

An Asian Pastors’ Wives gathering is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday in Room 303C at the Anaheim Convention Center. Space is limited; contact Shay or Lee to register.

“Pastors’ wives are in a unique position, as they are church members who are married to their pastors! So we want this luncheon to bless, encourage, and thank these Asian American and Asian Canadian sisters for all they do in their families and churches,” Lee said. “We also want this lunch to be an opportunity for pastors’ wives to meet and connect with one another that goes beyond this lunch and our time in Anaheim.”

Korean Council

This is a historic year for the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America. The fellowship group of about 970 churches plans to gather June 13-15 at Berendo Street Baptist Church in Koreatown, Los Angeles.

Berendo Street Baptist, where Sung Kun Park has been pastor since 1990, was in 1957 the first Korean church in the United States started by Southern Baptists. It was the church that guided the formation of the Korean Council in 1980, and Berendo Street Baptist was the site of the Council’s first annual meeting in 1981.

“We are returning to the same church to celebrate 40 years of ministry as we celebrate our 41st annual meeting,” Executive Director James Kang told Baptist Press. “We expect to have over 1,200 attending. We have 100 churches all over Los Angeles. They are working together to host this meeting, so we expect to have a great celebration.”

The fellowship group’s 41st annual meeting is set for Monday through Wednesday, June 13-15, with Korean meals and snacks provided each day.

“Jesus: The Center of It All” is the theme of the three-day gathering, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Monday with a Korean dinner. The first session is a worship service at 7 p.m. opening with a 30-minute Concert of Praise led by Cornerstone Baptist Church in Torrance, Calif. The evening’s guest speaker is Byeong Rack Choi, pastor of Kangman Central Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in Seoul, South Korea.

A variety of workshops for pastors, their wives and church leaders are to take place Tuesday morning, when Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, is to speak. Tuesday afternoon is open for attendees to join in the main session of the SBC annual meeting for the election of officers. The Korean Council will provide buses to make transportation easy to and from the Anaheim Convention Center.

A Missionary Sending Celebration and prayer time for church planters is to take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, with Vance Pitman as guest speaker. Pitman is president of the North American Mission Board’s Send Network.

Business sessions are to take place starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, with reports, election of officers and a discussion of Vision 2027 among the leading items on the agenda. Choi is to be the guest speaker at the 7 p.m. Wednesday evening worship service and Youth Celebration.

Vision 2027 is connected to the SBC’s Vision 2025. Vision 2027 has seven goals, which include sending out 50 career missionaries through the International Mission Board and 20 through the Korean Council, and planting 30 churches “in strategic and needed cities,” Kang said.

In other Korean news, more than $200,000 was gathered as of April 30 for “Send Hope to Ukraine” from Korean Southern Baptist churches in the United States.

The new 432-page book, “History of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America” recently was published in Korean and will be presented to messengers at this year’s annual meeting of the Korean Council.

Filipino Fellowship

The Filipino Baptist Fellowship will meet from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Monday, June 13, in the Orange County Ballroom, Level 1, Sections 1 and 2 at the Anaheim Marriott.

The Papuri Singers USA are to lead in worship, and Darius Nable, pastor of The Church of the Good Shepherd in Cherry Hill, N.J., will bring a message around the Filipino Fellowship’s annual meeting theme: Celebrating God’s faithfulness.”

Fellowship, encouragement and some business will comprise the agenda, reported Executive Director Dan Santiago, pastor of Covenant Christian Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

Of the more than 47,000 churches in the SBC, at least 230 worship in a Filipino context and minister to the 4.5 million Filipino people in the United States.

Asian meetings not in Anaheim

The Vietnamese Baptist Union of North America is to meet June 30-July 3 at the Marriott Los Angeles for its 37th annual conference. The president is Peter Le, pastor of Vietnamese Faith Baptist Church in Dallas.

The Hmong Baptist National Association is to gather for its 31st annual conference on October 13-15 in Denver. The president is Chue Ger Herr, pastor of First Hmong Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

The United Lao Southern Baptist Fellowship is to meet for its annual meeting on June 24-26 in Bethany, Okla. This will be the first time for the Laotian Fellowship to meet since the pandemic. The president is Houmphanh Vongsurith, pastor of First Laotian Baptist Church of Dallas.

