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March 2012 Issue

Don't change the Southern Baptist Convention's formal, legal name, but adopt the informal "descriptor" phrase "Great Commission Baptists."

That is what the task force appointed by SBC President Bryant Wright to advise him on a potential Convention name change presented to him February 20 during the spring Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Wright, who serves as an ex officio member of the EC, then moved that the EC approve his request to forward the recommendation to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June. The following morning, February 21, the EC voted to forward the recommendation in a show-of-hands vote, with approximately five or six negative votes out of sixty-eight members present.

"We believe that the equity that we have in the name Southern Baptist Convention is valuable," task force chairman Jimmy Draper told the EC. "It is a strong name that identifies who we are in theology, morality, and ethics, compassion, ministry, and mission in ...

When Aaron and Carmen Coe started Gallery Church, situated in the heart of Manhattan, they had no idea of what the Lord had in store for them and their vision.

Within its first year, their first church plant grew to nearly two hundred in weekly attendance and started the work of planting two other churches—one in New York City and one in Baltimore, Maryland. In less than six years, the Coe's vision to evangelize the nation's largest city had become a national church planting strategy called "Send North America" that had garnered international media interest, from the New York Times to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and even the Dutch newspaper Friesch Dagblad.

Send North America is the North American Mission Board's strategy to help existing churches start new evangelistic Southern Baptist churches in twenty-nine regions across the North American continent that are under-reached and underserved. This bold church-planting initiative stemmed from one man's vision f...

Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, presented this report to the EC Cooperative Program Subcommittee during its February 20, 2012, meeting. The report has been edited for length.

The Executive Committee is a small, yet strategic organization which exists for the following tasks.

I believe that one of our most important tasks is quality coordination. This SBC standing committee and its small staff exists to help coordinate efforts with the other entities of our Southern Baptist Convention so that we work together for Kingdom purposes. Part of this coordination is financial in nature, as our finance office provides competent and quality coordination of financial resources which get on the field quickly and with integrity.

Part of the work of the Executive Committee is to provide quality communication. The news agency of the Southern Baptist Convention is housed in this entity as we seek to provide news of what is happening in our world, but at the s...

During the recent SBC Executive Committee meeting, SBC LIFE was able to sit down for a few minutes with Bryant Wright, president of the SBC, and Jimmy Draper, chairman of the task force Wright appointed to advise him on the advisability of proposing a name change for the SBC to the Convention. SBC LIFE also solicited and received email replies to its questions.

SBCLIFE: Dr. Wright, you went on record last fall stating a strong interest in changing the name of the Convention. Having been a participant in the task force discussions, have you changed your position?

Wright: Yes, I changed my position as the task force came together with tremendous unity. All of us were most of all seeking God's will in this study. With the autonomy of the state conventions and churches, we felt it was important not to make a legal name change, not to mention the incredible cost of doing so. So we felt a "descriptor" or brand name would be the best way to go. This allows us to keep our...

Between 1965 and 2004, the Southern Baptist Convention was asked to consider changing its name at least seven times, rejecting the idea on each occasion.

Some alternate names suggested by various individuals in the past included "United States Baptist Convention," "Baptists for Christ," "United Baptist Churches," and "Agape."

Among the reasons cited for rejecting a change in the past:

• A 1999 opinion by the SBC's attorney stated that amending the denomination's charter to change its name could make the Convention subject to laws requiring changes in its "instruments and practices, its governance structure, and perhaps its polity."

• Popular sentiment was in opposition.

• Difficulties could arise in securing websites with the acronym corresponding to a new name.

• There was no consensus on an acceptable alternate name.

• Churches choosing to use the name "Southern Baptist" in their names or materials had prospered, even in non-Southern areas.

• The name "Southern Bap...

The 2012 Week of Prayer for North American Missions spotlights five missionaries representing thousands serving throughout the United States, Canada, and their territories. The other three days focus on ways Southern Baptists are reaching the lost in North America. Send North America Church planting is at the core of the North American Mission Board's national strategy, Send North America. This strategy is designed to mobilize churches to plant churches, mobilize church planters, and equip church planters and "sending churches" for evangelistic church planting.

