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January 2013

Sandy Branch committed to serving community

January 31 2013 by BSC Communications

Sandy Branch Baptist Church in Bear Creek may not be the largest congregation in the state, but this group of believers in Chatham County is committed to making a difference for the Kingdom in their rural community.
 
“The mission field is right here; we have to go to it,” said Marc Sanders, Sandy Branch pastor. “There’s no reason why even this small church can’t be doing something to impact the community.”
 
Sanders is leading the congregation of 110 people to shift the focus from self to serving others, and to being more aware of the opportunities God provides to share the gospel. One way they are seeking to make a difference is through serving their local schools.
 
“We have a lot of teachers in our church, and my wife is a teacher. The need has always been there,” he said.
 
Sandy Branch began by giving Chatham Central High School teachers a welcome packet after the summer break and offering to help alleviate some of their work with extra-curricular activities. 
 
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Marc Sanders


The church started providing what principal Mitchell Stensland called “we appreciate you” activities, such as sponsoring pre-game meals for home football games and providing a meal for graduating seniors before their baccalaureate service.
 
They also host 5th Quarter, which is held at the church after each home football game.
 
“Marc realized the amount of time teachers were putting in holding events after football games to give the students a place to go. ... He offered to have his church sponsor those activities to alleviate the school staff from doing those kinds of duties,” Stensland said.
 
“The teachers were volunteering their time in addition to everything else they do.”
At times the 5th Quarter events draw nearly half the student body of Chatham Central. Stensland shared that the partnership his school enjoys with Sandy Branch is part of his overall goal to see the entire community engaged in the life of the school.
 
“It’s important for the students to see that the community supports the school, and it is important for the adults to be involved in the lives of the children. What Sandy Branch does is part of the puzzle, a critical part, that makes up a successful school,” he said. 
 
More recently, Sandy Branch began an effort to help reduce hunger, as about half of the students in Chatham County receive lunch free or at a reduced price.
 
Sandy Branch started a feeding program at two schools and assists with a program at a third school. They help feed about 45 children each week by sending backpacks of food home with the children on Friday afternoons. The Sandy Branch youth group helps prepare the food bags each week, and Sanders said church members donated food, as well as their time, to help with the feeding programs.
 
“Serving in our community has pushed us to do missions elsewhere,” Sanders said.
 
Sandy Branch adopted a school in the coalfields region of Kentucky, and last year during Easter delivered about 1,000 shoeboxes (similar to Operation Christmas Child).
 
The church has also prepared care packages for teachers, provided school supplies and helped provide a new computer program for the school.
 
During Christmas, Sandy Branch adopted children from the school and provided gifts for students in need.
 
“Our children are an unreached people group,” Sanders said. “More and more we see the need to reach children with the gospel.”
 
Sandy Branch is also partnering with other churches to make a difference. In 2012,  they assisted a new church plant in Asheboro with their Vacation Bible School. Area churches are also joining them in their outreach to the school in Kentucky.
 
This year, Sandy Branch is hoping to expand its shoebox ministry with the help of other churches and is partnering with First Baptist Church in Coeburn, Va., to provide prom dresses for young ladies in the coalfields region of Virginia.
 
“A little can go a long way,” Sanders said. “All we have to do is look to see where we can serve.”
 
To find out more about helping with the shoebox or other ministries, call (919) 837-5331. Visit sandybranchchurch.org.
1/31/2013 2:40:35 PM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Christian history ‘made easy’

January 31 2013 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Professor Timothy Paul Jones acknowledges that plenty of people view the study of history as boring – full of drab facts and dates they’d rather forget.

But Jones says it shouldn’t be that way, and he’s written a book about Christian history – now in the form of a small-group DVD curriculum – that recounts 2,000 years of Christian faith with fascinating stories he believes are as entertaining as a good fiction book. Sure, the facts and dates are there, but they’re not the focus.
 
Jones’ goal is to help Christians understand and appreciate their faith more by filling in that huge two millennia gap between the apostles and, say, Billy Graham.

The book and curriculum are titled, perhaps appropriately, “Christian History Made Easy” (Rose Publishing). It’s a 12-week session that has been used by churches, homeschoolers and Christians schools. The curriculum intersperses a Jones lecture with animation, intended to make it more entertaining.

Christians, Jones says, need to know more about the history of their faith.

“What draws us together as believers is not only a shared Spirit and a common faith but also the shared story of how God has worked through past believers,” said Jones, professor of leadership and church ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. “If we aren’t aware how God worked in their lives, we are less likely to recognize the rhythms of God’s work in our lives; we are unable to distinguish which truths are vital to the faith; and, we are less able to articulate why we believe what we believe.
 
“The challenges that Christians face today are not that different from ones that Christians have faced before. Even if previous generations of Christians failed to face these challenges well, understanding how and why they responded as they did can help us to consider the challenges of our own generation with deeper humility and wisdom.”

Baptist Press (BP) talked to Jones about the importance of learning Christian history and his philosophy of teaching it. Following is a transcript:

Q: Why should the average Christian care about church history, particularly those Christians who believe the Bible is sufficient and church history has no authority?

A: It’s true that Christian history itself has no authority, but what we see in church history is how the Bible has been used in the life of the church, and by looking at how the Scriptures have been used in the life of the church and how the Spirit has worked through the Scriptures, that helps us to be wiser in how we respond today to issues that we face.

Even as we recognize scripture is our sole authority, church history is still really important because of the way we can see, in church history, how the Spirit has worked through the scriptures, among our brothers and sisters who came before us. We learn how they used it wisely and how they used it poorly. Both of those can help us to make wiser choices in how we use the Scriptures, how we proclaim the scriptures today.

Q: Do you think learning church history can impact our faith?

