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Mud Creek seeks racial reconciliation

October 21 2014 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

Mud Creek Baptist Church and Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church share the same name because of a local creek that runs through Henderson County. Yet, the three miles now separating these two churches once had a racist past leading to a congregational split.
 
Greg Mathis has been pastor at Mud Creek Baptist Church for 35 years, and he had heard stories about the church split. He began searching church minutes after the Civil War, and it was then that he discovered some horrible details about some racism expressed against its African-American members. According to the minutes Mathis found, the sixth order of business in April 1867 deemed that Mud Creek’s African-American members “be allowed” the two back pews on the men’s side when the church wasn’t full.

 
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Times News Photo by Patrick Sullivan
James Roberts, from left, pastor of Fairmont Missionary Baptist Church in Asheville, Greg Mathis, pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, and Matthew Tollison Sr., pastor of Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Hendersonville, talk about a framed copy of Mud Creek Baptist Church’s apology for racist acts following the Civil War that caused black church members to form Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church. 

A month later, African-American members left to organize Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church. They didn’t have an official place to worship until 1933 when they moved to their current location in East Flat Rock.
 
Matthew Tollison Sr., pastor of Mud Creek Missionary Baptist for 19 years, said he was shocked when he received a formal apology letter from Mathis.
 
In the letter, Mathis says, “I am ashamed of some of the past history between our churches, and I know that Christ was not pleased. … The Bible makes it abundantly clear that followers of Christ must exercise no discrimination toward other human beings because of skin color. We are all a part of the human race and should treat each other that way.”
 
Tollison and Mathis plan on framing and hanging the letter in conspicuous areas in each of the churches.
Mud Creek Baptist Church hosted a special service Oct. 12 to address racism and racial reconciliation. Mathis, continuing a sermon series called, “What a Christian Should Look Like,” opened the service saying that whites don’t always see through the eyes of those who’ve experienced racism.
 
In a video interview between Tollison and Mathis, Tollison said that even though strides against racism in America have been made, it’s still real.
 
Mathis also interviewed James Roberts, pastor of Fairmont Missionary Baptist Church in Asheville. Roberts told a story about a few altercations between whites and blacks in the days of segregation. While he was a medical professional, he had to take care of the very people who mistreated him. We had “to nurse them [whites] back to health. So, God must’ve had something in me during that time to love the individual and not the ‘ways.’”
 
Eric Gash, Hendersonville High School football coach and former NFL player, told Mathis about his first real encounter with racism.
 
He said, “It was my sophomore year in high school and we went from 3A down to 1A, and we had to play Rosemont. … At halftime we were beating them 7-0 or 14-0, and coming off the field a lot of the parents were there, and they were dropping a lot of obscenities – the ‘N’ word, curse words and things like that. That was like a rallying cry for us and we ended up bonding stronger and winning the football game. As we were leaving, they were throwing rocks at the bus and that shook me a bit,” because Gash had never experienced prejudice like that first-hand before.
 
In his sermon, Mathis said racism comes in many forms – it can be racial, geographic or religious. “If that’s who you are … then you’re either ignorant of what the Bible says, you’re misguided because of a misguided culture that you maybe grew up in, you’re ‘backslidden,’ or you’ve never really been saved. “I want to say very boldly, biblical and spiritually today that it’s absolutely a sin … if you have racism in your heart,” Mathis said.
 
In the apology letter to Mud Creek Missionary Baptist, Mathis closed saying, “We humbly and contritely seek racial reconciliation with you and your congregation.
 
“I want us to lead our congregations to do even more together, beginning with biblical reconciliation. I concur with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘A person should be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character!’ As we strive to live the new nature of Christ and lead our congregations to do the same, let’s move forward together as one race, the human race!”

10/21/2014 12:41:46 PM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments



Floyd: Stand up for Houston pastors

October 21 2014 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

Baptists must let their voices be heard, said Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd.
 
Floyd is one of several speakers from across the nation slated to speak Nov. 2 at the “I Stand Sunday” simulcast hosted by Family Research Council and other partners. The event is being held in response to five Houston ministers being issued subpoenas by the city’s attorney to turn over sermons and other pastoral communications.
 
Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, responded on his blog Oct. 20 to news reports involving the ministers and how he believes America’s religious freedom is being challenged. The city’s actions remain a “blatant example of governmental overreach,” Floyd noted – even if the word “sermons” was struck from the subpoenas on Oct. 17.
 
“Regardless of the nature of communications they want from the pastors and churches, this … is a clear attempt to silence the voice of the Church in Houston, Texas, America, and the world,” Floyd wrote.
 
The free live simulcast, to be held at Grace Church in Houston, will focus on “the freedom to live out our faith free of government intrusion or monitoring,” the website istandsunday.com said.
 
“We will stand with pastors and churches in Houston, Texas, who have been unduly intimidated by the city’s mayor in demanding they hand over private church communication,” the site said.
 
Among others slated to speak: former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Duck Dyanasty’s Phil and Alan Robertson, Todd Starnes of Fox News and Vision America President Rick Scarborough. The list of speakers also includes David and Jason Benham, whose show – scheduled to air this fall on the Home & Garden Television network – was canceled in May after the Benhams’ Christian views on abortion and same-sex marriage were publicized by gay activists.
 
Religious liberty is one issue Baptists must not be silent on, Floyd said in his blog.
 
“Southern Baptist family, we must rise up together and be clear in Houston and beyond,” he said. “While many in mainline denominations will shy away from this discussion, and some evangelicals may also be silent, as Baptists, we must rise up and be very clear.”
 
Pointing to the Baptist Faith and Message, Floyd stated Southern Baptists “believe that the state owes every church protection and freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual end.”
 
Floyd added, “God alone is the Lord of the conscience, and government has no right to manipulate or intimidate any of us regarding religious conviction and practice.
 
“Southern Baptists have always stood tall for religious liberty. Our heritage is stacked high with heroes who have stood in tough times, defending religious liberty. We defend religious liberty at home and across the world.”
 
On Oct. 17, Baptist Press reported Baptists – even those firmly divided on various theological issues – were united by Houston Mayer Annise Parker’s subpoenas to a group of pastors who opposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, known as HERO to the measure’s supporters.
 
In HERO, the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” have been added to a list of protected classifications, such as race, religion, sex and disability.
 
Opponents of the Houston ordinance, according to news reports, are concerned it will violate the religious freedom of business owners and others who disagree with the measure. They also fear it will make women and children vulnerable to sexual predators by permitting people to use public restrooms of the gender they identify with rather than those of their natural gender.
 
Floyd urged Baptist to express support and commit to pray for the five ministers who are involved in the subpoenas by using #4Houston5 through social media.
 
For more information and updates on “I Stand Sunday” and how your church can get involved, go to http://www.istandsunday.com. See Floyd’s full blog post here.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Shawn Hendricks is managing editor of Baptist Press.)

 

Related Stories:

Houston sermon subpoenas unite Baptists
Is Houston coming to your door next?

10/21/2014 12:31:45 PM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SEBTS launches 5-year B.A./M.Div. degree

October 21 2014 by SEBTS Communications

Students preparing for the pastorate at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) now have the opportunity to earn a bachelor of arts (B.A.) and master of divinity (M.Div.) in five years.
 
The Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Family Foundation, Inc. has awarded a grant of $500,000 to SEBTS toward the implementation of the new pastoral degree program.
 
