News

Kenneth Ridings, former Fruitland president, dies

March 5 2015 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor

Kenneth Ridings, 78, the long-time Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute (now College) professor and then president, died today (March 5).
 
“Throughout his ministry, Dr. Kenneth Ridings was a living legend among Baptist preachers,” said David Horton, current president of Fruitland. “His exceptional homiletical skills placed him in the category of such notable expository preachers as Stephen Olford, Ron Dunn, and Adrian Rogers. His legacy as a pastor, professor, and previous president of Fruitland Baptist Bible College will continue throughout the years as we build on the foundation that he laid. Today, Dr. Ridings has joined the other heroes of the faith in ‘that great cloud of witnesses’ and he is cheering the rest of us on!”

Ridings, a South Carolina native, became a Christian in 1953 with the help of his now wife, Ann. He is a graduate of North Greenville College, Furman University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received doctor of divinity degrees from Fredericksburg Bible Institute and Covington Seminary.
 
He served as pastor of churches in South Carolina and North Carolina, including Ebenezer Baptist Church of Hendersonville, N.C., and Grassy Branch Baptist Church of Asheville, N.C., where he led for 22 years while teaching at Fruitland.

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BR file photo
Kenneth Ridings, seen here at his retirement service, died today. He was a long-time leader at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute (now College) in Hendersonville.

 

Ridings began his service to Fruitland in 1968, teaching church administration and pastoral counseling. He started what would become a 39-year tenure as professor of homiletics the next year.
 
He was on the board for the International Mission Board and was second vice president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
 
Ridings retired as Fruitland’s president Dec. 31, 2008, and was named president emeritus on July 16, 2009. He was president for 11 years and taught at the school for 40 years. Fruitland honored Ridings with a Baptist Heritage Award in 2009.
 
“I just cannot imagine Fruitland without Kenneth Ridings,” said Greg Mathis, Ridings’ pastor at Mud Creek Baptist Church, in a 2009 Biblical Recorder story. At that time, Mathis said Ridings was the “face of Fruitland,” and that “his influence is the force behind the reputation we have. No other man lives with more integrity or more impeccable character than Kenneth Ridings.”
 
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention, praised Ridings at his retirement service.
 
“Your fingerprints are on this place, the preachers you have prepared and the people associated with Fruitland have been enriched by your ministry,” Hollifield said. “God blessed and honored your ministry, service, and leadership of this school.” 
 
During his retirement service, Ridings revealed his heart about Fruitland: “You can go to heaven from many places. But when you go to heaven from Fruitland, you don’t notice the difference as much.”
 
In a statement released today, Hollifield urged people to pray for the family and to thank God for Ridings’ impact on the “lives of pastors, and as a result, the churches of this convention.”
 
He said, “Ridings was more than a faithful employee of the Baptist State Convention and more than an excellent professor of homiletics; he was a dear friend and a tremendous influence upon my life. Like so many students at Fruitland, the members of the churches he served, and those impacted by his extensive preaching ministry, Kenneth helped me to not only appreciate expositional preaching but modeled for me how to preach God’s Word. I will miss him greatly, but find comfort in the truth that we will meet again.” 
 
Ridings is survived by his wife, Ann; daughter, Beverly; and one granddaughter.
 
Visitation is Sun., March 8 from 3-5 p.m. at Mud Creek Baptist Church (403 Rutledge Dr., Hendersonville, NC 28739). The funeral is at 5 p.m. Mathis and D.L. Lowrie will preside over the funeral. The service can be viewed live at www.mudcreekchurch.org; it will be archived for later viewing as well.
 
Donations can be made to the Fruitland Baptist Bible College Chapel Fund that bears Ridings’ name: Fruitland Baptist Bible College, 1455 Gilliam Rd., Hendersonville, NC 28792.

3/5/2015 1:13:51 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Production Editor | with 4 comments



Ala, Supreme Court halts same-sex marriage licenses

March 5 2015 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

The Alabama Supreme Court has ordered a halt to same-sex marriage licenses in the state, posing a direct challenge to a federal court in Mobile that overturned the state’s marriage laws.
 
The Alabama court, in a March 3 decision, stated:
 
“As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”
 
This fact, the court stated, “does not change simply because the new definition of marriage has gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country, even if one of those quarters is the federal judiciary.”
 
The court issued its opinion as one body, called “per curiam,” rather than identifying the judges who drafted the 148-page ruling regarding probate judges who are the state officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses. The religious liberty firm Liberty Counsel, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of state moral concerns organizations – Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP), the Alabama Policy Institute and a county probate judge – said it was a 7-1 ruling by the nine-member court, with one recusal.

 
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Alabama Court House

Chief Justice Roy S. Moore “had the integrity to recuse himself” from the case, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver noted in an email to Baptist Press, because Moore had issued an earlier administrative order to Alabama’s probate judges and had spoken publicly about the standoff with the federal court.
 
Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, and Travis Coleman Jr., president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and senior minister of First Baptist Church in Prattville, issued a joint statement March 4, noting:
 
“We affirm all those who seek to restore biblical marriage to its rightful place of sole authenticity and legality in Alabama and elsewhere. In light of Tuesday’s ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court, we reaffirm appreciation for our ministry partner, ALCAP, and its strong stand for biblical marriage.
 
“We continue to pray for local, state and federal officials – in all three branches of government – who will make decisions in the months to come about this issue. We continue to pray that any actions and rulings will affirm biblical marriage as the only legally sanctioned form.”
 
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, noted in a statement to Baptist Press, “The Alabama Supreme Court argument is right about what marriage is, and why the state has an interest in marriage in the first place.
 
“The concern over the last several weeks in Alabama is the result of the United States Supreme Court’s inexplicable decision to refuse to speak to the situation there. The U.S. Supreme Court should reaffirm what they have already ruled: that states have the right to define marriage as the conjugal union of a husband and wife.”
 
