It was another year full of memorable events in the state of North Carolina, across the nation and spanning the globe. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) set in motion a new five-year strategy called “Impacting Lostness,” with a focus on disciple-making. The strategy is reshaping the staff structure of the BSC and sharpening the plan for reaching the state with the gospel.
Many tragic events, such as the Boston bombings, directly affected 200 plus lives and further impacted America’s consciousness concerning security and terrorism. Notables such as Howard Hendricks, Pat Summerall and George Beverly Shea passed away during the year. After tornadoes damaged livelihoods in the Midwest and after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, Baptists on Mission quickly responded to the physical and spiritual needs in these disaster areas. These stories are a few of the many in our Year in Review edition selected by the Biblical Recorder staff. Comprised of four categories – personalities, cultural issues, Southern Baptist Convention and Baptist State Convention of North Carolina – the items we chose are not exhaustive but rather vitally important for churches. These “need to know” stories affect churches and how they interact with their communities and government.
We believe it is our responsibility at the Biblical Recorder to inform churches in the most important matters so that Baptists may continue Jesus’ Kingdom work through the Acts 1:8 model.
Saeed Abedini – Iranian-American pastor, Saeed Abedini, has been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012. In January 2013, he was sentenced to eight years in prison because of his Christian activities. Since his arrest, Abedini has endured beatings causing internal bleeding, and has had medical care withheld. In November, he was transferred to an “even more dangerous” prison. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have pressed for his release, and the Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution Nov. 14. He remains imprisoned in Iran.
M.O. Owens – The 100-year-old Owens does not let age slow him down from doing ministry. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary installed a New Testament Studies Chair in his name in 2012. This past November, Owens was presented with a lifetime achievement award during a special recognition at the recent Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting in Greensboro. In 1925, Owens was present with his parents at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Memphis, Tenn. when the Cooperative Program was first adopted.
Frank Page – Since 2010, Page has served as the president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. After losing his daughter Melissa in 2009, Page wrote a book examining the biblical truths that carried him and his family through that difficult time. The book, Melissa: A Father’s Lessons from a Daughter’s Suicide, is an attempt to help churches address suicide biblically and effectively. Much of Page’s time is spent traveling to encourage pastors and leaders to work together to fulfill the Great Commission.
Robertson family – The Robertson family has been featured on A&E’s reality television series, “Duck Dynasty.” Known for their duck call business named, “Duck Commander,” the family has become a household name across the nation. The Robertsons are known as a strong Christian family that attempts to display their faith in each episode. A&E indefinitely suspended the patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson, in mid-December for comments he made about homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine. The suspension was lifted a week later.
Fred Luter – In 2001, Luter became the first African-American to preach the convention sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention. He also previously served as second vice-president and became the first African-American to serve as the first vice-president of the SBC in 2011. After his historic election to the presidency in 2012, he was reelected June 2013 and will continue as president until the 2014 SBC annual meeting.
Russell Moore – Moore formerly served as the dean of the School of Theology, senior vice president of academic administration and professor of Christian Theology and Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. On June 1, 2013, he became president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. In this role, Moore addresses issues of religious liberty, human dignity, family stability and civil society. He has been a strong advocate of immigration reform and religious liberty in the public square.
Steve Green – CEO of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green has challenged the Supreme Court’s ruling on whether for-profit businesses can be treated like religious entities. These actions came after the Obama administration’s mandate that employers include free contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans. Obamacare will cost Hobby Lobby up to $1.3 million a day in fines if the company does not comply. Green said, “Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.” The case is now before the Supreme Court.
Mark Harris – Pastor of First Baptist Charlotte, Harris held a private gathering Sept. 12 in Clemmons, to officially announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. He is in a race that now has at least three other Republicans who are vying for the seat held by Senator Kay Hagen. He completed his second term as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in 2013.
Rob Peters – Peters was elected as the senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, effective June 2013. Calvary is one of the state’s largest congregations. Previously he served as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Weston, Fla. This church grew from 300 to more than 1,100 in worship attendance during his ministry. This story was one of the most visited pages on the BRnow.org website in 2013.
