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April 2007 Issue

SBC President's Address to the SBC Executive Committee, February 19, 2007

In his autobiography, Just as I Am, Billy Graham tells about a conversation he had with John F. Kennedy shortly after his election:

"On the way back to the Kennedy house, the president-elect stopped the car and turned to me. 'Do you believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?' he asked.

"'I most certainly do.'

"'Well, does my church believe it?'

"'They have it in their creeds.'

"'They don't preach it,' he said. 'They don't tell us much about it. I'd like to know what you think.'

"I explained what the Bible said about Christ coming the first time, dying on the Cross, rising from the dead, and then promising that He would come back again. 'Only then,' I said, 'are we going to have permanent world peace.'

"'Very interesting,' he said, looking away. 'We'll have to talk more about that someday.' And he dro...

The President and Chief Executive Officer's Report to the SBC Executive Committee, February 19, 2007

In 1979, something very significant happened in Southern Baptist life: Adrian Rogers, a person who was a good friend to many of us, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. That began what I perceive to be twenty-five years of extraordinary blessings upon our Convention as we began to reaffirm our belief in the authority of God's Word. I thank God we went through that period of time in spite of its difficulty, in spite of its hardship. God blessed our stand for His infallible, inerrant Word, and for that I am very grateful.

I personally believe that the conservative resurgence as a crusade ended in 2004 on its twenty-fifth anniversary. I won't take the time to give you the reasons now. But does that mean that we should no longer hold to those ideals and deep convictions, which we expressed during those twenty-five years? Oh no. In fact we're just beginning to build a Convention for this generation on the basis of our heartfelt convictions and our belie...

Words like loneliness, isolation, and alienation describe how many people feel about their existence. We have become such a transient people that few people live near their nuclear family. We move so often that we find it challenging to make friends; as a result, many people simply don't try. The people around us are little more than faceless and anonymous acquaintances.

Sounds depressing doesn't it? Yet the apparent loneliness and the need for fellowship provide one of the greatest opportunities for the church to advance the Kingdom. If people need and desire fellowship and the church is the only place where authentic fellowship can occur, then why are we failing to make the connection? Tragically, many people who have attended our churches indicate that they have not experienced fellowship. Exit inte...

Bobby Welch has been named to the position of Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations with the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.

Welch is the SBC's immediate past president and former pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he served thirty-two years.

Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, said Welch will be "Southern Baptists' ambassador to those leaders in other countries who are interested in building relationships as likeminded brothers and sisters in the Lord."

Welch began his duties March 15 and will continue to live in Daytona Beach.

Chapman noted that the new position of Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations is part of the Executive Committee's implementation of a vote by messengers at the SBC's 2004 annual meeting in Indianapolis to withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance and to build relationships with evangelistically oriented Baptists and like...

Contesting a key claim of the so-called "Jesus tomb," a leading Israeli scholar says one of the ossuaries contained not the bones of Mary Magdalene but instead the bones of two unknown women named "Mariame" and "Mara."

The Mary Magdalene claim is one the most controversial ones in The Lost Tomb of Jesus documentary that aired on the Discovery Channel March 4. The documentary translated one of the ossuaries (or bone boxes) found in Jerusalem to read "Mary, known as Master." The program then used a document written centuries after Christ to claim the Mary on the ossuary in fact was Mary Magdalene and was married to Jesus, whose ossuary the documentary says was found in the tomb.

The names, though, were among the most common in the era, and the overwhelming majority of scholars — both Christian and non-Christian — have dismissed the claims.

Stephen J. Pfann, a biblical scholar and archeologist at the Universi...

Editor's note: In February, the Associated Press released a story by Rose French that implied the Southern Baptist Convention is sheltering pastors that have a record of sexual abuse and that the SBC is resisting attempts to address the problem of clergy abuse. Ms. French's article made no reference to materials provided directly to her by the SBC Executive Committee — materials that specifically addressed every concern presented in her story — materials that demonstrate the SBC's ongoing concerns and efforts to address this moral travesty. The following are articles printed in Baptist Press following the AP story.

The Southern Baptist Convention "deplores and condemns" child sexual abuse and provides resources for its member churches to ...

Following is the complete statement by D. August Boto, who serves as general counsel and vice president for convention policy for the SBC Executive Committee.

Every person on the Executive Committee thoroughly deplores and condemns the sexual abuse SNAP and its representative, Ms. Brown, have addressed in recent days. Such criminal acts by those in ministerial positions are abhorrent — they violate a myriad of biblical commands and principles and even the most basic standards of human decency — and we believe such behavior should be prosecuted to the fullest. Our hearts are truly broken when we hear of such abuse and we will continue to encourage Southern Baptist churches to address this deplorable behavior.

The repeated claims of Ms. Brown and SNAP to the media that we had been unres...

A child sexual molestation victims' group apologized to Southern Baptist leaders February 22 for making false accusations that leaders had not responded to the group's letters. The apology by SNAP — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and other Clergy — came after the group made statements in recent weeks charging that Southern Baptist leaders had been unresponsive to SNAP's letters.

