Filipinos have ‘2020 Vision’ for church planting

April 28 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Plant 100 new Filipino churches in North America during the next five years.
That’s a key component of the evangelistic strategy to be presented at the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America’s annual meeting June 15-16 in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Columbus, Ohio.
The group will gather for a dinner fellowship Monday, June 15, at a local church to be announced. A basketball game pitting pastors against laymen will follow. The annual meeting Tuesday, June 16, will begin at 2:30 p.m. in Elijah Pierce Rooms A-B at the Hilton Columbus Downtown.


Speakers at the meeting will include Ken Weathersby, the SBC Executive Committee’s vice president for convention advancement, and Jeremy Sin, a North American Mission Board national church planting catalyst working among Asian people groups.
“We’re having a hard time keeping up with the growth of Filipinos coming over to the USA and Canada in terms of churches that would intentionally reach them,” fellowship president Peter Yanes said. “We haven’t produced that many indigenous workers for the past years, and we’re just starting to realize that now as we little by little develop our own people and prepare them to reach out.”
Of the approximately 4 million Filipinos in North America, Yanes estimates that fewer than 50,000 are evangelical Christians. That’s just over 1 percent.
One strategy for increasing the number of Filipino church leaders is to “import” them from the Philippines, said Yanes, who serves as a North American Mission Board church planting catalyst and ethnic strategist for the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/South Jersey. The Filipino Fellowship hopes to partner with U.S. churches that will sponsor church planters and pastors who emigrate from the Philippines.
The cultural transition to North America often is smooth for Filipino immigrants, Yanes said, because the Philippines are highly westernized, with English used for education and business. Filipinos have long communicated with one another in English to overcome the language barrier between various subgroups who speak different dialects of the Tagalog language.
In addition to sponsoring “imported” church leaders, the Filipino Fellowship has seen an increasing number of second-generation Filipinos serving as pastors and church planters.
“When the second generation [of Filipino immigrants] goes to seminary or Bible college here, most of the time they end up working with established American churches and not necessarily Filipino-American ones,” Yanes said. “Right now, for the past two or three years, we’re seeing new church plants by the second generation – those who were born here and grew up here. We’re excited about that.”
The Filipino Fellowship’s vision is to harness the leadership of first- and second-generation immigrants to plant 20 churches per year in the U.S. and Canada for the next five years. Known as the “2020 Vision,” the strategy aims to increase the total number of North American Filipino churches to more than 300 by the year 2020.
The 2020 Vision will be detailed in the final report of Executive Committee President Frank S. Page’s Asian American Advisory Council, of which Yanes is a member. The report is expected to be submitted by late May.
“The theme of what we’re going to do on June 16 is unfolding this five-year strategic approach and how we can serve and reach our own people in North America,” Yanes said.
To register for the annual meeting, email Yanes at The fellowship has a Facebook page and will post updates on the June gathering as the date approaches.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

4/28/2015 12:24:46 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Christians pray for peace, unity in S. Africa

April 28 2015 by Nicole Lee, Baptist Press

While anti-immigrant violence was tearing their city apart, 150 believers at a small Baptist church stood together to ask God to bring peace to their country.

An elder at the church in Johannesburg, South Africa, called out the ethnic groups by name: white South African, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Mozambican, Zimbabwean and a dozen more. Everyone stood – black and white, young and old, joining hands across the aisles and singing together, “We are one in the spirit.”

“It was beautiful,” an International Mission Board (IMB) worker said. “We saw beautiful unity within the body of Christ today.”

Christians throughout South Africa are calling for further displays of solidarity against ethnic violence in their country, aware that historically their churches have not always been a strong voice for unity – some supporting the violence, others refusing to get involved.


Photo courtesy of Stephen Haber
Victims of xenophobic violence in South Africa wait for aid at a makeshift camp outside a suburban Johannesburg church.

“South Africans, both white and black, usually observe without interfering,” the worker said, “so pray that the church would find boldness to both speak out and defend those being attacked. Pray that the church would not be passive right now.”

Although South Africans and immigrants normally live and work side-by-side, historic racial hostilities run just beneath the surface in this multiethnic society. The latest firestorm erupted in late March after the Zulu king publicly called for foreigners living in South Africa to “go home,” blaming them for a sluggish job market and increased violence in the country.

