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East Germans still burdened by the wall

November 10 2014 by Beth Vaughan, IMB/Baptist Press

BERLIN, Germany - On Nov. 9, 1989, East German border guards stood by dumbfounded as streams of East Berliners flooded through Brandenburg Gate into the ecstatic freedom of West Berlin.

Pam and Wayne Jenkins knew things would never be the same. That evening, 25 years ago, the Jenkins family sat in their living room in Regensburg, West Germany, watching the unbelievable events unfold on the evening news. A few weeks later, Wayne traveled to Berlin to stand in front of the wall and see its remnants firsthand.


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IMB photo
A message scrawled on the Berlin Wall reads, “Walls are not everlasting.” This photo, taken by an IMB missionary 25 years ago, was taken the day the wall came down.

When the Jenkinses, the first International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries appointed to German-language work, arrived in December 1982, people were being sent to jail in East Germany for openly sharing the gospel. Jenkins himself was detained for several hours in 1986 for carrying gospel tracts in his pockets during a journey to East Berlin.

As Wayne and Pam watched the flood of East Berliners enter West Berlin, they hoped for wide-open doors to share more freely.

Although open evangelism was illegal prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Christianity was not. In fact, there are many who credit Christians – specifically prayer meetings in Leipzig, East Germany, called the Friedensgebet (prayer for peace) – with spearheading the peaceful revolt against the Soviets and the wall. As often happens in times of persecution, in various ways the church in East Germany was thriving behind the Iron Curtain; yet now, with religious freedom, it has struggled.

Jason Dietz, currently serving with IMB in Dresden, Germany, notes, “For over 100 years, [East Germans] have seen so much drastic change brought on by competing ideologies that now a spirit of cynicism and distrust has spread over the population.”

Despite the credit the Friedensgebet meetings received for emboldening anti-Soviet protests, they have had little lasting effect on the invisible spiritual barriers in the former East Germany. Rather than experiencing relief at the religious freedoms now available, people tend to view all structured belief systems with suspect and mistrust, which is proving to be a major obstacle to the gospel.

Berlin’s political and physical walls have been down for 25 years, yet the spiritual walls are still standing strong. While the church saw rapid growth in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Iron Curtain, the church in Germany – and throughout Western Europe – has steadily declined. When not viewed with distrust and skepticism, the church and Bible are viewed now as merely a good moral code or ethic rather than a living faith.

Missionaries in Western Europe face increasing difficulties in confronting the spiritual walls of materialism, consumerism, depravity and distrust.

“Just because Europe is covered with church buildings doesn’t mean it is full of Christians,” Jenkins laments.

For prayer: that the Holy Spirit will move to complete the task of bringing true freedom to people in the former East Germany, once and for all tearing down the wall preventing them from saving faith in Jesus Christ.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Beth Vaughan is a writer for the International Mission Board based in Europe.)

11/10/2014 8:26:27 AM by Beth Vaughan, IMB/Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Bullard is nominee for VP of N.C. Pastors’ Conf.

November 8 2014 by BR Staff

Kelly Bullard, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fayetteville, will be nominated for vice president of the North Carolina Pastors’ Conference on Nov. 10. The announcement came from Lynn M. Bullock, interim pastor of Moores Creek Baptist Church in Currie, who will make the nomination.
 
“I am pleased to announce my intention to nominate Kelly Bullard for
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Kelly Bullard, pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Fayetteville, will be nominated for vice president of the North Carolina Pastors’ Conference on Nov. 10.

vice president of the N.C. Pastors’ Conference,” Bullock wrote in a press release dated Nov. 8. “Kelly's spiritual DNA from godly parents and grandparents has equipped him to become an effective and godly, young pastor. His respect for the older generation of pastors and the respect given him by his peers makes him a great candidate for this office.”
 
Bullard is a native of Lumberton. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in biblical studies from The College at Southeastern in Wake Forest, and a master of divinity degree in biblical counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also currently pursuing a doctor of ministry degree from Southeastern.
 
He previously served as associate pastor of Grey Stone Baptist Church in Durham and is currently serving on the board of directors for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, where he serves on the church planting and mission development committee.
 
The Temple Baptist Church website, where Bullard has served for four years, says his passion is “preaching and teaching God’s Word and seeing lives completely changed by its power.”
 
Two other pastors will be nominated for the same vice president slot, all announcing within a week of the meeting. The Biblical Recorder recently posted announcements that Steve Ellis of Leland and Brian Langley of Kure Beach will be nominated, also.
 
