Columbia International University’s Robertson McQuilkin dies

June 6 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Robertson McQuilkin, an author and missions leader who was noted for resigning the presidency of Columbia International University (CIU) in 1990 to care for his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife, died June 2. He was 88.

McQuilkin was president of CIU, an independent Christian college in Columbia, S.C., for 22 years, helping to double enrollment and founding two radio stations before he announced unexpectedly that he was stepping down to care for his first wife Muriel, who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, according to a CIU news release. She died in 2003.
During his presidency, the school was known as Columbia Bible College and then Columbia Bible College and Seminary, taking the name CIU in 1994.
McQuilkin also was remembered as a zealous proponent of worldwide evangelism and the patriarch of a family that helped pioneer the concepts of researching and reaching unreached people groups.
His sacrificial commitment to Muriel, however, was among McQuilkin’s greatest legacies. Perhaps the most well-known of his 19 books was “A Promise Kept,” the story of how he cared for her through Alzheimer’s.
In announcing his resignation from CIU, McQuilkin told faculty and students according to an audio recording posted online by Christianity Today, “I promised ‘in sickness and in health, til death do us part,’ and I’m a man of my word.”
He added that relinquishing the university’s presidency to care for Muriel was “the only fair thing.”
“She sacrificed for me for 40 years to make my life possible,” McQuilkin said, choking up. “... It’s not that I have to. It’s that I get to care for her.
Upon learning of McQuilkin’s death, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore said in a series of tweets, “In a culture of buffoonish ‘masculinity,’ boasting in sexual exploitation of women, ridicule of the ‘weak,’ Robertson McQuilkin was a man.”
Moore continued, “Robertson McQuilkin wrote a lot, preached a lot. His legacy, though, wasn’t there but in the Alzheimer’s hospital with his wife. Eph 5:28.”
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin tweeted that McQuilkin “was a hero indeed. I always require a couple to read A Promise Kept when doing premarital counseling.”
Before assuming the presidency of CIU in 1968, McQuilkin served 12 years as a missionary in Japan. His father Robert C. McQuilkin was the school’s first president and also possessed a noted missionary zeal. The elder McQuilkin decided not to go to Africa as a missionary only after the ship scheduled to carry him and his wife across the Atlantic burned and sunk the day before its scheduled departure.
Chip McDaniel, an Old Testament professor at Southeastern who formerly taught at CIU and knew McQuilkin, told Baptist Press, “In multi-denominational, broadly evangelical missions circles on the east coast, people would look to the McQuilkin family as kind of the gold standard of the missionary thrust.”
Robertson McQuilkin pressed all believers to “obey the command of Christ and follow that toward worldwide impact unless God draws you back,” McDaniel said.
Former International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin, who has taught at CIU and served on the university’s board of trustees, called McQuilkin a “spiritual mentor” in a tweet. Rankin added, “Celebration in heaven to welcome Robertson McQuilkin into God’s glory.” Rankin could not be reached for comment prior to BP’s publication deadline.
McQuilkin’s pastor, Wendell Estep of First Baptist Church in Columbia, told BP McQuilkin “was very committed to missions,” including the IMB.
Estep also called McQuilkin a friend of pastors.
“There were very few people who were more encouraging to the pastor,” Estep said. “He had a winsome smile and a wonderful wit – a little mischievous. I enjoyed him a great deal. He was always positive. He was always encouraging, and he was a delight to have as a member of the church.”
McDaniel, of Southeastern Seminary, said McQuilkin “really was as good as people are going to tell you that he was. ... It was an honor to know him.”
McQuilkin is survived by his second wife Deborah Jones, five children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His son Robert died in 1988. Funeral services are scheduled for June 4 on the CIU campus.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.)

