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April 1999 Issue

Partnerships between associations, more missionary involvement by mega-churches, and the private purchase of a city block in Manhattan for church use are among the challenges Southern Baptist Convention President Paige Patterson plans to place before SBC messengers in June.

Patterson shared his plans with trustees of the North American Mission Board as part of their February meeting in Alpharetta, Ga. He has previously indicated that the task of reaching the cities of our nation with the gospel - one of the top priorities of the North American Mission Board - will be a primary focus of this year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Atlanta.

"As a challenge to Southern Baptists, we are going to focus all that happens in that convention on the great cities of America," Patterson said. "The focal organization of that presentation in the Southern Baptist Convention here in Atlanta - and a part of all that is going to happen during those days prior to that a...

Southern Baptists Celebrate 75 Years of the Cooperative Program by "Going and Giving"

Partners in the Harvest is the theme of the nationwide campaign of Southern Baptists on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Cooperative Program in the year 2000. The jointly sponsored effort of the Baptist state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention is being directed by an eighteen-member steering committee made up of state and SBC leaders.

The campaign will use the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Cooperative Program to remind Southern Baptists of its great history, its continuing value, and the need to support it strongly as a new millennium begins. The campaign strategy for the year 2000 is to enlist as many pastors and churches as possible in three key areas: "hands-on" participation in Cooperative Program mission projects; local church education emphases about Cooperative Program; and sacrificial giving through the Cooperative Program. The sub-theme of Partners in the Harvest is "Go ... Give." Morris H. Chapman,...

As a young pastor, I heard older colleagues refer to the "co (long o) - operative" program, pronouncing "cooperative" as if it were really two words. For someone who always said "kwopertive," this sounded strange. I concluded that it must be a colloquialism. The answer, however, is that "Co-Operative Program" was its original name. The report that created the Cooperative Program in 1925 read in part: "Your Committee would further recommend that from the adoption of this report by the Convention our co-operative work be known as 'The Co-Operative Program of Southern Baptists.'" (SBC Annual, 1925, p. 31).

Even though the contemporary spelling and pronunciation of "cooperate" do not change its original meaning, I find something instructive in the old hyphenated rendering. The dictionary notes that the word comes from the Latin words "co" meaning together and "operari" meaning to work; thus, to work together.

Everyone knows Southern Baptists believe in working for the Lord. We have been practicing the modern admonition to "...

A Four-part TV Series on Christians and Racial Issues

Racial reconciliation is the topic of a four-part Family Enrichment Series produced by the North American Mission Board for broadcast on FamilyNet in May. Race Matters focuses on the issues of racial reconciliation in America, especially in churches and among Christians.

"The idea for the programs is to show the positive side of racial issues," said Rosser McDonald, producer of the series. "We want the average Southern Baptist to draw from and grow from the spiritual growth of other races."

The series deals with more than just the black/white issues common in America. It also includes stories from Native Americans, Hispanics, former Muslims, and Messianic Jews. The first three programs highlight the lives of contemporary Christian singer Larnell Harris, Grammy-award winning gospel artist Shirley Caesar, and "Dean," a former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) activist who now shares the gospel with Muslims and Jews. The fourth program is a ...

The Biblical Data on Two Key Words
The amendment to The Baptist Faith and Message on the family continues to draw fire both from the secular world and many within the Southern Baptist Convention.
Why This Year is the Greatest to Share Christ in 20 Centuries

Journey back with me two centuries to the beginning of the nineteenth century. If the networks reported on events in that first decade, the evening news broadcasts would have concentrated not on Britain or the fledgling United States, but on Austria. By 1809, the attention of the world would be fixed on Napoleon's army. His troops swept across Europe, dominating the headlines and the populace.

And yet, missed in the midst of his campaign were several significant births in England and America. The new century would see the coming of men who would change the worlds of politics, science, and the arts. But no one recognized the little tykes; no one had a clue as to their significance. What could matter more in 1809 than the fall of Austria?

But those infants would significantly shape the following centuries up until our day. These drew their first breath in 1809:

William Gladstone in Liverpool.

Alfred Tennyson in Lincolnshire.

Oliver Wendell Holmes in Ca...

The number of abortions and abortion-providing facilities in the United States has decreased markedly in the 1990s, according to a survey by a research organization identified with the abortion industry.

Not only has a decline in both categories been recorded in recent years, but the number of abortions is at its lowest in twenty years and the number of abortion facilities has decreased by nearly one-third from its highest point in the early 1980s, The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) announced in December.

The number of abortions in the country fell 11 percent from 1992, the last year for which AGI had performed research on abortion providers, to 1996. The 1.37 million abortions for 1996 were a slight increase from the 1.36 million of 1995 but a large decline from the 1.61 million reported in 1990, according to AGI. The 1990 total was the highest since abortion was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, according to AGI.

The 1995-96 figures were the lowest since 19...