Upheaval over Alabama’s marriage law began Jan. 23 when federal district court Judge Callie V.S. Granade in Mobile struck down the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment to the state constitution and a 1998 legislative Alabama Marriage Protection Act. Granade ruled that a local probate judge was causing a “substantial threat” of “irreparable injury” to four same-sex couples by not granting them marriage licenses.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court, on Feb. 9, with Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissenting, denied Alabama’s request to delay enforcement of Granade’s ruling until the high court rules on the same-sex marriage issue this summer.
 
Granade, on Feb. 12, then ordered the probate judge, Don Davis in Mobile County, to begin issuing marriage licenses to the couples. The homosexual couples at issue in the case, Granade stated, were concerned about being denied the ability to make medical decisions for one another and being denied parental rights.
 
If the couples “take all steps that are required” to obtain a marriage license, Granade ruled, Davis may not deny them a license because they are of the same sex or “because it is prohibited by the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act or by any other Alabama law or Order pertaining to same-sex marriage.”
 
Alabama Chief Justice Moore had countered Granade’s ruling in media comments, saying, for example, on Fox News Sunday that Granade’s ruling is only “law of the case before her” and not an action “overturning the Alabama constitution.”
 
“Federal law is not made by judges,” Moore said on the Feb. 15 telecast. “That’s something very basic. ... Those interpretations are not law. If they were, then the legislature would have no role. Legislatures are to make law. Congress is to make law. The United States ... Constitution is law. So is [the] Alabama Constitution. We have a fundamental misunderstanding in our country that federal courts by their mere utterance make law. They do not, sir. They make law of the case, applicable to the parties before them.”
 
Applauding the state Supreme Court’s March 3 ruling, the Alabama Policy Institute stated in an email news release, “The ongoing confusion caused by the federal court’s action in January needed to be clarified in a formal opinion by the State’s highest court,” The Alabama Baptist reported.
 
The decision “gives the people of Alabama the respect that they deserve by preserving our law until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves the issue. The sanctity of marriage – an institute that has always been reserved for the states – is a cause worth fighting for, for as long as the States still have their rightful say in the matter,” the organization said.
 
Staver, of the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, said the Alabama Supreme Court’s 148-page decision is “one of the most researched and well reasoned opinions on marriage to be issued by any court in the country.” A Liberty Counsel news release described it as “the most forceful and clearly articulated rebuttal to date of the imaginative arguments for same-sex ‘marriage’ employed by federal courts.”
 
The court’s decision, which examines an array of court cases and government actions involving marriage, noted that one characteristic of marriage “has remained unchanged throughout history: marriage has always been between members of the opposite sex.”
 
“The obvious reason for this immutable characteristic is nature,” the court stated. “Men and women complement each other biologically and socially. Perhaps even more obvious, the sexual union between men and women (often) produces children. Marriage demonstrably channels the results of sex between members of the opposite sex – procreation – in a socially advantageous manner. It creates the family, the institution that is almost universally acknowledged to be the building block of society at large because it provides the optimum environment for defining the responsibilities of parents and for raising children to become productive members of society.”
 
The court’s ruling can be accessed at acis.alabama.gov/displaydocs.cfm?no=642402&event=4AN12324A.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

 
Related Stories:

Ala. Judges: no marriage licenses for gay couples
Same-sex marriage now legal in Ala.

3/5/2015 12:52:56 PM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Israeli PM: Iran’s threats parallel OT Esther story

March 5 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

A genocidal chapter in the ancient relationship between Israel and Iran could be the result of a nuclear agreement the United States may sign with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a joint meeting of Congress March 3.
 
Threats by the modern Persian state of Iran to annihilate Jews, Netanyahu said, are frighteningly reminiscent of the murderous Old Testament plot hatched by the Persian viceroy Haman – whose plan to kill all Jews was foiled by the Persian queen Esther, a Jew, and recounted in the biblical book bearing her name.
 
Iran’s threats could translate into horrific violence if a nuclear deal reported widely in the media is signed, the prime minister said, noting that the day following his address, Jews would begin celebrating Purim, a feast commemorating their deliverance under Esther.
 
“Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews that oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology,” Netanyahu said, lamenting that the “very talented” Iranian people were “hijacked” by the “religious zealots” of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
 
Khamenei tweeted in November, “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” In a separate tweet, Khamenei said he was not suggesting “the massacre of the Jewish people,” but he advocated arming Muslims in the West Bank to fight Israel.

 
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Public Domain
“Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther” by Rembrandt

Netanyahu told Congress that striking a nuclear deal with Khamenei’s regime would not inspire Iran to decrease its aggression toward Israel and that the specific deal under consideration “would all but guarantee” that Iran obtains nuclear weapons – “lots of them.”
 
The nuclear deal being considered by Iran, the U.S. and five other nations would allow Iran to keep around 6,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges while limiting development of more efficient centrifuges. It also would limit stockpiles of material that could be developed into nuclear weapons and subject Iran’s nuclear facilities to inspection, as described by the Washington Post. The agreement likely would last 10-15 years, and a March 24 deadline has been set for establishing the framework of a final accord.
 
Not “a single nuclear facility” would be demolished under the agreement, Netanyahu said, and Iran could amass a “full arsenal” of nuclear weapons legitimately after the accord expires. He urged legislators to press for a “much better deal” that would:

  • Further restrict Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons.

  • Maintain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program until it ceases aggression toward Israel and other neighbor states.

  • Demand that Iran stop supporting terrorism around the world.

America must secure a “better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live – literally,” Netanyahu said.
 
President Obama, who did not watch the speech but reviewed a transcript, said Netanyahu’s demands are unrealistic and would cause Iran to walk away from negotiations with an unchecked nuclear program, the New York Times reported. A senior administration official told the Times that Netanyahu is inconsistent to insist that Iran change yet simultaneously portray its government as unchanging.
 