6/6/2016 12:00:03 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Abedini church worker near death in Iran prison

June 6 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

A female Christian convert who worked with Saeed Abedini planting house churches years ago in Iran is on a hunger strike and near death in the harsh Evin prison in Tehran, Iran, the freed pastor told Baptist Press.
Nasim Naghash Zargaran, also known as Maryam, was one of the first persons who converted to Christianity under Abedini’s counsel [16 years ago], he told BP, and shortly after Abedini’s 2012 imprisonment was arrested because of her vigilant evangelism. Denied proper medical treatment for the heart condition atrial septal defect, diabetes, severe pain and other complications, the 36-year-old Zargaran entered a hunger strike May 26 or 27 after already having lost 55 pounds.

Facebook photo
Nasim Naghash Zargaran

“She’s just one step from death,” Abedini told BP June 3. “She was [nearly] the first person … who actually became a Christian with me. She became one of my main church leaders in Iran. … She was part of my ministry … and her punishment is just because of assisting me.”
Yet the Iranian government’s softer tactics to stop Christianity there, including bribery, threats, financial persecution, interrogations and church infiltration, have done more to halt the spread of the gospel there than imprisonments, Abedini said. An American citizen from Boise, Idaho, Abedini was freed in January after serving three-and-a-half years of an eight-year prison sentence for planting house churches in his native Iran.
“You can’t see any organized churches in Iran today,” Abedini said. “There [are] some house churches there, but they’re not very organized. Persecution has been so strong last years but no one talked about it. They [government officials] have been successful.”
Abedini spoke with Zargaran’s sister Naeemeh by telephone June 1, he said, and learned of Zargaran’s deterioration.
Iranian prison officials took her briefly to the hospital in the midst of the hunger strike as she appeared to be comatose, after which Zargaran resumed drinking water but continued to refuse solids, Abedini said.
“[Naeemeh] told me when she went to hospital she had a chance to take some photos. She was like in a coma so she thought that her sister was dead first when she saw her,” Abedini told BP. “The doctors said she should stay in hospital but the police [took] her back to prison … two days ago.”
Zargaran is severely underweight and suffering many complications, Abedini said, including arthritis, severe headaches and earaches, and dizziness. She is serving a four-year prison sentence that officially began July 13, 2013, Morning Star News reported, when she was found guilty of “threatening national security” by planting house churches.
On May 29, fellow prisoners in Zargaran’s ward for women prisoners supported her by refusing to receive visitors, Morning Star reported.

Government persecution

The Iranian government has been successful in largely preventing the spread of the Gospel in the country, Abedini said.
A common government tactic has been the infiltration of churches with spies. The government recruits men and women who purport to embrace Christianity, gain the churches’ trust, and report to the government on the churches’ work, Abedini told BP. Often, Muslims claiming to be Christians will marry Christian leaders.
At other times, new Christian converts are bribed with money or promises of professional success to share valuable information with the government regarding churches, Abedini said. As a result of economic persecution, such as the loss of employment, and frequent interrogations by Iranian police, Christians typically flee the country for their safety and livelihood, Abedini said.
“They don’t kill people. They don’t arrest people. The last thing they do is arrest you,” Abedini said of government persecution of Christians, with arrests coming after all other attempts at control fail. “If they find they can control them, they never arrest them.”
Abedini returned to his home in Boise, Idaho, in February and has resumed his evangelism through Saeed Ministries.

Other Christians in Iran

As recently as May 13, Iranian police raided 10 house churches in Rasht northwest of Tehran, Morning Star said. Included in those raids was the home of pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, sentenced to death in 2010 for apostasy, but released in December 2013 after his charges were reduced.
Nadarkhani and his wife Fatemah Pasandideh were interrogated “for a considerable amount of time” and told to either leave the country or refrain from evangelism, the religious liberty advocacy group Middle East Concern told Morning Star.
“His wife was more or less threatened, not openly, but they implied that her family could suffer if they continued like this,” Middle East Concern regional manager Rob Duncan told Morning Star. “Once you remove the leadership, the sheep are basically without shepherds, and easier to control by the government authorities, and easier to threaten.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor.)

