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April 2003 Issue

SBC Executive Committee President's Report

February 17, 2003

And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. ~ Genesis 26.18

We all know you can't live in the desert without water. You can't survive. It's a matter of life and death! Without water Isaac's people and his sheep and cattle would perish — there was nothing refreshing, nothing growing, and no life! But Isaac knew that his Father had passed this way long ago and he began to search for the wells his father would have dug. He found them, but the Philistines had filled them with debris and covered over them. But these wells had provided life for his father and his father's generation. So what did he do when he found them? Isaac redug his father's wells. And from those wells came the precious water so necessary for li...

Actions, Not Words Only

The pro-life movement was gaining momentum. The members of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., were listening to their pastor at the time, Jack Graham, speak about the terrible social ill of abortion. Then something happened to Graham himself.

"It just seemed that as I was speaking the Lord convicted me and said, 'Alright Jack, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to get involved in this issue rather than just preaching?" said Graham, who served as the church's pastor from 1981-89.

So Graham put his words into action by helping start a pro-life crisis pregnancy center. He helped start another one when he became pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church where he presently serves.

Now the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Graham told members of the Executive Committee Feb. 17 that Christians must do more than simply speak about the Kingdom of God — they must demonstrate it.


A Massive Southern Baptist Church Planting Effort
The rate of new church development is heating up rapidly in Miami — thanks to Southern Baptist partners from across Florida and the nation. It's happening through For You Miami, the latest manifestation of the North American Mission Board's Strategic Focus Cities (SFC) effort. Miami Baptist Association leaders hope an explosion of new churches — along with associated prayer, evangelism, and leadership development initiatives — will impact the city of 3.5 million people for many years to come.
Praying for the New York Focus in 2004

As Strategic Focus Cities efforts approach their crescendo in Miami this year, plans are being laid for one of the most significant and challenging cities to date — New York City, home to about 8 million people in the city alone and another 12 million in the surrounding area.

A leadership team has been working for the past year to talk with local leaders and assist in developing a strategy for a broad-based effort called New Hope New York, which will begin its two years of focused implementation in 2004.

While New York is one of the largest cities in the world, the Southern Baptist impact on the city has been relatively small. Most of the 213 churches are ethnic congregations — reflecting the international population — and the average size is only sixty-five members...

Michael W. Weeks of Tupelo, Miss., was unanimously elected as president of the Southern Baptist Foundation by the foundation's board of trustees in March of 2002 replacing Hollis E. Johnson III, who retired in June.

Since 1998, Weeks had been vice chairman of BancorpSouth Bank and executive vice president of BancorpSouth Inc., the bank's holding company. He also had been executive vice president of BancorpSouth Trust and Asset Management Group.

He is a graduate of Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., and was an active member of First Baptist Church, Tupelo, where he served as a deacon and taught Sunday School.

His duties with BancorpSouth included strategic planning and providing leadership in investor relations management.

From 1995-98, Weeks was chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Volunteer Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of BancorpSouth. He developed and executed a restructuring plan and implemented an aggressive acqui...

On more than one occasion I have stood beside anxious family members who were soon to be faced with a decision of monumental consequence. Another member of the family was in the adjacent Intensive Care Unit and near death.

Medical attendants shuttled in and out of the room, doing all they could to stabilize the patient's vital signs while a team of physicians huddled to consider the options. Then the chief surgeon would approach the family with this somber announcement: "There is only one possible solution as we see it but we can't wait any longer to perform the necessary procedure. Time is of the essence and we must know what you desire." The welfare of a loved one has now been placed in their hands.

In a recent interview I was asked what I felt about the health of America's families. "Taken as a whole," I responded, "America's families are not simply in poor health. They are acutely ill and in need of intensive care. Without emer...

More than 650 students, faculty and members of the community gathered at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in February to hear some of the Southern Baptist Convention's top ethicists discuss whether the United States would be morally justified in going to war with Iraq.

The consensus among the four panelists in the "Just War Doctrine: When Is War Really Justified?" forum is that war with Iraq would be morally justified, though the men differed as to why a potential conflict would meet classical Just War doctrine.

The panel included Daniel Heimbach, professor of ethics at Southeastern and well-known authority on the doctrine of Just War; Richard Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Mark Liederbach, an assistant professor of ethics at Southeastern whose contribution was an understanding of the gospel in relation to Just War; and David Jones, also a Southeastern assistant professor of ethics.