In an apparent reaction to the king’s comments, Zulus in a township near the city of Durban reportedly responded with riots and violence, killing five, injuring hundreds, looting and burning businesses and running people out of town. Since then the xenophobic attacks have moved to South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, and its surrounding areas, causing widespread panic as thousands of immigrants have fled their homes.

Another IMB worker and his family helped at a makeshift camp that sprang up practically overnight next to a Methodist church near their home. The church led in organizing efforts to assist victims of the attacks, and several IMB workers volunteered their time and resources to help.

The church cared for more than 1,000 people who were housed in tents in the middle of the suburb where it is located, the worker said.

In addition to meeting the physical needs of those in the camps, volunteers and members of a local Baptist church found opportunities to share the gospel with the people seeking refuge there.


Photo courtesy of Stephen Haber
Volunteers provide bags of food for victims of xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Christian workers and national believers alike are praying that such actions will be undertaken by more churches as they rise to the challenge of demonstrating peace, taking a stand against fear and hatred, and boldly sharing the gospel.

Even when the violence subsides, thousands who have lost homes and businesses will have to rebuild their fragile lives from nothing.

“The immigrants that I know are very fearful for what is going to happen to them next,” the IMB worker said.

Melanie, a South African Christian blogger, reminded her readers of the words of scripture in Leviticus 19, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. … Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

“Our country is broken,” she noted. “Our country is hurting and afraid. What we need is a revolution – not a physical revolution but one in people’s hearts!”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Nicole Lee is a writer for the London Bureau of Baptist Press.)

4/28/2015 11:03:14 AM by Nicole Lee, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Associational leaders to encourage, equip

April 28 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) will work to encourage, inspire and equip its members in kingdom work at its June 14-15 meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

The SBCAL will meet in advance of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting, and will retain its 2014 theme of “Ready Churches, Ready Harvest,” based on Matthew 9:37. The theme is designed to complement the SBC theme of “Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer” and its prayer emphasis, said Johnny Rumbough, conference team leader and executive director of missions for the Lexington Baptist Association in South Carolina.

Associational leaders will enjoy worship, sermons, educational breakout sessions and fellowship June 14 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and June 15 from 8 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at the Downtown Hilton.

Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, will address associational leaders Sunday, July 15, at 3:45 p.m., with special greetings from O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources. Ken Weathersby, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention advancement, will preach during 10 a.m. Sunday worship; Gerald Roe, a Christian Studies professor at North Greenville University (NGU) in Tigerville, S.C., will speak during the Sunday general session at 1 p.m.

Monday’s speakers will include Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler Jr. at 8:30 a.m., and Ken Hemphill, NGU director of the Center for Church Planting and Revitalization, during the 11:15 a.m. general session. Breakout sessions scheduled concurrently both days will focus on DisciplePath, a new study from LifeWay Christian Resources; Missionsfest, a partnership of the Woman’s Missionary Union; bivocational ministry and conflict management.

In advance of its Columbus meeting, the SBCAL is conducting a Week of Prayer & Mission Emphasis May 17-24. Free resources, including bulletin covers, prayer cards, posters and a sermon series, are available for download at, through a partnership with the North American Mission Board.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/28/2015 10:49:04 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Nepal churches cope with fatal earthquake

April 27 2015 by Susie Rain, IMB Connecting

NEPAL – Notes of a praise song carried from one end of the field to another. As the song ended, another started from a different direction. The two singing churches provided a sense of peace amidst the screams of neighbors sitting in open fields seeking a safe place from the aftershocks and tremors April 26, the day after Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
The quake hit just 50 miles outside of the capital city of Kathmandu and reached as far as India, Bangladesh and the Chinese region of Tibet. It was the strongest in the region in more than 80 years, killing at least 3,800 people and leveling buildings and homes. The death toll is expected to rise in days to come as rescue efforts expand from the cities to the countryside.
Aftershocks continue to rock the area. The largest hit Sunday afternoon, registering in at 6.7-magnitude and causing panic and fear for thousands of locals and tourists packing the streets and open fields of Kathmandu. Government officials advised everyone to stay outside until their homes and buildings can be checked.


IMB photo
Residents drive by some of the destruction from an earthquake in Kathmandu that is now reported to have killed some 3,800 people.