A: It helps us distinguish what is essential, what is non-essential, what matters. For example, in the Great Awakening, I think it would help us to recognize at this juncture in Baptist history how John Wesley, an Arminian, and George Whitefield, a Calvinist, worked together and were able to work in partnership with one another. That’s helpful and instructive for us today.

Q: Why is the average person in the pew largely uninformed about church history?

A: I think there are at least a couple of reasons: 1) Particularly among American evangelicals, there has long been a tendency to seek and to value whatever is newest and trendiest, and to separate ourselves from the wisdom of the past. If there’s any reference to church history at all, it typically takes the form of decontextualized illustrations and quotations from those in the past. 2) In school, most church members have experienced history poorly taught – history that centers on isolated facts instead of focusing first on the stories that link us with people long-past. The result of poorly taught history is that people perceive history – all history, even church history – as boring, dry, irrelevant. History isn’t boring, of course, but it’s difficult to change people’s minds when they’ve experienced years of boring history in school.

Q: So you probably believe history is as exciting as a popular fiction book.

A: I think it should be, but if often isn’t presented that way.

Q: There are a lot of people who will say, “I had a history class back in high school, and it wasn’t as exciting as a fiction book.”

A: I think the reason that church history is not as exciting for many people as a good fiction book is because we don’t tell it the right way. We don’t tell it as a story; we tell it as isolated facts. And I think one of the things that we can do in teaching and telling church history is to tell the stories first and make the stories primary. Because that is where we are able to connect with earlier believers in our common humanness, in our common experiences as believers in Jesus Christ – the stories of how God works through them. And I think if we tell the stories first, we help people connect the stories to the names, the dates, the facts.

Q: How did the way you view history and how you want it taught affect how you wrote the book Christian History Made Easy?

A: It completely shaped it, because when I wrote the book, the way I structured it was I laid out the framework of all the names, dates, facts that had to be mentioned. I made that the skeleton, and then I thought, “What stories do I fit in to all of this?” So I could lead into the stories, so that the stories were primary in it.

Q: Why did you write the book, and how did you get interested in church history?

A: I thought church history was boring all the way until I was in my master’s degree, and I took some church history courses and I realized, “This really matters.” This was in the mid-1990s, and I was a pastor, and I wanted my people in the church to understand some of these really important things. I started looking for a church history textbook to use in a study, and I couldn’t find one that covered church history that wasn’t boring. And so I started writing it myself. I wrote it for my people at Green Ridge Baptist Church in Green Ridge, Mo. It started off as a course at this rural church in central Missouri. Rose Publishing, in 1999, published it as a black and white book. And even then, I envisioned a full-color version of this book, but Rose Publishing, budget-wise, couldn’t do it. And so finally, in 2009, they were able to go back to the drawing board of the book, and I was able to re-write significant portions of it and bring it up to date as a full-color book.

Q: How did it get into a DVD curriculum?

A: Rose Publishing has begun doing DVD curriculum, and I had always wanted to be able to teach this in a much broader format – in essence, do what I did back in that little church in the 1990s and do make it available to a broader audience.

Q: What’s the audience for the curriculum?

A: I and two Ph.D. students wrote the curriculum. We really wrote it with laypeople in mind, and we really tried to aim at an eighth-grade reading level. I want it to be used by high schoolers and adults, and laypeople with no theological education. Everything was written with a strong focus on: How can we make it interesting, enjoyable, spiritually deepening for people?

Q: Rose Publishing took great strides in making the curriculum more than just a lecture. They incorporated animation. It’s not just you standing at a podium talking for 30 minutes.

A: One of the things I wanted was animation. They did a great job. They went all out and did everything I wanted. The animations tell different episodes of church history in about three minutes in a really funny and fun way. Interspersed throughout the lectures are complicated subjects reduced in a fun animation that has a good sense of humor but is always historically accurate.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)
1/31/2013 2:23:29 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Chaplains rescue jumpers from suicide

January 31 2013 by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press

BEACHY HEAD, England – For eight years, Ross Hardy has walked the white chalk cliffs of Beachy Head, England, among the thousands who travel there from around the world.

Many come to take pictures. Some come to die.

And by God’s grace and a keen eye, Hardy usually can tell the difference.

“We are trained in certain signs, to infer things from people’s behavior,” Hardy said. “But many times it is nothing but God’s prompting that makes us know who to go talk to in a crowd of people standing near the edge.”
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Ross Hardy, founder of the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, says God has placed him and his fellow chaplains at the white cliffs on the southeast coast of England “to rescue people’s lives.”


The “us” is the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, a ministry begun by Hardy, a former Baptist pastor. The ministry now encompasses 14 trained chaplains who patrol the cliffs and are on call 24/7 for people in need of help.

It’s not easy work, Hardy said. He’s seen people jump, and he has a fear of heights. He and other chaplains sometimes have to dangle over the edge with a harness. They sit still for hours in the freezing wind and rain to talk to someone. And they all face constant emotional exhaustion.

But Hardy said the team keeps going for two reasons – a vision from God and dismal numbers.

Beachy Head, on the southeast coast of England, consistently ranks in the top four on many lists of the world’s most frequented suicide destinations, along with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji, Japan; and Niagara Falls in New York.

Hardy isn’t too excited about that.
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Crosses dot the cliff edge at Beachy Head, England, where many people have committed suicide.


But there are other numbers he’s happier about – after face-to-face contact and communication with a chaplain, 99 percent of the suicidal people they meet choose to come away from the edge. Since 2004, the team has rescued about 1,750 people.

“It’s very rewarding, invigorating work. We may talk to between two and 14 people in a week,” Hardy said.

The chaplains aren’t all ministers – they’re just followers of Christ who responded to the need to help others, Hardy said. They’re dance teachers, firefighters, builders, doctors and journalists. They’re Baptist, Church of England and several other Christian denominations.

“God has placed us here to rescue people’s lives. It’s terribly sad to see so many broken lives, but we get the opportunity to speak with them and let them talk, and we listen without judging,” he said. “Their situations don’t stop us from loving them.”