Evangelical reaction

Evangelical commentators said Netanyahu’s comparison of modern Iran with Haman of the Old Testament was appropriate.
 
Jim Sibley, a professor of biblical studies at Israel College of the Bible in Netanya, Israel, called the timing of Netanyahu’s speech “remarkable.”
 
“The day following Netanyahu’s address to Congress marks the beginning of the Feast of Purim, which celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from an Iranian anti-Semitic plot to exterminate them. At that time, God raised up Esther, who was willing to breach protocol in order to plead for their deliverance,” Sibley told Baptist Press in written comments.
 
“Iran and others who turn against Israel have fallen under the curse of Genesis 12:3 and may well be paving the way for the great end-times enemy of Israel and God,” Sibley said. In Genesis 12:3, God promised to bless those who bless Abraham’s descendants and curse those who curse them.
 
Sibley added, “God is dealing with the Jewish people on the stage of current events, drawing them back from the four corners of the earth to the land of Israel. This, together with the rapidly growing number of Jewish believers in Yeshua [Jesus], increasingly amplifies the cognitive dissonance inherent within any view that claims that Israel no longer occupies a unique role in God’s purposes.”
 
Mitch Glaser, a Jewish follower of Jesus and president of Chosen People Ministries in New York City, agreed that Netanyahu’s citation of Esther was appropriate.
 
“The story of Esther provides a very obvious and powerful parallel for the modern Hamans of Iran who are incessantly trying to destroy Israel through arming Hezbollah, Gaza and others seeking the destruction of Israel,” Glaser told BP in written comments. “The prime minister pointed out the blatancy of the religious leadership of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei.”
 

Israel & ancient Persia

Not all of the Persian Empire’s Old Testament dealings with Israel were as destructive as those recounted in Esther. The Persian king Cyrus defeated Babylon in 539 B.C. and allowed Jews to return to the Promised Land and rebuild the Temple (Ezra 1:1-4). After a break in construction, Jews completed the Temple under the Persian monarch Darius I, with Darius funding the project, protecting the builders and donating animals and other materials for Temple sacrifices (Ezra 6:6-12).
 
Daniel began his ministry under Babylonian rule, but it continued under the Persians. He prophesied their rise to power (Daniel 5:1-31), and King Darius placed him in a significant position of authority within the Persian Empire (Daniel 6:1-3). Although Daniel was cast into the lions’ den when he prayed to God rather than the Persian king, Darius announced upon Daniel’s miraculous rescue, “I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel” (Daniel 6:26). Later, the Persian king Artaxerxes allowed his Jewish adviser Nehemiah to lead an effort to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, guaranteeing Nehemiah’s safe passage to Judah and providing timber for the project (Nehemiah 2:1-8).
 
At the height of its influence, the Persian Empire stretched from Egypt in the south to southern Russia in the north, from Greece in the west to India in the east. The empire fell to Alexander the Great and the Greeks in 334 B.C. However, Persian influence continued in the New Testament, as when Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43), using a word for heaven derived from the Persian term for “park.”
 
Relations between Jews and Persians became more strained in the seventh century A.D., when Muhammad founded Islam and Muslims conquered the region inhabited by Persians. Because most Jews did not accept Islam, Muhammad grew hostile toward them, beheading at least 600 in Medina in 627 and executing others elsewhere, according to a classic Muhammad biography published in English as The Life of Muhammad.
 

Israel & contemporary jihad

Netanyahu told Congress that contemporary Iranian aggression is a continuation of Islamist jihad. The main difference between The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Iranian regime, he said, “is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.”
 
Fred Fleitz, senior vice president for policy and programs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, agreed with Netanyahu’s reservations about the nuclear accord being considered by the U.S. and Iran. Fleitz said the deal is a “giveaway.”
 
“Iran is a radical Islamic state,” Fleitz said. “It is pushing Islamic supremacism. It is trying to push its brand of Shia Islam around the world, and it sees the United States and Israel as enemies.”
 
Some in Iran, like past president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fleitz said, believe that a messianic figure known as the “12th Imam” is alive today and will reveal himself at the end of time. Known as “Twelvers,” those who hold this belief think the 12th Imam’s return will be precipitated by a series of cataclysmic events that presumably could include nuclear war.
 
Although Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, Fleitz said there is “no conceivable way” the nation’s uranium enrichment activities are merely to produce nuclear power. There is “every possibility” Iran is lying in nuclear negotiations because it has violated past agreements multiple times.
 
“We should be trying to work cooperatively with Iran, but the price the Obama administration is trying to pay to get a deal is simply too high,” Fleitz said.
 
The U.S. demanded in the past that Iran give up centrifuges and plutonium reactors and answer questions about its military activities, Fleitz said. But America has wrongly conceded those demands in recent negotiations.
 
An acceptable deal would be to sell Iran discounted nuclear fuel rods to power its nuclear energy program and convert the nation’s enriched uranium stockpile into fuel rods. In exchange, Iran would abandon its uranium enrichment capability, Fleitz said.
 
That recommendation aligns with the views of Netanyahu, who contrasted the U.S. Constitution’s celebration of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” with the Iranian regime’s celebration of “death, tyranny and the pursuit of jihad.”
 
Netanyahu closed his address by applying Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 31:6 to Israel and America’s relations with Iran.
 
“Be strong and resolute,” Netanyahu said. “Neither fear nor dread them.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

3/5/2015 12:32:21 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Discovery of Spurgeon’s Psalter a ‘treasure’

March 5 2015 by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS Communications

Scholars at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have discovered, within the institution’s Spurgeon Library collection, a Psalter that 19th-century Baptist pastor Charles Spurgeon used in the compilation of his commentary on the book of Psalms, The Treasury of David.
 