Many Southern Baptists know Annie Armstrong only as the namesake of their annual offering for North American missions. But according to church historians, she was also one of the primary shapers of the modern Southern Baptist Convention.

"I tell my students that Annie Armstrong and her frequent collaborator I.T. Tichenor [longtime secretary of the Home Mission Board] were the architects of the twentieth-century Southern Baptist Convention," Nathan Finn, associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, said. "Most Southern Baptists think Annie Armstrong is just the name of a missions offering. They have no idea the role she played in raising money for foreign missions, championing home missions, and advocating a Southern Baptist Sunday School ministry—she was a tireless denomination-builder."

Armstrong (1850-1938) helped to found the Woman's Missionary Union in 1888 and served as its inaugural correspo...

The sight of a large man sitting in a kiddie pool near the road caused quite a stir in the community. Cars were slowing down to take a look. Kids on bicycles stopped to watch. I was baptizing one of the first converts at a church plant in a heavily French Catholic Louisiana city. I pronounced the baptismal formula over him. I dipped him under the water and then lifted him back to a seated position. There was excitement that day for friends and family but also for the neighbors that witnessed a public baptism.

The baptism of that man, one of more than one hundred new converts in the first year of the church's existence almost forty years ago, was a novelty for the community. Though it was no doubt a curious site for those who had never seen immersion baptism, it was a powerful, visual introduction to the significance and symbolism of this vital church ordinance.

Baptism is an important act of obedience for the follower of Jesus. Jesus was ba...

The effectiveness of cell groups in reaching Hispanics, the need for quality discipleship materials in Spanish, and family pressures experienced by Hispanic believers were among the topics discussed at the first meeting of the Hispanic Advisory Council February 3-4.
A newly formed African American Advisory Council will help communicate the perspectives of black churches and their leaders to Southern Baptist Convention entity leaders.

The estimated 45,000 autonomous churches that cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention pool their resources to support the work of the six theological seminaries. The Convention operates these seminaries to train its ministers and Christian workers. The six are: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky (1859); Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (1908); New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana (1917); Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California (1944); Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina (1951); and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri (1957).

Collectively the six seminaries have been given a challenging mission: "to prepare God-called men and women for vocational service in Baptist churches and in other Christian ministries throughout the world through programs of spiritua...

Several years ago, I was blessed to observe inspirational generosity in action when I served as the development officer for the North American Mission Board.

One of our financial officers was visiting with Miss Katelyn in her home. As he was about to leave, she asked him to please wait while she went to visit her bank. Unsure of what to do, he awaited her return. When Miss Katelyn returned from the bank, she gave him her entire life savings to assist the people of Haiti. She instructed him to take all that she had for those who had nothing. She was not worried about the tax implications of her gift or about her needs for tomorrow. Her heart was filled with compassion for the greater needs of those in Haiti. Though Miss Katelyn had no regular source of income, she gave every dollar that she had diligently and meticulously saved over the years.

Miss Katelyn did not watch much television or have much interest in the Internet. She heard reports about the earthquake in Haiti on the radio, saw a few pictures of its devastati...

"Always Ready": Sharing the Gospel with Your Mormon Friends
The Doctrine of God Historic Christianity The one God is a Spirit who is the personal, eternal, infinite Creator of all that exists. He is the only God and necessary for all other things to exist. He exists eternally as a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is God and not man. Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6-8; Hosea 11:9; Matthew 28:19; John 4:24; 17:3; 1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 1:25

A tiny band of Native Americans is supporting the work of nearly ten thousand Southern Baptist missionaries around the world. That's the way members of Dakota Baptist Church on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota feel about their contributions through the Cooperative Program.

Thirty or so Dakota Sioux participate in Sunday morning worship services at the church in the reservation town of Fort Totten. This includes two men who were led to faith in Christ eighteen months before Paul Young was called in 2006 as pastor.