Hispanic Baptists set to be encouraged, equipped at Anaheim gatherings Thu, 05 May 2022 17:06:39 +0000 ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Hispanic Baptists from the U.S. and beyond are looking forward to the annual Southern Baptist Convention gathering in Anaheim, Calif., where they will gather to fellowship and celebrate all that God has done during this past year.]]>

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Hispanic Baptists from the U.S. and beyond are looking forward to the annual Southern Baptist Convention gathering in Anaheim, Calif., where they will gather to fellowship and celebrate all that God has done during this past year.

On Sunday, June 12 at 5 p.m., pastors and wives are invited to he Hispanic Celebration and the Hispanic Pastors & Wives Dinner in Grand Ballroom E-K on the first level of the Anaheim Marriott. More than 200 pastors and wives have already registered, and more are expected.

“The SBC Anaheim meeting will be a great time to fellowship, celebrate and be inspired by seeing what God is doing among His people, and very specifically among Hispanics,” said Luis Lopez, executive director of Hispanic relations and mobilization with the SBC Executive Committee. “In the midst of the challenges we face today, we can be certain that Jesus is the center of it all. As we lead the church out of the COVID crisis, Hispanic pastors and church leaders will find in Anaheim a great opportunity to hear stories, encourage each other, worship and collaborate with the rest of the SBC family in carrying out the Great Commission. This is a time to be inspired and  be encouraged in God’s kingdom.”

Ramon Medina, global Spanish pastor at Champion Forrest Baptist Church in Houston, is organizing the dinner as a member of the Hispanic Leadership Council.

“We expect this to be a great time of fellowship for our Hispanic pastors and wives as they catch up and share their ministry experiences in their individual contexts,” Medina said.

The dinner will also serve as an opportunity for Southern Baptist partners to share Spanish-language ministry resources with the pastors. Some of the ministry partners that will share are Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lifeway Christian Resources, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, GuideStone Financial Resources and Dallas Baptist University among others.

The Hispanic Celebration will precede the dinner at the same location. Both events, which are being organized by the SBC’s Hispanic Council, are focused on the SBC annual meeting’s main theme: “Jesus the Center of it All.”

The Hispanic Celebration is open to all and will feature guest speaker Erik Zaldaña, pastor of Shadow Mountain en Español in El Cajon, Calif. Worship will be led by Julio Arriola, director of Send Network Texas in partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

“It’s going to be a beautiful opportunity to be united, to share and encourage each other on what the Lord is doing in the country through our Southern Baptist Convention,” Medina said.

Lopez listed three reasons to be excited about gathering in Anaheim.

“First, the meeting is taking place in California, the state with the largest Hispanic population in our country,” he said. “We, as Southern Baptists, have not had  our annual meeting here since 1981. I love California for its beauty, the diversity of its people and great weather. We have some great churches and leaders there. It is also a great mission field.  Second, there are some key events specially for Hispanic pastors and leaders that will take place during these days. Last but not least, this year in our annual meeting, Southern Baptists from around the nation will be discussing relevant topics that concern the church today and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”

On Monday, June 13, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Lifeway Español will host a series of workshops for Hispanic pastors and leaders. Organized by Ariel Irizarry, Lifeway Global training leader, the workshops will focus on Lifeway resources available to pastors, leaders and churches in Spanish, such as the online platform Lifeway Equipa, which now boasts more than 7,000 members.

On Wednesday, June 15, at 10:45 a.m., the CP Stage in the Exhibit Hall in the convention center will host a panel in Spanish on the topic, “Leading the church out of the COVID crisis.” The panelists will be Tony Miranda, president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas and pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Austin; Victor Solórzano, senior pastor at Iglesia Vida en Victoria; and Eloy Rodriguez, pastor of Idlewild en Español in Lutz, Fla.; with Luis Lopez as moderator.

For more information on these events contact Martha Espinoza at and Ariel Irizarry at

SBC presidential candidates share competing visions in church-hosted forum Wed, 04 May 2022 21:23:43 +0000 KELLER, Texas (BP) – In what is being called an “unprecedented gathering,” the three announced candidates for Southern Baptist Convention president spent just under two hours answering questions and interacting with one another in a candidate forum Wednesday (May 4). Tom Ascol, Bart Barber and Robin Hadaway covered topics such as Critical Race Theory, a need for reform within the trustee system among SBC entities and institutions, a call for transparency with SBC leadership and more.]]>

KELLER, Texas (BP) – In what is being called an “unprecedented gathering,” the three announced candidates for Southern Baptist Convention president spent just under two hours answering questions and interacting with one another in a candidate forum Wednesday (May 4). Tom Ascol, Bart Barber and Robin Hadaway covered topics such as Critical Race Theory, a need for reform within the trustee system among SBC entities and institutions, a call for transparency with SBC leadership and more.