“One of the purposes for the existence of the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Seminary is to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ for the church and the academy by preserving the personal library of Charles Haddon Spurgeon and fostering a deeper appreciation of his life, legacy, theology and preaching,” Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Seminary, said. “It is, I believe, exhilarating and important to uncover such an artifact that Spurgeon personally used to create resources for fellow believers to study and better understand the book of Psalms.
 
“It is an evident blessing from God to allow for such a discovery, and we are grateful to Brian Albert for his dedication in combing, page-by-page, through Spurgeon’s library. It is our hope, that as we delve further into the collection in the season ahead, we will discover many more such artifacts that provide better insight into the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon.”

 
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Albert, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan., is a research assistant at the Spurgeon Library. In recent months, Albert has dedicated one day a week to combing through the library’s books. His process includes reviewing a book twice, looking for notations, dates, and other pertinent data. He then attempts to trace the book to other sources of Spurgeon.
 
Upon his discovery of the Psalter, which was published in 1864, Albert brought the work to the attention of Christian George, curator of the Spurgeon Library and assistant professor of historical theology. George analyzed the book and concluded that much of the handwriting in its margins belongs to Spurgeon and that it was, in fact, a working Psalter that Spurgeon had used.
 
“This Psalter, which was used by Spurgeon in the formation of The Treasury of David, is just that – a treasure,” George said. “My hope is that it will propel Spurgeon scholarship forward by revealing not just the product of Spurgeon’s literary labors, but also the process.
 
“Every once in a while,” George continued, “you get a glimpse of what God has accomplished in the past. This Psalter, along with other works in our collection, gives us a window through which God illuminates His amazing work in the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon.”
 
While checking the Psalter’s authenticity, Albert noted that the publication date not only fell within Spurgeon’s lifetime, but also limits the timeline. The date also corresponds with the writing of the Treasury of David (approximately 1865-1885). Each year (1804-1900), this particular Bible was printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society.
 
“There were hundreds printed annually so it would be easy access for the public to purchase,” Albert said. “This fact told me that the Spurgeon Bible was not an heirloom or family Bible, but was more ‘usable.’ The fact that this Bible was only on the Psalms also struck my curiosity as to the relationship with the Treasury of David.”
 
Albert also depended upon the publication’s notations and sources cited. Many of the notations in the Psalter were Spurgeon’s.
 
“What struck me as significant was not only the fact of Spurgeon’s notations, but the amount of them,” he said. “I began to suspect that this was a “working” Bible.
 
He added, “I noticed that many of the sources (of the more than 50 used) that were noted in the Bible were also in the Spurgeon collection. When I checked these cited sources, many of them (well over half) had personal notations of the specific Psalm passage. This indicated to me that at least Spurgeon’s personal books were used for the source material, which verified that this Bible was used by Spurgeon as a ‘working Bible.’”
 
After putting all the pieces together, Albert was led to research The Treasury of David.
 
“When I began to correspond the text of scripture with the notations in the Bible, next to the text with what appears in the Treasury of David, the data was conclusive,” Albert said. “This Bible belonged to Spurgeon, was noted by Spurgeon (in part) from much of Spurgeon’s personal books to help write the 20-year work Treasury of David.”
 
In an effort to further verify the authenticity of the annotations, George sent samples from the Psalter to Malcolm Yarnell, noted English Reformation scholar, Baptist theologian, and director of the Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. While performing a forensic examination of the handwriting, Yarnell compared the samples against other known samples from Spurgeon’s middle- and late-period sermons. He concluded that, of the six samples provided, four belonged to Spurgeon, and one “probably” belonged to him.
 
“This is an important find,” Yarnell said, “primarily because Charles Haddon Spurgeon remains the single most important preacher to have ever graced Baptist history.
 
“I look forward to hearing more about your discoveries in the archives at Midwestern Seminary and the implications they have for our understanding of how Spurgeon prepared his sermons and writings,” he added.
 
In 2006, Midwestern Seminary purchased the personal library of Charles Spurgeon, which contains approximately 6,000 books. Many of these books are heavily annotated with Spurgeon’s own handwriting and reveal his use of them in his ministry. The collection is currently being archived and analyzed before being moved to “The Charles Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching,” which is currently under renovation but slated for completion in August.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – T. Patrick Hudson is the executive assistant to the President at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

3/5/2015 12:26:14 PM by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS Communications | with 0 comments



CP budget 4.81% ahead of projection

March 5 2015 by Baptist Press

Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 4.81 percent above the year-to-date budgeted projection, and are 2.97 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Frank S. Page.
 
The total includes receipts from state conventions and fellowships, churches and individuals for distribution according to the 2014-15 SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget.
 
As of Feb. 28, receipts totaled $82,098,104.34, or 104.81 percent of the $78,333,333.33 year-to-date budgeted amount to support SBC ministries globally and nationally. The total is $2,371,418.56 more than the $79,726,685.78 received through February 2014.

 
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The SBC-adopted budget is distributed 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board (IMB), 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board (NAMB), 22.16 percent to theological education through the six SBC seminaries, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget, and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). GuideStone Financial Resources and LifeWay Christian Resources are self-sustaining and do not receive Cooperative Program funding.
 
According to the budget adopted by the SBC at its June 2014 annual meeting in Baltimore, if the SBC exceeds its annual budget goal of $188 million, the IMB’s share will go to 51 percent of any overage in Cooperative Program allocation budget receipts. Other ministry entities of the SBC will receive their adopted percentage amounts and the SBC operating budget’s portion will be reduced to 2.4 percent of any overage.
 
Each SBC entity and the Executive Committee have been given specific ministry responsibilities by SBC messengers. These ministry statements are listed in the SBC Organization Manual. Each statement begins with the phrase “assist churches” and includes such duties as “assist churches in their moral witness in local communities” (ERLC); “assisting churches in the ministries of evangelism and making disciples” (NAMB); “assist churches and partners to mobilize Southern Baptists to be involved in international missions through praying, giving, and going” (IMB); and “assist churches and denominational entities through relief to Southern Baptist ministers and Southern Baptist denominational employees” (GuideStone).
 
