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August 2009 Issue

On a show of ballots, Southern Baptist Convention messengers June 23 overwhelmingly approved a motion authorizing SBC president, Johnny Hunt, to appoint a task force to study how Southern Baptists can work "more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission."

The motion, presented earlier in the day by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, survived an effort to amend it before being adopted by an overwhelming margin.

The opportunities for advancing the Gospel are unprecedented and many Southern Baptists are looking for a visionary missions challenge, Mohler said as he spoke on behalf of his motion.

"We are looking at an unprecedented set of opportunities before us, especially when it comes to reaching th...

"Getting serious doesn't mean you adopt something," Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt said in his presidential message June 23 at the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

Anticipating discussion on his call for a task force to study how Southern Baptists can more effectively serve Christ through the Great Commission, Hunt asked pastors to recognize "there's gold in them there pews," and to gain a vision for what God's people can do if yielded to Him.

"Talk is cheap. So we're not here to get anything adopted," Hunt insisted during the SBC's opening session. Instead, he said, "It's about all of us, starting with the local church, taking a look to see if we're doing the best we've ever done in our lifetime to...

Your Executive Committee

Churches and believers under economic pressure need to focus on what the Bible says about money management, Las Vegas pastor Hoyt Savage told messengers June 23 during the opening session of the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

During the 2008 annual meeting in Indianapolis, Savage had testified about the difference the It's A New Day financial freedom initiative has made at his church, Foothills Baptist. This year, he said, he was bringing "the rest of the story."

Last year, Las Vegas was leading the nation in home foreclosures and average weekly giving at Foothills Baptist had dropped by about 9 percent, Savage reported in 2008. This year, the city is experiencing 11 percent unemployment and 70 percent of the Las Vegas' homes are in n...

Southern Baptist Convention Wrap-up

With the goal of finding ways Southern Baptists "can work more faithfully and effectively" together in fulfilling the Great Commission, messengers to the Convention's annual meeting June 23-24 gave the green light to a task force to examine the denomination for one year and report back to the 2010 meeting in Orlando Florida.

Debate over the proposed Great Commission Task Force and an Internet document dubbed the "Great Commission Resurgence Declaration" had dominated pre-convention talk, with some Southern Baptist leaders backing it and others expressing concern. In the end, though, the 8,700-plus messengers at the annual meeting overwhelmingly supported the task force via a motion that gave Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt authority to appoint the panel &m...

The Good News raced across Louisville like a thoroughbred at Churchill Downs June 20 when three thousand Southern Baptist volunteers braved 95-degree temperatures for Crossover '09, an evangelistic effort prior to each year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

A total of 1,012 professions of faith were recorded at two festivals and twenty-eight block parties that topped a list of ninety-five events, including door-to-door community visits. The outreach involved 1,800 volunteers from 107 local SBC churches along with 1,200 volunteers from out of town.

Charles Barnes, coordinator for Crossover Louisville, said more Louisville-area Baptists were involved in the effort than for any other event with the exception of a Billy Graham crusade eight years earlier....

Global Evangelical Relations

The Executive Committee's Global Evangelical Relations initiative is off to a running start, Bobby Welch, strategist for the effort, said at the SBC annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, June 23.

"Dr. Welch is a man who relates to all peoples everywhere in the world. He is a man who knows how to relate in a way in which they're immediately drawn to him," Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, said as he introduced Welch during the EC's Tuesday afternoon report.

Welch is traveling to thirteen countries this year and plans to visit fourteen nations next year. In the process, he is assisting the Southern Baptist Convention in building a database of international evangelical leaders and many of their constituents because "there may be that day co...

"You can have a personal relationship with God." We like to pull this amazing declaration out of our evangelism toolboxes, to focus on the fact that a relationship with God is actually possible for human beings. This fact is at the wondrous heart of biblical, evangelical Christianity.

However, another word from the above statement also deserves our attention: personal. More than just a modifier of "relationship," "personal" points to the fact that God Himself must be personal in order to relate to us. How does Almighty God pull off being personal? According to theologian Millard Erickson, "The Holy Spirit is the point at which the Trinity becomes personal to the believer."1 The Spirit is the actual presence of God, active and alive, within Christians. Another theologian wrote, "Though we speak of the Spirit as the third Person [of the Trinity], from the standpoint of experience Spirit is first, because it is ...

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary was founded in 1944 in Oakland, California, moved to Berkeley for a few years, and then relocated to the current site in Marin County in 1959. The 148 acres of former dairy land called Strawberry Point became home to the first Southern Baptist seminary in the west, and today the fully-accredited, five-campus system is known as the tenth largest seminary in the United States.