 
Related Stories
Ellis to be nominated VP of N.C. at Pastors' Conf.
Bordeaux to nominate Langley as Pastors' Conf. VP
Faw to nominate McGill for N.C. Pastors' Conf. president
11/8/2014 8:22:29 PM by BR Staff | with 0 comments



Graham celebrates 96th birthday by talking about heaven

November 7 2014 by Staff of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

At 96 years old, Billy Graham’s desire to share hope with the world is as strong as ever. On Nov. 7, the day Graham celebrates his birthday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will debut “Heaven”, a film that includes a never-before-seen message from Billy Graham.
 
Graham’s message was recorded last year, while the aging yet still passionate evangelist worked with a camera crew to capture his thoughts in a series of interviews at his home in Montreat.

 
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“I know I’m going to heaven. I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation,” said Graham, who explains in the film how people can share that same hope.
 
When Graham celebrated his 95th birthday last year in Asheville, 800 guests gathered to watch “The Cross”, a 30-minute program that was the first of a five-year project called My Hope with Billy Graham. The 2013 film was the largest outreach ever conducted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, shared through thousands of churches and watched by hundreds of thousands on television in the U.S. and Canada. This year, My Hope will have a special focus in the United Kingdom as more than 9,000 churches in the country are participating in the outreach.
 
For his 96th birthday, Graham plans a more subdued evening at home enjoying the company of family members who plan to visit him during the week of his birthday. However, he hopes people will join him in watching Heaven, the latest My Hope with Billy Graham film.
 
“Although his physical condition keeps him homebound, he remains interested in current events and the ongoing work of the ministry that he began more than 60 years ago,” says Franklin Graham, his eldest son and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “Opportunities like My Hope and the Heaven film are ways that we can help my father to continue the work that God called us to do. Please pray for my father, and for those who will watch this film—that they too may know the peace found in Jesus Christ.”
 
As he turns 96, Graham continues to struggle with deteriorating eyesight and hearing. But he does have the ability to begin and end many days with devotions, Bible reading and prayer with his staff. He also enjoys the opportunity to spend time with family and close friends who visit with him.
 
Billy Graham’s new film Heaven is available on DVD and can also be viewed online at MyHopewithBillyGraham.org/programs.

11/7/2014 11:40:21 AM by Staff of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association | with 0 comments



Appeals court upholds state marriage laws

November 7 2014 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

A federal appeals court upheld state laws that refuse to recognize same-sex marriage Thursday (Nov. 6), seemingly preparing the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide a contentious issue it has avoided so far.

In a 2-1 opinion, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled four states – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee – did not violate the U.S. Constitution by limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. The decision conflicts with rulings by four other federal appeals courts that struck down state laws that refused to recognize gay marriage.

The same-sex couples who lost could ask for “en banc” review of the ruling, which would include all the members of the Sixth Circuit Court, or they could appeal to the Supreme Court. If they take the latter course and the justices grant review, the high court could issue a decision on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage before its current term ends next summer.

Advocates for the biblical, traditional definition of marriage welcomed the Sixth Circuit’s opinion and the opportunity for the Supreme Court to make a final decision.

“We applaud the decision of the Sixth Circuit Court, breaking a string of decisions by activist judges and courts who have imposed their personal belief systems on the public,” Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said in a statement. “We pray that the Supreme Court will take up this matter and, specifically, that it will uphold the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Russell D. Moore said in a statement, “This circuit split means that the Supreme Court’s ignoring of this issue will not be able to continue. The people of the states have the right to recognize marriage the way virtually every human culture has, as the union of a man and a woman. The Supreme Court should affirm this right, for all fifty states.”

Byron Babione, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a written release, “As the [Sixth] Circuit rightly concluded, the Constitution does not demand that one irreversible view of marriage be judicially imposed on everyone. The people of every state should remain free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws.”

The Supreme Court has refused so far to review appeals court decisions invalidating state laws prohibiting gay marriage. The Sixth Circuit’s opinion, however, establishes a clash at the appellate level the justices apparently were waiting on before being willing to rule.

On Oct. 6, the high court denied review of appeals court decisions overturning marriage laws in five states. That order not only meant gay marriage would be legal in those five states but, presumably by extension, in six other states in the same federal circuits. That action – plus an appeals court ruling the next day – set the stage for legalized same-sex marriage to expand to 35 states plus the District of Columbia. Before, it had been legal in 19 states and D.C.

