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February 1999 Issue

Jim Queen was back in his element a few days before Thanksgiving, preaching the simple gospel at Chicago's Uptown Baptist Church. "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good," was the appropriate theme as he preached off-and-on for three hours. About 650 poor and homeless eventually filed through the service before being served Thanksgiving dinner downstairs.

As pastor of Uptown from its founding in 1976 until 1992, Queen viewed himself as pastor of the entire community. He was dedicated to doing whatever it took to see his community come to faith in Christ.

Today, as executive director for the Chicago Metropolitan Baptist Association, he feels the same way about the eight million residents of "Chicagoland."

"I tell our pastors, 'You are not only the pastor of the church. You are also pastor of the community,'" Queen said. "When you understand you're pastoring the community, you open up more opportunities for ministry. ... When...

Born in 1850 in Baltimore, Md., Annie Armstrong grew up with strong convictions about missions. Living in the city, Armstrong developed interest in African-Americans, immigrants, the sick and the poor.

Armstrong began a life-style of ministry through her church and the charitable institutions of Baltimore when she was a young adult. The year 1880 marked a turning point in her life. In response to a speaker who told of destitute conditions and needs of Indians, she began a pilgrimage of leadership in missions and mission support. Two years later, she was elected president of the Woman's Baptist Home Mission Society of Maryland. The society's objective was to involve women in support of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. She held this office until 1906.

In 1888, Armstrong was elected corresponding secretary of Woman's Missionary Union, an organization she helped found. She gave WMU, and the work it supported, her all as she led it to be a major force ...

The North American Mission Board was created in 1997 when the resources of three former SBC agencies - the Home Mission Board, the Radio and Television Commission, and the Brotherhood Commission - were combined. The primary responsibility of NAMB is to assist Southern Baptist churches in reaching the United States, its territories, and Canada with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Nearly 5,000 North American missions personnel, most of whom are jointly appointed with state Baptist conventions, receive support from the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

Two Major Thrusts

The Offering supports NAMB's two major thrusts: evangelism and church planting. An estimated 200 million people in the United States and Canada do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The agency provides assistance to churches, associations, and state conventions in soul-winning training, interfaith witness, and church and community ministries, which include alternatives to abor...

Marti and I met in New Orleans where I had come to attend seminary. Neither of us had grown up Baptist. I even told people I was the first Baptist in the history of my family.

Not long after we were married, I took Marti, a native of Michigan, to visit my folks in Mt. Judea (pop. 62 and pronounced "Judy" by locals), Arkansas.Everybody turned out to see her. My nine-year-old brother even presented her a black snake as a wedding gift.

When we were by ourselves, she gave me her impressions: "I used to think that Snuffy Smith and Li'l Abner were fiction."

Mama was a schoolteacher before I, the oldest of eight children, was born. Later, she opened a country store in "Judy." I knew she had attended high school in the village of Parthenon, some twenty miles west of Judy, then took courses at a business college in Springfield, Missouri. In education, she was far ahead of her five Foster brothers and sisters, who looked to her for help with special...

Layton Howerton lost his boxing match with God, and now rejoices in his defeat. Following the loss, Layton has a hit song in the contemporary Christian music market and is ministering nationwide to pastors, churches, and radio audiences. Not bad for a Southern Baptist pastor from a small Wyoming town.

When Layton Howerton sold his home in Nashville, bought an old Winnebago, packed up his wife, five kids, and a dog, and headed for Wyoming, it was a pivotal moment in his own story. Raised by pioneer missionary parents in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, Layton had struggled since the age of nineteen with a call on his life to serve as a pastor. Born with musical gifts though, Layton had resisted the call to pastor in favor of pursuing his own dreams of musical success. Critically applauded by publications like Billboard, and courted by several major labels and publishing companies, Layton seemed always on the verge of his big breakthrough. And yet, one by one, at the "eleventh hou...

Since the release of our interview with Shaunti Feldhahn on Y2K (SBC LIFE, October and November 1998) we have encountered a skeptical response from some. The following excerpts from news clippings and websites represent a sampling of how various civil authorities are approaching Y2K.

Local Governments

Miami-Dade County Y2K Response Planning

Miami-Dade County (Florida) can expect to be affected by Y2K disruptions the same as any other community in the world. The extent of the impact is difficult, if not impossible to predict. It may range from minimal and short-term to significant and long-term. The Y2K Problem has the potential to disrupt urban infrastructures and temporarily disable public utilities such as electric power, water supplies, and sewage. If such disruptions to the infrastructure occurred, it would then lead to disruption in the delivery of ... vital goods and services.

<...

The statistics alone are enough to choke almost any computer's hard drive.

Currently, about 100 million people worldwide "surf the net." More than 500,000 sites on the Internet's World Wide Web offer everything from groceries to automobiles to mortgage loans. Analysts project that purchases made over the Internet will reach $327 billion by the year 2002. The federal government reports receiving an average of 4,000 requests per day for Internet web site domain names.