Designated giving of $92,856,017.28 for the same year-to-date period is 0.72 percent, or $665,058.02, above gifts of $92,190,959.28 received at this point last year. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities.
 
The Cooperative Program is a channel of giving through which a local church is able to contribute to the various ministries of its state convention and to the various SBC missions and ministries with a single contribution.
 
February’s Cooperative Program allocation receipts for SBC work totaled $17,396,068.57. Designated gifts received in February, meanwhile, amounted to $53,407,127.56.
 
State and regional Baptist conventions serve as collecting entities for Cooperative Program contributions. They retain a portion of church contributions to the Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to SBC national and international causes. The percentage of distribution from the states is at the discretion of the messengers of each state convention through the adoption of the state convention’s annual budget.
 
Cooperative Program allocation budget receipts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state offices, and to the denominational papers, and are posted online at www.cpmissions.net/CPReports.
 
The end-of-month total represents money received by the Executive Committee by the close of the last business day of each month. Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the number of Sundays in a given month, the day of the month churches forward their Cooperative Program contributions to their state conventions and the timing of when state conventions forward the national portion of their Cooperative Program contributions to the Executive Committee.

3/5/2015 11:17:53 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Charlotte City Council votes down LGBT ordinance

March 4 2015 by M.H. Cavanaugh, Christian Action League

Media reports say the Charlotte City Council meeting held March 2 was one of the most contentious in many years. Hundreds of concerned citizens gathered at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Building to express their support or opposition to a proposed city ordinance that would have included enumerations of “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” as legally protected categories.
 
With more than 100 people speaking at the meeting, each for two minutes and more than 40,000 emails sent to the City Council concerning the proposal, the ordinance failed by a 6-5 vote.
 
During the five-hour long meeting, approximately 60 percent of the speakers expressed their opposition to the proposal. Clergy, business owners, people from academia, soccer moms, concerned fathers and people from all walks of life spoke with passion, often citing scripture, arguing the proposal would diminish religious freedoms and make women and children vulnerable to sexual predators.
 
Supporters of the proposal said opponents were simply fear-mongering and that Charlotte was one of a few larger cities in the country without protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people. They argued gay and transgender people are subject to violence and suffer various forms of deprivation and humiliation because of discrimination against them.
 
Before a final vote was taken on the measure, councilmembers passed an amendment that removed the bathroom section of the bill that allowed transgender people to use the restroom of the gender they best identified. But even after removing that most controversial provision, council members remained divided over the ordinance as a whole, saying the amendment significantly weakened it.
 
Two councilmembers, Lawana Mayfield and John Autry, who were ardent supporters of the proposed ordinance, said they could not vote for the proposal in its amended form because it didn’t provide protections for everyone in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Thus, a final vote on the bill would bring opponents and supporters of the original proposal together to defeat it.
 
In a letter composed by attorney Tami Fitzgerald, head of the North Carolina Values Coalition and sent to councilmembers before the meeting – a letter Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, as well as many other religious leaders signed onto – Fitzgerald clarified the ordinance was unconstitutional and placed an undue regulatory burden on private businesses, exposing them to lawsuits and infringing on their First Amendment rights. The letter explained it also put women and children in danger, violating their sense of privacy and security. It said the ordinance required the city to engage in discrimination on the basis of religion by choosing to disfavor companies that wouldn’t employ or provide certain services that breached their religious beliefs. Moreover, the letter argued the ordinance ran afoul of a provision in the North Carolina constitution prohibiting the regulation of trade in a way not applicable statewide.
 
Michael Brown, host of the daily, nationally, syndicated radio show, “Line of Fire,” respectfully criticized the city attorney and made a powerful case against the ordinance in his short speech before the City Council.
 
Brown, a resident of Huntersville, said he was shocked by the city attorney’s presentation of the ordinance as “extraordinarily biased and misleading, based on every major legal analysis,” he had read, “especially the reference to biological and anatomical sex, which now becomes meaningless because the issue is ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression.’”  
 
Brown said he had talked with some of the proponents of the measure who were demonstrating outside the government building and asked them, “What if I am convinced to the core of my being that I am black? Then I was told that I am black,” said Brown. “I guess if there were minority housing rights, then I would be allowed them,” he argued facetiously.
 
“I asked,” said Brown, “what if I believe I am a horse, then can I use the stable?” Brown said the answer he got was, “Sure, as long as you’re not hurting anyone.” Brown then said the whole concept of the ordinance and the push for it was “collaborating with social madness.”
 
The ordinance was first introduced to the City Council on Nov. 24 by Scott Bishop of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest gay rights advocacy organization in the country. Bishop’s presentation to council members urged them to insert the new language into the city’s nondiscrimination policies.
 
The City Council responded by asking the City Manager Ron Carlee and its attorney, Robert Hagermann, to draft information on the proposal.
 
On Feb. 9, Hagermann gave an overview of various non-discrimination laws and provided councilmembers with a proposed ordinance. The City Council then voted 7-4 to put the ordinance on the agenda.
 
But numerous speakers during the meeting on Monday night, as well as some council members, expressed concerns that no requests were made by city leaders to hear from those who could provide legal or moral counterpoints to what HRC and the LGBT community had presented to the City Council.
 
“I am very thankful to God this proposal for the City of Charlotte was defeated,” said Creech. “We’ve seen the damage these so-called non-discrimination policies have had, creating special rights for the LGBT community and diminishing rights for people of faith who believe homosexuality and transgenderism is immoral.”
 
“We’ve seen florists, photographers, and others lose their businesses because they were saddled with huge fines by these policies. We also know of instances where sexual perverts have used these laws for cover to prey on women and children. That’s why cities who consider these ordinances are running into fierce opposition. We’re seeing it not only in Charlotte, but in other places like Houston, Texas, Fayetteville, Ark., and Cleveland, Ohio,” he added.
 