6/6/2016 11:54:26 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Students, colleagues mourn murdered Christian professor

June 6 2016 by Sarah Wedel, World News Service

When a student killed a UCLA professor on June 2 and then turned the gun on himself, he murdered a professing Christian beloved by students, Little League players, colleagues, and his wife and two young children.
William (Bill) Klug, 39, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, died inside an engineering building near the campus’ south side. Officials said Mainak Sarkar, 38, drove all the way from Minnesota to Los Angeles to shoot Klug. At the former student’s home, police found a “kill list,” which included Klug, another UCLA professor, and a woman in Minnesota investigators later found dead. Police believe Sarkar had mental health issues and thought Klug had released intellectual property that harmed him.
Colleagues described Klug as not only brilliant but also kind and gentle.
“I am absolutely devastated,” Alan Garfinkel, a professor of integrative biology and physiology who worked with Klug to develop a computer-generated virtual heart, told the Los Angeles Times. “You cannot ask for a nicer, gentler, sweeter, and more supportive guy than William Klug.”

UCLA photo
William (Bill) Klug

Immediately following the shooting, panic ensued on campus as social media postings suggested as many as four active shooters were on campus. The Times reported students hiding in buildings across campus, locking themselves in classrooms, and using furniture and other objects as barricades.
Melissa Gibbons, Klug’s former doctoral student, described him to the Times as an exceptional mentor. She recalled a time when Klug noticed another student struggling in his finite element modeling class and asked Gibbons to tutor the student: “He didn’t want to see her fail. To care that much in an undergraduate class says a lot about his character.”
Klug in 2004 told the Westmont College alumni magazine, “Knowing there is a God responsible for the world makes a big difference in my motivation to understand it better. … I developed a habit of relying on God for what I felt was beyond my ability to control or what I couldn’t do for myself.”
The professor loved surfing and frequently took his family to Los Angeles Dodgers games. He also enjoyed coaching his son’s Little League team in his El Segundo community.
“He’s a great guy, great father, great husband,” said Peter Gianusso, president of the El Segundo Little League. “Bill was one of the kindest, most light-hearted, quiet person that you’ve ever meet.”
Klug earned his undergraduate degree in engineering physics from Westmont College in 1997, his master’s degree in civil engineering from UCLA in 1999, and his PhD in mechanical engineering from Caltech in 2003.