The Kern Family Foundation is committed to “educating future and existing pastors about the importance of work in developing people’s character, affirming their dignity, sustaining them and helping them flourish.”
 
Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS, said, “For more than 60 years now, SEBTS has been preparing men for pastoral ministry. As we continually seek to expand and improve our offerings, we became aware of the need to offer a degree track that allows a young man to receive both his B.A. and his M.Div. over the course of only five years.”
 
Students in the program will receive direct leadership, encouragement, mentoring and oversight throughout their undergraduate and graduate studies.
 
The program will include a speaking series focused on pastoral leadership to provide students focused opportunities to interact with proven and experienced pastors, denominational leaders and business leaders.

 

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SEBTS photo by Maria Estes
Students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary now have the opportunity to finish a bachelor of arts and master of divinity within five years.

Eighteen hours dedicated to the graduate level will be earned in the local church ministry context under the supervision of the Spurgeon Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching at Southeastern.   
 
John Ewart, director of the Spurgeon Center, said, “This allows the student called to be a pastor to zero in on those subjects and practical areas that best equip him to serve the church. The program features major field-based training that will give the student great experience in the crucible of real ministry. I wish this opportunity had existed when I was younger.”
 
“This program cuts through these barriers and moves the student through a high quality training process more quickly and efficiently. We need to train our students well but we also need to push them through and out. Our churches and our world need these well-trained leaders.”
 
In addition to the classroom curriculum, students will be encouraged to pursue ministry experiences during the program, resulting in 33 credits of field ministry.
 
Keith Whitfield, associate vice president for institutional effectiveness and faculty communications, said, "This is a laser-focused program for the student called to pastoral ministry. Through directed mentoring, students will develop the pastoral character and the teaching and leadership skills needed to lead their church to be a Great Commission church." 
 
Participants will be expected to articulate God’s call into the field of pastoral ministry, demonstrate character traits essential for ministry and leadership in the church, and show the ability to think critically, argue persuasively and communicate clearly.
 
Chuck Lawless, vice president for graduate studies and ministry centers at SEBTS, said, “If I were an undergraduate student studying theology, this possibility would certainly grab my attention. Earning a focused degree with a solid theological base, significant practical training and a pastoral advisor to shepherd me through the process would be exactly what I would want.”  
 
The tuition savings for Southern Baptist students would be $10,000 not including living expenses saved due to the abbreviated time frame.
 
“This program costs the student less money, gets him into full-time ministry two or three years earlier than otherwise, and doesn’t lower the bar in any way academically,” Akin said. “This is a welcome opportunity for students to receive the best training and ministry preparation while minimizing some of the obstacles they face in preparing for God’s calling.”
 
The Kern family believes healthy local churches led by capable, committed pastors can transform the moral fabric of society. For this reason, the Foundation has implemented programs to increase the number of talented young people pursuing a high-quality theological and pastoral education.
 
Grant funds for this initiative will be used to support a program coordinator, program assistant, the marketing of the program, student scholarships and student developmental activities.
 
Students will be eligible for dual enrollment with a minimum 3.25 GPA and 60 baccalaureate credit hours. The purpose of this cohort model and curriculum is to enhance and accelerate ministry preparation for students.
 
While concurrently enrolled in both degrees, students may receive 30 hours of undergraduate credit by competency exams and students will receive a total of 207 credit hours.
 
In order to remain enrolled in the concurrent program, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and meet all non-credit character and program activity requirements for the program.
 
To learn more about this degree program, please contact the program coordinator, Stephen Wade, at swade@sebts.edu.  

 

10/21/2014 12:08:59 PM by SEBTS Communications | with 0 comments



Idaho ministers sue to prevent gay weddings at chapel

October 21 2014 by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

The owners of an Idaho wedding chapel have filed suit against officials in Coeur d’Alene, claiming that the city is unconstitutionally forcing them to violate their religious beliefs by performing same-sex marriages or face possible fines and jail time.
 
The state’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge earlier this year; the Supreme Court refused to consider Idaho’s appeal on Oct. 10, making the conservative state one of more than 30 states, along with the District of Columbia, to marry gay and lesbian couples.
 
Pastors have raised concerns about being forced to conduct same-sex weddings, though most experts call that concern a red herring. The lawsuit in Idaho raises a larger question of whether ordained ministers who run a for-profit business conducting weddings can be required to conduct same-sex weddings under nondiscrimination laws.
 
Donald and Evelyn Knapp are ordained ministers who run The Hitching Post, a chapel in Coeur d’Alene, where they conduct weddings. They say in a lawsuit that they can’t provide same-sex weddings because it’s “something forbidden by their religious beliefs and ordination vows.”

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HitchingpostWeddings.com photo
Don and Lynn Knapp, owners of The Hitching Post, have filed suit against officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, claiming the city is unconstitutionally forcing them to violate their religious beliefs by performing same-sex marriages or face possible fines and jail time.

 

A 2013 Coeur d’Alen ordinance bans discrimination, including based on sexual orientation, in places of public accommodation. Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time.
 
Religious entities are exempt from the city ordinance, as they often are from discrimination ordinances. But earlier this year, city attorney Warren Wilson said that the for-profit wedding chapel would likely be required to follow the ordinance.
 
“If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation,” Wilson told a local television station, KXLY.
 
Similar laws have been applied to florists, bakeries and photographers that have refused to work on same-sex weddings in other states, Wilson told the local newspaper, The Spokesman Review: “I think that term is broad enough that it would capture (wedding) activity.”
 
A man recently called the chapel to ask about a same-sex wedding ceremony and was declined, the lawsuit says. The chapel owners are ordained by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal denomination.
 
On Oct. 17, an Arizona-based religious liberty group, Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary restraining order, arguing that applying the ordinance to the Knapps’ situation would be unconstitutional and would violate Idaho’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
 
Eugene Volokh, who blogs for The Washington Post, believes the ministers will ultimately be entitled to an exemption under Idaho’s RFRA.
 
“Perhaps some might feel offended by such a statement of religious rejection, but I don’t think there can be a compelling government interest in shielding people from such rejections when it comes to the performance of ceremonies,” Volokh wrote. “Note that, if the law can be applied against the Knapps, public accommodation laws could also equally be applied to ministers who provide freelance officiating services in exchange for money.”
 
After the Supreme Court struck down the central provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act last year, President Obama called for the equal treatment of Americans under the law, as well as a commitment to religious freedom.
 
“How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions,” Obama said. “Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sarah Pulliam Bailey joined RNS as a national correspondent in 2013. She has previously served as managing editor of Odyssey Networks and online editor for Christianity Today.)

10/21/2014 11:58:56 AM by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service | with 0 comments



2014 summary for proposed BSC bylaw amendments

October 21 2014 by BSC Communications

The Board of Directors (Board) will present to the messengers attending the 2014 annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention (Convention) proposed amendments to the Convention’s bylaws for consideration. The proposed amendments are encapsulated in six (6) motions. A brief description of each motion is found below. The current reading and proposed reading for each affected bylaw is found here and will be printed in a special section of the Biblical Recorder for the annual meeting. Please note that no changes are proposed for the Convention’s Articles of Incorporation, only for its Bylaws.
 