As the recession drags on, the level of crisis deepens for people, he said. Some come because they’ve lost a job, committed a crime, had a breakup or simply aren’t happy.

“Some have planned it for months. We talked with one man who had flown all the way here from Switzerland,” Hardy said. “Others have only been thinking of suicide for a few hours and something just caused them to break and make a quick decision to end their life.”

That was the way it was for the first man Hardy encountered in 2004, only 40 minutes into his very first shift. The man was walking up the side path toward the cliff, and something about him caught the attention of Hardy and another chaplain.

“We couldn’t get him out of our heads, so we went back and found him sitting on the edge in a spot hidden from view,” Hardy said. “He wasn’t particularly impressed that we’d shown up, which is what often happens at first. Most think it’s their choice and don’t want us to interfere.”

But as Hardy talked with the man and helped him explore his doubts, he agreed to come back to the chaplaincy hut, have a cup of tea and talk about it more. “We saw his hopelessness. He had a lot of gambling debt and didn’t know how to move on.”

Hardy shared the gospel with him, and he professed faith in Christ that night. Six months later, he came back and asked if he could help with the ministry.

“It’s so amazing how, through the grace of God, we get to be one thing in a chain of events to see lives dramatically transformed,” Hardy said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ava Thomas is a writer/editor for the International Mission Board based in Europe. For more information about the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, visit bhct.org.uk.)
1/31/2013 2:10:23 PM by Ava Thomas, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Immigration proposal gets evangelical support

January 31 2013 by Tom Strode and Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Evangelical Christian advocates for broad immigration reform have warmly welcomed a proposal offered by a bipartisan group of United States senators.
 
Republicans and four Democrats outlined Monday (Jan. 28) their plan for addressing what has been a hotly debated issue for years as an estimated 11 million illegal, or undocumented, immigrants have made their homes in this country. Congress has not made a serious attempt since 2007 to repair what seemingly everyone acknowledges as a broken immigration system.

In their written framework, the senators – who include Democrat Charles Schumer of New York and Republican Marco Rubio of Florida – said they intend to pass a permanent solution that commits the “resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here.”

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land said he was “very encouraged” by the bipartisan framework.

“Congress does not often exceed my expectations,” said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “But these principles, and this demonstration of bipartisanship by our leaders, certainly have.”

President Obama, in a Tuesday (Jan. 29) speech from immigrant-rich Las Vegas, applauded the bipartisan effort, but said he will work to ensure comprehensive reform occurs without delay.

The senators’ proposal outlines four legislative keystones:
  • “Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • “Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
  • “Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
  • “Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.”
Land told Baptist Press the framework is “gratifyingly and remarkably similar to what I and the Evangelical Immigration Table and others have been calling for.”

“This provides the parameters that many of us have been working for for some time and shows that there is a critical mass of Republicans and Democrats who are ready to make the compromises necessary to provide a comprehensive immigration reform policy that the American people will support,” Land said.

Other members of the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of Christian leaders, also applauded the senators’ proposal.

Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, called it “an honest compromise that can move the nation forward in healthy ways.”

Robert Gittelson, president of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, acknowledged the “devil is in the details” but said his coalition partners and he are hopeful the senators’ proposal “will serve as a fair and broad outline that should hopefully lead to solutions that will once and for all solve the very intractable problems inherent in our broken and antiquated immigration system.”

The senators offered only an outline, not legislation. Undoubtedly, the specifics regarding a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants will be a focus of debate.

Their bill, the coalition of senators said, would require undocumented immigrants to register with the government – as well as pass a background check and pay back taxes and a fine – to gain “probationary legal status.” All enforcement provisions must be final before an immigrant on probation can earn a green card. A commission, which includes governors and attorneys general from Southwestern border states, must make a recommendation about when the security prerequisites are met.

Immigrants on probation will not be able to receive federal benefits and must go to the back of the line for all immigrants, undergo another background check, learn English and civics, and prove they have a history of employment and a current job to seek permanent residency.

Obama said in Las Vegas, “Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years. At this moment, it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that’s very encouraging.

“But, this time, action must follow. We can’t allow immigration reform to get bogged down in endless debate,” he said. “If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.”

Comprehensive immigration reform is essential to growing the economy, as it would utilize the strengths of all willing to invest energies here and ensure companies compete fairly, Obama said.

“If we’re truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we’ve got to fix the system. We have to make sure that every business and every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules,” he said. “We have to bring the shadow economy into the light so that everybody’s held accountable – businesses for who they hire and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense.”

The audience met his comments with applause on several points aimed at creating a path of citizenship to undocumented immigrants, including children brought here illegally.

Obama encouraged reform that would provide a clear, achievable path to citizenship. For those already here illegally, he said, the process would include paying overdue taxes, passing criminal background checks, learning English and giving precedence to those already playing by the rules.

Strengthening border security, imposing stiff penalties for companies employing undocumented workers and streamlining legal immigration must also be part of the solution, Obama said.

Some Republican senators expressed reservations about their colleagues’ framework.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who was part of discussions on the proposal, said he was encouraged by the process but could not sign onto it.

“These guidelines contemplate a policy that will grant special benefits to illegal immigrants based on their unlawful presence in the country,” Lee said. “Reforms to our complex and dysfunctional immigration system should not in any way favor those who came here illegally over the millions of applicants who seek to come here lawfully.”

At the news conference unveiling the framework, Rubio said, “[W]e clearly want to make sure that the enforcement mechanisms happen. And one of the things that we all hear from people is, ‘Well, you’re going to do the legalization part, but you won’t do the enforcement part.’“

In order to prove a comfort level, Rubio said, the senators will put in place “an understanding that, in fact, the visa entry and exit system – which is something everyone recognizes needs to be done – and real progress in terms of having real improvement at the border are two things that are critical and that people need to see certified before we move to the final stage in the process – not the legalization stage but the green card process.”