“I think other cities in North Carolina would be wise not to take up these measures without expecting a heated and concerted response by the religious community. Many Christians possess a certain righteous indignation because they’re constantly witnessing their religious rights eroding in the public sector. They’re not going to simply lie down to it anymore,” he warned.
 
If the Charlotte City ordinance had passed, it would have been the first city in North Carolina to enact such a policy. LGBT activists have vowed not to give up and plan to bring the matter back before the Charlotte City Council. Opponents have promised to remain vigilant and zealous against it.
 

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3/4/2015 11:36:43 AM by M.H. Cavanaugh, Christian Action League | with 0 comments



Bill to slash slavery gains quickly in Senate

March 4 2015 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

A new effort to help end human trafficking and slavery worldwide has quickly gained momentum in Congress.
 
The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act received approval from a Senate committee Feb. 26, only two days after it was introduced by Sen. Bob Corker, R.-Tenn. The Foreign Relations Committee, which Corker chairs, forwarded the bill with a unanimous vote.
 
The legislation, S. 553, would establish a centralized effort to thwart trafficking and slavery at a time when an estimated 27 million people are enslaved globally. It would create a Washington, D.C., non-profit foundation designed to use federal, foreign and private sector funds to reduce slavery by a measurable 50 percent.
 
Corker believes the bill “is going to have a transformative effect on us dealing with modern slavery,” he said in a CNN interview after the committee vote. “We have outstanding organizations that are using best practices, and yet we haven’t had a central effort to deal with this appropriately.
 
“People are taking advantage of young people, old people, mothers, daughters, sons and fathers,” Corker said. “And we can do something about it, and we’re getting ready to, and I’m glad that today we’re celebrating the beginning of that effort.”

 
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Southern Baptists applauded the proposal.
 
“Human slavery and trafficking are wicked to the core, assaulting the dignity of human beings created in the image of God,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
 
“By taking on this issue, Sen. Corker and those who stand with him are in the spirit of the great Christian leader and anti-slavery activist William Wilberforce,” Moore said in a written statement for Baptist Press. “I pray that we will work together to end this scourge of slavery and trafficking in our world.”
 
William Wilberforce led the ultimately successful legislative campaigns against the slave trade and slavery as a member of the British Parliament from 1780 to 1825.
 
Raleigh Sadler, a pastor and trafficking awareness advocate in New York City, described the measure’s strength as “its emphasis on collaboration.”
 
“Through the funding of governmental agencies and non-profit organizations working in the areas of the world most affected, this foundation will seek to resource those who are already at work,” Sadler told BP in written comments.
 
International Justice Mission (IJM), the world’s largest anti-slavery organization, commended the legislation and called for swift passage.
 
The bill and the accompanying funds “set a new bar for U.S. leadership to combat slavery,” said Holly Burkhalter, IJM’s vice president of government relations, in a written release.
 
“[W]e have not been engaging in a fair fight,” since the U.S. government has been spending “a minute fraction” of its foreign aid on anti-trafficking efforts while the traffickers have been making $150 billion in profits a year, Burkhalter said. “That is about to change.”
 
The legislation would require the End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation to fund programs that contribute to the rescuing and recovery of slavery victims, the prevention of slavery, and the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators. It also would establish measurable goals and cut slavery by half in seven years among “targeted populations.” Programs that fail to meet their goals will be suspended or ended.
 
The foundation’s goal is to raise $1.5 billion, which is intended to be broken down this way: $251 million from the federal government in eight years; $500 million from other governments; and $750 million in private funds.
 
The U.S. State Department categorizes slavery – which exists in the United States and more than 160 other countries – as sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor, debt bondage, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor or child soldiers.
 
The new proposal is important to the local church, Sadler said.
 
“First, this bill aims to bring justice to the oppressed by holding the powers that be accountable for reducing human trafficking around the world,” he said, adding it “puts feet” to the State Department’s annual report “by resourcing those at work in countries that are meeting the minimal standards” of the report.
 
“Secondly, we can celebrate that this is a concrete step towards caring for ‘the widow, the orphan and the sojourner,’ who are vulnerable to human trafficking,” Sadler said. “For these reasons, I challenge the church to pray for the implementation of this legislation.”
 
Sadler, one of the teaching pastors of Gallery Church in New York City, is director of justice ministries for the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association. He trains churches and other faith communities on combating trafficking. He also leads Let My People Go, an initiative to help leaders recognize and address the issue of exploitation in their communities.
 
In endorsing the new proposal, IJM’s Burkhalter urged Congress not to cut back on anti-slavery and development programs already being conducted by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
 
“We don’t want to see the [federal government] robbing Peter to pay Paul,” she said.
 
The ERLC has been a leading advocate for policies to combat human trafficking since the move to address the domestic and international problem resulted in the first anti-trafficking law in 2000.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press.)

3/4/2015 11:23:51 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



CP ‘a tool to obey the Great Commission’

March 4 2015 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

Keith Sanders, pastor for the last 10 years of First Baptist Church in Keller, Texas, describes the church’s love for missions as “almost a wildfire out of control.”
 
Nearly every month, a First Baptist Keller member participates in a short-term mission trip; the congregation is about to begin its fourth church plant; and its Cooperative Program giving has more than tripled over the last seven years, Sanders said.
 
“The Lord has blessed our church tremendously, financially,” Sanders said. “We see a relationship between our willingness to give away, and God’s blessings. We have found the more we give, the more we have to give.

 
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Church photo
On a mission trip in Nepal, Lawrence Duhon, associate pastor of missions and evangelism of First Baptist Church in Keller, Texas, establishes contact with the unreached Dhimal people group.

“I believe in the Great Commission,” Sanders told Baptist Press. “The Cooperative Program is simply a tool to obey the Great Commission. We have seen from our mission trips that when the missionaries have the ability to stay on the field – rather than returning to the U.S. to plead for more financial support – how much more can be accomplished for the Lord.”
 