As more and more people are going global via the Internet, this once-vast universe is becoming smaller and smaller. While it took radio thirty years to reach 50 million people and television thirteen years, the Internet did it in just four years.

Since its introduction in 1992, the World Wide Web has quickly become the window to a new world called "cyberspace" - a land free of geographical boundaries where planes and ships are obsolete and Internet Service Providers - not visas - a...

Theological Training for Pastors Where They Live

Steven Long was 26 years old when he first sensed God's call to ministry. He struggled with the call, realizing he had never been to college and had no theological training.

"Uprooting my family and starting college was more than I thought I could handle at the time," Long said. "Then my pastor suggested the alternative of starting my education at a Seminary Extension Center in the neighboring association. I could do this easily, and I enrolled without delay."

Long said, "While attending Seminary Extension classes God spoke to me through my studies, my teacher, and my fellow students. I received affirmation and direction concerning my call to ministry in addition to being better equipped to start preaching. After two years of classes and one year of preaching, God called me to pastor my first church. Soon afterward, God opened the door for me to start college."

Long went on to complete college, obtain a Masters of Divinity, and is nearly f...

What the Fossil "Experts" Don't Tell You

Journey with me, if you will, into the mists of prehistory some 3.25 million years ago and pretend for a moment that your name is none other that australopithecus africanus, a Latinism invented by men from the future to classify you as a bipedal hominid, or "southern ape." While it's believed that "Lucy" - an australopithecus afarensis - may have been roaming around to the north and east of you a million years or so earlier, the fact remains that you now find yourself in a never-ending, survival-of-the-fittest struggle for daily existence in the midst of some lush South African forest world. Your evolving mind, however, somehow senses instinctively that a better life can be found at the boundary zone between forest and savanna, where the best of two worlds is available. As for food there, your tentative upright steps allow you to forage the earth and low-lying shrubs for insects, berries, nuts, and fallen fruit, things that satisfy your incessant hunger for a while...

The Cooperative Program percentages below reflect what the state conventions approved for 1999. In some cases, however, they may not reflect what the SBC Cooperative Program will actually receive due to adjustments for "Preferred Items."

ALABAMA
o President: Buddy Gray, Pastor; Hunter Street Baptist Church; Birmingham, Ala.
o CP percentages: SBC 42.3% / State 57.7%
o Resolutions: Opposing lottery gambling; affirming Southern Baptist seminaries, Christian civic responsibility, and ministers

ALASKA
o President: Jim Hamilton, Pastor; Muldoon Road Baptist Church; Anchorage, Alaska
o CP percentages: SBC 33% / State 67%
o Noteworthy: Beginning a three-year partnership with Far East Russia

ARIZONA
o President: Paul Kinnison, Pastor; Grand Canyon Baptist Ch...

A moderate Baptist theological journal has published a jarring article which portrays the "old" Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, when it was under the control of Baptist moderates, as simultaneously a feminist-friendly "Camelot" of theological liberalism and an oppressive "bar culture" in which women students were subjected to lewd innuendoes and forced kisses from male graduate students and professors.

The women doctoral students profiled in the summer 1998 issue of the Review and Expositor, published in November, are described as having completed a spiritual "journey" which, for many of them, means the jettisoning of cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, including the existence of a personal God.

Review and Expositor, which broke ties with Southern Seminary in 1996 in protest over the conservative theological reforms of President R. Albert Mohler Jr. is published by a consortium of moderate Baptist theological insti...

Much has been written lately about ministering to victims, families, and communities in the wake of school violence. But what about ministry to the perpetrators of such attacks?

That is the ministry challenge - and opportunity - facing Greg Kirksey, president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Kirksey, a former Arkansas Baptist pastor, began serving in August as director of Covenant Connections at the Alexander Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention center associated with the state's Department of Youth Services. He describes Covenant Connections as a national pilot project "between the juvenile detention facility and Boys and Girls Club of America to bring the community and the corrections effort into partnership."

Although "I didn't know what I would find" in the new ministry position, Kirksey added, "I knew I was there on God's assignment."

Ten days after he started working at the Alexander facility, the t...

On a Life, a Calling, a Ministry

Rudy Gonzalez sits in his Southern Baptist seminary faculty office and marvels how he got there from his days knocking on doors to spread the Jehovah's Witness faith.

"All of my life, I've been focused and I knew where I wanted to go, but I had to pay a price every step of the way," said the assistant professor of New Testament studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Calif. "I'm amazed to be here in California."

In October, Gonzalez became the first Hispanic elected full-time to teach biblical studies at a Southern Baptist Convention seminary. If it weren't for a few life-changing experiences while growing up in San Antonio, Texas, he said he would most likely be ministering inside a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall.