Billy Graham – American evangelist and ordained Southern Baptist minister, Billy Graham launched an event called “My Hope America.” My Hope is a video-driven outreach designed to help Christians clearly present the gospel with life-changing testimonies and a powerful message from Graham. Believers were encouraged to use their homes as a base for inviting friends to hear the gospel message. The emphasis was coordinated with Graham’s 95th birthday celebration on November 7. There have been many testimonies to the effectiveness of this gospel-centered event with 100,000+ decisions registered. Officials say statistics are still being compiled.
Michael Blackwell – Baptist Children’s Home (BCH) president/CEO since July 1983, Blackwell celebrated 30 years with BCH in July. He has led BCH to become child-centered and family-focused, addressing needs with specific, goal-oriented programs of service. He has directed the successful completion of two major capital campaigns, and the creation of public-private partnerships to better serve youth and families. The Biblical Recorder honored Blackwell as one of the 30 most influential Baptists in North Carolina’s 20th century.
Matthew Warren – Matthew Warren, son of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA., committed suicide in April. Warren, 27, had a long struggle with mental illness, according to a release from Saddleback. Since the event, Rick and Kay Warren have been open with their son’s suicide, sharing about God’s presence in the midst of tragedy. (April 5, 2013)
Pat Summerall – Summerall was an American football player and television sportscaster, having worked at CBS, Fox and ESPN. He was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 1999. Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, Jack Graham, said, that with all the accolades and applause that Summerall received for his sports broadcasting work, his walk with Christ is what mattered the most to him. He was 83. (April 16, 2013)
Buryl Red – Red was the founding musical director and conductor of The CenturyMen, a men’s choir made up of Baptist church music directors from around the world. He is perhaps best remembered as composer of “Celebrate Life,” a musical created with lyricist Ragan Courtney, considered a landmark in church music released in 1972. He was 76. (April 1, 2013)
Howard Hendricks – Hendricks was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary for over fifty years and a popular speaker for Promise Keepers, a men’s ministry that holds conferences to disciple and evangelize men. He mentored many Christian leaders including Tony Evans, David Jeremiah, Joseph Stowell and Chuck Swindoll. He was 89. (Feb. 20, 2013)
Don Rutledge – Traveling throughout the United States and to more than 140 countries over more than 40 years, Rutledge, 82, told the global story of missions through his camera lens for several generations of Southern Baptists. He captured quiet moments of humanity and missions ministry in hundreds of classic photographs taken for the North American Mission Board and later for the International Mission Board. (Feb. 19, 2013)
Chuck Smith – Smith, 86, was the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, a fellowship of some 1,600 like-minded congregations in the United States and abroad. He was called “one of the most influential figures in modern American Christianity” by the Los Angeles Times. His openness to cultural styles helped him reach younger audiences and inspire a trend toward seeker-sensitive congregations. (Oct. 3, 2013)
George Beverly Shea – Canadian-born American gospel singer, recording artist and hymn composer, Shea, 104, toured with Billy Graham and his crusades since 1947. He regularly appeared on The Hour of Decision radio program. The Hour of Decision had become the largest audience of any religious radio program in history. (April 16, 2013)
Adoption – Adoption has been a topic of importance for Southern Baptists for years. Russell Moore, an adoption proponent, and other Southern Baptists have spoken about the social and economic priorities of adoption while ultimately rooting the subject in scripture.
Boston bombing – During the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs killed three people and injured approximately 200 others. The suspects – brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev – were later involved in a firefight with police.Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot by police and then run over by his brother, who was injured but escaped. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was later apprehended. Church planters in the area witnessed new faces appearing in their churches for prayer and worship in the days after the bombings. Even though an tragic event, it became an effective ministry platform for shining the light of Christ.
Exodus International shuts down – Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality announced in June that it will shut down after three-plus decades of ministry. Alan Chambers, former director of Exodus, has been organizing a new initiative called Speak.Love., aimed at hosting thoughtful and safe conversations on faith, gender and sexuality.