The Associated Press reports say another M5.1 earthquake struck near the border of India and Nepal on the morning of April 27.
International Christian worker Bekah Rivers* said local churches and believers are responding as the “hub” for the communities by providing access to shelter, clean water and food. People constructed tents from poles and tarps or anything that would provide protection from the cold night and possible rains. Even a group of volunteers from a North Carolina Baptist church joined the ranks of those sleeping outside their hotels. The volunteer team is reported to be “shaken up, but fine” and helping with immediate needs around them.
“Some pastors and discipleship trainers’ homes were damaged and even destroyed yesterday, yet they are taking care of their community,” Rivers said. About 30 people are staying in the field near the area where their team pitched tents.  “Each time there is a tremor, everyone screams. We had earthquakes all night and much of the day.”
Like most of the Christian population in Nepal – about 1 percent of a 28.8 million mostly Hindu nation – Rivers and her husband, Glenn, were at church on Saturday when the earthquake hit at 11:56 a.m. local time. The power went out, followed by a long and violent tremor. Panic ensued, and people in the church began to pray and cry out to the Lord for their protection and safety. The congregation dashed to the one and only exit.
“We stood up and had time to hang onto each other but were then thrown to the ground,” she said. “I would describe trying to get out like being on a trampoline with people carrying it and you’re trying to walk from one side of it to the other – completely off-centered and unsettling, nearly impossible. We both prayed, ‘Lord, please let us get out of this building.’”
Another Christian worker, Marcia Neely,* described her exit from the building as if she were surfing on waves, instead of solid ground.
In a rural church gathering miles away, the same thing was happening. The quake hit in the middle of the closing prayer, only the fate was not as good as in the Rivers’ church. This training center suffered a lot of damage. Discipleship trainer Ramila Karmacharya reported injuries and fatalities.
“I just got an update that 17 dead bodies have been found in this church which we have trained and supported,” she said via Facebook. “We appreciate your prayers for this church. … Pray for the pastor, his family and the whole church family. The pastor lost three of his own family members.”
The damage to rural areas has yet to be added to the news reports and death toll. Roads are damaged, and getting to these areas is difficult. Government officials estimate 80 percent of the houses in rural areas have been destroyed. The quake occurred at a depth of 9.3 miles, which is considered shallow and more damaging than a deeper quake. News from remote areas near the quake’s epicenter, where many more may have died, has been scant. International Christian workers warn that the days to come might be the hardest as reports continue to come in.
“The rural village homes will be damaged far beyond repair, and the death toll at this point is probably limited to the city centers,” Neely said. “All of the places where we work in … it’s devastating to think about what they are experiencing.”
Christians in Nepal ask for you to join them in prayer.

  • Pray for basic shelter, water and food. These necessities are a high priority right now since no one is allowed back in their homes. The nights are cold, and monsoon season can start any day.

  • Pray for God’s people to deeply know His comfort and peace during this time. Pray they will share the One who is our Hope and our Firm Foundation with those around them.

  • Pray for people in Nepal and surrounding areas during the continuing aftershocks and aftermath of this disaster. Southern Baptist assessment teams will begin surveying the damage April 27 to find the best ways to respond.

  • Thank God for the safety of the North Carolina volunteer team and other Christian workers. Pray for their stamina as they minister to those around them.

To make donations for first response items such as basic survival needs of water, shelter, food and healthcare, go to BGR’s “Where Needed Most” Fund.
North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) Disaster Relief is partnering with Hungarian Baptist Aid to assess the needs of those affected by the earthquake, according to Richard Brunson, NCBM executive director. You can donate to this effort by making a check payable to NCBM, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512 and designate your check for “Nepal Earthquake Relief.” You can also give by credit card by calling Kecia Morgan at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5613.
*Name changed
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Susie Rain is an IMB writer based in Asia. Caroline Anderson also contributed to this article. BR updated the story on April 27 according to wire reports, and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.)

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4/27/2015 11:57:14 AM by Susie Rain, IMB Connecting | with 0 comments

ISIS Executes 35 Ethiopian Christians

April 27 2015 by Jamie Dean, World News Service

The Ethiopian government declared three days of mourning after officials confirmed Islamic State (ISIS) militants executed at least 35 Ethiopian Christians held captive in Libya. As with other mass killings, the terrorists on April 19 released a video of the murders.
An Ethiopian government spokesman said the slain Christians likely were migrants trying to reach Europe.


