Below are the top five stories from 2018 that were covered by the Biblical Recorder. Find more about these topics at BRnow.org.
Renowned evangelist, Billy Graham, dies
World renowned evangelist Billy Graham died Feb. 21 while sleeping peacefully at his home in Montreat, N.C. He was 99 years old. The revered Southern Baptist and North Carolinian preacher, who earned the nickname “America’s Pastor,” was buried beside his wife, Ruth, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. Graham was best known for his decades-long ministry of spreading the word of Jesus Christ to untold crowds around the world through itinerant preaching and evangelistic crusades.
J.D. Greear elected SBC president
North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in 2018. The months leading up to the annual meeting in June were marked by contention and debate. The election was portrayed by many as a pivotal moment in Southern Baptist life, described by some as a generational, theological or cultural referendum. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, received more than two-thirds of the ballots. Ken Hemphill, member of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville and former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was the only other candidate for SBC president.
Disaster relief teams play crucial role after major hurricanes
North Carolina’s Baptists on Mission, also known as N.C. Baptist Men, remained busy in 2018 with ongoing disaster relief and recovery efforts following major hurricanes that struck the region. President Donald Trump visited a disaster relief site at Temple Baptist Church in New Bern, N.C., on Sept. 19 in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which brought catastrophic wind damage to the coastal region and widespread flooding farther inland. Many congregations made efforts to repair damages to their church facilities while also organizing local relief efforts for surrounding communities.
#MeToo movement prompts reflection across SBC
A grassroots movement spread across the nation in 2018, united under the social media hashtag #MeToo, that drew attention to the problems of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The widespread exposure of sexual misconduct led to the resignations of some Southern Baptist leaders, in addition to criminal charges against a former missionary and South Carolina state convention employee. As a result, the International Mission Board launched investigations into its handling of past allegations of sexual assault and current policies for dealing with related matters. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) partnered with LifeWay Christian Resources to commission a full-scale study on the extent of sexual misconduct in churches. SBC President J.D. Greear created an advisory group in conjunction with the ERLC to study how Southern Baptists are currently handling sexual abuse issues, develop recommendations for best practices and offer potential resources for SBC churches and entities. The #MeToo movement also prompted debate about the development of a database or other tools to help churches and ministries protect their flocks from sexual predators.
Andrew Brunson freed from Turkish prison
Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina native and international church planter in Turkey, was released in October after two years in prison. He had been jailed by Turkish authorities on disputed charges of espionage and terrorism. Christian religious freedom advocates widely agreed that Brunson was wrongly imprisoned and persecuted for his faith. Brunson was the pastor of a Presbyterian church in Izmir, Turkey, for six years prior to his arrest.