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May 2012 Issue

There's no better time than June to visit New Orleans. Add to jazz, beignets, and the French Quarter the attraction of city residents who have grown to love Southern Baptists, and you have perfect chemistry for a successful Crossover 2012.

Hundreds of SBC volunteers—from Louisiana and across the nation—will join together for the key evangelistic outreach event prior to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, slated for June 15-16 in New Orleans.

Southern Baptists have poured heart, soul, and sweat into the Crescent City since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"We all have our Katrina stories," said Jack Hunter, executive director for the New Orleans Baptist Association and a lifetime resident of the city. "But for the most part we've gotten beyond Katrina and we're now in a rebuilding mode."

In city government, in education, and in economic stability, New Orleans has a new heart. A recent study suggests the city also has a new attitude toward Christi...

Editor's note: During his first year as president of the Convention, Bryant Wright encouraged Southern Baptists to return to their first love and called for a radical reprioritization of missions and evangelism, including reaching 3,800 unreached, unengaged people groups. In his second term, Wright focused on the Convention's name as a potential barrier to evangelism in some parts of the country, recommending an alternative "descriptor," Great Commission Baptists. He has now announced this year's theme, "Jesus: To the Neighborhood and the Nations." SBC LIFE recently asked Wright a few questions about his hopes for this year's annual meeting in New Orleans.

SBCLIFE: What led you to "Jesus: to the neighborhood and the nations" as this year's theme?

Wright: Well, obviously Jesus' Great Commission, especially as described in Acts 1:8, begins with the focus on Jerusalem and the disciples spreading out to the uttermost parts of the earth. ...

The Cooperative Program has a bright future if Southern Baptists learn about its astonishing impact for missions and ministry around the world, SBC Executive Committee president Frank S. Page said during a question and answer session with students and faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary March 23. The Fort Worth, Texas, seminary welcomed Page to this session immediately after he spoke in a chapel service.

Cautious Optimism
"I am cautiously optimistic," said Page, a graduate of Southwestern Seminary. "There is caution because in the twenty-first-century world, most every movement is toward societal giving, back to where we were before the Convention started the Cooperative Program in 1925." He explained that societal giving involves "each entity, each organization, seeks its own donors for its own causes."

The Convention is "moving in that direction," he said, calling societal giving "the twenty-first-century mentality" and noting t...

Following Monday morning prayer time, Mike delivers the weekend mail. Ruth Ann removes checks from their envelopes, enters contributions into the general ledger, and prepares the daily deposit. Next door, Martha reviews check requisition reports, preparing the accounts payable for the week. Lynn continues negotiations for hotel rooms in next year's annual meeting host city, while Don visits on-site with the local arrangements committee and the manager of the convention center. While there, he does a walk-through of the convention center's security features.

One floor down, Janice responds to a request from a Kansas pastor, sending him material that explains how his existing church can cooperate with the Convention through "three levels of cooperation"—associational, state convention, and SBC. Andy puts the finishing touches on the next issue of SBC LIFE. Michael, Erin, and Diana, in separate offices, are interviewing a pastor, a state convention employee, and a Baptist paper editor for three news ...

For many pastors, the association serves as the primary support system for their work and ministry.

A Buddhist monk, a Bourbon Street dancer, a day laborer from Guatemala, and a company CEO could easily run into each other at First Baptist Church of New Orleans—and they could all say hi to the Bunny Friend Eagles basketball team from the Upper Ninth.

In fact, I ran into a toga-clad Buddhist monk in the coffee area we call "The Link"—a name way more appropriate than we ever imagined it would be. He could have kids in the choir program, I thought, as I shook his hand. The queries of Muslim children make Gospel presentations so interesting during choir. Maybe the Buddhist monk heard. Turns out he is studying English with Guatemalan day laborers and recent immigrants from Africa. As Southern Baptists will see firsthand in June, this eclectic mixture of people at First Baptist is a microcosm of the Crescent City—one of the world's most unique and spiritually needy metropolises.

The morning traffic report confirms every day that Thomas Jefferson was right when he sent James Madison to buy the...

Being a member of one of New Orleans' professional sports teams, the Saints of the NFL and the Hornets of the NBA, is not easy these days.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 decapitated the Superdome, leaving the Saints without a home field for much of the season. In recent weeks, New Orleans Saints football has been roiled in shame over a bounty scandal that left coach Sean Payton and several players suspended for part of the 2012 season.

