SBC LIFE

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November 1997 Issue

Daisy Rutherford had made the rounds of numerous churches and social service agencies in Gallatin, Tenn. She needed money to drive her two nephews and one niece to Indiana to see their terminally ill mother one last time before she died.

Driving past Long Hollow Baptist Church, "it was like the will of the Lord drove me into the church," Rutherford recalled. Fearing another disappointment, she sat in the parking lot about ten minutes before mustering the courage to walk inside.

"When I went in the door (of the church), I felt like I was home," she said. She was met by deacon Allen Lindsay who provided money for the trip and two Bibles — one for her and one for her sister.

Rutherford made it to Indiana in time for the children to say good-bye to their mother. They returned home on a Saturday night, and Sunday morning they attended services at Long Hollow Church where Gene Mims, vice president of the Baptist Sunday School Board's churc...

Dazed by the explosion, fifteen-year-old Mark Anthony took a step backward. He slipped in someone's blood on the sidewalk.

Whether by courage, inspiration from God, or simply a response to hurting people, the son of Southern Baptist representatives John and Connie Anthony had deliberately entered the crowded Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem just seconds after two bombs exploded there Sept. 4.

He saw the third bomb go off shortly afterward. He saw a street full of bodies and body parts.

Avoiding terrorism has become a way of life for the Anthonys, as it has for other residents of Jerusalem. So it is something of a mystery to Connie Anthony that her son walked into the chaos, while others with him turned instinctively and ran the other direction.

"We have always taught them if there's ever a bombing or whatever to go the other way," she said.

Mark explained his actions from a higher plane of thought.

"When...

Twenty-three Reasons (and Counting) to Beware of the 'Magic Kingdom'

The Southern Baptist Convention's resolution to "encourage Southern Baptists to refrain from patronizing any company that promotes immoral ideologies and practices" struck a noisy chord. Because the Disney Company was named in the resolution, numerous questioners have asked: "Why Disney?" Though Disney hasn't said much, when it has responded, it has been to accuse Southern Baptists of taking an "extreme" and "foolish" position, stating our concerns are "inappropriate."

Disney claims to produce more wholesome family entertainment than any other entertainment company. But the reality is that Disney also distributes other "entertainment" material to which millions of decent people object, materials contributing to the moral erosion scarring our national landscape. When Disney whispers, "Just trust us," it doesn't exempt itself from the criticisms of those concerned about this erosion. Half the American p...

Georgia Committee Announces Findings

A special Georgia Baptist committee commissioned to look at the doctrinal views of Mercer University President R. Kirby Godsey has concluded his views "deviate significantly from historic Baptist doctrine and are, in fact, considered heretical."

The "Price Committee," so called because it is chaired by Nelson Price, pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga., presented its report to the Georgia Baptist Convention's executive committee Sept. 9. The Price Committee was created in December 1996 in response to the continued concern of members of the executive committee about Godsey's book When We Talk About God ... Let's Be Honest, according to the Sept. 4 issue of The Christian Index, news-journal of the state convention.

The executive committee named seven pastors to the study committee which included Frank Cox, president of the state convention, Oscar Cope, chairman of the executive committee, and J. Robert White, st...

The Southern Baptist Convention ended the 1996-97 fiscal year with record Cooperative Program gifts, nearly $155 million, surpassing last year's record by about $7 million and the budget by almost $10 million, according to Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee.

For the SBC's fiscal year Oct.1 through Sept. 30, CP gifts totaled $154.9 million, compared to last year's record amount of $148,185,076, an increase of $6,789,124, or 4.6 percent.

"Southern Baptists continue to demonstrate their love for missions and our cooperative efforts in sending missionaries, planting churches, and educating ministers," Chapman said. "This fourth record year in a row is a testimony to the health of our convention and will allow our continued witness to people all over the world of the Good News of Jesus Christ."

For the SBC's Program Allocation Budget, the comparison is even more astounding. The budget figure of $145,739,489 has been surpassed by nearly $10 million, or an increase of 6.3 percent.

"As a result of exceeding the budget by nearly $10 million, ...

Homosexual activists have a new plan for reaching young children. It begins with "educating" their teachers.