The Struggle for a Baptist Identity

Southern Baptists in recent days have received an unusual amount of public attention. The adoption of the new family amendment to the Baptist Faith and Message created quite a stir. New state conventions have been born in protest over actions adopted by existing state conventions. A November 1998 edition of Newsweek sought to interpret President Bill Clinton's sex scandal in light of his Baptist beliefs. For good or bad, the beliefs and struggles of Southern Baptists have at times been the center of media attention.

These and similar conflicts contain complex issues that are unique to each situation. Yet, inherent within each of these is a common core issue: the perceived reliance upon Baptist distinctives. These events represent the ongoing struggle of Southern Baptists to articulate a theological identity that is both Christian and distinctively Baptist. These struggles could be called, to borrow a phrase from theological studies, "the quest for historical Baptist dist...

A seminary ministry team received hands-on experience in spiritual warfare as they worked in Haiti in evangelism and church planting during a ten-day trip in January.

Led by Ron Rogers, associate professor of missions from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, nine student volunteers worked with International Mission Board missionary Jim Ziler and Haitian Baptists to establish new works in Port-au-Prince, the capital city of the Caribbean nation.

One of the new work sites, in an area known as Delmas 75, was only thirty to forty yards from a voodoo temple. It was here that the students experienced the most direct clash between the gospel and spiritual darkness.

Several of the students visited the temple and prayed in and around it that God would be glorified and Satan bound. Kent Coffey also witnessed to a voodoo priestess, who divides her time between Haiti and New York City.

Charlie Henthorn, one of those leading the Bible study, described the struggle: "...

American Airlines no longer is one of the recommended airlines for travel to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Atlanta, two SBC Executive Committee officials announced in February.

At issue, the officials said, is American Airlines' broken pledge to discontinue corporate support of homosexual activists' organizations.

An announcement that American Airlines and Delta Airlines were offering discounted fares as the recommended airlines for the SBC annual meeting in June appeared in Baptist Press in January.

Bill Merrell, Executive Committee vice president for convention relations, said American Airlines last spring "gave explicit assurances to Southern Baptists and others of the evangelical Christian community that it would not lend support to movements destructive of the family and society.

"Contrary to those assurances, American Airlines gave $50,000 to the media awards of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation [GLAAD], ...

Government-sponsored slavery in the Sudan, with Christians the primary victims, can be eliminated by the end of the year in the East African country if the United States and other countries will take action, a U.S. senator said in February.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan., called for an end to the "famine-inducing" practices of the Sudanese government and said he is planning to introduce a resolution condemning slavery. Two human rights advocates, Baroness Caroline Cox of the British House of Lords and Rep. Frank Wolf, R.-Va., joined Brownback at a Capitol Hill news conference in decrying the Sudan's repression of its own citizens.

As awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians overseas has increased the last three years, the Sudan has been cited consistently as a chief perpetrator. The Islamic regime in the capital of Khartoum supports raids by its troops normally of Christian and animist villages in the southern part of the country. The soldiers frequently kill men a...

Emily, during her delirium and near-death experience in Our Town, believes herself already dead and is loitering around the cemetery among the familiar tombstones of friends who had died and gone before her.

Not too long ago my wife and I visited the little Oklahoma country cemetery that holds our grave lots. All around our lots were stones bearing the names of those we have known in past years. I wondered when we would be there with them and when the entire family of those who have gone before would be with us awaiting the trumpet. Hope is the glorious mortar of families in the process of aging and dying. But death is not the lonely, final promise for those who've died in Christ. Easter is the majesty of life. It is the fulfillment of the hope of seeing the face of our dear Christ. He is as Hebrews 12:2 reminds us, that first-goer, The Pioneer, who came back from that land whence supposedly no traveler ever returns.

But Jesus did it.

And His victory has ...

When the Pope visited Colorado he was anxious to get to an important meeting. The limousine assigned to pick him up did so and off they went. The Catholic chauffeur knew it was the "Holy Father" riding in the car and wouldn't consider going faster than 55 mph. However, the Pope, anxious to get to the meeting on time, told the driver to pull over, get in the back seat, and let him drive. The impatient pontiff put the pedal to the metal and quickly reached 85 mph on the Colorado interstate. Almost immediately a state trooper hiding off the side of the road turned on his siren and lights, and gave chase. Catching the speeding car, he ordered the driver to pull over. When he saw the driver, he couldn't believe it and immediately called his captain. He said, "I really got a big one today." The captain said, "You mean the District Attorney?" "No, sir, much bigger than that." "You have a Senator?" came the puzzled reply. "No, sir, you don't u...

Christian Football

A little relief for those experiencing football withdrawals:

Quarterback Sneak - Church members quietly leaving during the invitation.

Draw Play - What many children do with the bulletin during worship.

Halftime - The period between Sunday School and worship when many choose to leave.

Benchwarmer - Those who do not sing, pray, work, or apparently do anything but sit.

Backfield-in-motion - Making a trip to the back (restroom or water fountain) during the service.

Staying in the Pocket - What happens to a lot of money that should be given to the Lord's work.

Two-minute Warning - The point at which you realize the sermon is almost over and begin to gather up your children and belongings.

Instant Replay - The preacher loses his notes and falls back on last week's illustrations.