Associated Press photo
A group of captured Ethiopian Christians taken to a beach before they were killed by Islamic State militants, in Libya.

The grisly video bore the grim trademark of ISIS footage in February that showed the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach. The Egyptian government ordered airstrikes against ISIS targets in response.
The new 29-minute video showed black-clad ISIS militants executing two groups of Ethiopian men identified as Christians in separate locations in Libya. The terrorists shot dead the first group of captives. In a separate scene, they beheaded the second group on a beach in eastern Libya.
Addressing “the nation of the cross,” the film’s narrator declared: “We swear to Allah, the one who disgraced you by our hands, you will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam.”
Ethiopian officials said they would meet April 28 to discuss a possible response to the executions, but it’s unclear whether the autocratic government could or would mount a significant retaliation against ISIS.
Meanwhile, the attack showed the Islamic State’s ability to continue to strike targets outside Syria and Iraq, and it came a day after Afghanistan’s president said the group was responsible for a suicide bombing at a Kabul bank that killed at least 33 people.
The murders also underscored the dangerous passage for Ethiopians and others desperate to flee impoverished and embattled nations for the possibility of jobs and security in Europe. Authorities feared as many as 700 African and Middle Eastern migrants died after a ship leaving Libya capsized in the Mediterranean on Sunday.
For migrants still living in Libya, a deeper fear now lurks, especially for Christians seeking to provide for families depending on them back home. On Monday, Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom mourned the loss of “innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their faith.” He also called on Christians to pray for the assailants: “We pray for these men and women, self-confessed religious people, that they may be reminded of the sacred and precious nature of every life created by God.
But for now, ISIS militants have made clear their intention to continue a rampage against all faiths outside of their extremist vision.
“Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood,” the video’s narrator said. “Until there is no more polytheism and obedience becomes Allah’s on its entirety.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jamie Dean lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD.)

4/27/2015 11:51:16 AM by Jamie Dean, World News Service | with 0 comments

SBC women’s events to share ‘Radiant’ focus

April 27 2015 by Shannon Baker, Baptist Press

Ministers’ wives attending the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) are invited to a trio of women’s events based on the theme, “Radiant.” These events include a Pastors’ Wives Conference, a Ministers’ Wives Luncheon and a Women’s Expo.
The Pastors’ Wives Conference, held during the morning session of the Pastors’ Conference on Monday, June 15, from 8:45 a.m.-11:45, will feature teaching sessions, table discussions and a live poll.
Speakers include Christine Hoover of Charlottesville, Va., addressing “Four Anchors Every Pastor’s Wife Needs;” Lori McDaniel of Rogers, Ark., on “Living on Mission;” and Naghmeh Abedini on the persecuted church and its effect on pastors’ families.
Hoover is the author of “The Church Planter’s Wife,” McDaniel serves as a women’s consultant for the International Mission Board, and Abedini is the wife of imprisoned Iranian American pastor, Saeed Abedini.


Kathy Litton, the national consultant for ministry to pastors’ wives for the North American Mission Board, will conduct a live poll of the audience on the subjects of marriage and ministry. Kristin and Eric Yeldell of First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., again will lead music for the session.
The conference is hosted in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. There is no cost for the event and registration is not required. Women who serve in any facet of local church leadership, missions and denominational work are invited to attend.
The annual SBC Ministers’ Wives Luncheon will take place on Tuesday, June 16, at noon, also in the Regency Ballroom.
The luncheon’s guest speaker is Angie Smith. She is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award-winning group Selah) and author of I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy as well as the popular blog entitled, “Bring the Rain.” She holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, Tenn.
The guest musician is TaRanda Greene, who began her career with the Southern Gospel group, The Greenes. She has traveled with the Bill Gaither Homecoming Tour and has been a guest vocalist at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. After joining The Greenes, she met her husband Tony. In 2010, Greene found herself a widow and a single mother of two girls, a story she now shares through music and testimony.
Luncheon tickets are $15 and can be purchased at or by contacting Mary Cox at
A Women’s Expo displaying resources for ministry to women will be open in the foyer to the ballroom prior to both events. Pastor’s wife and author, Diane Nix, wife of Preston Nix, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching, will direct the expo.
Pastors’ Wives Conference organizer Susie Hawkins said rather than attaching itself to the Pastors’ Conference theme, as in years past, the Pastors’ Wives Conference will now carry the same theme as the Ministers’ Wives luncheon.
“We want to encourage women to be radiant in their personal spiritual walks, marriages and ministries,” said Hawkins, wife of O.S. Hawkins, president and chief executive office of GuideStone Financial Resources.
Mary Cox, president of this year’s luncheon, explains this year’s theme, which is drawn from Exodus 34, where the Israelites saw that Moses’ face was radiant.
“Why was his face so radiant and shining so brightly?” asked Cox, wife of Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church. “Moses had been with The Lord!”
Cox said she hopes women who attend these events will feel they also had been with the Lord. “‘Radiant’ reminds all of us that it starts with our relationship with the Lord. When we spend time with Him, we are radiant from the inside out!”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shannon Baker is the director of communications for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, formerly known as the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Tammi Reed Ledbetter contributed to this report. She is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN,, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)