Given its past actions, the current Supreme Court appears highly unlikely to permit state bans on same-sex marriage – something the Sixth Circuit majority acknowledged.

“From the vantage point of 2014, it would now seem, the question is not whether American law will allow gay couples to marry; it is when and how that will happen,” wrote Jeffrey Sutton in the Sixth Circuit’s split decision. “That would not have seemed likely as recently as a dozen years ago. For better, for worse, or for more of the same, marriage has long been a social institution defined by relationships between men and women. So long defined, the tradition is measured in millennia, not centuries or decades. So widely shared, the tradition until recently had been adopted by all governments and major religions of the world.”

The three-judge panel does not have the option of deciding “whether gay marriage is a good idea,” Sutton wrote. Instead, it must determine whether the Constitution bars a state from defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, he said.

States are permitted to define marriage under previous Supreme Court rulings, Sutton said. It is better for states to be able to determine an issue – marriage, in this case – that has traditionally been in their purview, he explained.

“When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers,” Sutton wrote. “Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)

11/7/2014 11:25:56 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Travel risks prompt Baptists to improve training

November 7 2014 by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press

Reggie Quimby thought he and his fellow mission team members were safe.
 
In the company of local guides and a caravan of vehicles, they traveled at night on a rural road in Guatemala. While there was some risk involved with this particular road after sunset, Quimby believed the odds of something bad happening were too small.
 
A group of bandits with AK-47s, however, blocked their path with rocks, forced them to pull over and robbed them. No one was harmed that night several years ago. But Quimby, global missions director for the Alabama Baptist Convention, was reminded that crime can happen when it’s least expected.
 
“... People get comfortable and let their guard down...,” he said. “We had been there. We had traveled on these roads.... [We thought] if we traveled together ... that risk would go away. Well, obviously it did not.”
 
As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group and Ebola scare continue to make headlines, the Alabama convention and other Baptist organizations are continuing to assess the growing risks involved with overseas travel.
 
Many of them have turned to an organization based in Pinehurst, Idaho, called Fort Sherman Academy. It’s president, David Dose, is a former Department of Defense consultant and instructor who has helped train government, corporate and faith-based groups how to handle travel risks for the past 17 years. The group is one of the largest – if not the largest – providers in the United States of travel security courses, crime survival training and crisis management.
 
Dose and his team have interviewed numerous survivors of overseas crime looking for ways these situations could have been avoided. Among those survivors is Gracia Burnham. She and her husband Martin, who were missionaries to the Philippines, were taken hostage by Muslim extremists in 2001 and held in captivity for more than a year before Gracia was rescued. Martin lost his life when he got caught in the crossfire of a gun battle that broke out during the rescue.
 
“During my time in this work, the Burnham case particularly touched me, and I’ve been privileged to work with Gracia some since,” Dose said. “... I saw opportunities where probably using existing knowledge we could have helped some people avoid, survive or better survive and encourage folks....”
 
Fort Sherman currently works with about 200 clients. Included in that list is the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, nine Baptist state conventions and numerous churches. The group works with organizations from other denominations as well.
 
Fort Sherman has a team of about 50 full-time, part-time and contract workers and its Idaho headquarters also includes a 40-acre guest facility.
 
Helping better equip faith-based groups for overseas ministry is what motivated Dose and his wife Elizabeth to start Fort Sherman.
 
“My wife and I made the decision that probably a lot of missionaries and their families have made – to throw everything in the basket. We started our own company with a major focus on ... faith-based [groups].... I find enjoyment in that audience. I find purpose in their purpose ... and so we did like everybody else [with] our finances and future plans and cashed those things in and started this little organization.”
 
And the “little” organization has grown. Since it began more than 10 years ago, Fort Sherman has trained about 42,000 long-and short-term mission workers as well as corporate and humanitarian workers.
 
Fort Sherman specializes in providing different levels of training – including Web-based training – on how to handle various types of crisis situations overseas. It also provides a 24-hour service for clients to call if they need assistance.
 
Some of those situations may include:

  • What to do if someone on a mission team gets sick overseas, needs immediate medical care and is unable to travel back to the States.

  • Calling for help if you or a team member is robbed and your wallet and passport have been taken.

  • What to do if an unexpected natural disaster hits the area you’re traveling in and derails travel back to the United States for several days.

  • How to handle a team member being detained by an overseas government for several days.