“The heart behind it is to help people who don’t know about the SBC to see a little bit better how it works,” said Joe Wooddell, a member of FBC Keller and co-moderator of the event.

He said he hoped the event would help people gain an understanding of what the SBC president does, “… and to show that we can have a civil exchange in Christian love and goodwill and still adhere to truth.”

Tony Richmond, associate pastor at FBC Keller, helped moderate the forum. Candidates were given five minutes at the beginning of the forum and five minutes at the end to share freely about their personal lives and ministries as well as the topics on their minds.

The candidates were asked what their primary focus would be if they are elected SBC president.

Tom Ascol said he would place an emphasis on spiritual reformation. “I mean, quite honestly, brothers and sisters, I think we have lost the fear of God in our churches and in our convention,” he said.

He continued the call to reformation by saying that there should be a renewed focus on the law of God. He pointed to how the same God who gave the Gospel, gave the law. “If we would do that, then we would not be so confused or easily manipulated on concepts like love and justice, which we are a lot today.”

Ascol also called for structural renovation in the SBC. “We need to train our trustees to understand that they are not unpaid political relations departments for the entities that they serve. They hold the entities in trust for the churches and they need to be given the tools and the understanding of how to do that.”

He also spoke of the need to redirect the work of the Credentials Committee when it comes to churches that affirm practices that are not in line with the Baptist Faith and Message.

Barber said he would use the influence of the role to call people to listen to one another and be kind to one another as they discuss the challenging issues of the day. “If we don’t have civility, transparency and accountability aren’t going to help us very much,” he said.

“I hope to serve as president of Southern Baptist Convention in a way that emphasizes and respects the voice of the messengers, moderates the meeting in a way that that protects their rights, [and] helps them to do the best they can to bring their point of view. But then when we make the decision as the messenger body, we move forward to go with one another and we treat one another with Christian kindness and love and respect.”

Hadaway said his focus would be to call Southern Baptists to remember the mission. “We were founded to support our North American missionaries, our international missionaries, and that’s still our primary task.”

“I want to return the joy and the missions vision to the SBC, all at the same time, doing the things necessary to address the issues that might come up,” Hadaway said.

Around 80 people were in person for the event, including former SBC president and former longtime Lifeway Christian Resources President Jimmy Draper. Around 340 people tuned in online.

The forum can be watched through FBC Keller and through the ACTS 2 app.

Baptist Press will publish a fuller story on the forum soon.

LMCO, AAEO, CP up a combined $22.5 million through April Wed, 04 May 2022 21:11:32 +0000 NASHVILLE (BP) – All three major giving streams in Southern Baptist life remain ahead of the previous year’s totals through seven months of the fiscal year.]]>

NASHVILLE (BP) – All three major giving streams in Southern Baptist life remain ahead of the previous year’s totals through seven months of the fiscal year. The 2021-22 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and national Cooperative Program totals are a combined $22,544,459.80 above giving in the first seven months of the 2020-21 cycle. Year-to-date giving through the SBC Executive Committee for the LMCO totals $121,684,255.48 while AAEO totals $13,146,479.11.

“My heart is filled with gratitude for the intentional generosity demonstrated by our network of churches through their Cooperative Program giving,” SBC Executive Committee interim president Willie McLaurin said in a statement. “The over-and-above giving after the first seven months highlights the faithfulness of our local churches. I am equally encouraged by the sacrificial gifts given through both Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings. The unified giving from our churches positions us to wrap our arms around the globe and unite to win the world for Jesus.”

The amount given through the Cooperative Program in April 2022 totaled $15,496,899.36, which was $339,745.02 (2.15 percent) less than the $15,836,644.38 received in April 2021 and $336,433.98 (2.12 percent) less than the monthly budgeted amount of $15,833,333.34.

As of April 30, gifts received by the EC for distribution through the CP Allocation Budget total $121,411,582.55. This is $9,522,198.85 or 8.51 percent more than last year’s budget contribution of $111,889,383.70. The amount given is ahead of the $110,833,333.38 year-to-date budgeted projection to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America by $10,578,249.17 or 9.54 percent.

