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November 1999 Issue

The Assault on Wedgwood Baptist Church

When Glen Bucy first heard gunshots outside the sanctuary of Wedgwood Baptist Church the night of Sept. 15, he thought it was part of a skit.

The time according to his watch was 6:55 p.m. The program for this Wednesday night youth rally called for a skit about that time, he explained in an interview the day after the shooting at the southwest Fort Worth church.

"I thought they were trying to do something about Columbine to remind us," he explained, referencing the deadly rampage last spring at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Bucy, a 17-year-old high school senior, was sitting near the back of the church sanctuary because he, his brother, and a friend had arrived late. After hearing the gunshots in the foyer, he turned to look behind him.

Standing on the other side of a glass door was the gunman, peering into the sanctuary.

"I looked at him, and he looked at me. We made eye contact. Then he started shooting right at me, through...

Friends and families of the seven people killed in the deadly shooting Sept. 15 at Wedgwood Baptist Church, Fort Worth, remembered those slain by gunman Larry Gene Ashbrook.

Two students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, and a former student were among the seven killed when Ashbrook started randomly shooting inside the sanctuary of the southwest Fort Worth church where about 150 people were celebrating in a rally of the See You At The Pole prayer event. Also killed were three fourteen-year-olds and a seventeen-year-old running a video camera who was killed when he turned to tape the shooter.

Susan Kimberly Jones, 23, was enrolled for the fall semester at Southwestern. She sang in the church choir. Friends said she greeted visitors to her dorm room on campus with a Bible verse: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Romans 12:9-10."

Jones was a first-...

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary mourned its loss, but celebrated its Savior in memorial services on campus Thursday morning.

Students, faculty and friends packed the 1,600-seat Truett Auditorium as they remembered the deaths of three of their own and the severe injury to two more by a gunman who opened fire at Wedgwood Baptist Church during services Wednesday night.

Of the eight who died - including the gunman - and seven who were wounded, five were either current or recent students of the seminary.

Participants sobbed, hugged, applauded, sang, prayed, and even cheered as they turned the regular Thursday morning chapel service into both a memorial and a celebration of Jesus Christ.

"This was a regular chapel service; we have such services each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but today it turned into a wonderful memorial service," said David Porter, vice president for public relations of the seminary.

Seminary President Ken Hemphil...

Our Jewish Friends React to the "Days of Awe" Prayer Guide

Controversy over a Southern Baptist prayer guide opened a national - and even international - forum for Baptist leaders to declare that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the only way to be reconciled to God.

News articles, editorial columns, radio talk shows, and network television newscasts from Los Angeles to New York - and even to London and Jerusalem - registered the outrage of Jewish activists over the "Days of Awe" prayer guide, which was designed to help Southern Baptists intercede for Jews during their high holy days Sept. 11-20.

Those same articles and broadcasts allowed Southern Baptist spokesmen to tell the truth about who Jesus is and explain why Christian concern compels evangelicals to tell everyone that Jesus offers the only way to have peace with God.

The most significant opportunity came the morning of Sept. 10, when the CBS television network broadcast an interview with Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Don Ka...

Three new city coordinators recently have been appointed for the North American Mission Board's Strategic Focus Cities initiative, putting leadership in place for the all of the first four efforts targeting Chicago, Phoenix, Boston, and Las Vegas.

The new city coordinators are Phil Miglioratti in Chicago, Jack Parrott in Boston, and Steven Pearson in Las Vegas.

Through Strategic Focus Cities, Southern Baptists will be injecting massive resources and volunteers into a wide variety of evangelism and church-starting projects in two major cities each year. Chicago and Phoenix will be the focus of efforts during the first year in 2000, and Boston and Las Vegas will be targeted in 2001. Seattle and Philadelphia have been identified as Strategic Focus Cities for 2002, although development of leadership for those efforts will not officially begin until early next year.

"The position of the city-coordinator is key to the success of our efforts in Strategic Focus Cities,&q...

Dear Fellow Pastor,

Jesus stood over Jerusalem and wept because of the spiritual blindness prevalent in that religious city. We stand gazing over a nation and a planet that is full of religion, but devoid of the truth of salvation. Has that glaring fact ever brought tears to your eyes? The things that made Jesus weep ought to break our hearts as well.

Southern Baptists have joined together to take the message of Jesus to the world. The ingenious method that we use to deliver this glorious message is called the Cooperative Program. This method of funding missions was surely born in the heart of God and was developed 75 years ago by visionary Baptists whose hearts were broken for the lost.

The church I serve in Tyler, Texas has a $6 Million budget. We gladly give 15% of our budget to the Cooperative Program. Sure, we could spend that money on our own needs here, but the world is lost and if we don't tell them about Jesus, who will? God is giving us an amazing harvest in...