Heimbach opened t...

During the past several months, thousands of military personnel have deployed overseas. As more prepare to follow, there are concrete ways in which your church can help the families of the deployed soldier. I know, because two years ago I was on the receiving end of that help.

With my deployment scheduled a few days after Thanksgiving, our family spent the weekend stuffing turkey and exchanging Christmas gifts. Though Thanksgiving was short of its usual thankfulness, we were grateful to God for the church family who rallied behind us.

Their encouragement toward me began with a dedication service two weeks prior to my departure. Our senior chaplain laid hands on the heads of each family member and prayed for them by name. Chapel members echoed prayers responsively.

After the service, there was a pizza fellowship held in our honor. Sunday School kids presented a banner proclaiming their prayers, wishes, and love. Their love for us was demonstrative, but also allow...

African American Southern Baptist Churches Impacting Their Communities for Christ

The primary purpose of at least one McDonald's restaurant isn't to make money — though it is indeed profitable. This McDonald's is providing jobs, training, and leadership development for members of its owner, Brentwood Baptist Church.

Located in a southwest Houston subdivision, Brentwood Baptist was started as an Anglo church in 1965. But fifteen years later 500 members called Joe Samuel Ratliff as the church's third pastor, and the second African American to lead what had become a predominately African American congregation. Now, numbering about 15,000 members, it is the largest African American church in the Southern Baptist Convention. About 7,500 people gather for morning worship each Sunday.

In addition to starting fourteen churches, Brentwood boasts a number of community ministries including a credit union for church members, transitional housing for people who live with AIDS, and a computer training center. A 75,000-square-foot lifelong educat...

For the first time ever, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix may register online.

An alternative to long registration lines at Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings is here at last.

Churches are now able to register their messengers online at the convention's website,

The traditional steps in years past — waiting at the counter as a registration volunteer types in various lines of information — is skipped with the online process. Now there will be "express counters" for those whose churches have registered online.

"This is another way to serve our Southern Baptist constituency," said SBC Registration Secretary Jim Wells.

By registering online, the SBC website gives a church a "messenger reference number" form to be printed out and presented by each messenger at the SBC registration b...

The following account was related to Bobby Welch by a FAITH team following a FAITH Institute clinic at their church.

It was time to make a follow-up visit and you always wonder just how the visitation team will be received on a second visit — especially when our follow-up card indicated the first visit had only been a few days before and it was a "cold call" opinion poll survey contact!

Our prospective visit was only one of the many discovered the week before during a FAITH Institute Clinic at our church. (The Institute is a Clinic that has two or more tracks of instruction.) Always there is a Basic FAITH track and a Veteran's track, for those already in FAITH. Often additional tracks are added such as Student FAITH, Spanish, or even Portuguese. Our Institute had over 400 clinicians and their hour and half visitation resulted in 543 completed visits with the gospel being presented 233 times, over eighty praying to receive Christ, finding over 294...

One key to a great life is to relax in God's goodness. That is sometimes difficult because there is always another level.

The other day I flew on American Airlines. On Delta, I'm a Million Miler. I've flown over a million miles with Delta. At Delta, I'm a hero. They often bump me up to first class, and I love it. I'm a hero with Delta, but a zero with American. They don't know who I am and they don't care because I don't fly their airline much. So, I'm wedged in the ghetto. I'm in the middle seat in 37B. I always get between two nutritionally enhanced people who are running over into my seat. It is amazing. When I'm in first class I think, "I deserve this. I put in the miles, I deserve it."

However, when I walked by first class on American and looked at those people, I thought, "Why do you deserve this?" They looked at me arrogantly — down their noses. I had a bad attitude just walking by first class....

National Day of Prayer

Millions of people will gather at courthouses, in businesses, around school flagpoles, inside places of worship, and stadiums to participate in the 52nd annual National Day of Prayer on May 1. President George W. Bush and all fifty governors are expected to sign proclamations setting aside the first Thursday in May as a day of intercession for the nation.

"This is a tumultuous time in American history. The conflict in the Middle East continues to escalate, corporate corruption has grabbed the headlines, thousands of people are out of work, families are struggling to stay together, and we daily live under the threat of terrorism. Where can we turn to for help other than God?" said Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "We are in desperate need of the Lord. But how can we arrogantly ask for His ble...