The 2008/2009 academic year included a significant achievement at Golden Gate. The 65-year-old seminary celebrated fifty years at the Northern California Campus, located just north of San Francisco.

The Seminary invited all graduates from 1949-1959 to participate in a two-day celebration as part of the spring commencement program. A highlight of the festivities was honoring the Seminary's "Golden Graduates" during commencement on May 29. Twenty-eight of those who graduated from the Berkeley campus donned golden robes and walked ...

Wichita River Festival

Partnering to Share Christ: Kansas Outreach Effort Yields Gospel Fruit

What happens when twenty Southern Baptist churches partner through their local association and with an SBC entity to blanket a civic event with Gospel witness?

At the Wichita River Festival in Wichita, Kansas, the answer was more than one hundred decisions for Christ.

For three days during the nine-day festival in May, sixty-four volunteers from Wichita-area congregations teamed with twelve volunteers from the North American Mission Board's Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) team to share the Gospel with locals. Churches also supplied food, music, entertainment, and other at...

As thousands of families across America gather around their dinner tables tonight, bow their heads, and thank God for the meal they're about to receive, a Mexican family will be sending its children to bed hungry.

No, this family does not live in an impoverished, third-world town south of the border. They live in New Mexico, where 15.87 percent of the population faces food insecurity — they don't know where their next meal will come from.

According to North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionary Carl Russell, New Mexico has the highest food insecurity rate in the nation — higher, in fact, than third-world countries in Latin America where the food insecurity rate is 11 percent.

As ministry evangelism coordinator for the Central Baptist Association in Albuquerque, Russell uses money provided by the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund to support ministries like the food bank at First Baptist Church, Bernalillo, New Mexico, and Noo...

At its annual meeting in June, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution "On Adoption and Orphan Care" that urged Southern Baptists to "join the Father in seeking mercy for orphans," "pray for guidance" regarding adoption, and teach on adoption in their churches.

At least two congregations are taking those admonitions to heart.

Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, and Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, have thriving adoption ministries. And according to their adoption ministry leaders, embracing adoption is helping believers understand their own salvation in a new way.

"The day our pastor began to introduce it (adoption) to the church, he said, 'Is there anyone that's adopted?'" said Kevin Burdette, minister of adult impact at Green Acres. "And, of course, just eight or ten hands went up of those that were adopted into a family. Then he said, 'No. I want to ask that again...

All of us are inadequate, but sometimes we are more aware of our inadequacies than others, aren't we? That seems to be when God works most powerfully — as you will see in this testimony from Susan Trawick of Southside Baptist Church in Southside, Alabama, where Scott Harris is the pastor.

My husband and I accompanied our church's youth group on its annual mission trip. Both of our daughters were in the group, so we were looking forward to spending some meaningful time together. The destination? Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Yep, that's right — the home of none other than Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who predicts the arrival of spring with his shadow. Funny, the only thing our groundhogs in Alabama do is mess up the yard. Anyway, our church had just finished the FAITH Evangelistic Training for the first time, and my husband and I were among the first "graduates" of the program. I was still pretty green and still a little nervous about prese...

Legend has it that during the 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy gave a great speech to a large and excited crowd assembled in front of the Alamo, where a handful of Texans held off a large army from Mexico. Kennedy wanted to make a quick exit after his speech. He told a local politician that he wanted to get out of there and asked for the back door. The politician replied, "Senator, if there had been a back door to the Alamo, there wouldn't have been any heroes."

I believe that modern-day heroes are the ones who close the exit doors and commit to one mate and one family for life. By the time some reach the age of 40 in our society, they have had more spouses than children.

I'm not saying that marriage is easy. A couple came upon a wishing well, and the wife leaned over the well, made a wish, and threw a dime into the well. Then the husband, of course not to be outdone, stood on the side of the well, tossed in a quarter, lost his balance, fell ...

Induced Stem Cells as Potent as Embryonic

Researchers in China have shown that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are as powerful as embryonic stem cells while avoiding their ethical problems.

Scientists in Shanghai and Beijing revealed July 23 they had created live mice from the skin cells of adult animals after reprogramming the cells into an embryonic-like state, The Washington Post reported. Their research produced at least one hundred first-generation mice and hundreds of second-generation ones that were almost genetic matches for mice from which the iPS cells were extracted, according to The Post.

"This clearly says for the first time that iPS cells pass the most stringent test," sai...