In addition to Schumer and Rubio, the other senators offering the proposal were Republicans Jeff Flake and John McCain, both of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, as well as Democrats Michael Bennet of Colorado, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

For several years, the ERLC’s Land has called for comprehensive reform that includes a pathway to citizenship that would consist of such requirements as paying fines, undergoing a criminal background check, learning English, pledging allegiance to the American government, accepting a probationary period and going to the back of the line behind those seeking to enter the country legally.

Messengers to the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., approved a resolution on immigration reform that called for the advancement of the gospel of Jesus while pursuing justice and compassion. The measure urged the government to make a priority of border security and holding businesses accountable in their hiring. It also requested public officials establish after securing the borders “a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country.” It specified the resolution was not to be interpreted as supporting amnesty.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ staff writer.)
1/31/2013 1:57:36 PM by Tom Strode and Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



SBC’s Page urges Scouts not to change policy

January 30 2013 by Michael Foust

NASHVILLE – Southern Baptist leader Frank Page took part in a conference call Monday (Jan. 28) with Boy Scout leaders and urged the organization not to change its policy on homosexuality, days ahead of a vote on the proposal that has led to significant pushback from the Scouts’ base of support.

Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee, took part in the conference call which included Wayne Brock, chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America (B.S.A.); Wayne Perry, president of the B.S.A.; and Tiko Perez, national commissioner of the B.S.A. Roger S. “Sing” Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee, also took part in the call and gave Baptist Press a summary of the conversation.

The Boy Scout leaders said during the conference call they are facing pressure – both internally and externally – to change the policy, which prohibits open homosexuals from leadership positions. Page, though, told them that pressure should never trump principle, and he added that he could no longer laud the Scouts for standing on principle.

Just six months ago, the Boy Scouts released a statement standing by the ban, saying a “majority of our membership” agrees with the policy and that the “vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their rights to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”

The Boy Scouts released a new statement Monday describing the proposal, saying that the national policy would be rescinded in favor of a policy allowing local councils to determine their own policy. That means that in each city, one council might allow gay leaders and another might not. The Boy Scouts board is expected to vote on the proposal next week.

Page told the Scout leaders that although the new policy might allow the sponsoring organization to set local policy, such autonomy would disappear when there is a national or even regional meeting.

“National policy will always trump local autonomy” in such situations, Page said. “I believe this will be a death blow to Scouting. ... I think this is a self-inflicted wound.”

Perry told Page that the Scouts are facing a “civil war” on the issue and that the proposal is the best solution. Page responded that the leaders did not allow time for the millions who support the current policy to speak out. About 70 percent of all Scouting units are owned and operated by faith-based organizations. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leads all faith-based organizations with 38,000 units (and 420,000 participating youth), followed by the United Methodists (11,000 units; 371,000 youth) and the Catholic Church (8,570; 283,000). Baptists are sixth (4,100; 109,000).

Meanwhile, the president of Association of Baptists for Scouting – A.J. Smith – says passage of the proposed policy “will likely be viewed as an affront by most Baptist church leaders.” He also is urging people to voice their position to the national Boy Scouts office (see below).

“Such a move may result in a loss of units chartered through Baptist churches as well as a loss of Baptist youth currently registered through other charter organizations,” Smith said. “It will, no doubt, be argued that under the proposed new guidelines the charter organization will have greater liberty in determining membership standards, and that would be true. Some Baptists will be more agreeable to that, certainly. Still, the move opens the door for hiring practices at council and national camps that would allow homosexuals in those settings. The BSA will have no legal recourse to prevent such applicants from filing discrimination suits if their applications are denied. In light of that, many Baptist charter organizations and Baptist parents will decide not to send their youth to such camps for fear of them being exposed to persons advocating a homosexual lifestyle. In short, from a Baptist perspective, such a move is fraught with danger and is an affront to their core convictions on human sexuality.”

Many people, Smith said, will wonder if current Boy Scouts leaders “are truly committed to the principles and values of Scouting as envisioned” by Scouting founder Lord Baden-Powell.

“The goal or aim of Scouting is to instill in youth the ability to make moral and ethical decisions over a lifetime by a careful application of the Scout Oath and Law. However, this move appears to fly in the face of both the Scout Oath and Law.”

The Scouting oath begins by saying, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country” and concludes with a pledge to stay “morally straight.”

“Baptists will not respond favorably to this shift in membership standards by the national council, if approved,” Smith concluded. “The Association of Baptists for Scouting will have to give very careful consideration to the matter before coming to a definitive decision on how to respond to the matter.”

Smith urged those concerned about the change to express “their views and/or concerns” by sending an email at the Scout website – http://www.scouting.org/ContactUs.aspx. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins urged people to call the Scouts organization directly: (972) 580-2000.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)

Related stories

Royal Ambassadors may emerge as missions-focused alternative to Scouts
Boy Scouts could be poised to reverse gay leader policy
Guest Column: The sad transformation of the Boy Scouts of America
1/30/2013 2:33:16 PM by Michael Foust | with 0 comments



RAs may emerge as missions-focused alternative to Scouts

January 30 2013 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – As the Boy Scouts of America seriously considers lifting its ban on gay and lesbian troop leaders, churches across the Southern Baptist Convention may turn to the Royal Ambassador program, which for decades has shaped boys into responsible followers of Christ.
 
“Royal Ambassadors (RA) espouses many of the same virtues and character-building activities that are found in Boy Scouts but with the added benefit for Southern Baptists that our primary goal is developing boys into men who understand the mission of God and carry the gospel with them into the world,” Richard Bodenhamer, a marketing specialist at Woman's Missionary Union (WMU), said Jan. 29.

Royal Ambassadors is the Southern Baptist missions organization for boys in grades 1-6. Challengers engages young men in grades 7-12 in missions education.