Dose said an “upsurge” of interest is developing among faith-based groups as evangelical groups and organizations send more teams into high-risk areas.
 
“This is just one more tool,” Dose said, “... to focus on the basics of avoiding crime, surviving crime, being organized in advance for avoiding those things and even having a crisis plan in place if something goes wrong – whether it’s a volcano interrupts travel ... or somebody stops me at a border.”
 
Dose says travelers need to realize that finding a “safe place” to travel is becoming increasingly difficult.
 
“... I’ll get the guy who says, ‘Oh we don’t have a problem. We go to the same place every year,’” said Dose, noting he read a U.S. State Department report showing that crime has increased by nearly 15 percent worldwide. “Yeah, but if crime is going up every year and you’re doing the same thing you always did, eventually someone might fall victim. We’re trying to prep them for that.”
 

Days of ‘winging it’ are gone

And sometimes unexpected challenges can arise before a mission team even arrives at their destination.
 
As airport authorities continue to crack down on a variety of criminal activity – drug and sex trafficking, terrorism – more mission teams are being detained in airports everywhere, Dose said.
 
Teams often don’t plan ahead for handling unexpected questions in an airport, he said. Travelers need to be able to better articulate why they are traveling to a country and what they plan to do while they are there.
 
“They throw out the good ol’, ‘I’m just an American tourist’ and that doesn’t work anymore,” he said, noting that some travelers have used “American tourist” when traveling to a war-torn country to help with relief work. “... Winging it doesn’t help because security has changed.”
 
Dose said those types of mistakes can get expensive if a team member is detained. In some situations, organizations can spend anywhere from $10,000 to more than $50,000 in fees and legal expenses triggered by issues with overseas governments.
 
“I’ve seen up to $100,000 in a month,” Dose said. “... That’s a lot of money that would have gone to next year’s mission trip.”
 
Quimby, Alabama Baptists’ global mission director, said stewardship was a major part of the decision for the state’s convention to develop an ongoing partnership with Fort Sherman. He described the training they’ve received in developing crisis management strategies as a way of “protecting ministry, protecting our future ministry and helping our churches to protect their ministry.”
 
“... We’re seeing that if we ... do the training and we invest up front, then we may not have to pay those big expenses ... because we have been trying to do things correctly,” he said.
 
Ken Rhodes, director of missions mobilization for the Mississippi Baptist Convention, said they require mission teams and personnel who work with them to go through at least a basic level of training from Fort Sherman – which can involve an eight-hour course.
 
“... In Mississippi we are really pressing the boundaries to send people to some of the harder ... places to get to in the world,” Rhodes said. “We have trained right around 2,000 people at this point.”
 
In addition to the general risks involved with overseas travel, Rhodes said there also are liability issues to consider. Organizations should be prepared to resolve conflicts that could surface between them and the family members of those involved in an unexpected crisis, he said.
 
“We send husbands of unbelieving wives ... we send students whose parents are unbelievers and they do not understand what is happening,” Rhodes said. “So I think that is a huge liability when you’re sending family members who are from families who are not supportive and may not even be believers....”
 
More and more Baptist colleges and universities also are working with Fort Sherman to train students planning to study abroad or participate in mission trips.
 
Cynthia Jayne, associate provost for intercultural and international studies at Union University, noted, “... We decided that it really didn’t matter where students were going. [Students] had the potential to get themselves into really serious difficulties if they didn’t understand some of the basic things.”
 
With a total enrollment of more than 4,000 students on its main campus, satellite campuses and students utilizing their online programs, the university sends about 250-300 students overseas annually for academic programs and about 200-300 overseas for mission projects.
 
Jayne said the university continues to push its leadership to be more prepared when working with students overseas.
 
“The bottom line is, If you’re in charge of this group you’d better have more information than they have to be able to make decisions,” she said.
 
“... Our faculty [is] now asking questions about assessing the risk of what they are doing in ways that help them think through how they’re going to put the trip together.”
 
The training also has helped them prepare to better handle potential crisis situations on campus. Last February, Baptist Press reported that a Union University student had been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of another student on its campus in Jackson, Tenn.
 
“It raised a lot of other questions for us about ... preparing our students to deal with many kinds of life situations,” Jayne said.
 
The campus is now working with Fort Sherman to provide online training to freshmen this year, Jayne said.
 