4/27/2015 11:44:31 AM by Shannon Baker, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

AVANCE to hear plans for Hispanic network

April 27 2015 by Art Toalston, Baptist Press

Hispanic Southern Baptists’ AVANCE will continue in 2015 prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), with SBC President Ronnie Floyd as this year’s featured speaker.
“There is no doubt that our president [Floyd] will have a powerful word from God for those present at this Hispanic gathering,” said Bobby Sena, Hispanic relations consultant with the SBC Executive Committee.
AVANCE 2015, on Sunday, June 14, will begin with a 5 p.m. dinner featuring Floyd followed by workshops from 6:30-7:45 sponsored by the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources.


Guillermo Soriano

AVANCE 2015 will conclude with an 8-9 p.m. session on the newly formed SBC Hispanic Pastors and Leaders Network.
More than 500 Hispanic pastors and leaders attended AVANCE last year in Baltimore during which David Platt, then a pastor in Birmingham, Ala., was the featured speaker. Platt was elected president of the SBC’s International Mission Board just over two months later.
AVANCE 2015, Sena said, signals “advance, progress, discovery and update. That is exactly what will happen during this year’s celebration – a time of networking with pastors, key leaders and church members from across North America; informational and training conferences; a challenge by the president of the SBC; and an update on the newly established SBC Hispanic Pastors and Leaders Network.”
Floyd, saying he is thrilled “to be asked to speak to AVANCE 2015,” emphasized that Hispanic pastors and leaders are “important to the future of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
“If we are going to reach America and much of the world with the Gospel, we must do all we can to enlist, engage and empower our Hispanic pastors, leaders and churches,” said Floyd, pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. “The Great Awakening we are praying for in this nation includes this awakening coming to all ethnicities in America.”
Floyd added that Julio Arriola of Cross Church will be “the first Hispanic worship leader for the entire Southern Baptist Convention meeting. We are serious about engaging as well as reaching all Hispanics with the Gospel of Christ. This is why it is necessary that all Hispanic pastors, leaders and churches are a part of our Tuesday evening National Call to Prayer,” slated June 16 during the SBC annual meeting.
Sena described Floyd as “a uniquely gifted pastor, leader and preacher whom God is using to call our convention to rally around the Great Commission, unity, prayer and revival.”

Hispanic network

The new Hispanic network was launched in a partnership between the Executive Committee and LifeWay in a meeting last December in Nashville attended by 65 Hispanic leaders from 23 Baptist state conventions.
A five-member “mission and vision” team was named at the meeting to set forth organizational and strategy plans during AVANCE 2015 in Columbus.
Guillermo Soriano, consultant for Hispanic evangelism and discipleship for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, is serving as the mission and vision team’s facilitator. Other members of the team are Fernando Amaro, Hispanic ministries facilitator of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention; Rolando Castro, missionary for church planting/evangelism, language churches and Hispanic church development, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware; Ana Melendez, a member of Cristo Es Rey Baptist Church, Bolingbrook, Ill.; and Victor Rios, president of the Association of Hispanic Baptist Churches of New York/New Jersey.
The task force, Sena said at the meeting in Nashville, “will present us with information so that then we can right there [in Columbus] officially, even more officially than today, launch the network that will help us to connect and to communicate with Hispanics around the country. And how interesting would it be if this became a worldwide connection.”
Speaking to Baptist Press, Sena said the network is “a historic moment – for the first time in Southern Baptist life a concerted effort is being made to establish inter-communication between the Executive Committee of the SBC and the broad spectrum of Hispanic Baptist entities, pastors, leaders and laypeople throughout North America. This will enhance deeper understanding and greater cooperation between Hispanic Baptists and SBC entities, state conventions and Baptist associations.”