The RA program was established by WMU in 1908. Years later, responsibilities for the program were transferred to the North American Mission Board, and in 2011, WMU again assumed those responsibilities.

The RA pledge is this: “As a Royal Ambassador I will do my best to become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ; to have a Christlike concern for all people; to learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world; to work with others in sharing Christ; and to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body.”

Based on 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Royal Ambassadors motto is “We are Ambassadors for Christ,” providing boys with a lifestyle goal.

Wanda Lee, executive director of national WMU, described Royal Ambassadors as “unique and significant in that it instills godly characteristics in boys while helping them understand the mission of God and their responsibility for living out and sharing the gospel.”

Boys in RAs participate in fun activities that are appropriate for their age and gender, Lee said, and the curriculum helps nurture their mental, social, physical and spiritual development.

“At a young age, boys learn that life isn't all about them as they develop a biblical worldview by actively serving others and learning how God is at work through missions efforts around the world,” Lee said.

The importance of godly leaders in RAs cannot be understated, Lee added.

“WMU believes in a man's calling to influence and lead boys in missions education. More than ever, boys desperately need male Christian role models who live out the gospel,” Lee said. “Boys grow into godly young men and tomorrow's leaders as they model the example of their leaders.”

About 3,000 churches across the country have RA programs, and many churches have more than one RA group, WMU said. Based on subscriptions to RA Leader magazine, WMU estimates there are 6,300 RA leaders, and 31,000 subscriptions to RA World, the magazine for RA members, indicate there are at least that many boys involved in Royal Ambassadors.

RA leaders help boys learn about God's mission, participate in missions experiences, pray for and give to missions, develop and use mission skills, and learn about and support the missions work of their church and denomination, according to the RA website, wmu.com/ra.

Horace Maddox, a member of Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Flowery Branch, Ga., told Baptist Press he has been involved in RAs for many years, first as a student and then as a leader.
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“I still get visits from men who are dads themselves now that stop by my house to talk about some of the camping trips we went on, some of the activities that we've been involved in like the Royal Ambassador Racers and the sports teams that we've had down through the years and the impact that it's had on their lives - getting involved in RAs in their churches,” Maddox said.

“Some have gone on to be pastors and one in particular is a North American missionary in Colorado. There have been a lot of good things that came out of the program over the years. I'm sold on it,” Maddox, a state adviser for RAs, said. “I feel like it's made a big impact on the boys that I've been involved with over the years.”

Don Hinkle, editor of The Pathway, the Missouri Baptist Convention's newspaper, was a Royal Ambassador.

“At age 6 I began to learn the inestimable value of Southern Baptists cooperating to carry the gospel to the world by my involvement in Royal Ambassadors,” Hinkle told Baptist Press. “I did not understand the theological implications of it all and certainly not all of the academic terminology now used to describe it, but I began to learn how to be a Great Commission disciple and to think from a biblical worldview perspective.”

Hinkle is grateful for the RA leaders who “placed my feet on a path that encouraged me to be an informed follower of Christ, with concern for my fellow man, sharing Christ with others while keeping myself clean and healthy in mind and body.”

“Perhaps in these sad, self-destructing days for the Boy Scouts of America, God will use RAs in a new and powerful way to bring honor and glory to Him,” Hinkle said.

Bob Terry, president and editor of The Alabama Baptist newspaper, was both a Boy Scout and a Royal Ambassador growing up and still has an appreciation for both.

“The Bible verses we learned [in RAs] I still remember, but the most lasting benefit was the introduction to what Baptists do together in the cause of Christ,” Terry, also a former RA leader, told Baptist Press.

“Like most church members, my view of the Kingdom of God was fairly limited to my church and a few other churches [nearby],” Terry said. “Through RAs, I was introduced to Baptists working together to share the gospel with people around the world. In RAs is where I first learned to love missions and to realize that I was a part of that effort even though I was only a teenager and had never been to those places.”

Todd Deaton, editor of the Western Recorder in Kentucky, credits Royal Ambassadors with shaping his call to the ministry.

“Attending a state Royal Ambassador camp as a boy and then working at that camp while I was a college student was a life-impacting experience, which led me to respond to God's call into ministry,” Deaton told Baptist Press. “Answering God's call directed me toward making a commitment to use my talents to serve Christ as a denominational journalist.

“Although the boys may come home talking about all the fun activities they did, the best part of any Royal Ambassador camp is seeing decisions made for Christ during the week,” Deaton said.

Lee, at the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans last year, noted, “We recognize there is such a short window of opportunity for shaping young minds to be missions-focused, and we are fully committed to effectively discipling children and students in Southern Baptist missions.”

For churches considering Royal Ambassadors, extensive resources are available on the RA website, wmu.com/ra. A 30-page PDF document called the Royal Ambassadors Quick Start Guide offers information on how to start an RA chapter, including a sample first meeting.

Condensed RA resources in Spanish are available without charge on the WMU website at wmu.com/espanol. New materials are posted for each month.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. With reporting by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.)

Related stories

SBC’s Page urges Scouts not to change policy
Boy Scouts could be poised to reverse gay leader policy
Guest Column: The sad transformation of the Boy Scouts of America
1/30/2013 2:14:40 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Students impacted by serving Hurricane Sandy victims

January 30 2013 by Buddy Overman, BCS Communications

Although Mollie Jones hasn’t decided on a career just yet, she knows she wants to devote her life to helping others and she isn’t wasting any time.
 
Jones, a sophomore at Appalachian State University, was one of 42 college students from several North Carolina universities who volunteered to serve one week in New Jersey during Christmas break with North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) disaster relief ministry.   
 
The students divided into six teams and spent the week removing molded walls, flooring, insulation and ruined appliances from homes that were flooded when Hurricane Sandy made landfall last October. “I keep hearing the adults say it’s such a sacrifice for us to be here, but I don’t see it as a sacrifice,” Jones said. “I would do this all the time if I could.”
 