“Ultimately our goal is to have every student have that basic online ... training,” Jayne said. “... You can fence in. You can lock the gates. You can do all of those things but if the students themselves don’t understand how to protect themselves, it isn’t gonna help.”
 
For more information about Fort Sherman and the training they provide, contact them at (888) 211-8674 or info@fortsherman.org.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Shawn Hendricks is managing editor of Baptist Press.)

11/7/2014 11:14:35 AM by Shawn Hendricks, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Guidelines for conducting convention business

November 7 2014 by BSC Communications

In order to conduct the business of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) certain rules have been established within the BSC governing documents. The introduction and deliberation of business follows Roberts Rules of Order.
 
To facilitate the consideration of business items, messengers are asked to abide by the guidelines outlined below. It is the desire of the convention’s officers to ensure that messengers have the opportunity to bring items for consideration, raise questions, and enter into discussion related to business brought before the convention. Any messenger wishing to clarify the appropriateness of a motion, the appropriate time for the presentation of a motion, or the wording of a motion is encouraged to speak to a parliamentarian or a convention officer.
 

Resolutions

A resolution has traditionally been defined as an expression of opinions or concerns, as compared to a motion, which calls for action. A resolution is not used to direct any entity of the BSC to specific action. The BSC Bylaws provide that all resolutions are to be submitted to the Committee on Resolutions in writing no later than September 10 prior to the annual meeting in which the proposed resolution is to be considered.
 
If a resolution has not been previously submitted to the Committee on Resolutions, then the convention may consider a resolution only upon a vote by two-thirds of the messengers to suspend the rules. It is suggested that any messenger desiring to present a resolution from the floor contact a parliamentarian or a convention officer regarding the appropriate procedure.
 

Making a Motion

A motion calls for a specific action by the BSC. A motion normally begins with, “I move that.” Write the motion legibly. If the motion is spontaneous and you do not have time to write it before presenting it to the convention at a designated microphone, write the motion, as you stated it, before leaving the microphone area.
 
Avoid any language in your motion that could be construed as mandating an action by a BSC entity. These are typically ruled out of order for legal reasons. Instead, word such motions as requests to the entity.
Go to a floor microphone at a time when motions are being considered. Notify the microphone monitor of your desire to make a motion. When recognized by the presiding officer, state your name, the name and location of your church, and read your motion. Do not argue the merits of your motion. If your motion receives a second, you will be given the first opportunity to speak on behalf of your motion, after which discussion by others will follow, alternating between opponents and supporters so as to provide a balance of differing perspectives. When you finish speaking, please bring your written motion to the platform.
 

Point of Order

The purpose of a Point of Order is to call the attention of the chair to a violation of the convention’s rules. A Point of Order should be raised only when a member has good reason to believe that the chair has failed to notice and correct a breach of the rules that prevents the proper transaction of business.
 
Because a Point of Order interrupts pending business, it should not be raised merely to point out minor irregularities or as a guise for debating an issue or as a method of obstructing business or harassing the chair. Improper Points of Order will be ruled out of order.
 

Microphone System

To assist messengers wishing to bring items to the floor of the convention for consideration, as well as the debate of all appropriately presented business, a microphone system is employed during the convention’s business sessions.
 
When messengers approach the microphones they will be asked by the microphone monitor to declare their intent: introducing a motion, speaking for/against a motion already under consideration, or other parliamentary procedures. A computerized sequencing system is employed to register messengers and provide the presiding officer information regarding the nature of a comment.
 
Messengers will not be recognized by the chair unless they are properly registered at a microphone.
The presiding officer uses the information from the computerized system to guide him as he moderates the debate striving to alternate between messengers wishing to speak for and those wishing to speak against an issue brought before the convention for consideration. 
 
In the event that deliberation of a motion must be interrupted to address a fixed order of business, the computerized sequencing system will retain the order in which messengers have registered to speak to that motion in order that debate may resume once the fixed order of business has been completed.
 

Nominations

The Committee on Nominations will publish their full report in the Biblical Recorder in at least one issue with a publication date at least four (4) weeks prior to the annual meeting and on the convention’s website at least 35 days in advance of the annual meeting. The report will include the name, church, home town, association, occupation, and sex of each nominee as well as the name of the agency, institution or board to which they are being nominated to serve. The name of any person to be nominated from the floor of the convention and the name or the nominee intended to be displaced shall appear on the Convention’s website and may also be available on the Biblical Recorder’s website beginning at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting. In addition, biographical material relating to any person proposed to be nominated from the floor of the convention shall be given to the institution or agency involved and to the Committee on Nominations at least one (1) week prior to the meeting.  