AVANCE details

All AVANCE 2015 sessions will be at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, site of the June 16-17 SBC annual meeting in which Floyd will lead the convention’s focus on “Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer.”
The AVANCE 2015 dinner program at 5 p.m. will be in Grand Ballroom 1, Level 1, of the convention center. Even though participation is free, tickets are required to attend and can be obtained online.
Workshops, from 6:30-7:45 p.m., will be: “LeaderGO” (IMB) in Room C212 on Level 2 of the convention center led by Daniel Sanchez of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; “The role of the leader in the family” (NAMB) in C226, Level 2, led by Gonzalo Rodriguez, senior pastor of Iglesia El Buen Pastor in Metairie, La.; and “How God uses imperfect people” (LifeWay) in C215 on Level 2 led by Javier Sotolongo, senior pastor of Iglesia Bautista Estrella de Belen in Hialeah, Fla.
The report from the vision and mission team for the new network will begin at 8 p.m. in Room A103 on Level 1.
Luis Lopez, director of LifeWay Español church resources, said pastors and church leaders coming to AVANCE 2015 will “not only be challenged to continue to accelerate our church planting efforts in reaching our nation for God, but will be encouraged to see what God is doing among us. We will also celebrate the next steps taken to connect and communicate with Hispanics around the country through the Hispanic Pastors and Leaders Network.”
In addition to IMB, NAMB and LifeWay, AVANCE 2015 sponsors include GuideStone Financial Resources and the Executive Committee. Coordination for the gathering is being facilitated by the Hispanic liaisons at each of the entities.
Serving on AVANCE 2015’s program committee, in addition to Sena and Lopez, are Jason Carlisle, Hispanic mobilization leader for the International Mission Board; Ramon Osorio, national church mobilizer with the North American Mission Board; and Miguel Perez, customer relations language specialist with GuideStone Financial Resources.
Setting the context for AVANCE 2015, Sena said, “The Southern Baptist Convention is becoming more ethnically diverse. About 20 percent of churches in the SBC are multi-ethnic, with more than 10,000 ethnic congregations which includes 3,200 Hispanic congregations.
“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in the United States had grown to 54 million by July 1, 2013, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority,” Sena said. “This explosive growth should motivate us to covenant together to make an unprecedented effort to reach this mission field with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Elias Bracamonte, associate pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., told Baptist Press, “We encourage all to get involved in being supportive in the efforts of reaching today’s generation for Christ. As sisters and brothers, the Lord’s call is to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world with a commitment to the Great Commission.”
Bracamonte also voiced appreciation to Executive Committee President Frank S. Page “for promoting and encouraging unity and prayer for a spiritual awakening in our churches.”
Also prior to the SBC annual meeting, the National Hispanic Baptist Fellowship will host its annual National Day of Prayer on Monday, June 15, from 7-8 p.m. in the convention’s Prayer Room in Hall D of the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

4/27/2015 11:30:02 AM by Art Toalston, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Revival, spiritual awakening NAAF aim

April 27 2015 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Revival for the church and spiritual awakening for the U.S. culture are the focus of the National African American Fellowship (NAAF) as it holds its annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 14–15, according to NAAF President K. Marshall Williams Sr.
The group encourages Christians to pray and fast to that end, said Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia.