I'll never forget the first time I went to England. My college choir went for a tour immediately after the spring semester. Dr. Gene Black, director of the A Cappella Choir at Samford University, gave his standard speech about being gracious in each home where we would be staying. In particular, he said to eat everything set before us, whether we liked it or not. "No big deal," I thought. Well, the baked beans with breakfast seemed a little odd, but I loved the tea and scones each day. One thing I couldn't stand, however, was the steak and kidney pie. Well, I liked the steak just fine, and I never met a pie I didn't like. The sheep kidney part was (forgive me) hard to swallow.

At the end of our tour we stayed in the same home in London we did when we arrived two weeks earlier. The father asked me how I enjoyed my time in England. "Oh, I loved it!" I exclaimed. "What was one thing you did not like?" he asked. Without thinking, I said, "Sheep kidney...

Jeremy, an eighth-grader, just likes to play video games. He found a really neat one recently when a friend told him to visit a new Internet site. Even though it seemed to have a historical context - World War II - the action and computer graphics were more than state of the art; they were the best Jeremy had ever seen.

Weeks later Jeremy made an offensive racial remark at the dinner table. His parents - who had never thought, much less voiced, such an epithet - were shocked. They had never heard any of Jeremy's friends use such bigoted slurs.

His parents' reaction frightened Jeremy a little. He was unaccustomed to shocking his parents, but from their reaction he knew he'd done something wrong. So when they asked him where he'd learned such attitudes, he quickly showed them the website. He had somewhat innocently picked up the language from playing the video games.

The website, it turns out, is not an innocent game location but a site established to propag...

Think the Internet is solely a tool of Satan? The Siddons family of St. Louis would disagree. In fact, they are pretty thankful for the Internet page of First Baptist Church of Lemay in St. Louis because it's where they met Christ.

Dave and Linda Siddons were browsing the Internet's World Wide Web when they came across First Baptist's welcome page ( and happened to link to the part that invites visitors to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Further exploring the First Baptist site, they came across pastor Jim Rice's biographical sketch. Dave Siddons noticed that Rice was a member of the North American Hunting Club.

Rice recalled Dave Siddons' reaction: "He saw that, and he said, 'Well, we ought to try that church out, now that I have made this decision for the Lord. They sound like our kind of people.'"

On July 12, 1998, the Siddons visited the church and went forward to talk to Rice during th...

Baptisms at Central Baptist Church are looking a little different these days.

The format is still traditional, and the Decatur, Ala., church hasn't moved back to the creek, but instead of baptizing the usual young children and preteens, Central's baptismal services lately have included the over-70 age group.

It began, Mark Tolbert, Central Baptist's pastor, recounted, with his own mother, Juanita, who moved to Decatur last December and began attending her son's church. "She had belonged to another denomination, and I worried about her salvation," Tolbert said. "I had talked with her and prayed for her."

At a recent revival service, Tolbert noticed his mother appeared to be under conviction.

"I was down front to receive those who came forward and I sensed that God was speaking to her," Tolbert recounted. "After the service, I went over to her and asked her, 'Did you need to make a decision?' She really did...

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands:

Give thanks to Him:

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,
For the love that from our birth over and around us lies.

Give thanks, till your benedictions celebrate His benevolence,
Till your prayers celebrate His purposes,
Till your hallelujahs celebrate His holiness,
Till your te deums deify Him.
Till your Glorias glorify Him,
Till your magnificats, magnify Him.

Give thanks till your oblations are your obsession,
Till gratitude is your attitude.
Give thanks to Him till foolish self-sufficiency is erased,
And glorious self-denial is enhanced.
Give thanks till you see the grace of His abundance,
As the cornucopia of His harvest,
Spilling from your meager seedtimes.

Give thanks -
For joys immeasurable and full of glory!
For pain unhealable and full of humanity!
For s...

To Spank or Not to Spank

Giving your child a swat when he or she misbehaves can be part of the journey to well-adjusted adolescence, according to a report by a noted child psychologist.

The June 2 issue of the National Post reported that Professor Robert Larzelere, psychology professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told delegates at the June International Conference on the Changing Family, in Alberta, Canada that two- to six-year-olds who are spanked by "loving, sober, parents who are in control of their anger" can grow up to be well-adjusted children.

Professor Larzelere's assertion challenges studies that suggest detrimental outcomes from spanking. Opponents of spanking maintain that the practice is assault and children should never be subjected to it. Larzelere acknowledged that studies have associated "small detrimental outcomes" with the spanking of children ages six to nine. Howe...

When a first grader fell on the ice coming into church, the pastor tried to comfort him. "Remember, big boys don't cry." "Cry?" he replied, "I'm going to sue."

Do we live in a world where people would rather have money than comfort? Maybe, but we all know there are times when we would settle for comfort. Sometimes we are too selfish to give comfort. When some bus station employees were having a hard time keeping the door closed, they placed a sign on the door. "Please close the door for the comfort of others." However, the door stayed open most of the day. The next day they put up another sign that read, "Please close the door for your own personal comfort." That day the door stayed closed.

Most of us would like to comfort others, but we just don't know how. Let's say you have a friend with a terrible toothache. He calls and says, "My tooth really hurts. Could you come over and just be with me? I need some comfort....