Designated gifts received in April amounted to $16,685,824.17. This total was $2,490,066.24, or 17.54 percent, more than gifts of $14,195,757.93 received last April. Also, this year’s designated gifts through the first seven months of the fiscal year amount to $140,675,883.91, which is $13,022,260.90 or 10.20 percent more than the $127,653,623.01 given through same period in the previous fiscal year.

The Cooperative Program is the financial fuel to fund the SBC mission and vision of reaching every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state, and every nation. Begun in 1925, local churches contribute to the ministries of its state convention and the missions and ministries of the SBC through a unified giving plan to support both sets of ministries. Monies include receipts from individuals, churches and state conventions for distribution according to the 2021-2022 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.

State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to SBC national and international causes. The percentage of distribution is at the discretion of each state or regional convention.

The convention-adopted budget for 2021-2022 is $190 million and includes an initial $200,000 special priority allocation for the SBC Vision 2025 initiative. Cooperative Program funds are then disbursed as follows: 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education through the six SBC seminaries and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. If national CP gifts exceed the $186.875 million budget projection at the end of the fiscal year, 10 percent of the overage is to be used to support the SBC Vision 2025 initiative with the balance of the overage distributed according to the percentages approved for budgetary distribution. The SBC Executive Committee distributes all CP and designated gifts it receives on a weekly basis to the SBC ministry entities.

Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the timing of when the cooperating state Baptist conventions forward the national portion of Cooperative Program contributions to the Executive Committee, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions, the number of Sundays in a given month, and the percentage of CP contributions forwarded to the SBC by the state conventions after shared ministry expenses are deducted.

Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief, Disaster Relief and other special gifts. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities.

CP allocation budget gifts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state convention offices, to the state Baptist papers and are posted online at

Southern Baptist church plants increase for second consecutive year Wed, 04 May 2022 20:57:54 +0000 BOCA RATON, Fla. – Cliff McCray was playing football at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2007 when one of his teammates tragically passed away. Through the tragedy, God led McCray to faith and kickstarted a journey that led to full-time ministry and church planting.]]>

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Cliff McCray was playing football at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2007 when one of his teammates tragically passed away. Through the tragedy, God led McCray to faith and kickstarted a journey that led to full-time ministry and church planting.

“I got saved in a college ministry on UCF’s campus,” McCray said of his 2008 transformation. “I didn’t look back.”

More than a decade later, McCray launched Radiant City Church in Boca Raton, Fla., after leaving a successful career in the corporate world to begin exploring church planting at the suggestion of his church’s elders. Radiant City baptized 13 people before its first birthday. In just over a year, that number climbed to 24.

“Our mission is to multiply disciples and churches,” McCray said. “We want to love our neighbors, go and multiply disciples. We just said if God has commissioned us to do that, we want to make our mission simple.”

Radiant City Church has also set up an internship and welcomed two residents who are preparing for ministry as a congregation that has reached people across generations and cultures.

Launched in February 2021, Garden City Church in Beaumont, Calif., baptized 12 believers in their first year and a half as a church. Garden City Church photo

McCray’s church is part of the Class of 2021 church plants launched by Southern Baptist churches. In total, Southern Baptists added 1,018 new congregations – 735 church plants, 201 affiliations and 82 new campuses. This represents a 25 percent increase in church plants and a 19 percent increase in congregations overall. Of the 735 church plants, 135 were replants, which NAMB has traditionally counted as church plants.

“We celebrate every new church that’s planted, but we also understand that the mission is not simply starting new churches,” said Vance Pitman, president of Send Network. “Our mission is to join in God’s activity of expanding His kingdom in cities and nations all over the world. His kingdom expands as cities are engaged with the Gospel, disciples are made, and churches are born. So, we rejoice whenever new believers are welcomed into the kingdom and churches are born by the power of the Gospel.”

Another new church is Engage City Church in Huber Heights, Ohio, north of Dayton. The church officially joined the Send Network family in 2021 after beginning their church planting journey a few years earlier.

“I was initially wary about planting through any network or organization,” said lead planter Doug Wampler. “But, we recognized the value of the relationships, the coaching and support that goes beyond their generosity and helps you realize that you’re not alone. This is a family that we love being a part of.”

Engage City Church has focused its outreach on their community by both hosting events, such as a blacklight Easter egg hunt, and meeting tangible needs as they arise among their neighbors. They have helped pay for funerals for those in their communities and provided meals for kids in their local school system.