Motion 1 – These amendments focus on the work of the Resolutions and Memorials Committee and the submission of resolutions for consideration during the annual meeting of the Convention. Increasingly, some messengers are bypassing the Resolutions and Memorials Committee and are bringing resolutions directly to the floor of the Convention during miscellaneous business. In those cases, messengers are called upon to consider resolutions that have not been vetted by the Resolutions and Memorials Committee. Such resolutions may or may not be artfully drafted. The messengers have not had time to prayerfully consider the resolutions. Such actions can consume time that might be devoted to other matters requiring the attention of messengers. These amendments attempt to bring more order to what has been at times a chaotic procedure with emergency meetings of the Resolutions and Memorials Committee or efforts by parliamentarians and others to assist the messenger presenting the resolution with clarification and editing of the resolution.  These amendments would eliminate surprise resolutions and require a messenger to go through the Resolutions and Memorials Committee for consideration of the resolution; the amendments also provide a procedure for messengers to present any resolution that is not proposed by the Resolutions and Memorials Committee. 
 
Motion 2 – These amendments seek to address the difficulties that arise when a regular meeting of the Board is cancelled. The members of the Board experienced complications that arose following the cancellation of the January 2014 meeting. In the past, the shortened meeting of the Board at Caswell in September 2010 due to an approaching tropical storm created numerous challenges. The January and September meetings are critical because cancellation of these meetings impacts the work of the various committees of the Board, the Convention’s Committee on Nominations, and proposals requiring Board action prior to consideration by messengers at the annual meeting in November. These amendments provide a means for the existing leaders to continue to serve and for the Board to convene for substitute regular meetings in the event any of its scheduled meetings are cancelled due inclement weather, disaster, or similar emergency circumstances.
 
Motion 3 – This change addresses a request made by the Committee on Nominations regarding the need for clarification on the eligibility of certain individuals being considered for service on the Convention’s Board of Directors. 
 
Motion 4 – This amendment removes language that has persisted from the time when the current Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee was a council of the Convention. The deletion brings consistency among committee responsibilities.
 
Motion 5 – These changes update the names referenced in these sections.
 
Motion 6 – These amendments bring consistency to the current language regarding the trustees of North Carolina Baptist Hospital (Hospital). Currently, some provisions in this section apply to all trustees serving on the board of the Hospital; other provisions only apply to trustees elected by the Convention. To achieve consistent application of these provisions, the amendments will apply these provisions only to trustees elected by the Convention. The Hospital has been electing half of the trustees since the late 1990s.
 
If you have questions, concerns, or comments please feel to contact Brian Davis, associate executive director-treasurer, at bdavis@ncbaptist.org or (800) 395-5102.

10/21/2014 11:46:05 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Proposed amendments to bylaws of Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Inc.

October 21 2014 by BSC Communications

Motion 1 - The Board of Directors moves that Article I.C.6.c. be deleted in its entirety with the following language substituted in its place.
 
Current Reading:
 
When considering the resolutions, the committee shall observe the following procedures:
 

(i) All resolutions shall be submitted to the committee in writing no later than September 10 prior to the annual meeting of the Convention in which the proposed resolution is to be considered. The committee shall consider all resolutions submitted. The committee shall provide notice in the Biblical Recorder in at least one (1) issue with a publication date more than fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting of the Convention of when and where the resolution will be available on the Convention’s website and may also be available on the Biblical Recorder’s website. Those resolutions to be presented to the Convention shall appear on the Convention’s website and may also be available on the Biblical Recorder’s website, beginning at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting of the Convention and to remain on such website(s) through the commencement of such meeting of the Convention. Exceptions to prior publication may be made in the case of emergency resolutions dealing with matters such as national disasters, public tragedies, or late developments. Also, by two-thirds (2/3) vote of the messengers present and voting at the Convention the rules may be suspended and a resolution taken up for immediate consideration.

 

(ii) The committee may:

a. reword resolutions for clarity,

b. combine like issues into one resolution, or

c. reject resolutions which have been previously addressed or are inappropriate.

 

(iii) The committee shall notify those submitting resolutions of the disposition thereof. Where possible, notification shall be made prior to the Convention.

 
Proposed Reading:
 
When considering properly submitted resolutions, the committee and messengers shall observe the following procedures:
 

(i) All resolutions proposed by individuals shall be submitted to the committee in writing no later than September 10 prior to the annual meeting of the Convention at which the proposed resolution is to be considered. The committee shall consider all resolutions submitted. Those resolutions to be presented to the Convention by the committee shall appear on the Convention’s website and may also be available on the Biblical Recorder’s website, beginning at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting of the Convention and to remain on such website(s) through the commencement of such meeting of the Convention. The committee shall provide notice in the Biblical Recorder in at least one (1) issue with a publication date more than fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting of the Convention of when and where the resolution(s) to be presented to the Convention will be available on the Convention’s website and may also be available on the Biblical Recorder’s website. Exceptions to prior publication by the may be made in the case of emergency resolutions dealing with matters such as national disasters, public tragedies, or late developments. 

 

(ii) The committee may:

 

a. reword resolutions for clarity,
 
b. combine like issues into one resolution, or
 
c. reject resolutions which have been previously addressed or are inappropriate.

 

(iii) The committee shall notify those submitting resolutions of the disposition thereof no later than September 30.

 

(iv) In the event that the committee rejects in whole a resolution proposed by an individual who is a member of a cooperating church, then such individual who had submitted the resolution to the committee may seek to present the resolution for consideration by the messengers at the meeting of the Convention provided the following requirements are met:

 

a.  Such individual shall deliver to the Board Secretary the text of such resolution twenty-one (21) days in advance of the meeting of the Convention so that it will be available on the Convention’s website beginning at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting of the Convention and to remain on the website through the commencement of such meeting of the Convention. In addition, the text of the resolution may also be available on the Biblical Recorder’s website.
 
b.  Such individual, at their own expense, provides notice in the Biblical Recorder in at least one issue with a publication date more than fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting of the Convention that such resolution’s text will be available on the Convention’s website and may also be available on the Biblical Recorder’s website.
 
c.  Such individual is registered as a messenger and is recognized during Miscellaneous Business to move that such resolution be considered by the messengers.
 
d.  By a vote of two-thirds of the messengers present and voting at the meeting, the messengers determine that such resolution should be taken up immediately contrary to the  decision of the committee.

 

(v) If a resolution was not properly submitted to the committee, a messenger shall not be allowed to present it from the floor of the Convention at the meeting.


Motion 2 - The Board of Directors moves that Article II.E.1., Article II.E.2., Article II.F.2. and Article II.F.6.a. be deleted in their entirety and the following language substituted in their respective places.
 
Current Reading:
 

E. Meetings of the Board

 

1.  Regular and Special Meetings. The Board shall have three (3) regular meetings, scheduled as follows: The first and third meetings shall be in January and September on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the fourth Sunday. The mid-year meeting shall be on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the third Sunday of May, or a more convenient date recommended by the Executive Director-Treasurer and Board President and voted on by the Executive Committee in its March meeting. Special meetings of the Board may be called by the Executive Director-Treasurer and the President of the Board or by request from a majority of the Board members.

 

2.  Notice of Meetings. Regular meetings of the Board may be held without notice, unless the May meeting date is changed in accordance with these Bylaws. The person or persons calling a special meeting of the Board shall, at least fourteen (14) days before the meeting, give notice thereof, specifying the purpose for which the meeting is called, by any usual means of communication of which is capable  of  being confirmed by the Board Secretary. Any member of the Board may waive notice of any meeting held without proper call or notice, either before or after the meeting is held. Attendance by a member of the Board at a meeting shall constitute a waiver of notice of such meeting, except where a Board member attends a meeting for the purpose of objection to the transaction of any business because the meeting is not lawfully called. Failure of a member of the Board who did not attend a meeting held without proper call or notice to file with the Board Secretary his or her written objection to the holding of the meeting or to any specific action taken promptly after having knowledge of the action taken and of the insufficiency of notice shall constitute ratification of the action taken at the meeting.