6/6/2016 11:45:20 AM by Sarah Wedel, World News Service | with 0 comments

CP 6.13% ahead of budget projection

June 3 2016 by Baptist Press staff

Year-to-date contributions to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) national and international missions and ministries received by the SBC Executive Committee are 6.13 percent above the year-to-date budgeted projection, and are 2.65 percent above contributions received during the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Frank S. Page.
The total includes receipts from state conventions and fellowships, churches and individuals for distribution according to the 2015-16 SBC Cooperative Program (CP) Allocation Budget.
As of May 31, gifts received by the Executive Committee for distribution through the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget through the first eight months of the convention’s fiscal year totaled $131,956,900.93. This total is $7,623,567.60 above the $124,333,333.33 year-to-date budgeted amount to support SBC ministries globally and across North America and is $3,405,282.76 more than the $128,551,618.17 received through the end of May 2015.
Designated giving of $170,515,243.82 for the same year-to-date period is 9.02 percent, or $14,107,608.63, above gifts of $156,407,635.19 received at this point last year. This total includes only those gifts received and distributed by the Executive Committee and does not reflect designated gifts contributed directly to SBC entities. Designated contributions include the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief and other special gifts.
May’s CP allocation receipts for SBC work totaled $16,150,296.65. Designated gifts received last month, meanwhile, amounted to $26,683,423.02.
The convention-adopted budget is distributed 50.41 percent to international missions through the International Mission Board, 22.79 percent to North American missions through the North American Mission Board, 22.16 percent to theological education through the convention’s six seminaries, 2.99 percent to the SBC operating budget, and 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. GuideStone Financial Resources and LifeWay Christian Resources are self-sustaining and do not receive CP funding.
According to the budget adopted by the SBC at its June 2015 annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, if the convention exceeds its annual budget goal of $186.5 million dollars, IMB’s share will go to 51 percent of any overage in Cooperative Program allocation budget receipts. Other ministry entities of the Southern Baptist Convention will receive their adopted percentage amounts and the SBC operating budget’s portion will be reduced to 2.4 percent of any overage.
The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists’ unified channel of giving through which a local church is able to contribute to the various ministries of its state or regional Baptist convention and to the various missions and ministries of the SBC with a single contribution. State and regional Baptist conventions retain a portion of church contributions to the Cooperative Program to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to SBC national and international causes. The percentage of distribution from the states is at the discretion of the messengers of each state convention through the adoption of the state convention’s annual budget. The totals in this release reflect only the SBC portion of Cooperative Program receipts.
CP allocation budget receipts received by the Executive Committee are reported monthly to the executives of the entities of the convention, to the state offices, to the denominational papers and are posted online at
The end-of-month total represents money received by the Executive Committee by the close of the last business day of each month. Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, including the number of Sundays in a given month, the day of the month churches forward their CP contributions to their state conventions and the timing of when state conventions forward the national portion of their CP contributions to the Executive Committee.

6/3/2016 1:09:43 PM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments

Paul Smith announced as Pastors’ Conference VP nominee

June 3 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Paul Smith, pastor of the Phoenix-area First Baptist Church of Chandler, Ariz., will be nominated for vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference, according to an announcement from Louisiana pastor James Law.
Smith also serves as associate professor of Old Testament studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. His 25-year pastoral ministry has included churches in Arkansas, Louisiana and Illinois.
Law, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gonzalez, La., stated in a May 31 announcement to Baptist Press that under Smith’s leadership, First Baptist Chandler “is consistently in the top five in the state of Arizona in baptisms and Cooperative Program and missions giving. In his 13-year tenure, the church has grown from 100 meeting in a high school to almost 600 in their own building. They are about to construct more space debt free.”

According to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile database, in 2015 First Baptist gave 10 percent of its undesignated receipts through CP, Southern Baptists’ unified method of supporting missions and ministries in North America and across the globe. The congregation has averaged approximately 13 baptisms annually over the past five years with an average worship attendance of 545 over the same period, according to ACP.
Law noted, “Having known Paul Smith for nearly 30 years, I believe he would make a strong contribution to the leadership and planning of the SBC Pastors’ Conference 2017.”
The Pastors’ Conference, which features messages from key leaders and inspirational music and worship, will be June 12-13 at America’s Center in St. Louis preceding the SBC’s June 14-15 annual meeting there.
Phoenix will be the site of next year’s Pastors’ Conference and SBC annual meeting.
Smith earned doctor of philosophy and master of divinity degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.
He and his wife Jerri have four children and two grandchildren.

6/3/2016 1:00:34 PM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Disaster Relief work continues amid ‘Beast’ wildfire