Jones responded to a call for volunteers from Gaylon Moss, NCBM volunteerism coordinator, who asked Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) ministers to organize student volunteers to help with recovery efforts in New York and New Jersey between the fall and spring semesters.
 
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Contributed photo

More than 40 students from several North Carolina universities used part of their Christmas break to serve in recovery efforts for people in the path of Hurricane Sandy.


“There is a great need for volunteers to assist us in our efforts to help the people who are hurting in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” Moss said. “The students who volunteered were a tremendous asset to what we are doing in the area and we pray that more students will volunteer in the future.” 
 
“We are making plans to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy in that area for the next 12 months,” Moss said. “We will need additional skilled and unskilled volunteers to help us finish the work.”
 

Rewarding experience

When Jones heard about the opportunity to serve with NCBM she quickly volunteered and recruited five of her fellow students to join her. The students departed for New Jersey within hours of their final exams with one goal in mind – to help people in Jesus’ name.
 
“We have four weeks off for Christmas and I wanted to use that time not just lounging around but doing something good,” Jones said. “A lot of the people here are confused about why we are doing this and we get to tell them that it’s because we love Jesus, and Jesus loves them and so do we.”
 
Most of the homes in the neighborhood where the students worked were flooded and have been condemned until the proper repairs can be made. Jones said that without the help of volunteers many residents would be displaced for a long time.
 
“The need is great,” she said.
 
The work was hard, but rewarding, and Jones is planning to volunteer again during spring break.
 
“The people here have been really appreciative,” said Dan McClintock, Baptist campus minister at UNC-Charlotte. “It’s good for the students to hear that kind of affirmation and positive reinforcement from people who really appreciate what we are doing.”
 
McClintock has led students on several disaster relief trips in the past, but said this trip was different.
 
“We’ve never completely gutted a house like we have this one,” he said. “It’s been more extensive this time for sure.”
 
Elijah Jesalva, a freshman at UNC-Charlotte, was glad he volunteered because the trip gave him a fresh perspective on life. 
 
“Seeing the need that people have here gives you a greater appreciation for what you have,” he said. “God can bless us and give us good things, but ultimately it is God’s and He can take it away, too.
 
“I think [disaster relief] is something that everyone should do at least once,” he said. “God gives each of us a calling and different gifts and abilities. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old; all can help.”
 
McClintock agreed. “I always tell students that being involved in missions is one of the best things they can do,” he said. “They really want to serve the Lord and are doing it with a lot of enthusiasm. It’s been a great thing.”
 
For more information about how you can volunteer with NCBM relief efforts in New York and New Jersey, visit baptistsonmission.org/sandy or contact Gaylon Moss at (800) 395-5102 ext. 5605, or gmoss@ncbaptist.org.
1/30/2013 1:50:40 PM by Buddy Overman, BCS Communications | with 0 comments



Pro-lifers, despite Roe’s 40th, voice hope

January 30 2013 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – Pro-life Americans have reasons to be hopeful even after 40 years of legalized abortion, leaders in their movement said at the annual March for Life and related events.

Speaking Jan. 24 and 25, pro-life speakers pointed to legislative gains in the states and potential developments in the courts – as well as God’s grace and the movement’s perseverance – as hopeful signs.

This year’s March for Life took place Jan. 25 because of scheduling and hotel conflicts with President Obama’s Jan. 21 inauguration. The march normally occurs Jan. 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

States are enacting bills that are “dramatically changing the contours of abortion policy in this country,” said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life (AUL), the pro-life movement’s leading legal organization. Yoest spoke at AUL’s legal symposium Jan. 24 in Washington, D.C.

Last year, states passed 43 laws restricting abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which is affiliated with the pro-choice movement. That made 2012 the second highest year ever for such laws, trailing only the 92 restrictions enacted in 2011.

The pro-life movement won’t advance much at the national level in the next several years, but progress at the state level will continue, Yoest said.

There is a “tremendous tidal wave of pro-life legislation in the pipeline,” she told the symposium audience.

“I’m looking offshore, and I’m here today to tell you there is a storm surge coming.”

Abortion rights advocates recognize the pro-life gains more than pro-lifers, and they have changed their strategy, she said.

They are “pivoting from choice to coercion,” with the new health care system as an example, Yoest said. “What they could not win through choice they intend to impose by coercion.”

At least partly in response, the most requested model legislation from AUL by states is for the defunding of the abortion industry, Yoest said. Second is AUL’s model to strengthen conscience protections. AUL’s legal team is helping in 39 states, she said.
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Photo by Tom Strode

Jeanne Monahan, new president of the March for Life, speaks Jan. 25 at the rally on the National Mall preceding the march.


Law professor Gerard Bradley told the same audience, meanwhile, there may be an opportunity to exploit a possibly “fatal flaw in Roe v. Wade’s jerry-rigged legal edifice.”

Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that abolished all state bans on abortion, combined with Doe v. Bolton, which was decided the same day, legalized abortion, in effect, throughout the country for any reason at any point in pregnancy.

The protagonist in a Supreme Court reconsideration of Roe “will not be a Good Samaritan or a heroic state official. He will be a bad man, one who has killed his own unborn son or daughter,” Bradley said.

He will be a man convicted under a state “feticide” law, which treats violence causing death or injury to an unborn child as a separate offense, Bradley said. At least 38 states have approved such laws, he said.

“I submit it might be the undoing of Roe, because [the many defendants] convicted of feticide make an equal protection argument against their convictions, to overturn their convictions,” Bradley told the audience. “They say it violates equal protection of the law. It’s unconstitutional to hold him accountable for what she is perfectly free to do. They say, in effect, ... ‘I’m making the same choice. I have the same intention, commit the same act, cause the same harm, engage even in the same behavior – whether it’s an abortifacient drug or stomping on somebody’s stomach – and I can have the same motivation....’”