 

F. Board Committees and Special Committees

 

2.  Committee Meetings. The Business Services Special Committee, Christian Higher Education Special Committee, Christian Life and Public Affairs Special Committee, Christian Social Services Special Committee, Church Planting and Missions Partnerships Committee, Communications Committee, and Evangelism and Discipleship Committee shall meet for organizational purposes at the January meeting of the Board, at which time they shall elect a Chairperson. All committees will meet at other times as specified or as called by the committee Chairperson, the Executive Director-Treasurer or the Executive Leader, except that the Executive Committee shall meet at least once per quarter or at such other times as may be called by the Executive Director-Treasurer or the President of the Board, or both. The person or persons calling a committee meeting (other than the January meeting for organizational purposes) shall, at least seven (7) days before the meeting, give notice thereof, specifying the purpose for which the meeting is called, by any usual means of communication of which is capable  of  being confirmed by the Board Secretary.

 

6.  Executive Committee. 

 

      a.  Composition. . . . 

The committee as constituted the previous year shall remain intact until the January meeting of the Board with the exception of the newly elected Convention officers. The committee shall be reconstituted during the January Board meeting. 

 
Proposed Reading:
 

E. Meetings of the Board

 

1.  Regular and Special Meetings. The Board shall have three (3) regular meetings, scheduled as follows: The first and third meetings shall be in January and September on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the fourth Sunday. The mid-year meeting shall be on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the third Sunday of May, or a more convenient date recommended by the Executive Director-Treasurer and Board President and voted on by the Executive Committee in its March meeting. In the event that any regular meeting of the Board is postponed due to inclement weather, the threat of inclement weather or other emergency circumstances, that would prevent a quorum from assembling due to the travel conditions, then the Executive Director-Treasurer and the President of the Board may call a substitute regular meeting of the Board. Special meetings of the Board may be called by the Executive Director-Treasurer and the President of the Board or by request from a majority of the Board members.

 

2.  Notice of Meetings. Regular meetings of the Board may be held without notice, unless the mid-year meeting date is changed in accordance with these Bylaws. In the event that the Executive Committee moves the date of the mid-year meeting of the Board, then the Board Secretary shall give notice of the new date of the Board meeting no less than thirty (30) days prior to the commencement of the mid-year meeting of the Board. In the event that the Executive Director-Treasurer and the President of the Board call a substitute regular meeting due to the postponement of a regular meeting as set forth above, then the Board Secretary shall, at least seven (7) days before the meeting, give notice thereof to the Board by any usual means of communication which is capable of being confirmed by the Board Secretary. The person or persons calling a special meeting of the Board shall, at least fourteen (14) days before the meeting, give notice thereof, specifying the purpose for which the meeting is called, by any usual means of communication which is capable of being confirmed by the Board Secretary. Any member of the Board may waive notice of any meeting held without proper call or notice, either before or after the meeting is held. Attendance by a member of the Board at a meeting shall constitute a waiver of notice of such meeting, except where a Board member attends a meeting for the purpose of objection to the transaction of any business because the meeting is not lawfully called. Failure of a member of the Board who did not attend a meeting held without proper call or notice to file with the Board Secretary his or her written objection to the holding of the meeting or to any specific action taken promptly after having knowledge of the action taken and of the insufficiency of notice shall constitute ratification of the action taken at the meeting.

 

F. Board Committees and Special Committees

 

2.  Committee Meetings. The Business Services Special Committee, Christian Higher Education Special Committee, Christian Life and Public Affairs Special Committee, Christian Social Services Special Committee, Church Planting and Missions Partnerships Committee, Communications Committee, and Evangelism and Discipleship Committee shall meet for organizational purposes at the January meeting of the Board, at which time they shall elect a Chairperson. Such Chairperson shall serve until their successors have been duly elected and qualified. All committees will meet at other times as specified or as called by the committee Chairperson, the Executive Director-Treasurer or the Executive Leader, except that the Executive Committee shall meet at least once per quarter or at such other times as may be called by the Executive Director-Treasurer or the President of the Board, or both. The person or persons calling a committee meeting (other than the January meeting for organizational purposes) shall, at least seven (7) days before the meeting, give notice thereof, specifying the purpose for which the meeting is called, by any usual means of communication of which is capable of being confirmed by the Board Secretary.

 

6.  Executive Committee. 

 

     a.  Composition. . . . 

The committee as constituted the previous year shall remain intact until the January meeting of the Board with the exception of the newly elected Convention officers. The members of the Committee shall serve until their successors have been duly elected and qualified. 

 
Motion 3 - The Board of Directors moves that Article II.B.1. be deleted in its entirety with the following language substituted in its place.
 
Current Reading:
 

B. Election of At-Large Members of the Board of Directors

 

1.  Qualifications. All at-large members of the Board shall be active members of cooperating churches as defined in Article VI.A.3. of the Articles. No one who is employed by the Convention or any institution, agency or affiliated educational institutions of the Convention, whether the salary be total or supplemented, shall be eligible for at-large membership on the Board or as an at-large member (other than an ex-officio member) of any special Committee of the Board.

 
Proposed Reading:
 

B. Election of At-Large Members of the Board of Directors

 

1.  Qualifications. All at-large members of the Board shall be active members of cooperating churches as defined in Article VI.A.3. of the Articles. No one who is employed by the Convention, or any institution or agency of the Convention as described in Article III.A.(1) below, or any affiliated educational institution of the Convention, whether the salary be total or supplemented, shall be eligible for at-large membership on the Board or as an at-large member (other than an ex-officio member) of any special Committee of the Board.

 
Motion 4 - The Board of Directors moves that Article II.F.11.c.(iii),(iv), and (v) be deleted in their entirety and the following language substituted in their respective places.
 
Current Reading:
 

(iii) Shall designate three of its members for nomination as trustees of the Christian Action League and shall cooperate with the Christian Action League in its efforts to combat addictive substances and other social evils;

 

(iv) Shall work, in cooperation with the Convention staff person assigned to the Committee, to promote the Convention’s position on Christian social ethics with the applicable legislative and executive branches, including the General Assembly of North Carolina, for the benefit of North Carolina Baptists; and

 

(v) Shall recommend to the Associate Executive Director-Treasurer the budget for the work of the committee.

 
Proposed Reading:
 

(iii) Shall designate three of its members for nomination as trustees of the Christian Action League and shall cooperate with the Christian Action League in its efforts to combat addictive substances and other social evils; and

 

(iv) Shall work, in cooperation with the Convention staff person assigned to the Committee, to promote the Convention’s position on Christian social ethics with the applicable legislative and executive branches, including the General Assembly of North Carolina, for the benefit of North Carolina Baptists.

 
Motion 5 - The Board of Directors moves that (1) in the title of Article II.G., the word “Institute” be deleted with the word “College” substituted in its place; and (2) in Article III.A., the name “Mars Hill College” be deleted with the name “Mars Hill University” substituted in its place.
 
Motion 6 - The Board of Directors moves that Article III.C.3.,4.,7., and 8. be deleted in their entirety with the following language substituted in their respective places.
 
Current Reading:
 

C. North Carolina Baptist Hospital

. . .