11/7/2014 11:07:22 AM by BSC Communications | with 0 comments



Bordeaux to nominate Langley as Pastors’ Conf. VP

November 7 2014 by BR Staff

Brian Langley will be nominated as vice president of the N.C. Baptist Pastors’ Conference on Nov. 10 in Greensboro. C. J. Bordeaux Sr., pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) announced Nov. 7 that he will make the nomination.


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Brian Langley

Langley is serving his third year as pastor of First Baptist Church in Kure Beach. He pastored in Statesville and served as the pastor of students and families for two years at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Knightdale.

 

“I've known Brian for six years. He is a true conservative Bible preacher and stands unashamedly upon the Word of God,” Bordeaux said. “We are wanting to infuse young men in leadership roles in our convention. I can think if no better way than to allow a young pastor like Brian to become a future leader by nominating him.”

Langley has two bachelor of arts degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He also graduated from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., with a master of divinity degree. He served on the board of directors of the BSC from 2008-2011 and on the BSC nominating committee. He was the moderator of the Wilmington Baptist Association and presently serves on the association’s executive administrative team.

His wife, Alyssa, is a fifth grade teacher in the public schools.

Bordeaux said some younger generations of church leaders seem uninterested in cooperating with the state convention. “I’ve known Brian for six years, and I believe he sees the great value in working together in our historical cooperation.”

 

Related Stories:

Ellis to be nominated VP of N.C. Pastors’ Conf.
Faw to nominate McGill for N.C. Pastors' Conf. president

11/7/2014 9:46:10 AM by BR Staff | with 0 comments



Ellis to be nominated VP of N.C. Pastors’ Conf.

November 6 2014 by BR staff

Micheal Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Icard in Connelly Springs, will nominate Steve Ellis as vice president of the North Carolina Pastors’ Conference during the 2014 meeting in Greensboro, Nov. 9-10.

Ellis, a native of Williamsburg, Ky., was saved and baptized at Youngs Creek Baptist Church. He answered the call to vocational ministry and began preaching at White Oak Mission Baptist Church.

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Steve Ellis


Since June, he has been the pastor of First Baptist Church in Leland. He previously served churches in Shelby, N.C., Ringgold, Va. and Lexington, Ky.

Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky., a master of divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and a doctor of ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston, Mass.

“Steve is a careful and powerful expositor of God’s Word,” Pardue said. “God has blessed him to be able to share the truth of God’s Word in a way that is engaging and instructional. Steve’s messages have always made me laugh, cry, think and most importantly consider the challenge that God has laid before His people.

“His preaching and ministry shaped my ministry from the beginning. I believe he is a great asset to our state and I hope that my fellow pastors will select him to help lead our Pastor’s Conference.”

In addition, Cameron McGill will be nominated for president of the 2016 Pastors’ Conference by R. Scott Faw, pastor of Moon’s Chapel Baptist Church in Siler City.

McGill has been pastor of Dublin First Baptist Church for 14 years. He currently serves as the second vice president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He has also served on the board of directors, executive committee and the nominating committee.
 

Related Stories:

Bordeaux to nominate Langley as Pastors' Conf. VP
Faw to nominate McGill for N.C. Pastors' Conf. president

11/6/2014 2:39:21 PM by BR staff | with 0 comments



Marijuana legalized in Alaska, Ore. & D.C.

November 6 2014 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Results of marijuana votes Nov. 4 were mixed, with Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia approving recreational pot use but Florida rejecting a state constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana.
 
Two Maine cities made opposite decisions in their votes on recreational marijuana. South Portland approved recreational use by a 52-48 margin while Lewiston rejected it 55-45.
 
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and is classified by the government as a schedule 1 substance, which denotes “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration website.
 
Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in written commentary that the various marijuana votes illustrate advocates’ game plan for making recreational pot legal on a “widespread” basis.
 
“Marijuana supporters continue to succeed with their plan to legalize this dangerous drug across the country. Their strategy is now quite obvious. They begin by playing on the public’s compassion with medical marijuana, and then follow up with their true agenda: the widespread legalization of recreational marijuana,” Duke said.
 
“A quick look at the 2014 vote results reveals this strategy very clearly. Oregon and Alaska, which both legalized recreational marijuana on Tuesday, have had legal medical marijuana since 1998. The medical marijuana efforts passed in those states because voters were told it would help relieve peoples’ suffering. Fast forward to 2014, and they now have legal recreational marijuana,” he said.
 
