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Articles by Erin Curry

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While trudging through the rubble of a broken community in Gulfport, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina, Bobby Welch caught a glimpse of two tiny legs with blue tennis shoes and a flowery skirt lying under some debris.

"I got down on my knee and began to scratch around in the mess there, and I dug out this tiny little baby doll," Welch, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Executive Committee members as he held up a small, dirty doll. "That thing has been through everything imaginable. I can't imagine all the junk that's in it. It's just matted.

"Here in one place it has somebody's receipt from a restaurant or gas station or something. Over here's a piece of cardboard and everything else, and the big white piece here — the largest piece &...

SBC Entities Respond to Katrina

The chief executives of Southern Baptists' national entities stood across the stage behind New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley to show their support when he reported to Executive Committee members September 19 on the condition of the institution he leads.

The Great Commission Council, which is composed of these same entity heads, unanimously supported a recommendation by Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman that the Executive Committee use beyond-the-budget Cooperative Program contributions for SBC national causes, received for the 2004-05 fiscal year ending September 30 and during the first quarter of the new fiscal year, to support disaster relief efforts.

The overage normally would be apportioned for each of their entities. The Executive Committee voted to ...

Following a successful launch of the Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Nashville this summer, SBC President Bobby Welch is urgently challenging each of the 1,188 Baptist associations across the nation to hold two "associational baptism rallies" between October 1 of this year and September 30, 2006.

His focus on local associations is the key to his strategy for accomplishing the goal of witnessing to, winning, and baptizing one million people within a year.

"My prayer is that we will have bold, urgent, creative leadership emerge out of every association to have two of these baptismal rallies in that one year and that these rallies will begin to spring up all over the different parts of the country," Welch told Baptist Press.

"And when people read about them and hear about them that they too will go and do likewise, and we'll have in the course of twelve months thes...

Recounting lessons from his fifty-state bus tour to promote evangelism and cooperation, Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch said people in the pews and pulpits are eager for a new challenge with eternal implications — one akin to "an elephant hunt" rather than "chasing squirrels and rabbits and birds."

During stops in each state last fall, Welch typically asked the same questions of the Southern Baptists he encountered. One question was, "Why don't you and others like you come to more convention meetings at the state level and the SBC?

"The answer was always this: 'There is no compelling reason to come to a Southern Baptist Convention,'" Welch told members of the SBC Executive Committee February 21 in Nashville, Tennessee.

A second question he would ask was, "Why do you look outside the SBC for ideas and programs and that sort of thing?" The answer was, "There are many more challen...

The spiritual war Christians are called to fight is not inside the walls of the church but outside where people yearn to hear the gospel, Bobby Welch said at First Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, on March 6.

Welch urged church members to realize they only gather together in order to depart with renewed vigor for the task at hand.

Continuing his speaking tour of churches leading up to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Nashville in June, the SBC president reiterated his message for God's people to leave the comfort zone of the church and spread the gospel on the streets where God is waiting to start a revival.

Welch, a former Green Beret and Vietnam War veteran, said Christians cannot afford to mistake the purpose of the church.

"In military jargon, this church is like a forward operational base," he said in Clarksville, which is home to the Army's 101st Airborne Division. "The forward operational base is ...

As the Kingdom calendar counts down to the day that Christ returns, Southern Baptists must lead in awakening the church to be on mission with God for the redemption of the nations, Ken Hemphill, national strategist for the Southern Baptist Convention's Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis, said.

"Why are we redeemed? So many Baptists, when I ask them the question, respond with one of two answers: To get out of hell or to go to heaven," Hemphill said in his address during the opening session of the Executive Committee's September 20-21 meeting. "And what we've got is an unfilled gap in the middle. Somehow they know they're out of hell and they've got a destiny for heaven, but 80 percent of our people are unengaged in the present time. About 80 percent of the people ...

The Potential Impact of Mel Gibson's New Movie

Southern Baptist leaders who attended a screening of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ praised the film's power to grip even the most uninterested, unbelieving viewer.

"I have been unable to erase from my mind the scene of the beating given Jesus by Roman guards," Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, said in a statement to Baptist Press after a December screening in the Nashville area. "It was gruesome. It jarred my sensibilities. The sight of Jesus' back after the cat of nine tails had torn bit by bit into His flesh was almost unbearable. It was so real I was almost certain the audience around me had given a collective gasp, sinking into their seats, shrinking from the horror of such excruciating pain."

The screening at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, was hosted by Ricky Skaggs, and the audience consisted mostly of artists and executives...

In and Through the Next Generation

If Southern Baptists will continue to prevail in the days ahead, it will be because today's pastors, deacons, and church leaders are able to encourage and elevate an emerging generation and give them the freedom to spread the gospel in ways never imagined, Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham told members of the Executive Committee Sept. 22 in Nashville, Tenn.

Graham recounted the opportunity he had to attend the funeral service for Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, in July. While he was there, it occurred to him that the imprint of Southern Baptists was evident across the household of evangelical faith that had gathered for the service. Graham mentioned such Southern Baptist leaders as Robert E. Reccord, Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, and Jim Henry and said it reminded him o...

"We'll Be There"

As severe weather continued to move through the Midwest and South, Baptist relief workers were in place to help with clean-up efforts following one of the most destructive storm systems in recent years.

At least forty-two people have been confirmed dead after numerous tornadoes — more than eighty according to published reports — tore through Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee May 4, 5, and 6.

At first reports of the storms, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units began mobilizing and moving into the affected areas.

"There is a tremendous need for our skills," said Gary Morrow, in charge of disaster relief for the Missouri convention. "It will take a lot of manpower to help with the recovery, and we'll be there."

President Bush expressed condolences to the victims of the tornadoes.

"The federal government will be moving as quickly as we possibly can to provide help where help is needed and where ...

Remembering Those Slain in Yemen

Three Americans were killed and another wounded Monday, Dec. 30, when a Muslim extremist attacked a Baptist mission hospital in Jibla, Yemen. Hospital administrator William E. Koehn, business manager Kathleen A. Gariety, and nurse Martha C. Myers were killed and pharmacist Donald W. Caswell was injured in the early morning attack.

Helping People And Serving God

William Koehn spent nearly three decades serving the people of Yemen.

"He gave his life doing what he loved to do, helping people and serving God," his son-in-law, Randal Pearce of Mansfield, Texas, said in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Dec. 31.

Koehn was born in Kansas and managed grocery stores in the state before attending Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. After seminary, he traveled to Yemen to serve at the hospital in Jibla.

"He was what a Midwestern man is supposed to be: hardworking, direct, stra...