The Impact Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta launched in 2021 after building relationships through 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lead planter Airenakhue Aimievbo grew up in Nigeria before moving to Canada for mission work. Now, his church has become a multicultural, multinational congregation. The Impact Baptist Church photo

That engagement within their city has led to a number of Gospel conversations, people coming to faith in Christ and baptisms. In 2021, the church recorded 184 people coming to Christ, baptized 75 and averaged more than 470 in attendance.

The church has also started a residency designed to discover, develop and deploy future church-planting missionaries. Several residents have entered Send Network’s assessment process as they begin their own church-planting journies.

Brad Ormonde, Jr., began his church-planting journey east of Los Angeles in Beaumont, Calif., after serving as youth pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship for seven years.

“I was at a mega-church in a pretty comfortable pastoral position,” Ormonde said. “I was able to exercise my gifts and do what we were wanting to do pastorally, but I wasn’t walking by faith. We had to walk by faith in planting this church.”

Launched in February 2021, Garden City Church baptized 12 believers in its first 18 months, and Ormonde has already begun discussions with members about training and sending out a church planter of their own.

A major emphasis of Send Network’s efforts centers on reaching the nations who are coming to North America, and as NAMB seeks to engage diverse cities and communities with the Gospel, there has been a concerted effort to equip and send an increasingly diverse group of missionaries.

Airenakhue (Airen) Aimievbo grew up in Nigeria in a Christian family before moving to Canada for mission work. He attended the Canadian Baptist Theological Seminary in Alberta, and while pandemic-related restrictions slowed the church-planting progress, he and others have already begun reaching different people groups through The Impact Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta.

With team members from Uganda and the Philippines, Aimievbo said, “My vision was to reach African immigrants, but the ministry is now multicultural and multinational.”

As Aimievbo has made connections in his community, he has continued to encounter people of different national and religious backgrounds.

“When God is involved in anything, He is going to do His work. He is going to touch lives through us,” Aimievbo said. “Pray for a spirit of boldness to go out and share.”

Beginning with the 2021 new congregations count, NAMB is adding additional detail to show how many church plants are replants. In an average year, Southern Baptists lose more than 900 congregations, many of them dying. Because of this, NAMB started a church replanting emphasis led by Mark Clifton. Clifton says 900 association leaders and others have been trained and certified in church replanting since 2018.

NAMB President Kevin Ezell said the uptick in church plants is a good example of what Southern Baptists can achieve through partnership.

“We should be encouraged to see our plant count and overall congregation count going up,” Ezell said. “Southern Baptists are blessed with an incredible family of churches and when we unite to plant new churches and increase our gospel reach, we are at our best.”

CP gives small Nevada church an outreach Wed, 04 May 2022 20:43:38 +0000 SUN VALLEY, Nevada (BP) – First Baptist Church of Sun Valley needs help. In everything but its Cooperative Program giving, that is.]]>

SUN VALLEY, Nevada (BP) – First Baptist Church of Sun Valley needs help.

In everything but its Cooperative Program giving, that is. The church has a long-standing commitment to allocating 10 percent of undesignated giving to missions through the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptists work together to advance God’s kingdom across the United States and throughout the world.

“Supporting the Cooperative Program was a prerequisite of mine before becoming the pastor, I told the church,” Larry Whitney told Baptist Press. He’s been pastor of First Baptist Sun Valley since 2001. It’s his first pastorate. “Of course, God had the final word and apparently it was His will.

Though it’s a small church — only about 40 people attend each Sunday — Sun Valley Baptist has baptized 34 people in the last decade. Submitted photo

“Being a small church made up mostly of seniors, I felt we needed a way to reach people for Christ. The Cooperative Program does what we can’t as a small church.

“I believe give what you can, but give sacrificially and from the heart. God gives us everything we’ve got. We are a small church, but we are a giving church. We need to help as much as we can, even though we’re small.”

First Baptist Sun Valley, started in 1958, is in an unincorporated but “census-designated” area three miles north of Reno and 15 miles east of the California state line. The area is known as one of the largest trailer (mobile home) parks in the nation.

In 1938, the federal government began giving five acres north of Reno to people who would establish a permanent residence, and mobile homes qualified, said the Bureau of Land Management. In time, those 5-acre tracts were sold and subdivided, multiplying the number of what then were called “trailer houses.”

The Sun Valley community still today has a reputation in Reno for illegal drugs, violence and poverty, but census statistics say only about 12 percent of homes are low-income. However, the transient, privacy-seeking community has been a hard place to grow a church, Whitney said.