3.  At least one-half (1/2) of the trustees of the Hospital shall be residents of the State of North Carolina and members of churches cooperating with the Convention.

 

4.  If for any reason a Hospital trustee elected by the Convention shall cease to be a member of a church cooperating with the Convention or shall remove residence from the State (unless in the latter case the nonresident trustee becomes a member of a church cooperating with a Baptist State Convention affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and there would be no more than one-fourth (1/4) of the Hospital trustees who are nonresidents of North Carolina), membership on the Hospital board shall be thereby terminated. Any vacancy on the Hospital board resulting from the departure of a Hospital trustee elected by the Convention, may be filled by a recommendation of the Committee on Nominations to the Executive Committee until the next annual meeting of the Convention, and the Convention shall at its next annual meeting fill the vacancy for the unexpired term. 

 

. . .

 

7.  No individual elected by the Convention shall serve on the Hospital board who at the same time is holding membership on the Board of the Convention or of any other institution, agency of the Convention or affiliated educational institution of the Convention.

 

8.  No individual who is employed, either on a full-time or part-time basis, by the Convention or any institution, agency or affiliated educational institution of the Convention shall be eligible to serve on the board of trustees of the Hospital.

 
Proposed Reading:
 

C. North Carolina Baptist Hospital

 

. . .

 

3.  The trustees of the Hospital elected by the Convention shall be residents of the State of North Carolina and members of churches cooperating with the Convention.

 

4.  If for any reason a Hospital trustee elected by the Convention shall cease to be a member of a church cooperating with the Convention or shall remove residence from the State, membership on the Hospital board shall be thereby terminated. Any vacancy on the Hospital board resulting from the departure of a Hospital trustee elected by the Convention, may be filled by a recommendation of the Committee on Nominations to the Executive Committee until the next annual meeting of the Convention, and the Convention shall at its next annual meeting fill the vacancy for the unexpired term. 

 

. . .

 

7.  No individual elected by the Convention shall serve on the Hospital board who at the same time is holding membership on the Board of the Convention or of any other institution or agency of the Convention or affiliated educational institution of the Convention.

 

8. No individual who is employed, either on a full-time or part-time basis, by the Convention, any institution or agency of the Convention, or affiliated educational institution of the Convention shall be eligible to be elected by the Convention to serve on the board of trustees of the Hospital.

10/21/2014 11:24:35 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Student volunteers show God is ‘hope in darkness’

October 20 2014 by Paige Turner, IMB

Portable spotlights propped up on cinder blocks let smiles shine bright against the night sky in Thailand. Students and children bunch together in a circle laughing, dancing and doing hand motions to silly songs.
Paul Thompson exchanges high fives with children in the migrant worker camp. Boys crowd near their human jungle gym, wanting him to play and lift them on his shoulders. They crave attention, and Thompson gladly gives it.
 
Thompson, a member of Salem Baptist Church in Apex, is on a weeklong International World Changers mission trip with about 40 high school and college students from churches in North Carolina and Virginia. World Changers provides student groups and individuals a short-term missions experience as they partner with International Mission Board (IMB) workers throughout the world.
 
The joyous ruckus of singing and laughter from Thompson, the World Changers team and the children would seem to attract the attention of at least a few onlookers. But on this Tuesday night, their presence goes unnoticed to the world outside the migrant worker camp in northern Thailand.

 
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IMB photo by Chloe Lewis
Members of the North Carolina team teach third grade students about different countries and their cultures. Many of the lessons they teach were prepared weeks in advance to ensure that the team was equipped. 

That’s because the team is sharing the gospel among a people group that’s not only unreached with the gospel but is largely tucked away, hidden and invisible from the world. They work in construction and are transient, moving families and homes from one construction site to the next. To get to the Tuesday night camp, the team drives through an upscale neighborhood. At the back of the neighborhood they see homes under construction, and just across the street, the migrant workers’ tin, wooden and bamboo shacks –entirely out of sight from the main road, as are most camps.
 
They arrive at the camp and trudge through mud and puddles carrying lights, craft supplies, sound equipment and tarps to sit on. The team plays games, sings songs and shares the gospel.
 
As they help children and adults make beaded bracelets and tell the story of creation and salvation, Thompson sees just how easy it can be to show love.
 
“The man next to me is listening to the translator but looking at me,” Thompson said. “I was showing him how to do the bracelet. He wanted that eye contact. He wanted me to help him.”
 
In another camp Thompson meets a boy who stays by his side. They can’t really communicate, but at the end of the day, the boy asks the translator to tell him something.
 
“He wants you to come back,” the translator says. “He doesn’t want you to leave.”
 
Thompson graduates from North Carolina State University next year, and until this trip he never thought about serving overseas. But now, after seeing God work, he is considering it.
 
“God loves these people,” Thompson said. “Before the trip we prayed specifically that we would be welcomed by the people and that God would prepare their hearts.”
 
God answered those prayers as the team moved beyond surface-level outreach. They taught English at the migrant worker school in the mornings and invested time in getting to know the children. The principal of the school even invited IMB workers to continue teaching. 
 
The team saw many children from the school in the evenings, when they shared the gospel, shared a meal and showed the “Jesus” film in different migrant camps. As a result, evangelism efforts are pushed forward in the four new camps where students served.
 
A number of migrant workers express interest in the gospel throughout the week. Several pray to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and hundreds hear the gospel for the first time.
 
Men lingering in the shadows, yet hovering near, eventually kick off their shoes and make their way to the tarp where team members share the gospel.

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IMB photo by Chloe Lewis
As the week progresses, the team continues building relationships with the children by showing them the love of Christ. Grace Ann Carver, member of Salem Baptist Church and a teacher in North Carolina, gives the children one-on-one attention with one of their English activities.

 

They ask questions, wanting to know more.
 
“We prayed we would get out of the way this week and join God in what He was already doing,” said Justin Carmona, student pastor at Salem Baptist.
 
Carmona’s students joined students from Oak Grove Baptist Church in Clyde, and Corinth Baptist Church in New Kent, Va., in serving alongside IMB workers who have worked for several years with the migrant workers.
 
“I like knowing that when we leave, people will still be here; that this ministry will continue,” Carmona said. 
 
Salem Baptist plans to be around to see what happens next, as the church is committed to partnering with IMB workers and the migrant worker ministry.
 
“We want to be part of [IMB workers] strategy,” Carmona said. “We want to come alongside in prayer for them. We also want to help financially, and send interns and teams.”
 
Carmona was surprised to see migrant workers so receptive to the gospel.
 
“A lot of the migrant workers might be raised Buddhist, but they aren’t really practicing it; they are going through the motions,” he says.
 
World Changers team member Sarah Crowley saw that receptivity firsthand. One night she talked with two women who prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
 
“They kept thanking us. They told me they are so happy to be in the family,” said Crowley, a Salem member and freshman at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
 
Crowley joined the team only a few days before the group departed. After plans for another summer mission trip fell through, Crowley felt like Thailand was where she needed to go but had no idea how it would happen.
 
So when Carmona asked if she wanted to take the spot of a student who couldn’t go because of health reasons, she said “yes.”
 
“This trip was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I’ve learned God is hope in the darkness, and that Jesus can love through me,” she said.
 
“I think God is calling me to something bigger than I ever thought I could do,” Crowley explains. “But He can equip me. I think it’s time to start thinking about doing what God wants me to do, and not what other people want me to do.”
 