June 3 2016 by Josie Rabbitt, Baptist Press

The reign of the “Beast,” a Canada wildfire that caused the immediate evacuation of 80,000 people in Fort McMurray, may almost be over.
Government officials are working alongside nongovernmental organization (NGO) council leaders, including Canadian National Baptist and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief as well as The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham organization leaders and volunteers to speed the safe return of Fort McMurray residents. For the wildfire refugees escaping to the nearby city of Edmonton, the news of future re-entry brings relief.
“The government leaders have accomplished amazing work,” said Mickey Caison. Caison serves as the executive director for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR). “The government is working with vendors to prepare stores, restaurants and people for public re-entry starting June 1. They’re protecting the community, now, and working diligently to make it safe for residents to go back to their homes, later.”
Fort McMurray’s prolific oil reserves, which were once the city’s major source of the income, had quickly become a breeding ground for the inferno that began in early May. While Canadian officials continue their assessment of infrastructure damage to Fort McMurray this week, SBDR leaders will remain in Edmonton on standby to offer help to the Canadian NGO Council, which coordinates nonprofit activity in disasters.
“Right now, the major challenges are finding where all the evacuees can bathe, eat and sleep,” Caison said. “We are working to establish sites in the community that meet all these needs. We’ve reached out to the Home Depot Pro Desk in Edmonton, as well as Sysco Foods. We are also researching purchasing a tent to house volunteers since we are expecting around 30 more here by midweek.”
According to Caison, utilities in the community – the cluster in Edmonton where evacuees are temporarily residing – are up and running, and a “boil water order” is in place.
“Green arm bands allow access to the community, where you can stay 24-7,” Caison said. “The Regional Emergency Operational Center (REOC) is providing three meals a day and late night snacks for emergency personnel and volunteers.”
Government officials and all NGO volunteers’ dedication to the safety and support of Fort McMurray residents are not the only factors contributing to a swift re-entry. The weather also appears to be helping with a quicker recovery.
“A good rain occurred, which helped the air quality and settled the dust,” Caison reported. “As with most fires, there is a fear of mudslides developing on the hills over the next few months. But it is cool and not expected to be hotter than low 70s for the next few days.”
Pastor Clay Hilton, of Connections Church and Native Christian Fellowship in Fort McMurray, was able to return home to retrieve the van his family left behind the day of the evacuation. However, they – like the rest of the Fort McMurray evacuees – will likely remain in Edmonton for a few more weeks as the clean-up continues.
Those wishing to donate to SBDR relief can contact the Baptist convention in their state or visit For phone donations, call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, Ga., 30368-6543. Designate checks for “Disaster Relief.”
The North American Mission Board coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters through partnerships with 42 state Baptist conventions, most of which have their own state disaster relief ministries.
Southern Baptists have 65,000 trained volunteers – including chaplains – and 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the three largest mobilizers of trained disaster relief volunteers in the United States, along with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Josie Rabbitt is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)

6/3/2016 12:05:37 PM by Josie Rabbitt, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Wells up for 15th term as registration secretary

June 3 2016 by Baptist Press staff

Jim Wells, a church consultant and retired Missouri Baptist Convention staff member, will be nominated for a 15th term as Southern Baptist Convention registration secretary, Missouri pastor Eddie Bumpers announced June 2.
“Jim has served as registration secretary for over a decade and has proven himself to be a man who is faithful, competent and joyful in welcoming messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Bumpers, pastor of Crossway Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., said in an email to Baptist Press announcing his intention to nominate Wells during the June 14-15 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis.


Wells is “a man who loves the Lord Jesus and walks with Him,” Bumpers said. “Jim has spent his life serving Southern Baptists. He has a love for the Word of God, church of God and man of God. As members of the church I serve as pastor, I have observed firsthand that Jim and his wife Judy have servant hearts.
“He has a strong commitment to prayer, evangelism and missions and a burden to see the nations come to know Christ. Jim models that in his life. I think he’s a great example to all of us who seek to do the work of the Kingdom,” Bumpers said.
Wells, who was first elected registration secretary in 2002, served from 2012-15 as strategic partners team leader at the Missouri Baptist Convention before retiring in December. Prior to that, he served nearly 12 years as director of missions for the Tri County Baptist Association in southwest Missouri. His current Praying 10 Ministry helps local churches develop prayer ministries.
He has served as a member of the SBC Executive Committee, president of the Missouri directors of missions fellowship and as a leader in various Baptist associations.
Wells has been in ministry since his days as a student at Hannibal-LaGrange College (now Hannibal-LaGrange University) in the late 1960s when he concurrently pastored two country churches.
He was Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 2004 national alumnus of the year, and HLGU awarded him an honorary doctorate of sacred theology degree in 1999.
He and his wife Judy have a grown daughter and a granddaughter.