It is the sound of youthful innocence — a chorus of cherubs, several hundred strong. Little boys and girls, reveling in words sung a million times over by a thousand gospel choirs.

They have gathered in a gymnasium to cheer, clap, and sing. Their words reverberate off walls adorned with banners commemorating this special event. Scattered throughout the audience, little index fingers sway back and forth as they sing.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine . . .

A Sunday school assembly? Perhaps a church camp?

Not even close.

The students at Cambridge Friends School, many as young as five or six, have taken a break from their daily studies to celebrate friendship, tolerance, and acceptance. The event's hand-painted decorations include a two-and-a-half-foot high inverted ...

Chrysi and Earl Doner are the perfect '90s couple. No, they didn't bring any children into marriage. Nor do they come from broken homes. When their pastor, Tom Elliff, said, "You may kiss the bride," it marked the first time their lips touched.

A match made in heaven? Perhaps. If so, their parents served as God's agents — these newlyweds pursued a serious relationship only with their approval and guidance. A practice as old as Isaac appears to be making a comeback: courtship.

"It's not based on a lot of values the American dating culture is based on," says Earl, a mechanical engineer in Oklahoma City, Okla. "I fell in love with Chrysi's mom and dad before I even knew her. Who we are as people has a lot to do with the family God has placed us in."

"With courtship you don't put on the false front you tend to have during dating," says Chrysi. "You tend to see people the way they really are. E...

The City by the Bay is at it again. These days, moral outrage does not come naturally to San Francisco. The Bay Area, famous as the "play-pen of countercultures," does not often get worked up about a sexual scandal. After all, in San Francisco, it's hard to create a sexual scandal.

Nevertheless, a scandal is exactly what San Franciscans have on their hands. It all started with a birthday party honoring Jack Davis, one of the most powerful political operatives in a very political city. The invitation to the party promised "Food! Live Music! Debauchery!," and asked invitees to "Celebrate a Half Century of Hedonism." Well, they can't say they weren't warned.

The 300 persons who attended the revelry were treated to live sex acts — heterosexual and homosexual — and to other demonstrations of orgiastic hedonism. Inflatable sex objects bobbed around the room as male, female, and "transgendered" dancers performed in t...

Church Carwash Opens Doors for Cleansed Lives

It seems many are looking for something free. But most find it difficult to accept some things when they are offered free of charge — like a car wash — or salvation.

Members of Sheridan Road Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., found that to be true of many who brought their cars to the church's free car wash.

As an outreach to the community, church members set up a free car wash on the church parking lot (no donations accepted) just "to plant some seeds and let people know we care for them," said pastor Tom Woodson.

The idea, Woodson said, came from David Kirkhuff, who drives an outreach bus and is a children's worker at the Tulsa church.

"I had read about something like this in a Southern Baptist publication," said Woodson, "but David came up with this idea on his own."

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a Saturday, Sheridan Road's parking lot became a car wash as about twenty-five members scrubbed, d...

International Mormon Membership Outstrips U.S. Membership

Mormons have grown to 9.7 million members worldwide since 1820, when Joseph Smith told of having a vision of "two Personages" who instructed him not to join any existing church because they were "all wrong," their members were "all corrupt," and their creeds were an "abomination in (the Lord's) sight."

Utah and other western states remain Mormonism's "breadbasket" numerically and financially in the U.S., said Sandra Tanner, co-director of Utah Lighthouse Ministries, Salt Lake City, during a Denominational Summit on Mormonism at Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference Center.

But the Mormon church, or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now reports more members outside the United States — 4.9 million, compared to its U.S. membership of 4.8 million — according to their own statistical reports. Most of the non-U.S. Mormons are in Latin America.

Of the 1.2 million people in the Greater Sal...

Parents' Mere Presence Is Not Enough

Adolescents who are emotionally connected to their families and schools are generally healthier than those who are not, according to an article in the September 10 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Michael D. Resnick, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues provide the first report as a result of the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health (Add Health). It includes data on 90,118 American adolescents. In the study, the authors used information from 12,118 adolescents from grades 7-12.