Trusting God to equip and following Him no matter the cost are valuable lessons, even for migrant workers who are more recent believers like Aom. *
 
The students meet Aom, an older woman who walks with a limp, when she shares her testimony with nearly 200 adults and children at the migrant camp they visited Tuesday night.
 
This time, instead of teenagers and children singing and playing, it’s the older woman who is in the spotlight. Aom shares how two years ago a World Changers team came to her camp, showed the Jesus film and shared the gospel. She then repented and believed in Jesus.
 
Some of Aom’s friends and family don’t want her talking about Jesus. But she isn’t afraid, she says, because the confidence of God is in her heart.
 
Migrant workers are coming to faith because of her testimony. She helped start a church in one of the camps, and she continues serving with IMB workers and World Changers teams in the migrant camps.
 
An eternal impact.
 
All because students answered, and continue to answer, God’s call to go. 
 
*Name changed
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Paige Turner is an IMB writer living in Southeast Asia.) 

10/20/2014 4:57:52 PM by Paige Turner, IMB | with 0 comments



Houston sermon subpoenas unite Baptists

October 20 2014 by Tom Strode & Bonnie Pritchett, Baptist Press

The city of Houston has managed to unite Baptists divided on other issues to speak with one voice on an application of their shared belief in religious freedom – that the government should not subpoena sermons.
 
Baptists on both sides of a divide from the days of the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) urged Houston Mayor Annise Parker in a letter Oct. 16 to concede that the city’s subpoenas of sermons and other pastoral communications were wrong and will not be repeated. In a suit against the city, lawyers for Parker’s administration have issued broad subpoenas to four pastors and a ministry leader who oppose the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, known as HERO among the homosexual-transgender ordinance’s supporters.
 
City Attorney Dave Feldman, in another development, struck the word “sermons” from the subpoenas Oct. 17. But attorneys for the ministers maintained that nothing short of a complete withdrawal of the documents will suffice.
 
“The city of Houston still doesn’t get it,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel Erik Stanley said. “It thinks that by changing nothing in its subpoenas other than to remove the word ‘sermons’ that it has solved the problem. That solves nothing.”
 
The subpoenas have elicited an outcry of opposition, including the letter from Baptists who once worked together before differences rooted in theology resulted in organizational division within the SBC beginning in the early 1990s. The letter’s signers included leaders of the SBC and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC), and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) and the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT).

 
Houston10-20-14.gif

The Baptist leaders asked Parker and the city “to acknowledge that the issuing of these subpoenas is improper and unwarranted, in order to ensure that such will not happen again. Whatever a church or synagogue or mosque or any other religious body believes about marriage or sexuality, the preaching and teaching of those bodies should be outside the scope of government intimidation or oversight.”
 
“This is about more than ‘walking back’ a bad public relations move,” they said in the letter. “This is about something that is fundamental to basic, self-evident rights that are endowed not by government but by nature and nature’s God.”
 
The signers admitted they “disagree on many things” and “represent a broad coalition of Baptists from across the political and theological spectrum.”
 
As Baptists, however, they said they “have a long history of support for religious liberty and separation of church and state. On that, we stand united.
 
“Our ancestors stood in the colonial and revolutionary eras demanding the disestablishment of state churches, the end to state licensing of preachers, and the cessation of penalties for religious dissenters,” they said in the letter. “Our forebears – some of whom were imprisoned – petitioned for a First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty, for everyone, because we believe as Baptists that God alone is Lord of the conscience.”
 
Signing the letter were ERLC President Russell D. Moore, BJC Executive Director Brent Walker, SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter, SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards, BGCT Executive Director David Hardage, SBTC President Jimmy Pritchard, BGCT President Jeff Johnson, Houston Baptist University President Robert Sloan and BGCT Christian Life Commission Director Gus Reyes.
 
Moore worked in conjunction with Walker to organize the coalition who signed the letter.
 
In a statement for Baptist Press, Moore said he could not “think of a time since the Southern Baptist controversy started when Baptists across the spectrum have cooperated on an issue in this way.”
 
“We have disagreements with one another on important matters, but we stand together for our Baptist heritage of religious liberty and separation of church and state,” Moore said. “I hope that Mayor Parker, and any other politician who wishes to violate these principles, will reconsider. Baptists have been reminding politicians of the importance of soul freedom for hundreds of years, whether from English jail cells or colonial courtrooms or revolutionary-era rallies. We stand with our forebears, and we won’t back down.”
 
Issued in September but not reported until Oct. 14, the subpoenas seek a wide range of communications by the pastors and ministry leader. They include not only emails and text messages but: “All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition [for a referendum to overturn the ordinance], Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
 
The city threatened contempt of court charges – with the possibility of fines and/or jail time – if the pastors did not comply.
 
Many Southern Baptists in the Houston area have been involved in a diverse interdenominational effort first to defeat HERO and then to gain its repeal after the city council approved the measure in May. HERO added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a list of protected classifications, such as race, religion, sex and disability.
 
Foes of the ordinance are concerned it will violate the religious freedom of business owners and others who disagree with the measure. Also, opponents think it will make women and children vulnerable to sexual predators by permitting people to use public restrooms of the gender they identify with rather than those of their natural gender.
 
After enactment of the ordinance, opponents began a petition drive to place repeal of the ordinance before Houston voters. They submitted about 31,000 signatures – among more than 50,000 collected and nearly 14,000 more than required to qualify for a referendum. Feldman disqualified enough of the signatures, however, to prevent a vote on repeal. In response, HERO opponents filed suit, seeking to gain court approval for a referendum. A court hearing is scheduled for January.
 
Feldman’s revision of the subpoenas, meanwhile, was a preliminary response to ADF’s brief calling on the Harris County 152nd District Court to quash the subpoenas related to the lawsuit. In his brief, Feldman tried to justify the original demand, calling the requested material “relevant” because of the pastors’ involvement in the referendum process that is at the heart of the lawsuit against the city’s disqualifying the referendum.
 
“Even though the pastors are not parties in this lawsuit, the subpoenas still demand from them 17 different categories of information – information that encompasses speeches made by the pastors and private communications with their church members,” Stanley said in a written release. “As we have stated many times, the problem is the subpoenas themselves; they must be rescinded entirely. The city must respect the First Amendment and abandon its illegitimate mission to invade the private communications of pastors for the purpose of strong-arming them into silence in a lawsuit that concerns nothing more than the authenticity of citizen petitions.”
 
In related developments since news broke of the subpoenas:

  • Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott urged Feldman in an Oct. 16 letter to withdraw the subpoenas. Abbott told Feldman, “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Abbott wrote. “The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government. Nothing short of an immediate reversal by your office will provide that security.”

  • Parker, a lesbian who fervently promoted passage of the ordinance, indicated Oct. 15 after receiving the first wave of criticism that the city would change its approach on the subpoenas, but Feldman and she also seemed to fail to appreciate the religious liberty concerns. According to The Wall Street Journal, a city spokeswoman said Parker agreed with concerns about the subpoenas, which she said were issued by pro bono lawyers for Houston. Neither Parker nor Feldman “were aware the subpoenas had been issued until yesterday,” the spokeswoman said. “Both agree the original documents were overly broad. The city will move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing. Feldman says the focus should be only on communications related to the HERO petition process.” Parker, however, tweeted Oct. 14, the previous day: “If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?” At an Oct. 15 news conference, Feldman said the subpoenas had been inaccurately “construed” as an effort to infringe on religious freedom, according to the Southern Baptist TEXAN. “All of this hysteria about how we’re trying to infringe – all because of the used of the word ‘sermon’ – is really ridiculous,” Feldman said.