But as in the Bible's story of redemption, the grace of God always shines most luminously against the background of human depravity. And so it is with the New Orleans professional sports teams: amid the trouble and turmoil, the goodness of God is evident through Christian players who give of their time and means to help the poor and to spread the good news of God's redeeming love in Christ. Some have done so in cooperation with Southern Baptists.

One shining example is the relationship between players from the Saints and Hornets and the Baptist Friendship House, a transit...

Central Baptist Church has been a vital component of its neighborhood since its founding in 1950. And its impact for God's Kingdom has proven immeasurable.

None of the 220 people who participate on a regular basis in Sunday morning worship at First Baptist Church of Sun City, Arizona, is under age nineteen. In fact, children under that age may not live in the city, and the number of days they may visit residents is restricted to ninety per year. But that doesn't stop the church from reaching out to young people.

First Sun City just starts churches that young families would be drawn to, including one in neighboring Youngtown, Arizona, a short one and a half miles away.

"I don't think the people in our church see themselves as elderly, at least not until they're in their late 80s or 90s," said Scott Williamson, pastor for the last three years of the church located at a major intersection in a planned retirement community. "Our church is full of people who want to be active for the Lord."

After all, they moved to Sun City to be part of what was started by developer Del Webb in 1960 as the "first planned active retirement communit...

The following essays address three perspectives concerning who properly may be invited to participate in the Supper of the Lord.


8:00 Worship through Music—Mark Cottingham, Convention
music director, worship pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church,
Marietta, Georgia, and combined choirs and orchestra: Johnson
Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Georgia; First Baptist Church,
Jackson, Mississippi; First Baptist Church, Kenner, Louisiana;
First Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana; Williams
Boulevard Baptist Church, Kenner, Louisiana; Centreville
Baptist Church, Centreville, Alabama 8:10 Call to Order—Bryant Wright, president, Southern Baptist
Convention; senior pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church,
Marietta, Georgia
Registration Report an...

Pastors' Conference

June 17-18
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
New Orleans

Lives, Communities, the World
Everything is changing, but there is one thing that has not changed. God's plan for getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth is still the local church. CHANGING Lives, Communities, and the World is not optional. It is the command of Jesus. Everyone spends eternity somewhere and there is salvation in no other name but the name of Jesus. Pastors will leave the conference refreshed and inspired to lead their congregations in CHANGING Lives, Communities, and the World.
Twitter: @SBCPastorsConf
Registration: This event is free to all who wish to attend.
No registration is required.

SUNDAY EVENING, JUNE 17 5:30p Session 1   Features fathers and sons in honor of Father's Day: Ronnie and Nick Floyd, Bail...

When Hurricane Katrina crashed against the shores of Louisiana in 2005, floods deluged the city of New Orleans, washing away houses, businesses, and churches as well as the hope of many in the region. Yet in the wake of this catastrophic destruction, the area became a platform for Southern Baptists to shine amid the darkness and help rebuild the Big Easy.

Jack Hunter, executive director of the New Orleans Baptist Association (NOBA) and a native New Orleanian, rejoices over the "virtual army of Southern Baptists who have come through to help with various aspects of the rebuilding of New Orleans." Hunter practiced law in New Orleans for nearly thirty years and ministered in a housing project through his local church prior to Katrina. After the flood, he joined the thousands of other volunteers in recovery efforts. In 2009, he joined the staff of NOBA and was named executive director in 2011.

While initial post-Katrina ministries emphasized relief and recovery, Hunter says NOBA has shifted toward rebuilding. Nei...

A college student lives in a small fishing village on the shores of West Africa. Thanks to connections made by an American anthropologist living in a nearby city, the student has been adopted by the family of the village chief. He is the only Christian in this Muslim village. Through daily fishing trips in hand-carved canoes, numerous meals eaten by hand from a common bowl and countless rounds of sweet, hot tea, this young man is able to develop friendships leading to gospel presentations.

A man in his early 20s teaches English to a group of bankers in a large Central Asian city. His mind drifts between the lesson at-hand, a conversation about Jesus' divinity he had with a barber friend that afternoon and the basketball game with university students later that night. His heart is heavy because of the recent murders of some Christian brothers in a nearby city. The national believer with whom this young man shares an apartment was close to the men killed. The ...