“We are praying that God will pour out His Spirit, like a mighty purifying fire, of deep conviction, confession, spiritual brokenness with genuine fruits of repentance from the sins of immorality, abortion, crime, racism, injustice, etc. that have been systemic satanic strongholds in our nation and our world,” Williams said, “so that we will see loving unity in the Body of Christ which will usher in an unprecedented revival, spiritual awakening and healing in our land!”
NAAF will meet in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, will participate in the Crossover community outreach, worship, conduct business and hold its annual banquet.
“We are seeking the Lord for His power and wisdom, so that His love, mercy and justice will rule in polity and practicum,” Williams said, “so we can be used as instruments of righteousness to push back darkness in this sin sick secular society!”
Mark Croston, preaching pastor of the Living Grace Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., will deliver the message at NAAF’s annual worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 14, at New Antioch Bible Fellowship in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a Columbus suburb. Croston is national director of black church partnerships at LifeWay Christian Resources. Trent Hayes is host pastor. NAAF is also encouraging its membership to attend the June 14th Pastor’s Conference at 6 p.m. at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Ray Gaffney, pastor of Galilee Baptist Church in Defiance, Ohio, will preach the devotion during NAAF’s business meeting at 4 p.m., June 15. Gaffney is president of the African American Fellowship of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio.
During the business meeting, NAAF plans to focus on better serving and strengthening the approximately 3,500 African American Southern Baptist churches and missions. Additional priorities are holding conferences, symposiums and webinars for equipping churches in all areas of ministry and maximizing the participation of NAAF churches in Southern Baptist life.
NAAF will elect officers during the meeting, and plans to continue with the current slate of officials. In addition to Williams, they are vice president Byron Day, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Laurel, Md.; treasurer Frank Williams, pastor of Bronx Baptist Church and Wake-Eden Community Baptist Church in Bronx, N.Y.; secretary Erik Cummings, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Miami; parliamentarian Michael Pigg, pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church, Lithonia, Ga.; and historian Robert Wilson, pastor of The Word Baptist Church in Atlanta. All presidents of state African American fellowships serve as vice presidents at large.
K. Marshall Williams will deliver the annual presidential address at the NAAF banquet, Monday, June 15 at 6:30 p.m. in convention center Rooms C223–C225.

Black Denominational Servants Network

The Black Denominational Servants Network, composed of African American employees of Southern Baptist Convention entities and the Executive Committee, will hold its annual meeting July 22 during the LifeWay Black Church Week and Family Conference in Ridgecrest, N.C. The group voted in 2014 to affirm the Ridgecrest meeting as its future annual business gathering.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)

4/27/2015 11:22:56 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Carson to withdraw as Pastor’s Conf. speaker

April 24 2015 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Likely Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference have “mutually agreed” that Carson will not address the Pastors’ Conference in Columbus, Ohio, as previously scheduled.
“We didn't want this to become a distraction for our convention,” Pastors’ Conference President William Rice told Baptist Press. “A number of people began to write about it and express their views on it, and it threatened to become a distraction we never wanted it to be. We felt like for the health of the convention, the health of the Pastors’ Conference ... the better thing to do was to mutually agree it’s not the right time to do it.”
Carson, a cultural commentator and professor emeritus of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, was scheduled to address the Pastors’ Conference on June 14 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. But some Southern Baptists raised theological and political concerns in late March and April, with Texas pastor Bart Barber and Baptist21, a network of younger Southern Baptist leaders, posting blog articles objecting to Carson’s scheduled appearance.
Barber is a former SBC first vice president and current Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustee.


Photo by Gage Skidmore
Ben Carson

Among the concerns cited were that Carson’s appearance could be construed as an endorsement of his presumed presidential campaign, that his appearance could be construed as an endorsement of the Republican Party and that it would be inappropriate for a member of a Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) – the religious group with which Carson identifies – to address the Pastors’ Conference.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church, according to the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) website, is “in basic agreement with historic, biblical Christianity. Thus, the SDA is not a cult by definition. However, the SDA can be correctly regarded as a Christian sect because it has a number of distinctive doctrines not in accord with the mainstream of historic Christian faith.”
Among the “distinctive” doctrines referenced by NAMB, the SDA believes Christians who worship on Sunday are in error and “often implies that certain outward acts of righteousness are necessary to maintain one’s assurance of salvation.”
In a blog post published April 24, Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla., addressed concerns regarding Carson’s affiliation with Seventh-day Adventists. Rice’s complete blog post is at
“As a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Dr. Carson is publicly identified with theological positions that differ from those of Southern Baptists,” Rice wrote. “While this is true, I believed, and still believe, that leaders gathered for our Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference are open to listening to persons from outside our denomination. I believe most are willing to hear from national leaders even if we disagree on some points of doctrine as we have done in the past, particularly when the point of the discussion is a biblical worldview of prevailing cultural issues.”
Rice told BP that Carson’s appearance was never intended to be a political endorsement and Carson understood that. Pastors’ Conference leaders “felt like [Carson] could speak about public issues and the larger national issues going on culturally, but do so in a decidedly apolitical way as a guy whose career has not been in politics,” Rice said.
Rice’s blog post “respectfully disagree[d]” with those who believe Southern Baptists “should avoid all political involvements.”
“While I know of no Southern Baptist leader who believes our answer is found in a political party or political solution, there are times when we must be engaged in the public arena,” Rice wrote. “John the Baptist was not jailed for preaching the Gospel. He was jailed for speaking truth to power. Southern Baptists cannot and should not back away from appropriate engagement in political life.
“If Southern Baptists will not speak, then who will?” Rice continued. “In these current days where Christian brothers are being butchered overseas and religious liberties are under assault at home, will we stay silent out of some misguided attempt to avoid politics altogether? I pray not. Political leaders who stand for religious liberty, speak out for the oppressed and have the strength of moral convictions should know they have a friend in Southern Baptists.”
Rice asked those offended by the invitation of Carson to “show forbearance and forgiveness” and affirmed SBC President Ronnie Floyd’s emphasis on “visible unity” and “extraordinary prayer” for this year’s SBC annual meeting. Floyd “has worked too hard and too much is at stake for us to be sidetracked from that worthy call,” Rice said.
No replacement speaker for Carson has been announced.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.)