He would like long-term volunteers familiar with community ministry to add to what’s already being done in Sun Valley. The church’s ministry is limited by the age and health of the congregation.

“I’ve baptized over 80 people since I’ve been here,” Whitney said. “Many have moved on.”

The Sun Valley area remains 95 percent unchurched, the pastor said.

“If you are missions-oriented, come to Sun Valley,” Whitney said. “You don’t need a passport and we could use your help. We need volunteers able to spread the Gospel and build relationships with the people here.”

Sun Valley hosted more than 100 people for an Easter event last month. Submitted photo

While the youngest person attending services is three months old, most are in their 60s and 70s. Whitney, 82, is the oldest man in the church, though three women in the church are in their 90s and one is nearing 100.

At least four members have cancer: the pastor, his wife who leads the music and plays the organ, a longtime “faithful bondservant” deacon and a member baptized just two years ago.

“I could not get along without my wife,” Whitney said, “as our 64 years of marriage proves. I believe God used those of us at Sun Valley church to show you can still serve, regardless of age and affliction. It just takes faith and a lot of belief. God has blessed us, I’ll tell you that.”

About 40 people attend Sunday services at Sun Valley Baptist. Pre-COVID, there were 56. The church baptized three people last year, and 34 in the last decade.

Members pass out flyers in the community, inviting people to church-sponsored events, such as the recent Easter Fun Day.

Prayer is a major component of First Baptist Sun Valley’s local ministry. In addition to Wednesday evening prayers, there’s a community prayer breakfast the fourth Saturday of each month.

The church’s only internet access, on the pastor’s cell phone, is used as a collection point for prayer and praises.

“I push prayer so hard in our church,” Whitney said. “Prayer is a charge from our Lord. To me, prayer is a blessing, a time when we can talk to our Lord and marvel at His attention and answers.”

A stint in the Air Force in the 1950s connected the Mormon-reared Whitney with his first taste of true Christianity, and gave him a trade: refrigeration. He parlayed that training into a successful, two-state refrigeration installation business, until he heard what he determined was God’s voice: “I have more than this for you.”

Whitney started preaching at the Salvation Army and Reno/Sparks Rescue Mission, accompanied by his wife Sharon, who played the accordion and led music groups. The couple also ministered at area hospitals, rest homes and rehabilitative care centers.

It was when Whitney was ministering at the Seniors National Finals Rodeo in Reno that he connected with First Baptist Sun Valley. He needed volunteers to help him, but none from the church he was attending was available, so he went to an evening service at Sun Valley. There he found volunteers and a new church home.

When the pastor left First Baptist Sun Valley, Whitney was called as interim and six months later, pastor. His ranching and rodeo background meshed well with Sun Valley’s working-class community.

“I’m a real person, born into sin,” the pastor said. “Saved by the grace of God.

“Most would tend to say we are a back-woodsy type church,” Whitney continued. “We sing out of the Baptist Hymnal and the Bible is preached and taught verse by verse. No online services.”

While outreach – except through the Cooperative Program – is minimal, when the congregation in 2018 learned of the urban firestorm that decimated 95 percent of Paradise, Calif., 165 miles away, it raised $1,000 to help with relief efforts there.

This year on the Saturday before Easter, the church provided a “He is Risen” Easter event that drew more than 100 area residents.

“We’re blessed to be here,” Whitney said, including his wife in his statement. “We just aren’t doing our job reaching this community. We need help. I am glad God is not going to judge us on our success but our faithfulness.”

NAMB trustees visit Atlanta Send Relief center, celebrate church plant increase Wed, 04 May 2022 20:37:03 +0000 ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Trustees of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) met May 2-3 in a regularly scheduled board meeting where they celebrated an increase in Southern Baptist church plants and heard plans for NAMB’s next Send Conference.]]>

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Trustees of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) met May 2-3 in a regularly scheduled board meeting where they celebrated an increase in Southern Baptist church plants and heard plans for NAMB’s next Send Conference.

A key part of every NAMB trustee meeting is a vision tour where trustees connect with church planters and other NAMB missionaries. On Monday afternoon, trustees traveled to Send Relief’s Atlanta Ministry Center in Clarkston, Ga. For decades the U.S. Government has made Clarkston one of its refugee resettlement centers because of Atlanta’s plentiful jobs, access to public transportation and affordable housing.