The multi-state outbreak of some one hundred confirmed tornadoes in March 2012—which claimed nearly forty lives—was the second highest number of tornado deaths of any March in US history. Though it was not as deadly as the storms that ravaged Alabama and several other states in April 2011, it left devastation and suffering in its wake as it rushed through scores of communities.

On Friday, March 2, twenty-one of the thirty-nine deaths came in Kentucky, where three separate EF-3 tornadoes ripped through forty-six of Kentucky's 120 counties, injuring another three hundred people.

Also on that Friday, a massive EF-4 tornado barreled down the main street of Henryville, Indiana, a small town of six thousand. Thirteen people were killed across the state. Some one hundred Indiana Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers arrived in Henryville a few days later to start cleaning up the town.

"It was unlike anything I've ever seen in my life," said Toby Jenkins, pastor of Henryvill...

He looked like the ideal youth minister—recommended by a friend of the pastor, personable, and leading a thriving ministry to teens at Wayside Baptist Church in Miami, Florida.

But looks were deceiving.

For months, he had been sexually abusing boys during sleepovers at his home. When the offense came to light, the church had its very existence jeopardized by a $6 million civil judgment in favor of the victims. Eventually the case was settled for an undisclosed amount, and Wayside determined to do everything it could to protect children in the future.

"Now we do criminal background checks on anyone who is volunteering, and they put glass in all the doors [of children's and youth classrooms]," Carrel Youmans, a longtime member at Wayside who taught youth when the abuse occurred in the 1970s, told SBC LIFE.

According to Patrick Moreland, vice president of marketing at Church Mutual Insurance Company, Wayside is not an isolated case. Church Mutual averages four to five reports of chi...

Lawrenceville is the kind of place a man might go to feel a million miles away from his past.

It's a place where there are few people, and fewer questions. Most occupy themselves with surviving seemingly endless upper New York winters and higher-than-average unemployment. It's a place where one of the bigger buildings' sole purpose is to house road salt. A county clerk's office, some houses, and a bridge over the meandering Deer River are about it. Population 1,200, so says the census. Good luck finding that many.

Yep, Lawrenceville is exactly the kind of place a man could go to get lost. Especially if you're a man like Don Baxter.*

Baxter, 52, grew up downstate in South Albany, a rough kid in the roughest neighborhood. Multiple run-ins with the law had him on the verge of jail time by age 18. A judge's ultimatum—jail or military—soon led Baxter to join the Army. It was a short-lived reprieve. He was in prison by age 30, serving fifteen years for conviction on three felony ...

Marshall Blalock, one of nineteen individuals SBC president Bryant Wright enlisted to advise him on a possible name change, posted this essay on his church's Web site on February 23, 2012. His essay has been edited for length.

The History

One of the surprises in the first meeting was learning that the name change had been discussed off and on for over a hundred years. One little known fact is that the SBC voted in 1903 to consider changing the name to "Baptist Convention of the United States" at its 1904 annual meeting, but the motion was withdrawn by its author the next year for reasons that are not altogether clear. Several name change studies have been commissioned since then; the idea seems to keep coming back each decade. This task force was asked to settle the question of whether such a change is feasible and whether it serves the mission of the Convention as a whole.

The Case for Change:

1) Change for the sake of mission
A si...

Wouldn't it be nice if people came with dashboard lights? First thing in the morning, my "low coffee level" indicator button would no doubt light up. By noon another light would probably flash telling me I'm about a quart low.

My best definition of coffee: hot consciousness with cream and sugar. And I've noticed there are hardly any mornings when consciousness doesn't come in really handy.

I've also noticed that my poor husband misses his on Sundays. His consciousness, that is. There are several things people don't tell you about being a pastor's wife. I can't believe, for instance, that no one ever told me about PTSS. That's how we refer to it around my house anyway. It's "post-traumatic sermon syndrome" and it hits every Sunday soon after my husband finishes preaching the last of our three Sunday morning services. He sort of glazes over. There's no indicator light but the whole family knows it. And I know what you're thinking, but there's simply ...

May 2012

Senior Adult Sunday (May 6)

Christian Home Week (May 13-19)

Baptist Association Emphasis (May 20-26)

June 2012

Crossover (June 16)

Baptist Men's Emphasis (June 17)

SBC Annual Meeting (June 19-20)

Mission: Dignity Sunday (June 24)

July 2012

Citizenship and Religious Liberty Sunday (July 1)

Serving Your Community Sunday (July 15)