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June 2006 Issue

2006 Southern Baptist Convention

With the focus on evangelism and the goal of winning and baptizing 1 million people in a year, Southern Baptists will gather at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, for their annual meeting.

It will mark the fifth meeting in North Carolina for the denomination but the first since 1916 (Asheville). Southern Baptists never have met in Greensboro.

"My quest is going to be to keep the collective head, heart, and eyes of the messengers on our main business of witnessing, winning, and baptizing," Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch told Baptist Press. "... I think that's especially critical in light of the ACP report."

The most recent ACP, or Annual Church Profile report, showed Southern Baptists baptizing 16,000 fewer people in 2005 compared to 2004.

It will be the second consecutive year Southern Baptists have gathered under the banner of "Everyone Can" —...

Through the Cooperative Program

Everything Mountain Creek Baptist Church does is connected in some way with the Cooperative Program.

The Cooperative Program reflects what being a New Testament church is all about, according to David Shirley, pastor of the Greenville, South Carolina, congregation. "Acts 2 talks about helping those in need. The better you work together, the more people you can help," he said.

"We want to do our part, but the Cooperative Program doesn't start with us and it doesn't end with us," Shirley noted. "We're just a part of it, a part of the way God is using Southern Baptists to reach out and touch people around the world."

Mountain Creek gives 11 percent of its members' undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program and another 4 percent ...

The Cooperative Program

The Difference is easy to see.

It's a DVD being mailed to Southern Baptist churches across the country.

"The love of Southern Baptists is making a difference through the Cooperative Program," the cover of the DVD states.

The Difference DVD focuses on how Southern Baptists have been at the leading edge of helping victims of Hurricane Katrina — as well as victims of the tsunami in Asia, the earthquake in Pakistan, and other natural disasters.

"Pastors are supported" when Southern Baptists give through the Cooperative Program, the DVD cover notes.

"Congregations are being restored.

"Lives are being changed forever."

The Cooperative Program, however, reaches far beyond disaster relief: State...

The History and Theology of the Cooperative Program

The Cooperative Program is a miraculous system of distributing resources that can help Southern Baptists impact the entire world for Christ, according to One Sacred Effort, a new book by Chad Owen Brand and David E. Hankins available from Broadman & Holman Publishers.

"It is our contention that the Cooperative Program has the potential, when rightly employed, for moving Southern Baptist ministers from the ordinary, the average, the good — to superlative, outstanding, great fruitfulness for the Kingdom of God," Brand and Hankins write. "Tell your people the Cooperative Program can help them move from good to great."

Brand is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Hankins is the former vice president for t...

Perhaps you have heard the story of the football coach whose team seemed particularly inept as they extended a losing streak. Gathering his squad for a team meeting, he produced the old "pigskin" and declared, "Gentlemen, this is a football." His point was clear — the team had to go back to the basics.

In our last article, we looked at some troubling statistics from a study conducted by the Barna group about giving that suggest we need to get back to basics in our teaching about stewardship principles. In spite of the rather disappointing and discouraging facts about giving nationwide, there was a ray of hope. The study indicated that most people surveyed were essentially illiterate about what the Bible actually teaches concerning stewardship.

It may be that we take for gran...

By Becoming a Church That Gives Itself Away

In its one hundred and seventy-year history, the largest missions offering First Baptist Church of Cumming, Georgia, had collected was $44,000 for the 2004 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

Entering the 2005 annual international missions offering campaign, the seventeen-hundred-member church north of Atlanta faced its own ministry budget shortfall due to the cancellation of a couple of Sunday services earlier in the year because of snow and ice.

So what was Senior Pastor Robert Jolly thinking when he proposed a $150,000 end-of-year missions offering goal?

"We were at a finance committee meeting and everyone knew we needed to do something, but tripling a goal at the end of the year kind of scared us," said Jolly, pastor at First Cumming since 1994. "It was just a goal, but we didn't want to fall way short of meeting the goal."

The church had already adopted a $50,000 international missions offering goal....