Kevin Ezell, North American Mission Board (NAMB) president, addresses NAMB’s Board of Trustees during their May 3 meeting. Ezell highlighted the 2021 increase in church plants and plans for another Send Conference. The board met in Alpharetta, Ga., May 2-3. NAMB photo by Alexandra Toy

Trustees saw firsthand how the ministry center supports after school programs, English classes and job skills development designed to equip refugees for financial independence. A medical clinic that will soon be housed at the center is expected to serve up to 1,200 patients monthly.

“This is just one of 17 ministry centers around North America,” Josh Benton told trustees. Later that evening at a dinner for the trustees, Benton, Send Relief’s national ministry vice president, along with the compassion ministry’s president, Bryant Wright and international ministry vice president Jason Cox, joined NAMB president Kevin Ezell to further discuss the ministry and update trustees on Send Relief’s efforts in Ukraine.

“Southern Baptists have been generous with their donations and generous in volunteering,” Cox said of the Ukraine response. Cox also told attendees that Send Relief is currently ministering to displaced people in 14 countries through the response.

Wright reminded trustees that the overarching purpose of the ministry is to lead people to Christ.

“If we are helping people feel a little better on their road to hell, we have missed the biggest need in their life, and that is coming to know what real salvation in Christ is all about,” Wright said.

During the May 3 meeting of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) Trustees, NAMB president Kevin Ezell, far right, recognized the service of several trustees who are concluding their term of service. From left to right: David Saylor, pastor of Manchester First Baptist Church in Manchester, Conn.; Cindy Bush, a member of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC; Zoila Lopez, a member of First Baptist Church Forney, Texas; Jarrett Stephens, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas; Danny Wood, retired pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.; and Denilio “Denny” J. Gorena, pastor of Sagamore Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Not pictured is Robert J. “Bob” Lowe, pastor of Yelm First Baptist Church in Yelm, Wash. NAMB photo by Alexandra Toy

Trustees received several reports and acted on multiple items during their meetings at NAMB’s building in Alpharetta. Highlights included the following:

  • Trustees unanimously approved an annual report to the Woman’s Missionary Union detailing how Annie Armstrong Easter Offering dollars are spent. All funds given to the offering are spent on the field to support and resource missionaries and evangelistic efforts.
  • The board’s finance committee brought a recommendation to continue utilizing an outside, independent auditing firm that performs annual audits of NAMB, and the trustee board unanimously approved the recommendation.
  • Matt Smith, NAMB’s chief financial officer, reported that NAMB’s year-to-date budget shows revenue is tracking above budget and higher than 2021’s year-to-date revenue.

Ezell recognized seven trustees who are concluding their terms of service on the board: Cindy Bush, a member of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.; Denilio “Denny” J. Gorena, pastor of Sagamore Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas; Zoila Lopez, a member of First Baptist Church Forney, Texas; Robert J. “Bob” Lowe, pastor of Yelm First Baptist Church in Yelm, Wash.; David Saylor, pastor of Manchester First Baptist Church in Manchester, Conn.; Jarrett Stephens, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston; and Danny Wood, retired pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. Kenneth Priest, who had been serving as a trustee from Texas, resigned from the board in February after relocating to Hawaii to pastor Valley Isle Fellowship.

Ezell shared that in 2021, for the second consecutive year, the new congregation count was up. Southern Baptists added 1,018 new congregations in 2021 which included 735 church plants, 201 new affiliations and 82 new campuses. Of the church plants, 135 were replants.

“We have a lot to celebrate,” Ezell said. “But we cannot be satisfied when 275 million people across the U.S. and Canada do not have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

Ezell also shared that NAMB has started plans for a Send Conference in 2024, tentatively to be held in July in Nashville. Future plans include Send Conference events in 2027 and 2030. More details will be shared soon.

“We want to help more churches see the importance of sending,” Ezell said. “It’s a great mobilizer of people and it creates energy and excitement for the movement.”

Ezell closed by reminding trustees that NAMB wants to be indispensable to pastors.

“Our purpose at NAMB is to come alongside and be a tool for a pastor,” he said. “We really are stronger together.”

SBC leaders pray for Gospel ministry if Roe falls Wed, 04 May 2022 20:29:53 +0000 NASHVILLE (BP) – Southern Baptist leaders asked God Tuesday (May 3) to help Christians recognize that the overturning of Roe v. Wade, if it occurs this term, will be not only a reason to rejoice but to renew Gospel-based ministry to those in need.]]>

NASHVILLE (BP) – Southern Baptist leaders asked God Tuesday (May 3) to help Christians recognize that the overturning of Roe v. Wade, if it occurs this term, will be not only a reason to rejoice but to renew Gospel-based ministry to those in need.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) hosted an online prayer gathering one day after the publication of a leaked U. S. Supreme Court draft opinion that, if it becomes final, would strike down the 1973 Roe decision. Four other members of the high court have joined Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the draft opinion, in support of reversing the nearly 50-year-old ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, according to Politico, the news organization that published the leaked document.