Duke added, “While many states are falling for the lie of marijuana’s harmlessness, the church does not have to be taken in.”
 
Oregon and Alaska join Washington and Colorado as the four U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana. Twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana.
 

Oregon

By a 54-46 majority Oregon voters approved Measure 91, which allows adults 21 and over to possess up to eight ounces of dried marijuana and four plants.
 
Oregon’s marijuana policy will establish a commercial regulatory system for production, distribution and sale of pot, CNN reported.
 
Mandy Puckett, director of the No on 91 campaign, told Baptist Press (BP) that the close margin in Oregon’s election was an “amazing accomplishment” since marijuana opponents “were outspent by millions from out of state billionaires who had an interest in marijuana legalization and drug legalization.”
 
Oregonians “are really torn on this issue and ... education about marijuana is significantly lacking,” Puckett said.
 

Alaska

Alaska voters approved by a 52-48 margin Ballot Measure 2, allowing people 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and six plants. The measure also legalizes the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
 
Measure 2 will become law 90 days after the election is certified, which is expected to occur in late November. The state can then create a marijuana control board, which will have nine months to draft regulations for marijuana businesses, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.
 
Erick Cordero, campaign manager of the group “Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2,” told BP his organization will keep a “close watch” on the regulation process to “make sure that our concerns are addressed, especially when it comes to youth getting access to marijuana.” He wants to prevent cookies, brownies and other edibles laced with marijuana from being presented in a way that is “appealing to children.”
 
Marijuana opponents were outspent 6 to 1 in Alaska, Cordero said, noting that Vote No on 2 was 100 percent funded by Alaskans while the pro-marijuana campaign was 98 percent funded by out-of-state money.
 
“I’m very proud of our volunteers,” Cordero said. “We were only two staff members and hundreds of volunteers throughout the state. They worked very, very hard.”
 

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.’s Initiative 71 – which passed by a 65-28 margin – allows residents and visitors 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to three marijuana plants at home, the Washington Post reported.
 
Because the District of Columbia is controlled by the federal government, the measure will become law unless Congress vetoes it and President Obama agrees, the Post reported. At least one member of Congress has said he will work to block marijuana legalization in D.C.
 
Washington’s marijuana vote “will result in higher drug use among teens,” Andy Harris, R-Md., said in a written statement to the Post. “I will consider using all resources available to a member of Congress to stop this action, so that drug use among teens does not increase.”
 

Florida

Florida’s Amendment 2, which would have legalized medical marijuana, received 58 percent support but fell short of the 60 percent threshold needed to approve a state constitutional amendment.
 
“We are very happy that our quality of life here in Florida is going to be preserved,” Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation in St. Petersburg told the Tampa Bay Times. “We are not going to be seeing pot shops everywhere. We are not going to see opportunities for marijuana to be promoted for our children. We are happy the voters in our state took time to actually read the amendment and vote smart.”
 
Duke congratulated Florida on rejecting medical marijuana, which he dubbed “the Trojan Horse of the marijuana legalization movement.”
 
“No state has legalized recreational marijuana without first legalizing medical marijuana,” Duke said. “The lesson for all the states is clear: if you legalize medical marijuana, it’s just a short matter of time before you will be contending with the likelihood of legal recreational marijuana. Florida’s voters saved themselves from this fate on Tuesday when they rejected an effort to legalize medical marijuana. Given the clear connection between legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, it’s safe to say that Florida has bought itself more time before it must deal with the question of legalized recreational marijuana.”
 

Maine

South Portland became the second Maine city to legalize recreational marijuana, following Portland’s vote last year.
 
In addition to being illegal under federal law, recreational marijuana remains illegal under Maine state law. South Portland police chief Edward Googins told the Portland Press Herald that his officers will continue to enforce state law.
 
“Obviously, I am disappointed,” Googins said of the vote, “but I understand there has been over the past decade or two some very different beliefs in the use of marijuana. We’ll see how this plays out.”
 
The York, Maine, Board of Selectmen opted to keep marijuana off Tuesday’s ballot, and a judge backed that decision.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE - David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

Related Stories:

Marijuana: Can U.S. ‘Just say no’?
Church must respond to marijuana’s destructive march

11/6/2014 12:02:24 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



GOP gain Senate; Southern Baptists win

November 6 2014 by Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Voters gave the Republican Party a majority in the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s mid-term election, leaving President Obama without a Democratic-controlled chamber in Congress for the first time since he took residence in the White House nearly six years ago.
 