When Sanders became senior pastor in 2005, he hired Lawrence Duhon, a former missionary to Albania, as associate pastor of missions and evangelism.
 
“He has a great heart for missions,” Sanders said of Duhon. “He developed a unified strategy we’re still working with. We went from a Christmas offering to a year-round Global Impact Offering. That increased our mission giving 10-fold within just a few years.”
 
The congregation of about 1,300 Sunday morning worshippers also adopted an unreached people group in West Africa and has ministered and evangelized there as often as six times a year.
 
“We’ve seen many, many of those people come to faith in Christ,” Sanders said. “It was great for our church because we asked [the congregation] to pray, and upon [the mission team’s] return, the church heard what God had done. That led to a real spark in interest in missions.”
 
First Baptist Keller’s interest in planting churches has grown with its commitment to missions.

 
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Church photo
Lawrence Duhon, at right, associate pastor of missions and evangelism at First Baptist Church in Keller, Texas, helps baptize a young Yalunka woman during a church mission trip to Mali.

“Church planting in the West is originally what I thought the Lord wanted me to do,” Sanders said. “But in God’s sovereignty, He has me holding the rope for others.”
 
So far, those “others” are First Keller’s church plants that have grown into Blue Mountain Baptist Church in Baker City, eastern Oregon, where about 120 people attend Sunday services; Desert Ridge Baptist Church in St. George, Utah, where more than 80 attend; and Foundation Baptist Church in North Euless, Texas, launched in September 2014. A church plant scheduled to begin this year in St. Marie, northeastern Montana, will be the only church in the town.
 
St. Marie was known as the Glasgow Air Force Base until in closed in 1976 and its 10,000 residents scattered. The nearly abandoned site is being utilized to meet the need for housing for Bakken oilfield workers, and about 600 people have                                                                                                        moved there so far.
 
First Baptist Keller is in the process of purchasing an abandoned church for the price of taxes owed. Members plan to renovate the building in time to launch services in the fall of 2015.
 
“Our goal is to plant a church every three years,” Sanders said. “Our M.O. is that we don’t want to have satellite churches; we want them to be autonomous churches.
 
“We don’t rush in, because we don’t have all the answers, but our people are very open to be used by God,” Sanders said. “We’re ahead of the one-every-three-years pace we set nine years ago, and I hope we will continue to outstrip that.”

 
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During a church mission trip to Mali, First Baptist Church of Keller, Texas, member Keith Arnett shares the gospel with two Yalunka women.

Strong relationships with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary help First Baptist Keller expand its Kingdom growth, Sander said.
 
“One of the best decisions we ever made as a church was to go to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention,” Sanders continued. “SBTC has always given more than 50 percent of its receipts to missions through the Cooperative Program. That is the thing that most attracted us.”
 
For 15 years, the church has hired seminary students as interns, to give practical experience that complements the theological education they receive. Sanders himself was a seminary intern at First Baptist Keller years before his pastorate there.
 
“We feel an obligation to these young men, to help them, because all of us on this staff [have] been assisted by others,” Sanders said, adding that with the church’s proximity to the seminary, “we feel God expects us to help.”
 
In the last 10 years, First Baptist Keller has produced pastors who have served in 14 states, Sanders said, and the congregation is energizing its emphasis on discipleship.
 
“You’ve got to keep the base strong so you can send people out,” the pastor said. “We’ve been going through the book of Acts for three years here on Sunday mornings. That’s where you really see missions. I don’t have to be the Holy Spirit, to tell people this is what they ought to be doing. The Holy Spirit will take the words [of the message] and apply it to people’s lives.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

3/4/2015 10:59:10 AM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



‘I would hug him,’ says florist of gay accuser

March 4 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A Southern Baptist florist does not regret her nine-year friendship with a homosexual man who won a lawsuit against her after she refused to design floral arrangements for his gay wedding, she told Baptist Press.
 
“If Rob [Robert Ingersoll] walked in the store today, I would hug him and catch up on his life,” said Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Wash. “The same faith that tells me that I can’t be a part of Rob’s wedding is the same faith that tells me to love him as Christ does.
 
“Christ loves us all regardless, and it’s not my place to judge him, or to judge anybody. It’s my place to be an example of Christ,” she said. “Do they see Christ in what I do, and how I treat them?”
 
Stutzman, a 70-year-old member of Richland Baptist Church in Richland, had provided floral arrangements for Ingersoll and most recently his friend Curt Freed on numerous occasions. But she refused in March 2013 to use her gifts and talents to design flowers for their wedding.

 
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Screen capture from YouTube
Barronnelle Stutzman arranges flowers in her shop. The 70-year-old has appealed a court case she lost after refusing to arrange flowers for a gay marriage ceremony.

“I waited on Rob for nine years and created flowers for him on all types of occasions, but when it comes to my faith, marriage is between a man and a woman, and that’s where the line is drawn,” she said Feb. 26. “I cannot create something for him in good faith; I wouldn’t be honoring God’s Word.”
 
Stutzman was found guilty Feb. 18 in Benton County Superior Court of violating the couple’s U.S. and state civil rights, and was held personally liable for the couple’s damages and attorney fees, putting her at risk of losing her business and personal holdings. Backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Stutzman is appealing the case, and is prepared to take it to the nation’s highest court.
 
“We intend to go on, to appeal again, up to the Supreme Court if we have to,” she said, “because of my faith, because the Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, because of my religious freedom.”
 
The issue isn’t about Ingersoll being gay, said Stutzman, who according to court documents has employed openly gay individuals through her business.
 
“The issue is marriage is between a man and a woman, according to my faith,” she said. “I just think of myself as a follower of Christ and the Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, and the Bible is my authority.”
 