"Pastor Wilbert [Robertson, who started the church in 1983] quickly discipled them and both have good leadership qualities," Young said. "The church is able to do more now because these men and their families shoulder part of the spiritual responsibilities and spiritual leadership, and the physical work of the church."

Robertson, who also started Native American churches in South Dakota, led Dakota Baptist Church (and the other mission churches he planted) to...

A Little Effort Makes Huge Difference

In an era of youth evangelism conferences, Vacation Bible Schools for children, and evangelistic camps for teens, some believers may be inclined to ignore the need for evangelism among senior adults. But when Pastor Dennis McFadden turned his attention to this neglected group, his efforts resulted in an eternal harvest.

McFadden, pastor of Eaton Memorial Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, was out for a round of visits with Evangelist Don Mathis, when the two found themselves near a motel in a low-income part of town that had been converted into an apartment complex.

"I wonder if Jake's* home," McFadden said to Mathis, who was preaching a multi-evening revival at Eaton Memorial. "He usually is."

When they knocked on one of the doors, an 81-year-old man—poorly dressed and just recently awoken—came to meet them.

"Jake, I was just concerned about you," McFadden began. The pastor met the man weeks before and began a friendship, although they had only spoken a few times.

"We talked a bit about the Lord before,&q...

Small Group Supports a Journey to Faith

Brian Baker* was firmly skeptical. How could anyone believe that God—if there really were one—would descend to earth, live a perfect life, die on a cross then rise from the dead? It was the most improbable string of events his analytical mind had ever considered.

But Baker was curious too, curious enough to befriend several fellow university students who didn't share his skepticism. In fact, they'd committed their lives wholeheartedly to the claims of Christ.

"I remember Brian hanging around our Baptist student group and getting into theological conversations with different people," said Freddy T. Wyatt, now a pastor and church planter in New York City, recalling those days a decade ago when he and Baker first met. "You could tell he was looking for answers, either to prove or disprove Christianity."

Baker got answers, a lot of them, when Wyatt and several friends invited him to join their weekly small group Bible study led by a local pastor. The group was a perfect fit for someone seeking intellectual answers to spiritual questions.

...

When Pastor Chris Lockhart led members of The Crossing Church in High Point, North Carolina, to adopt a local school in a low-income area, he never imagined the impact it would have. After two years of supporting teachers, staff, and students through volunteering and providing resources, school staff members showed up for a worship service one Sunday morning to express their thanks.

As great as this recognition was, Lockhart said he experienced more joy when two of the staff members responded to the presentation of the Gospel at the end of the service and placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

Lockhart credits his local Baptist association with making his church aware of the need and opportunity to partner with the school. He sees it as one of a myriad of ways the Piedmont Baptist Association (PBA) and Director of Missions Larry Doyle demonstrate a commitment to transform the Piedmont Triad Area around Greensboro, North Carolina.

"The partnership between The Crossing Church and PBA has been wonderful for us...

My computer told me I should erase my history. I chose the 1980's—solely on the basis of hair. Thankfully, my hairstyle changes on a bi-weekly basis. That way I can't be caught in the same embarrassing style for more than a couple of incriminating pictures in a row.

Every once in a while, I like to do a big-time hair change-up for the travel adventure alone. When I'm speaking somewhere and I'm picked up at an airport by people I've never met, I have to admit it's sort of fun to watch them holding a sign with my name for a few minutes before I confess I'm the one they're looking for. The people generally will look at some publicity photo they have of me, then they'll look at me. Pause. Look at the photo. Back at me. Pause. Then they'll move on to try to find someone who looks more like me than I do.

Yeah, like I would ever have a photo that actually looks like me. It's not just the hair. Authors and speakers are required to have a publicity photo. Pastors' wives are ...

March 2012 Week of Prayer and Mission Study for North American Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (March 4-11) Youth Weekly (March 4-10) Substance Abuse Sunday (March 18) Start a Church Sunday (March 25)