6/3/2016 11:56:09 AM by Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments

Struggling church keeps missions, CP focus

June 3 2016 by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

In a small country town where everybody knows everybody, word spread quickly that the Baptist church was without a pastor. But three years later, the news in Fort Ashby, W. Va., wasn’t news anymore.
Even during its lengthy search for a pastor and with few people in the pews, First Baptist Church of Fort Ashby continued to send 12 percent of its undesignated offerings each month to missions through the Cooperative Program – the Southern Baptist Convention’s unified channel of support for missions and ministry – to fulfill the Great Commission. An additional 3 percent goes to the Potomac Highland Baptist Association.
Lisa Wagoner, a member of the church for 30 years, described the church’s giving as vital.
“We would never decrease our giving unless the church was so far gone that no one was left,” Wagoner told Baptist Press. “We do live by the fact that the Lord blesses us for giving. … God will continue to bless us as long as we’re giving, and giving in the right areas.”

Submitted photo

The church that in 1994 counted 71 people in Sunday morning worship dipped to 15 members before unanimously calling David Duckworth as pastor in August 2015. Bivocational, he owns Duckworth Insurance Services in nearby Winchester, Va.
“I grew up in the area,” Duckworth said. “I’m home.”
The 15 who called Duckworth included a “lovely young couple” who joined even without a pastor because they “felt the love and felt that was where they belonged,” Wagoner said.
That love had reignited after the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists sent two men to help the church while it was struggling to find a pastor. The men led the church to envision what God wanted from them, which led to the vision statement, “To glorify God by winning souls through the preaching and teaching of God’s word and loving others.”
A new pastor search committee was formed, and about the same time, the church restarted its midweek prayer service.
“We wanted to make sure everyone was praying and listening to what God wanted for our church,” Wagoner said. “We prayed, ‘If this is your will for this church to continue, show us what we need to do.’”
With 20 years of ministry experience, Duckworth applied to pastor the church in the town he had visited on a mission trip about 12 years earlier during a pastorate in Virginia. “That drew me back to the area,” he said from his current home in Winchester, Va., an hour east of Fort Ashby. “I got the people back in my heart again.”
He was shocked to hear of the church’s need for a pastor, said Duckworth, who had often looked at the state convention’s website but hadn’t known of the need.
“I had felt called to the area for many years,” he said. “I knew the church and knew what God could do at Fort Ashby. They got a new vision and that’s when everything started to turn around,” Duckworth said. “We’re running close to 40 in worship now, and we have eight new members, brand-new people who have never been in church before, and a lot of returning members.
“We’re waiting for the floodgates to open,” he said. “There’s a new energy level. It’s definitely a God-thing. … The Cooperative Program is a part of what’s going on. They recognize the benefit of it. We’re greater together.”
Members are involved in a variety of community ministries in Fort Ashby, from the fire department to the food bank, but the church is most known for prayer, Duckworth said.
“It’s amazing how the community calls us for prayer,” the pastor said. “They know we’re a praying church. We’re always looking out for other people.”
Among community outreaches are plans to build a handicap ramp for a community member this month, Duckwork said. Future plans include mission trips out of the area too.
“Us being small has a lot of advantages,” Wagoner said of the town of about 3,000 people. “We get to know each other better. We know the needs of the congregation and the community.”
The biggest issue in Fort Ashby is heroin use, Duckworth said. Baltimore, known as the heroin capital of the nation, is just 150 miles east of the community, and a typical hit of heroin costs less than a pack of cigarettes.
“There’s an epidemic of heroin use in the area,” Duckworth said. “We’ve had more than enough of that in the 10 months I’ve been here. … It’s heartbreaking. Kids, young kids, have easy access to drugs as do teenagers and adults. Even those who don’t use are affected by it.
“What I realize is that anybody could fall into that trap,” he said. “There but for the grace of God go you and I. The only way to combat it is Christ. Galatians 5:6 ‘… what matters is faith working through love.’ I really think that’s the essence of who we ought to be.”
The church has a family life center – built 13 years ago and mostly unused – that Duckworth wants to utilize as a gathering place for children, teens and adults.
“I’m hoping we can use that resource but the only way it will work is if we do so expressing our faith through love. … We need to change our mind, the way we think, the way we feel,” Duckworth said. “Maybe it’s a matter of us allowing God to love us more. The activation of our love comes as we allow Him to love us more, and then we can love more too.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.)