Such a case could require the high court to resolve the “foundational question” it has suppressed since Roe, he said: “Who counts as a person?”

Though it will be awkward for the justices “to now take up the foundational question it has long suppressed,” he thinks they “actually have no feasible alternative,” Bradley said. “[The men convicted under feticide laws] raise equal protection challenges which go right through the personhood question.”

A Southern Baptist theology dean encouraged pro-life Christians to speak justly and mercifully, recognizing change may come unexpectedly.

“We are people who are speaking from one conscience to another, often to people who have been wounded, to people who are scared and to people who are seeking to cover and to hide,” said Russell Moore, dean of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., during a Jan. 25 Family Research Council (FRC) event before the March for Life.

“That means that we don’t cower,” Moore said. “We speak directly to the conscience. ... And we speak of justice.

“And we must also speak of mercy – that we are the people who recognize and know that God is able to receive those who have done horrific things, those who have been wounded in horrific ways.

“As we speak, we speak not only to those who are with us, but we speak with justice and with mercy to those on the other side, knowing that hearts can be changed,” Moore said.

“And it just might be that in your advocacy, wherever it is, that the arguments that you make will go nowhere for now but will be remembered in a time of turning, in a time of crisis in a way that yields fruit.”

Moore spoke at FRC’s ProLifeCon conference in Washington for the online pro-life community.

At the March for Life rally, Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., addressed President Obama, a strong advocate for abortion rights, as he spoke of the pro-life movement’s resolve.

“Someday future generations will look back on America and wonder how and why such a seemingly enlightened society could have failed to protect the innocent and inconvenient,” said Smith, the leading pro-lifer in Congress. “They will wonder how and why a Nobel Peace Prize-winning president who spoke eloquently about caring, cherishing and safeguarding all of our children could have simultaneously been the abortion president.”

Smith said, “Know this, Mr. President, we will never quit. In our diversity, our faith and trust in God is tested, but it also is deepened and overcomes and forges an indomitable yet humble spirit.”

After the rally, the massive crowd of pro-lifers – dominated by young people – marched to the Supreme Court with the temperature in the mid-20s.

It was the first March for Life ever without Nellie Gray, who died in August. She had been president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund since its founding after the Roe decision. Jeanne Monahan, formerly of FRC, is the new president of the organization.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)
1/30/2013 1:31:39 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Egypt family sentenced for changing religion

January 30 2013 by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON – A mother and her seven children in Egypt have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to convert to Christianity.

And, on the Jan. 25 weekend marking the second anniversary of the country’s revolution, more than 50 people were killed in a new wave of unrest.

The 15-year sentence was given to Nadia Mohamed Ali and her seven children for trying to change the religion on their ID documents from Islam to Christianity, Fox News reported. The sentence was handed down in the Egyptian city of Beni Suef in early January.

Ali, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam 23 years ago when she married a Muslim man, Mohamed Abdel-Wahhab Mustafa. After Mustafa died, Ali tried to convert her family to Christianity to receive an inheritance, according to Fox News.

Identification documents in Egypt list a person’s religion, and reports indicate the government makes it difficult for Muslims to change their IDs to Christianity.

“[Egyptians who] change from Islam to Christianity, or come back to Christianity, face difficulties,” Ishak Ibrahim, a religion expert with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, told FoxNews.com.

Case in point is Mohamed Hegazy, a Muslim who became a Christian in 1998 after a period of seeking God. World Watch Monitor, a news service focusing on the persecuted church, reported that after enduring torture and arrests by Egypt’s security services, Hegazy filed a lawsuit in 2007 to change his ID from Muslim to Christian so his children would not receive Muslim religious education. But in January 2008, a court ruled that Muslims are forbidden from changing their documents from Islam to another religion, and the latest reports indicate Hegazy is in hiding under threat of death.

Such dangers lead those wanting to change their documents to do so illegally, according to Britain’s Sky News, which reported that after Ali’s family converted back to Christianity in 2004, they tried to get their documents changed. Police arrested one of her children in 2006, and he confessed the IDs had been forged.

Charges were not pursued under the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, Fox News reported, but when the case came to light under the administration of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the sentences were meted out. The clerks who helped the family change their IDs received five years in prison as well.

“We are following reports of a number of Egyptians sentenced to imprisonment for forging identity documents to alter their religious identity from Muslim to Christian,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ariel Vaagen wrote, according to Fox News. “We are deeply concerned with Egyptian laws that infringe on an individual’s universal right to choose his or her religion and call upon the Egyptian government to promote and protect universal freedoms, including freedom of religion, for all its citizens.”

Sharia (Islamic law) is an integral part of Egypt’s new constitution, which Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told Fox News is a “disaster” for freedom of religion.

“The cases will increase in the future,” Tadros told Fox. “It will be much harder for people to return to Christianity.”

On Sunday, Morsi declared a 30-day state of emergency in three provinces to stem a wave of violence in which more than 50 people were killed over the weekend, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

In the city of Port Said, 44 people were killed during two days of clashes over the convictions and death sentences of 21 people involved in a deadly soccer riot on Feb. 1, 2012, according to the AP. Another 11 people died on Friday during rallies against Morsi and his Islamist allies.

Tens of thousands of protesters had filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square to mark the second anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, according to the AP.

“Our revolution is continuing. We reject the domination of any party over this state. We say no to the Brotherhood state,” Hamdeen Sabahy, a leftist leader, told Reuters.

Egypt’s fractured society is pitting the country’s Islamists against more secular Egyptians, who fear Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are moving to monopolize power. Reuters reported that the parties that organized the Friday protests listed demands, including an overhaul of the constitution. Critics of the document contend it gives the president too much power, has insufficient human rights protections, and fails to curb the dominant power of the military over Egypt.