On February 20, the Southern Baptist Executive Committee's Bylaws Workgroup discussed SNAP's concerns about child sexual abuse in churches, with most workgroup members expressing frustration that SNAP had made the charges, which were repeated at times in the media.

Workgroup members were shown two letters from Executive Committee members to SNAP from last year. SNAP official Christa...

Caring and Convictions

If I told you that "doctors' personal beliefs can hinder care," you might guess that I was talking about physicians who would use leeches instead of antibiotics — or, maybe, Jehovah's Witnesses who refused to give their patients blood transfusions.

If so, you probably have not read the Associated Press.

"Doctors' Personal Beliefs Can Hinder Care" was the headline of an AP story about a just-released University of Chicago study. The study, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, surveyed physicians' handling of "legal but morally controversial medical treatments": abortion, birth control for minors, and terminal sedation.

Based on physician questionnaires, the study found that "86 percent of doctors did feel obliged to present all options in such cases." However, "only" 71 percent felt obligated to "refer the patient to a doctor who did not object to t...

at the 2007 Southern Baptist Convention

Registration is now open for families planning to enroll their children in the June 10-13 preschool childcare or the children's conference in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

For all information regarding registration, visit www.sbc.net and click on "2007 SBC Annual Meeting" then "Children/Students."

Preschool Childcare

Childcare for infants through three-year-olds will be available from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday. (For children four and older, see below.) A $10 one-time nonrefundable registration fee is charged for each child. For each session, a $5-per-child fee is charged, with a maximum charge of $40 per family for the full four days of childcare. Lunch will be available for the preschool children on Monday and Tuesday for a cost of $5 per lunch. Complete payment is due for all sessions and for lunch, if requested, upon arri...

Registration has opened for churches to register messengers online for the Southern Baptist Convention's June 12-13 annual meeting in San Antonio.

For online registration, churches should go to the SBC Web site, www.sbc.net, which opened the 2007 registration process March 1.

Online registration can help messengers avoid waiting in line at the convention center while a registration worker types in various lines of information.

Jim Wells, SBC registration secretary, said, "Each year we are seeing more churches use the on-line registration system for which we are pleased."

Last year, the fourth year for the online service, 81.7 percent of messengers to the annual meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, registered online, up from 79.2 percent for the 2005 annual meeting in Nashville.

When registering online, the SBC Web site gives a church a "messenger reference number" form to be printed out and presented by each messenge...

Through the Cooperative Program

Like many churches on the economically depressed Western Slope of Colorado, Trinity Baptist struggled to make ends meet.

Located on Orchard Mesa — the high desert end of Grand Junction that, despite its name, does not have groves of the region's famous peach trees — Trinity ministers in an area of blue-collar and transient workers.

But the church's finances changed when its longtime pastor, Larry Mallett, was elected in 2001 to a position on the Colorado Baptist General Convention's executive board.

"We've always given through the Cooperative Program — it's the best program out there — but we haven't always given 10 percent," Mallett said. "When I went on the executive board and saw all that we were doing with that money just in our state alone, I thought we needed to be giving 10 percent. In the past, we had problems paying our bills, but since we started giving 10 percent to the Cooperative Progra...

At about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lemá sabachtháni?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).

In that moment, when Christ bore our sins, He felt the agony of separation from the Father.

In the following testimony by Brian Devany, pastor of Skyview Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, we find that Brian lost his worldly possessions and was left wondering where God was in his agony. But praise God, then came the morning and the "rest of the story."

In 1997, I turned a $100 investment into a multi-million dollar business. My family and I were finally experiencing the freedom of financial bliss. It was the era of the dot-com business when ordinary computer geeks were becoming billionaires overnight. I was on the merry-go-round of entrepreneurial success, and I was reaching for the golden ring. How could I fail when God wa...

This past month, as I prepared this article for you out there in church land, I listened to the news channels discuss the battle over the body and estate of Anna Nicole Smith. As I watched this, I also observed that Paris Hilton had been busted for alleged drunken driving and Britney Spears had shaved her head and entered rehab. I wish I could say that the problem is with this generation, but we all know we had our Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. In the end, their deaths seemed to boil down to the question of whether it was an overdose or whether it was suicide.

Hollywood has always been about illusions. They have the ability to make the unreal look real. They make their characters look larger than life. The problem occurs when we mix fact and fantasy and believe what we see on-screen.

Remember the movie, The Da Vinci Code? We had a fiction novelist who told us what he wrote was true. To add to his credibility, Ron Howard was the director and the movie starred Tom Hanks. Thi...

Ridgecrest Marks One Hundred Years

About 180 ministry and community leaders attended LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center's centennial luncheon March 6 to commemorate its 100th anniversary.

Speakers recalled the many ways God had worked in people's lives at Ridgecrest during the past century while voicing anticipation of things yet to come at the conference center located just outside Black Mountain, North Carolina, near Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Black Mountain Mayor Carl Bartlett, who attended Vacation Bible School at Ridgecrest in 1948, brought greetings on behalf of the city and read a proclamation recognizing Ridgecrest for one hundred years of service. The governor of North Carolina, mayor of Asheville, and Buncombe County commissioners also issued proclamations.

"Ridgecrest has been called a mountain of faith," Bill Bowman, general manager o...