6/3/2016 11:46:43 AM by Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Keith and Kristyn Getty song dedicated as SEBTS hymn

June 2 2016 by Harper McKay, SEBTS

In their latest album “Facing a Task Unfinished,” Christian music artists Keith and Kristyn Getty have dedicated their song, “For the Cause” to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and President Danny Akin. It will now serve as the official hymn for SEBTS and The College at Southeastern.
“We’re so excited to be involved with helping train the leaders of the next generation … and are particularly excited about Southeastern’s missional and global view,” said Keith. 
“Facing a Task Unfinished” is an album focused on congregational singing and missions that was inspired by the original 1931 hymn of the same name – a song that urgently calls Christians to be witnesses around the world.
The new SEBTS hymn, which includes the line “For the cause of Christ we go,” captures the heart of the SEBTS community and will be an inspirational song to encourage students to make Jesus known around the world.

Image captured from “For the Cause” music video

“Keith and Kristyn Getty are dear friends to Charlotte and me and the entire Southeastern family. They share our passion for the Great Commission and [for] the peoples and nations who have yet to hear the name of Jesus,” said SEBTS President Danny Akin. “We have been talking for several years about them writing a new school song for us that captures our heart for the nations.”
Keith said the song ties perfectly with the whole album’s focus on global missions. “In conversations with Danny and Charlotte … we discussed a hymn that would be about mission,” said Keith. “The song is a very natural connection to Southeastern … It’s about fulfilling the Great Commission, and that’s what Southeastern is all about.”
He envisions the hymn being part of graduation ceremonies and commissioning services where SEBTS students are sent off into ministry with the call of the Great Commission propelling them onward.
“We imagined a thousand young leaders standing and pledging their commitment to go out with the Great Commission,” Keith said.
The song is a great fit for SEBTS, according to Akin, who is thankful for a new school hymn centered on mission. “[The Gettys] have given Southeastern Seminary a great gift that I pray our school will honor in spirit and action until King Jesus returns,” he said.
“Facing a Task Unfinished” is set to release on June 17, 2016, and SEBTS will give away special edition singles of  “For the Cause” during the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, at both the SEBTS exhibit and alumni luncheon.
SEBTS will host the Gettys in concert on October 21, 2016, at 7 p.m. as part of the “Facing a Task Unfinished” tour. Visit to order tickets.
To read lyrics, hear more from Keith Getty and watch the SEBTS music video, visit
“Facing a Task Unfinished” is available for pre-order at
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Harper McKay is the News and Information Specialist at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.)

For the Cause (SEBTS mix) from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