The researchers found that when adolescents feel connected to their parents and their school, they are less likely than other adolescents to:

• Suffer from emotional distress;

• Have suicidal thoughts and behaviors;

• Use violence;

• Smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or smoke marijuana.

The research also indicates that they have their first sexual e...

It has been over a year since an unnamed three-year old fell into the pit of the great apes in Brookfield, Ill. I was so taken by the face of Binti Jua, the gorilla, as she tenderly lifted the little boy and carried him through the dark forms that surrounded her in the pit and laid him at the caretaker's gate. Some attendants sprayed high pressure water on the other gorillas to keep them at bay while Binti Jua (Swahili for Daughter of Sunshine) completed her simian (and I beg to use the word humanitarian) rescue. I didn't see Binti Jua's rescue as proof that we are descended from her ilk. In fact, she seems almost an argument against the descent of humankind. Hath not the monkey's poet written, "Man descended the ornery cuss, but he sure didn't descend from us."

Still, the survival of the fittest sometimes bows its savage form to something beneficent in nature — like Eden, like Balaam's ass, like Shamu, like Lassie. Yes, here and there, nature ...

Feminist Radicals Target Promise Keepers

The National Organization of Women (NOW) launched a "No Surrender" campaign to counter the October 4th gathering of Promise Keepers at the Washington Mall and expose the group's "chilling" agenda. "The Promise Keepers speak about 'taking back America' for Christ, but they also mean to take back the rights of women," NOW President Patricia Ireland said in a recent press release. "Their call for 'submission' of women is one that doesn't have a place in either the pulpit or the public sphere in the 1990s."

NOW editorial writers Alfred Ross and Lee Cokorinos describe Promise Keepers as "a product of the leadership of well-financed religious, conservative organizations designed to create a men-only movement to promote their ultra-conservative social and political agenda. ... Promise Keepers is attempting to re-segregate U.S. po...

PBS's Battle for the Minds, which aired on Sat. June 14, was nothing more than a desperate cry to try to shame Southern Baptists into accepting women as pastors, elders, and deacons. Though it did have several good quotes and played out like "high drama," it failed to ask one major question: What happens to denominations which promote women to positions of authority? If refusing, for theological reasons, to let women be pastors, elders, and deacons is so terrible, why is it that the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination and still growing?

The sad truth of the matter is that every "mainline" (some call these denominations "sideline" due to their dwindling numbers) which has allowed women to become pastors has gone down the road of increasing irrelevance. For example, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has recently been losing about 43,000 members a year and now its members average sixty-five years old. The United Methodists have lost over two million members in the last thirty years.

The World Almanac 1994 shows the numbers quickly falling from 1980 to 1990: American Baptists...

It could be any Baptist church in any small town. This particular church is in Georgia, where life is good from outward appearances.

The congregation doubled in three years with 150 baptisms and a new building. The highway out front was even four-laned. Growth from a nearby city meant more people settling in the church's vicinity.

"We're in the computer age," the pastor said. "For Christmas, we buy the kids a p.c."

He counsels families thirty hours a week. That's where he saw a disturbing pattern.

And that's why he didn't want his name mentioned; news of the problem would affect families still in the community.

One man was a deacon and married for nineteen years. He had two children and got them a computer. His wife discovered a Christian chat room, the pastor said. Over the months, she met several women and men, and continued the on-line talk with one man in that chat room.

The pastor recou...

It's easy to feel stupid these days. I turned on Jeopardy and didn't know any of the questions to the answers and I felt stupid. I changed the channel and watched Wheel of Fortune instead, and then felt stupid just for watching it. By the way, watching Vanna White doesn't qualify for spending time with a word processor. While watching Wheel of Fortune, I noticed that I still haven't programmed my VCR — I got it for Christmas in 1991. I worked on that a while and made some progress. It doesn't flash 12:00 anymore, it flashes 4:00 now. There is nothing good on TV, anyway. I should've known that when I hit the TV remote and the trash compactor came on. It's amazing. I have forty-six channels and nothing to watch. It seems like the bigger the screen, the worse the TV programming.

I don't have time to relax anyway. My staff told me that I have to get on the information highway. I try to do my part. When we go to daylight savings...