The Billy Graham Tribute Sculpture

The Southern Baptist Convention will unveil a bronze statue honoring the life and ministry of evangelist Billy Graham at the 2006 annual meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, in keeping with SBC President Bobby Welch's announcement during the closing session of last year's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

The announcement at the SBC's 2005 annual meeting was accompanied by a tribute to Graham, which included messengers approving by acclamation a statement, posted on the adjoining page, drafted by the SBC Executive Committee honoring Graham, and a video chronicling the evangelist's ministry.

The sculpture, which depicts Graham under a cross offering an evangelistic invitation with uplifted hands, has been produced by Wyoming artist and pastor Terrell O'Brien. A bronze model sculpted by O'Brien was revealed to messengers during last year's tribute. The larger-than-life statue of a young Billy Graham will be unveiled during a special tribu...

Churches can support proposed constitutional marriage amendments without any fear of losing their tax-exempt status, an attorney with a religious liberty organization says.

Seven states are scheduled to vote on marriage amendments this year, and conservatives in two others — Arizona and Colorado — are gathering signatures with the goal of being added to that list.

Gary McCaleb, senior counsel with the Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, said pastors can voice support for the amendments from the pulpit and churches can assist in petition drives without fear of reprisal from the Internal Revenue Service.

"In respect to their Internal Revenue Service tax exemption, they have a lot of liberty and leeway to support a ballot initiative," McCaleb told Baptist Press. "As long as what they do is an insubstantial amount of their total budget, they're pretty much free to do whatever they want in support or opposition to the ballot ini...

Editor's Note: SBC LIFE does not typically include feature articles from secular news sources. However, the following article from The Dallas Morning News focuses on one of our very own. Dr. Gary Smith served on the SBC Executive Committee 1997-2005, and as chairman 2002-2004. We include this account of Gary and his wife, Sandy, with the hopes that the story of their deep struggle and ultimate victory will minister to you or someone you know.

As Pastor Gary Smith looks out at his congregation in Arlington every Sunday morning, he realizes that some of them are in pain. There's a deep hurt in every pew, he says.

One Sunday last spring, he wanted them to know that even a pastor's soul can ache.

So, under a spotlight on stage at Fielder Road Baptist Church, Dr. Smith talked about losing his son, Drew, nearly twenty years earlier. As he talked to worshippers, he cried and his voice quivered. Even two decades after Drew d...

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary's president, Jeff Iorg, will be the featured speaker at the annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

The luncheon will begin at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at the Sheraton Four-Seasons in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the hotel's Blue Ashe Room on level three.

The president's report will include an overview of plans for the seminary through 2010. In addition, the seminary's Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented.

Tickets are $10 per person and will be available at the seminary's booth in the SBC exhibit hall or by calling 1-888-442-8709.

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will host its annual alumni luncheon at noon Wednesd...

In Mid-Term Elections

In 2004, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) launched iVoteValues.com with the rallying cry: "Because how you vote today impacts tomorrow."

A record voter turnout, including more than 27 million evangelicals, turned back eleven state initiatives that endorsed same-sex "marriage" and helped to maintain leadership in Congress and at the White House that has embraced traditional values.

ERLC President Richard Land is convinced God used efforts like the non-partisan iVoteValues.com initiative to make clear to Americans of faith that they have a right and an obligation to have their faith inform their voting decisions.

"It's not overstating the 2004 election results, both in the presidential and congressional contests, to say that traditional religious values won the day," Land said, emphasizing the credit goes to voters who embraced the message that "voting your values, beliefs, and convictions i...

May Have Teen Walking Again Soon

Jacki Rabon was riding with some friends in the back of an SUV in August 2003 when she was thrown out of the vehicle as it veered off the road. She skidded a few feet and landed near a ditch, and her life was suddenly changed.

"Right away, I knew I couldn't feel my legs because I couldn't get up," Rabon, 18, told Baptist Press. "I went to sit up, and then my back hurt too bad to sit up, so I knew something was wrong."