In a court filing by ADF, Southern Baptist professor Denny Burk provided a statement that drew from his experience in theological education and training. In the document, he explained the difference between providing flowers for the couple’s gay courtship, as opposed to their marriage.
 
“A Christian in the Southern Baptist tradition who owns a business is not obligated to question every customer regarding the potential uses to which the products or services sold by the business might be put,” said Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
 
“In addition, a business owner who becomes aware that his or her products or services might be used for a sinful or immoral purpose is not generally obligated to refuse to sell such products or services, although the duty to love one’s neighbor and avoid scandal might involve refusal to sell such products or services under certain circumstances,” he stated. “In either case, the equal dignity and worth of the customer requires the business owner to respect the customer’s God-given free will.
 
“However, the business owner must not engage in a transaction that involves participation in or material cooperation with a sinful act,” Burk said, “because it would constitute personal sin on the part of the business owner, and would therefore be subject to God’s judgment.”
 
Burk listed Article 18 the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and several Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolutions in Stutzman’s defense, including the June 1988 SBC Resolution on Persecution of Christians, the June 2001 SBC Resolution on Covenant Marriage, the June 2003 SBC Resolution on Kingdom Families, the June 2011 SBC Resolution on Protecting the Defense of Marriage Act, the June 2012 SBC Resolution on “Same-Sex Marriage;” the June 2013 SBC Resolution on Violations of Religious Freedom and Assembly in the United States, and the June 2012 SBC Resolution on Protecting Religious Liberty.
 
In March 2013, Stutzman did not refuse to provide floral stems to the couple, but referred him to several florists who would have no problem designing the arrangements.
 
“God has given me a talent to create something unique and different and from the heart, and it’s an expression, and it’s something that I just can’t celebrate,” she told Baptist Press, “doing flowers for a same-sex marriage.”
 
Ingersoll and Freed have since married.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

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3/4/2015 10:49:01 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Tennessee Temple, Piedmont International University to merge

March 3 2015 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

In an historic move the trustees of two Baptist colleges, Tennessee Temple University (TTU) in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Piedmont International University (PIU) in Winston-Salem, N.C., voted unanimously to merge the institutions.
 
Established only a year apart in the mid-1940s, the two universities share a common mission that dates back to their founders, Charles Stevens of PIU and Lee Roberson of TTU. They were friends who shared similar founding visions. Roberson once told Piedmont’s Chancellor Howard Wilburn, “Dr. Stevens and I were great friends, and we established Piedmont and Tennessee Temple within months of each other. The two of us had a gentleman’s agreement that if either school ever faltered, the two should come together.” The current merger, born from this common ancestry is nothing short of “providential,” according to Steve Echols, TTU’s current president.

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Tennessee Temple University's campus is located Chattanooga, Tenn.

 

“Little did our founders know that their pledge of support to each other would find fruition nearly 70 years later,” said Echols. “Merging with Piedmont is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Piedmont International University is a well-respected, outstanding Christian institution of higher education whose impact through the years for the cause of Christ is immeasurable. We are proud to return to our roots and unite as one.”

The merger will be finalized April 30, 2015, pending the approval of the Transnational Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits both universities.
 
TTU online students can expect decreases in their tuition rates and a seamless transition, according to PIU officials. Online programs will be transferred in their entirety to PIU. Residential students who move to Winston-Salem will experience a drop in tuition, room and board of approximately twenty-five percent. Several TTU board members will join PIU’s board, and some of TTU’s faculty and staff will move to Winston-Salem.


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Piedmont International University is located in Winston-Salem, N.C.

PIU’s president, Charles Petitt, said the merged school will have far greater potential together than either school can realize alone. He described the merger to be more like a marriage than the death of a spouse where one mate is gone and the other is left with only the assets.
 
In a marriage one mate may have to move and change a name, but no one disappears, he said. While TTU is moving and PIU will retain its name, neither school disappears.
 
TTU’s legacy will be preserved through the continuation of Temple Baptist Seminary as a school of PIU. Petitt said he is proud to have a diploma from Temple Baptist Seminary hanging on his office wall.
 
The Tennessee Temple Scholarship has been established that will provide one-third of tuition for programs offered at Piedmont. It will be available in perpetuity for TTU students, applicants, current faculty and staff, and alumni, as well as for their children and grandchildren.

Beyond the continuing legacy that will be preserved through the merger, Echols notes that TTU constituents can take heart that the lives changed through the ministry of the school will glorify God forever.

This is PIU’s third merger in less than a decade.
 

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Piedmont International University's president, Charles Petitt, said the merged school will have far greater potential together than either school can realize alone.

In 2004, the college merged with Spurgeon Baptist Bible College of Mulberry, Fla., creating the Spurgeon School of Online Education. In 2008 PIU merged with Atlantic Baptist Bible College of Chester, Va. and established the Atlantic Scholarship for Ministry Training
 
Fruitland Baptist Bible College (FBBC) in Hendersonville, N.C. and PIU have articulation agreements that allow academic credits to transfer easily between the institutions. FBBC is owned by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
 
David Horton, president of FBBC said, “I congratulate the administrative leadership and trustees of Tennessee Temple University and Piedmont International University in this exciting venture that will be of benefit to both schools and ultimately to the kingdom of God. I have the highest respect for each of these sister academic institutions, and look forward to continuing a great relationship with them.”
 
PIU is located near downtown Winston-Salem close to historic Old Salem. Originally called Piedmont Bible Institute, the name was changed to Piedmont Bible College, then Piedmont Baptist College, and finally became Piedmont International University in 2012.
 
The spring semester enrollment for TTU is reported to be 650 students. Approximately 220 of those attend on-campus classes while the remainder study online.
 
PIU reports that approximately 500 students are enrolled. A spokesman said the number of online and on-campus students overlap. Some live on campus but take all of their classes online. Roughly half of those enrolled are at the graduate level.
 
Visit piedmontu.edu.

3/3/2015 10:04:20 AM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 2 comments



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