Southern Baptist candidates, meanwhile, won first-time seats in Congress as part of the Republican blitz, but social conservatives did not fare well on some state initiatives.
 
The GOP gained at least seven senatorial seats Nov. 4, with winners in at least two races yet to be determined. Republicans will have at least 52 seats in the 100-member Senate beginning in January.
 
In the House of Representatives, Republicans expanded their majority. It appears the GOP will gain at least nine seats to push its total to 243 or more in the 435-member chamber.
 
Social conservatives said the results showed that Democrats’ “war-on-women” rhetoric against Republican pro-life candidates – seemingly successful in the past – had worn out its welcome with voters.
 
Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the election illustrates that “the pro-life issue persists and can win,” which he deemed the “most important aspect” of Election Day 2014.
 
“Candidates who articulated explicitly their commitment to life won, and those who expected to use abortion as a ‘wedge issue’ to benefit the ‘pro-choice’ cause lost,” Moore said in a written statement for Baptist Press. “We should pray now that the newly elected Congress and the president will be able to work together for just policies that protect and promote human dignity, family stability and religious liberty.”
 
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said the “overwhelming victory for pro-life candidates signals the fact that the bottom has fallen out of the abortion-centered ‘war on women’ strategy.”
 
What the party divide between the White House and Congress means legislatively for the next two years remains to be seen. It appears unlikely the GOP, which is the more conservative of the two major parties, will be able to push conservative measures – especially on social issues – past the president’s veto pen.
 
Republicans in the Senate, however, could present a significant hurdle for Obama nominations to the Supreme Court and other federal judgeships. Obama already has placed two liberal justices – Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – on the high court with Senate confirmation during his presidency.
 
Members of Southern Baptist churches won races in both houses.
 
Rep. James Lankford, a Republican who has served four years in the House, easily gained the Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Tom Coburn in Oklahoma. Lankford had 68 percent of the vote with final results still being tabulated. He was the director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center for 13 years before his 2010 election to the House.
 
BP has learned of the following Southern Baptists, all Republicans, who won first-time election to the House:

  • Mark Walker won in North Carolina’s 6th District with 59 percent of the vote. He served for about 15 years in a variety of pastoral roles. Most recently, he was associate pastor of music and worship at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro.

  • Jody Hice took Georgia’s 10th District seat with 67 percent of the vote. He served churches in Georgia for nearly 25 years, most recently as pastor of The Summit Church in Loganville.

  • Steve Russell replaced Lankford in Oklahoma’s 5th District by winning 60 percent of the vote. Russell is a member of First Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

Several states made decisions on two divisive social issues: abortion and marijuana.

  • Pro-life advocates gained an important win in one state but lost in two others. Tennessee voters approved an amendment affirming that nothing in the state constitution can be construed to support an unfettered right to abortion, thereby giving legislators more authority to regulate abortion. Voters in Colorado and North Dakota, however, defeated pro-life amendments.

  • Voters in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia approved pro-marijuana initiatives. Florida voters rejected an amendment to legalize medical marijuana, though 58 percent cast ballots for it. The measure required 60 percent for passage.

The party division between the White House and Congress led Lankford to say Senate Republicans must block policies Obama is advancing while promoting their own proposals. The GOP should “lay out things that the Senate should move and the president will have a very difficult time vetoing because the American people quite frankly already wish they had it now,” he said in a post-election webcast hosted by Family Research Council Nov. 5.
 
Religious liberty – which is increasingly being challenged in conjunction with same-sex marriage and mandatory abortion coverage with healthcare plans – is a priority for him, Lankford said.
 
“People that have faith should be free to be able to live their faith in the workplace, at home, wherever they are,” Lankford said on the FRC webcast. “So whether you are a chaplain in the military, whether you are a small business or a large business and choose to live and practice your business by biblical practices or whether you are just an individual trying to make decisions ... and do it by biblical practices, that is your free choice as an American, and we’ve got to find ways to be able to protect that.”
 
When Obama won his first presidential election in 2008, he helped bring Democrats – who already controlled the Senate – into dominant majorities in both chambers. The GOP, however, regained control of the House in 2010, and the Democratic majority in the Senate shrunk.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE - Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)

11/6/2014 11:57:42 AM by Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



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