 
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. Bonnie Pritchett is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN (www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)
 

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10/20/2014 4:42:06 PM by Tom Strode & Bonnie Pritchett, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Death sentence upheld for Pakistani mother

October 20 2014 by Staff of Morning Star News

LAHORE, Pakistan – In spite of protests within Pakistan and abroad against the country’s blasphemy laws, the Lahore High Court upheld Oct. 16 the death sentence for a Christian mother accused of insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad.
 
Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. The mother of five was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim co-workers beat her when she refused to convert to Islam; her death sentence was announced in November 2010.
 
Naeem Shakir, Bibi’s lawyer, will appeal the decision to the Pakistani Supreme Court, he told Morning Star News, but huge backlogs at the court could delay the appeal three years.
 
Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, told Morning Star News that they were hoping for some relief but that the verdict had devastated the family.
 
“I met Asia in prison a month ago,” he said. “She’s fine and was hoping to hear good news, but, alas, our ordeal is not over yet.”
 
Justice Anwarul Haq and Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi had rejected Bibi’s appeal, even though there were glaring contradictions in witness testimonies, Shakir said.
 
“I pointed out the conflicting accounts of the prosecution witnesses, as each one of them had a different narrative regarding the exact location where the local village council was convened in which Asia had allegedly confessed that she had spoken ill of Islam’s prophet and sought forgiveness from the villagers,” Shakir said. “There is also discrepancy in the number of people present as each witness gave different figures.”

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File Photo
Asia Bibi

 

In addition, the court did not take into account that the First Information Report (FIR) against her was registered six days after the alleged incident, “which clearly shows that the case was a premeditated conspiracy against the Christian woman,” Shakir said.
 
The complainant in the case, Qari Salem, was not even present in the berry fields where the alleged incident had occurred, Shakir said.
 
“One of the witnesses, a female co-worker of Asia named Maafia, used to study the Koran from Salem’s wife, and we believe that she is the one who provoked Salem, a prayer leader of the village’s local mosque, to lodge a case against Asia as she and her sister, Asma, had an altercation with Asia in the berry fields over drinking water from the same bowl,” Shakir said.
 
Bibi’s appeal had been delayed several times, but Shakir said he had been confident the verdict would be overturned.
 
“I was shocked when the judges decided to uphold the sessions court decision,” he said, adding that the court had said that Bibi’s “confession” before villagers was sufficient evidence while ignoring that any such confession might have been coerced by Muslim mob.
 
The courtroom was packed with clerics and members of Islamist extremist groups who supported the prosecution, and they erupted in celebration upon hearing the two-judge panel’s decision to dismiss Bibi’s appeal.
 
David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s deputy Asia Pacific director, called the ruling a grave injustice.
 
“Asia Bibi should never have been convicted in the first place – still less sentenced to death – and the fact that she could pay with her life for an argument is sickening,” he said in a press statement. “There were serious concerns about the fairness of the trial, and her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row. She should be released immediately and the conviction should be quashed.”
 
The ruling is the latest chapter in a long ordeal for Bibi, whose case has focused international attention on how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have become a weapon against religious minorities.
 
While Bibi’s death sentence led to international protests, the possibility of overturning it provoked outrage within Pakistan. Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer was slain by his bodyguard on Jan. 4, 2011 because of his support for Bibi and his criticism of the blasphemy law; the bodyguard believed Taseer, a Muslim, had blasphemed by criticizing the law.
 
Former Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, the first Christian, cabinet-level minister, was shot and killed on March 2, 2011 for calling for reforms to blasphemy laws following Bibi’s trial.
 
“The laws are often used to settle personal vendettas – both against members of minority religious groups and Muslims – while individuals facing charges are frequently targeted in mob violence,” Griffiths said. “Those who speak out against the laws face terrible reprisals. However, the blasphemy laws violate international law and must be repealed or reformed immediately to meet international standards.”
 
Death sentences have rarely been carried out in blasphemy cases, but that is in part because such allegations have frequently led to deadly vigilante attacks on the accused or their lawyers. Pakistan is nearly 96 percent Muslim, according to Operation World, and religiously charged court cases commonly involve clamoring crowds of Muslims and other pressures coming to bear on lawyers and judges. Of 52 people extra-judicially murdered after being charged with blasphemy in Pakistan, 25 were Muslims, 15 were Christians, five were Ahmadis, one was Buddhist and one was Hindu, according to a report by the Centre for Research and Security Studies.
 
Bibi was convicted under Section 295-C of the defamation statutes for alleged derogatory comments about Muhammad, which is punishable by death, though life imprisonment is also possible. Pakistan put a de facto moratorium on executions into place in 2008, though one person has been executed since then.
 
In the harvest fields of Ittan Wali in June 2009, Bibi’s co-workers objected to her touching the container for the water she had fetched, saying that her Christian faith made it impure for them, and they told her to convert to Islam, according to her husband. Her objections were taken as blasphemy, and they beat her before dragging her to a police station, he said. More than 20 men have been sentenced to death under the blasphemy law, most of them Christians, though none have been executed, human rights groups say.
 
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been routinely misused to settle personal scores with false accusations. Police have found most blasphemy accusations to be false during investigation, but accusers can make innocent victims suffer months in jail with quick and easy registration of such cases.
 
Christians make up 2.45 percent of Pakistan’s population.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Morning Star News is a California-based independent news service focusing on the persecution of Christians worldwide. Used by permission.)

10/20/2014 4:34:45 PM by Staff of Morning Star News | with 0 comments



BOD approves amendments, property proposals

October 20 2014 by BSC Communications

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Board of Directors (BOD) approved a reduced Cooperative Program (CP) budget for 2015, took action on several properties, heard reports and approved proposals for changes in convention bylaws during its meeting Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell on Oak Island.
 
A CP budget of $29 million, $1 million less than the 2014 budget, was approved. The budget increases the percentage going to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to 37 percent, up from 36.5 percent in 2014. The budget will be presented for consideration by messengers during the convention’s annual meeting Nov. 10-11 in Greensboro.
 

Properties

The Business Services Special Committee presented three recommendations and several updates. Jimmy Adams, chair of the committee, brought recommendations to take action on properties owned by the BSC.
Two of the properties are buildings that have been used by the Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM). A new collegiate partnership strategy launched in 2013. It mobilizes local churches to reach college students. The board also heard a report on campus ministry from Jonathan Yarboro, acting team leader for collegiate partnerships.
 
The board authorized the sale of the BCM building at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. The 30-year-old facility is in poor condition. Bids were approved beginning Oct. 6, 2014, for a minimum of 45 days.
 
This action was precipitated by an unsolicited offer to purchase the property. Proceeds from the sale will go into a fund for collegiate partnerships. A BCM building near the University of North Carolina-Pembroke will be transferred at no cost to Burnt Swamp Baptist Association to use as a ministry center. This facility will continue to be used for BCM.
 
Adams said the land was originally owned by the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) and a provision was included with the transfer of property requiring BCH to have the first right of refusal if the convention gives up ownership. BCH declined the property and supports the transfer to Burnt Swamp Association.
 