She was rushed to one hospital and then another, where she underwent emergency surgery to repair the damage. Her mother had to break the news to Rabon that she was paralyzed.

"I knew there was a possibility before I had surgery, but I asked her after surgery if the doctor fixed it, and that's when she told me that he fixed my back but I still was paralyzed," she said.

"My mom said I didn't talk for a long, long time. I just stared at the walls and I cried a lot. I think what was going thro...

Democrats believe making embryonic stem cell research a campaign issue will help them in their effort to gain a majority in the House of Representatives in November's elections.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has unveiled new advertisements that target seven Republicans who oppose federal funds for stem cell research that results in the destruction of embryos. The Democrats plan to promote the controversial issue with fervor in areas where there are large medical centers or biotechnology companies, the Chicago Tribune reported March 27. They also plan to use the ads in congressional districts known for politically moderate voters but represented by Republicans known for high-profile opposition to funding the destructive experimentation.

"On one side of the divide is life-saving medical research; on the other side is special-interest politics," DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel said in a written release.

Emanuel, a congressman fro...

Our Kids Are On Fire For Souls!

If you don't believe "Everyone Can" share their faith — even teenagers — just read this remarkable story shared by Sharon Stanley, a youth Sunday School department director and wife of Greg Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church, Warren, Arkansas.

Matthew, a seventh grader from Warren, Arkansas and member of First Baptist Church, Warren, was concerned about his classmate, Adam. Adam didn't go to church, and Matthew knew he probably was not a Christian. He witnessed to him, and later that week, at home in his bedroom, Adam asked Jesus into his heart. He came to Sunday School and worship the next Sunday, walked down the aisle, and told the pastor about his decision. He now wanted to be baptized. So on visitation night, Pastor Greg Stanley and I went to Adam's home to talk to his parents about his decision. His mother told us they had never attended church, but if this was what Adam wanted to do, it was fine with her.

The next ...

The scenery and clean air of the Blue Ridge Mountains does more than clear the head. For Phil Wiggins, his annual personal retreat to LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center refocuses his attention on God and renews his passion for the ministry.

For the past four years, Wiggins, a retired police officer and minister to senior adults at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, has taken advantage of the special $29 "Ministers' Getaway" rate at Ridgecrest, located outside Asheville, North Carolina.

"It's a time of opening up and allowing God to give me direction," Wiggins said. "The personal retreat time I spend at Ridgecrest helps me clear my head of the things that shouldn't be there. It's a quiet time to seek God's guidance for my life and ministry."

LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention owns and operates Ridgecrest and LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center, set in the Sangre de Cristo Mou...

I spend a lot of time around church people. One subject that always pops up is terminal seriousness. Do you ever wish that people at church or your family would just lighten up? Churches seem to have it in their heads that we must look spiritual, which is somewhere between half dead and half mad. When I am around people with terminal seriousness, it reminds me of a passage in John Steinbeck's book East of Eden in which he describes a lady as "A tight hard little woman, humorless as a chicken with a dire Presbyterian mind (let's change to a Baptist mind) with a code of morals that pinned down and beat the brains out of nearly everything that was pleasant to do."

Let's get personal. Do people wonder if you have been sick? When you perform a funeral is it hard to tell the preacher from the deceased? Do you often sleep in three-piece pajamas? Maybe your halo is on too tight. I think this is an emergency. Well, almost an emergency. Call 912. Or better yet, li...

Ridgecrest — Preparing to Celebrate 100 Years!

At the dawn of the 20th century, B.W. Spillman pondered the idea of developing a place devoted to helping his fellow Southern Baptists draw nearer to God, receive Bible training, and build lasting friendships.

Spillman, who once marked "failure" out of his dictionary to symbolize his belief that a person could accomplish anything God called that person to do, envisioned a location in the mountains where people could escape from everyday life to experience spiritual renewal.

His vision was fulfilled in 1907, and as LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2007, it's clear that Spillman's dream has enriched countless lives. From humble beginnings in a log cabin near Asheville, North Carolina, Ridgecrest has grown into one of the largest Christian conference centers in the Unite...