4/24/2015 2:48:07 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 5 comments

House GOP challenged to enact late abortion ban

April 24 2015 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

The Southern Baptist Convention’s lead ethicist and other pro-life leaders have called on Republican congressional leaders to halt the delay on a proposed ban on late abortions.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), joined nine other heads of pro-life organizations April 22 to urge the leaders of the majority in the House of Representatives to schedule a vote immediately on the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The legislation would prohibit abortions on babies 20 weeks or more after fertilization based on scientific evidence that a child in the womb experiences pain by that point in gestation.
The pro-life leaders released a joint statement exactly three months after the originally scheduled date for a vote on the bill, H.R. 36. GOP leaders canceled a Jan. 22 roll call on the proposal after about two dozen Republicans, led by female members, expressed concern about the legislation. The House had approved the same measure in the previous congressional session, however.


House leaders have said they still intend to hold a vote on the bill.
In their statement, the pro-lifers said, “The babies and mothers being targeted by the late-term abortion industry have waited long enough for protection.”
The ban, they said, “is a simple, compassionate proposal supported by a large majority of Americans, including women and young people.”
“A vote on this popular, modest bill will serve as a benchmark as to whether the House GOP is serious about protecting unborn babies and women,” Moore and the others said.
The new Republican majority in the Senate is seeking to pass the bill, although the White House already has signaled its opposition to the measure. Obama administration officials have indicated they would recommend the president veto it.
In addition to Moore, other signers were Marjorie Dannenfelser, president, Susan B. Anthony List; Charmaine Yoest, president, Americans United for Life; Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council; Penny Young Nance, president, Concerned Women for America; Jeanne Mancini, president, March for Life; Janet Morana, co-founder, Silent No More Awareness Campaign; Frank Pavone, national director, Priests for Life; Kristan Hawkins, president, Students for Life of America; and Brian Burch, president,
The House leadership’s original scheduling of the vote was significant, because Jan. 22 is the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion nationwide throughout all stages of pregnancy. Tens of thousands of pro-lifers gather each year on that date for the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
When the original roll call was canceled, pro-life leaders expressed their disappointment. Moore did not mince any words.
“I am disgusted by this act of moral cowardice,” he said in an ERLC news release. “If the House Republicans cannot pass something as basic as restricting the abortion of five-month, pain-capable unborn children, what can they get done?
“The congressional Republicans seem to think that pro-lifers will be satisfied with Ronald Reagan rhetoric and Nancy Pelosi results. They are quite wrong.”
Pelosi is the former Democratic speaker of the House who supports abortion rights.
The small group of Republican House members who sought delay of the Jan. 22 vote focused their concerns on the proposal’s rape exemption, which requires the assault be reported to law enforcement authorities. One of their apprehensions was its perception by women and young adults.
Women and young people, however, both support the ban with the reporting requirement, according to a poll in November by Quinnipiac University of voters nationwide. That survey showed 60 percent of Americans, 59 percent of women and 57 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 favor the legislation.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)

4/24/2015 2:20:08 PM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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