6/2/2016 1:46:45 PM by Harper McKay, SEBTS | with 0 comments

‘The SBC & the 21st Century’ book released

June 2 2016 by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced the release of a book featuring key Southern Baptist leaders addressing the Southern Baptist Convention, its heritage, identity and future.
Three North Carolina Baptists contributed to the volume: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) President Danny Akin, SEBTS special advisor to the president for kingdom diversity and instructor of theology Walter R. Strickland II and Tony Merida, pastor for preaching and vision of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C.
The 269-page work, “The SBC & the 21st Century,” was edited by Midwestern Seminary’s President Jason Allen. The idea for the project resulted from the seminary’s 2015 symposium, “The SBC & the 21st Century: Reflection, Renewal & Recommitment.” LifeWay Christian Resources’ imprint B&H Academic released the book on June 1.
“I cannot be more pleased with the way ‘The SBC & the 21st Century’ has turned out,” Allen said. “It has been a privilege to partner with the B&H Academic team and so many of our denomination’s brightest minds to publish a book that, I pray, will be used for God’s glory and to further the work of Southern Baptists to the ends of the earth.
“Each of our contributors provided insightful assessments of the SBC’s past and present and hopeful exhortations for our future,” Allen noted. “As each chapter developed, I was encouraged by the thoughtfulness of each author’s work and became increasingly confident that this book would substantially impact the work of the SBC for years to come.”


Contributors to the book include SBC leaders such as Frank S. Page, Ronnie Floyd, Paige Patterson, Thom Rainer, R. Albert Mohler Jr., Daniel Akin, David Platt, Kevin Ezell, David Dockery and several others. Additionally, Midwestern Seminary authors were Allen, Jason G. Duesing, John Mark Yeats, Christian T. George and Owen D. Strachan.
The primary audience for the book includes pastors, denominational servants, laypersons, and anyone else who cares about the collective work of Southern Baptists, Allen said.
“For all those who care about the SBC and its future, this is the book to read this year,” he said. “We designed the book for key SBC stakeholders to speak to urgent denominational matters in a way that serves the entire SBC. I believe that God is going to use this work in a profound way to impact our Southern Baptist Convention.”
Issues addressed within the volume include: Will the SBC grow more unified around shared convictions and mission or will it fragment over secondary concerns and tertiary doctrinal differences? Will the SBC be able to maintain a distinct Baptist identity while engaging and partnering with the broader evangelical community? Will the SBC be willing to reimagine its structures, programs and efforts to effectively reach the world for Christ or will it risk being a past-tense denomination?
“Here is a collection of prescient essays on the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, written by a superb team of scholar-activists,” said Timothy George, founding dean and professor of divinity, history and doctrine at Beeson Divinity School.
“Beyond the analysis and perspective offered here, there courses through this volume a common theme: the urgency of declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ to all persons everywhere. This is the historic mission of the SBC and its future.”
Nathan Finn, dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University, said, “Southern Baptists are at a critical moment in our history” as they face declines in membership, giving, their missionary force and baptisms. 
“Yet there are signs of spiritual renewal among us,” he said, “evidenced in the ongoing theological renaissance and missional revitalization taking place in SBC congregations all over our nation. This is a time for hope, not despair.
“I’m grateful that ‘The SBC & the 21st Century’ brings together some of the wisest voices among us to help Southern Baptists think through how we can best pursue faithfulness for the glory of God, the health of our churches, and the sake of the lost world that God so loves.”
On Sept. 28-29, 2015, leaders from across the SBC gathered on Midwestern Seminary’s Kansas City, Mo., campus to present papers in what Allen said would be the first edition of a triennial symposium which is designed to address significant topics about the denomination’s past, present and future.
Of the event, Page, president of the SBC’s Executive Committee, said, “We desperately need this kind of event to have a clear understanding of where we have been, where we are, and where we need to go. My prayer is that it will result in our being more effective in accomplishing the Great Commission of our Lord.”
Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said, “This generation of Southern Baptists stands at Ground Zero of cultural transformation, missiological opportunity and theological emergency. This is the right time for Southern Baptists to ask hard questions, think seriously about the future, and talk about what faithfulness to Christ will demand of us. ‘The SBC and the 21st Century’ is the right conversation at the right time.”
Allen said, “Like every other evangelical denomination in America, the SBC is facing a future of significant challenge and great transition. I am hopeful this book will help us navigate through the season before us.”
To purchase the book through Amazon and B&H Academic, please go to
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Seth Brown, BR Content Editor, contributed to this story.)

6/2/2016 1:36:33 PM by T. Patrick Hudson, MBTS | with 0 comments

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