Fort Caswell incident – Clyde Wesley Way, a chaperone during a church youth trip in July, organized a game of strip poker at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell, which is owned and operated by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He was a volunteer student ministries team leader for the Stanly Baptist Association. Charges included 16 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, four counts of employing or permitting a minor to assist in an offense involving a lewd act and four counts of indecent liberties with a child. According to the Brunswick County Sherriff’s office, the case is still under investigation.
Boy Scouts and Trail Life – In May 2013 at their national annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, the Boy Scouts of America adopted a policy admitting homosexual youth as Scouts. In response the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution on the matter stating that families and churches should decide whether to sever ties with the Scouts and suggested the Royal Ambassadors program as an alternative. The resolution also called for a change of leadership at the national Scout level. Some churches have responded by cutting ties with the Scouts while connecting with Trail Life USA. Trail Life launched in September as a Christian adventure, character, and leadership program for young men in grades K-12. The program focuses on outdoor experiences that help young men grow on a personal and spiritual level and as role models and leaders.
Hollywood and the Bible – In recent years, the Bible has inspired many Hollywood directors and producers. Recent and future films include: “The Bible” (2013 miniseries), “Exodus” (2014), “Noah” (2014), “Son of God” (2014), and “Resurrection” (2015). These productions could become great instruments to lead non-believers to revisit and rethink scripture.
Christian Hip-Hop – Lecrae, Trip Lee, KB, Propaganda, Shai Linne and Tadashii. These are quickly becoming “household names” within the Christian world. Hip-hop has been such a hot topic among Christians that it led Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to write a blog. Mohler concluded, “The good, the beautiful, and the true are to be combined to the greatest extent possible in every Christian endeavor, rap included.” Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said “Rap is more like a form of preaching accompanied by music or percussion. … I see rap as potentially helpful in both theology and politics. My thinking was challenged on this some years ago… when I was joined by a Christian rock band called Sound Theology. I confess that the music did not exactly charm my already ancient ears. However … more were brought to Christ through their music than through my preaching.”
Kermit Gosnell found guilty – Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted in May of first-degree murder and could face execution in the deaths of three babies who authorities say were delivered alive and then killed at his Pennsylvania clinic. According to a 281-page jury report in 2011, the babies involved in the first-degree murder charges were only a few of hundreds at least six months into gestation who were killed outside the womb after induced delivery.
Social media – In September 2013, Henry Blackaby suffered a heart attack and became disoriented. Due to social media’s power, Blackaby’s information was passed along the Internet and it became instrumental in finding him. Social media has become a tool that presents the gospel and asks for prayer. YouVersion Bible App, for example, has reached 100 million downloads and its Bible App for Kids was downloaded one million times in its first week of launch. The Great Commission has various applications in the present and future age of social media.
Housing allowance unconstitutional – U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled on Nov. 22 that the housing exemption violates the First Amendment because it “provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.” The case, decided in the District Court for the Western District Of Wisconsin, will likely be appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in Chicago.
Southern Baptist Convention
Calvinism Committee – After nearly nine months, the Calvinism Committee released its report in May 2013. The 19-member advisory committee said that despite theological diversity, Baptists share the same Great Commission purpose. Four central issues were concluded: Southern Baptists (SB) must stand without apology upon truth; that SB must work together with trust; that SB must provide a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world; and that SB must be united even in times of tension. They said it is their responsibility to speak truthfully and respectfully so honest conversation can happen.
Cooperative Program – The Cooperative Program (CP) saw a lot of attention this year, both at the state level and in broader Southern Baptist life. Frank Page, the SBC’s chief executive officer gave considerable emphasis to the 1 Percent Challenge, calling for churches to raise their CP gifts by one percent with the goal of increased annual giving of $100 million dollars. As of early December, the CP reached 94.15 percent of the budget goal.
Glorieta Conference Center sold – The trustees of LifeWay Christian Resources approved the sale of Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico to a group called Glorieta 2.0. The non-profit organization has pledged to continue using the property as a Christian camp and conference center. But a lawsuit has been filed against LifeWay, claiming that LifeWay trustees lacked authority to sell the property without approval at two separate SBC annual meetings.