Before it adjourns in late June or early July, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision that will determine the fate of Roe, at least for now, in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which regards a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation.

Brent Leatherwood, the ERLC’s acting president, told the audience for the quickly arranged, virtual event “it is totally appropriate that we would enter into a time of prayer together as cooperating Southern Baptists who realize that this is a big moment.”

During the prayer session, Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said even if Roe is overturned in the Dobbs ruling, “it does not mean that the pro-life cause can celebrate and retire. It means the challenge continues, state by state, location by location, conversation by conversation, Lord, literally person to person.”

He prayed that God “would give us the spirit of endurance to go the distance, to realize that the cause of truth and justice and life never ends [in this world], that even as great of a victory as we may experience through the Dobbs case and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there is still much, much work for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to do.”

SBC President Ed Litton asked God to “help us to see this potential as not being an opportunity to celebrate but an opportunity to press forward, because girls will still need someone to help them in a very difficult time of decision, young men will need help becoming responsible adults and fathers, and, Lord, the communities will need adoption, will need foster care. Lord, we will still need the hope of Jesus Christ and the hope that the Gospel brings.”

“We do pray, Lord, that You would bring this scourge to a close, but Lord help us to see the opening of a great new opportunity for the Gospel and … for our people to engage,” Litton prayed.

Columnist Dana McCain, vice chair of the 2022 SBC Resolutions Committee, asked the Lord “to equip us to love the vulnerable in our midst in this moment. Lord, help us to see those women and preborn children with the eyes of Christ. Help us to love them with the love of Christ. And help us, God, to see them … with the same kind of grace and mercy that you have lavished on us, Lord.”

“Lord, equip us to offer them real alternatives to abortion, to offer them pathways where You can work in Your sovereignty and in Your power to create families through adoption and provide a way forward where there looks like there is no way forward,” McCain prayed.

She also asked God to “empower us to speak with holy conviction on behalf of preborn children, speaking for them because they depend on us, they have no voice outside of us.”

In introducing the prayer session, Leatherwood encouraged Southern Baptists to pray for the Supreme Court’s justices and clerks, including “for this seeming majority of the court to hold fast for life, for them all to be safe and secure as they continue these deliberations. The fact is [those who so far agree with overruling Roe] are going to come under a torrent of criticism, and we need to be praying for them to have the fortitude to withstand that. “

During the session, Leatherwood prayed for each of the nine justices by name.

Chelsea Sobolik, the ERLC’s director of public policy, lamented abortion as she prayed with the Supreme Court building in the background.

“I ask for Your grace and Your mercy and Your love to permeate hearts … people that have had abortions, people that have helped aid abortion, people that have performed abortions, Lord,” she said. “I pray for each one of those people that there would be someone in their lives to share the Good News of the Gospel and that they would be able to trust in You and in Your saving love and grace.”

Willie McLaurin, the SBC Executive Committee’s interim president, prayed for fathers, petitioning God “that just as You have modeled to us what it means to be a Heavenly Father, that so many men would look to You and would turn to that whole and healthy model of what it means to be a father.”

He asked that “vibrant, abundant kingdom life would be a reality for so many fathers today. “

Victor Chayasirisobhon, president of the California Southern Baptist Convention, prayed that God “would help us to be strong and courageous” so “we can speak up for You, Lord Jesus, and create a culture of life.”

If a majority of the Supreme Court follows through in its final opinion by overturning Roe and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling that affirmed its 1973 decision, the action would return abortion policy to the states.

About half of the 50 states will have laws prohibiting abortion at some stage if Roe is overruled, but other states already have laws protecting abortion rights and will become destinations for women seeking the procedure.

Elizabeth Graham, the ERLC’s vice president of operations and life initiatives, told the online audience before the prayer session, “[W]e must work alongside Southern Baptists in those [destination] states as they’re seeing an increase of women coming across state lines to receive abortions – to resource them, to ensure that they have support both in terms of pregnancy, adoption, foster care, helping moms to address the systemic drivers for why they choose abortion.”