The BOD authorized Fruitland Baptist Bible College to construct a four-unit student family housing building with a gift from Jim Jacumin, a lay member of East Valdese Baptist Church in Valdese. The building will be named the Nancy Nell Jacumin Family Apartments, in honor of his late wife. Jacumin received the 2014 Heritage Award from the BSC, in recognition of his generous support of Baptist causes. Another gift from Jacumin, the Jim and Nancy Nell Jacumin Retreat Lodge at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro is now complete and will be dedicated Oct. 28 at 1 p.m.
 

Bylaw amendments

The BOD approved six amendments to the convention’s bylaws, which will be considered by messengers at the annual meeting.
 
The amendments proposed include:

  • Changing the procedures and requirements for submitting resolutions for consideration at the annual meeting.

  • Setting procedures for meetings of the BOD when weather or other factors cause meetings to be cancelled.

  • Clarifying qualifications and limits on who can serve on the BOD.

  • Updating wording related to the Christian Life & Public Affairs Committee.

  • Updating names for Fruitland Baptist Bible College (from Institute) in BSC documents.

  • Clarifying inconsistencies on the description of trustees for North Carolina Baptist Hospital. 

Disciple-making

Chris Hawks, chairman of the evangelism and discipleship committee, said the BSC is on target to train 500 people in using “The Story” this year. (One is planned Oct. 28 at Green Pines Baptist Church in Knightdale.)
 
Milton Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer, urged the board to pray for a spiritual awakening in North Carolina. “Let’s pray that, if we don’t see it in our lifetime, that others will,” he said.
 
Highlighting the convention’s nine-month-old strategy focused on impacting lostness through disciple making, he urged the board, “Just begin investing your life in others.”
 
A lack of disciple-making has resulted in declining baptism statistics, he said. “The baptism figures across the Southern Baptist Convention for 2013 match the figures when Harry Truman was president,” he added.
 
“My prayer is that churches and associations and agencies and all of our partners in ministry will fully embrace disciple-making and that each will develop a disciple-making culture within their organization. You can become a catalyst for disciple-making.”
 

Engaging people groups

Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and mission partnerships, said a new research project has identified 78 clusters of lost people across Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle.
 
“God is bringing to North Carolina people of the world who have not heard the Good News,” he said. Now that many of these have been identified, “We are calling for engagement.”
 
To speed up the engagement process, the BSC will launch a pilot project in January that places 10 individuals to work with churches to engage these groups
 

Collegiate partnerships

Jonathan Yarboro said the BSC’s new model of collegiate partnerships plans to reach students on 200 campuses across the state – approximately 591,000 students.
 
He said the convention is moving from a model that focused on nine campuses to one setting up partnerships with churches to engage the 591,000 college students in all colleges across N.C. This will include outreach on the state’s many community colleges for the first time.
 
Some 90,000 international students are studying at schools in the state. “God is bringing the nations to us as international students,” Yarboro said. There is an estimated 35,000 college faculty and staff who also need the gospel.
 

Baptists on Mission

Referring to the areas of New Jersey and New York hit by Super Storm Sandy, John Gore, president of Baptists on Mission or N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM), said, “There is still much to be done there.” Volunteers will continue to work in that area through August 2015. NCBM have rebuilt 104 homes in these areas since 2012.
 
Gore told of personally taking part in preparing 2,000+ meals a day in Piscataway, N.J., using NCBM’s new kitchen unit two.
 
He said cleanup work led to faith sharing, and people have come to faith in Christ through the work. One person they helped said seeing the volunteers was like seeing Jesus in his front yard. “That’s what it’s all about – being Jesus to the people of New Jersey,” Gore said.
 

Baptist Children’s Homes

North Carolina Baptists served 9,983 children in 2013 through the BCH, reported Brenda Gray, executive vice president for development and communication.
 
“Redeemed” will be the Thanksgiving offering theme this year. The week of prayer emphasis is Nov. 16-23. Gray also gave the report for the N.C. Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM), operated by BCH from its Thomasville campus.
 
She said NCBAM receives 350 calls a month requesting help for senior adults. To respond, NCBAM has enlisted more than 2,000 volunteers. A $15,000 grant from the N.C. Baptist Foundation will provide wheelchair ramps to prevent seniors from falling.
 

N.C. Baptist Hospital

FaithHealthNC is a partnership ministry between N.C. Baptist Hospital (also known as Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center) and faith groups; it includes training volunteers to work with patients before, during and after hospital stays in order to keep people healthier, said Wanda Dellinger, chairman of the Christian Social Services Special Committee.
 
She said Ashe, Brier Creek and Brushy Mountain Baptist associations have signed agreements to encourage church participation with FaithHealthNC.
 
Last year’s Mother’s Day Offering, used by N.C. Baptist Hospital to help needy patients, provided $579,000 in medical care to 59 patients. Also, CareNet counseling centers maintained by the hospital across the state provided $600,000 in free pastoral counseling last year.
 

Fruitland

Fruitland Baptist Bible College expects about 188 students to be enrolled this fall, reported President David Horton.
 
The school has satellite campuses in Monroe, Wilkesboro and Rocky Mount, plus Hispanic campuses in Sylva, Statesville, Charlotte and Wilmington.
 

Biblical Recorder

“People in Baptist pews need to know what’s going on,” said Allan Blume, Biblical Recorder (BR) editor, in the BR report.
 
He said the BR is one of the top three Baptist newspapers in the country in online readership. Web traffic increased by more than 100 percent this year. Print circulation continues to decline even as digital soars.

 
Universities

Gordon Benton gave highlights of the five Baptist universities which have partnership ties to the BSC as part of his report from the Christian Higher Education Special Committee.
 
Chowan University has the highest enrollment since 1971, and launched a new student chaplaincy ministry this year.
 
Campbell University has received a $1.5 million gift to establish a chair of evangelism and missions in the divinity school, plus another $1 million to implement it.
 

Christian Life and Public Affairs

Chairman Ray Barnhill introduced Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League (CAL), to talk about the work of CAL, a public policy group representing conservative evangelicals from 17 church groups in the state.
 
Creech said the organization is facing its most severe financial shortfall.
 
“We may be forced to suspend this ministry of seven decades,” he said.
 
A motion at the 2013 annual meeting regarding the financial needs of the CAL was referred to the BOD. The Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee was tasked to address the motion.
 
Barnhill said BSC cannot offer additional funding support for the CAL but worked with Creech to encourage churches and individuals to support CAL.
 
Barnhill said the convention sent out letters requesting support for CAL and encouraging churches to invite Creech to speak.
 
Creech indicated that the effort was making a difference.
 
“Thank you so much,” said Creech. “We consider the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina our mother. We were birthed by you.”
 

Communications Committee

Micheal Pardue, chairman of the Communications Committee, reported the committee is working with John Jones, the convention’s team leader for information technology and services, on a new approach to getting information from churches affiliated with the convention.
 
The Annual Church Profile (ACP), gathered for LifeWay Christian Resources, has been the traditional tool for this, but many churches do not return the reports.
 
Pardue said getting information from the churches is important, because even the size of the board of directors depends on ACP reports from the churches.
 
Pardue announced Kathryn Carson is the new team leader of the BSC communications team. She has served as a graphic designer on the convention staff since 2005.
 
In other matters the Board elected Ginger Brown as board secretary, replacing Pam Young, who was the temporary board secretary.
 
The board approved a recommendation from BSC president C.J. Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, that board member Debbie Smith be named to fill the unexpired, at-large term of Bobby Lewis on the executive committee. Lewis moved out of state.


Related Stories:

BSC board cuts 2015 budget by $1 million
N.C. Executive Committee hears positive reports
10/20/2014 4:19:51 PM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments



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