“We are not here to celebrate but to force those in power to submit to the will of the people. Egypt now must never be like Egypt during Mubarak’s rule,” activist Mohamed Fahmy told Reuters.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which decided not to mobilize its supporters during the protests, claims it is being depicted unfairly by its rivals, according to Reuters. It argues that quickly enacting the constitution was necessary to establish stability and that opponents are not respecting the will of the people, who elected Islamists to power.

Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, told Reuters the latest round of unrest was unlikely to change anything.

“It’s definitely tense on the ground, but so far there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary or anything that really threatens to fundamentally alter the political situation,” Hamid said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by John Evans, a writer based in Houston.)
1/30/2013 1:23:00 PM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Boy Scouts could be poised to reverse gay leader policy

January 29 2013 by Michael Foust, Baptist Press

IRVING, Texas – The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is seriously considering lifting its ban on gay and lesbian troop leaders and could make the change official the first few days of February, a move that likely will disappoint Southern Baptist churches and many faith-based organizations that comprise a majority of all sponsors.

About 70 percent of all Boy Scout units are chartered by faith-based organizations, and the Boy Scouts national organization just six months ago reaffirmed its policy on homosexual leaders following a two-year review.

But now the national organization appears poised to change its policy under pressure from some local troops and corporations.

Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith told ABCNews.com in a prepared statement that the new policy would mean “there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation” and the decision on a policy would be up to each sponsoring organization. A final decision could be made at the Boy Scouts board meeting next week. In July, Bob Mazzuca, then the chief Scout executive of the Boy Scouts, said a “majority of our membership agrees with the policy” and that the “vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their rights to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.” That stance was applauded at the time by troop leaders who are Baptists but it now appears in serious danger.
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Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), expressed disappointment in a potential change. He was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout as a boy, he said.

“If that is what the leadership is doing, then I think it will be a sad day in the life of the Boy Scouts of America,” Luter told Baptist Press. “This is a tradition that so many of us across the country grew up in. We were in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in elementary school, and this organization has always stood for biblical principles – all the things that grounded our lives as a young kid growing up. To now see this organization that I thought stood on biblical principles about to give in to the politically correct thing is very disappointing.”

Luter also said he believes the Boy Scouts will “lose a whole lot of our support,” with Southern Baptist churches choosing instead not to sponsor a unit.

“A lot of them will just pull out,” Luter said. “This is just something we don’t believe in. It’s unfortunate the Boy Scouts are making this decision.”

The Boy Scouts have lost at least three corporate sponsors in recent months: UPS, Intel and the Merck Foundation. All cited the Scouts’ policy on homosexual leaders in their decisions.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts’ policy in a landmark decision in 2000. The court was split 5-4 and, since then, actually has become more conservative, with a conservative justice (Samuel Alito) replacing a moderate (Sandra Day O’Connor) who voted with the 2000 majority.

The Boy Scouts have a rich history of support from churches. The Scout Oath includes the sentence, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”

Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said he is “very disappointed” the Boy Scouts are considering a change. Page visited with leaders within the organization in recent days.

“I have long lauded the Scouts for their courage in standing on principle,” Page said. “This action reverses the findings of a two-year study last July that affirmed their principled stand on biblical morality. From what they told me, they are wilting under pressure from some of their corporate sponsors and the fear they could lose a future court case, despite the fact that they prevailed before the Supreme Court on this very issue. That may be the bigger story here.

“[Boy Scouts Chief Scout Executive] Wayne Brock visited with me last week, signaling the possibility they would consider this proposal at their February board meeting. He specifically asked the Southern Baptist Convention not to oppose this move. Of course, I refused to make this concession.

“After consulting with the chairman of [the Executive Committee] board, our SBC president and a few others, I wrote a letter to the Scouts late last week strongly asking them to reconsider this decision.”

R. Chip Turner, chairman of BSA Religious Relationships and past national president of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, said if the new policy is adopted “there will be profound disappointment among us as Southern Baptists as well as members of many other large faith-based users of the program.” But Turner cautioned churches against pulling out of the Boy Scouts.

“This proposed policy does not lessen our obligation as Southern Baptists to be salt and light to the unreached children, youth and families of our nation,” Turner said. “Scouting has proven to be a tremendously effective tool to achieving this commitment. And, the new proposed policy in no way inhibits our ability to choose the persons we believe best fit our definition of godly leadership. I believe it is even more important now that we continue sowing, tending and harvesting in these fields under the leadership of committed Baptist Scout leaders.”

The new policy could be implemented the same week that churches around the country celebrate “Scout Sunday.” Roger S. “Sing” Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations with the SBC Executive Committee, said it is “distressing” that the Boy Scouts board “apparently intended to hide this from the public until the day after thousands of churches would have celebrated Scout Sunday.”

“Churches of all faiths and denominations, including Southern Baptist churches, will be forced to reevaluate whether they can, in good conscience, continue to host Scout troops given that the Scouts appear poised to turn their backs on this clear biblical and moral issue,” Oldham said. “If the Scouts adopt these changes, I anticipate the SBC Executive Committee will issue a statement at its February board meeting expressing its deep dismay at this decision of the Scouts. This move may result in a boost for the convention’s Royal Ambassador program as churches scramble for an alternative boys organization that remains grounded in a consistent, biblical worldview.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins also criticized the potential change.

“The Boy Scouts of America board would be making a serious mistake to bow to the strong-arm tactics of LGBT activists and open the organization to homosexuality,” Perkins said. “What has changed in terms of the Boy Scouts’ concern for the well-being of the boys under their care? Or is this not about the well-being of the Scouts, but the funding for the organization?”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.)

Related stories

Royal Ambassadors may emerge as missions-focused alternative to Scouts
SBC’s Page urges Scouts not to change policy
Guest Column: The sad transformation of the Boy Scouts of America
1/29/2013 2:05:07 PM by Michael Foust, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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