Though his three brothers also went to Kingdom Hall services every week, he was the "only one who seriously adhered to the beliefs." With a sincere desire to study the Bible, he remembe...

Recognizing and Preventing Ministry Burnout

Eric's eyes are bright again. Coupled with a smile, they give testimony to the resilience of a body and a soul that have experienced both heaven on earth and hell on earth as parts of a ministry career.

On the condition of anonymity - for reasons that become obvious as his story unfolds - Eric (not his real name) has agreed to tell his story of joy-turned-to-torment and the road to wellness. His willingness to discuss a subject some consider off-limits, he said, is to help others who may share his career circumstances and to help the denomination he loves know how to deal more compassionately with burnout victims.

In retrospect, Eric admits he contributed to the lifestyle that ultimately ended a church role he loved dearly. He took on too much additional work, added to his duties to cover for the weaknesses of a colleague, kept consistently long hours, and took far less than the number of vacation days he had earned.

At the same time, circumstances beyond his control ...

A monthly prayer partner emphasis launched four years ago "has been a miracle and a blessing in this church," said Donald Russell, pastor of West Union (Ill.) Baptist Church.

"It's got people praying for one another and caring for one another."

At the first Sunday night service of the month, each person gets the name of a person to pray for every day throughout the month, Russell said.

The service begins with singing, followed by testimonies of answered prayers during the previous month. The deacons then pass out slips of paper to everyone in attendance, including visitors. The pieces of paper, with names written on them, are then collected, and the congregation has "prayer over the selection of who we're going to get," Russell said. The names are then passed out, and people go and find the person they will be praying for throughout the month.

"Some have to ask who this person is," said Russell, who has led the chur...

A Call for International Prohibition

A report that South Korean re-searchers have cloned a human embryo demonstrates why an international ban on the practice is needed, a Southern Baptist bioethics specialist said.

The infertility specialists, working at Kyunghee University Hospital in Seoul, cloned an embryo that was a replica of a 30-year-old woman, one of the researchers announced Dec. 16.

Lee Bo-yon, one of the scientists, said, "... we can assume that a human child would be formed" if implanted in a woman, The Washington Post reported. The scientists did not take the step of transferring the embryo to a woman because of legal and ethical questions, instead destroying the embryo after it had divided into four cells, according to news reports.

While some scientists questioned the validity of the researchers' contention they had cloned a truly viable embryo, specialists in the field said the drive to clone human beings will continue.

Ben Mitchell, a Southern Baptist bioethici...

Once upon a Thursday in 1519, the sculptor Ambrose awoke to a banging on his door. He ordered his mistress into the closet, for he did not want to weaken his reputation for being a good moral sculptor. The wench shuffled into hiding while the banging continued. Ambrose pulled on his robe and puttered in the direction of the huge oak door as it continued to shake with the fist-bludgeons of his unguessable knocker.

"Yes! Yes! Hold your horses, Man! I'm Coming! Coming!" he said, as he at last arrived at the door and threw it open.

"Where do want this?" asked a man, who in one hand held the reins to a team of draft horses and, with the other, pointed to a huge block of Cararra marble resting on a sled being drawn by the huge percherons.

The artist gasped.

"Where did you get it? Who's it for? Who's to pay for it?" asked the sculptor in the myriad of questions that flooded out of him all at once.

"It's a gif...

My oldest daughter went to a private university. Private universities don't charge tuition, they just say, "Send all the money you have." And they had taken all I had. Shortly after that, I was speaking at a conference and expecting a good honorarium to help me take care of the tuition.

Some people wear their quirks on their forehead. They're easy to identify. The stingy ones are not so easy to spot. But stingy was glowing on this guy's forehead. When I got off the plane I immediately knew I was in trouble. The guy picking me up said, "I parked in remote parking," as I stood there holding a suitcase in each hand. Remote parking is about a mile away. He saved about seventy-five cents. We carried the luggage all the way to the car, and he took me to the motel. When I speak for longer than a day I usually get a rental car. I was going to be there for three days so I asked about a rental car. This guy told me he wanted to save some money and to just call him when ...

Seminary Dean, Airplane Enthusiast, Evangelist

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary academic dean Jim Cogdill is finding new ways to share Christ in the school's community - even if it means relating propeller-driven aircraft to the message of the incarnation. A pilot with more than 1,000 flying hours, Cogdill spoke of God's redemptive plan at a Christmas meeting of propeller airplane enthusiasts in the Kansas City, Mo., area.

"You don't want a pilot who just comes close to the runway. You want a pilot who is very precise," Cogdill told fellow enthusiasts. "God was very precise on that first Christmas day. When He came into the world, He knew exactly what He was doing. He had an exact plan and He followed it. That's why we can trust God with our lives."

The guest speaker at the December meeting, Cogdill recounted his own experience as a pilot, when he and his wife, Debbie, also a pilot, used t...