One Million Men campaign – The One Million Men Challenge was launched at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston. Inspired by Jay Dennis, pastor of Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., the goal of the movement is to give churches a workable plan that helps men find freedom from sexual sin. The initiative seeks commitments from 1 million men to live pornography-free. The challenge also offers churches resources and specific steps to freedom.
SEND North America Conference 2013 – More than 4,000 participants attended the North American Mission Board’s SEND Conference July 29-30 in Plano, Texas, rivaling the attendance at the SBC annual meeting. The strategy of SEND North America is to penetrate lostness in North America and to see 15,000 churches planted in the next 10 years. The popularity of the two-year-old conference has garnered much attention among SBC leadership.
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
Competing candidates at annual meeting – For the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the 2013 annual meeting was the first time since 2005 that two candidates were nominated for the offices of president and second vice-president of the convention. Bobby Blanton, senior pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville, and C.J. Bordeaux, senior pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham were nominated for the office of president. Bordeaux won the office. Marc Sanders, senior pastor of Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Bear Creek and Cameron McGill, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dublin were nominated as second vice president. McGill won the seat.
Convention staff restructures – The Executive Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina approved a new structure for the Convention staff to more effectively implement a five-year strategy focused on impacting lostness through disciple-making. This is the result of a two-year study that was born out of a series of forums conducted in 2011 by the Vision Committee. The previous restructure was in 2009.
Disaster relief, nationally and internationally – Through the work of N.C. Baptist Men there were many opportunities to respond to natural disasters in 2013 including the May tornadoes in Oklahoma, Colorado flooding, North Carolina flooding, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Also, work continues from the damage of hurricanes Sandy and Irene in 2012. The North American Mission Board dispatched a group of chaplains to grieving families after fires in Arizona killed 19 firefighters.
Front Street bus accident – On Oct. 2, senior members of Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville were traveling home from a conference when a bus tire blew out while traveling on Interstate 40 in Jefferson County, Tenn. Eight people died and 14 others were injured in the wreck. Many people involved were able to unite in worship throughout the aftershock and point to the gospel despite their grief.
Hollifield Center sale – The Hollifield Leadership Center has operated in the red, draining mission dollars from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s budget. In July the Executive Committee accepted an offer on the Lake Hickory property for $2.5 million. The center was purchased in 2000 for $3 million to use for retreats and training by churches, para-church ministries and other non-profit organizations. In 2014 the center will become North Carolina Boy’s Academy – a home for troubled teenage boys. The center will continue to be available for use by church groups.
Impacting Lostness – The new five-year strategy will focus on impacting lostness through disciple-making. The strategy calls for a commitment to both strengthening churches and planting churches through facilitation of a disciple-making culture that utilizes a relationship-driven model of consultation. The state’s eight most populous cities will be the launching point for much of the strategy since these areas have the greatest concentration of lostness.
Most read stories on BR website in 2013
We measured the page views on BRnow.org and learned that these were the most frequently read stories in 2013.
Church planting, strengthening churches forefront of restructuring plan by Shawn Hendricks, BR, posted April 12
Duck Dynasty’s commander talks faith by Dianna Chandler, BP, posted March 15
Kendrick brothers take breather from movies by Joe Westbury, BP, posted January 22
November annual meeting candidates announced by Dianna Cagle, BR, posted May 21
Calvary Baptist calls Rob Peters, by BR staff, posted April 29
Duck Dynasty’s Si Robertson talks faith by Aaron Earls, BP, posted August 12
Skateboarder finds harmony with faith, sport, music by Roman Gabriel, BR, posted April 11
Calvinism & Southern Baptists: a look at a heavily debated issue by Danny Akin, SEBTS, posted August 12
Hispanic diversity needn’t hinder gospel opportunities by Keith Collier, BP, posted July 24
FCC may drop ban on TV nudity, expletives by Michael Foust, BP, posted April 15